Balance, connect and revive

These are the Dulux colour forecast 2023 themes about reconnecting to nature, a desire for balance and calm and reviving our spirits with joy and play. They are speaking to me at the moment – I’ve long been someone who has valued balance which is what the word ‘yoga’ (meaning ‘union’) is all about – what you do on one side is repeated on the other and I enjoy the calm mental state it leaves me in especially after the torrid times of the past two years.

Image: Dulux ‘Revive

Connecting with nature is important for mental health – so important that the Swedish have incorporated this into their healthcare system and the Japanese concept of Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing is along similar lines. Locally, Banyule has started a series of guided forest therapy walks as part of the Spring Outdoors festival 2022. The Northern Trails survey also closes tomorrow and you may wish to have your say.

Term 3 school holidays have begun and I am grateful for the additional National Day of Mourning public holiday for the Queen. It is an interesting time as I wrote about in my last post and this confusing time between what we once were and what we may become has been highlighted by Daisy Pearce’s call on what version of our nation’s history you give voice to. Voice and co-governance are very much in the spotlight at the moment and reflective of the time we are now in.

But moving on to lighter topics, with such dreary and wet Spring weather, I’m enjoying moments of colour. I had my besties over for a potluck dinner at my place last night and cheated by buying a sushi platter from Issho in East Ivanhoe and a 1.5 litre pack of 4 x different flavours from Boca Gelato. You can order some pretty amazing gelato cakes from Boca (check out the Bubblegum Dream!) and their Passion Bomb and The Neo are both on my radar. A tip too: try Bocaccio Cellars Supa IGA in Balwyn for high end ready made meals.

Some of my friends and family are lucky enough to be up north or going up north and I do love Lucy Folk’s colourful sarongs – a real indulgence if you have the budget. If you have a thing for mushrooms, you can buy decorative glass ones at Bulleen Art and Garden while I do love these handpainted wooden mushrooms from Paper Hands (pictured above) and have had a thing for Amanda Dzeidzic’s yumemiro. I’ve been thrilled to find out she has a joint contemporary glass studio, Hothaus, right here (pictured below) in Heidelberg West.

Image: Hothaus Glass Studio – Heidelberg West

Lucky you if you’re taking a break over these school holidays – my Director has fled the country and I’m in the hot seat until she gets back. Enjoy this (short) week!



It’s been a long week and I must admit I’ve been collapsing into a crumpled heap come most Fridays. I am going to take a couple of days off during the upcoming school holidays and will consider taking some further leave in term 4.

Image credit: Well Spotted

Like many people I’ve delayed taking annual leave when there is nowhere to go but I have recognised we will burn out as workers if we don’t just have a break. It has been hard going and hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel but vaccinations are increasing every day and I love some of the more colourful products on sale such as these ‘Fully Vaxxed’ statement T-shirts from Well Spotted and Vaxx Cakes from Beurre Cakes, which have been doing the rounds on social media.

Image credit: Beurre Cakes

I’m very conscious too it is a middle-class privilege to work from home, which I’ve mentioned before and my line of work sees me dealing with people very high up in the public sector who are in the midst of grappling with all the issues we read about in our news media – the health divide that exists between the haves and have nots with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in poorer parts of Sydney and Melbourne disproportionately affected by COVID. I’m very glad that pop up clinics and mobile vans as well as community engagement in priority suburbs have been part of Victoria’s response.

If you’re lucky enough to have groceries or take away meals delivered or other goods couriered to your home, please spare a thought for the man or woman doing this work – they are often young essential workers who have to travel to do their job, to keep food on the table, to pay their bills and it is this demographic who are getting infected and then inadvertently spreading COVID to their families (often large, extended families) at home in the northern and western suburbs.

My Bala Bangles

Speaking of online deliveries, I have bought some Christmas gifts from local store Run to the River in Eltham, while last week I bought the lazy person’s strength training hack – a pair of Bala Bangles. While they won’t come remotely close to doing a proper, supervised class guided by a qualified fitness professional at somewhere like my friend Nikki Ellis’ studio Cinch Training in Macleod, I have worn them while doing housework and out walking.

I miss the simple things too like going to the hairdresser or visiting cafes and restaurants and have been thinking of Jonno at Valiant Barbers and Luis at The Pioneer Cafe at this time. It’s interesting when I think back to my honeymoon spent in Vietnam where all this daily activity actually took place outside on the street! I am hopeful local businesses will bounce back if they’ve been able to pivot and sustain themselves over lockdown – however it may be more challenging for Melbourne’s CBD as much as I’m sure Melburnians will return to the bright lights of the big city for arts, culture, sporting, food and other events in time. It’s also been heartening to read about the many hospitality businesses in and around Melbourne giving free meals to people at this time (extended lockdown is so last year!).

Image credit: Heide Museum of Modern Art

Spending time outdoors is probably the safest bet at the moment – you may be lucky enough to have Heide gardens in Bulleen in your 5km zone or the Alphington Farmers Market – both of which are still open to the public. Open Gardens Victoria and Bulleen Art & Garden are also running online workshops and classes for those who have indoor plants or live in small spaces.

My indoor plants

And finally, while the big game is now going to be played in Perth, the highlight for our family this week was Melbourne winning against Geelong on Friday night and the Dees sealing their historic place in this year’s AFL Grand Final. My youngest son called it early with his Father’s Day drawing for Mr Rosanna ‘Fired up’ (below) – you bet we are…

La vida local

Have you been discovering any hidden local secrets while in your neighbourhood? It’s been interesting looking at where the 5km border lies around your home and how far you can go. If you’re interested, Mr Yum gives you a snapshot of local takeaway service in your 5km radius and my friends have been using it since we went into stage 4 restrictions. If you have a special occasion you might want to consider lashing out and ordering something from Providoor – I hope all my friends and family who have had birthdays over this period get to celebrate at some future point especially those who’ve had a milestone event.


Providoor also does online cooking classses and I know Zoom gardening classes have been popular at Bulleen Art and Garden. It’s been a beautifully sunny winter weekend and it’s made me happy to see blossom on my trees at home knowing that Spring is coming. If you have citrus trees now is the time to treat gall wasps in your garden and Mr Rosanna and I will be tackling our weedy, derelict veggie patch in our back yard. Even if you don’t have a backyard but a courtyard, balcony or even a sunny indoor spot where you live then you may be as inspired as I was looking at some of the plants and pots sold by Plantsmith in Preston, especially with Father’s Day coming up.


Here you’ll find handmade pots by local artists including my friend Lene Kuhl Jakobsen whose pots look amazing in Plantsmith’s brass hanging planter below – I also love some of the beautiful pot and plant pairings that are available and finding out about plants I’ve not previously seen. Plantsmith also run classes, workshops and more on plant health and it’s good to focus on something living right here and now. I’ve found myself immersed in all things home beautiful this weekend and it’s been a great antidote to the collective anxiety we’re all feeling in this city at the moment. The countdown continues and I hope the news gets even better as we march through the next four weeks here in Melbourne.


I’ve been running at Rosanna parklands throughout both lockdowns and I saw an older gentleman with a kite the other day – there’s nothing like a bit of wonder in the wind to make you feel alive enjoying the present. If you’re getting sick of the view from your window, you might like Window Swap for a bit of online fun – windows to the world in other places far, far away from our current 5km borders.



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.


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.


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.



A blaze of glory

The lady in red, aka Shaynna Blaze didn’t disappoint at today’s sold out Banyule Women in Business Lunch at The Centre Ivanhoe.  I missed last year’s lunch with keynote speaker Mia Freedman due to La Trobe University celebrating its 50th Anniversary that same day but was glad to make it to today’s event.  It was different in style to previous events I’ve been to in that it was a more casual conversation on the couch with a host instead of a more formal solo address from a lectern.

L-R: Jane Lindsay-Waschl, Renae Barrass, Shaynna Blaze and me

After some minor technical hitches which Shaynna handled with aplomb, the discussion was a good one giving us insights into her professional journey from having run successful businesses with her then husband in her twenties along with raising two children, becoming a single parent and working as a jazz singer (and band booking agent/PR) to supplement her interior design income to being tapped on the shoulder and asked to audition for Selling Houses Australia, before having Channel 9 approach her to be a judge on The Block.  Selling Houses Australia is Foxtel’s number one show and has run for 11 years, which is a huge amount of time in media land.  It’s nice to see someone so down to earth and likeable enjoy such success.

L-R: Nikki Ellis, me and Dani Ahimastos

I’d assembled a table including my two blog sponsors, Dani Ahimastos from Hunter Lane Cafe and Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training and other friends including interior designer Renae Barrass, Jane Lindsay-Waschl from Admonter Floors and ceramic artist Lene Kuhl-Jakobsen.  Banyule Business run some great events if you are a small business owner and I was asked to do a filmed vox pop after the event which will appear sometime soon on their Facebook page.  It’s already been a long week for me so I hope I managed to cobble something half way decent to say!

Shaynna on stage – The Centre Ivanhoe

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the local area over the past week including grabbing takeaway coffee from SixtyFive Espresso (who sell Brunetti pastries and cakes) at Greensborough Plaza to a bowling party at Oz Tenpin in nearby Bundoora.  There’s also a bit happening locally with Andrew Potocnik’s #urbansalvage #zero waste exhibition opening at Bulleen Art & Garden’s Bolin Bolin gallery tonight and the Heide Makers Market in Bulleen on Saturday.

Oz Tenpin Bowling – Bundoora

I also picked up a brochure for the Holi Festival of Colours which is taking place at Bundoora Park this Saturday if you are staying in Melbourne for the Labour Day weekend.  I don’t know about you but I’ve had my foot to the floor since returning to work in early January and am definitely looking forward to a break this weekend.  Enjoy.img_7012.jpg

Lunar light

Kung hei fat choy!  Wishing you lunar love and light this Chinese New Year of the Dog.  It’s a special weekend again in the city as White Night Melbourne is being held on Saturday night with the Melbourne Chinese New Year dragon parade in Chinatown on Sunday.

Chinese Lunar New Year 2014
Chinese New Year image via Wikipedia

I’ve got family who have long been members of the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne if you are of Chinese descent and interested in joining – these are the young men and women who stage the lion dances, dragon parade, dragon boats, drumming, folk dancing and other performances for Chinese celebrations (spectacular if you’ve ever been to a wedding reception and seen them perform).  The CYSM is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year and holding a special concert at The Plenary on 2 April if you are a fan of Asian culture.

Locally, the Fairfield Farmers Market  is temporarily being held at Alphington Station tomorrow until it moves into the Melbourne Innovation Centre in Wingrove St.  If you’re a fan of all things Moroccan, my friends at Metroscope in Collingwood have opened their 50% off sale to the general public if you’re looking to pick up a bargain.

I was also dismayed to find out that local nursery Bulleen Art and Garden is likely to affected by the planned route for the North East Link and there is currently an online petition if you’re interested in signing up.  The nursery has recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary and I’m sure there are many of you like me in the local community who would hate to see it go.


Unfinished business

Ah yes…there’s a bit of that around the place in my household.  I am someone who gets a sense of closure from finishing what I’ve started, particularly at work, but when it comes to certain projects around the house…maybe not so much!  It’s also the name of the new summer exhibition at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe showcasing sustainable art practice by two community groups – Unfinished Business by Textile Art Community and Re-Create by Victorian Woodworkers Association.  I bumped into local woodworker Andrew Potocnik not that long ago at the Rosanna Parklands and he’s involved in this exhibition as well as another one (#urbansalvage#zerowaste) at Bulleen Art & Garden’s Bolin Bolin Gallery on 9 March.  Andrew’s an interesting person and I’ve been amused by the antics of his resident possums’ daily lives on his Facebook feed.

Image via Banyule City Council

Speaking of unfinished business, if you are trying to KonMari your home, there are two free de-cluttering workshops with eco-organiser Tanya Lewis at the Watsonia Neighbourhood House and at Council Chambers Ivanhoe on 22 March and 19 April respectively – they are free but bookings are essential on 9490 4222 and Banyule residents are entitled to two free hard rubbish collections per year.

Image via Bulleen Art and Garden

Currently, it’s not easy being a Banyule resident if you catch the Hurstbridge train line which will be closed from Clifton Hill onwards from Friday 16 March until the end of April (with buses replacing trains) when the new Rosanna Station level crossing (image below) will hopefully finally be completed.  We bought in Rosanna due to its proximity to the train line and I just hope it’s worth it as well as the proposed North East Link, which I also hope lessens the amount of trucks, noise and traffic congestion on Rosanna Road.

Image via Level Crossing Removal Authority

Back to the future

It’s been a big week and it’s not over yet.  My last Bold Thinking Series lecture for 2017 on the future of Universities at the State Library Theatrette with MC Virginia Trioli and the three Vice-Chancellors from La Trobe, Melbourne and Monash Universities went well on Wednesday night despite a couple of technical hitches at the start.  I ended up having to give up the hand-held microphone I use to roam amongst the audience for questions to outgoing Melbourne University VC Glyn Davis after his headset mic stopped working, leaving just me to cover the floor during the lecture, instead of our usual two people.  The discussion item that did not get asked on the night was the interesting fact that Glyn Davis and Margaret Gardner are actually married to each other yet work at competing universities – a colleague was playfully calling them the ‘Posh & Becks’ of the University sector!

L-R: Virginia Trioli, Glyn Davis, John Dewar, Margaret Gardner

It was also an experience to work with Virginia Trioli – an impressive, seasoned media professional who also had her own ideas to add to the mix, which made the lecture a little bit different in terms of format.  Francis Leach will be returning as our usual MC in 2018 and I’m looking forward to catching up with him next week for a thank you dinner.  I’m now in planning mode for next year and it’s been interesting working with a 20-something focus group on the topics they’re interested in….stay tuned!

Image via BAAG

La Trobe University is not the only one to be turning 50 this year, Bulleen Art & Garden also celebrates its 50th Birthday Party and Sculpture Garden Launch on 30 November.  Tickets are free but you will need to register to attend.

Image via The Big Design Market Facebook page

Some design and craft events on this weekend include the pop up Design Files Open House in Collingwood from 10am – 5 pm, which opened yesterday as well as the German Christmas Market at the Deustche Schule in Fitzroy, which opens tonight at 5pm.  The Etsy Made Local Melbourne market is being held in Coburg tomorrow while The Big Design Market (started by a friend of a friend) at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton opens next Friday.

Locally, St Martin of Tours Rosanna’s Twilight Community Fete is on tonight, the Eaglemont Village Christmas Market is on tomorrow while Macleod Village has its Christmas Fair on next Saturday.

Hallows, Saints & Souls

I’ve been reading about the meaning behind Halloween, which is celebrated on 31 October (All Hallows’ Eve) with All Hallows’ Day (which is also known as All Saints’ Day) on 1 November and All Souls’ Day on 2 November.  It’s lovely to remember the Christian origins of Halloween as much as I’m not a huge fan of the commercialisation of it.  I guess I have similar sentiments about Christmas and can’t quite believe my local newsagency is already stocking Christmas cards this early.

Image via Nest Architects

I visited Westfield Doncaster today while my car was being serviced nearby and kikki.K‘s window display was also similarly festive with Christmas stationery.  Come on people – we haven’t even celebrated Melbourne Cup week!  However, the seed was planted and given I had a number of hours to kill – I did end up starting some early Christmas shopping.  I always head to Australian Geographic for children’s presents and it’s great there’s a Readings book store (pictured above) now at Doncaster too.  My other favourite place for buying living presents in the form of plants and trees are the local nurseries – The Greenery in Heidelberg and Bulleen Art and Garden.  You can also buy indigenous plants at the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary.  Both nurseries stock beautiful and exotic gifts as well and I’ll be making a beeline for one of them soon as the cockatoos have managed to decapitate one of the succulents that I left on the outdoor table (I should have known better!).


Mr Rosanna and I went out for dinner last Friday night to the former Village Tavern on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg which has now been re-born as modern Greek restaurant – Elia (meaning olive).  It is now more upmarket and the prices have also gone up but it’s now a much more ambient place to eat and it was packed.  The next generation of the same family have taken over and it’s reflected in the menu, decor and dress of the staff.  If you go try the slow cooked lamb which was sensational – I’d also try the calamari or char-grilled octopus next time. Their version of saganaki with pear and star anise is also highly recommended.



At one with nature

One of the reasons we moved to Rosanna almost 10 years ago now, was because of the parkland and greenery.  It’s been a great place to bring up kids and we’ve become a family of nature-lovers.  With this in mind, the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary is holding a twilight tour this Wednesday night – bookings are essential for these special guided tours with the next tours on November 15 and December 20.

Image via

Nature play in the Rosanna Parklands, as part of Children’s Week, is taking place from 10am – 12 pm this Friday and if you’re a grandparent or parent with young children – this one’s for you.

Image via


Meanwhile the Ivanhoe Garden Club Festa and Bellfield Community Garden Open Day is this Sunday from 12 – 4 pm on the corner of Oriel Road and Banksia Street in Bellfield and if the sun is shining, it promises to be a glorious afternoon.  Mr Rosanna and I visited Bulleen Art & Garden a couple of weekends ago to buy Spring plants including succulents, herbs and vegetables although ended up having to buy some plastic possum spikes after our furry friends got into the Moroccan mint!

Speaking of exotic foods, we went to modern Vietnamese eatery Mister Nguyen (which opened last month) on Friday night which was pumping – service was a little chaotic due to the crowd but the food was good although I didn’t try the pho, which is always a test.   We did try the fish, kids’ grilled chicken (marinaded in a ginger sauce) and rice meals as well as the soft shelled crab buns (all above), which were delicious.  It’s great to see something more urban open up in sleepy Rosanna Village which has needed some moving with the times.  I’ve also had lunch with my work colleagues at modern Malaysian restaurant Sijori Malay Eatery at Polaris in Bundoora and can also highly recommend.