Victory Lap

The Brunswick Music Festival starts on 9th March and while Mr Rosanna and I don’t get to many gigs these days, both of us have a number of multi-talented muso mates including my friend Sez (below) who played keys and sang at the Victory Lap album launch we went to at The Old Bar on Johnston Street Fitzroy last Thursday. It’s always a fun night when you end your evening dancing on sticky carpet…

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Both Mr R and I are fully back in work mode and trying to keep up with exercise, our children and seeing our friends and family outside of that. I think we’re still yet to feel the full effects of the bushfire, coronavirus and an already sluggish economy in Australia, let alone the rest of the world, which has given everyone pause for thought.

I’ve been so busy back in the thick of things that I missed buying a ticket to the now sold out Banyule Women in Business 2020 event at the Rosanna Golf Club featuring guest speaker Nicole Eckels from Glasshouse Candles (now Glasshouse Fragrances). Hers is an inspiring story as an ex-pat single mother originally from the US who took a big punt and backed herself with her business idea in Australia.

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Candles and flowers are always a big hit for Valentine’s Day and while I wasn’t expecting anything this year given how long Mr R and I have been together, he surprised me with a beautiful bouquet (above) that he’d handpicked from French Blue Flowers on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg.

If you live or work in Heidelberg, a liveability survey is now open regarding the Heidelberg Activity Centre and is a chance to have your say and contribute to a new structure plan.

Strike a pose

February’s been busy with everyone back at school and work. University students are yet to start back and the coronavirus is having an impact on any tertiary college or institution that has an international student cohort. Businesses too are having to pivot and it’s interesting to see what they’re doing and how – it’s definitely changing things up and setting some new precedents.

I’ve been trying to get back in to some regular exercise with returning to Iyengar classes at Action Yoga in Ivanhoe. Late last year, I started regular lunchtime reformer pilates classes in the new core cave at the La Trobe Sports Centre with my work colleagues and it’s been a great way of connecting – the team who plays together stays together.

Great to see La Trobe alumna and AFLW player Daisy Pearce front and centre in the media (as well as more sportswomen in general) – she is a real inspiration as an elite athlete, midwife and mother of twins.

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Image via real.estate.com.au

This beautiful Art Deco house at 318 The Boulevard in East Ivanhoe has caught me eye and is on the market again – built by Australian architect Arthur Edgar Pretty in 1940 it has definitely captured my imagination with its glamorous curves and beautiful features. I’ll always be a sucker for that era and mid-century modern – there’s a lot to be said for simple and bold at the same time. If you’re a fellow Art Deco lover you might want to go and see Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears which opens later this month at the movies.

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Image via Estelle

Speaking of glamorous, Artea at the Westin Hotel – a high tea and fashion illustration workshop with Estelle Michaelides (pictured above) is being held every Sunday in March. As someone who has previously done a similar workshop with a group of girlfriends – I can vouch for how fun they are to do as an individual and with friends.

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Image via Maha

Also opening soon northside is Maha Bar in Collingwood. Mr Rosanna and I loved our dinner at Maha last year so it’s great there’ll be an outpost on this side of town.

It’s been an interesting start to the year with people I know coming and going – I guess change is inevitable and there’s always a lot of movement with the start of a new year, and a new decade at that. Here’s to being agile, nimble and flexible in this new age.

Get up, dress up and show up

It’s been a weird time in the aftermath of the bushfires and now with the world grappling with coronavirus, which has thrown governments, education providers, travellers, airline companies and the business world into chaos. As a Chinese Australian, I haven’t personally experienced any discrimination but am uncomfortable with the fact that some people have made this an issue about race not health. Whatever the case, we now live in a globalised society where we are all connected in more ways than one. As an economic powerhouse, when China sneezes, the world catches a cold and I think there will be economic ramifications in addition to the more pressing issue of finding a vaccine as soon as possible.

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I’ve found watching the Australian Open here in Melbourne a good distraction and there are some nice outdoor events coming up including the dog-friendly (but do watch out for snakes) Heide Makers Market in Bulleen this Saturday 8 February, a Summers End outdoor movie screening of the Buena Vista Social Club at Montsalvat in Eltham on Sunday 29 February and the Banyule Festival Twilight Sounds live music at Sills Bend on Saturday 14 March.

The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is also holding a number of free concerts this month at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl while my pick for our family would be Music from the Studio Ghibli Films of Hayao Miyazaki.

I finished reading the companion book to The courage to be liked called The courage to be happy over the summer break and its main messages are to love (other people rather than waiting to be loved by someone), be self-reliant (self-worth comes from within so ignore both external praise and criticism) and to choose life (self-explanatory but what other choice do we have?).  Instead of blaming the past, other people and our circumstances, we need to change our focus to ‘what can I do from now on?’. The book also talks about consistency and the challenge of working through the ‘nothing days’ when nothing particularly exciting happens but it all amounts to something in the end simply by staying the course.

It’s not a sexy word but consistency is under-rated – it’s what is needed to succeed in life with exercise, work and many other pursuits – getting up, dressing up and showing up whether we feel like it or not, day after day, month after month, year after year. It may become my mantra for this year! I did also read Why Buddhism is true – a much denser book looking at the intersection of Buddhist theory with evolutionary psychology. I may leave explaining that one for another time! I hope you have a great week – stay safe and be well.

 

 

 

Cunning as…

Gong Hei Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the Year of the Golden Rat – the start of a whole new 60-year cycle in Chinese astrology. If you’re interested in finding out how the rat became the first sign – you can read on for more about the Chinese Zodiac.

The rat symbolises wisdom and new beginnings and after the apocalyptic weather we have had with bushfires, smoke, rain, hail and dust – I am happy to start the year all over again. I have a number of rats in my immediate and extended family as well as many friends who share the same Eastern star sign so good luck to you all this year.

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Melbourne Chinatown Chinese New Year action from my family spy 🙂

It’s a busy Australia Day long weekend but if you’re in Melbourne, it’s always great visiting Chinatown (but also always hot so take a hat, water and sunscreen). Locally, Preston Market is also holding celebrations this weekend and Box Hill next Saturday 1 Feburary. I was in the city briefly at the top end of town yesterday ducking into The European for a quick coffee and bombolini where Mr Rosanna and I spied adversing mogul Harold Mitchell as we were leaving. There were lots of happy people walking around in the sun, including this funky Melbourne couple (below).

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If you miss local celebrations, I can also highly recommend visiting the glorious Bendigo Easter Festival in April which also features dragon, lion and Chinese youth society performances in their night-time and day-time parade, as well as visiting the Golden Dragon Chinese Museum.

I also wanted to mention the Asia TOPA Double Delicious event at the Abbotsford Convent from 27 February featuring Chinese writer Benjamin Law and food legend Elizabeth Chong (whose daughter Angie runs The Humble Dumpling cooking school in Fairfield) amongst others. Tickets are now on sale.

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Image via The Society inc.

Finally, while Chinese egg roll biscuits are traditionally eaten at Chinese New year, I do love a fortune cookie and I have bought some of these beautiful porcelain fortune cookies from Australian stylist Sibella Court’s retail store The Society inc. for a number of close friends as special keepsakes.

Whether you’re at the tennis, at the beach or having a staycation like me, have a great weekend – it’s been a shock to the system returning to work and I suspect an even bigger shock in in store with school back next week!

Better days

It’s the song by Melbourne band The Meltdown which has been the soundtrack playing in my head all this week and perhaps my mantra for this year given the terrible start we’ve had with the bushfires and poor air quality. With the upcoming Lunar New Year, I’d like to think we can start this year anew (and the next 60 year cycle in terms of Chinese astrology) with the Rat being the first sign that also represents the beginnings of a new day.

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I’ve been suffering from post-holiday jet lag all week trying to adjust to being back at work and picking up where I left off. While Monday wasn’t great, I’d booked myself into a whole lot of meetings so it was a good way of getting back into the swing of things without having time to think about it.

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I’m also missing regular exercise and everything feels that bit tighter post-Christmas! I’ve booked myself into a number of health check ups as well as organised some spontaneous and planned catch ups with my closest friends while things are quieter on the work front. It’s also a good time to read, plan holidays, do paperwork, de-clutter and get on top of some of the things we don’t ordinarily find the time to do.

For Mr Rosanna and me, this included a bulk shop for the first time at DC Coffee/Conga Foods at 70 Bell Street in Preston – the site of which has been sold and may become a Bunnings with hotel (!) – but it was good to go and stock up on pasta, cheese, tomatoes, tuna and Italian biscuits. When we lived in Brunswick our go to was Mediterranean Wholesalers so it’s good to have a closer alternative.

We’ve also spent more time hanging in the ‘hood including Friday night ice cream for the kids at the new Gelati & Co (ex-Wally & Fletcher) on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg around the corner from the newly opened Rockin Rolls cafe in Hawdon Street, the owners of whom apparently do a mean Bahn Mi pork roll. I’ve always gone to Aus-Vi Vietnamese bakery at Rosanna Village but must go check them out.

Montsalvat in Eltham launches Destruction, beauty and hope – the Victorian Bushfire Appeal special fundraising exhibition on 29 January. I have a number of Nillumbik-based friends and colleagues who’ve been attending CFA sessions the past fortnight. Warrandyte, while beautiful, has only one road in and one road out and I know locals who simply pack up and leave on high fire danger days.

We’ve seen the terror of this wide brown country, I hope the beauty soon returns.

A sunburnt country

I’ve been away on the Mornington Peninsula the past week and it has been a strange time to go away with the bushfires at the peak of their destruction. A heart-breaking time for those who lost their lives, their houses, their schools, workplaces and their communities as well as the unfathomable loss of habitat and wildlife including an estimated 30% of our koala population. It has been pretty grim and I’ve limited my exposure to news media to avoid overwhelm.

Inspiring has been the swift reaction, not of our politicians, but leaders in the arts and sporting communities as well as every day people who have stepped up to volunteer their energy and time, donate their money and their talent to raise funds to help. I’ve lost count of the money that instagram star Celeste Barber has single-handedly raised on Facebook but think the power of social media and influence has been at its best in this case.

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View from pier to Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron

Scientists have been at pains to explain that climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like bushfire, rather than being the sole cause, but whatever the case, our government and business leaders need to institute long term structural change, strategy and infrastructure now as drought, bushfire and other events unfortunately become more commonplace and we as consumers, need to do what we can individually to reduce our footprint and live more sustainably, which includes reducing our consumption of new things we may want but don’t need.

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This has been on my mind this week where while safe from the fires, we drove through thick smoke haze on our way to Sorrento which gives some idea of the frightening poor visibility experienced in bushfire and also the following Monday when we could all smell the smoke outside, apparently from Tasmanian fires rather than in Gippsland and further north.

Like many people, Mr Rosanna and I have previously holidayed on the NSW south coast and I had briefly contemplated booking our summer break this past week in Gippsland. In the end, we opted to stay close and go for the familiar but many of our friends had their holidays curtailed by evacuation or chose to cancel. While disappointing, I don’t think anyone begrudges the fact when so many others have lost so much.

Feeling very thankful indeed, we did have a lovely week away in a house with no wifi walking distance to Cameron’s Bight dog beach where we took our dog most nights for a leash-free walk after 7pm to play with all the other dogs. It also made a nice walk/run route to the nearby Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron. It was a bit like holidays of old with day-time beach walks and visits to London Bridge (part of the Sorrento-Portsea Artists Trail), the Quarantine Station in Point Nepean (where they hold Barefoot Cinema, a craft market and the Portsea Polo. Tip: take your beach gear and bathers to the largely deserted Observatory Point beach stretch which is not patrolled/unsafe in the water due to rips but makes for a lovely spot to walk, sun bake or play at the water’s edge/some beach cricket if you have older kids), doing the 1.7km Wilson’s Folly bush walk and playing Pictionary or reading books during the afternoon and at night. It was also heartening to see not one but two echidnas during this time given the loss of wildlife elsewhere.

I haven’t holidayed in Sorrento for many years but find it and Portsea a little bit la di da – we played ‘Spot the Porsche’ which ended up being pretty easy as it seems to have become the poor rich man’s car and I lost count of them (I reckon close to 100) plus a handful of Maseratis and Teslas on the road while we were there. We did drop in to the Portsea Hotel for drinks and freshly made pizza in the front bar where next door you’ll find Mermaid Vintage (which sells the most beautiful vintage dresses) and further down Le Capucin cafe. The pub has been really well renovated a bit Queenslander-style with its whitewashed interior and not surprisingly was buzzing with lots of blonde people in Ralph Lauren polo T-shirts, white shorts and boat shoes inside and out in the beer garden – a bit cliched I know.

Food-wise while I looked longingly into the window of fine food establishment Bistro Elba which has prices to match ($150 for caviar!), we had fish and chips from Fish Fetish on our first night in Sorrento plus an excellent lunch another day at Greek cafe The Pier in Rosebud (which has a good packed to the rafters second hand clothing shop next door) after buying second hand books at a Rotary Club community hall sale. We shared fried calamari, saganaki, chicken skewers and a greek salad with amazingly flavoursome fresh feta cheese, which took us all the way back to Greece.

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Our last night was spent at Itali.co which not only does great pizzas but also pasta and for me, the fish special of the day, which were all delicious. It’s located next to Morgan’s near the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry terminal. Also worth a mention is the locally-made gelato from The Yard at Capel Sound – so good that some local CFA firefighters dropped in at the same time as us to get their fix (below).

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We visited the Red Hill Market although found it a bit overwhelming and more suited to women and girls (lots of scented candles, clothing, jewellery and other accessories) with its focus on design. We bought some fresh bread only and there were also some beautiful native flower posies being sold with funds donated to the firefighters (so too were the car parking fees).

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My $5 print

Shopping-wise we visited a number of vintage shops and op shops including My Vintage Addiction in Capel Sound and the Rosebud Vintage Bazaar. We did walk down the very crowded Sorrento Village shops another day – as I mentioned a bit la di da – I spotted the Country Road-branded cafe and concept store called Post 3943 and wasn’t surprised given the demographic of very privileged families who live or have beach houses in Sorrento.

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Second-hand bling jacket

My favourite place is the Antipodes Bookshop & Gallery which not only sells books but also locally made ceramics, jewellery and art including some beautiful hanging fish, ceramic and macrame mobiles made with driftwood and an exhibition of woodcut prints by local Warren Cooke. If I had a beach house, some of them would have made unique pieces for the home.

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I go back to work this week with new challenges ahead, that I hope to rise up and meet this year. Given what many bushfire-affected people have experienced, I am counting my blessings. Locally too a Bands, bowls and BBQ event to raise bushfire funds is being held at the Rosanna Bowling Club on Sunday 2 February if you can make it. I am grateful to be at home, knowing that many people are not. If you are one of them, then I am thinking of you.

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Me and Mr R at Itali.co