Ho ho ho

Christmas decorations went up in Ivanhoe straight after Melbourne Cup week and people have returned to in-store shopping after pivoting to online during the pandemic.

I’ve only just started doing some shopping for friends and family and I’m often opportunistic if I’m out and about and see something on the spot that might fit the bill given I’m time-poor. I bought a KK present for my annual besties get together while buying flowers for my neighbour yesterday at French Blue Flowers in Heidelberg. I also picked up a panettone for Christmas from Leo’s while buying some groceries for her as we missed out a couple of years ago when we left things too late. I’m planning on also buying a triple smoked ham early from Aldi if I get the chance.

If you’re local, Ivanhoe Primary is holding its Christmas market on Sunday 26 November and Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen has collaborated with Third Drawer Down – I love the sentiments of this tea towel (above) available from the Heide store. The Big Design Market, which I always miss due to December birthdays in my family, is also on the weekend of 2 – 4 December at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

If you’re a fan of First Nations artwork – the Desart online Christmas Marketplace supporting Aboriginal Art Centres of Central Australia is currently on but will finish soon. For me, I’d love tickets to see Bangarra Dance Theatre perform ‘Yuldea’ at the Victorian Arts Centre next year.

These ‘cloud’ stud earrings (above) hand made by Korean Australian jeweller Daehoon Kang at e.g.etal have also caught my eye. Speaking of clouds, I am heading to the land of the long white cloud – New Zealand – this week for work. I’m looking forward to the cultural experience – kia ora to any kiwis out there! I’ll see you all on the other side.


Little girl found

Well that was the good news of the week and I’m so glad for little Cleo Smith’s family and her community. I hope they can get on with their lives and put the trauma of what’s happened behind them. It’s often what people achieve in spite of their circumstances that says much about their character and who they are. The events of our past don’t have to dictate our present or future.

I’ve had some much needed time out this past week after changes on the work front and a pretty intense past six months – we were meant to holiday up north but have instead pushed our trip to next year when, hopefully, all states are open to visitors and Australia is once again a united country. This whole time has been an interesting exercise in politics and I think will make for a fascinating case study for future generations. Life has been stranger than fiction in so many ways including politicians brought down by errors in judgement.

While I continue to have mixed feelings about horse racing, I was surprised to discover the Melbourne Cup has never been cancelled despite the advent of World War 2, Spanish flu and COVID-19. I always love seeing what was Fashions on the Field (now Fashions on your front lawn) with two Sydney entrants taking the top prize this year. The weather was glorious last weekend and lucky you if you managed to get away to the regions. My brother-in-law’s family missed a week away on the Mornington Peninsula due to the power outages after our recent storms in Melbourne. I think we should expect extreme weather to be an ongoing feature with climate change and this is something that needs to be factored into design and infrastructure. It’s definitely something we’ve taken into account with our housing journey.

Above (and below): 7 Rose Street Ivanhoe images via realestate.com.au

Melbourne Cup always reminds me of roses and the different colours allocated to the different race days. Number seven Rose Street in Ivanhoe has captured my attention and looks like a beautiful house for the lucky bidder. I’ve enjoyed this past week at home being treated to a belated birthday lunch at Cafe Heide in Bulleen where my aunties and I literally stopped to smell the roses in the kitchen garden. They are in bloom and quite spectacular (and fragrant) at the moment if you get a chance to visit.

It was also interesting to read about local flower grower Petrina Joy and her hidden garden in Ivanhoe, which looks glorious. Besides French Blue Flowers in Heidelberg, my other favourite florist is Misses Fleuri in East Kew located near my hairdresser at Wicked Hair and Beauty. I’ve found myself suddenly armed with new plants and flowers after killing time before some of my haircuts – the owner has a great eye and apparently makes a mean cup of coffee too!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our newfound freedoms these past few weeks – we’ve taken things quite slowly in terms of venturing out but it’s been lovely to have visited family as well as get my hair, and nails done as a special treat. I have a number celebratory dinners on from now until Christmas but will be easing into it, where I can. After so many weeks and months in lockdown, I’m quite happy to take things slowly. It’s great to have my kids back at school (despite the whirlwind of activity that brings) and I’m looking forward to returning to in-person yoga classes at Action Yoga and going back to the office in the new year.

Heide Kitchen Garden rose

Change is in the air at the moment for our family and I think this is reflective of the current time we find ourselves in with structural changes brought about, or accelerated, by the pandemic. Whatever the case, when we look back on these times, we can definitely say they were interesting! I’m not sure if I’ve been glad to have had the experience of the past two years, but I think we are stronger and more resilient because of it – for many of us it has been a time of great reckoning as individuals. And time will also tell, as it always does.

A tale of two cities

It’s not London and Paris during the French Revolution but Melbourne and Sydney going through a very different kind of sudden and great change with the COVID-19 Delta variant unleashed in our communities. While I am hopeful Melbourne can get on top of this latest incursion, I fear it may take Sydney a while longer given the number of cases in their community. No one wins either way while borders remain closed and citizens locked down. I can only look forward to the time when Australia is once again open internally and externally.

Melbourne Connect – womin-djerring (come together) open air oculus garden

Prior to lockdown 5.0 I had been busy. I didn’t post last weekend but I was so proud to see Ash Barty win at Wimbledon to cap off NAIDOC week – she is an absolute star. I also watched Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra during that week – the incredibly moving story of the three Page brothers who created Bangarra Dance Theatre (now in its fourth decade). While I have posted about Indigenous Art Centres before, the Design Files have published a great list if you’re interested in supporting local communities and artists. With so much time spent at home this past 18 months, many of us are seeking inspiration in our home environments and a connection to our country and First Nations people.

Melbourne rooftop views from my office

The latest outbreak has indeed struck close to home with the Banyule City Council office and other locations in Greensborough now Tier 1 sites so it will be incredibly important to support our local community once we’re out of lockdown. I’ve been pleased to see Asian grocer In Plenty on Lower Plenty Road and had been interested in attending the Fable exhibition at Sanctum Studio in Greensborough featuring the work of artist Jessica Page (I have one of her original artworks from my time as publicist for The Light Factory Gallery) and photographer Melanie Faith Dove. It’s quite Alice in Wonderland and I hope they extend the show – it’s been inspiring to see such imagination at play.

Image credit: Banyule City Council (supplied)

There is a follow up Rediscover Banyule survey being run by my friends at council if you have time (don’t we all at the moment?) to complete by this Sunday – there are 10 hampers worth $100 to be won so a good incentive and you might just discover somewhere new in the ‘hood to visit. I hope this time passes quickly for you given how fast this lockdown came on – I don’t think any of us have had time to process it, which is probably a good thing – we just find ourselves here in all too familiar territory.

Mr Rosanna setting up at home

As for me I’m not taking the past few weeks since lockdown 4.0 for granted, we were able to go on a regional trip and some how, some way I was able to hold a private dinner party at home last weekend to celebrate my birthday after my actual day was a non-event due to family illness. Yes, that’s right – I had 10 of my closest friends and family over to our house where I had food by Luckman Catering who did an amazing job (although I did feel for the chef Brad who cooked everything outside under our carport in not-so-balmy less than 10 degree weather).

Me with some of my besties – Nik and Mylinh

Mr Rosanna and I spent last Saturday madly rushing around to Dan Murphy’s Alphington to buy drinks (staff provided excellent suggestions/advice), I picked up some beautiful flowers last minute from French Blue in Heidelberg and had ordered a cannoli cake earlier from Pelligra Cakes in Greensborough. Mr R was also on music duty helping me compile ‘Dinner’ and ‘Dance’ Spotify playlists in the 48 hours prior to my event which was well worth the effort in terms of atmosphere and given my girlfriends and I danced until after midnight. It all seems like a dream now and I feel incredibly grateful for having been able to sneak it in, especially given the amount of birthdays, weddings and other celebrations that many people I know had planned for this weekend.

Jules and I still dancing all these years later

I am a glutton for punishment as I had my second vaccination booked last Sunday morning which I couldn’t shift (and didn’t want to despite having a party the night before). I am now in the words of my Dean and CEO Professor Ken Smith AO ‘older and Pfizer’ and while my side effects were minimal with the first jab, I was not so lucky with the second. I went down on Sunday night with a headache, aches and pains and general wipe out spending two days home unwell in bed. I did make it into our new office at Melbourne Connect on Wednesday where I got to marvel at the views from my desk, grab coffee from Wild Timor cafe (who also have an outpost in Heidelberg West) and ramen from Raku ZEN Simple Japanese for lunch before we went into our fifth lockdown.

We may be in lockdown but it’s important to exercise and socialise (virtually) if you can and try to keep your spirits up or immerse yourself in something creative/relaxing. My friend Nik who is a yoga teacher has sent me links to Tara Talks – some online guided reflection by Buddhist teacher Tara Brach. You may enjoy this one on ‘Savoring as a Gateway to Happiness‘. This time will pass (and hopefully quickly) – we are stronger and more resilient for it and I hope in future, we can look back on this extraordinary period and know we were part of history, including writing our own as people. We can’t change the who, the what, the when or the why, but we can definitely control the how and it’s the how that defines who you are as an individual and your character. All of us have been affected in some way by the pandemic – it’s how we deal with it that counts. Keep going my friends, keep going.


It’s the name of the new art, music and ceremony festival being held in Melbourne starting 26 May (the same night as the lunar eclipse i.e. a new moon rising). It’s also a call to arms given the collective suffering of our artistic community over the past 12 months. The Wilds at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl looks pretty amazing and I also love that Golden Square in Melbourne’s Chinatown where I used to park when managing the Bold Thinking Series at the State Library is being turned into an ‘art carpark’ with ice sculptures, a laser-eyed inflatable (?), kayak performance and moon parades which sound intriguing to say the least.

One of my sisters works for Melbourne City Council and like other public servants, she’s been asked to return to the office 5 days per week given the CBD cafes, restaurants and hotels that are struggling, particularly during business hours and days (rather than on weekends).

A number of new hotels have actually opened in Melbourne over the past 12 months including W Melbourne and the Lancemore Crossley St. however I was excited to read about the Hilton Hotel returning to Melbourne in the heritage-listed Equity Chambers building – the oldest continuously occupied barristers chambers. There’s nothing like a bit of old school glamour especially in the absence of being able to travel overseas – it’s lovely to be able to enjoy what we have in our home city if you can afford it.

I was interested to find out more about the private dining rooms that are also available in the city in addition to those I knew about at Kisume, Cumulus, Spice Temple and Flower Drum restaurants – a number of friends celebrating special occasions this year are opting for something smaller at home or lashing out at places like these.

Speaking of flowers, Mr Rosanna bought his mum this beautiful bunch (above) from French Blue Flowers today (and a native bouquet for me). I hope you’ve had a great Mother’s Day if you have a mum in your family. For me, my morning was spent talking to my own mum – a single parent who raised three kids on her own – as well as seeing Mr R’s parents this afternoon. I also enjoyed home made scrambled eggs in bed and a hand drawn card courtesy of my boys. Given those separated from their families at the moment and unable to see their mother, or be a mother, for whatever reason – it has felt like a real privilege.

Time to say goodbye

In the space of a week, I have lost a beloved uncle and employment from February next year. It’s been a lot to come to terms with as much as both events, while seemingly sudden, have been building up over the past few months and years. My Uncle Peter has been grappling with pancreatic cancer for three years – one of the more deadly cancers in terms of mortality rates and sadly, La Trobe University has been rocked by COVID-19 since the start of this year – not a terminal condition but one that has had serious consequences for the Uni and the sector. Fixed term contracts in my area will not be extended and sadly, more roles will go over the next 18 months while the Uni goes into survival mode until a vaccine is found and international students return to Melbourne.

French Blue Flowers bouquet

Having said that, it’s not the end of the world. I have stared down a number of challenges in my life a couple of times before and one thing I can say is that it is possible to reinvent yourself and life goes on. While I haven’t necessarily had a Plan B job-wise, I will look to continue the philanthropic journey if I can (just probably not in higher education!) and use my communications and engagement skills for good at an organisation that will benefit from what I have to bring. Design thinking and human-centred design is also something I will further investigate study-wise as I look to the future. Having worked for a diverse, dynamic and progressive institution, I’m keen to work in something that is more future-focussed and experiencing growth.

Bouquet from LVLY

One thing I will say is that you find out who your real friends are when these things happen. I’ve received not one but two lots of flowers this week (some from French Blue Flowers by my work friend Laura who sprung Mr Rosanna and I still in our pyjamas on Saturday morning!) and the other today from my uni friend Martha delivered by LVLY. Along with numerous calls, texts and messages – it has meant a great deal to me to know there are those who really care all around me. We are never alone.

Heide I Heart Garden by Sunday Reed

Nature continues to be a great source of solace at this time and I celebrated my Uncle’s life sitting under a tree surrounded by dancing white butterflies in the heart garden at Heide I in Bulleen on Monday listening to Andrea Bocelli’s Time to say goodbye with Mr Rosanna, which was beautiful. While sad, the song is also triumphant and joyous in many ways and if there is an other side, I hope to meet my uncle there. For now, life goes on, the sun still shines and I live to fight another day.

Mum’s the word

How are you faring self isolation-wise? The whiff of freedom is tantalisingly close this Mother’s Day weekend if you can continue to hang in there and I am looking forward to what our State Premier has to say on Monday in terms of loosening restrictions in Victoria. It has been a long haul for many of us but I think there’s been a lot of silver linings as well reducing the busy-ness of daily life and commuting, more time spent with family and friends virtually or in real life and perhaps some real innovation that remains post-pandemic.

Ridge jacket by Nancybird

I’ve mused aloud in the past about staggered start and finish times work-wise to reduce public transport and vehicle traffic on our roads and the need for large-scale structural change. It’s taken COVID-19 for this to be realised in a matter of weeks and months as businesses and organisations now look at how staff return to offices and workplaces (a likely staged approach), children returning to school, ongoing flexibility to work from home, greater pedestrian and cycling paths in the city and other innovation that may actually benefit us and the environment in times to come.

Online workshops image by Nicola Cerini

It’s also been great to see the prominence given to experts – doctors, scientists, academics and traditional news media outlets (albeit in different online mediums) instead of celebrities as we look to evidence-based research and science for facts. Interesting too to see which jobs have been considered essential and I hope that people will treat supermarket staff, teaching, nursing and other staff with newfound respect. Scientists may yet become the new sexy! I hope a vaccine or drugs to counteract the pandemic is developed in the next 18 months.

Artist print by Earth Greetings

I’ve been doing a lot more cooking and baking at home – I ran out of eggs last night and was pleasantly surprised to find that Four Leaves cafe (below) in Rosanna had pivoted to groceries on top of still doing pizza and takeaway food. It was previously a grocery store cum cafe so has completed the circle in its current iteration.


There are a number of local retailers selling lovely things for mums – online gift vouchers from Pretty Intense in Rosanna, click and collect gifts from Heide in Bulleen, bouquets from French Blue Flowers in Heidelberg (if you’d ordered early enough) and sold out high tea packages from Second Home Eltham. I’ve also seen pretty pastel things via some of the Australian retailers I receive e-newsletters from including Nancybird, Nicola Cerini and Earth Greetings.

Sabina Musayev Diamond top and skirt image by Husk


At the moment I am wearing loungewear brought to you by the House of Uniqlo and Ugg on my beer budget (I have requested a Chinese money plant from Mr Rosanna for Mother’s Day) but dreaming of glittering times in the future. For the glam mum with champagne tastes, Husk Clothing continues to stock some beautiful clothes for evening adventures in another time and place.






Luxury may be hard to come by these days but it’s still nice to dream. Tiffany and Co has launched its T1 range of rose gold (with silver to come) jewellery (pictured below) and I’m loving the bold design representing courage, strength and optimism – tres bling! I’ve also loved their more modern HardWear collection launched a couple of years ago, which symbolises New York – a place that is doing it hard at the moment but one I still hope to visit at some future point when life returns to normal.


Like many people, I’m now staring down the barrel of reduced pay or hours (or both), which is better than losing my job altogether. Many people are struggling financially and otherwise and I’ve been making hard choices regarding which individuals and businesses to support with the money I have as I’m sure is the case with many of you too. International students are doing it particularly hard given the situation they now find themselves in with the government putting Australians first – it’s pretty dire for those missing out on any kind of support. Beyond the health crisis, the government and big business in particular will need to lead the way out economically on the other side. We are lucky to be thinking along these lines given how well we’ve been able to contain the coronavirus, buying ourselves time to prepare and plan. Interesting to see some of the opposition’s comments this week criticising the Chief Health Officer (which they’re fully entitled to do) but I do think now is a time for solidarity and political bi-partisanship and it’s not going to win them any favours. We all need to be playing for #TeamAustralia regardless of which way we normally swing.


I’ve spent this week on leave de-cluttering my house. After 12 years in Rosanna, it’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate. It’s been good to distract myself and show something for my time off although there are no judgements here if you are spending your time just putting one foot in front of the other. It’s been challenging for many people who have children supervising their home schooling on top of working this first week of term 2. I still have more de-cluttering to do but I think the physical act of creating more space has been good mentally for me – it’s good to live light.

I love linen bedset

I’ve also had a number of catch ups with friends and family – this week having a special Zoom session with over a dozen of my University friends – some of who are based interstate and overseas in Asia and Europe. It was like The Brady Bunch on steroids with each of us getting floor time to talk about ourselves – what we are doing now and how we are coping at this time. It was quite cathartic to share how we were feeling over two hours and as one friend commented, it almost felt like an outing. We will catch up again soon and it’s an incredible privilege to be in a position to do this.


Mother’s Day is coming up and while I’m on the topic of indulgences, I am going to put linen sheets on my wish list – something I’ve never had but always wanted. I love linen do some beautiful sets and you can order free samples to check what colours look like in real life prior to making a purchase. I also bought some of Endota Spa’s Signature Blend hand and body lotion (pictured above) last year after having a treatment while on holiday and it’s been a great reminder of the spa experience using it daily at home.

A number of Melbourne’s fine dining restaurants have pivoted to takeaway including Di Stasio and Shane Delia’s Maha Go and if you have the budget, it’s a great opportunity to order delivery meals from places you wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Locally, Mercers in Eltham is also offering takeaway if you have a special occasion that you now have to celebrate at home.


While I bought some hairdressing scissors this week and had a go at my fringe (with limited success!), my friend Jonno from Valiant Barbers in Heidelberg Heights has cautiously re-opened if you have big or little men who need a haircut and you’re prepared to risk it. Local florist French Blue Flowers on Burgundy Street has also re-opened and selling beautiful bouquets and tulip bunches. These beautiful dahlias from Club Creek Bulb Farm are also being sold for $12 a bunch (pictured above) at the Alphington Farmers Market if you’re looking for a pop of colour to cheer you up.


For us, our luxury living in this part of the world is regular ‘forest bathing’ as a family in the secluded Banyule Flats (above) where you can still find yourself largely alone despite the number of people now visiting parks. Bliss…

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…


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.


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.

Getting down to business

VOTING NOW OPEN BBThe blossoms are on the trees and it’s been warmer and windier today but it’s nice to feel that Spring is on its way.  There’s actually a lot going on around in Melbourne as we close out Winter – the ninth Craft Cubed Festival is currently on and their recent newsletter featured local ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen who has clocked up 40 years of being a potter!  The related HOMEmade Makers Market in Thornbury is also taking place tomorrow.  The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) is currently on and the Melbourne Writers Festival will start at the end of this month.  Before that, the Bendigo Writers Festival will be on up north and there are a number of La Trobe academics who will be part of this year’s festival as well as local writer, editor and publisher Blaise Van Hecke.IMG_8380

It’s not in the north-east but The Melbourne Fair is on at the Caulfield Race Course and there are some beautiful vintage and antique wares for sale this year if you get a chance to go.  There’s also a special clearance sale (including some of their rugs) at Metroscope Moroccan Furniture and Homewares in Wellington Street Collingwood if you are a lover of all things Middle Eastern.  Speaking of which, the Old England Hotel in Heidelberg currently has a special Middle Eastern menu (above) on offer and I can recommend the slow cooked lamb tagine as well as the harissa spiced King Dory fillet which we ate last night for dinner.

As for me, I’ve been hanging out in the ‘hood today and popped my head into stylish local florist and gift shop French Blue Flowers on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg where I did buy a beautiful pink Robert Gordon ceramic takeaway coffee cup as a gift, these have only just come in but are apparently flying off the shelves.  The store is taking part in the Banyule Bestbiz Awards 2018 – nominations of which are currently open until 23 September.  This year there’s a new category – The Newcomer (sounds like a good name for a cafe!) – which celebrates businesses less than 12 months old.  You can vote online at www.banyule.vic.gov.au/Business/Bestbiz-Awards or in person at any Australia Post office in the Banyule City Council area.  Better still, you can also win $1000 in a prize draw with the winners announced at a special presentation evening on October 24 at Cellini’s in Heidelberg.  I’ve definitely got a few faves and I’m sure you do as well – it’s the great thing about living locally and supporting local businesses, particularly those you want to stay in the area long term.