Death by a thousand carbs

It’s been an intense year and I’m not sure if it’s just because we’re all exhausted post-pandemic or because I’ve had a lot going on – at home, at work and in my personal life. It’s not going to end anytime soon and some of it is my choosing (to do certain things) and some of it is out of my hands. I’ve learnt you can only control your own actions and reactions, and not worry too much if it’s not something you can influence as an individual, but it will be a big three months until Christmas across a number of different fronts.

Eaglemont Village market

I’ve made time this week to catch up with some current and ex-La Trobe colleagues and we had a rollicking dinner out last week at Capitano in Carlton. It’s been on my radar for a while now as a local work-wise and if you’re into your pizza and pasta then this is the place for you. Ordering is done by QR code menu selection and four of us shared a salciccia (Italian sausage) square pizza and bread with fresh burrata cheese. Before we’d had time to order pasta, the waitress informed us that another table had double ordered and they had two hot dishes that would go to waste so we kindly helped them out! To finish, we shared the tiramasu with a twist (hazelnuts) which was delicious. Highly recommended and it was bustling inside on a rainy Thursday night.

Ceramic face plate – Louise Kyriakou

After nearly six months in Ivanhoe, I’ve finally start to enjoy my local environs visiting the Eaglemont Village Market last Sunday and dropping into the Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub last week to see the Banyule Art Salon exhibition (which has been extended) on the ground floor Art Gallery 275. It was great to see some of my favourite local artists and friends’ work on display including Lene Kuhl-Jakobsen, Irianna Kanellopoulou and Louise Kyriakou. There’s a people’s choice award to vote for and the Children’s Library, social enterprise cafe Whispers and quiet area upstairs were all full of people of different ages from children with parents and grandparents to school and university students.

Banyule Art Salon exhibit no 43

Having a local place to go (whatever it may be) in your community is a real treasure and something we can only sometimes see in the eyes of a visitor to the area. I’ve noticed that the Eaglemont Cellars Eagle Bar is always packed with locals and that The Post Inn (behind Mario’s cafe) at 1041 Heidelberg Road near Darebin station has recently opened.

Banule Art Salon exhibit no 84

I found myself in Hawthorn today eating more pizza at Santoni Pizza and Bar‘s rooftop which is a pretty cool space if you’re happy to dine al fresco (they do have heaters) and I know Whiplash cafe had a recent write up in Broadsheet along with the award-winning barista from Axil Coffee so a few places to go if you’re in the area.

Santoni Pizza & Bar rooftop sign

Lastly, a shout out for my friend Kathryn Elliott who is speaking as a BCNA Ambassador for the Reduce booze for boobs event on 15 October at non-alcoholic venue Sip & Enjoy at 281 Johnston Street in Abbotsford. As a non-drinker, it’s great to see businesses like these now open and I have managed to go for a run this weekend along the (almost flooded) Yarra trail to work off some of those carbs – my highlight was meeting a small, lone kangaroo at dusk who I spied hopping along on my right before we stopped to have look at each other.


Heal the world

It’s a lofty ambition but a lovely thing to think about this Christmas – some peace in, and for, the world which has suffered so much these past two years. The second extended lockdown in Melbourne has also affected a few people I know more significantly even though the moment has now passed. It will take time for us to re-adjust and re-set but I think Christmas and the summer ahead will be good for that.

It was timely to hear about the healing garden at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen opening last month as a place to ‘restore equilibrium’. I sought refuge last year in Sunday Reed’s Heart Garden there near Heide I so it’s nice to know there is another place to go to for solace. The Heide Makers Market has also re-started with the next one being held on Saturday 11 December and a reminder you can park in nearby Banksia Park and walk through to Heide past the holly bush if it’s crowded.

Heidelberg Makers Market retailer
Lene Kuhl Jakobsen ceramic mug

We’ve been lucky to have a dog as pet therapy over the pandemic and it’s therapeutic to pat a dog or a cat if you have one. For those that don’t, you can now cuddle a cat at the Cat Protection Society in Greensborough which is a great idea if you have allergies in the family or can’t commit to owning your own cat at this time. Pets are for life so you need to be ready if you take one on as much as they also become a very much loved member of your family.

I also love the look of this book (above) The Cat Who Saved Books by Japanese writer Sosuke Natsukawa – it would make a thoughtful Christmas present for the cat lover in your life. I’m looking forward to turning to my head to Christmas after having not one, two but three birthday celebrations last week for the December babies in my life.

Boca Gelato Ivanhoe (above and below)

It’s been good to dine locally for these celebrations and with the warm weather last week, we had sushi and gelato at Toyama and Boca Gelato mid-week in Ivanhoe. I was impressed with both the style and different gelati itself at Boca where you can also buy their signature ice cream scoops at the front. We also went out the following night for Mr Rosanna’s birthday dinner to Umberto Espresso Bar (which has a newly opened rooftop bar) in Thornbury located diagonally opposite the Thornbury Picture House. Umberto’s owners also run Italian wine bar Joanie’s Baretto – another place I’ve not yet visited but on the list.

I spent last Friday night at Narai Classic Thai in Station Street Fairfield having the set dinner menu as we were a large group celebrating a milestone birthday. I blogged about using the (Australian owned start up) Mr Yum app at the table to order meals at last weekend’s brunch with my girlfriends, but Narai Thai took it one step further with a robot waiter bringing out our meals which was a novel experience! I think artificial intelligence and robotics won’t necessarily replace human contact, but make person-to-person and face-to-face interaction and experiences all the more important in retail, hospitality and events. You can’t escape the future but only embrace it as everything changes and nothing stays the same.

Narai Classic Thai restaurant
robot waiter

What we know now

Drought and flooding rains have always been part of Australia’s weather landscape but climate change is also real. I’m always baffled about people doubting climate change yet still believing what our meteorologists tell us – I don’t think you can have one without the other in terms of the science behind both.

Climate change is also thematically expressed at the new Ivanhoe Library and Cultural Hub and my friend ceramicist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen has a number of pieces on show (above) exploring this theme. I’d love to visit sometime instead of just driving past the new space (usually in a hurry). Term 1 has been a bit crazy with the return of children to school and the full gamut of out of school activity – I’m not surprised numbers are down for community sport as parents question the lunatic running around we did pre-COVID-19 and the chance to chill we’ve had over the past year.

I’m wondering how I will cope returning to the office for a likely minimum three days in a government organisation. Mr Rosanna and I are deliberating about the need for a second car. We’ve managed as a family with just one car all these years in Rosanna until now but with two lots of Saturday morning sport (in different locations and different times over the summer) and me returning to a (close to) CBD-based job, we may have to bite the bullet and buy a second car. Used car prices are at an all-time high due to the pandemic so some new car prices are actually comparable to second-hand. We will have to do some further research and investigation as well as toss up whether it’s another family-sized car or a smaller city car. While I’d love ‘a fun car not a mum car!’ – I don’t think I have much choice.

Aikido Shudokan HQ – Heidelberg West Industrial Estate

Speaking of investigation, Mr R and had an impromptu lunchtime sojourn during the week to the Heidelberg West Industrial Estate (also known as the Heidelberg West Business Park) while running errands. We were buying groceries from the new Fine Food Depot after dropping off a poster to be framed at The Print and Framing Company on Dougharty Road and decided to check out Ugo Cucina Popolare for coffee and cannoli – out the front of the Cannoleria HQ by That’s Amore cheese.

Let me just say that you can find all sorts of things in the back streets of the estate – Aikido! Badminton! Pigeon Racing! Neon signs since 1956! There are over 600 businesses to be found in the estate and you do need to keep your wits about you with all the trucks. I think it would make for a really interesting walking tour in time. We didn’t get to find Gridlock Coffee, Melbourne City Rooftop Honey, the Noo Moo vegan food truck, the little veggie patch co or Second Bite (next time!) but met the lovely Manon at Ugo where Mr R and I stopped for an al fresco coffee and got a takeaway box of cannoli (vanilla, chocolate and tiramisu-flavoured ricotta).

Manon behind the Ugo front counter – Cannoleria HQ

The other big surprise was parking across the road from Empire Music Studios (formerly Studio 52 located in Collingwood). Mr R has actually recorded a whole album’s worth of songs over the past few months and had already walked through the front door to explore before I crossed the road. We met the owner Paul Higgins who very kindly took us on a tour of all the studio spaces (there were some Pacific Islander musicians recording there on the day). He’s been the recipient of a Banyule Business grant and at a time when local businesses in the CBD, at the airport and in hard hit western suburbs are suffering – it’s a positive sign to see other businesses growing.

I’ve mentioned before that small businesses are the life blood of the Victorian economy. Most people think of the big retailers but it’s the many mums and dads out there, franchisees and start-up entrepreneurs that contribute to business in this state. Despite this, business owners often have less protection than mortgage owners in terms of bank loans and debt. If you are struggling, there is a Small Business Debt Hotline 1800 413 828. While some businesses will make it through this time, sadly many others won’t due to the level of debt they’re carrying or lack of customers (or both) and sometimes it’s better to cut your losses, get out early and take action to help yourself from falling any further behind.

Surely Easter must be coming soon and lucky you if you’ve started your break early taking leave this week.

Blue skies for Christmas

The December birthdays kill me every year and this year was no exception. Mr Rosanna and I hosted half a dozen teenagers here at home today after going out for dinner in the city for Mr R’s birthday last night. We’ve actually had Japanese twice this week -once locally at the relatively new Issho in East Ivanhoe and last night at Sake Restaurant and Bar at Hamer Hall on the banks of the Yarra. Issho was good and Sake was great – Mr R and I lashed out on the $99 set menu, which was well worth the splurge and we had very full bellies by the end of the night.

It had threatened to rain so I’d moved our table inside but the dry weather prevailed, which meant some happy snaps could be taken riverside and in front of an almost empty National Gallery of Victoria. While Melbourne is not what she used to be – it does make me sad to see so many ‘For Lease’ signs up on buildings everywhere – there were still lots of people out and about enjoying the Yarra and walking around. COVID-19 has been a 1 in 100 year event and it will take time to recover but we are ahead of the game compared with so many other cities in the world. I feel very lucky to be living in Australia at this time and the freedoms we are now enjoying after so many months in lockdown.

Mr is hard notoriously hard to buy for but I did well this year with a number of small things all from local retailers including a print of Pellegrini’s cafe (where we originally met) from Melbournalia, a miniature plum plate from Cibi, a handmade whisky glass from Denver & Liely (just in time for Christmas!) and a Lene Kuhl Jakobsen plant pot and brass hanger from Plantsmith.

Time is running out to order things online in time for Christmas delivery so experiences and gift vouchers are always a good go-to if you are doing presents this year if not braving the shops. I’ve not yet been to a shopping centre but good luck to you if you have and I know Westfield Doncaster has a newly launched rooftop dining area.

A thousand stars

In the country or at the beach, the stars seem so much brighter at night. Like many people, I’ve been dreaming of being able to holiday by the water and if you are planning on booking a beach house for Summer I’d do it very soon. Given the lockdowns in Melbourne with none of us being able to go away, I think many people have tentatively booked a house locally in anticipation of at least being able to go away within greater Victoria.

A Thousand Stars is also the name of Banyule’s Community Art Project making a star or jar lantern to display in our windows in celebration of Children’s Week – the 4th week in October. You can visit the event link to register for your pack, book an online workshop, view how-to videos and download instructions. Lantern Packs are also available to Banyule residents for click-and-collect at Sanctum Studio in Greensborough. Photograph your lantern in a window and post on Facebook and Instagram tagging @1000.Star.Project and using #1000StarProject.

Images above and below via Halcyon House

With my beach dreaming, I’ve always wanted to visit a couple of special places in northern NSW including interiors by Anna Spiro at Halcyon House in Cabarita Beach and the longstanding Rae’s on Wategos in Byron Bay, which was there when I backpacked with my girlfriends as a single person in my twenties. While we can’t visit, I have actually bought some tickets for the RSL Art Union raffle to win a beach house styled by Anna Spiro at Palm Beach in Queensland. I’m not normally a gambler but the temptation was too good to refuse!

I’ve also downloaded the Villa Rae’s Spotify playlist put together by the current artist-in-residence resort wear (yes it is a thing) designer Richard Jarman. I can’t afford the clothes so it’s the next best thing and has taken even the most mundane chore this weekend to the next level. It may be a while before we’re able to wear summer shoes but some of you may like the colourful Palmeira Sandals Australia or the crowd funded sustainable Flipside thongs (made in Melbourne).

Image via

While we’ve got some way to go, I hope you might be heartened by the road map out of lockdown unveiled by our Premier today. I had a couple of days off work last week and did watch the Lightening the Lockdown Load free parenting webinar by Dr Justin Coulson – a father of 6 daughters with a Phd in Psychology which was helpful in terms of strategies and thinking. My team also watched the new Sport Stadium video presentation by our colleagues at La Trobe Sport and you can also do a virtual tour of all the new facilities. There was a bit of media last week as it’s the new training ground for the Matildas – the Australian national women’s soccer team. Go girls!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Father’s Day today and this year I am thinking of those who have lost a father in their lives or can’t be with them for any reason. I’m always up for the Pepsi challenge when it comes to creative gifts for Mr Rosanna and this year was no different. His gift from me (above) was a handmade mug by Lene Kuhl Jakobsen, some Olea of Monemvasia extra virgin olive oil (an ode to our Grecian holiday and all things Greek), a couple of bread loaf tins for the baker-to-be as well as some Aussie Bread Bags to store homemade or bought bread from now on. I’m also looking forward to sampling the bougatsa Greek dessert tonight from local baker Harry at Ministry of Cakes.

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.



Smelling the roses

The La Trobe University Distinguished Alumni Awards were held on Monday evening and it was a long day and night for me. They are an annual event which were held in the city at Metropolis Events at Southgate which offered glittering night-time views of Melbourne and it was spectacular to get there late afternoon where we could see Arbory Afloat on the Yarra opposite us.


I got to mingle at the start of the evening talking to a number of high profile people I’d previously worked with when I managed the Bold Thinking Series including Virginia Trioli (who was one of the winners) and her partner Russell Skelton, Tony Walker, Geoff Walsh and Professor Jenny Graves AO plus a number of other leading academics and industry professionals with ties to La Trobe. Prior to the Awards, guests were also treated to a surprise performance by the Australian Ballet School – one of the University’s partners.


Writer and academic Dr (now Professor) Clare Wright was MC with Chancellor John Brumby AO making presentations along with Vice-Chancellor John Dewar to the stellar lineup of winners, which included Young Achiever Awards to Melbourne AFLW player Daisy Pearce and surgical resident Dr Batool Albatat; rural women’s pioneer Alana Johnson, epidemiologist Dr John Hopper AM, SecondBite co-founder Simone Carson AM and ABC Melbourne Mornings host Virginia Trioli completing the field.



My wider team and La Trobe staff were given the beautiful floral table decorations at the end of the night and so I have stopped to smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of life this week, knowing that lift itself is a gift.


Speaking of flowers, the Bee Shed Launch Party is being held on Sunday at the Alphington Farmers Market and my friend and Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Director Ella Hinkley is involved with the Pollinator Alliance while tomorrow the Rosanna Primary Old School Fair, the Paella Sangria Churros night (fun!) at The Pioneer Cafe, the annual Watsonia craft fair and the Melbourne Ceramics Market in Collingwood (which local ceramic artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen is part of) are all on – it’s a big day.

If the weather holds, the Malahang Festival is also on this Sunday in Heidelberg West as well as the Public Run Day at the Box Hill Miniature Railway. Strange to think our Spring weather has been so mild this year and my thoughts have been with our NSW neighbours up north battling those horrific bushfires this week. Stay cool…

An idea needing to be made

Heide’s ceramics exhibition with this intriguing name opens today in Bulleen and I love a bold idea at the best of times. As I get older, while ideas are great, it’s the realisation of them and their outcomes that interest me more – skill comes in the actual implementation of ideas but without a vision to start with, there can be no real progress.


Speaking of ceramics, local artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen is a finalist in this year’s Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award with her piece ‘What We Know Now’ (images above) addressing the challenge that is climate change. The related exhibition opens on the 14 August at the Manningham Art Gallery in Doncaster. Lene is also exhibiting at the Craft Atrium at Watson Place (off Flinders Lane) as part of the Craft Cubed Festival which starts on 1 August  and I love the image she’s used (below) on her new business cards.


It’s Open House Weekend and lucky you if you’ve already visited some of Melbourne’s most iconic buildings and hidden surprises. I had a private tour by Dr Gillian Shepherd of the Trendall Research Centre (a previous Open House venue) at La Trobe University the other week- the centre was designed by modernist architect Robin Boyd and houses a number of rare books and artwork left as a private library and mid century apartment (time capsule!) of former resident academic – art historian and archaeologist Arthur Dale (A.D.) Trendall to the University. A private person, not much is known about his personal life except that he worked as a cryptographer (Japanese code breaker) during World War II – my colleagues and I were quite enthralled by the story regaled to us by Gillian over a cup of tea while seated at the Fler dining table . It was a little bit Indiana Jones and Gillian’s passion, and vision for the future, was very inspiring. The western sky views over the University from Trendall’s private floating balcony were also awesome to see.

Speaking of Robin Boyd, his namesake exhibition Design Legend starts at Heide Museum of Modern Art on 3 August. While I will always love Art Deco, mid century modern is probably second on my list and Boyd is one of Australia’s design champions of that era. It’s National Tree Day tomorrow and I hope to feature a local artist inspired by local nature shortly on my blog. A couple of other local happenings include the opening of new cafe, bar and grill Tres in Rosanna, which has replaced Jillian’s on Lower Plenty Road and I wish the new owners well. If you are a home based business you may be interested in a Banyule Business networking event being held on Tuesday morning at Hunter Lane cafe, where you’ll get to meet and hear from my local friend and trainer Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training.

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.


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.


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.


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!

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 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.