The luxury of time

While I’ve worked through January, I have to say I’ve enjoyed the slower days, the quiet streets and the luxury of time not having to rush from place to place. When you live a busy life full of work, family and other commitments, the time to think and simply be can’t be overstated. It’s been great to potter around, go thrifting at Savers in Greensborough and Preston and spend time in the garden.

The politics of Australia Day has come to a head this year and we were given the choice to work and take a day in lieu, which some colleagues chose to do. If you have an interest in First Nations, I’ve both bought and received gifts from the Koorie Heritage Trust as well as Torres Strait Islander restaurant Mabu Mabu and Big Esso bar at Fed Square. Indigenous cafe and bar Pawa has also just opened at Hamer Hall in the Arts Centre Melbourne and has offered catering for a while now.

Locally, I’ve not yet visited but the third instalment of the aptly-named All Are Welcome bakery has opened in Ivanhoe East and there is also the new Watsonia Wine Bar in a great corner location at the Watsonia Village shops.

If you are lucky enough to be at the beach or poolside this weekend – I do love this these Innes Lauren one piece bathers and Clo Studios beach towel (pictured above). If you’re glamming up in the evenings, a bit of body shimmer may be the order of the day and if you can’t afford Nars body glow, there’s always Endota Spa’s Jojoba & Coconut Dry Shimmer Oil – nothing like the smell of summer!


Lucky Rabbit

Happy Lunar New Year! While for most people of Asian backgrounds it is the Year of the Rabbit, in Vietnam it is actually the Year of the Cat. Either way, I’m hoping for a more peaceful year than the turbulent Tiger.

The new year is when people often call time on relationships and jobs that are no longer working for them and it’s been an interesting time in the world of media, sport and politics in that respect with announcements from high-profile women including The Project’s former host Carrie Bickmore, AFLW football player Daisy Pearce and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Whatever your thoughts on them, they deserve some privacy and respect for their decision to step away from their previous roles.

The nature of life is change and I expect the new year will continue to ring in further change. While I didn’t make it in to Chinatown this year to celebrate the new year, my brother Matt braved the heat and took these pictures on my blog post today. It’s been great to see people not only attending Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne but also the Australian Open (AO) tennis and Midsumma Festival this past weekend.

In true East meets West fashion, I ended up having a good old fashioned Aussie BBQ with my mum’s side of the family at Yarra Bend Park staying until the sun set on the first day of the Rabbit year. Speaking of which, you may be interested in Lucky Rabbit: a celebration of Chinese New Year at the Chinese Museum by artist Chris Chun depicting each of the Chinese Zodiac animals combining Asian and western motifs. Better hop to it…

Eating the elephant

There’s no two ways about it at this time of year. It can be overwhelming to return to work and be faced with the whole year’s workload in front of you. It’s even more challenging when friends and family keep sending you photos of themselves at the beach (in my case from both peninsulas as well as Byron Bay – go away people!). I’ve been trying to get my head back in the game and the upside of going back early is feeling a bit more prepared planning-wise.

While I’d rather be at the seaside too, I’ve tried to put on a happy face (literally with Mr Rosanna hanging my Ottolenghi plate above on our kitchen wall) and just get on with things. It helps to try and live fully in the present and take each day as it comes rather than thinking too far ahead. With school not yet back and colleagues still on leave, January is a good month to ease back into things. While the streets are very quiet – I love Melbourne in the summer time and it’s about to get busier with the Australian Open starting and the Lunar New Year Festival next weekend. I’ve been enjoying the slower pace and my weekends still feel like being on holiday.

Melbourne is back with a vengeance with skilled migrants, tourists and international students coming to visit or live, inner city rents are back up and the city is expected to overtake Sydney by 2031 as Australia’s biggest.

Interesting too to read that Australia’s been crowned the land of opportunity overtaking the US. My own background is testament to that – both sets of grandparents migrated here from southern China and Hong Kong with nothing only to start businesses and families here, which have allowed the three generations after them to have a very different life full of privileges I’ve never taken for granted. Mr Rosanna’s family background is not much different with a grandfather who came back from the war with nothing but the clothes on his back.

Instead of living the life of a peasant in rural China, I’ve instead had access to education, a career, travel and financial independence. If you’ve had similar opportunities to better yourself then you are very lucky indeed and it’s something to reflect upon as the Tiger year comes to an end and in this month that asks all of us to think about what being an Australian means, and whether all Australians have equal access to opportunity.

So how do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time…

Summer in the city

Happy New Year my friends – I hope you had a great NYE and if you didn’t, you get the chance to start all over again on January 22 when the Year of the Black Water Rabbit officially begins.

Speaking of water, my family and I spent NYE watching Avatar: The Way of Water at IMAX Melbourne before heading to Treasury Gardens to catch the early fireworks – I think half of Melbourne was there! And the city herself looked magnificent walking from the Royal Exhibition Building (below) past the all lit up Her Majesty’s and Princess Theatres – Melbourne has never looked better.

I even managed to squeeze in a day trip to the beach on Monday to the Mornington peninsula to catch up with my friend Dan in town from Amsterdam, before returning to work on Tuesday – which was a shock to the system! My girlfriends are planning a trip to France this year so I’m a little envious especially as I’ve just binged on Season 3 of Emily in Paris – the City of Light has never looked so amazing.

While I am back at work, Mr R and I are enjoying our Melbourne staycation over summer and if you’re entertaining visitors you might be interested in this article Eat, play holiday which includes 12 of the best places to visit in Melbourne. Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen has a new cafe and new retail store and Mr Rosanna has gift cards he’s received but yet to use at Urbnsurf in Tullamarine and The Keys in Preston.

We went to Camberwell Sunday Market today – make sure you go early, wear a hat and some sunscreen and take a water bottle if you visit on a hot day. It’s also gold coin donation to Rotary but volunteers are now carrying mobile EFTPOS machines at the entry gates and stall holders use Pay ID on their mobiles if you haven’t brought cash. It’s all open air and shade can be hard to come by (as well as cold drinks!). With our post-Christmas budget, we’ve been happy shopping at markets and thrifting at op shops and I came away with a new miniature elephant to add to my ever growing herd.

I also had a mid-week catch up with my cousin at the newly renovated Box Hill Central having a cheap and cheerful (and very hot!) Thai noodle soup at Dodee Paidang – note to self – order something with less than three chilis in terms of heat factor next time. I can’t imagine how hot the seven chili option must be. If you are visiting Box Hill you might be interested in Etta chef Rosheen Kaul’s recommended places to eat – it does feel like you could be somewhere in Asia if you do visit Box Hill and I drove past Vietnamese restaurant Indochine which is still there and one of the first places to open in that strip.

Speaking of all things Asian, you might be interested in Screen Presence 2023 at the restored heritage-listed Capitol Theatre – a series of in-conversation events accompanying movies included the first Asian movie star Anna May Wong in the 1932 film Shanghai Express. You can also see her featured again in the upcoming Goddess exhibition at ACMI opening in April.

Make the most of the next two or three weeks even if you are returning to work – I’ve been enjoying having friends over, the quiet time on the streets of Ivanhoe (and in the parklands) and the thinking and planning time in the office. No doubt things will pick up once school returns and I will be heading up north for work in the first quarter of this year with February to May already looking pretty busy. Stay cool…

Tomorrow is now

Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was indeed one wise woman and while I’ve not read her book You Learn by Living – there are a number of her quotes that have stuck in my head over the years including the one about the future belonging to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams – an inspiring thought as we close out 2022 this New Year’s Eve.

While I sadly return to work next week, I’ve had a relaxing festive period as much as there were missing people at my table for lunch on Christmas Day due to COVID-19 – the Grinch who stole Christmas this year! A number of friends and family had to cancel or postpone their Christmas celebrations due to coming down with the dreaded lurgy and it wasn’t a fun day for those who spent it alone feeling very unwell. My commiserations if this was you.

Still, it was lovely to celebrate the occasion with my family who were able to make it. My little sister Cat creates a family Christmas video every year so we enjoyed watching that before opening our presents under the tree and eating far too much ham and Christmas pudding (the ones from Pud for all seasons are delicious). I hope Santa was good to you if you celebrate Christmas in your household.

Me with my boss Emma @ Johnny’s Green Room rooftop bar

I also made it to my work Christmas party at Johnny’s Green Room rooftop bar in Carlton, which I suspect will also be going off tonight with their NYE pizza party. It was my venue suggestion to our HR team and it was a good one! The shared plates, finger food and cannoli we enjoyed were all excellent and it’s highly recommended. I’ve not been to the rooftop bars at Her Melbourne or Yakimono in the city but they would also be great places to celebrate tonight and watch the fireworks.

I’ve enjoyed dropping down a gear these past few weeks and catching up locally with friends and family I’ve not seen all year as much as so many are down at the beach or heading there over the summer. The new Intercontinental (and former Continental) hotel in Sorrento (above) looks pretty amazing and my Cinderella gown for New Year’s Eve would be this Zimmerman High Tide dress (below) – tres seaside glam!

I’ve also had time to read and started Cold enough for snow (below) by Jessica Au, which I’m enjoying. It has been a long year and while I suspect we’ll still be feeling the ongoing effects of the pandemic next year, particularly economically, I’m hopeful that the collective anxiety we’ve felt this year will continue to dissipate as we adjust to the new normal.

While resolutions can be helpful for some people, it’s also good to take the pressure off in terms of expectations as we head into a brand new year. I’m not making any but after reading Antoinette Lattouf’s article earlier this year on her undertaking adult swimming lessons, I’ve been inspired to do the same next year and have booked myself in as it’s been alarming to read the statistics on people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds being over-represented in drownings at Australian beaches this summer.

I’ll let you know how I go but I think it’s important to challenge yourself and learn something new no matter your age or stage of life. Here’s to writing your first chapter for 2023 and the chance to start again over this new year that will be here before we know it. Wishing you an early Happy New Year!

Life is Beautiful

It’s been a big year. As much as we haven’t been locked down this year, in many ways it’s felt harder dealing with the fall out from the previous two pandemic years. I have people close to me who are dealing with mental health issues or have children who are and it’s a long road back to wellbeing for some of us. Life isn’t always easy or fair and I’ve shed a few tears this week thinking of the two young and brave police constables who lost their lives up in Queensland simply doing their job.

I watched the Italian film Life is Beautiful a number of years ago now, which is set during World War II. Its messages of the power of will, humour and imagination in the darkest of times and circumstances is incredibly life-affirming. Life does go on for those of us here and it’s important to remember life is to be lived in all of its dimensions. Sometimes it takes travelling through the bad times (and there is always a way through) to know the good.

While I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect this year, I will say it’s important to put yourself in the driver’s seat instead of simply being a passenger and watching (your) life go by. If you want things to be different, it’s up to you to take control and to do things differently – the main point being the word ‘do’ and taking action rather than simply talking about it. We are all the sum of our decisions and we are all responsible for our own happiness – when you look for happiness outside yourself – you give away your own power as a person. Validation comes from within not without and happiness is not about a prescribed set of circumstances but is a state of mind.

I’ve been on a different path since moving from Brunswick to Banyule over 10 years ago now starting with my Green Eyed Monster eco-fashion journey to life now in higher education at ANZSOG. Who knows where the adventure will end but it’s definitely been good to enjoy the ride! I have a vintage typewriter here at home and a little angel card on it that reads ‘write your own story’. That’s the thing about our stories, no-one else will write them for us but us – we are all the authors of our own lives and the curators of our own content.

Tomorrow is around the corner and I wish you peace at the end of this extraordinary year – if your year has not gone as planned, then I wish you hope for next year and if you’ve had a good year, then remember to savour the experiences you’ve enjoyed – things can be so fleeting and it’s important to hold onto the joy in life, and of life. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.

I thought you might like this pic of my colleague Nataly and me (above) taken last month at Shed 5 in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand looking far more glamorous then we felt having worked from 7.30am that morning to hosting dinner that same night. Merry Christmas if you celebrate it and happy holidays to you all.

All the lonely people

It’s a bit sombre but Christmas can be the happiest time of the year if you’re close to your family and the saddest time of the year if you’re not. There are increasing numbers of people living on their own but that doesn’t necessarily mean they feel lonely. I remember reading Stephanie Dowrick’s book Intimacy & Solitude many years ago now and it was particularly ground breaking for me regarding my own views on relationships. If you do know someone on their own – it’s good to reach out to see if they’d like some company not just at Christmas-time but on a regular basis.

If you’re lucky enough to have a partner, a family, close friends or a job to anchor you (even with all their faults!) – connection to people and place shouldn’t be underestimated as much as we all complain sometimes. Engagement with local community and the people around us is the very fabric of life and gives us meaning. When you don’t have those things, it’s very difficult to feel like you belong anywhere. It’s important to be able to love and heal yourself and know that we are responsible for our own happiness – it doesn’t lay ‘out there’ somewhere but is within each of us to find our own centre. If we can’t love ourselves first, then how can we expect anyone else to? It’s important to recognise your own worth as an individual but sometimes it takes a number of years and experiences to realise. You’re lucky if that’s been intrinsic for you but for many of us, it takes time to develop such insights into our own behaviour. We can be our own hero in life.

I’ve taken leave early from work this year and have needed time out. It’s been a big year of change for me and the pace has been unrelenting personally and professionally – I need some time out to re-group and I think more progressive workplaces realise this and work cultures are changing including my own. There will be an update to working flexibly in the new year and I know some employers have instituted a ‘work from anywhere’ policy to take advantage of the global workforce in a time of labour shortages and others a ‘work to your own circumstances’ approach. Mental health is also paramount and it’s great to see wellbeing and culture being prioritised as well as zero tolerance for inappropriate behaviour – something to keep in mind if attending Christmas parties. The times have definitely changed and it’s a good thing.

I try to be more mindful about present buying and it’s been good to see the rise of B Corporations and partnerships such as that between secondhand retailer Vestaire Collective and courier company Sendle – there is so much focus on instant gratification but if your goods aren’t urgent then slow delivery is much more sustainable and kinder to the planet. I have stopped to smell the roses and if you look around – there are so many butterflies in the air at the moment. I spent one memorable Christmas with my sisters many years ago in the butterfly house at the Melbourne Zoo, which is open on Christmas day. Between noticing the bees and the butterflies, hearing the cicadas sing as well as discovering a ladybird beetle (or ladybug) yesterday while gardening, I hope it’s a sign of good things to come and that summer has truly arrived.

While it’s a cheap and cheerful Christmas for me this year, if I ever have the money to splurge then this is designer handbag of my dreams – not Chanel or Dior but Loewe’s 70s-inspired Flamenco clutch (first image above) along with these Tiffany silver Open Heart hoop earrings (second image above) by Italian designer and 70s icon Elsa Peretti. I can only dream of visiting Spain and New York to buy them in person.

Mr Rosanna and I are starting to feel a bit more at home in Ivanhoe, which includes trying local takeaway cafes. We got very authentic and delicious thin crust pizzas from newly opened Little Naples Pizzeria on Friday night, which were delicious and I’ll be telling all my Italian friends as they were the real deal – the complimentary cannoli were also appreciated! Next on our list is Syrian restaurant Dama Rose, to which I’ll look forward to dining.

Finally, while New Year’s Eve can sometimes be an anti-climax, if I was free I’d be going to PBS FM’s Soul-A-Go-Go NYE Spectacular at the Brunswick Ballroom. Speaking of soul, keep an eye out for Banyule Council’s exciting Twilight Sounds 2023 lineup at Heidelberg Park Oval, which includes Mayfield, The Meltdown, Benny Walker, Mahalia Barnes and PBS DJ MzRizk – you’ll definitely see me and Mr R there. Stay safe this week if you’re amongst crowds, no-one wants a COVID Christmas!

The friendliest city

I am nothing if not parochial about Melbourne – the city I was born and bred in and the city in which I’ve lived all my life. While one of my few regrets has been not living and working overseas during my career – I’m not yet pulling that one off my list and my ANZSOG colleagues have joked that we have a presence in Aotearoa New Zealand – as much as it’s been larger cities in the world that I’ve aspired to living in and I’m loving watching Tokyo Vice on SBS – Japan is number one on my travel list.

That being said, I love Melbourne and I’m proud that we’ve been named the friendliest city in the world (beating Paris and Vienna) as well as Australia’s most liveable city (and 10th overall in the world). I also recognise we’re not immune from big city problems such as increased costs of living, climate change and homelessness – the latter of which is now becoming an issue in regional towns.

Innovation like build to rent developments will solve part of the homeless issue as well as increased social housing but given shelter is one of life’s essentials – it’s a situation that has made me feel sad for others in the lead up to Christmas. Home is important to me and as someone who grew up in a single parent family with a peripatetic childhood changing schools and houses – I place a greater significance than most on having a secure place to live and don’t take my current living situation for granted. Christmas can be a hard time for people in dysfunctional relationships or family dynamics, people on their own and those experiencing poverty or illness.

But Melbourne looked spectacular last night with my boss sending me these pics (above) of the MCG all lit up at the sold out Billy Joel concert, and the annual NGV Gala was also on in the city. Speaking of lights, there hasn’t been much publicity but the Boulevard Lights in Ivanhoe are on this year in a reduced time period from 20-24th December so get in quick! I’ve also been reading about new-wave panettone and if you’re interested, Dougharty’s has just emailed their customers regarding special Christmas orders for their sourdough panettone.

I’ve been keep on keeping on at work including doing a refresher St John First Aid course last Thursday but I always seem to reach the ‘are we there yet?’ stage at this time of year. Like most of us, I’ve worked harder in the past three years than I think I ever have although things have also felt harder in this recovery year – many of us feel very burnt out in different industry sectors.

Yoga has continued to be my saviour this year (thank you Pamela and Nik) and I’ve been running this weekend at the Yarra Flats to try to burn off the calories from my annual Kris Kringle celebration with my besties and a family birthday celebration for Mr Rosanna. However I did come to a complete stop at one point when I encountered Jake – a snake (I suspect it was a tiger snake) which crossed the path in front of me heading down to the river with a brave Magpie swooping at it. Think I’d prefer to see a kangaroo anytime! Have a good week – the end of the year is in sight.

Nights to remember

It’s been a big week with some magical memories made and special live music performances including Mr Rosanna’s second coming at Some Velvet Morning in Clifton Hill on Wednesday night. Close to 30 of Mr R’s family and friends came to watch him perform two sets as a solo artist at #adamfranklin_music, which is a pretty brave move given it’s been a while since he’s been on stage. My talented younger sister Cat with her Architecture of Audio hat on caught the first set on film, which you can watch here.

Image: Mr Rosanna @somevelvetmorning

Mr R also celebrated his birthday last week and we hosted a party to celebrate this time with the Marcel Borrack TD band performing in front of over 50 people at our place. They put on a fantastic show and had people grooving away in front of them – thanks so much Marce!

One of the takeaways I took from reading Julia Baird’s book Phosphorescence over the pandemic was about savouring the moment on a deeper level. Both Mr R and I have amassed an amazing and diverse collection of friends from all walks of life – from school to university to work and locally – and we’ve been grateful to share such special moments in time with the most important people we’ve chosen to surround ourselves with – our greatest works of art have been the friends we’ve curated organically and collected along the way on our life’s journey and their friendship is priceless.

The weather gods did smile upon us this weekend as much as the team from Luckman Catering working outside from their van nearly got eaten alive by the mosquitoes, which are in plague proportions at the moment with all the recent rain, before I brought out the aeroguard, mozzie zapper and coils. The food was excellent yet again and it’s the second time we’ve used them to cater.

Christmas is coming and we’ll be having some more modest do’s here at home with family and I hope to start winding down in the next few weeks. I’ve been in planning mode this week for work with my team and Director and will continue to analyse, report and plan in readiness for next year as well as tie up loose ends before I go on leave. The Chinese Year of the Rabbit starts on 22 January 2023 and I hope it will be a more peaceful year. I’ve had a pretty tumultuous (but also tremendous) year on a number of fronts so that is my wish for 2022 – what’s yours?

Windy Wellington

What a weekend it’s been with the Dees winning the AFLW Grand Final (well done Daisy!), Labour once again in power with the state election and for me a very busy weekend on the back of a very busy week in Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. I celebrated a successful work trip with Mr Rosanna on Saturday night at a friend’s party where we had the opportunity to dance to soul music curated by the one and only PBS radio DJ Miss Goldie (who to my surprise is a brunette with glasses not a blonde as I had imagined her to be).

I flew into Wellington on Tuesday afternoon and it is known for being windy – while we didn’t hit any turbulence with our very fast landing – we did have a moment flying out back to Melbourne so a warning if you are a nervous flyer. A team of 10 of us from ANZSOG including our new Dean and CEO Adam Fennessy PSM had been assembled to look after two cohorts in Years 1 and 2 of the Executive Master of Public Administration (or EMPA as it’s known) comprised of 200 students in the Wharewaka function centre (below) on the waterfront with its beautiful views.

Wharewaka function centre

After checking into our hotel, getting a very late lunch at nearby St John’s Bar and Restaurant, my staff member Nataly and I then did a reccy of the function centre where we met our colleagues who’d arrived earlier on the weekend. Our photographer Sav Shulman had recommended both Courtenay Place and Cuba Street in Wellington for dinner so we had a lovely meal at Lulu Bar and Restaurant, which specialises in local ingredients and traditional Pasifika cuisine. We ended our first night sharing a hot waffle from The Little Waffle Shop because why not!

Marae (meeting house)

The highlight of our trip was early morning the next day where we distributed lyrics to 100 students outside Wharewaka and were treated to a traditional powhiri (pronounced ‘poferi’) welcome by Maori who sang to us and we responded in return before being allowed to ascend the stairs into the rowing club. Elders spoke in te reo and English to welcome us with other First Nations people, people of colour and other migrant backgrounds invited to go up and speak in return. It was an incredibly moving ceremony and I was wiping the tears away when four of our ANZSOG students got up of their own accord to thank the Maori and speak about their own cultural backgrounds – at its simplest level, I think the desire to connect as human beings is a unifying force for good in the world.

Cuba street shops

The rest of the day was a whirlwind escorting the first 100 Year 1 students back to the function centre to watch the Year 2 students present their final work-based project in small groups where they were assessed by two people (including alumni I had engaged and faculty) in three different rooms. Nataly and I had our work cut out for us having 100 Year 2 students then be photographed in 17 different groups followed up with 10 different jurisdiction photos (students had come from all over Australia and New Zealand) in just 45 minutes before the graduation ceremony. Somehow with the help of our very skilled photographer, we got it done including some memorable moments such as one student doing the splits for their fun group shot!

Rainbow crossing on Cuba Street

I had also engaged First Nations alum Dave Samuels to speak to students at the graduation ceremony, after our CEO had presented them with their certificates, with photography and videography taking place at the same time. Dave Tokohau Samuels is an impressive and interesting person whose back story includes being ex-army, similar to a number of other ANZSOG alumni, and it was inspiring to hear.

Wellington pier

My long day turned into night with me and Nataly hosting 10 alumni and other guests including last year’s Dean’s Prize winner and a number of Chief Executives and Deputy Chief Executives at the EMPA celebration dinner at Shed 5 on the waterfront. It was nice to have had a quick shower to freshen up before glamming up for the dinner and it’s a privilege to spend time with people who are at the highest level in their careers – it’s not something I’ve ever taken for granted.

Boat shed cafe – waterfront

While the EMPA students went on to let their hair down at karaoke after dinner, I was happy to call it a night and go back to the hotel to sleep before we flew out on Thursday afternoon. Before catching a taxi to the airport, Nataly and I popped our heads into the Te Papa Store at the Museum of New Zealand – there is another smaller store at the airport, but it was definitely worth a visit for souvenirs.

Museum of New Zealand

It was beyond my budget but some of the greenstone pounamu pendants and jade carvings, conch shells, bone combs and flax baskets made by local Maori artists were absolutely beautiful although I’m not sure about wearing the pendants in particular if you’re non-Maori due to their cultural significance and meaning.

Pounamu greenstone carvings

Aotearoa was definitely a cultural experience that left an indelible mark on me. Maori (and Pasifika) people make up a greater percentage of the population and te reo has been embedded into everyday life on TV and in signage on the streets of Wellington. In many ways, I think New Zealand is ahead of Australia in its treatment of First Nations people. It was an experience I will always remember – nga mihi Te Whanganui-a-Tara – I will return.

Wellington airport