Green with envy

It’s been a sobering weekend news-wise and I’m glad to be staying in this little patch of the woods at the moment.  I’m happy we’re entering the last month of Winter as I’m still eating to compensate for the cold.  The Yarra Valley Chocolaterie’s Hot Chocolate Festival starts tomorrow and runs until 31 August.  It’s a good reason to go and visit the Yarra Valley, which I love doing all year round.

Image via Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery

The first Victorian Fair Trade Festival market is also on this coming Sunday under cover at Preston City Hall in Gower Street, with the second market held on the following Sunday 13 August.  It sounds like a good one to go to if the weather turns.

Image via Moral Fairground

The Green with Envy exhibition by local female artist group Thou Art Mum also opens this Friday at Volumes Cafe and Giftshop in Eltham.  I’ve previously seen work by this group at Montsalvat Arts Centre in Eltham.  Speaking of which, there’s also a Makers, Creatives and Bright Sparks event being run by the Nillumbik Business Network on 9 August.  It’s about people building empires in the digital age – sounds like a good one for any of you reading this blog!  Have a great week.

Image via Facebook

Cooking up a storm

My Food, Mood & Diet – Myth versus Science lecture with chef Shane Delia and charismatic ABC National broadcaster Dr Norman Swan was held last night to a packed audience at the State Library Theatrette, including a number of my La Trobe colleagues who had to stand at the back. There’s a certain level of skill involved in making sure everyone’s properly briefed, prepared and comfortable with the format for the evening but it’s always an interesting exercise seeing how the panel (who are often meeting each other for the first time) come together and do their thing on stage.  Our MC Francis Leach always makes it look easy but I sometimes think he’s got the toughest job of all trying to guide the conversation and give all the speakers a turn to shine on stage.

L-R: Shane Delia, Catherine Itsiopoulos, Antigone Kouris, Francis Leach, Antigone Kouris & Norman Swan



It was a very entertaining conversation last night with Scottish-born Norman Swan saying a few naughty words and cheeky comments.  Shane Delia was also a very natural panelist sharing his perspectives and food journey as a chef, including mentioning that he suffers from ADHD which is something he shares in common with fellow chef Heston Blumenthal.  We are all human at the end of the day but it’s very courageous to be so open in a public forum and it was lovely to hear him speak about his passion for food, inherited from cooking rituals he enjoyed as a young boy with his grandparents, which led him down the food path.  He is also a very busy man who works 14 hour days – he had two other gigs to go to after our lecture finished last night and Dr Swan had also jetted in that afternoon and was flying out again this morning.https3a2f2fcdn-evbuc-com2fimages2f321479182f1087472139252f12foriginal

It was also fascinating for me to listen to La Trobe’s two health sciences academics Catherine Itsiopoulos and Antigone Kouris explain why the Mediterranean Diet in particular is so good for you health-wise (including evidence-based data to support longevity and anti-ageing).  I will be doing a lot more slow cooking, braising and casseroles after finding out it’s a much healthier process than caramelising, barbecuing and roasting as well as eating more plant-based foods especially leafy greens, nuts, legumes and olives and extra virgin olive oil.the-mediterranean-diet-cookbook

The lecture touched on the fact that more educated and affluent people have the knowledge and access to healthier food including fresh fruit and vegetables and I will be interested to watch Shane Delia’s upcoming SBS documentary on better access for children at poorer schools in Melbourne’s growth corridors – he was horrified to drive past at least 14 McDonalds outlets on the way from his home to Tarneit in Melbourne’s outer west while filming the series.  I get just as cross about gambling outlets and sports betting targeting the less educated and more vulnerable people in our society but don’t get me started…

Have a wonderful weekend and I am looking forward to the last month of Winter, which starts next week.

Incredible You

It’s the name of the wellness event celebrating the women of Melbourne taking place on Sunday 20 August in the south-east, tickets which can be booked here.  My Asian Australian friend and model, actor and graphic designer Shirlene Lai Allison is one of the speakers who will be talking about personal development and branding and she also asked me to write a few words on their Facebook page.  It is nice to share some words of wisdom amongst other women (and men!), my knowledge has been hard won as I’m sure is the case for many of you as well.  While I never enjoy making mistakes, I realise that I’ve always learnt something from the experience and it’s made me the person I am.

Image via Sticky Tickets

Speaking of interesting events, the Unicorn Festival is being held at Melbourne Central next Thursday 3 August with the level 2 link bridge being transformed into all things unicorn.  While the term ‘unicorn’ for me has meant more to do with start up companies like Google and Facebook, my Events colleague Pio who is Asian Australian was making me laugh at work calling himself a unicorn when he happened to be the only Asian at an all Anglo-Saxon wedding in Byron Bay a few months ago.

Image via Melbourne Central


I also love these inflatable unicorns that would make the perfect little girl’s summer gift for those of you lucky enough to have a pool, although these flamingoes by Sunnylife look just as fun, and ridiculous, at the same time.  Can you tell I’m dreaming of warmer weather at the moment…I’ll be back with more later this week.

Image via Lime Tree Kids

Light it up

The Gertrude Street Projection Festival starts tonight and it should be a beautiful night to go after the winter wonderland of all the fog this morning, which has dissipated into a beautiful sunny day today.  It’s also the last weekend of the Leaps and Bounds Music Festival if you’re interested in seeing a local gig.  I’ve seen musician Paul Kelly perform live before and he’s a man who’s led a very interesting life if you’ve ever seen the documentary Paul Kelly: Stories of Me.

Speaking of the night, I made it to the Night Life exhibition at Ripponlea earlier this week and I’m glad I managed to catch the show before it closes at the end of this month.  There’s also still time to catch the associated Vintage Fashion Market & Pop Up Beauty Studio as well as its final evening soiree titled ‘Putting on the Ritz’ next Saturday, which would be lots of fun.

The beautiful dresses that were on show were quite amazing although my favourite piece is the spectacular opera coat from Selfridges (above) on display in the very first part of the exhibition.  I hadn’t been to Ripponlea in a long time but it was a great experience to have a very civilised cup of tea served in beautiful crockery in front of the open fire at the teahouse before buying tickets from the vintage caravan out the front to then entering the period building itself, which is like going back in time.

My girlfriend Julia and I also had a wander around the gardens afterwards including sitting by the lake that’s there overlooking the water, which was like doing a seated meditation in stillness and calm.  The cold and the wind got the better of us in the end, but it was still a good thing to do in the depths of Winter.

Talking about all things artistic, those jobs I mentioned at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre are now online and open for application if you are interested in throwing your hat in the ring.  There’s an interesting upcoming sculptural installation at the Homestead next month which has also been inspired by Paul Kelly called From little things big things grow by Carly Fischer.  Have a great weekend!



Getting through Winter’s been hard this year.  It’s been a while since we had a break of any kind and I think regular time out is necessary to rest and re-charge.  So with that in mind, we once again decided fairly impromptu to head to the Bellarine Peninsula last weekend.  We hired a friend’s beach house in Ocean Grove and while Mr Rosanna and I have previously visited Geelong and Point Lonsdale, neither of us had ever been to Ocean Grove or the more exclusive feeling Barwon Heads – a bit like the Portsea of the west coast.

Me at Ocean Grove beach

There’s nothing quite like spending time near the water, which I find relaxing and refreshing at the same time – it’s like hitting the re-set button and I’ve needed to psyche myself up to tackle the second half of this year (and five more lectures!).  It hasn’t helped that I’ve fallen off the exercise bandwagon these past few weeks with getting tired at the end of last term followed by the school holidays.  I’m sure I’m not the only one…fullsizeoutput_37c

We headed up Friday night grabbing dinner on the road so it was lovely to wake up on a beautiful sunny Winter’s day on Saturday and head to the Bellarine Community Farmers Market which was on at Ocean Grove park.  It was relatively small but we loved the chance to buy a couple of coffees and some fresh local eggs.  I also appreciated the Happy Glamper bell tent for the kids complete with hula hoops for them to play with set up in the middle as well as the cute caravan (above) selling toasted sandwiches.

Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary

The walk along the beach in the morning was balm for the soul – the tide was right out and the very cool looking local Soul longboarders were all getting ready to head out and hit the waves.  There is a really nice sense of community at small coastal towns like Ocean Grove and I always start feeling wistful every time I visit the beach – I completely understand why people love living by the water no matter where they are in the world, even in the midst of Winter!

Looking outside – Annie’s Provedore

We ventured on by car to Barwon Heads and had lunch at Annie’s Provedore on the main strip in the village, where the food was excellent.  I had the house-made pea and ham soup and Mr R, the baked gnocchi, while the boys had house-made pies and sausage rolls which were all delicious.  The kids following up lunch with dessert, which was equally good.  The main street has some lovely shops including upmarket hippy store Ten Thousand Things, the beautifully fitted out Moss Grotto and Frith homewares and fashion.  Apparently our friends go to Barwon Heads from Ocean Grove on their bikes in the summer time because it gets incredibly crowded so it was nice to enjoy the relative quiet and space.fullsizeoutput_373


That part of the world is also a drinkers delight but we only briefly stopped in for a quick look at Oakdene Vineyards and the Flying Brick Cider Company, before heading to Japanese warehouse Kyo located in a nearby industrial estate.  Kyo is pretty mind-blowing if you’re there for a first-time visit – a sensory overload for all things Japanese, Indian and Moroccan.  I didn’t know where to look first and it took me quite a while to make my way around the whole warehouse filled to the brim with homewares, textiles, art as well as vintage indoor and outdoor furniture.  They sell direct to the public and it’s well worth a visit if you find yourself in that part of the world.  I’m not sure who owns the business but they also run surf and yoga classes.fullsizeoutput_377


Being the small world that it is, some close friends of ours happened to be in Point Lonsdale and so we ended up at the Barwon Heads Hotel  for dinner that night, which was good – I always love a nice pub meal at the local.fullsizeoutput_36d


We spent Sunday morning doing some of the Bluff circuit walk in Barwon Heads (also a good running track) saying goodbye to the beach before stopping in briefly at the Amazing Mill Market in Newcomb, Geelong.  It’s probably not as good as the Daylesford market but I still managed to find a vintage Whiting and Davis silver mesh purse and had also picked up a couple of small things at Kyo including a beautiful carved wooden crane which is now sitting on my dressing table at home.fullsizeoutput_37b


We’re now heading into the second half of Winter and I’m really looking forward to the return of Spring – bring it on.

Local Profile: Beck Ng

I’m lucky enough to have some clever and crafty people in my family including my cousin Beck!  While she has a professional background in graphic design, she’s morphed into a slashie with a textile design business on the side while working part-time and raising two small children.  Yes, she’s a busy woman and you’ll find her working at this weekend’s Finders Keepers Market at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.  Say hello to her if you find yourself there or you can always browse through her lovely things online.FabricDrawer_Beck

Name: Beck Ng

Occupation: Designer

Lives/works: North Melbourne

How long have you lived/worked here? Forever! 20 plus years.drawstring

Describe yourself: I’m a designer with a love of all things pattern. I create surface pattern designs and illustrations, which are printed onto fabric and paper and made into all things lovely.clutch2

I currently have a range of bags, zip purses/pouches, greeting cards and gift wrap with my patterns that will be available at the Finders Keepers market and a selection is on my Etsy shop to make to order.laminated

Best thing(s) about living/working in North Melbourne:
I love being close to the city where everything is accessible by walking or a short tram ride away. I try to use the car as little as possible. Despite being so close to town there’s lots of parks and plenty of places to walk around, which always provides inspiration for my

For more information:


It’s the name of the Bendigo cafe where I was meant to have breakfast with a work colleague while in town earlier this year, but unfortunately the stars didn’t align.  It’s the phonetic spelling of the Danish word Hygge meaning ‘comfort’, ‘warmth’ or ‘cosiness’ which has had quite a bit of airplay over the past year (and been the subject of a number of different books).  It’s a concept that encapsulates a bit more than that – think catching up with friends at home, drinking mulled wine in front of the fireplace, dinners by candlelight.  Despite living in a cold climate, the Danish are amongst the happiest people in the world so I think hygge is something we can all learn from.

Image via

It was interesting to read too about warmth in a different context, apparently people of influence are both warm and strong – qualities that some of the world’s great leaders like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama exemplify.

Image via

As for me, we found ourself car-less this weekend so decided to put some hygge in action by riding our bikes to Funkie Brewster cafe in Davies Street Rosanna to meet local friends who live in the surrounding area. Funkie Brewster had a write up in Time Out the other week and while I opted for the sweet potato waffle with kale instead of the almond and blueberry pancake stack, it was a fun thing to do on a fairly cold and grey winter’s afternoon.  The undercover area at the back has some bigger tables and a cubby for the kids to play in and there was a passing parade of young families with babies and toddlers, which reflects the new generation of people moving into the area.

Image via Twitter

Speaking of the great indoors, the Finders Keepers market is on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton – I keep missing them but will have to go along to one at some stage.

Open House printed program image via Twitter

The 10th annual Open House Melbourne is also on the weekend of the 29 and 30 July (look out for the special printed program available from Readings) and some of my work buildings at La Trobe University are open to the public including the Centre for AgriBiosciences, the La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science and the Mont Park Terraces precinct.  My pick would actually be the Spanish Mission-style Ernest Jones Hall in the Mont Park Terraces precinct as well as the Modernist building by Robin Boyd, the A.D. Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies.  If it’s a sunny day like today then the campus walk From the paddock to the Agora (also the name of the 50th Anniversary book) would be a beautiful thing to do. It’s not quite the groovy co-working space like The Hub opposite Southern Cross station in the former Mail Exchange building where Mr Rosanna is lucky enough to be working at the moment, but I don’t take working so close to home in the leafy environs of the University for granted.

The Pioneer

It’s the name of the new cafe that’s yet to open at 2 Station Road in Rosanna.  From the signage and graphic design already up, it looks very promising.  I just hope they get the numbers given the lack of parking in that particular spot although lots of people walk past on their way to the train station.  I love the name – I was only still grumbling to Mr Rosanna last week that people seem to think culture is non-existent in the suburbs when there’s a big demand for more inner-city style cafes.  Just because I’ve moved a few kilometres out of the city doesn’t mean my sensibility and taste have changed…IMG_5876

I made it to the Van Gogh exhibition for my birthday earlier this week and I think we spent more time queuing up to see the show, than in the exhibition space itself!  I’d bought tickets online but it was still a wait as there were lots of people like us wanting to see the show before it closes this weekend.  I will say, Van Gogh’s later work is beautiful – the way he captured light in his paintings is amazing.  I’m also looking forward to the House of Dior  fashion exhibition at the NGV which will open late August.IMG_5864

The boys took me to upmarket Japanese restaurant Sake beforehand for lunch so it was lovely to spend time sitting in the sun beside the Yarra River.  I’m glad there’s been a lot more development by the river – I could see across to Riverland Bar and know that there’s also ice skating on at the moment at River Rink at Fed Square.  After the exhibition, we actually made it to a late afternoon screening of Wonder Woman at the Westgarth Theatre in Northcote so we loaded up on coffees and hot chips beforehand at Barry.IMG_5875

I got some lovely small things from my family for my birthday including some T2 green tea (with spinach!) and a Frank Green environmental coffee cup designed in Australia.  I’ve not seen the War on Waste TV program but I know there are far too many disposable coffee cups and plastic straws thrown away.  I recently met a senior staff member from T2 who informed me of their ‘Three Cs’ branding – no coffee, no coke and no colour!  Apparently all the staff wear black.  I’m not sure I’d survive a day in there without coffee…IMG_5852

Mr R also bought me some beautiful tulips that I’ve been admiring all week on our bench top – tulips along with orchids and lilies (which unfortunately make me sneeze) are one of my favourite flowers.  I’ve always wanted some Art Deco glass tulips which are collectors items if you ever see them.  Have a great weekend – one more week until we are officially halfway through winter.IMG_5856

More than this

I love that scene in the Sofia Coppola film Lost in Translation where Bill Murray’s character is singing Roxy Music’s song at a Japanese karaoke bar.  Mr Rosanna and I have been bunkering down for winter, which is not my favourite season and I must admit I’m not a very nice person to be around when I’m cold, tired or hungry and watch out if I’m all three. My work colleagues know I get ‘hangry’ so it’s probably no surprise that I’m the team lunch organiser.

Stuffed calamari starter
Sardine starter

While it’s cold and I am tired at the moment – I have been eating!  I’ve started celebrating my birthday early this year and Mr Rosanna took me to Camus on High Street Northcote on Saturday night, after having had my family over for lunch during the day.  Camus is relatively new – French Algerian – and very close to the Westgarth Theatre and Bar Nonno.  We were seated upstairs in the more modern formal, but more sterile-feeling, upstairs dining area which could do perhaps with some sound baffling (and I’m not a fan of the white floorboards) – it was full house but I think I’d go back and ask for a downstairs table next time which feels more cosy, particularly in the winter time.

Slow cooked goat with apricots
Baked snapper

The food was great although we’d probably eaten a bit too much at lunch given the plates are designed for sharing.  Mr Rosanna and I shared two starters of calamari stuffed with prawns and the sardines – I preferred the calamari to the sardines while our two shared mains included the slow cooked goat with apricots, which was delicious (sorry any vegetarian readers out there!) and the baked snapper which was also very good.

Turkish delight souffle


I stopped eating a bit earlier so only just had room for a shared dessert of Turkish delight souffle with halva icecream, which was delicious, and Algerian mint tea, which was sweet but also very nice.  I don’t know who has done the fit out and design for Camus but particularly love the graphic design – their business card has no other details except for just the name – as well as some of the finer details like the Glenn Tebble tableware made by Bendigo Pottery.  Glenn Tebble himself has a very inspiring life story of his own – he’s originally from Eltham and a cystic fibrosis sufferer who has now had a double lung transplant and building his ceramic business on a global scale making bowls and plates for the likes of Brae, Ezard and Movida.



While we headed home after dinner – on previous nights out in Northcote, Mr R and I have gone out for drinks at Joe’s Shoe Store, there is also the new Irish whisky bar and bookshop Buck Mulligans (love the turquoise pressed metal bar), the Wesley Anne if you want to see a band or the Black Waffle if you want dessert.  Next time!  I hope you’re hanging in there if you’re not feeling it, like me.  Go away winter blues…

Buck Mulligans image via Pressed Tin Panels