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This is now

I started this blog in 2011 when I was at home with two toddlers desperately seeking some inspiration.  In the absence of finding anything local, Miss Rosanna was born.

Since then, I’ve developed a loyal following of readers interested in arts, culture, local events and people.  I’ve found work, created an online community and become real-life friends with people I first met in the virtual world – things which I never expected when I created Miss Rosanna all those years ago.

In the intervening years, I started freelancing as a marketing consultant and copywriter for small businesses including Avant Card, The Light Factory Gallery (now Second Home Eltham) and Wendy’s Music.  I am still friends with my clients today (and still work for some of them!).

I’ve also had the opportunity to write for The Weekly Review and speak at local events as well as work in a voluntary capacity with arts and culture organisations including the Banyule Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee, Heide Museum of Modern Art and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre.

Life has been rewarding and last year I started contracting part-time at La Trobe University handling the Bold Thinking Series of public lectures in their inaugural year – something which will continue this year in 2017 as the University celebrates its 50th Anniversary.

To this end, I thought that I would re-launch the Miss Rosanna blog to celebrate the new year, and a new journey ahead for me and for you, as my readers.  I hope we can share lots of adventures together, which is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place.  There’s not a lot of point knowing things if those around you don’t benefit as well.  I wish you love and light in 2017 – here’s to a new year and a new start for all of us.img_5103

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O Christmas Tree

Is your Christmas tree up? We finally put ours up on the weekend and while I love the look and smell of fresh trees – we decided a long time ago to go plastic which apparently is more sustainable in the long-term (over 20 years). Either way, it seems to be a vexed question these days! I make no judgements but am over the amount of plastic we seem to have in our lives.  I now carry a glass coffee cup, glass straw and camp cutlery at work to try to minimise my impact, particularly with single-use items, but it really needs to be done at a corporate and structural level.

And while I will always be interested in fashion and clothing, I’ve also found my interest dwindling as I’ve got older, not because I don’t care about what I look like but more that I’m concerned about the amount of stuff that ends up in landfill. It really is better to buy investment pieces that will stand the test of time and  – as I say to my kids – ‘do it once, do it properly’ and I think that also applies to clothes, and other purchases, which still work and don’t necessarily need to be upgraded just because they’re not the newest or latest thing.

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Kisume image via Open Table

I do however still love dining out and Mr Rosanna and I had a special dinner out with his best friends on Saturday night at Japanese restaurant Kisume on Flinders Lane almost opposite Supernormal. The food and service were flawless and it’s a glamorous dining spot if you’re after something more upmarket. It’s not cheap – we had the $85 per head dining menu and with drinks it was $120 a head but given Mr R and I don’t get out much these days, it was worth it.

There are a couple of new places that have just been featured on Broadsheet which I’m interested in visiting at some stage.  For something more high-end, Lesa (above Embla) on Russell Street looks great and for modern Vietnamese, Sunda in Punch Lane is also on my list.  We are so spoilt for choice in Melbourne – it really has become a foodie capital.

 

Iceland in Melbourne

Mr Rosanna and I saw Icelandic musician Olafur Arnalds at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Monday night. It was our first visit to the Centre and we loved it – we met my little sister Cat for a drink at Blondie bar outside where I spied singer Clare Bowditch at another table (and who we later saw at the gig) before moving indoors into the amazing and beautiful wood-panelled interior concert space (pictured below).

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We were treated to a journey that was cinematic, orchestral, electronic and ambient all at the same time. Besides Olafur Arnalds on piano/keyboard, there was also a drummer and strings including cello, viola and violins.  The atmospheric set showcased a full sound and light show (below) with a solo encore performance by Arnalds that ended in total silence. It was an incredible experience and he has had an interesting musical apprenticeship listening to classical music as a child (my favourite song of his is Lag Fyrir Ommu dedicated to his grandmother) before being in a punk rock band in his younger years (in some ways similar to his compatriot Icelandic female singer Bjork who has always been a little bit different).

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Summer in the city is exciting – as Mr Rosanna and I walked to the Centre we were treated to a live tango performance in the Victorian Arts Centre forecourt before walking past animated light boxes outside the National Gallery of Victoria which is currently showing the newly opened Escher X Nendo: Between Two Worlds exhibition.  We exited the city close to 11pm and I couldn’t believe the amount of people still walking the streets – Melbourne really has become a bustling 24-hour metropolis.

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Victorian Arts Centre forecourt

A couple of things to mention today – the Wild About Melbourne market is coming to Rosanna Village tomorrow and my yoga friend Susie will be selling her hand poured soy candles tomorrow at the market – a good one in time for Christmas.  If you’re a fan of gin which a number of my colleagues are – the Xmas Gin Market is being held at The Craft and Co in Collingwood on Sunday.  My Uncle Peter has also worked for Yarra Valley-based Four Pillars gin and is a fan.

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Mr R outside the NGV

There’s only a couple of weeks to go before Christmas but I still have my foot flat to the floor with work and other commitments. I hope you get a chance to wind down as we approach the closing weeks of 2019 and start to reflect on the year that’s been.

 

No time for dreaming

I’ve almost reached saturation point and my brain isn’t coping with the amount of events I’ve had on over the past fortnight including two birthdays in my family, which kill me every year before Christmas.  I am hoping this week that things start to quieten down although work is still relatively busy given I’m now in planning and programming mode for 2019.

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One of the birthdays was Mr Rosanna’s and he’s always a tricky person to buy for in terms of gifts – he’s quite fussy and isn’t materialistic so I always scratch my head trying to work out something creative, experiential and personal.  I think I did well this year as I bought him the Japanese best seller The courage to be disliked (above) which a number of high-profile people have read – it’s a self-help book based on Adlerian psychology and written as a dialogue between a young man and a philosopher.  I’m looking forward to reading it after Mr R finishes it.  Some people scoff at the self-help genre but I think that the greatest power you have is to be able to change the way you think, and therefore the way you behave.  Easily said but not so easily done particularly as we get older and more set in our ways.

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I had my Irish friend Colum’s birthday a few weeks ago now and also picked a book for him – Normal People (above) a novel about two high school (and later University) students set in modern-day Dublin by Irish writer Sally Rooney which has won the Man Booker prize and she herself has become the poster girl for Millennial fiction writing.  I’ve read the Granta excerpt and it also had me intrigued so I may be borrowing Colum’s copy from him once he’s read it!

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The second part to Mr Rosanna’s birthday present from me this year was a Busybird Publishing book writing gift voucher given Mr R has actually started a manuscript for a novel.  The Busybird 2-day book writing boot camp is being held 26 – 28 April next year at Busybird HQ in Montmorency so would make a great Christmas present to anyone in your life who has put writing a book down on their bucket list.

We are slowly coming to the end of the year and I hope you’re also starting to wind down, reflect on the year that’s been and plan for the year ahead.  You can dream but if there’s no plan behind it to action in a certain amount of time, then a dream remains a dream.

The power of friendship

It’s one of the things people regret in later life; the fact that they let close friendships fade away.  I’ve had a milestone reunion weekend away with my University friends (with months spent in the planning) down on the Mornington Peninsula and it’s left me feeling very sentimental.  I’m lucky enough to still see my best friends from primary school and high school however my Uni friends and I are now scattered around Melbourne, Australia and indeed the world with three of them living in Japan, London and Switzerland.  One of my friends flew in from Geneva (and gave us all these beautiful Lucy Folk friendship bands pictured below) to make the event with a raucous Friday night at the beach house spent eating, talking and laughing, a lazy morning spent bathing at the sprawling Peninsula Hot Springs (now owned by an Indian family and three times its original size), lunch at St Andrews Beach Brewery, speeches and photos back at the house followed by more reminiscing and playing Cards against Humanity (and watching the State Election) on Saturday night before packing up and leaving on Sunday after a morning beach walk.

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My friends with our Lucy Folk friendship bands

It was like going back into a time warp for me with photos and videos from our heady days as first, second and third year PR students at RMIT before the onslaught of social media and the internet.  Now looking back on those times (we wore a lot of chokers, dark lipstick and baggy jeans in the 1990s!) makes me realise they were golden years when careers, travel, serious relationships and children all still lay ahead.  Cut to 2018 and it’s a different story – we’re older, wiser and more well travelled but a little bit more vulnerable with the ravages of time taking a toll on some of our health and personal relationships.  Not for all of us but definitely for some of us and I keep thinking how much the choices you make early in life in terms of your friends and life partner come to define you later on as well as the course your life ends up taking for better or worse.

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Front entrance – St Andrews Beach Brewery

Friendships with people who’ve known you for a long time and with whom you share a long history and whose values reflect your own (because believe me your choice of friends absolutely reflects who you are) and friends who’ve been there when the going gets tough are like diamonds.  It’s only now that I realise the power of enduring friendship which has seen me through the peaks and valleys of life including some of the darker years before I met Mr Rosanna.  It’s also really important not to let those friendships go when you do meet the right person as we still need other people in our life besides a partner, if you’re lucky enough to have one.  It may get harder to stay in touch but the sense of connection, community, love and acceptance that comes from true friendship is priceless. Diamonds are forever…

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Julie and me

Well she came, she spoke and she conquered last night at The Sofitel and I’m so glad she made it to Melbourne.  The Honourable Julie Bishop MP was the keynote speaker at last night’s sold out final Bold Thinking Series event for 2018 and while I had assembled a stellar panel made up of MC Francis Leach, Emeritus Professors Judith Brett and John Carroll and incoming academic Dr Andrea Carson – Ms Bishop’s plane from Sydney was delayed by the dust storm there yesterday and she was the main act.

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I came into the office yesterday afternoon feeling relatively calm and under control but that quickly changed when Julie’s media advisor texted me to let me know they were still up north stuck at Sydney airport.  We have a risk management plan for the series but I’ve never had to enact it.  Needless to say there was a flurry of activity, conversations and emails instigated by me and my team to try to determine Plan B: if she was late and Plan C: if she was a no-show and what action we would take.

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We were enormously relieved when her media advisor let us know in that critical hour yesterday afternoon that they had actually made it onto the next available plane to Melbourne and our in-house travel agency also confirmed their plane had safely touched down.  Crisis averted but it was a near miss and I was sweating!  I keep saying you need nerves of steel working in events.

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It was also action packed once I got to the venue with my team.  Besides meeting and greeting Ms Bishop and the panelists and taking them to their respective green rooms to meet each other and be miked up, there were media in attendance last night including The Age and Channel 9 news as well as our own official photographer Sav Shulman who shot all the accompanying images used in this blog post.  It also took longer to seat everyone in the Arthur Streeton Auditorium which holds 360 people so we ran 10 minutes late.  My highlight was taking the entire entourage with Ms Bishop behind me followed by all the other speakers back of house via The Sofitel kitchen (very James Bond!) to the VIP front row of the packed Auditorium which promptly broke out into applause by the young crowd as Julie entered the room.

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She gave a fascinating conversation on western liberal democracy, insights into the Liberal party, the inner machinations of Parliament and its adversarial nature and, of course, women in politics.  You need to be a certain type of person to go into politics – it’s one of the toughest careers there are.  Ms Bishop (‘Call me Julie’) had had two hours sleep and I think rarely gets more than 4 – 5.  She’s smaller than she appears in the media too but also very stylish and glamorous in a classic way – one of my younger colleagues said ‘she’s so beautiful’.  Her eyes are also much bluer than they appear on TV and like many of the people I’ve worked with over the past two and a half years – she has an X factor – charisma that some people naturally have and that other people are drawn to.  Ms Bishop also has quite a regal, if not imperious, bearing so while I’m not usually nervous meeting people – I was understandably more hesitant when I met her.  She was mobbed when she left the venue last night and I’m also glad we’d organised security for her to escort her back to her hotel before she flew out this morning.

I feel very relieved today – it’s given me a sense of closure to have held my last event for the year, and such an amazing one at that, and actually turn my head to Christmas and to next year.  The Bold Thinking Series will be continuing so more adventures lie ahead for me.  Have a wonderful weekend.

 

 

Forever yours

Christmas is coming and I started my shopping a while ago as I had my car being serviced in Doncaster so used the time I had to kill two birds while it was still relatively quiet in-store at Westfield Shoppingtown.  I still lean towards more sustainable gifts like vouchers and gift cards for experiences and keepsake items like photo frames and books.  I also bought my nephews and nieces some small things while we were in Greece earlier this year, which I could fit in to my hand luggage.

If you’re lucky enough to be living in your ‘forever’ home I’ve got my eye on some retro-inspired home appliances (yes I am definitely sounding like Suzy Homemaker) and these are on my wish list should I ever have my forever kitchen.

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The special 100 year anniversary limited edition KitchenAid mixer in misty blue (above) is currently for sale and I love the colour as well as the white enamel bowl it comes with.  The company has only released 1000 of these in Australia and New Zealand should you have the budget and wish to make the investment.  Alas, I am not in my forever kitchen (at least not in its current state) nor do I have the bench space so I can only drool…

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I also love the retro-style Smeg kettles and toasters (pictured above).  If you can’t afford the outrageously expensive Smeg fridges or ovens then these make a lovely introductory piece although if I ever had the money, I would buy one of the hand-built Dualit chrome toasters (below) which have been making perfectly even pieces of toast since war-time.

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While I may not have the dosh, it doesn’t hurt to dream…

Lucky

Do you make your own luck or is it something that just happens?  All I know is that while bad things happen to good people, a lot more good things happen to good people and that most people in the world are good as I tell my children.

I had a colleague who attended the recent La Trobe PG Expo with speaker Todd Sampson and her take out regarding his advice was that we apparently grow more arrogant and inflexible as we get older.  All the more important I think to stay flexible (and active) in mind and body, to stay humble (and grateful) and to stay brave.  We can lose courage as we grow older and grow more fearful but I think that’s the challenge of life and the journey that life itself presents.

Lucky is the name of the exhibition that opens at Bundoora Homestead tomorrow that explores the history and effects of gold mining and the pursuit of wealth in Australia interrogating the Australian dream of finding a better life – a fair go – in the context of cultural, racial and political inequalities.  It sounds absolutely fascinating and given that my ancestors came here in the time of the gold rush, a very relevant one for Asian Australians.

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Speaking of political, my lecture with the Honourable Julie Bishop MP is now completely sold out but you will be able to watch the livestream.  I am looking forward to meeting her next week and hearing what she has to say, particularly her personal reflections on leadership, lessons learnt and being a female politician.  She held nothing back in her recent talk at a Future Women event where she said, ‘If you’re trying to be a man, it’s a waste of a woman’.  Strong words indeed…