Friday, January 30, 2015

Local Profile- Michelle Morris & Anja Tanhane

Well it's a dynamic duo today in teachers Michelle and Anja who run Mindfulness Meditation in Ivanhoe.  I've long talked about the power of the mind and meditation in general - I think it is the key to a happy and peaceful existence and something that lies within all of us to master.   To have not one but two teachers in the local area to help do so is a fantastic thing, and with their 8 week course starting next week - read on for more about both Michelle and Anja.
Michelle Morris

Anja Tanhane
Name: Michelle Morris and Anja Tanhane
Michelle Morris: Mindfulness teacher, adult and child counsellor
Anja Tanhane: Mindfulness teacher, Music therapist
Lives/works: Working in Ivanhoe at the Livingstone Community Centre
How long have you lived/worked here?
Michelle has lived in Ivanhoe for 17 years.  Anja and Michelle have taught the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course (MBSR) for seven years.
Describe yourself/what you do:
We teach the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course (MBSR) together at Livingstone Community Centre. This course was first developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, and is now being taught around the world. Research has shown that it can help people manage stress more effectively, reduce anxiety and depression, deal better with chronic health issues, and improve clarity of thinking and interpersonal relationships. People who’ve done the course also notice increased feelings of appreciation, enjoyment of life, and more patience. The course runs for eight weeks on Thursday evenings, as well as a full retreat day. Each evening discusses a different aspect of mindfulness, and we practice a range of mindfulness meditations such as the body scan, mindful eating and walking, sitting meditation, yoga, Tai Chi and Kum Nye. As part of the course, participants receive a four CD set to help with home practice, as well as a comprehensive course book. There is plenty of time each week to discuss how the practice of mindfulness is going, to ask questions, and to hear from others in the group. The eight week course is a wonderful way to learn more about a way of living which seems to be on everyone’s lips these days.

‘This 8 week course has given me the most precious present, it has helped me to find “peace“.  Before, life rushed past me in a blur, I was always busy. I now know how to be still, I found inner peace and it is oh so powerful.’ - Emma – therapist/mother/counselling student

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east: 
"What I appreciate about living and working in Ivanhoe is this beautiful green belt, particularly living along the wildlife corridor of the Darebin Creek. There is a sense of community here, among the neighbours in our street and in Banyule generally. It is also a good feeling to have a friendly relationship with people who work in the local shops,” says Michelle.

For more information:

Thursday, January 29, 2015


The kids are back at school and I am enjoying a moment of stillness and a chance to catch my breath. Before I had kids, I could never understand why colleagues who were parents used to say to me they liked coming to work to have a break from their children.  I get it now!  Well and truly...

It's been a pretty mild summer so far although I'm enjoying the cooler than normal temperature as it's not so hot when I've been out running.  I sometimes see crazy people running in the absolute heat of the day and think they're candidates for a heart attack or sunstroke.
Image via Wikipedia
I've also tried to continue my reading even though the holidays are over.  I'm halfway through The Goldfinch by American writer Donna Tartt which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction - it's the first book I've ever read on a Kindle and while I love hard copy, long form books - it was great to take away something so compact and light when we were at the beach.  Apparently print is not dead especially when it comes to books, Gen Y and over still prefer to buy hard copy books and that's great news for bookshops.
Image via The Estelle Store Facebook page
And while summer's not over yet, there are a number of retailers on sale at the moment, which I just wanted to quickly mention.  Jewellery label By Charlotte is still holding its end of year sale with up to 30% off and further reductions until tomorrow.  Local fashion label Gorman also has a further 20% off  store wide including full price and sale stock until this weekend.  The Estelle Store in Ivanhoe is also teaming up with 5 Elements store in Fairfield and holding The Big Garage Sale out the back in the car park of 255 Upper Heidelberg Road this Sunday 1 February from 10am - 3 pm with nothing over $100 - I'm sure there are some bargains to be had!

I've got my first local profile of the year to put up on my blog tomorrow and I hope you are enjoying this last month of summer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mooching in McCrae

Mr Rosanna and I decided to rent an apartment for the Australia Day long weekend and we're sure glad we did.  We stayed at the newly opened McCrae Apartment Retreat in the McCrae hillside owned by some friends of ours - Mary and Michael.  Michael works in the building industry and Mary has a design background - the two bedroom self-contained apartment has been fully kitted out underneath the main 1970s beach house (which can also be rented out) with separate access.  It was fantastic to stay somewhere so modern and beautifully designed in a peaceful and quiet bushland setting, where the only things to be heard were the birds and the ocean.  The boys loved being able to kick the soccer ball out the front while we enjoyed eating outside on the deck and reading books in the afternoon sunshine looking out onto the ocean.

And while Mary recommended a number of places to go including Red Hill Epicurean (Italian), Merricks General Store (wine), Dee's Kitchen in Dromana for breakfast/middle eastern/vegetarian, Mornington Peninsula Chocolates and the Somers General Store, Mr R and I were pretty happy just to stay put in McCrae itself which has a village feel being based between some of the bigger peninsula suburbs like Dromana and Rosebud.

The beach itself is lovely - not too crowded and I loved the beautiful bathing boxes.  It was relaxing just watching the cargo ships sail by as well as children having sailing lessons in the bay.  McCrae has a gorgeous group of shops and cafes including The Pavilion - a more upmarket place for drinks and meals, the family-friendly McCrae General Pizzeria as well as The Lighthouse Cafe which serves fantastic Thai food.

We did take the boys to the Dromana Drive-In again, this time sitting outside in the smaller open air cinema with radio headsets to watch Big Hero 6 (take blankets and warm clothes if you go!).  On our last morning there, we also drove to Red Hill stopping in at the newly opened The Gorgelicious Store for coffee and toast - it's one of the latest places to go and quite the white bread, monied crowd - there were a number of European luxury vehicles parked out the front when we arrived although I think the funniest sight I saw on the way to the peninsula was a broken down Porsche on the side of the Peninsula Link freeway being attended to by a tow truck.

The boys' cousins were also down on the peninsula for the weekend so we caught up with them for lunch before walking to the not-so-secret but very private Portsea Recreational Reserve and Dog Park (which has its own cricket pitch and tennis court) off Blair Road overlooked by a community centre that holds yoga classes on weekend mornings.  A number of people were walking their dogs who came and stole the cricket ball a number of times from us.
I hope you had a wonderful Australia Day weekend and are getting back into the groove of the new year.

Nb. If you are interested in staying at the McCrae Apartment Retreat, contact Mary on 0413 900 100 or for more information - rates from $230 - $265 per night.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

This is Australia

While things aren't perfect in our country, I consider myself a proud Australian and part of the migrant success story that forms most of our personal family backgrounds (unless you are indigenous Australian) whether your forebears came here from Scotland and Ireland (as is the case with Mr Rosanna) or more recently like me in the last two generations.
Indeed, it was my great-grandfather who came out here from China jumping ship in Melbourne to start a market garden in Bentleigh before bringing my maternal grandfather here to join him, my grandfather learnt English from Catholic priests and ended up converting to Catholicism and having nine children which is another story entirely!  My great-grandfather is actually buried at the Melbourne Cemetery in Parkville and was quite a naughty man from what I can gather.

My dad's dad came out for the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne as a chef bringing my dad and his older brother out on student visas before the White Australia immigration policy was eventually abolished and my paternal grandmother and dad's younger brother could finally be reunited with the rest of the family.

On both sides of my family, my grandparents basically started with nothing in very hard times given post-war 1950s Australia was nowhere near as progressive and multicultural as it is now.  They built businesses here, bought houses, educated their children and prospered and it's not something I take for granted - I feel lucky to have been born here.  Mr Rosanna's paternal grandparents have a similar story - his grandfather came back from the war with nothing and basically had to start all over again rebuilding his life - starting his career, buying a house and bringing up a family with his wife.

I daresay many of you will be celebrating Australia Day with family and friends with a backyard barbie of some kind.  My fellow blogger Joyce from Mel:Hot or Not has done a fabulous round up of Australia Day events around the place if you've not yet made plans.  Have a great Australia Day!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Less but better

This is the basic premise for the New York Times bestseller Essentialism by Greg McKeown, which I am half way through reading and it's something I'd like to adopt as my own mantra for this year.  It's given me a lot to think about and use in terms of how I approach all that I do (or don't) and hopefully something that I can actually incorporate into the way I live my life.  The new year always has me in a reflective mood given it's the longest stretch of time I usually have to think (uninterrupted) more deeply about things - Essentialism actually encourages us to pause on a regular basis prior to committing and be highly selective about what it is that we actually choose to do.
Image via Tiny Buddha blog
The closest I ever got to studying philosophy was in Media Ethics, while doing my undergraduate degree at RMIT, although the only thing I can remember from all those years ago was the irrepressible John Safran and his beautiful Bolivian girlfriend being in my tutorial (and yes, he was the unique character that he is even back then).  As I've got older and started to reflect more on my life and how I live it, I've become more interested in both philosophy and meditation.
Image: 'Or Fall Again', 2014
Del Kathryn Barton
Synthetic polymer paint and gouache on polyester canvas via The School of Life Melbourne
With this in mind, I did want to mention The School of Life, which opened last year in Melbourne, and is based on English philosopher Alain de Botton's sister school in London.  On Thursday 19 February there'll be a special event - Del Kathryn Barton & John Armstrong: In Conversation which I think would be a great one to go to.  Del Kathryn Barton is an Archibald Prize winning artist and John Armstrong is the 'Philosopher-in-Chief' from The School of Life London.  I think it would make for a fascinating night - the event is being held at the National Gallery of Victoria and tickets (now on sale) are $50.
Banner image via Mindfulness Meditation
I get daily quotes from Tiny Buddha and it's a nice reminder each day about being happy living in the present. Locally I've also discovered Mindfulness Meditation in Livingstone Street Ivanhoe who actually have an 8 week course that starts on 5 February.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In Suburbia

There are a number of things I never imagined myself doing before my return to the suburbs nearly 7 years ago and that includes attending party plan demonstrations and gardening - both of which I have got into since being here.

I seem to have got myself invited to all sorts of events for things like Tupperware, lingerie, linen, cards, cosmetics, cleaning products, jewellery and aromatherapy to name but a few over the time I've been in Rosanna.  However, Friday night may have been the pinnacle event as Mr Rosanna and I attended a Thermomix party at one of his work colleague's houses.
Image via Thermomix website
For those of you who haven't heard of a Thermomix - they are the very expensive all-in-one home appliances previously used by professional chefs in commercial kitchens yet have somehow made their entry into the world of domestic appliances by those who can afford to drop a lazy $2000 on a machine.  

I have to say it was an interesting night, both in terms of people who were there - Mr Rosanna's work colleague Andrew also moonlights as a writer, and he had bought the Thermomix as a Christmas present for his yoga teacher wife Gabrielle, who has wanted one for a number of years, attending no less than four demonstration parties in that time - as well as finding out more about the Thermomix itself.

I initially thought it was just a tricked up food processor and mixer but it turns out it's a whole lot more than that - you can basically create most things from scratch amazingly quickly using guided recipes that leave no margin for error i.e. it's foolproof.  There was a demonstrator who had pre-prepared ingredients but we got to try sorbet, bread, dip, risotto and chocolate custard made right in front of us over the course of the evening.  It is a completely different way of cooking and a bit revolutionary in that regard.

While we don't currently have the budget or space for a Thermomix, I do feel a bit conflicted about them.  What I liked about it was the ease, time and cost savings (over time), plus the fact that it makes healthy eating a no brainer as you can cook and create just about anything from scratch - sauces, curry pastes, marinades, soups, dips, dried stock, butter, cakes, desserts, bread, rice, porridge, ice-cream etc using fresh ingredients and no additives.  Basically anything that you now buy in a bottle, jar or container can be made in a Thermomix.  It also has built in scales and a steamer.  It doesn't replace conventional cooking in an oven, barbecue or slow cooker but is complementary to them.  I also think my children would enjoy using one because it's so easy to just throw in the ingredients and let the machine do its thing.  I think it's also good for people who aren't confident cooks or don't enjoy the actual process of cooking.
What I'm not so sure about is that I think it takes the creativity out of cooking - one of the things I enjoy when I have the time is standing over a pot or pan and adding different ingredients not always to a recipe.  I also think whether you are male or female, being able to conventionally cook using pots and pans is a basic life skill, one that I want my boys to learn, not using a $2000 appliance that takes the thinking out of the equation.

I do think as the price drops, Thermomixes may become more widely used, in a similar way to capsule coffee machines (which I don't like for environmental reasons).  It does raise a lot of interesting questions about the impact of technology on our lifestyle.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Oh the places we'll go

While I've been pretty housebound the past week caring for my boys and technically back at work (at least in body if not in spirit), it has been great to get out locally while things are quiet and less rushed - January really is Slow Melbourne and I'm quite happy with that.
Image via Urban Spoon
Mr Rosanna and I did end up having an impromptu pre-Christmas meal with the boys at Little Black Pig on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg (right next door to Cash Converters) and while the location is down the not-so-salubrious end of Burgundy street, the food and service were great.  It has a fairly spartan interior, along with plywood shelves and hard floors which make it quite loud if you do go in for a coffee or meal.  We were served by a lovely native Italian speaking waiter and the Italian food on offer looked fantastic.  There were a couple of big groups having lunch when we went in for brunch - the eggs were great and the coffees are also good.  I think I will be back there for a meal at some stage.
Image via CERES
I also had brunch with my best friends last Sunday at The Merri Table Cafe located in environmental park CERES, which is a far cry from the fairly barren wasteland that it was back in the mid 1990s when I first visited while working for Citipower.  It has evolved to include a nursery, market and cafe and also holds workshops as well as sells gift vouchers - something I'll have to keep in mind for next Christmas.  Being Brunswick, the crowd at CERES was a lot more hipster than suburban and there were a lot of people with babies in prams including my own party of friends.  I had a vegetarian borek with salad and you can also buy organic fruit and vegetables if you get there before 2pm.  There is a carpark in the front area on the left as well as limited parking in nearby streets.
Mr Rosanna and I also took the kids to Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy one afternoon and the thing I like about it is that it really is a people's park.  I've never been to Central Park in New York but in many ways, I think Edinburgh Gardens could almost be our micro-version equivalent in Melbourne.  We parked on the perimeter next to a marquee that had been set up with people holding a party complete with outdoor games and music.  The boys rode around on their bikes but everywhere I looked there were people immersed in relaxation and activity - lying on picnic rugs, playing with frisbees, walking dogs, playing tennis or basketball, jogging or walking around the park, flying kites, skating in the skateboard rink or playing in the playground.  I loved some of the more incongruous sights to be seen like this Muslim woman (below) determinedly shooting basketball hoops even though a group of big guys was hogging the court.  Go sister!  We had fun kicking the soccer ball around and watching the many dogs going crazy being off leash and getting a number of free pats by the more curious ones who came to say hello.
After finishing our play at the park, we scooted to Victoria Street Richmond where you can always find a Vietnamese restaurant that's open over the quiet hospitality season.  We had a cheap and cheerful meal at Ha Long Bay restaurant bumping into another school family while we were there.
Image via Urban Spoon
Finally, summer wouldn't be complete without ice-cream and we also stopped in one hot summer's night to Fairy Hills Gourmet Ice cream in Ivanhoe which is open most nights until 9pm.  It's in a fairly quiet group of shops opposite Ivanhoe Grammar School on Lower Heidelberg Road and the ice-cream there is yum!  I also managed to beat Mr Rosanna playing Connect 4 while we were there, which was funny.
Whether you are back at work or still on holiday, I hope you are enjoying the summer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Summer styling

With summer now upon us (although maybe not today in Melbourne), it's nice to bare some skin and I discovered a few new labels over the break.  If you're into boho chic like me, then head to Spell & the Gypsy Collective who are based in Byron Bay.  I love their styling and much of their range is rayon or cotton, which is cool to wear in the hotter months.  Their playsuits in particular are tres comfy if you don't mind all the buttons!  
Image via Spell Designs
Image via Flash Tattoos
In keeping with the whole bohemian vibe, I particularly love the Lotus and Little Buddha collections from By Charlotte jewellery - Charlotte Blakeney is a very successful Australian makeup artist turned jewellery designer.  I also love her Rainbow Beach bracelets which are perfect for days by the seaside.  And while I'm not a personal fan of inked skin, I do love the gold and silver temporary tattoos from Flash Tattoos which are available online from Beginning Boutique - they are perfect for outdoor festivals and parties if you are so inclined.  Painted nails always look good in summer and if you've had the dilemma like me of trying to find chemical-free nail polish (when I worked for Aveda they did not have nail polish in their beauty range due to all the chemicals), then try Kester Black or Zoya.
Image via By Charlotte
Image via State of Green blog
Other jewellery labels which caught my eye over the break include Kimono Reincarnate for those of you who like Asian-inspired jewellery as well as the absolutely beautiful Art Deco-inspired jewellery from local jeweller Danielle Zanetti (who you'll be hearing more about on my blog) - Danielle also sells her range at the fabulous Shirt and Skirt Markets at Abbotsford Convent (the next one is this coming Sunday).
Image via Kimono Reincarnate

Image via Danielle Zanetti Jewels
Speaking of absolutely beautiful, I loved actress Emma Stone in her Lanvin jumpsuit at this year's Golden Globes (below) - I love that both she and NZ singer Lorde wore pants!
Image via Hollywood Life

Monday, January 12, 2015

Home straight

Welcome to 2015.  I've had a fairly subdued start to my year not helped by falling in a heap and getting sick after Christmas followed by my children having medical procedures in hospital - it was definitely not fun times in my household for a while there.  I did manage to have a great NYE at our neighbours' place down the road where we could see the fireworks and I hope you have had a better start to your year - I do love celebrating the new year here in Melbourne.  Given I'm Chinese Australian, I'm also quite happy to start my year all over again when the refined and artistic Sheep year gambols in on February 19.  There have been a few too many dramas both personally and in the outside world in this outgoing Year of the Horse!
Fed Square image via That's Melbourne
I did have a lovely lead up to Christmas hosting both our street party and then my family on Christmas day for lunch at Chez Rosanna as much as it was a sprint to the end.  My friend Jasmine popped her head in that week with some home made plum jelly and crunchy granola (yum!) - there's nothing quite like hand made presents made with love.  I gave my sisters some indoor plants as presents but ended up having to do a last minute exchange after discovering they could be toxic for small children and pets - I wish the nursery had mentioned that to me before marketing them as Christmas presents so there's a tip for you if you ever buy the same for your friends or family as gifts.
Image via
One of the best Christmas presents I received was a fitbit - the activity tracker anticipated to be worn by 40% of the population in one form or another over the next five years.  And while it may seem a bit Big Brother having all your fitness details recorded online - it's been an eye opener clocking my daily physical activity (or lack thereof) since the New Year.  Rather than resolutions, my goal carried over from last year is to sign up for a 10km run this year having upped my running in the lead up to Christmas.

It was great to see some of my oldest friends visit from interstate and overseas too over the break and as much as you can make new friends in life at any stage, nothing quite replaces the history you have with the people who've known you the longest.  And the other best thing about summer? Lazy days and warm nights ahead - I managed to visit a few places over the break (which you'll soon hear about) as well as discovered some cool clothing, make up and accessories perfect for warmer weather and nights out.  I've also got some new local profiles lined up and I am looking forward to sharing these with you.  Bring on the Sheep!