Going places

I wish! Overseas travel and luxuries like music concerts are temporarily on hold at the moment but it’s not the end of the world. Cost of living pressures are biting most people except for the most privileged and it’s slightly depressing reading about the state of the Victorian economy and levels of debt. All we can do is keep our head down and keep going, keep working if you’ve got a job and stay calm knowing this too shall pass – while it’s for now, it’s definitely not forever.

Image: Flowature

It’s been nice to see the sun out today and if you’re not a winter lover, the good news is that it may be a warmer and drier season this year. The bad news of course, is because it may be an El Nino year, which doesn’t augur well for spring and summer in particular but let’s cross that bridge if we get to it. I find it easier to stay motivated when it’s sunny but winter can also be a time of great introspection and creativity if you take the opportunity to still yourself.

Image: Bellroy

I have friends who have been lucky enough to visit Europe already this year, are there at the moment or will be heading there over coming months so been looking longingly at their photos of Greece, Italy, France, Portugal and Spain and travelling vicariously. These Flowature ‘Santorini’ earrings (picture first above) have captured my imagination after visiting the magical Cycladic island in 2018 (thanks to my friend Nikki Ellis for sharing after I spotted a similar striking pair on her). The female-focussed range also has a deeper meaning and layer to it.

Image: Haulier

I am if nothing an accessories junkie and if you are going places, I love this very practical Bellroy cross body sling (pictured higher above), which comes in an assortment of colours as well as these more upmarket Haulier tote bags (above). My boss Emma has a Wanderers Travel Co Marseille woven cross body clutch bag while I like this speedy-looking Nancybird Goshen bag (below)- a bit of colour instead of Melbourne black! If only I had somewhere to go….

Image: Nancybird

Happy Birthday Buddha

I couldn’t work out what the Fed Square installation being set up was the other week when I was in the city but my sister Ange enlightened (pun intended!) when she sent me these photos of Buddha all lit up for his birthday last week. I’ve been influenced by Buddhism for over 20 years now, it’s not just a way of thinking but a way of life for many people.

With winter feeling like it’s already upon us, you might be seeking some light! Rising Melbourne starts on 7 June and I was also interested to read about Indigenous exhibition Connection being shown at Lume Melbourne opening 23 June, just in time for term 2 school holidays. A number of friends have previously visited to see the Van Gogh and Monet light installations but I think this one would have additional significance as Australians.

I’m recovering from my friend Nik’s belated milestone birthday celebration partying down at the peninsula last night but it felt good to have a dance with my best friends – a number of mine are lucky to be travelling overseas this year but even if done locally – both travel and dancing are good for the soul.

Melbourne Design Week ends today and while I didn’t make it to the Big Design Market this weekend, I have read with interest about the RL Foote Design Studio Clifton Hill studio (which you can spy on the Hurstbridge train line) now open to the public. I bought one of Ryan’s vases from the Heide Shop in Bulleen (before it was taken over by Third Drawer Down) a while ago, which has pride of place in my bathroom, and find it fascinating he makes both chocolates in Hong Kong and ceramics here in Melbourne.

If you loved Tim Ross’ Streets of Your Town (the most-watched ABC arts program of 2016) on mid-century houses, his new program Designing a Legacy starts 4 June at 7.30pm. Locally too, it’s been sold by Jellis Craig but this Robin Boyd house ‘The Fler’ (created in collaboration with the Swedish design company) at 41 Koornong Crescent in North Warrandyte is a ripper!

Super Connectors

It’s been a while. After going down with a pretty bad virus, I’ve come back up again this past week with the CASE APAC Conference held at the Grand Hyatt and Banyule’s Women in Business lunch with Lisa Gorman at The Centre Ivanhoe on Friday.

The conference was for advancement (fundraising and alumni relations) professionals in education from across the Asia-Pacific and it was nice to invest in my own professional development as well as catch up with ex-colleagues from La Trobe University who were out in force both as speakers and attendees – a quasi-reunion for people who normally organise reunions!

The final plenary speaker was neuroscientist, exercise physiologist and nutritionist Paul Taylor from the Mind Body Brain Institute who gave us health and wellness tips backed up by global statistics. He detailed the usual suspects of exercise (movement and strength training), diet, sleep and connection but the more interesting ones for me were around the use of breath and cold showers as well as mindset and behaviour. Rather than waiting to feel motivated to exercise or take action, we need to take action first to trick our brains. A 30 second cold shower may be challenging (!) as we head into winter but a number of people in the room were already converts. And lastly, I read (above) Breath by James Nestor (on the lost art of breathing correctly to enhance our health and wellbeing) while I was unwell, and it was fascinating especially in light of the pranayama practice I’ve been taught as a yogi and Paul Taylor mentioning it again.

Lisa Gorman on stage with MC Ailsa Page

It was just as enthralling at the Women in Business event to hear fashion designer and artist Lisa Gorman talk about her journey growing up in regional Warnambool playing with Barbie dolls and sewing at home before becoming a nurse and discovering bridal designer Mariana Hardwick (who designed my own wedding gown) in Bourke Street Melbourne and doing a retail apprenticeship with her. After becoming Mariana’s head designer, Lisa found the courage to strike out on her own with her eponymous label Gorman initially designing with fabric off cuts before opening her own stores coupled with the backing of business and retail partners at later stages in order to expand (and ultimately be bought out) all while raising two children. She also lived in New York at one stage indulging in her love of vintage while there – inspiring!

Nikki Ellis and me

It was rockin’ at The Centre Ivanhoe when I arrived just before people were seated. I’d missed the rush so it was great to say hello to the Banyule Business team, check out local artist Dani Heyward‘s beautiful works in the silent auction and the vintage Gorman display, as well as have my photo taken with my table host and friend Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training who looked amazing as always before walking into the packed great hall space pulsing with happy people and loud music.

Gorman foyer display – The Centre Ivanhoe

Our table of local women in business included Endure Collective‘s Jacinta Simms (who’d been instrumental in organising last year’s event), two of Nikki’s colleagues sports chiropractor Dr Lyndall Davey and Amanda Presta, Karyn Harte (Bees Knees Marketing), Ilene Kairouz (Aqueous Designs), Nicole Webb (Greensborough Remedial Massage), Nayme from Ivy and Twig and Emma Rowe from Frog, Goose & Bear. I’ve known some of them since my children were in kinder so we go back a long way and while she wasn’t seated at my table I also briefly caught up with local interior designer Renae Barrass from RBID at the very end.

L-R: Me, Emma Rowe, Lisa Gorman, Jacinta Simms & Amanda Presta

It was an awesome way to end my week surrounded by the energy of these amazing women some of whom I am connected to in more ways than one – it’s something I don’t take for granted. Women rule a lot of my world and I feel very blessed to have been there – just a shame I didn’t get to meet the inclusive job program recipient I’d gifted my ticket to at Banyule paying things forward – I hope she enjoyed the experience as much as I did. A big thank you to Banyule Business and Nikki Ellis for asking me to be a guest at this year’s event.

Froth and bubble

I’ve watched a coronation of a different kind this weekend with Netflix’s Queen Charlotte: a Bridgerton story but no less a social commentary on the current state of the royal family in this very modern era. Spoiler alert: the dance scene at the Danbury ball between the couples of mixed race to Alicia Keys’ If I ain’t got you (and apparently performed by a 90 piece women of colour orchestra) is a highlight. It’s all I’ve been up for after going down with a virus last week – luckily not COVID but unluckily still pretty nasty (fun times – not!).

It’s Mother’s Day next Sunday and below are a list of things on my wish list although I’m conscious not all of us are mothers nor necessarily have mothers in our lives. I think it’s a good thing many retailers are now asking customers if they wish to opt out of certain celebrations depending on their religious and other backgrounds – we all have our own personal stories and it’s no longer one size fits all.

First up are these Temple of Sun Renata earrings in silver (above) available from Husk to add some boho bling.

Secondly, an Angus and Celeste ‘blush leaves’ plant pot of one’s own for your home office or work desk to bring some nature indoors.

Next for those who like their creature comforts, I love this colourful Kip and Co lilac mustard bathrobe (although admittedly better for summer than winter).

I’m a fan of Australian homewares store Saarde and have one of their Tangier soaps in my bathroom which also come in trio gift sets including room spray and body wash.

And finally for the person who has it all – this Soleil d’Hermes tea cup and saucer is a thing of beauty and a glorious reminder this very cold weekend of ‘the warmth of summer under a Mediterranean sun’ – it’s lovely to dream of being somewhere far more glamorous, warm and exotic in my convalescing state.

Tell him he’s dreamin’

There is no place like home and I don’t take having a roof over my head for granted. There is a shortage of social and rental housing available given the hundreds of thousands of homeless people and international students in Melbourne. I don’t envy the smart people involved in planning decisions, and interesting to read about the same issues facing mid-century architect Robin Boyd back in the 1960s.

I’ve been enjoying my castle finishing my window boxes this weekend and my youngest (who has developed an entrepreneurial bent) has started buying and selling things at the Camberwell Sunday Market and on Facebook Marketplace, the new version of The Trading Post of old talked about in the quintessential Australian movie The Castle, which we never tire of watching at home.

I’ve been a second hand rose at Savers Preston and Vinnies in East Kew over the past months and thought you might enjoy seeing some of my barely used bounty including a navy rain jacket, German wool duffle coat, Zara faux leather skirt and two sets of shoes including Italian-made sling backs and Indian ballet flats – a bargain for less than $100!

Work’s been demanding as Acting Director and I’ve been working some long hours, but it’s been interesting being privy to the internal machinations of the executive leadership team and the chance to feed into the working strategy and cultural re-fresh – these post-pandemic times and hybrid working environments are definitely an interesting space.

Winter is coming and I’ve had a flu shot at work and COVID booster at Mounts Pharmacy in Ivanhoe as I try my best to stay well and practice self-care along with returning to swimming and yoga this term- it’s good to see most people prioritising wellbeing above many other things even in these challenging financial times. I wish you all well as we recover from what’s been an extraordinary time in our living history – go easy on yourself as many of us are still just plain exhausted!

Oh deer

While Mr Rosanna and I have had to deal with our fair share of rogue animals including foxes, possums and rats (argh!), naughty cockatoos and blue tongued lizards that have scared the bejesus out of us – we’ve not yet encountered a deer. Spare a thought for the Alphington family who came face to face with a male buck (check out those antlers!) on Friday who smashed through their front window while the kids were home on holidays. Brave souls indeed…

I’ve had a less feral weekend enjoying local delights including attending the launch for A Gift of Fire ceramic exhibition (pieces for which are all for sale) on Friday night at the Ivanhoe Library & Cultural Hub. We were treated to entertainment from local musicians and finger food and drinks for those who came along to hear from Banyule Mayor Peter Castaldo and participating local artist Amy Kennedy who also curated the Going Deeper exhibition in Loft 275 upstairs. It was great to catch up with my friend Lene Kuhl Jakobsen who has a stall at next month’s Heide Market in Bulleen.

Ceramics by Lene Kuhl Jacobsen

Speaking of Heide, I was there today enjoying some takeaway coffees from the new Heide Kitchen (the chocolate cheese cake brownies come recommended) and forest bathing with my besties in the outdoor sculpture park. The kids enjoyed hanging out in the big tree perfect for climbing (and better than on the public art installations) down near the river at the foot of the park and the local Indigenous people have a special scar tree near Heide I (the original homestead). It’s lovely to wander through the kitchen garden and there were lots of people walking their dogs enjoying the sunshine.

We took our dog to Bunnings Northland in Preston over the weekend and she was a popular visitor, the new Bunnings looks nearly ready and even bigger than the existing store. I’ve enjoyed planting some cuttings from my garden for some window boxes and we also enjoyed stopping in for some imprompu sweet treats from the aptly-named Eat Cannoli on Wood Street. I can highly recommend their ricotta and chocolate varieties that are freshly piped on the spot.

Ceramics by Mim Johnson

While it’s still autumn, the Almost Winter Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton looks like a great event to welcome in the colder months ahead and there are some interesting Middle Eastern cafes that have now opened down the city end of Lygon Street, if you’re after something different in Little Italy.

It’s been a sad weekend with comedic genius Barry Humphries passing away – some Australian entertainment royalty that connected the generations before us to now. While I’ve been trying to get them out of the roof of my house, his alter ego Dame Edna would definitely be saying, “Hello, Possums!”. May he rest in peace.


Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion – it’s the name of the exciting exhibition celebrating women in cinema which I saw mid-week at ACMI in the city. It features costumes worn by Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Geena Davis and Margot Robbie, scenes from movies ranging from Orlando, Thelma and Louise to Jackie Brown and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and original fashion illustrations for Bette Davis and Josephine Baker’s costumes.

It’s a great show to visit in all of its hot pink glory now that the weather has turned cooler and the rain has started falling. It’s been a time to head indoors for some cultural action and locally, I’m also looking forward to seeing ‘A Gift of Fire‘ ceramic exhibition which opens this coming Friday 21 April from 6 – 8pm at Art Gallery 275 @Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub. The show features the work of local artists Avis Gardner, Mim Johnson, Amy Kennedy, Irianna Kanellopoulou and Lene Kuhl Jakobsen.

Speaking of women, tickets are open for Banyule’s Women in Business lunch on Friday 19 May at The Centre Ivanhoe with this year’s feature speaker fashion designer, retailer, artist (and I believe yoga teacher in training) Lisa Gorman. You’ll see me there with Cinch Training‘s Nikki Ellis from the Find your fierce podcast along with 20 or so of her friends and followers including brand strategist Jacinta Simms from Endure Collective – it’s a big entourage this year.

It is inspiring to be around successful small business owners and I did want to mention that nominations are open for Banyule’s Best Biz Awards 2023 (you may have seen the many fliers on local shop windows and doors). After a COVID-induced hiatus, it’s great to see the awards back on and to celebrate your local faves in business so make sure to vote (and go into the draw to win $1000).

I’ve had a restful week off work and it’s been relaxing to go on some local adventures including a day trip to Healesville and some brief time in the sun (in between the showers) at the dog-friendly Alphington Farmers Market this morning ($2 entry and remember to BYO bags and coffee cups). I spent Friday night having Japanese at Hanami Izakaya followed by drinks at Low Key bar in High Street, Northcote which I think was my aptly-named vibe for the week. I’m back at work next week and Acting Director for the next little while so will need to get my head back into the game and move things up a few gears.

Peace, love, hope and freedom

They’re the messages of Victorian faith leaders as Easter, Ramadan and Passover coincide this weekend (and Orthodox Easter next weekend) and what inspiring ones they are. It’s been a very cold Easter this year and I’m feeling for anyone who decided to go camping or to the beach this long weekend as it’s definitely been about the great indoors with the cold and the rain although it feels like winter anyway at this time if you’re in Daylesford or its environs.

I’ve enjoyed just seeing friends and family and feeling a lot more rested and relaxed than most weekends this past school term. I had my longtime uni friend Mylinh over to my house this afternoon for an impromptu piano concert by our musician sons, which felt very civilised along with drinking copious amounts of tea matched with hot cross buns and easter eggs. It’s been therapeutic to drop down a gear and I hope you’ve also been doing the same.

Mylinh and me

I’ve spent most holidays in Melbourne over the past year and while I’m envious of those travelling overseas this year – it’s allowed me to once again spend time in my local neighbourhood. There is life in the suburbs and perhaps even more so since the pandemic.

A number of different places have been potentially mooted as Melbourne’s second city (as we are set to become Australia’s biggest city by the 2050s) with Box Hill, Clayton and Sunshine in the running but also the La Trobe cluster that straddles Banyule and Darebin council and includes La Trobe University, the Austin Hospital and Northland Shopping Centre. According to The Age – it represents 36,000 jobs across education, research, health and retail.

I’m not sure if the Suburban Rail Loop North linking Box Hill to Melbourne Airport will ever be built but the planned university city of the future is still an exciting dream for this part of the world. I hope you stay warm and dry this long weekend and have time to re-set and re-charge for the cooler months ahead heading into winter.

Melbourne Now

I can’t quite keep up with the amount of events on this weekend from NGV’s exhibition of 200+ projects and events celebrating local art and design across all three levels of the Ian Potter Centre at Fed Square to The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, the last weekend of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (and early Easter celebrations) and a glorious day to be trackside at Albert Park Lake for the Australian Grand Prix, there is a lot happening.

Meanwhile I’ve been living life in the slow lane today starting with a takeaway coffee from Tatin (note to self: remember to BYO coffee cup) and Koonung Creek Trail walk with my bestie Jules where we were ‘goatside’ with some very adorable furry creatures (above) currently taking residence along the path near the Eastern freeway. It was good to walk off the hot cross buns and easter eggs I’ve already been indulging in not to mention trying the croissants (below) from All Are Welcome in East Ivanhoe.

Bakeries are doing well at the moment – I walked past the recently extended Laurent bakery in Ivanhoe yesterday which was busy as usual and French cruller doughnuts are on my destination list for Moon Cruller in Fitzroy- the new iteration of Lune Croissants (below). They look absolutely delicious so I’d better keep walking!

Speaking of the moon, the free annual Banyule City Council event Star Gazing at Anthony Beal Reserve (below) in St Helena on Saturday 29 April from 6 – 8.30pm is already sold out but you can join the waiting list. To me there is magic in the moon and the stars, which seem so much brighter when you travel to the country – lucky you if you’re headed somewhere in regional Victoria for Easter – remember to look up and marvel at the galaxy above.

Too tight to mention

It’s festival season in Melbourne – the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is currently on and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is about to start – good timing given Daylight Savings ends on 2 April which I’m always sad about as a summer person. The Melbourne Writers Festival has been brought forward this year to May and an early shout out too for Banyule’s Women in Business lunch on Friday 19 May with special guest Lisa Gorman. More on that closer to the time.

Speaking of writers, I’m looking forward to reading Australian writer Pip Williams’ second book The Bookbinder of Jericho which follows on the footsteps of The Dictionary of Lost Words. As a word nerd I’ve also been playing the New York Times Wordle, which is both my guilty pleasure and daily challenge!

Money is tight at the moment for our family and while it’s only a temporary situation, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live without financial security on an ongoing basis and how much it can wear people down. What it has brought into focus are the important things in life – the love of my friends and family and spending time with them, and in nature. It’s pretty simple stuff and if you’re a creative person, there are all sorts of ways you can continue to enjoy life and make time for joy.

Speaking of simple pleasures Hounds of Heide (in collaboration with The Rose Street Artists’ Market) is being held from 10am – 3pm tomorrow at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen if you are have a (leashed) furry four legged friend, the Alphington Farmers Market is also on as well as the Marketplace Sundays @Eaglemont Village Eggstravaganza where the kids Egg Hunt is booked out but adults can celebrate Neighbours Every Day by bringing one of your neighbours along (as well as some cash and BYO bags). In light of Harmony Week, it’s lovely that the Neighbours Every Day theme is ‘Create Belonging’ – surely something that every person wants to feel.