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Now that the festive season is over and we’re all breathing a sigh of relief and prepare to put our wallets away, I’m going to ask you to stop.
Just stop for a minute, hold your wallet in your hand and just hear me out.

What can $25 buy you?

It Can’t:

  • Buy you breakfast at a trendy cafe in Melbourne
  • Buy you lunch in a trendy cafe in Melbourne
  • Buy you a pair of shoes
  • Buy you the latest tech gadget

It Can:

  • Change a life
  • Alleviate poverty
  • and empower an entrepreneur around the world to create their own business, to change their lives.

So what am I talking about?

I’m talking to you about Kiva microfunds. A website that allows people to donate money ($25) online to developing countries to provide funds for budding entrepreneurs.

How it works:

  • You sign up and browse through the hundreds of projects listed from all over the world.
  • You have the option to choose specifically, either by country, genre or the type of business an individual or group requires funding for.
  • You pick a project and you can fund from the minimum of $25 or the entire amount of the project.
  • The individual or group repay back the loan slowly
  • You then have the option to donate that money to Kiva for their operation costs, withdraw it via paypal or loan it to another project

$25 can buy change, alleviate poverty, empower an individual/group to start/continue a business but most importantly it makes you feel amazing.

I received a $50 voucher as a Christmas present and I have to tell you it’s the best gift I’ve received.

How much would you pay for the gift to make a difference?
I think it’s priceless.

Melbourne, I know you’re generous and I strongly encourage you to get involved with Kiva.

If you’re wondering what I did with my $50, I picked two women in my country of birth El Salvador as an homage to my mother who one day found herself in a similar situation.
She took a chance and made a difference to her life – I wouldn’t be here writing about it, if she hadn’t.

Vilma Guadalupe

Ilsia Evelyn

2010 wraps up

Did you know that tomorrow is the first day of the second decade of the 2000’s?
How cool is that?

Cool is certainly not what we’re experiencing in Melbourne right now.
After wishing for it to show its summer style, it listened to us and then some.
A 40C scorcher is planned for the night where we tick over 2010, install the 2011 calendar, secure our pets, watch 2010 montage’s while we drink copious amounts of bubbles to celebrate.

So, to do a montage of the most memorable posts of 2010 here at Melbourne Bits and Pieces:

  • You enjoyed my mantra of “good thighs, good bum” when I went on the laneway walking tour with MELtours.
  • The Royal Saxon post was another favourite.
  • My personal favourite bar Eydie’s was another favourite, rightly so.
  • The wonderful menu and staff at Loam still continues to be of interest.
  • Sonido in my opinion the most authentic South American food in Melbourne.
  • Plus so many others which would take me all of 2011 to list.

It’s been such a wonderful adventurous year and I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of you in the flesh.
In 2011 there will be some exciting changes happening around Melbourne Bits and Pieces and I hope to meet a few more of you and continue telling you about all the wonderful things that are happening in Melbourne. By golly there’s plenty, so stick around and thanks for reading during 2010.

So we say goodbye to 2010 and make a huge list of resolutions, make sure you stay safe, hydrated, happy and get ready for 2011 which is going to rock!

Speaking of New Year resolutions, have you made any?
My new year’s resolution have featured over the last few years – to regularly floss and learn to play those drums in my bedroom that I currently use as a clothes hanger.

2011 is the year to use these babies

What are your New Year Resolutions?  Have you got a set of drums that you use as a clothes hanger?

As always, call your Mum and Happy New Year folks!

Usually at this time of year I’m sporting a frown, a bit green (not from excessive alcoholic intake) and grumpy about the fact that it’s Christmas. Mariella the Grinch.

But at the moment I’m excited, after a long year, I’m looking forward to waving it goodbye by the beach with a mojito.

I’m excited to spend this festive season hanging out with the crazy folk that I love, eating some great food, drinking some delicious beverages and listening to the kids squeal about their Christmas presents.

Our Christmas is celebrated on the 24th December and we get together for a big family dinner where the food isn’t plated but placed in the middle of the table like a banquet.

Every year Mum makes stuffed hens, at our request, which is a dish that she grew up eating in El Salvador. The hen is stuffed with a vegetable, refried beef and refried pork concoction that my mother no doubt invented and then finished, very typically, in this fragrant and delicious salsa.

It’s so popular amongst our family friends that they placer their orders with my mum weeks before Christmas.  For Christmas she cooks about 5 hens and gives them away, much to the dismay of us kids who don’t like to share Mum’s amazing food.
The hen is accompanied by traditional salads like my mum’s ‘Russian Potato Salad’ which my older brother adores, rice and of course tortillas – you can’t take the Central American out of us.
With full bellies we then get one of the kids to hand out the Christmas presents which are always received with lots of noise, kisses and hugs… even if they’re terrible!

This year mum took the plunge and moved to Houston to be with her hubby, why she couldn’t just purchase a Ferrari like every other mid-life crisis victim is beyond us all. So, unfortunately she won’t be with us physically this Christmas and sadly there’s no Ferrari we can joy ride in.
 But despite her vertical size and calm nature she’s so powerful that we continue those same traditions even when she’s on the other side of the planet.

And that’s why I’m excited about Christmas because I get to do all the things I love, with the people I really care for, I get some gifts, sloppy kisses from my nephews and I don’t have to worry about the calories until January 2nd.

For all of you who have read the blog this year, a massive thank you for your support, it’s been a blast. Let the Melbourne exploring continue!

Have an amazing Christmas with the people who you love (and some you don’t), stay safe and eat until you can’t breathe but don’t stop exploring Melbourne.

Share the Christmas love with me on the comments section by telling me how you celebrate your Christmas?

 

 

My friends and I have had a tradition for years on Christmas Day that is essentially an evening bash to recover from our families.
It usually involves a combination of drinks, horror present stories and who had the most explosive Christmas.
One Christmas we decided we would all ditch the families, the stack of dishes, the food hangover and go and dine in an establishment where the service comes with a smile and the dishes are taken care of by somebody else.

If you’re sick of doing the dishes, too hot to spend half a day baking a large bird and you don’t want to host the Christmas bash then here are some options for you:

Maze Melbourne
Crown Metropol
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC
Cost: $110 – $150 for 5 courses
Maze Melbourne Restaurant on the Web

Maze is the first restaurant of Gordon Ramsay in Melbourne, the famous opinionated-potty-mouth chef.
If you want someone else to worry about whether the turkey is going to be dry, then head to Maze for their Christmas dinner.
Five courses includes turkeys and mince tarts.

Make sure you make a booking by contacting them on melbournereservations[at]gordonramsay[dot]com


 


There are two weekends left of 2010 and there’s a mixture of relief for the coming holidays and a mixture of excitement for the hope of sunshine.
What a year 2010 has been and it continues to be because it’s not over yet.

If you want to avoid the shops and just enjoy the weekend, some ideas for you.

Friday- 23C with showers

Rainbow Hotel
27 David Street
Fitzroy
Cost: $6+
Rainbow Hotel on the Web

I haven’t been to the Rainbow Hotel for quite a few years, but I discovered it by mistake through a friend a long time ago.
I heard the rumour that the owners of Lambs Go Bar have moved to the Rainbow Hotel to provide their amazing beers to coincide along with Rainbow Hotel’s live music.

A Melbourne institution it has been around for longer than you and I.
Here’s a fun and useless fact for you, their website states that there’s even been a murder in the bath stalls at the Rainbow Hotel!

Ghost stories aplenty and after hearing so many ghost stories of the pubs in Melbourne, I’m thinking about starting a ‘Melbourne pub crawl ghost tour’!

It has great food, great beers and live music.
What more could you want on a Friday night?

I’m overdue for a visit.

Saturday – 21C with showers easing

Wonderland Fun Park
120 Pearl River Road
Docklands 3008
Cost: Entry is Free
Wonderland Fun Park on the web

I love going on rides.
I used to do it a lot when I lived in Central America and we used to go on everything that spun, flipped, turned and was probably a little bit unsafe.
But I loved it! And I still love it, but the older I get the less people want to go on rides with me.
Such a shame really, I finally have managed to get to the height requirement only not to have a partner in crime – bah!

But don’t let that stop you – there’s a Wonderland Fun Park in our own Docklands backyard!
I don’t need to explain a Fun Park to you – you get it, so head down there.

Grab yourself a corn dog, a chiko roll, fairy floss and anything else that’s deep-fried.
After all, that’s what a fun park is all about!

Maybe save them for after the rides…

48 hour Film Project
BMW Edge – Federation Square
Cost: $20
48 Hour Film Project on the web

A few months ago, I told you about a 72 hour film project – where they filmed, cut, edited, created a film in 72 hours.
After seeing everyone who worked on that film for the 72 hours, they looked exhausted.
Can you imagine what 48hrs would do?!

43 filmakers took the challenge, 41 films were finished but only 38 of them made it in time.
So what can be created in 48hrs and what does it look like?

Well on Saturday night at 8pm, you have the chance of finding out.
Go and support your local talent and see what can be created in 48hrs.

Sunday 20C with showers

Oromo Community Festival
Federation Square
2pm – 7pm
Cost: Free to enter
Oromo Community Festival on the Web

The Oromo people are indigenous African people in the North Eastern part of Africa.
Their country is called Oromia, which is currently under the domination of the Ethiopian colonial Empire.

I certainly had never heard of Oromia or the Oromo people until doing some research for this post.
And like I’ve told you many times (broken record) I love that Melbourne is home to so many people from different cultures.

The Oromo Community are having a Festival at Federation Square and we should show our support by attending.
And I hope there’s food, there’s no better way to get to really understand and know a culture than by its food.
In my humble opinion anyway.

It’s nearly Christmas, have you called your Mum?!

Have a great weekend!

MM

 


There are two weekends left of 2010 and there’s a mixture of relief for the coming holidays and a mixture of excitement for the hope of sunshine.
What a year 2010 has been and it continues to be because it’s not over yet.

If you want to avoid the shops and just enjoy the weekend, some ideas for you.

Friday- 23C with showers

Rainbow Hotel
27 David Street
Fitzroy
Cost: $6+
Rainbow Hotel on the Web

I haven’t been to the Rainbow Hotel for quite a few years, but I discovered it by mistake through a friend a long time ago.
I heard the rumour that the owners of Lambs Go Bar have moved to the Rainbow Hotel to provide their amazing beers to coincide along with Rainbow Hotel’s live music.

A Melbourne institution it has been around for longer than you and I.
Here’s a fun and useless fact for you, their website states that there’s even been a murder in the bath stalls at the Rainbow Hotel!

Ghost stories aplenty and after hearing so many ghost stories of the pubs in Melbourne, I’m thinking about starting a ‘Melbourne pub crawl ghost tour’!

It has great food, great beers and live music.
What more could you want on a Friday night?

I’m overdue for a visit.

Saturday – 21C with showers easing

Wonderland Fun Park
120 Pearl River Road
Docklands 3008
Cost: Entry is Free
Wonderland Fun Park on the web

I love going on rides.
I used to do it a lot when I lived in Central America and we used to go on everything that spun, flipped, turned and was probably a little bit unsafe.
But I loved it! And I still love it, but the older I get the less people want to go on rides with me.
Such a shame really, I finally have managed to get to the height requirement only not to have a partner in crime – bah!

But don’t let that stop you – there’s a Wonderland Fun Park in our own Docklands backyard!
I don’t need to explain a Fun Park to you – you get it, so head down there.

Grab yourself a corn dog, a chiko roll, fairy floss and anything else that’s deep-fried.
After all, that’s what a fun park is all about!

Maybe save them for after the rides…

48 hour Film Project
BMW Edge – Federation Square
Cost: $20
48 Hour Film Project on the web

A few months ago, I told you about a 72 hour film project – where they filmed, cut, edited, created a film in 72 hours.
After seeing everyone who worked on that film for the 72 hours, they looked exhausted.
Can you imagine what 48hrs would do?!

43 filmakers took the challenge, 41 films were finished but only 38 of them made it in time.
So what can be created in 48hrs and what does it look like?

Well on Saturday night at 8pm, you have the chance of finding out.
Go and support your local talent and see what can be created in 48hrs.

Sunday 20C with showers

Oromo Community Festival
Federation Square
2pm – 7pm
Cost: Free to enter
Oromo Community Festival on the Web

The Oromo people are indigenous African people in the North Eastern part of Africa.
Their country is called Oromia, which is currently under the domination of the Ethiopian colonial Empire.

I certainly had never heard of Oromia or the Oromo people until doing some research for this post.
And like I’ve told you many times (broken record) I love that Melbourne is home to so many people from different cultures.

The Oromo Community are having a Festival at Federation Square and we should show our support by attending.
And I hope there’s food, there’s no better way to get to really understand and know a culture than by its food.
In my humble opinion anyway.

It’s nearly Christmas, have you called your Mum?!

Have a great weekend!

MM

 


I’m proud of my Hispanic heritage and I’m particularly proud and fond of our food.
I love the fact that food isn’t ‘plated’ but rather placed in the middle of the table with hands going everywhere.
And much like its people, the food is colourful, sometimes in your face, would probably be about 1,000 weight watcher points but packs a punch of flavour.

But it’s not just the food that makes the Hispanic culture so popular, it’s the atmosphere, the music and the customer service.
If you were to tell me that you had never experienced this, apart from the Johnston St Fiesta, I wouldn’t be surprised.
Sadly, truly Hispanic cuisine and venues are hard to find in Melbourne.

That is until I went to have lunch at Sonido.

Lunch happened by mistake, I happened to be in the area getting a haircut and I’d heard there was a new Colombian cafe on Gertrude St.

Sonido

The menu at Sonido is simple with explanations of what each item is along with a list of ingredients.
The most typical Colombian fare are Arepas which are small maize (corn) discs that are served with a variety of fillings as well as Empanadas, made famous by Chile but variations are aplenty in Central and South American countries.

I’m a big fan of empanadas, the South American version of a dumpling and quickly opted for the chorizo empanada with a small side of picadillo (a tomato and onion salsa) and guacamole.

I was quickly warned that the picadillo and the guacamole were small and suggested I order the salad on the side.

Empanada con Chorizo

The empanada certainly packed a punch of flavour with the slightly salty and spicy chorizo and the guacamole adding a good contrast.
And thankfully the avocado wasn’t bland, big tick in my book.
The outside of the empanada itself was a little overdone and the salad was pretty lack lustre, but overall an enjoyable afternoon snack that doesn’t leave you full, but satisfied.

The menu isn’t extensive and with food that’s not very mainstream in Melbourne, you really wouldn’t want it to be.
Apart from that, their open kitchen is very small – barely accommodation more than three people.

What you shouldn’t miss however is the Colombian hot chocolate.
While I’m not Colombian, it brings back memories of my childhood having hot chocolate in the traditional pot.
If you’re not a hot chocolate fan try their fair trade coffee or alternatively they have South American single origin coffee’s that are best served as short blacks – just like my family like to have it.

I’ve seen many Hispanic eateries open up lately and I’ve been disappointed with their interior and lack of culture within the establishment.
A far cry from what a local eatery would look like in Central or South America.  Sure, they’re serving Hispanic food but they’re lacking the atmosphere that completes the package of the Hispanic/Latin American dining experience.

However, Sonido gets it right.
I was bopping away to their tunes (funny that, Sonido translates to Sound) and feeling like I was in a South American diner.
Like a little Colombia on Gertrude St!

Sonido

Sonido is a great start and introduction to Hispanic and Latin American food to Melbourne and I’m proud to continue to see this movement grow.
The service is a little on the awkward side, either the owners were not having a particularly good day or they’re not big conversationalist, but if you can overlook it – the place is a nice find.

Could this be Melbourne’s first authentic Hispanic/Latin American cafe?
I’m leaning towards a yes!

Go and experience Melbourne’s version of Colombia in our own backyard, Gertrude St.

Sonido! on Urbanspoon

* What makes Mariella such a critic of Hispanic/Latin American food?
Well,
born and partially raised in Central America but used all those years to overindulge in Hispanic/Latin American food.
Her mother is certain that her first words were food related and all in Spanish.

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