Friday, December 19, 2014

A walk in the park

I went for a walk in the park yesterday and I hope this is something you get a chance to do over the Christmas and New Year break - go for a long walk and just stop and smell the roses - breathe and be in the moment for just a bit.  I realised when I was there that it was the first time this year that I'd actually walked around the park (I'm usually running).  For many of us, this is such a crazy time of year with so many extra demands placed on us, combined with being the most weary, so give yourself a break if you can and slow down - you'll feel much better for it.
Mr Rosanna and I are hosting Christmas this year with my family so we will be making a trip to Leo's in Heidelberg at some stage over the next week.  And if food is on your brain I just wanted to mention a number of places which have been reviewed the past week as well as places to go for last minute food, and Christmas, shopping.

I'm very excited to hear that Seven Seeds is coming to Alphington in the new year complete with cafe and if you're a cafe person like me, Stagger Lees and Addict Food & Coffee in Fitzroy are also worth checking out.  Meanwhile, for lunch or dinner, Elyros (Cretan) in Camberwell, Northern Git in Thornbury and Belle's Hot Chicken on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy have also been given the tick by The Age Good Food.

Farmers Markets on this weekend include Boroondara, Carlton, Fairfield, Eltham and two twilight markets in Hurstbridge and Slow Food Melbourne (next Tuesday).  The final Ivanhoe Makers Market at The Livingstone Centre is also on tomorrow if you're looking for last minute gifts.

Besides hosting Christmas, I have also found myself the joint-coordinator of our street party so I am looking forward to meeting some new neighbours and spending time with existing ones.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas as 2014 draws to a close and I look forward to returning next year - the Chinese Year of the Sheep.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peace on earth

Despite the events of the past week in Sydney, this is still something I believe in, as well as goodwill towards all humankind.  And I will take with me and remember the best things about humanity in the face of such tragedies - courage, kindness, tolerance, leadership and sacrifice - perhaps the greatest sacrifice of all is to lay down your life for another.  May those who have fallen this year have stars that always shine the brightest in the sky.
I have taken solace in my own community of my closest friends and neighbours this past week celebrating my annual Kris Kringle with my girlfriends and their babies and toddlers in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.  (A tip if you are heading south of the Yarra - take Power Street, Swan Street and Alexandra Avenue as Punt Road is an absolute nightmare.)  We set our picnic up just behind the National Herbarium on the Western Lawn as the Children's Garden is currently inaccessible until 20 December.
I also had a 'crafternoon' making origami butterfly decorations using pages from old books and paper pom poms at my creative neighbour Paula's beautiful house on the back of an absolutely exhausting week spent running around from one place to the next. There is a lot to be said for a moment of stillness and saying no when you've had enough. It was an oasis in the midst of the Christmas maelstrom.
Like many of us, I am still working leading up to Christmas so if you're starting to gear up for entertaining, fun, food and other festivities, I'll be back later this week with more.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Can you feel it

The Christmas spirit that's also the name of one of my favourite songs by the late MJ - who will always be the King of Pop for me.
Image via Banyule Council website
Besides feeling a bit ragged in the lead up to the big day, I am definitely feeling the love!  I went for a wander down Upper Heidelberg Road yesterday trying to complete my Christmas shopping.  Ivanhoe actually held a special Christmas shopping night last night for the first time with a number of shops on the strip offering discounts and other value added promotions and I must admit, this shopper much prefers strip shopping to malls.
Image via Haughton Stotts website
I did grab a coffee and a muffin at The Foreigner cafe yesterday and met the guys who are running the show - they've only been open one month at this stage and if you are local, I'd encourage you all to go in and give them your business.  There were a number of mums with kids there yesterday as well as local business people.

I also bought gifts at a number of my favourite shops including The Estelle Store, Creative Minds, Andrew's Books, Romulus and the Gypsy as well as ending my sojourn at Mount's Pharmacy.

Christmas has arrived in the local area and Bell Street Mall are having their Christmas Carnival tomorrow from 10 am - 4 pm in West Heidelberg.  The weather is looking great for tomorrow and Greensborough Town Centre is staging Banyule's Carols by Candlelight opposite Watermarc tomorrow night from 6.30pm followed by a Christmas market on Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm with live entertainment also on next Monday and Tuesday.  The Boulevard Lights in Ivanhoe also start this weekend until Christmas Eve from 8.30 - 11 pm - remember to avoid the main streets and the Burke Road Eastern Freeway exit if you want to avoid being caught in traffic which I failed to do last year!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Be the change

One of the best mottoes I have ever seen and remembered is 'Remember to Breathe' - on the back of a yoga teacher's car in Byron Bay, which has stayed with me all these years later.  As the year is drawing to a close and I have started to slow down, it's been great to have some time to think and reflect on the year that's been.

It took me a long time (and a considerable amount of mistakes both personal and professional) to learn that my external world reflects my internal state and that no matter what happens in life, we always have a choice whether we realise it or not.  Mr Rosanna also has another great saying 'You are the sum of your decisions' even when we choose not to do something, it is still making a decision.
Image via Amazon
I have become better at saying no as I've got older and this book has caught my eye 'Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less' by Greg McKeown, which was a 2014 New York Times best seller.  Essentialism being a systematic discipline for learning what is absolutely essential then eliminating everything that is not, so we can make the highest possible contribution towards the things that really matter.  Sounds pretty lofty, but it has me quite intrigued - McKeown has taught at some of the leading companies in the world including Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter.

I love that we can give ourselves the opportunity to change for the better not only at the start of every new year, but at any point in time, if we so choose.  Just like lifelong learning, I hope that I am always open to change and reinvention as part of my own personal evolution towards wisdom and maturity.  And on that philosophical note, I do love this quote from Gandhi which is food for thought for next year.  It's never too late.

"Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Silver screen

'Art Deco on Film' is the subject of the public lecture at tonight's final Heidelberg Historial Society Meeting for the year being held from 8 pm at the Uniting Church Community Centre in Seddon Street, Ivanhoe. The speaker, Chris Long, has had an extensive career studying and presenting early film and sound recordings and his presentation will include a 50 minute compilation of extracts from a range of art deco films and a video walk through of several notable Melbourne deco buildings.  I love the ritz and glamour of the Art Deco age and two of my favourite stars of the time include Asian American actor Anna May Wong as well as singer Josephine Baker.
Anna May Wong image via The Guardian
It might be the wrong time of year but Colours of the Country III: Alice Springs Beanie Festival also opens on the 12 December and runs until 22 February at the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.  The centre has its own biennial Tea cosy exhibition so in some ways, it makes perfect sense for it to also host a knitted item of a different kind, which demonstrates the growth of the beanie as an art form.  The official launch for the event is this Saturday at 2pm.  RSVP: or phone 9496 1060.
Joesphine Baker image via Huffington Post

Monday, December 8, 2014

From Peru to Tokyo

I took Mr Rosanna out to Pastuso in ACDC Lane on Saturday night for his birthday celebration and it was fabulous!  If you're wanting to go somewhere with a rockin' vibe then this is the place to be.  I sometimes think chefs have become the new rock stars of our time and there were a lot of hipster staff with cool haircuts and beards also working the place - it was a little bit scene-y but the crowd was fairly diverse which is always a good sign.  As you enter ACDC Lane and go past Cherry Bar, Pastuso is right in front of you at the back of the lane before it curves around to the left at Tonka Restaurant.  Lee Ho Fook is also meant to be opening there soon.
Image via Dimmi
There's a big bar out the front at Pastuso which serves Peruvian and other drinks, a grill and smoker in the right hand corner in front of the colourful poster artwork, a cevicheria (where you can also sit and eat) in front of the back lounge section with the leather banquettes, and semi-private dining rooms on the left.  Mr Rosanna and I scored seats in the back section overlooking the cevicheria so we had a bird's eye view of the place.  It's a big space which has some subtle South American influences (wall hangings and touches of textiles) as well as, strangely enough, a slight Japanese feel in terms of the food and decor.
In front of the cevicheria at Pastuso
It was starting to fill when we arrived for our 7 pm dinner booking (which meant having to be out by 9 pm) and by the time we left, the place was packed with people being turned away at the door (I'd booked a couple of months ago).  Mr R and I had a couple of entrees from the cevicheria (ceviche is fish/seafood that's been cured in citrus so think Peruvian sashimi) which were the highlights, we also had the pork belly and one of the specials from the grill - the meat was cooked to perfection medium rare - and along with the Amazonian salad, we finished with one of the rice pudding desserts which we shared.  The waiting staff brought dishes out as they were cooked and explained exactly what they were as they set them down in front of us which I really appreciated.  Happily, there is no guinea pig on the menu (which they do eat in Peru) although you can get Alpaca.
Image via Weekend Notes
Pastuso is owned by the same people who run Argentinian-inspired San Telmo in Meyers Place and is named after Paddington Bear, who came from 'deepest, darkest Peru.'  They are also holding a New Year's Eve party there which I think would be a lot of fun!
Sake bottles lined up at Hihou Bar
After dinner, Mr R and I decided to go to a bar and actually ended up at Hihou, above Kappo, where I went for dinner the other week.  Again, you need to ring the doorbell to be let in upstairs and it is like being in Tokyo when you arrive.  Mr R and I got seats right in front of the bar and it was fascinating to watch the barman create all his drinks - almost like an alchemist using beakers to mix this and that.  The sake is also a specialty and there are beautiful bottles lined up - Mr R had a nashi pear cocktail and a cold sake although I think sake really is an acquired taste.  We had a great time!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Designer style

Is it Friday yet?  I'm feeling a bit weary today after some very busy weeks and a few more to go.  I have started my Christmas shopping and will be doing a lot of it locally as well as online.  This year my gifts for family and friends lean towards the practical - they need to be used, experienced or consumed.  There's always an explosion of toys too having children so Mr Rosanna and I are going to have to do a cull - it's just as well there are younger children to pass things onto in my family.
Image via Bago Studio
If you have time over the weekend, there are some fabulous markets and other events on in which to buy beautiful things for yourself or loved ones.  The Big Design Market starts today at the Royal Exhibition Building and a number of my friends went last year to buy Christmas presents - handmade and local.  They've also got kids activities on including Green Hat Workshop which we experienced at the Fun4Kids Festival in Warrnambool a couple of years ago, as well as yummy food on offer from some of Melbourne's best food outlets including Miss Chu and Earl Canteen.
Image via Green Hat Workshop
Speaking of green and also on in the city is Fair@Square if you are even more ethically minded and into conscious consumption.
Image via Moral Fairground
Closer to home the annual Raffal Scarf sale is on tomorrow afternoon at the Ivanhoe Uniting Church Hall in Seddon Street while the last Fine Design Market at Manningham (it will be moving to a new location) is being held on Sunday.  Also on Sunday is the Round She Goes vintage clothing market in Box Hill.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Twilight events

Image via
It's a beautiful day and there are some long hot nights ahead of us given summer has only just started.  The Coburg Night Market started last Friday night and will be on every Friday night until 19 December from 5.30 - 10pm including live music - I reckon both Kylie Auldist and the Glenroy Allstars and Nicky Bomba's Bustamento bands in particular would be great to catch.  The Shadow Electric Outdoor Cinema & Bar at The Abbotsford Convent also released its 2015 program on Monday and you can choose between seeing a band or watching a movie over the summer, while Moonlight Cinema in Melbourne also starts from today and Rooftop Cinema at Curtin House in the city is also now open.
Image via Zoos Victoria
Tickets for Zoo Twilights next year are already on sale and I am taking Mr Rosanna to the sold out gig on 7 February to see Paul Kelly presents the Merri Soul Sessions as his birthday present this year - can't wait for that one!
Image via My Markets Vic
Speaking of night time events, the 2014 Kris Kringle Night Market at Northcote Town Hall also starts tonight from 5.30 - 10 pm and will run for three weeks every Thursday.  Closer to home, the Macleod Village Christmas Fair is on this Friday night from 4 - 7 pm while the Diamond Valley Lions Club Twilight Market will be held from 7pm at Nillumbik Park also on Friday night.

Finally, The Design Files Open House at 12 Smith Street Collingwood launched today and the house will be open from 10am - 5pm today until Sunday.  I'll be back tomorrow to talk about other design events on this coming weekend - have you started your Christmas shopping yet?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A state of grace

It's only early December but a succession of late nights has already caught up with me - I can't party like I used to!  Looking at my calendar, I think it's going to be just as mad right up until Christmas and I am looking forward to some downtime.

I've not yet had a chance to reflect much on the year suffice to say that there have been tragedies in the world and here at home that have touched my heart quite deeply.  I'm not sure if having children has made me more sensitive to the amount of suffering in the world but for my friends and family and those in the larger community who have suffered some sort of loss this year in particular, and who continue to suffer, I am thinking of you this Christmas and wishing you a bigger, better and brighter 2015.  I will say that I believe the mark of someone's character is not how they are when things are going well, but how they are when things aren't going so well in their life.  The same applies to friendship and the mark of a true friend is the one who is there when the chips are down.

I did finish reading 'The Art of Belonging' by Hugh Mackay a little while ago and there is a sentence in the book which jumped out at me where he states that "social exclusion is a crime against humanity."  Strong words indeed but it's given me a lot to think about, and also made me consider my own behaviour.  It's always easy to get on with people who are similar to us but more challenging to get on with people who are different and a test of our tolerance as human beings.  And this is something I will continue to reflect upon this Christmas and beyond, given we are all connected to each other as people of, and in, the world.

A few local things to remember, the last Red Shoes Network event is on tomorrow night in Heidelberg and appropriately titled 'Reflect, Rejoice, Re-Focus' - a moment of reflection, self-acknowledgement and renewed direction.  Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the detail of life and I often think the most successful people in the world have taken time out to consider their lives and actually plan for their future and gain an insight into what truly makes them happy.
The Foreigner image via Shop in Ivanhoe
I was out on the road yesterday and came across The Foreigner - a new cafe in the little group of shops opposite Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe Parade, Ivanhoe while buying recycled print cartridges at Cartridge World.  Sadly it was closed but I will be back when I drop in my old cartridges and think it's in a great location.  The building next to Hatch is likely to become a residential development so I think there'll be a ready made market of customers there.
Twitter image via @maryanne_coffey
I also dropped into the Australian Chocolate Emporium in Eaglemont and bought some chocolates as Christmas presents - all the chocolates sold in the shop are Australian made and they also do a roaring trade as an online business.  I bought some beautifully boxed Hillier's chocolates as gifts.  Eaglemont Village is also holding its Annual Twilight Christmas Fair this Friday night from 4 - 8 pm.
Image via Urban Spoon
Finally, I had dinner at Woodfire Cafe Pizzeria in Ivanhoe last night with the family and it was good.  It's been a pizza restaurant in various forms for a number of years but the new incarnation has a really nice fit out - the young guys there were very professional - the service in particular was excellent, along with the food.