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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.

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 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!!


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!