The A Team

If you’re returning to school or work this week, then good luck! If it’s a week of firsts for you like it is in my family, then I will be thinking of you.

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Lunching at Hunter Lane Cafe last week

I started my new job in the La Trobe Alumni and Advancement Office last week and my head is still spinning. It will take me some time to get myself up to speed but already my remit is fairly clear – increasing engagement with Young Alumni (FYI graduate = alumni) as they transition from first, second and third year University students to their first 3 – 5 years post-graduation and helping them on their employment journey in particular – a big focus for me will be work integrated learning (internships and other work experience) and mentoring as well as promoting the Alumni Benefits program which includes exclusive access to LinkedIn Learning for La Trobe Alumni – short online courses to help you skill up quickly and in your own time.

It’s a new portfolio but one that makes a lot of sense and I’m hoping to hit the ground running given I’m already internal – it’s made things a lot easier being familiar with systems and processes as well as people and if you are starting out, mid-career or well entrenched in your chosen career – the power of the network is something that will stand you in good stead. Don’t be afraid to reach out for a coffee and chat with someone new – most people are happy to give you 30-60 minutes of their time.

I work in a fantastic Alumni Relations team who look after alumni in Australia and internationally from Young Alumni (generally graduates Under 35 years) to those with the honour of being awarded Distinguished Alumni. I also work with colleagues in the fundraising (or development) area who work with donors (who may or may not be alumni) looking at philanthropy, grants, bequests and other donations to the University and stewardship of those who have donated their time or money to worthy causes such as scholarships and life-saving or life changing research. It’s a fascinating area if you’re interested in the giving space and collectively Alumni and Fundraising (Development) is known as Advancement. A specialist data services team also supports both areas in my office so it will take me a little while to meet everyone and deepen my understanding of what they do and how all the pieces fit together.

I knew most of the people in my current area before applying for my role and that was part of the allure for me – known quantities whose good reputations preceded them and that’s been reinforced for me now working in that team. Natural affinity isn’t something that can be manufactured but is so important in the work force and in life in terms of ongoing relationships.

In my first week on the job I also managed to have three work lunches locally with my first ever team lunch being held at the aptly named The A Team Kitchen in Watsonia (run by the former owners of Miss Marie Cafe in Rosanna), Hunter Lane Cafe (now with new owners but staff have remained) as well as The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna – none of which were here when I moved into the area just over 10 years ago. It’s been a welcome change and a sign of the times. I’m very glad to have joined the A team! Have a great week.

 

Design for life

While general de-cluttering, entertaining small people and administrative tasks have taken up a lot of my time the past fortnight, it’s been fun doing a bit of interior decorating as well.

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I have a second floating shelf this time in my kitchen which deflects some attention away from unsightly electricity cabling and wiring in the wall. My Christmas presents from Mr Rosanna are taking pride of place on said shelf – a long wished for Alessi kettle as well as a Model One radio by Tivoli Audio – both of them design keepsakes. Digital radio is all the rage now but I’m still pretty old school…I just hope I don’t kill my new succulent plant (Mistletoe Cactus) from Bulleen Art and Garden as I have a tendency to over water.

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We’ve also taken delivery of some ACME coffee cups (pictured above) that are designed in New Zealand and used at many cafes in Melbourne and around Australia. Speaking of which, I caught up with my besties on Saturday morning at Admiral Cheng Ho cafe in Abbotsford not realising it was plant-based food so no eggs for brunch! It’s been there for a number of years and does serve dairy-based coffee so I made do with a cafe latte as well as one of their excellent muffins. It’s the sister cafe to Monk Bodhi Dharma in St Kilda so one for the vegan crowd.

Mr Rosanna and I met up with some local friends at Prosciutto Bros in Eltham last night – finally making it there for some weekend pizzas (and craft beers in his case). It’s not one for the vegans with lots of preserved and other meats mainly on offer (!) although there were a few vegetarian options in terms of pizza and gnocchi. The retro music was a tad loud when I entered the building (boy I’m showing my age) but subsequently turned down so we could hear ourselves talk by the time our pizzas arrived. Our friends who are Eltham locals gave the place a 9/10 for Eltham (which they said makes it a 7/10 for Melbourne) but still I’m pretty glad to have somewhere like it in the northeastern suburbs – we are a little starved of more urban-looking and feeling places to go, particularly at night-time, out this way.

 

 

Food glorious food

Multi-cultural dining is one of the best things about living in Melbourne. My sisters live in the west so have easy access to Vietnamese and African food, which I’m a little envious about living here in the north-east where it’s less diverse. I took the kids into the city last week to visit Mr Rosanna and we had lunch at Ippudo – the famous Japanese ramen noodle chain which opened its Melbourne outpost last April.

Luckily we didn’t have to queue and the service was impressive with the Manager coming up to have a personal chat with us about the restaurant and how we had found out about it. My kids loved the pork buns while Mr R and I both had the ramen (of course!) – I opted for the vegetarian version while Mr R had the spicy (mild) option with meat. They were both delicious and I think if you go the full spicy option, your mouth will be burning!

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I zipped through the city shopping for the kids ending up at All Star Comics on Queen Street which is a must if you have a comic book fan in your household. The art deco furnishings and vintage toys they have on display are a highlight and there are two levels to check out. I had to look longingly at shop windows on our city sojourn including Royal St Collins, a more modern version of the Hopetoun Tea Rooms which looks like a lovely place to have breakfast, morning or afternoon tea (pictured above).

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Freshly caught squid drying in the sun – Naxos

I promised ages ago that I would post about our Greek food experience last year and with the hot weather upon us this week, now is probably a good time to expand. We had Greek salads almost every day when we were in Greece which come in many different versions and include local sour cheese and locally grown capers as well as different types of tomatoes that were bursting with flavour. Mr R has never been a huge fan of tomatoes but the Grecian tomatoes have converted him.

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Home made chicken pie – Souros Beach, Paros

There’s also a Cretan dish known as Dakos consisting of tomatoes, cheese and herbs atop soaked dried bread or barley rusk but I didn’t love it as much as a good Greek salad on its own. Surprisingly for us, lamb is expensive (and scarce) in Greece so more pork and chicken (including rooster), as well as rabbit and goat, are eaten in terms of meat. Seafood including squid and octopus is plentiful and the market price per weight is shown in Euro for fresh fish.

Our pescatarian travel mates also loved the vegetarian options available including dishes including big beans, Greek fava (made from fava beans) and home-made made tzatziki and Greek yoghurt. Besides standard Greek desserts like baklava, freshly made loukoumades (Greek donuts) drizzled with honey and cinnamon were also a highlight as well as the donut ice cream cones that were on offer at one Greek dessert store in Paros (pictured below).

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I only ever saw one Japanese sushi place on the island when we were there – everything else was Greek and by Day 20 of our trip throughout the Cycladic Islands, we were craving other options. I remember similarly in Vietnam when I was there many years ago, Mr R and I seeking an American-style burger joint by the time we got to Saigon in the south 5 weeks into our trip and a little spring-rolled out by that stage.

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Al fresco dining in Paros town main square

If you’re back at work this week, I hope you are taking it easy in the heat and lucky you if you’re at the beach or by a pool!

Fashion rules

Well there are no rules in fashion but fashion rules forever in my book! Speaking of which, it’s a little early but there are two local events happening as part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF) 2019 including the Gorman: Ten years of Collaborating garment exhibition (image below) at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen starting 5 March. Even better tickets are on sale for the Gorman runway evening show at Heide on Saturday 2 March if you want to see fashions in the field (outdoor sculpture garden) instead of on the field.

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Gorman has collaborated with a number of different artists who’ve worked with Gorman over the past 10 years including Rachel Castle, Elke Kramer, Rhys Lee, Ellie Malin, Mirka Mora and Miranda Skoczek to name but a few. The garments will be shown alongside the artworks which inspired them so a fantastic show for the fashionistas out there.

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Local designer Estelle Michaelides is madly putting her Micky in the Van Autumn/Winter 2019 collection together (pictured above) to also show on Saturday 2 March at 2pm at the Rivoli Cinemas in Hawthorn as part of VAMFF. It’s great to see some creativity being used to show fashion in unexpected venues this year. Once upon a long time ago when I first worked in fashion PR, I boarded a mystery train trip out to a secret warehouse location in Maribyrnong to see supermodel Linda Evangelista in action as part of the first ever Melbourne Fashion Festival – they were exciting times.

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Speaking of Heide, the Heide Makers Market is on tomorrow and you’ll see my ceramic artist friend Lene Kuhl Jakobsen selling her wares there if you’re going. I have a number of Lene’s pieces on display (above) in my home – they look particularly great on a floating shelf if you have the space although probably better without computer paraphernalia!

Live like you’re dancing

Welcome to 2019. It’s my take out (above) from the book The courage to be disliked which I finished reading before Christmas. We’re so often busy thinking about the final point that we miss all the living in between, which is where our focus really should be and this is something I’m going to try to keep in mind this year. After my not so thrilling word for the year last year being ‘consolidation’, this year’s much sexier option is ‘adventure’!

Yes, I’ve decided freedom, courage and self-acceptance will be my mantra for this year – a year to try new things with new people and keep an open heart and mind. It’s a big year of change for my family with all of us on new and different paths so I hope we transition well into this next stage of life.

We had another short but sweet stay at Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Coast this time booking a house called ‘Endless Sunset‘ on AirBnb (pictures above and below), which was a lot of fun. Em – the owner has a great eye and the house had all sorts of vintage quirks and pieces mixed with new. The dog-friendly back yard, with a fantastic deck and established vegetable garden, was a real highlight as well as the big TV screen and surround sound inside which was great for enjoying New Year’s Eve movies. The equally dog-friendly street leading to the dog-friendly cafe 150m away was also very handy and you guessed it, we spent a lot of time at the dog beach while we were there, which was the whole reason we chose the Bellarine Coast instead of the Mornington Peninsula.

We managed to catch up with friends one night for dinner at the Ocean Grove Bowling Club but the nearby Ocean Grove Golf Club was also recommended by Em. It was a pretty low-fi break with our diet consisting of pies, burgers, pizza and fish and chips – standard beach fare! As always, I’ve been envious of those with family beach houses as I think it’s a great opportunity to involve your kids in Nippers, beach swimming and running events, sailing and surf lessons and a whole different lifestyle if you are lucky enough to have access to these options. Mr Rosanna also enjoyed going out for a long bike ride meeting up with a friend one sunny morning in nearby Point Lonsdale.

I sadly had to come back early from our trip to attend a funeral, but it was still great to get away for a period of time. Mr R and I have also spent time looking at furniture and furnishings including checking out mid-century furniture at Grandfather’s Axe in Northcote (with a gelati pitstop at Il Melograno) as well as the Vintage Bazaar in Alphington, which is closing down. The current space will be a warehouse until April but after that the business will be going online. After a decade of living in our house, Mr R and I lashed out on a 1930s Art Deco sideboard to replace my mum’s teak cabinet that I’ve been storing for her all this time. We are looking forward to receiving our new (old) piece once it’s delivered and finally completing our formal living room although now investigating the possibility of installing a skylight given how dark the room is.

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Point Lonsdale beach

Our former toy room for the kids is also slowly changing to become a proper second living space and so it’s been nice to look at new furniture options for that room as well. It’s been one of the best things about children growing up and moving away from all things plastic to technology (despite some of the pitfalls that also brings with it) and I’m not missing stepping on pieces of Lego.

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Il Melograno – Northcote

I’ve got a couple of weeks before I start my new job so madly scrambling around trying to get myself organised for the year and put some systems in place on top of general de-cluttering and keeping the children amused, given Mr R is already back at work.

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Kite surfer – Ocean Grove

There are some great things happening locally on the cultural front, which I’ll be posting about soon. I hope you had a restful and relaxing festive period – lucky you if you’re still on holidays but even for those at work, January is still pretty sleepy so enjoy the slower pace!