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This is the end, my friends....

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Monday, April 5, 2010 2 responses


Ok, so finally, here I am, here to say good-bye. The last hoorah. Au Revoir. All over, red rover. The end.

Ankle Biters is now officially defunct. Except for this blog, the website/facebook pages and the now half-removed signage on our car, nothing of Ankle Biters remains.

It has been tough, really tough, and only worsened by the whole bankruptcy thing. However, it is onwards and upwards! Somehow, we have managed to pull ourselves up and into a much more positive position. We are feeling optimistic about our future and the remainder of 2010, perhaps mostly due to the inception of Love Bytes, but also due to the fact that I am spending more time with the kids, organising our house and the like. We may be broke, but at least we are a bit happier!

We never did find a willing buyer for Ankle Biters, although we did find a lovely buyer of the STOCK that we had, and you should be able to now purchase much of it if you drop into Keperra Kids R Us Child Care Centre, in Keperra, North Brisbane.

Now, we just have a few more loose ends to tidy up, and it will be done!

I want to take this opportunity to shout from the hilltops about some amazing people who have helped us through our very own annus horribulus that was 2009. You know, I don't want this closing post to sound too full of cliches and the like, but it is hard to articulate our thoughts without it doing so. It is an absolute fact that we would not have been able to drag ourselves through this, if it wasn't for the amazing people that have bolstered and supported us through-out the ups and downs, and twists and turns.

Particularly, the community over at Skout Trade Fair has been invaluable and paramount to our emotional survival. The girls even met our practical needs many times over with gifts for our children at Christmas, an amazing delivery from Chrisco hampers, offers of advertising and more. So, although this might be a long list, I think that the least I can do to really thank these amazing people is to put a shout out here....

And so, in no particular order...

Lou from Lil Rockers

Lou from Maeve

Skout Trade Fair

Hayley from Little Pinwheel

Eva from Oz Baby Trends

Jo from The Toy Bug

Kat from Charlipop Kids

Katie from I Want Fabulous/About A Boy

Susan & Alison from Agoo

Lou from Buttons by Lou Lou

The gorgeous Kiersten Bissett (mwaah!! x.o.)

Jenny & Dave from Vegeout

Connect 2 Mums

Christine at Little DIVA / Kawaii For You

Stella from Little Miss Stella

Jo from Strawberry Communications

Cate Bolt

Hema from BornSage

Chris from Petit

Naomi from Thula Thula

Miriam at http://www.bubbachenille.blogspot.com/

Liesa at http://www.handmadeheaven7.blogspot.com/

Jodie at http://www.lovemum.com.au/

Heather at http://www.babiesandkids.com.au/

Stella at http://www.littlemissstella.com.au/

Bonny at http://www.bonnibuns.com.au/

Johanna at http://www.strawberrycommunications.com.au/

Siobhan at http://www.downtoearthorganics.com.au/

Tiessa at http://www.jtkids.com.au/

Belinda at http://www.dewdrops.co.nz/

Monica at http://www.beyondpinkandblue.com/

Melissa at http://www.ele-ahbaant.com.au/

Amanda at http://www.stylecollective.com.au/

Peggy at http://www.cookiesandcream.com.au/

Jannine at http://www.natureschild.com.au/

Georgie at http://www.merinokids.com/

Kerri at Molly and Jack, Oatley, NSW

Kim & Simon at http://www.stickytiki.com/

Amanda at http://www.bay6.com.au/

Mel at http://www.thehipinfant.com.au/

Victoria at http://www.downtoearthbaby.com/

Pam, Jude and Ros at http://www.organicbabe.com.au/

Despina at http://www.backpacks4aussiekids.blogspot.com/

Stephanie at http://www.moobeardesigns.com.au/

Katerina at http://www.twinklelily.com/

Jo at http://www.babyjo.com.au/

Angela at http://www.kidsstylefile.com.au/

Tracey at http://www.niftythriftyloveliness.blogspot.com/

Lianne at http://www.mystical-entertainments.com/

Anna at http://www.barefootmagazine.com.au/

Bev at http://www.trendykidz.com.au/

Pauline at http://www.funkyfriendsfactory.com/

Terese at http://www.redhillchildrenswear.com.au/

http://www.ministylista.onsugar.com/

http://www.aussieproductreview.blogspot.com/

http://www.ulitmateguide.wordpress.com/

http://www.tatyourtot.biz/

http://www.babyuniverse.com.au/

http://www.designer-kids.co.uk/

http://www.completepartyboxes.com.au/

http://www.rusticfuture.com.au/

www.cleverstreak.com/wordpress

http://www.bellybeyond.co.nz/

http://www.cackleberrykids.com/

http://www.upinanniesroom.com/

http://www.enchantedgarden.com.au/

That is a ridiculously long list of links - and so be it! It is just a poignant illustration of the amazing people we have come to know and love! If I have failed to mention you, please don't hate me! It doesn't mean that your gesture of kindness was lost or forgotten by us - just that my humble little brain hasn't been able to recall it in the few minutes since I have begun typing this!

And to our "real life" small, but amazing circle of friends Nat & Chris Saville, Louise Peters, Pauline McCarthur, my besties Bec, Kellie and Kellie, Freddo, Nat Tindale, Barbara Bennett, Jill Blacker, Sandy Forbes, Maryann Lister, Fiona Deegan, Tracy Couper, Iona Crichton.

Customers turned friends Shannon Morris, Tahne Brown, and Nicole Appleby...

To the only family members to have shown us true unconditional, emotional support and acceptance - Reg, Sally and Audrey. We can't thank you enough, there are no words that I can say that can get close to expressing what you mean to us.

If nothing else good has come from Ankle Biters; if no-one was educated, or learned anything about our eco-friendly message, if we weren't able to add even one ounce of good to the world from our efforts over the past 3 years, at least, I know this - the lovely people whose lives have touched ours, the (many!) customers who I now am proud to call my friends, have made it all all worthwhile for us. I know just how cliche this sounds, but it is from the heart, and so I guess really does smack of warm fuzziness. We have been embraced, supported and loved, by so many of you. Our lives have been forever warmed by having had you in them.

And so, as my kids sit out in the driveway dutifully peeling the signage from our car, the sun is setting on the final day of what we once believed to be our future. Instead, we have a new future layed out before us, and a new, hopefully happier path meandering in front of us.

We'd love for you to join us over at Love Bytes. I am beginnning to feel right at home once again with a camera in my hand, and loving some of the gorgeous images we have been making.

You can follow, fan, and catch up with us at any of these places:

The Love Bytes website

The fancy schmancy, new Love Bytes Blog

The Love Bytes Twitter page

The Love Bytes Facebook Fan Page

Please join us for our new adventures! We hope that these, and the coming years will prove to be happy, fruitful and fun, and will make the annus horribulus that was 2009 a rapidly fading, distant memory.

You will notice that all of our new websites/pages are bright, and vibrant and a bit on the lary side - well, this is our first step to our bright new future! I am determined to find the "old" me, this year! The me that was optimistic, full of bubbles and exuberance and always ready for a new fun challenge to throw myself at! Gone is the down trodden, cynical pessimist that has seemingly taken over my body lately! I am back, and I am here to tell all of the stress-mongers to LEAVE US ALONE!

We hope that you can join us in spreading our new message and our new image!

Thanks again friends, see you on the other side....

(that is, in the "Love Bytes" realm!)

hugs and bubbles,
tan, steve and the ankle biters.

xo.

No longer to "give away"...

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Saturday, January 30, 2010 1 responses

Sadly, Ankle Biters is no longer available to "give" away as we had originally hoped. We are required to sell it, and if we are unable to do so, the trustee of our bankruptcy will take over and do it themselves. :( It is a long story, but basically, it is now out of our hands and we need to "advertise" that the online business is for sale for the amount of $10 000. Stock will be sold at the actual wholesale value if it is required.

It absolutely sucks that the thing that I personally put all of my energy and love and soul into can't even be passed on to someone in the same manner, and that it instead has become a commodity that we must demand money for. This is so not what Ankle Biters was supposed to be about but we are now at the mercy of our personal insolvency and the matter is out of our hands.

The sale inclusions are as follows:

Going by the figures to date, we have had the following turnover (we can verify all of this by showing you our accounting software and also by linking you to the back-end of the website which will show you the orders that have come in through the shopping cart system):

May-Dec 2008- approximately $25,000 (website only)
Jan 2009 – Dec 2009 - $77,000 (website only)
Aug 2009 – Dec 2009 - $25,000 (physical store)

So, if we use these figures as an indicator of growth (430%), and if we were to maintain the presence both online and in the physical store that we currently have, we could expect that in 2010, the growth would be slightly less but similar, and that the projected turnover for the year, should amount to between $300 000 - $350 000. This is not profit, but turnover, as we have not yet recorded a profit.

Inclusions:

The $10,000 contribution for the business changeover will therefore include the following:

1. The legal transfer of the Registered Business Name of Ankle Biters Australia over to the new owner. It is currently registered as a Sole Trader entity.

2. All artwork, banners, logos and copyright of all of these items, pertaining to the Ankle Biters branding. We relinquish all rights to this work, all of which I have personally designed and completed myself during the past 2 years.

3. Ankle Biters 2300 x 50 outdoor vinyl banner – suitable for trade shows and markets.

4. The main Ankle Biters e-commerce Website and registered domains as follows:

(i) The transfer of the following domains which are currently owned by us:

- www.anklebiters.com.au
- www.anklebiter.com.au
- www.anklebiters.net.au
- www.anklebiters.co.nz
- www.ecodisposables.com.au
- www.steinertoys.com.au

All of these domains are just parked at the moment and we have been meaning to set up dns hosting and point them to the main Ankle Biters site when we had the chance. The domain names are registered with Crazy Domains, and there is a fee to transfer them to a new owner/registrar, which is a few hundred dollars in Australia. I am not sure of the exact process, but we will arrange it if/when the time comes.

We also own the domains of www.waybasics.com.au and www.waybasics.net.au . If you look at http://www.waybasics.com/ you will see this is an awesome range of eco-furniture. We had made initial plans with the company to become their exclusive distributor here in Australia to the point of ordering in a pallet of stock and registering the domain name and posted about it on our blog. They are an awesome company to deal with, and wonderfully environmentally conscious and forward thinking. Of course, as it was all in the works at the same time as the internet scam came to light, we were left with no funds to place an initial stock order with them to begin the distribution. We have had a number of customers contact us and there is definite interest in the product in the market in Australia. If the new owner had the financial backing, it is a product that could very quickly see you to a great financial position, providing you can afford the costs of bringing in large orders via container from China and have the warehouse to store the pallets of stock. We have our shop fitted out with the stock that we initially bought in and can happily show it to interested parties if interested...

(ii) The website itself, which is hosted with Wahm Shoppes in the USA and the shopping cart software called “Feature Cart”. Ongoing costs of the website shopping cart hosting is only about $10 per month. Well, it is usd$7 per month, paid via paypal, and so varies with the exchange rate. There is also domain renewal fees which is about $24 per domain name, per year. There is nothing more to pay, except for your own Paypal fees if you decide to have paypal as a payment option through the shopping cart. Currently, we no longer use paypal and have credit card as a payment option on the site. The shopping cart offers a secure credit card collection service for this purpose, which we log into and then simply enter the customers details into our EFTPOS machine when we are processing orders.

(iii) The website has been fully optimised and installed with both Stat Counter (http://www.statcounter.com/ ) and Google Analytics (http://www.google.com/ ) to give full, comprehensive stats of hits and visits to the website, keywords used to search etc. This blog is also included in the Google Analytics to check the statistics for visitors to it too. We are currently averaging between 3500 and 6000 unique hits to the site per month:

(iv) The Ankle Biters website has a current very respectable Google page ranking of 4.

5. The Ankle Biters blog that is hosted here: http://anklebitersaust.blogspot.com/.

The blog is in the Blogger format hosted through Google. I worked for many, many hours, customising the template of the blog to come up with the final design so that it ties in really well with the appearance of the main Ankle Biters website and branding. I have also designed the layout in such a way that it allows you to enter in banners if you like so that you can sell off advertising spots on it in future. The blog also has links back to the main Ankle Biters website pages, the online community forum and also to the Twitter and Facebook pages too.
The blog is accessed through the Blogger Dashboard, and we will transfer log-in details to the new owner if/when the time arises.

6. The Ankle Biters online community forum that is here: http://www.anklebitersduds.proboards.com/

The forum is almost completed. There are a few bits and pieces to finish up on it with regards to setting up the categories, posting rules, tips and instructions etc. we have not launched this forum yet, although there is a link to it on our main website. It was something we had planned to build and market this coming year. The forum is hosted with Proboards and is free, but charges I think about $15 per month if you would prefer to have the ads removed from it. It looks MUCH better without the ads.

We really think that the forum has great potential for becoming very popular as whilst there are many parenting/mother/pregnancy forums on the net, we have yet to find one that is a GREEN parenting/mother/pregnancy forum. Going by many of the loyal and purist customers that we have had come into our shop, who are never short of voicing their opinions, we really think that this forum could prove to be a wonderful haven for parents wanting to source advice about living organically/eco-friendly and raising their babies/kids with this kind of outlook on life.

7. The Ankle Biters Facebook page that is here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ankle-Biters-Duds/12751612209

Currently, we have 902 “fans” on the page and it is growing steadily, following on from the success of the recent Facebook Garage Sales we have been having. The Facebook page is an integral, and hugely important factor in the Ankle Biters online presence and branding. It is a great way to announce sales and promotions and every time I post on the wall, it is guaranteed to receive a great response. After all, it goes out instantly to 902 live News Feeds, and is then seen by all of their “friends” in their News Feeds as well.

8. The Ankle Biters Twitter page that is here: http://twitter.com/anklebitersaust . We currently have about 450 followers and this increases noticeably when we are using Twitter regularly, and remains constant when we haven’t used it for some time. We have also now linked our Facebook and Twitter accounts so that when a post is made via Facebook or Twitter one updates the other. This is a really great cross-promotional tool as it allows us to ensure that all of our followers on all platforms are kept informed of our activities.

9. Ankle Biters profiles and banner advertising that is listed on the following directories and listings:

http://aussiewahms.gotop100.com/index.php
http://connect2mums.com.au/
http://www.oz-e-wahm.com/topsites/
http://essentialbaby.com.au/
http://www.kidsstylefile.com.au/
http://www.usenature.com/
http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/
http://www.kidspot.com.au/
http://www.stylecollective.com.au/juniorstyle.asp?dir=1&iddir2=40
http://www.kidsfashionreview.com/stylefile/company/ankle-bitters
http://www.usenature.com/babyproducts.htm
http://www.mumzone.com.au/
http://www.topbabyblogs.com/
http://www.truelocal.com.au/
http://www.hiplittleone.com.au/
http://www.ministylista.com.au/

Most of these are paid listings that will give the new owner at least another 6 months worth of advertising before needing to be renewed. There are more listings than those above, they are just all that I can think of off the top of my head.

Another point that you may benefit to know is that many directories and listings are done in alphabetical order. So, by default, with having the name “Ankle Biters”, you can pretty much always guarantee that the listing will be on the first page, due of course to “a” being the first letter of the alphabet! This has worked in our favour many, many times.

We have also been recently featured in Studio Bambini magazine and on websites such as http://www.growingupgreen.com.au/ , http://www.babyology.com.au/ , http://www.mumsgrapevine.com.au/ , http://www.kidsinaustralia.com.au/ .

10. The Ankle Biters Newsletter subscriber list. We currently have about 700 newsletter subscribers. The management of our newsletter is through http://www.verticalresponse.com/ and you pay for it as you go. Currently it costs us about $15 for each mail out that I do – it is worked out on a “per subscriber” basis, so increases nominally as the subscriber list increases. I think it is about .05c per person, per newsletter, or thereabouts. This software handles all subscriptions via the signup form on our website, and also ensures that unsubscribes and bounces are handled accurately. It also offers great statistics about each mail-out, with it telling you how many emails were opened, deleted or how many links were clicked on in the emails etc. Very handy tool to have.

11. A full spreadsheet of all suppliers and the products that they distribute. We will also include an additional file of new products we had planned to add to the Ankle Biters range over coming months.

12. All website passwords, user and account names etc associated with all of the above.

13. Continued promotion of the AnkleBbiters website through advertising/signage on our car for a 12 month period from the date of changeover.

14. Goodwill & a loyal, growing customer base that has come to love our unique products and personal customer service.

Stock:
We also have to advertise the sale of our current stock for $7,000. The $7,000 for stock includes all of the items listed in a stocktake spreadsheet that we can show to prospective buyers, with the true wholesale value of approximately $14 966.80. The items on the list are not guaranteed to all be included at change over, depending upon sales from the business in the meantime, but are given as a rough indication of what is available.

And that's about it! 2 years of our blood, sweat and tears, many sleepless, hardworking nights, and more, reduced to now to a cold, hard figure of $10,000. If any one is genuinely interested after reading the above, or knows of somebody who may be, please email us on shop@anklebiters.com.au as time is running out for us. The $10,000 figure is, unfortunately not-negotiable, and if we don't secure a buyer soon, it will be out of our hands and who knows who might end up with Ankle Biters? :( Certainly, it probably won't be somebody with the heart and passion that we have, but rather an astute investor who can see the amazing potential that our business has, and that would be the biggest injustice of all.

Worse still, it could be totally lost, never to be seen or heard of again, and how heartbreaking would that be?!

tan.x.

Ankle Biters is for Sale, well, for GIVE AWAY, actually.

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Tuesday, January 5, 2010 1 responses

To give away - 1 x online business named Ankle Biters. This is a genuine offer. No stock will be included though. We will give it away, BUT it must go to a good home - one with heart, who can & will drive Ankle Biters to the place it deserves to be. U must have motivation & be able to see the potential in my "baby"...

Included in this offer is the ankle biters website, including domain, working ecommerce website, all intellectual property and artwork, the ankle biters blog, the ankle biters facebook page & twitter account, and almost completed community forum. The site already has a lot of traffic driven towards it, with approx. 5000 unique hits per month. Google Analytics & Stat Counter have been set up to monitor this & are included in the give away. Ankle Biters currently has a Google Page Ranking of 4.

Also a full list of product suppliers/sources will be given to the new owner. All of the hard work has been done! Lastly, we will continue to drive around the Ankle Biters car as a moving billboard for the new owner for 12 months following the change of hands. This will give ongoing advertising in the Bris/Sunshine Coast/Gold Coast areas - and it really works, - we have people saying to us all the time "we saw the car, and checked out your website" etc.

You need to know in advance that Ankle Biters is not yet making a profit. By our calculations, I would estimate that it will be another 12 months or so before it is. Ever since we were hit with the internet scam thing last year, we have been struggling to tread water, and I have just spread myself too thinly to take it any further.

BUT, I can tell you this - in 2009, Ankle Biters took precisely $78 523.21 and just over $28k, in our bricks and mortar store, between the day we opened on 29 August last year, up to 31 December (so exactly 4 months really). Meaning that in total, in 2009, Ankle Biters turn over was about $106,000 and it still was not enough to keep us going. Had we continued at the same rate, through-out 2010, we *should* have had a combined turnover of $170k.

However, if we look at the figures properly, and compare them with 2008, Ankle Biters has actually achieved a growth rate of amazing proportions really, as our TOTAL turnover for all of 2008, was only $24k. This means that comparably speaking, our 2008 turnover was only 22.6% of 2009 or that we had a growth in turnover of just over 440% between 2008 and 2009. Meaning that potentially, if the rate of growth continued 440%, 2010, COULD have a projected turnover of $466 400 between the combined efforts of the bricks and mortar and online stores. Or, if I let myself dream a little longer, if that rate of growth (440%) continued for another year, it could translate to a 2011 turnover of $2 052 160!!

Of course, as we just don't have the means to continue to support Ankle Biters for the time it will take to achieve such growth, that is not going to happen, and there are many other factors to consider such as the fact that we are no longer stocking Baby Jogger strollers which contributed greatly to our 2009 turnover.

Even so, it is also worth remembering that despite this seemingly good amount of turnover, Ankle Biters is yet to make a profit, and I have NEVER paid myself a wage either, every spare cent I have had has gone directly back into stock and store fit out, advertising etc. We take the occasional drawings here and there, and allow ourselves the luxury of the use of stock, such as nappies, cleaning products etc from the store when we need it, but that is about it, to date.

Ankle Biters has such amazing potential, for the right person, but they will need to have not only the motivation and the inspiration to do it, but the financial means as well. Money needs to be spent on advertising and marketing to really get the site cranking as it should be. Ever since we were ripped off, sales have been slow and the bulk of our business has come through the bricks and mortar store (which we are also shutting down). It is hard to know if it is because of the global financial crisis or if our customers have lost faith in us since i shared our situation so publicly, but whatever the reason, despite the fact that the hits to the website are still there, the sales are too quiet now for us to afford to carry it any longer.

As I said, we will GIVE it away, but it must be to the right person, one who has it in their capacity to help Ankle Biters realise the potential that it has. I have worked my butt off for over 2 years to make it what it is. Everything about Ankle Biters was done by me personally. It is very hard for me to part with it, but my heart knows that it is what I need to do for my family. It sucks in a major way to be doing this now, and never having been able to reap the benefits of the work that I have put in, but we have simply no resources left, except for my own energy, and even that is waning at the moment....

(Although, in saying this, I would do backflips if somebody were able to come to me and recognise the true potential that Ankle Biters has, and the work that has gone into it up to now, and say to me "here's $10k, hand it over to me, and i will make it soar!". Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, in this world would ease the ache in my soul right now then to be able to hand over $10k to my mother that we owe to her. If our car wasn't leased, I would happily sell it off for $10k and take the train everywhere for the amount of relief that it would give to us. Fact is, that aside from our car, and Ankle Biters, we own nothing else of any value that we could sell to get that money to her).

I want this year to be a year of recovery for us, and sadly, this is the first step towards that. I simply need to get over my own ego, and do what is best for my family, and not keep going with Ankle Biters simply because it is something that I have built and am proud of for my own sake.

If anyone is still interested after reading this, please email me directly on shop@anklebiters.com.au"

Small mercies, angels, and my own slice of heaven!

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Tuesday, December 15, 2009 0 responses



Ok, so here's the thing, everybody who reads this and pretty much everyone who walks into our shop, knows that financially, we are up the proverbial creek. Last year was tough, but this year, well, this year we have reached a new level of "toughness", I am thinking that from here on in, I will refer to this year as our Hells Angel year - the year that the tough got tougher, the year that we went to hell and back, and the year also that were Angels on my shoulder sharing with us small mercies along the way that have allowed us to come through it, and retain, what little sanity I still have.

You all know about the "hell" aspect, so I won't bore you by going into that again, instead, I want to focus on the "angels". These angels have come in many shapes and forms; the living, both near and far - namely the likes of the girls at Skout (you know who you are!), and people like the beautiful Miriam at Bubba Chenille, in the spirit form (perhaps this is something I have manufactured as my own way of dealing with things) of my Grandmother whom I just *know* has been sending small messages of support to me to help get me through. I feel her hand on my shoulder (figuratively!) every time I get to the check-out at Coles, needing to buy emergency supplies of toilet paper and sugar and butter, knowing that I only have $29.60 in my bank account and the total comes to $29.56.


I *know* she was there when we discovered at Rainbow Beach a few weeks back that there is no fuel available after 6pm. For sure, she was the one who somehow allowed us to drive the 90kms along the beach to Tewantin, safely, anxiously watching the fuel light the entire way, and allowing us to finally find a service station at 9pm at night! That night was so scary for us - the thought of running out of fuel whilst driving on the beach with our 5 kids in the car, and the tide rising, is not something I want to experience again in a hurry!

A few weeks ago, I was driving the kids down to White Water World to enjoy their final day there before their annual passes expired. I left it late though and had to make a stop at Yatala to pick up some stock for the shop from a supplier there. During the drive along the freeway, I noticed a really cool yellow Jeep directly in front of us. I made particular note of it as I had originally mistaken it for a Hummer, and my kids love Hummers! At one point, I changed lanes and noticed that there was a black commodore to the right of me, the yellow Jeep in front and a red car on my left.


So, I took the exit that we needed to head into Yatala, picked up the stock and upon re-entering the motorway, we discovered that the previously flowing traffic had ground to a complete stop. Cars and trucks were banking up everywhere, with many deciding to pull out and speed along the inside emergency stopping area to get closer to the next exit and off the motorway. We crawled along like this for about 45 minutes, a few metres here, stop, a couple more metres there, stop. I was so frustrated, knowing that the kids would only get about 2 hours at White Water World and lamenting my stupidity of stopping at the supplier on the way there, rather than on the way back. We were only like 2 km away from our destination for Pete's sake! A distance that should have only taken us a few minutes, now dragged out to an hour!

Then, finally, up ahead, I saw the lights of the police cars and the reason for the bottle-neck. There was, of course, an accident. As we neared the accident, my heart literally skipped a beat when I saw a yellow jeep, laying on its side across the middle of the road. In the bushes, turned around so that it was facing the oncoming traffic, was a black commodore. Further ahead, was what was left of a little red hatchback. There were people laying all over the road, and another lady was sitting up, being interviewed by police. Others were still in the cars, awaiting assistance.


This scene, was one that we see frequently when driving up or down the Coast, however, it really hit home this time. EVERY vehicle that had been driving along side of me was totalled. I still am struggling to comprehend what the consequences could have been for our family had I NOT exited to visit our supplier at Yatala. Every one of my babies was in the car with me. Steve was at work that day. Can you imagine if he had've received a phone call telling him that the six people he loves most in the world had been a part of this scene?

THAT day, I KNOW I had an angel looking out for us. I am certain of it.

And whilst I am being all ethereal, I'd like to talk about our shop. It truly is my very own little slice of heaven right now! I have no idea how long we will be able to maintain our store. I am hoping above hope that the angels will continue to carry us in their wings and allow us to keep Ankle Biters open, but if not, at least I have been able to enjoy a Christmas season in our store that is nothing short of beautiful right now!

This is a, erm, "creation" that the kids and I made together & they are hanging from the ceiling, all over our shop!




Our Christmas "tree" - not your traditional tree, that's for sure! I picked it up second-hand from Ebay for about 10 bucks! Not all of the lights work, but it has character!

My display of En Gry & Sif hand-felted Christmas ornaments, looking gorgeous on our little white tree!
Merry Christmas! These gorgeous stick on letters are from Fiona Kate.
Our little white tree again, this time, naked, in our window display and sitting on a very cool storage box by Fiona Kate!
My favourite thing - our Teepee!
Gorgeous, Christmasy, Bubba Chenille...
Our beautiful, recycled timber mirror...
Looking through the glass at one of our window displays...
Another of our window displays...

We chose to forego the traditional star or angel atop of our tree, and went for the next obvious choice, a bright red butterfly, of course! ;)

All the priiitty fings in our shop!


And so, whilst I am counting my lucky stars that I have managed to be sheilded by angels through-out this very crappy year, and that I even have my very own little piece of heaven in the Ankle Biters store, I am also now hoping that the angel will visit us once again, this time in the form of the accounts department of Qld Electricity.

I have made a decision, when faced with a moral dilemma, that we would not pay our very overdue electricity bill this fortnight, as Christmas is looming and we have yet to buy our kids even one gift between them. We have had a Wii on lay-by for sometime now but haven't yet made any payments on it. So, with tomorrow bringing us our final pay day before Christmas, I am hoping that my choice to pay off the lay-by in place of paying our electricity bill will not result in our being without electricity come Christmas day. Wouldn't that be fun? A brand new Wii and no electricity to play it! Eeek!

I am sitting here right now, staring at an unopened envelope in front of me from Qld Electricity. I have been procrastinating on opening it all day. So, now, we can collectively open it together...
....Hmmmm, I am so wishing I hadn't done that - "It is essential that you pay your overdue bill by 18 Dec 2009 so we can continue supplying energy to you. If you are experiencing financial hardship, and cannot pay the outstanding $728.63 within 48 hours, please phone this number."

Ok, so guess what I am doing tomorrow morning? Let's hope I have one of those angels with me, in some form or another. It IS Christmas afterall, I only hope that I can convince them of it. If you don't see a blog post from me in the next fortnight, you know why!

And here's the silver lining - at least we can take the kids to our shop, and use the Wii there if worse comes to the worst, as our Electricity is included in our rent for the shop and it won't be disconnected! :) And, thanks to the generosity of the awesome members of Skout, and Chrisco Hampers, our pantry is brimming with Christmas goodies that will ensure that our Christmas lunch is a yummy one!

So, whilst we are spreading the Christmas cheer, here is a shot of Keegan and Zali who were bestowed with the honour of placing the star on our tree at home this year:




At the beginning of this post is a pic of a little felt angel ornament that we have in store. She looks so content, and simple and unassuming, and seemingly at peace. She is the metaphor for what I hope our life becomes next year - content, simple, unassuming, and peaceful. I am hoping that next year, is the beginning of a new wave of happiness for our family, a year of peace, and small mercies, and one that allows us to heal the affects of the "hell" component that we have lived through this year.

My family and I have our fingers and toes crossed that next year will become our "Angel" year (sans the "Hell" prefix), and that we can put this "Annus Horribilus" (thanks to the Queen for that term!) behind us. With 7 people, 4 chooks and 1 dog in our house, that makes for a lot of fingers and toes, so here's hoping. .... and if we can start the year with electricity to our home, well, I for one, will be taking that as a sign that our angel is at work and that good things will abound in 2010!
We are also crossing our digits for our friends in the Bolt family too. As of tomorrow, a selfless, hard-working couple and their 9 children will be officially homeless. It seems as though their angels are holding back for some reason, but they need their help NOW. If anyone can do anything to assist them, please don't hesitate to offer it. You can read their story on Cate Bolt's Blog. , but be prepared for tears, it is a tough one to swallow.
tan.x.

Christmas Trade & other stuff...

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Saturday, December 12, 2009 0 responses

Hey everyone,

Well after much logistical juggling, I have finally been able to work out our opening hours for Christmas & New Year!

Mon 14 Dec - CLOSED Tue 15 Dec - CLOSED

Wed 16 Dec - noon-6.30pm
Thurs 17, Fri 18 Dec - 9am - 6.30pm

Sat 19 & Sun 20 Dec - 10am - 5pm

Mon 21, Tues 22 & Wed 23 Dec - 10am-6.30pm

Friday 25 Dec - Sun 3 Jan 2010 - CLOSED

Mon 4 Jan & Tues 5 Jan - noon - 6.30pm

Wed 6 Jan - Mon 11 Jan - CLOSED

Normal trading to resume from Tues 12 Jan.

Our website will be open for normal trade during the entire Christmas & New Year period. If you are a Brisbane local, please feel free to order your emergency supplies (nappies, wipes etc) via http://www.anklebiters.com.au/ for FREE delivery to your home during this time!

If you are not local to Brisbane, please expect that your deliveries may take a little longer than usual due to public holidays affecting postal and courier services.

So, I am having a 3 day weekend this weekend, (closed tomorrow, Mon & Tues) to allow me to build up some steam for the ensuing 9 days straight of 7 and 10 hour days to follow.

I am hoping that I don't have to have Destructo Boy and his ever-ready side kick Demolition Girl in the shop too much, but if I do, please be patient as it is school holidays and I don't have many willing babysitters to call in favours from!

If you should enter the shop and see me red in the face, perspiration on my forehead, and frazzled hair, it isn't because of the weather, just the exertion of trying to contain a 3yo and a 16 month old in a shop that is currently a Christmas themed veritable children's wonderland!

We have heaps of stocking stuffers and some gorgeous new products that may not make it to the website (I do need to sleep at least a couple of hours a day!), so come in and have a "play" with our stuff! Oh, and those bearing gifts of chocolate will be warmly welcomed! :)

Don't forget too that next week is "Orange" week (starting tomorrow!), and we have some very special surprises in the works!!

tan.x.

Happy Berfdy to me sale!

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Thursday, December 3, 2009 0 responses



Click on the image above to save

up to 40%


on select items as we try to make room for the Christmas stock arriving next week!


Olli & Lime, Nature's Sway & Ankle Biters made-to-order tutus are just some of the brands that we are "giving" away to celebrate my birthday!

Sale finishes Sunday, 6th of December or until stock runs out!



Decorating for Christmas, the eco-friendly way!

Proudly broadcast by... Love Bytes Wednesday, December 2, 2009 0 responses


Decorating for Christmas, the eco-friendly way!


Christmas doesn't need to be the most commercialised, resource hungry celebration of the year, if we just think outside the square for a bit.

Let's start with decorating! We all want our homes to ooze festiveness. Let's face it, it just never feels like Christmas until that tree is up and sparkling. But how can we enjoy all that Christmas has to offer and be good to the planet and our consciences too? In the first half of 2007, the US alone, imported over $140 million worth of Christmas ornaments, most of which came from China. There's something to make you think!

Too many of the products on the market are made from non-renewable, often toxic and unrecyclable materials that are not only unhealthy for our families, they’re casting a less-than-festive glow on the earth. They require loads of resources, energy, and water to make and distribute, and often end up in the trash where they’ll take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to break down.

So let's get back to basics. Why not look at those infamous Three R's, in a different context to what we are used to?

Reduce: We all know that "less is more" in many instances. Think about this with decorating too! Do we really need to have so many ornaments on that tree? Do all of those lights really make a difference to your celebrations? Why not try to have just a few environmentally friendly focal points in your home? A beautiful welcoming wreath on your front door, the tree (of course!), and a beautiful table centre piece, will still give that joyous atmosphere for all to enjoy! Oh, and don't forget a spring of mistletoe over the door!

Reuse: Choose decorative items that can be reused multiple times or in new, unique ways. Start a tradition of "collecting" special decorations and ornaments and reuse them over and over - passing them onto generations to come.

Recycle: If items cannot be reused as decorations, recycle them appropriately, or use recycled materials to MAKE your own decorations!

Ideas for Eco-Friendly Decorations

Try to avoid overly "trendy" decorations. Choose ones that won't date too quickly so that they can be reused for many years to come. Regardless of the types of decorations you choose, they can be stylish, sophisticated, and eco-friendly.

Old CDs and DVDs: Apply some paint, beads, and ribbon to an old CD or DVD to make it into a snowman or Victorian-styled ornament for the tree or your windows.

Choose organic cotton linens such as table runners, and napkins rather than cheap, synthetic fabrics and/or throw away paper serviettes.

Decorate with potted plants instead of artificial or cut flowers.

Use natural elements: Decorate the tree with plain or painted pinecones, wreaths made from foilage and wildflowers, decorated eggshells, or dried herbs. Add a bit of glue, some ribbon, and other crafty elements to create angels or some earthy garland. Just be sure to compost your leftovers at the end of the holiday.

Grow aromatic herbs as part of practical and eco-friendly holiday decorations. These will give an aromatic, natural atmosphere all round and have the added bonus of being able to be added to that yummy Christmas feast!

Choose solar garden or LED Christmas lights in your displays and keep in mind the "less is more" approach.

Last year’s cards: Turn old Christmas cards into fun folded or glittered ornaments, or use them as place cards on Christmas day! Or why not try your hand at folding some beautiful origami using last year's wrapping paper?

Avoid synthetics and chemicals: Opt out of Mylar tinsel, which isn’t biodegradable, and spray snow, which is full of toxic chemicals. Instead, use durable tin tinsel and ditch the snow altogether - we are Aussies people - it doesn't snow at Christmas here!

Unwanted books: Got a paperback you’re never going to read again? Get folding and painting and turn it into a shiny mini tree for your table or mantel.

Reusable crackers: Enjoy the fun of Christmas crackers by making your own! But instead of using disposables like new wrapping paper or cardboard tubes, recycle old toilet paper or paper towel tubes, fill with special treats and a snap, and finish with cloth covers (old napkins or pieces of fabric) so that you can reuse them again each new season.

Opt for edible decorations: such as carved fruits and vegetables, decorated cookies, fruit bouquets, and artisan breads for a beautiful menu. Hang gingerbread people, popcorn, small lady apples, cinnamon sticks, cranberries, and candy canes. Or make-up some inexpensive salt-dough to create star- and tree-shaped ornaments. Add icing for detail and hang with a ribbon from year to year. Or get the whole family involved in a gingerbread house-making event and use that to grace your table for the rest of your time together.You can also create garlands using dried apples, oranges, and lemons strung together. And when they break, simply compost with your other kitchen scraps.

If decorating with candles, opt for environmentally friendly soy or beeswax instead of paraffin.

A note on saving money when decorating...

It is untrue that eco-friendly decorations are more expensive than mass produced, less sustainable options. Some organic products may be more costly with their initial outlay, they are also more durable and will last longer than less ecological options. Your dollar stretches so much further. To save even more, comparison shop between different retailers, and try to select locally made decorations to save on shipping costs and the carbon cost of transportation. This also boosts the economy in your local community! Consider making decorations yourself to limit processing waste and cost, and purchase items in bulk whenever possible to save money with quantity discounts.

With clever design and smart purchasing choices, eco-friendly decorations can be just as beautiful and budget-friendly as any decorative choice on the market, and will do your pocket and your conscience a world of good too!

Most of all, have fun decorating with your kids, I know that we will! And, don't forget to compost everything that you can when it is time to pack it up in readiness for next year!