Friday, January 29, 2016

Going Bananas

It is Chinese New Year on Monday 8 February and I have no idea what's in store for this Year of the Red Fire Monkey suffice to say it already sounds pretty dynamic!  Joyce from the Mel: Hot or Not blog ran a good post on Chinese New Year celebrations around the place and one has also appeared in The Weekly Review.
Crown Lunar New Year image via Mel: Hot or Not
My mantra for this year is actually 'it is what it is' (or as Buddhists like to say 'the way it is') and while it may sound a bit resigned it's really all about acceptance, which is not to say you stop trying to achieve your goals but that you accept where you are currently at, knowing it's the reality and be happy.  According to Buddhism it's only our aversion to reality that hurts us when we'd like things to be different than how they really are.  There's also a lot to be said for giving more, expecting less and being content with that - indeed that's the whole trick to it - being happy here in the present moment with our imperfect, ever changing lives.
Shillinglaw Cafe image via Google+
I don't know what happened to summer in Melbourne today - we are a city that truly experiences four seasons in a day - I can't believe the rain!  A couple of foodie mentions in time for the weekend.  My friends Bruno and Kal have recently taken over Shillinglaw Cafe (formerly the Shillinglaw Cottage Cafe) at the heritage listed Eltham Library (which is worth visiting in itself) and I'll be making a beeline there very soon to check out the food.  Bruno is Brazilian so expect a Latin-tinged menu - I remember meeting him a number of years ago thinking he looked like a South American soccer player, but hey a South American chef is a pretty good second!
Image via St Cloud | Vietnamese Eating House
Another place that friends have been to and raved about has been new Vietnamese restaurant St. Cloud Eating House in Hawthorn.  I still love that inner city culture is coming to the suburbs after all this time...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pineapples and Rhinos

Mr Smith magazine at Hello Coffee - Apollo Bay
Kisii stone rhino at Bay of Apostles - Apollo Bay
I'm a bit in denial about the return to school and work this week while the days are still hot and sunny.  There's still another month of summer and I just wanted to post about beach house chic today.  We were lucky enough to hire a friend's beach house at Apollo Bay, who has great taste.  She and her partner, who is a mad keen surfer, have beautifully decorated their place with artwork on every wall and some consistent themes throughout their house - they have a thing for pineapples, rhinoceroses, surfboards and all things surf-related amongst other things which reflect very much who they are as people.


I loved their set of Aura by Tracie Ellis coloured plates which made eating there feel like a celebration every day.  Mr Rosanna and I also loved their big Himalayan salt lamp - apparently good to counteract tech devices/electronics as well as for people who have respiratory conditions.  We just love the look of them and ended up buying some smaller ones for our place (just watch out for condensation from them if you have evaporative cooling) from Salts of the Earth salt therapy centre in Rosanna - an interesting place if you pop your head in.

The Bay of Apostles shop there also stocked some Australian bamboo tableware called Impact Eco.  While I have previously come across Biobu by Ekobo at the Heide Store in Bulleen, I'd never heard of Impact Eco but also loved their tea containers and ended up buying one for home.
Image by Impact Eco Tableware
At Hodgys, I came across the very cool Kollab range of beach bags and cooler bags - perfect for outdoor events this summer.  I've also been an admirer of the Basil Bangs beach umbrellas & outdoor accessories for a while now, as well as The Beach People round towels.
Image via Kollab
Images above & below via Basil Bangs

Image via The Beach People
For the ultimate in beach house chic?  It's had quite a bit of press lately given it's an award wining boutique hotel with a great restaurant attached to it but I just love the way the two sisters who own it have decorated it - my pick is Halcyon House at Carabita Beach in northern NSW.
Image via Halcyon House

Monday, January 25, 2016

A piece of perfect

Mr Rosanna and I are home after two wonderful weeks away in picture perfect Apollo Bay.  While the surf coast may be considered the poor cousin to the more glamorous Mornington Peninsula, it's still a beautiful place to go.  Indeed, I'd never ever been to Apollo Bay in all the years I've lived in Melbourne.  While I've done the Great Ocean Road a number of times, the furthest I've ever got was Lorne.  It is a windy last 26km from inland Forrest to Apollo Bay through the ferns and the rainforest but well worth the trip - we stopped for Mr Echidna who had started walking across the road - but did a quick about face when we approached, scuttling back into the undergrowth.
View of Apollo Bay from Marriner's Lookout (above and below)
If you're after a perfect seaside village to visit, then the more low key and less crowded Apollo Bay surrounded by rolling hills is the place to go.  It's got a real community feel with a weekly Saturday Community Market on the foreshore as well as a monthly Sunday Farmer's Market.  During the holidays, there's also an Indoor Market held at the Catholic Church Hall at the top end of town near the Breakwater.  There are some beautiful handmade things to buy from local artisans and craft makers - I loved the jewellery by Beth at SilknSilver as well as the Karmic Goat soaps made by Beatrice (who you can also visit in Wild Dog Creek Road along with her herd of snow coloured goats). The top end of town also includes hippy shop Moontide as well as Arts Inc around the corner held in the old Mechanic's Institute Hall, which can be hired out for events and is used as the Apollo Bay Cinema during school holidays.  Over the summer holidays, there's also a night time carnival on although I started feeling dizzy just watching some of the rides.
View from Wild Dog Creek Road 
Karmic Goats!


The Apollo Bay Fishermen's Co-op at the Breakwater is a fantastic place to buy fresh seafood if you're up for cooking it yourself (we did a baked snapper) - best to go in the morning around 10 am when all the seafood is fresh in from the boats.  There's also a lovely view over the Breakwater and pier if you want to have fish and chips overlooking the water.  It's also where the boats head out if you're wanting to visit the local seal colony or go fishing.  We spied a lone penguin having a great old time splashing about in the water along with some brave girls jumping off the pier in their bikinis (the boys donned wetsuits most days, which you can hire).  My boys enjoyed body surfing and boogie boarding but given it's the surf coast, there's surf lessons on offer and lots of surfers in the water - brave souls given a 3 metre shark was spotted in the water while we were there!
At the Breakwater (above and below)




Apollo Bay is a nature lover's paradise and one of the more green municipalities around - it's one of the only councils I know of who have a weekly organic waste collection and there are some spectacular walks you can do like Marriner's Lookout for aerial views of Apollo Bay or through the rainforest adjacent to the Great Otway National Park at nearby Maits Rest, which was like being in an enchanted forest complete with potoroos and other small creatures - a perfect thing to do on really hot days.  Not surprisingly, Apollo Bay does have a more bohemian feel to it and is a lot more middle class than the peninsula.  I found the locals very friendly people - I got lots of hellos while out running on the beach track!
Maits Rest (above and below)



I also enjoyed doing Yoga on the foreshore one morning - a beautiful way to start the day while we also took advantage of the beach trails to cycle, run and walk as a family.  This was a good thing given we ate out a lot while we were there!  There are some great takeaway meals to be had from Dragon Bay Inn (Chinese housed in an old Art Deco building), Apollo Bay Seafood Cafe (lobster burgers!) and Apollo Bay Bakery (scallop pies!) and more upmarket places to go like La Bimba (Moroccan) where we went on our last night in Apollo Bay as well as Chris's Beacon Point and Casalingo (Italian).   There's also great coffee and food to be had at the newly opened Hello Coffee cafe and roastery off the beaten track in the industrial estate where you can also find The Bent Nail second hand goods.  It's housed in an old shed and very Melbourne in feel.  We also ate a lot of award winning ice-cream from Dooleys on the main street as well as enjoyed afternoon beverages at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse beer garden housed in a magnificent old 1880s building - the former Ballarat Hotel.
Dragon Bay Inn Chinese Restaurant
Great Ocean Road Brewhouse (old Ballarat Hotel above and below) 

Hello Coffee (above and below) 
There are also a number of really good shops in Apollo Bay - my favourites on the main drag included Hawkeye Homewares (stocking Elk shoes, Klein's Perfumery toiletries and Mesop clothing - very Melbourne), Hodgys (cool surf wear and clothing with a fashion edge), Galapagos Books and Bay of Apostles.  Near Casalingo was a very new upmarket retail shop called Coyote & Hare selling boho chic (next to the Apollo Bay Day Spa) and around the corner from that you can find the Apollo Bay Op Shop, Earth Flower florist and Thai House restaurant.
Mr Rosanna and me at La Bimba (above and below)
Further out from Apollo Bay is the Cape Otway Lightstation as well as the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures, but we didn't get a chance to go.  We did stop in at the Forrest Brewing Company for lunch on the way home, which was a lovely pit stop as well as stretched our legs in nearby Birregurra - a place I'd like to go back to given the award winning restaurant Brae is located there.
Forrest Brewing Company
Royal Mail Hotel Birregurra
So much to see and do - Apollo Bay is a place I'd like to visit again, and I think I'll be making a return to the surf coast pretty soon given a lot of friends and family are lucky enough to have beach houses there.  It's been great to have had some time out - it was both a piece of perfect and a perfect place to find some peace.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Coming Home

I bought Mr Rosanna tickets to see US soul singer Leon Bridges at The Corner Hotel as one of his Christmas presents, who we saw on Wednesday night.  We had a great night, having an impromptu meal at Benjamin's Kitchen in Alphington (which had just re-opened) before heading straight to Richmond where we caught the tail end of the support act.
Image via www.leonbridges.com
Leon Bridges was fantastic - it was like being transported back to 1950s America in the Deep South - he sounds a bit like Sam Cooke with a voice as smooth as molasses.  He is also a pretty hip dresser - again it's more 1950s inspired - think Ray Charles and early Elvis Presley.  The band were very tight as was the female backing singer, who also had a beautiful voice.  It was a fun night!  There are a number of side shows happening around the place in Melbourne with all the various summer music festivals if you are a music lover - it's worth subscribing to The Venue Collective to see what's coming up.
I don't normally post about my wardrobe choices given I'm not a fashion blogger as such, but I did want to include a shot of the vintage polka dot dress and shoes I wore on the night as they were also a bit 50s inspired and given there's an actual song by Leon Bridges called Brown Skin Girl (with ruby lips and a polka dot dress), which he also sang on the night.  The only thing about wearing flat shoes (as well as being vertically challenged i.e. short) means that it's hard to see the artist if you're standing behind taller people, and there was a fashion victim couple both wearing hats (guys it wasn't a daytime music festival but a night-time inside gig) who single-handedly managed to annoy every single person standing behind them....some people have no idea.
I think Leon Bridges will be touring again at some future point, probably in a larger stadium so it was great to catch him at a more intimate venue up close and personal - he had some pretty fine moves to match his music!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Lazy days

The boys at Imax Melbourne
Welcome to 2016.  I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are ready to tackle the New Year, especially if you are back at work like me today.  I'm finding it a bit hard to motivate myself!  And I'm envious of any of you who may be having a long January away at the beach - summer is here and life is going slowly at the moment.

I'm looking forward to a longer break at some stage to re-charge given I spent most of the Christmas/New Year period recovering from illness - it wasn't fun but things could have been worse.  I've been thinking of the poor people who lost their homes to bushfire near Lorne as well as one local family I know who came home from their Christmas away only to find their house ransacked and burgled.
Mr Rosanna and my sister Cat Lew
I''ve not yet had a chance to reflect much or gather my thoughts for the next 12 months suffice to say that I'm looking forward to welcoming more joy and serenity into my life and letting go of anger and regret, things which are never helpful.
Book from Andrews Books Ivanhoe & deli items from Casa Iberica Alphington
My family and I have had some lazy days just hanging out; going to see movies, playing games, going swimming and even feeling relaxed enough to play a bit of music (Mr Rosanna and my sister Cat anyway) at family gatherings.
Hana Matori Japanese maple trees & pots from The Greenery Heidelberg
Mr R has had a long love affair with all things Spanish having travelled through Spain pretty extensively when he first went overseas.  For Christmas this year, I got him a copy of Movida Solera as well as a number of Mexican/Spanish deli items from Casa Iberica in Alphington.  While for me, I received two beautiful 'Hana Matori' Japanese dwarf maple trees in pots from The Greenery Heidelberg (10% off on Wednesdays!) that are now taking pride of place on my Moroccan/Asian-inspired deck, which even the cockatoos are visiting.
Turkish tiles from Ottoman Treasures Brunswick
Lantern from The Greenery Heidelberg, cushions from Bungalow Living
Hanging herb garden - wooden planter boxes from Bulleen Art & Garden