Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wonder Woman

I've just completed week three of personal training with Nikki Ellis at Cinch Training in Macleod and I'm happy to say, it hasn't taken too long to develop some conditioning after some initial soreness the first time!  I'm also pleased to announce that Nikki is going to be one of my sponsors so I'll be receiving complimentary training in return for shout outs on this very blog.  She is the first person (and local business) that I'm entering into such an arrangement with, and I'd like to be completely transparent about it.  As I've said to Nikki, I'm happy to do this because she's a business I would normally use and indeed, that's already the case with any of the people, products, services or events I currently mention on my blog, for which I'm not receiving any payment or sponsorship.
Nikki Ellis Cinch Training image via Digidecl
But back to Nikki and her studio - ideally I'd like to be going twice a week like Mr Rosanna and most of the regulars I've already met go three times a week and you can tell.  They're all really fit and strong!  Nikki herself is a really amazing person - I've been privy to some of her personal life the past few weeks which has included on top of taking classes and running her business no less - a husband being away on business for a fortnight, speaking at a Probus event, her flying up to Sydney last weekend for the Australian Small Business Champions Awards event for which she was nominated, her temporarily coaching her daughter's soccer team as well as organising and speaking at the Rosanna Golf Links Primary School Mothers Day Night Market being held next Thursday night, which looks absolutely sensational if you're a local mum.  How's that for a start?  I think it must be all that exercise she does!
Image via RGLPS Mothers' Day Night Market Facebook page
Speaking of markets, there's also a few on this weekend including the Kew Night Market being held tomorrow and the Northern Regards Artisan Market (Kate's Market dedicated to one of the co-founders who has sadly passed away) at Northcote where you'll find my yoga friend Susie's Sassi Kandles stall.  The NGV Melbourne Art Book Fair event also starts tomorrow night and would be a dangerous one for me.  Despite the proliferation of e-book readers, I think many people continue to buy children's books and art books including me, I'm still waiting to receive my copy of 200 Years of Australian Fashion book in the post.
Kate Catterall image via Garden Euphoria Facebook page
There are also a couple of gardening events on this weekend including the free Gardening for Habitat & Biodiversity event being held at La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary in Bundoora from 10.30 am - 1 pm this Saturday (bookings essential here) as well as the Burnley Festival & Alumni Day, where my landscape designer and uni friend Kate Catterall studied horticulture.  If you're a gardener, Kate has just launched her own very inspiring gardening blog, Garden Euphoria, which I will be following and Mr R and I have previously had Kate come over to advise us on our own garden and help with plants.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Art of Doing Nothing

I made a very last minute decision last week to go away to Daylesford this long weekend, and I'm sure glad I did.  It's been a really busy past few months and I've needed to stop and smell the roses - I don't think you ever quite fully relax when you stay at home as you can always find jobs to do...
Our wood cabin - Sailors Falls
Daylesford is quite possibly my favourite country Victoria destination.  It's a place I first visited in my twenties and a place I've continued to visit through the decades although less frequently since I had children.  The last time we were there was in fact over five years ago and it was a day trip from a holiday in Castlemaine - another beautiful country town.  That whole area is beautiful from Kyneton to Bendigo, Trentham, Glenlyon and Hepburn Springs.  In my single days before I had kids, I've previously visited or been to a number of events at places like the Hepburn Springs Bathhouse & Spa, Sault, Lavendula and The Convent Gallery.  Peppers Minerals Springs Hotel & Villa Parma also look beautiful and a school mum friend recently stayed there for her wedding anniversary capped off with dinner at Alla Wolf-Tasker's award winning Lake House Restaurant, which has been there forever.  I love the whole Swiss Italian heritage, culture and beautiful buildings to be found.
We stayed in more humble accommodation for our visit - a friend of a friend's gorgeous wood cabin (soon to be listed on Stayz) with whitewashed floorboards, picture perfect window scenes and a wood fire near the Wombat State Forest in a place called Sailors Falls - less than 10 minutes' drive into Daylesford.  We could have just stayed there, gone for long bush walks to see the kangaroos and read books in front of the fire (and be warned, it's winter in Daylesford after Easter so pack your woollies and parkas) if we'd not had the kids with us!  There's not a lot in Sailors Falls itself aside from Sailors Falls Estate, Paradiso Arts and the Sailors Falls picnic area and walk (a number of resourceful Europeans were helping themselves to the free mineral water that's there on tap).
We arrived in Daylesford Friday evening and after a supermarket trip, had dinner at the ever reliable Koukla pizzeria and cafe, which still does good food - part of the Frangos & Frangos empire owned by Mr Frangos himself right on the corner of the main street.  Mr Rosanna and I looked longingly next door at the very stylish Belvedere Social (apparently great for cocktails and serving a special 'Purple Rain' cocktail in memory of Prince) which in previous incarnations has been the upmarket Frangos restaurant, retail space and gallery.  You can now stay at Hotel Frangos, which has an attached Endota spa.
Mr Rosanna - Daylesford Hotel
I also liked the look of the Albert Hotel Guest House off the main road, which does both heritage and modern studio accommodation and we drove past Kazuki's on Raglan, which I think is the number one rated restaurant in Daylesford marrying Japanese and French cuisine - it looked very refined.  We did get drinks at the Daylesford Hotel, which reminded us a lot of the Healesville Hotel inside, but I'm not sure about the food there - it looked like pretty standard pub fare.
Ceiling of the old Rex Theatre
Daylesford itself hasn't changed a huge amount since I was last there - the two huge wind turbines as you approach the town are new and I'd never noticed the Rocklyn Yoga Ashram that is also there as you come in along the highway.  The former Rex Theatre was turned into a shopping arcade (sadly largely empty although new owners have just taken over) and movie house three years ago so it was great to see that the Daylesford cinema is still operating
The Mill Markets - Daylesford
There are also a number of new shops, which are all worth visiting, including Bromley&Co, G Daylesford, Manteau Noir and Art Deco all on the same side of the street as The Rex while Bokeh Handmade and Frances Pilley are on the other side.  But by far and away, the most exciting place to visit for Mr Rosanna and me, was the Mill Markets - a treasure trove of antique, vintage and collectables all housed in two big adjoining warehouses.  We've been to the one in Newcomb (Geelong) and there is also another one in Ballarat (on our radar for our next regional Victorian holiday).  You could spend a whole day in there and still not see everything.
Bargain finds at The Mill Markets
Given we had the children, Mr R and I had to cut our visit short - there is a cafe inside and the kids found themselves some little treasures including a book on Wizardry and a stuffed panda bear called Bobo.  I also managed to find a Chinese Girl vintage print and a brass watering can for my indoor plants - bargains at $12 and $14 each!  It's all about the hunt...
The boys above and below - Swiss Mountain Hotel, Blampied

On the Saturday night, we'd been recommended dinner at Swiss Mountain Hotel in Blampied and set off early.  I'm glad we did as we'd been a bit laissez faire and not made a booking, only to arrive and find that it had indeed been booked out given it was a Saturday night on a long weekend, even though the pub is in the middle of nowhere.  The kind owners let us have an early meal as it was still relatively empty when we arrived and the food was superb - it is a real hidden secret - rather nondescript on the outside but more upmarket and stylish on the inside - fresh flowers on every table and a really lovely warmth to it.  Both my curry and Mr R's steak were fantastic - it is a real gastro pub.
On the Sunday, we took the boys to the Daylesford Sunday Market, which has also grown a lot bigger than what I remember and is probably more trash than treasure but still a really fun place to go.  It's a beautiful drive there down the highway along the boulevard of trees (above) where some of the best foodie places can be found like Cliffy's Emporium, Mercato's, The Perfect Drop and (further along) The Farmers Arms Hotel.  There is also a railway ride you can do from there to Bullarto - unfortunately it's not a steam train but an electric one, which still looked like fun.  We were happy to spend a couple of hours just walking in the glorious Autumn sunshine and managed to eat the most delicious pulled pork rolls from Danny's Farm food stall (also selling Portuguese custard tarts and other sweet treats), which were the best pulled pork rolls we've ever had!  Danny's Farm is located in Blampied - a bit of a foodie place by the sounds of things as Captain's Creek Organic Wines can also be found there, along with the Swiss Mountain Hotel.  Speaking of organics, we did drop into the Daylesford Organics farm gate stall at 19 Foxs Lane in Musk Vale but it was sadly closed.  Kate Ulman writes a fantastic blog detailing her family's country life of food, craft and cooking called Foxs Lane and is the author of Vantastic: retro caravan holidays in the modern world.
Mr R and I had ducked into Jubilee Lake Holiday Park, complete with resident peacock, the day beforehand to check out the lake and the boys had spied paddle boats and canoes so we took the opportunity to have a family paddle boat ride for half and hour on the lake, which was a lot of fun.  There were a number of families there camping (and braving the cold at night!) as well as others fishing and out on the water, including a couple of people who fell into the lake a few times while canoeing.  It's a lovely spot complete with playground and outdoor amphitheatre.
Jubilee Lake Holiday Park


Also worth doing is the scenic drive around the Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens where you can alight at the top and climb up the tower (unless you suffer from vertigo) for some great views around Daylesford.  You can also find the Wombat Hill House cafe, run by Alla Wolf-Tasker, for home made crumpets with bacon and maple syrup.
Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens scenic drive


Views from the top of the tower
On our last day there yesterday, Mr R and I took the boys for a bike ride around Lake Daylesford , where you can find the Bookbarn and Boathouse cafes and children's playground, while we took turns running around the perimeter.  Remember to take bread if you want to feed the geese and ducks - Mr 10 was in his element, at one with the animals, and it was funny sight driving there in the morning to see a couple of geese going for their morning stroll along the highway.
We'd also been recommended a visit to the Radio Springs Hotel in Lyonville but didn't get a chance to get out there.  There are also other country towns all worth visiting including Clunes (which is celebrating its Booktown Festival next weekend), Smeaton for the Tuki Trout Farm and Creswick on the way to Ballarat, where you can visit the Creswick Woollen Mills.  Castlemaine is only a half hour drive away and I can highly recommend a stay there as well as a trip on the Victorian Goldfields Railway steam train to Maldon and back.  Aah...the country life.  I think if Mr R and I can ever afford it, we'd love a weekender in a place like Daylesford - we will definitely be going back at some stage soon.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Swap you one

It is still unseasonably warm and dry so far this Autumn, even with daylight savings ending so you may still be wearing your summer clothes.  I can't remember an April where we were still experiencing weather in the high twenties.  While you may not yet be putting on a jumper, you may be interested in a local clothing swap taking place tomorrow from 12.30pm at Greenhills Neighbourhood Centre in Greensborough given this tricky transeasonal weather.
Image via Greenhills Neighbourhood Centre Facebook page
It's $5 entry and bookings are essential on 9435 9287 as afternoon tea is also being provided.  You can swap up to 10 items that are seasonally appropriate, clean and free from noticeable faults.  This includes clothes, scarves and accessories for women and children.  I love that this is a sustainable activity where you get a chance to update your wardrobe, exchange your existing clothes for something different and not contribute to landfill.  Sometimes I despair at the thought of how much fast fashion is destined for the rubbish bins in this country and it's nice to know that any of the clothes that don't get taken home with people on the day will go into care packages to local support services.
Image via North East Neighbourhood House Network
Like all of Banyule's Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres, Greenhills Neighbourhood House is a not for profit organisation that has been operating for over 30 years.  It has a highly regarded Occasional Childcare service and also runs a wide range of programs from health and well-being groups, art and craft activities and social groups for all ages. More events are planned for Greenhills in 2016 with one specific focus each month.  For more information visit www.greenhillsnc.org.au
Image via Paqme
Speaking of clothes, I did come across the very groovy Paqme raincoats not so long ago and love the fact that like Envirosax bags, they can be packed up and put in a handbag for when you need to use them.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Come Gather

It's the name of the next exhibition opening at Ivanhoe's Hatch Contemporary Arts Space or 'Nhalinggu Bagung' - celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture. The official opening is tomorrow night from 6 - 8 pm with the exhibition to be opened by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Dianne Kerr (conducting Welcome to Country) and Councillor Craig Langdon, Mayor of Banyule.  There will also be a guest speaker and other performers at the event and be warned, the last opening I went to was so popular I nearly found myself standing in the street!
Image via www.banyule.vic.gov.au
The exhibition runs from 21 April to 4 June and there will also be a number of associated public events including Artists' Talk and Tours, Aboriginal Issues lecture and National Sorry Day Smoking Ceremony and Flag Raising.  A number of my friends love Aboriginal art and I was lucky enough to visit the Papunya Tula Artists gallery in Alice Springs many years ago, which sells some of the most beautiful works I've ever seen.
Image via Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV)
Speaking of art, I dropped in briefly to Bundoora Homestead Art Centre yesterday to have a cup of tea with the Gallery Manager Ella Hinkley, and along with Curator Claire Watson, both women are kicking goals.  The centre is closed on Mondays but I got a sneak peek of some of the more interactive works that are currently on display including textile weaving and finding lucky gold nuggets that are presently scattered around the space for people to find.  Lots of fun!  The homestead is one of those hidden gems in Bundoora, which is undergoing rapid expansion given the amount of development in the area.  It's been wonderful to have ongoing associations with both local creative spaces.
Image via Bonsai Farm
On a random note, I've only recently discovered the Bonsai Farm at 67 Church Street in Hawthorn and wish I'd known about it before now.  One of my sisters and her partner lived in Japan for over 4 years so as an engagement present, I bought them a bonsai tree which I had delivered to their front door as a surprise.  If you can't be amongst the trees or have a view of one from your desk, then bringing one indoors in a lovely idea - it's a study in stillness and tranquility in a time-poor era where most of us are always busy.  Needless to say, I am looking forward to the long weekend ahead as I'm sure you are as well.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spinning around

Hat display - 200 Years of Australian Fashion
Parasols near entrance area - 200 Years of Australian Fashion
I'm feeling pretty sore today after returning to yoga classes at Action Yoga in Ivanhoe with Pamela Speldewinde and doing a trial class with Nikki Ellis at Cinch PT in Macleod this morning.  Mr Rosanna's been going to Nikki's 6am classes a couple of mornings a week since the start of the year after I suggested he go there, and it looks like I'll be following in his footsteps given Nikki is a friend as well as being a very dynamic and inspiring local businesswoman and working parent.
Colonial-era clothing above and below

Modern day interpretations of the Victorian era (above)

I spent yesterday morning at the 200 Years of Australian Fashion exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square with my friend Rina Chia -  the former owner of Take 2 vintage & recycled clothing market (now The Fashion Market) and current owner of Fash Forward (selling vintage/second hand clothing on consignment for select clientele online and at selected markets in Melbourne).  Rina's about to head off to New York with her family for a holiday and I'm not jealous, much!  We spent a fabulous morning walking through the exhibition which takes you from colonial Australian fashion (the dresses are tiny) at the start of the show, which is set up like a French fashion salon/department store, right through the decades to modern day Australian design.  The accompanying catalogue has been so popular, it's currently sold out.
Beautiful dresses going around on the moving dais
1950s wedding dress (middle) 
We had a ball looking at the beautiful clothing.  I will always have a thing for the 1930s-50s era because it was so glamorous and lady-like although our favourite area was the biggest room from the late 1980s, complete with accompanying club music, which was like going back in time.  If you love fashion, and Australian fashion in particular, it's a must see show.
1960s Twiggy-inspired fashion
1970s disco fashion
Flamingo Park by Jenny Kee & Linda Jackson (above & below)

I also wanted to quickly post today about some weekend events.  The Banyule Sustainable Transport Show is on this Saturday 16 April from 11 am - 1.30 pm at Banyule Primary School,  It's a free event where you can try out an electric car or electric bike as well as bring your bike for safe cycle training, free bike and helmet checks.  For more information contact 8470 8405 or info@sustainablecommunities.vic.gov.au
Fashion Design Council 1980/90s collection 

Kate Durham
It's also Record Store Day Australia this Saturday and locally you may want to visit the Kew Record Fair to stock up on some vinyl.  Mr Rosanna and his muso friends are also fans of Carlton Audio Visual where you can trade in your old turntables or get them tuned up.  Tivoli Hi-Fi in Hawthorn East is also celebrating the day with 10% off vinyl and other special offers.
Akira
Carla Zampatti 
Romance Was Born
Dion Lee & Ellery