Wednesday, 31 December 2008

What mama thinks: The New Housewife

Here's a link to my column in today's Herald Sun. It's about how domesticity is back and why this is an empowering thing for young women. Did you know that sales of things like sewing machines, fabric, knitting materials and vegie punnets have enjoyed a boom in the last six months. I argue it is partly the economic situation, partly green concerns and partly women proudly taking back and owning the domestic crafts. Take a look.....,21985,24857435-5000117,00.html

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Home & hearth: Vintage teak table

White with vintage teak table, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

I've had this dining room table for quite a while now - it was recovered from a beach house on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula and dates from the 1960s. Although the surface needs a little work, I like it's shape although there have been points when I have been tempted to trade it in for a new more solid table.
Since we've added a lot of white to this room in the form of sheer blinds and light shades, I am enjoying it again.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008


Merry Christmas everybody and I wish you a safe and happy 2009.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Home & Hearth: Have yourself a vintage little Christmas

I have a great little collection of new and vintage Santas, collected from everywhere from Quebec City to Vienna and good old Bentleigh market. I'm pretty sure these two numbers came from local op shops for a couple of pennies each. The vintage balls above also came from a lovely box of six very old ones in a local op shop. The santas look most charming with their collective red hats bobbing on the tree.

Monday, 17 November 2008

magnolia square back in bayside

For all you locals, the Magnolia Square market is back on November 27-29 at Brighton Town Hall. Lovely handmade goods. The last one I went along to I found some great beanbag covers for the kids in fabulous vintage fabric. But be warned....the crowds are big. And speaking of magnolias, how lovely is this shot. Take at look at:

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Vintage find - cast iron dog hook

This was a relatively recent market find for me - a woman was selling heaps of these amazing cast iron dog hooks. I decided on one and then when I went back the next week, she'd sold out. A bargain I guess at $5 each. The dog sits on a wall overlooking our back area - a perfect hook for summer beach towels, or in this case, a lantern (also a vintage find)

Friday, 24 October 2008

Red at sunset

Red at sunset, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

This was the light around here at sunset yesterday. Have a happy weekend.

Thursday, 23 October 2008


Lanterns, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

I haven't taken these down yet - they were for a party but look so lovely and colourful swaying in the breeze. There are so many great shops for paper lanterns and all sorts of wonderful finds in Victoria Street in Richmond - it's worth a look if you're visiting Melbourne.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

kangaroo paw

kangaroo paw, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

I'm a stickler for indigenous plants in gardens however I make an exception for the kangaroo paw. Besides, it's still a native and still provides feed for birds. I find it a remarkably beautiful plant in a very structured, striking way and have spent the last two weekends planting masses of red and pink varieties along our driveway. The garden is coming to life as the weather heats up - walked out the front this morning to find two very adventurous lorikeets literally heads inside our possum box to take a look at the sleeping possums. Luckily they survived without a big gash to their feathered heads.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Mermaid party

Mermaid party, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

Party season and been alive and well around here and I recently hosted a mermaid themed party. This was great fun as it meant decorating wise, I could move along from the absolute all encompassing pinkness of early girldhood. Blue, green and purple were great fun as a decorating base. We set this little mermaid up on a collection of rocks from the garden and then added green sparkly seaweed. I used balloon, material and bird netting to create an undersea cave and vases filled with water coloured with blue food dye as water tanks.

Monday, 20 October 2008

A new vegie garden begins

Blooms on our orange tree (above)

My new pot of mint

Yes, I know it's been a little while between posts here.

And in keeping with the current fiscal theme of the times, my first return post is a little peak at the beginnings of our vegie and fruit patch. We have one magnificent existing orange tree that produces so much fruit we can't keep up with it - much of it has been sent off to more experienced jam and marmalade makers than I.

But in a bid to stem the ridiculous amounts of money fruit and veg was now costing us, we have started to grow some of our own. First up is a little herb garden, and already mint (see above), rosemary, parsley and basil is growing with wild abandon.

Next up, planting some tomatoes, strawberries and corn (the corn is courtesy of my pre-schooler who loves the idea - not too sure how successful that one will be).

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Spring has arrived

Spring has arrived, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

Fresh flowers, and brighter morning light....warmer weather must be on the way.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Cute crowns

Maya with Aqua Fairy Crown, originally uploaded by nestdecorating.

Still on my aqua blue cute are these crowns? They are made by Nest...follow the picture link above to see more

Monday, 1 September 2008

Early morning light

Spring light, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

I'm loving this blue - like a deep aqua and it suits the mood of the new season

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Spring's just around the corner

Dining , originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

Fresh flowers to mark the fact Spring is almost here - and it was warm enough today to open up all the windows and let the air in. More pics on my Flickr page

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Play kitchen

Play kitchen, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

I found the little wicker picnic basket on top of the play stove at a local market for $3. We've recently had fun been making play spaghetti with long strands of felt. Tea anyone?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Ann Wood again...

roast, originally uploaded by annwood.

Here's an image of artist Ann Wood's bird creations, as mentioned in the post below

Artist: Ann Wood

This New York based artist - Ann Wood - makes amazing creations - I love her birds and her ships. The ships especially, seem otherworldly

Take a look at her bird creations on summer camp.....

Saturday, 9 August 2008

My column

Check out today's Home magazine in the Herald Sun for my green living column - today I'm looking at how to throw a rocking good party without doing serious damage to lots of trees....not to mention, overdosing on plastic

Friday, 8 August 2008

Whatever happened to....Naomi Wolf

naomi wolf, originally uploaded by hedgehoghead.

I was looking through some old books of mine recently and came across The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf. Remember that? I can recall the late 1980s or was it early 1990s when she did several talks and book tours in Melbourne and was all the talk during those days at uni. I wondered whatever happened to her (the last book by her I had read was The Treehouse. But then I looked online and she's since written a book about the Bush Administration and its military policies titled: The End of America. Was I the only one to miss it?

Now looking through The Beauty Myth, my first thought was: nothing kills the passionate young feminist more than looking after young children (me, not her).

Fancy a little radical feminist or liberal text? Just pass me the shopping list....the kids need lunchbox supplies. (No I'm not really that jaded, just some days).

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Great site for children's art

owl love by lorena siminovich, originally uploaded by Emmy K.

I found this great site via the lovely blog Rummage. It's called Kindergallery and is a site which showcases and sells the work of some wonderful artists, including a couple of favs of mine - Lorena Siminovich and Ana Ventura. Great for kids rooms or anywhere in the house really. Above is a Flickr image of one of Lorena's works. Enjoy....

Sunday, 3 August 2008

I'm watching.....

IMG_9719-1, originally uploaded by Bengt Nyman. Pic courtesy: Flickr.

Last night went along and caught Mama Mia The Movie and I must say, it was absolutely fab....the music, the setting, the costumes. Just brilliant. I caught the original ABBA at the Myer Music Bowl as a very young tacker when they toured Melbourne in the 70s so like most movie goers, it was a kind of joyous trip down the memory lane of youth. And ohhh, those costumes....bring back the glitter and blue eye shadow I say.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Shannon Fricke blogs

Shannon Fricke kitchen, originally uploaded by homebug.

Australian interior stylist Shannon Fricke - you may know her from her series on Lifestyle Channel or her many books - has started a blog. I really like her approach to design - especially her use of colour.
Take a look here

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Mamas Mean Business: Jane Anderson

As many regular readers know, I am running a series on mums who have set up their own businesses.

Today we're talking to Jane Anderson who, as well as a mum of five and a part-time swimming coach, has acted on her interest in skincare and set up her own business. While many mums start their business from scratch, many more also work through a parent company, which is what Jane has done. Here she tells Baysidemama what it's like to run a business that way. Here's Jane....

Tell us about yourself:

I am a mother of 5 children (3 of my own and 2 step children) aged between 16 and 4. I am also a part-time swimming teacher. Prior to starting a family, I worked in the recruiting industry as an administration manager, running a busy office, payroll and basic accounts.

How did the skincare business come about?

I became a Grace Consultant in July 2007. Grace Cosmetics is an Aloe Vera based skin care that is natural and botanical with no chemicals. Grace Cosmetics are 100% Australian with the Aloe all organically grown in Queensland.

I have been using Grace products on and off since I was 19 (I am now 40). I have tried the more expensive, commercial products, but always come back to the Grace Products as they work and are very gentle on my sensitive skin.

I suffered from acne Rosesea. I had taken six months of antibiotics and rubbed in antibiotic creams, but they didn’t work. Grace brought out a new range of masks and I tried the Purifying Clay Mask with Manuka Honey and after a month I realized that my skin had markedly improved and now the Rosesea has gone.

In July 2007, my Grace distributor asked me if I would like to sign up so I could get the products at a discount price. I was skeptical at first as I am not really a sales person and I thought I would have monthly sales targets to reach and minimum orders, but was assured that there was no pressure and no minimum orders, you could put one in every six months if you wanted to. So I signed up.

At first I thought I would just buy for myself at a discounted price, but after giving my close friends facials with the product I realized that I loved doing this and really believed in the product. I could make a business out of this.

How does your business work?

I invite friends, friends of friends over for a facial to try the products. The products speak for themselves, people are amazed how nourished their skin feels after their treatment. I now have a great business with a good re-order rate.

Some people run their business as party-plan, but I found that was way out of my comfort zone. I prefer to work one-on-one so I can answer questions and explain each product to my client. My aim every month is to do at least four facials and try to re-service every week. As I get more confident and more product knowledge I may try party plan again, but for now the one-on-one is working for me.

The parent company, Pro-ma Systems, offer a great support network and monthly training which I attend. It offers business basics, motivation and product information. The commission structure is one of the best in the industry with 50% discount on the products at the highest level and generous commissions on your team’s performance.

What's the best thing about running your own show?

The best thing is that you run your business at your own pace. It is up to you whether you make hundreds/thousands of dollars a month or just buy for yourself.

Pro-ma also have a charity arm, which I have become involved in. Light of Hope offers assistance to children in countries like Papua New Guinea, India. They provide schooling, housing, clothes, etc.

Jane has a special offer for readers of Baysidemama. A complimentary facial for you and a friend valued at $80. If you'd like more info, email Jane for more information at:

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Home magazine and my column

Phillip Island - coastal growth, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

Yesterday was a busy day in the Herald Sun's Home magazine. MyGreenhouse column was looking at how to help your kids appreciate and learn about nature. Some of the ideas included setting up simple nature tables, something we do from time to time here at the home of Baysidemama and they are always popular - both the collecting bit and setting out our little finds.

Then there was a feature on nursery design and included was the lovely botanical inspired design by Leanne who runs the delightful blog house-n-baby. Go and take a look at Leanne's post on the matter and her Flickr pics - she has used really simple materials to create a gorgeous nursery which steers away from being over-cute and instead is a room little boys could grow happily in for many years.....

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

School vegie gardens

Backyard Cabbage, originally uploaded by LollyKnit.

Lots of parents in Bayside are talking about the fabulous kitchen garden which has been developed at Cheltenham Primary School. As far as I understand it, each class gets a vegie plot so the kids can learn to plant and harvest seasonal vegies and then there is a classroom cooking program so that the children can get involved in understanding - and enjoying - how that produce goes from the plot to the table.

Funny thing is, people talk about it as such a creative standout feature, but really, shouldn't all schools be doing this as a natural part of early education?

A vegie garden doesn't require much space but in this day and age when food is so removed from nature in the eyes of many children, it seems such an obvious thing to be doing at primary age.

Acclaimed food writer Stephanie Alexander has done amazing things with her kitchen garden program in Australia but this is also something many schools can develop themselves.

Monday, 21 July 2008

A big night out....

My children seem to think a trip to the doctor's is a big night out. God knows they go there often enough. You can pretty much guarantee that no matter how unwell and deflated they are, mention of the local medical clinic seems to rouse them from their illness and into their coats before dear old mum has even managed to brush her locks. I think it is that toy box in the middle of the waiting room that holds special appeal.

So this week they've had a few big nights there. Let's see. In the space of just over a week we've managed to deal with:
one chest infection;
one case of bronchitis;
one nasty asthma attack (requiring side trip to local hospital emergency);
one case of conjunctivitis and now, after this evening, a lovely little case of his 'n hers ear infections. Simply grand.

The chemist just told me to take a good lie down. I think we've reached the beyond sleep point in the story.

Can I help you?

I've noticed that a lot of Baysidemama readers are people who have moved to Australia or are thinking about doing so. So, I thought I would ask if there is any info that would be helpful to you guys that you would like me to include - any new categories of listings, things like that. If so, just put a message in the comments or email me at:

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Winter time

Magical*, originally uploaded by imapix.

OK, Melbourne doesn't quite look like this in the winter - more a cold, damp dark look to it rather than glistening snow. But it sort of captures the mood for this week. With half the household very sick, I've hit my limitation on embracing the season. Roll on spring. This pic was shot in Quebec City, where I have been and it is as magical a place as the picture suggests. I went there in the depths of winter and marvelled at locals skiing cross country to work - for an Australian, that's quite a sight. It's also the place I decided to get brave on the ski slopes and immediately headed straight into a tree - no major harm done though, just an embarassing rescue on one of those motorised ski machines.

Also, take a look at the link to the Flickr page by this photographer - amazing nature images.

Monday, 14 July 2008

backyard chooks

Ursula and Mimma, originally uploaded by BruceTurner. Picture: Courtesy Flickr.

Talk around here of late has been about chooks. Backyard chooks to be exact. We've been toying with the idea - although the depths of a cold wet Melbourne winter doesn't seem like the best time to start. I've researched the idea of keeping chickens quite a bit and they sound like great household additions.

Apparently a breed called the Pekin is great for suburban dwellers and they are also fluffy and pretty social.

One site I found useful is a Melbourne enterprise called Book A Chook. You can 'lease' a couple of chickens for a few weeks or months to see if you really are going to like the idea. They come complete with housing. If you do - and most clients apparently love the idea - then you can get your own permanent brood.

The site is:

Monday, 7 July 2008

Can you help with craft for the animals?

I help out with the Keysborough Animal Shelter, which is a large shelter servicing the south-east and southern parts of Melbourne. It receives no government support and yet shelters and rehomes thousands of cats, dogs, rabbits, even goats roosters and even sheep each year.

Our main fundraising event each year is a Christmas fete and this is where we need your help.
For those creative bloggers and readers out there, I propose this. This year at the fete we will be running a special handmade crafts stall - with all money going to the animals. Are you in a position to donate something you've made? It could be a handmade toy, craft item, handmade children's or adults clothes. Or even a nice bag of crafty/sewing scraps that someone would find useful. It could even be a voucher if you have a shop.

Of course your contribution will be accompanied with info on who donated it and your business details.

If you would like to, email me at: and we'll talk.

Oh, and the shelter's online here, if you'd like to take a look at the four-legged lovelies that this fundraising supports.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

I've long been one of those people very interested and cautious about the source and contents of food - especially the processed stuff. You know what I mean - all those preservatives, additives and things. This used to be a view which was regarded as a little left of centre. These days, it seems to be pretty mainstream as more and more is written about the impact this can have on health. I've also long been fascinated by the cultural role of food - especially how the types of food we eat can - or not - reflect our social and political views. The issue of meat is a good example.

But on top of all that, what's been on my mind - and most people's - of late is the cost of fruit and veg. Every time I pay for a basket at my local fruit and veg store at the moment, I almost hyperventilate at the cost and how much it has gone up. So what to do? I'm currently researching other supply options. If anyone has any good sources in Melbourne, please feel free to share them in the comments section. And for a number of reasons, I'm looking to plant my first vegie garden this spring.

One place I have visited before which has great fresh produce is Kingston Farmers' Market. It's held on the 1st Saturday of each month (except January) from 8am to 12:30pm at Sir William Fry Reserve, cnr Nepean Highway and Bay Rd, Highett (Opposite Southland, Melways: 77-G11).

Stalls include breads, cheeses, meats, dips, fruit and vegies, free-range eggs, pasta and much more. Entrance is a $2 charity donation. I didn't find it especially cheap, but at least the produce was fantastic quality and straight from the grower to you. There was also a good range of organic goods.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The school speed limit menance

Cool Round Speed Limit Sign., originally uploaded by Incase Designs. Picture: Flickr.

What is it about school 40 km speed limits which brings out the road rage in some people?

Where we live, there are quite a few schools around and so every morning and afternoon, the driving gets a little bit more complicated in terms of the speed limit (for overseas readers, roads near local schools here have a speed limit of 40 kms per hour during morning and afternoon arrivals and departures).

It seems it is a little too complicated for many - without fail, I will get aggressively tail-gated by one car each day while driving 40 kms along one of these school stretches. They sometimes drive so close it is quite unnerving and very hard to ignore.

Does anyone else 0ut there experience this? What to do?

Community wins back its maternal health centre site

This is a win for children. And it is a happy and timely reminder of what can be achieved when a groundswell of community opinion and concern is turned into action.
Last week the Bayside Council voted to keep the site of the Black Rock maternal and child health centre.
This follows a rising up of the community in outrage at plans to sell the site. Not only is it historic, but is also represents a great opportunity to provide Black Rock with a much needed facility for small children and their parents, such as a Playhouse.
The Council even said they were open to considering this.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Great books site

If you're looking for inspiration in the way of kids books, check out this local site:

Run by two Melbourne mums, it is all about offering reviews and suggestions for different age groups. What a great idea

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Bayside cat show and cats in need

Don't forget it's the Bayside Cat Show tomorrow (Sunday) for all those local animal lovers. I took a look last year and it was kind of quirky but interesting (but also wall to wall people).

But while we're on the topic of all things feline, the Keysborough Animal Shelter is, as always, bursting at the seems with unwanted but lovely cats of all sizes, colours and descriptions. This includes the lovely Lotus, pictured here, who has been waiting for a home for a very long time.....

Keysborough Animal Shelter:

Bayside Cat Show: Sunday , Sandringham College, Holloway Rd, Sandringham

Interesting link

Here's an interesting site that I've come across via a link from Loobylu. It's called Sustainable Melbourne and is full of all sorts of interesting tidbits, news and links. Take a look.....

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Artist in profile: AshleyG

Quality Time, originally uploaded by ashleyg. Image: Courtesy of AshleyG's Flickr site.

I love this artist's work. She has a quirky sense of humour which comes through in everything I've seen. I have one of her prints: 'Every boy is a superhero sometimes' in my son's room.
You can look and buy Ashley's prints via her Etsy shop, she also has a blog and Flickr page.

Visit Ashley at:

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Knock Knock

Let me in, let me in, it's cold out here (and yes, I know my windows need a good clean).

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Mamas Mean Business: Author and Journalist Claire Heaney

A few weeks ago I started a series called Mamas Mean Business, profiling women who have started their own enterprise. Today, we speak to journalist and author Claire Heaney who, when at home with her baby, started to write about women who start their own business. That interest has developed into her own section on business owners every week in the Herald Sun newspaper, and now, a book. Here's Claire:

Name: Claire Heaney

Name of book: 101 Ways to Kickstart Your Business Wilkinson Publishing, rrp. $29.95.

What inspired you to write the book?

They say every journalist has a book in them. With three children, and that stage the youngest a newborn, I was flat out finishing a sentence much less a story without even contemplating a book.
But while I was on maternity leave from the Herald Sun I was approached to see if I would like to do some freelance stories. for a new revamped business section of the paper. While people tend to buy the newspaper for the news and sport, as people have focussed increasingly on buying shares through various privatisations such as Telstra and as superannuation has become a real buzz word, people who may never have concerned themselves with finance pages are tracking how their investments are going. The launch of the Business Daily section was to reflect this. One element of this was the Business Owner section, pitched at small and medium businesses.
I took on the work and the section just grew like topsy. And while, after 25 years in journalism covering everything from politics to police rounds and courts, I'm as cynical as the next journo, I found the content really refreshing. I guess I probably more easily identified with the mums who, once they had kids, realised it was going to be tricky to slot back into a corporate workplace. And, for the most part, I don't think a lot of them wanted to do that anyway. But they still wanted to pursue something that would give them fulfilment. Some of them hatched businesses because they identified gaps in the market for baby services and products - think Delia Timms who launched findababysitter because she had trouble getting carers or Melanie Grant who launched Snugglebum because she had trouble finding cosy pjso for the littlies.
Anyway, after doing this section for some months I was approached by Michael Wilkinson who was keen to publish a book covering these small and medium enterprises. I tossed around some concepts and decided to write 101 Ways to Kickstart Your Business.

Maybe you could explain to readers what it is about?

As the names suggests it is 101 ideas or tips, if you like, to apply to your existing business or if you are planning to launch a business include them in your business plan.
Alongside each tip I have included a real life business example in which the suggestion has been used to great effect. It might be a suggestion about using a website and then I might include a business that has found that their website opened up their business to places they never imagined.
For instance, Caroline Hume, who developed the Cuddlefish range of buoyancy suits and swimwear, the impact on her business of a website was remarkable. A well constructed website belies the fact that you may be sitting around the kitchen table running the business. Everyone can look professional and it does create a more level playing field.

How will people running small businesses find it useful?

I think, from the feedback I have already received, that 101 will be useful for people wanting to sack the boss and go it alone or even those in business who really want a bit of a boast. Maybe they have stalled and want a bit of inspiration. I've had some emails from a few people that have told me that they are working through some of the marketing tips. Just basic and cheap stuff like getting magnetic signs promoting their business for their car or getting a flyer together and putting it around the neighbourhood to promote their services.
I think it is pretty accessible and I would like to think that people will hopefully keep going back to it and picking out initiatives that might be handy for their businesses..

Does it feature lots of case studies?

Yes there are plenty of case studies and I could have included even more. Maybe I could use them for the next edition. In my past life as a books editor at the Herald Sun and as an editor of this Business Owner section, I get plenty of books over my desk. But I wanted this to be really practical. I think too often the books are full of jargon and theory. My book is pretty basic. It's fully of lots of suggestions and I have illustrated them by including one or more businesses that show how that can be applied to a business.
It might be the importance of choosing a good business name. One that sounds good but also you need to make sure it is registered. Bayside business Puppy Phat started off as Lush Puppy until the owner was warned to change to name or be sued.

Also I note time and time again that start ups and small businesses just don't have the marketing dollars to match the big end of town. But using some practical and simple strategies such as networking, adoptng good branding, building business partnership, joining trade associations, adopting loyalty programs and concentrating on keeping existing customers happy, they can punch well above their weight.

What's next in terms of book plans?

I am nearly finished a book on fundraising which is another of my passions. You name it. Organising trivia nights, raffles, mother's day stalls, sausage sizzles ... I have done it. It's a great way to contribute to the various organisations your children attend. I still need to do some work on this so maybe next year.
I reckon I could write a book a year but time is the real killer.

From your research, what do you think the biggest challenges are for women starting a small business?

I think often women go into a business without a real idea of where they see that business going. This can be a real problem if they have gone into partnership with a buddy and they both have different visions for the business.

One might see it as a hobby in which they can devote two or three days a week while another may have more ambitious plans to take on the world. There are issues where one might be upset because the partner doesn't want to live and breathe the business and they may not agree on how much money they want to invest into the business. I've encountered some pretty sticky partnership splits.

Some businesses I return to in a column I call Rewind and from time to time the partnership has completely disintergrated.

Also time management is a real problem when women are running home-based businesses. It is OK for women who have a partner who may earn good income and be able to pay for a nanny to look after the children. But for others who can't do that they are trying to fit in half an hour here and there which means they feel they are working on the business all day for no real reward.
I guess, like anything, you have to be energetic and dedicated which can be difficult if you have been up all night with a sick baby.

But it is important to get out and about whether you attend networking events or trade shows or cold call shops to see if they will stock your goods.

Who have you found inspiring from the research?

I think the one I go back to most often in terms of women is Carolyn Creswell. I love her story. She was 18 and at uni, working part time for a family who had a boutique muesli making business. They decided to sell and she scraped together $1000 or so to buy Carman's Fine Foods. Today she has two kids and is based in Cheltenham running a business that turns over something like $15million a year. She runs a family friendly business and is exporting. She's a real poster girl and also happy to mentor other people.

Another one is Megan Misso who runs Sweet by Nature. She was on maternity leave and started baking biscuits. Now she's cooking up a storm from a purpose built factory in Heidelberg.

What is a typical working day for you like?

I officially work three days at the Herald Sun. I tend to put in a 12 hour day on a Tuesday as my husband has the day off. Wednesday is just a normal day preparing my pages for publication on a Thursday.

During the other days I tend to administer my emails from home or it might be easier for me to do an interview on a day off if it is close to my home. I tend, because of time constraints, to do most of my interviews via the telephone. I find because of the internet and email I can be well briefed on a person and when I interview them I can just cut to the chase.

I would say I get about a third of my stories from word-of-mouth. For instance, I new shop in my suburb Richmond interested me. I popped in and just got chatting to Guava Jelly owner Jo Prior. Being nosey I asked her what she did before she opened the vintage emporium. She told me she was a ceo but when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer decided life was too short. She wanted to follow her passion. I did a story on her. I love those sorts of real stories. i hope she does well in every sense.

How do you balance everything?

With much difficulty. My husband, John, who also is a journalist, is a fantastic husband and father. But I am forever chasing my tail,. This year I am trying to say NO more often which is really hard for a gult ridden lapsed Catholic Virgo. I am also trying to streamline my life and yes my New Year's Resolution was to get a cleaner which I haven't done yet.

Your advice to mothers thinking about going into business?

Have a plan. Be practical. Have childcare, Manage your time. Do plenty of market research. Network.Any other good resources you recommend? I love the Small Business Mentoring Service it is made up of volunteers who have retired but want to give something back. They are great and offer really low cost mentoring. Also the State Government has some great advice on its website It also has a great small business festival called Energise Enterprise which runs in August. A booklet will be in the Herald Sun on July 1 but there will be a link on the business website.

Where or how can readers by the book?

It retails for $29.95 but they get it direct from me by emailing me for $25 posted to them.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Why Gran was a Greenie

For Melbourne readers of Baysidemama, my green living column is in today's Herald Sun Home magazine. This week I'm looking at why your Gran was a greenie and all the great things she did which make a lot of sense now (think carpet sweepers, nanna shopping trolleys and natural cleaners).

Thursday, 12 June 2008

I love possums

This is our possum box which I had installed in one of our front trees when we moved into this house. I love possums. I am amazed by their intelligence and ability to adapt to what for them, is usually a very hostile urban environment.
What I don't love are the numnuts who think they have no right to exist in urban territory and keep ripping down their habitat and then complain because they eat their precious gardens.

If we didn't razor blocks of land and get rid of all hints of native foliage, perhaps the possums wouldn't be driven to eating the roses.

There are reports that in parts of my region - which used to be famous for its bushy streets - possums are starving because developers have gotten away with taking out so many trees.
So to all those who complain about them, I say, go away and plant a banksia tree!

I put this box in because when we moved in, we had a family of ringtail possums (for overseas readers, these are the smaller of the possum breed) living in the roof and they were making a wee bit of noise and were a trifle smelly and I was not enjoying their 4am wakeup call. So I got in an expert who gently lured them out of my roof over a series of nights with food and successfully relocated them to this possum box.

Tucked away in this box - we checked again on the weekend - are two ringtails who curl up and sleep the day away in there. They have made it most cosy, filling it with leaves to keep warm.

Every evening they wake and then take a walk along my side fence to feed on the trees in the backyard. It's a fine balance of nature and urban life and a much better lesson to teach kids than the alternative - eradicate all remnants of nature.

And don't even get me started on the mass slaugter of kangaroos in the name of food, sport and 'management' of numbers.

Baby possum, originally uploaded by wollombi. Photo: Peter Firminger.

Monday, 9 June 2008

A colleague of mine, Claire Heaney, who runs the Business Owner section of the Herald Sun, has asked me to let readers know about a survey she is running for women in small business. She is inviting people to fill out the survey and go into the draw to win a range of prizezs (including a $5000 Herald Sun advertising package). Here are the details from Claire:

SMALL Business is big business in Victoria.
There are something like 1.2million small businesses operating in Australia.
And many of these micro businesses are run by women.
Women like you and me.
Many of them have pursued a career and then when they have started a family they have realised, often painfully, that a corporate career in incompatible with their new goals to be a wife and mother to their growing brood.
Often they have been able to tap into the skills and networks and build a new business. It might be exploiting their well honed skills or perhaps going out on a limb.
Perhaps, in their new role as a mother, they have seen a gap in the market and developed a service or product to make life a bit easier.
It is this segment of the small business population that needs to have a voice.
They have the opportunity with the Herald Sun-RACV Business Insurance survey currently being run at
The Small Business Issues Survey builds on the Business Owner pages that appear in the Herald Sun each Thursday.
The survey, open until June 12, will take about 10 minutes.
Those successfully completing the survey will go into the draw to receive a great prize hamper.
The package includes a $5000 Herald Sun advertising package, a conference at beautiful Inverloch to the value of $4000 and a Tom Tom GPS navigation system to make sure you are on the right track.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Some recent Flickr favourites: with some touches of nice warm pink on a cold winter's day

1. Selina Lake - Flowers, 2. Selina Lake - Bazaar Style, 3. Selina Lake - Magnets, 4. Selina Lake - Pink Summer Room, 5. Selina Lake - Flowers, 6. Selina Lake - Blossom, 7. Selina Lake - lanterns, 8. Selina Lake - Sugarpot, 9. Blue Jay, 10. Untitled, 11. a clash of seasons, 12. Fruity Pebbels, 13. A big beauty showing off her fall color, 14. . . . ., 15. la ballade of lady and bird, 16. Williamsburg Bottle Birds '07 (House Wren)

Many of the top few images are styled by Selina Lake, one of the authors of the new book Bazaar Style (see second from left, top row). I was given this book for mother's day and it is stunning - full of lots of inspiration and colour.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

World Blog Tour: Sweden

Blogged by Poppy Talk, originally uploaded by Chez Larsson. Courtesy; Chez Larsson Flickr site.

Onwards with my world blog tour this week. Today's destination is Chez Larsson, which I discovered only recently. She has a wonderful eye, and runs a great blog and Flickr site showcasing her very creative and stylish home. I like all her tips on organising, showcasing collections, etc. How are the miniature chairs (above, from Chez Larsson's Flickr site) for a fab little collection?

Monday, 2 June 2008

World Blog tour: Morocco

Table setting in Marrakech, originally uploaded by moroccanmaryam.
Photo: courtesy of My Marrakesh Flickr site.

This week I thought I'd shift focus from local life and take a virtual tour of some of my favourite blog and web sites around the world. Some I enjoy the writing, others the photography. I find I'm drawn towards those involving lovely design, art, interiors and nature.

This one - My Marrakesh - is a recent find. I love the colour and descriptions of life in Morocco - somewhere I have always wanted to visit. The writer is an American woman who has moved to Marrakesh with her young family to build what looks like a stunning small hotel.

World blog tour: USA

, originally uploaded by liquidskyarts. Photo: Courtesy of liquidskyarts Flickr site.

Continuing with my world tour of lovely blogs, this one is one of the first design blogs I found and loved:

The blogger - based in the US - is a gifted artist who also has an amazing eye for photography and all that translates to stunning images of her home as well. Lots of colour and inspiration.

A favourite from Flickr

sakura3, originally uploaded by ricco-t.

Just love the colour in this picture.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Seagull at a winter's lapping shore

It's official - the first day of winter and Melbourne has put on a show of its archtypical winter colours - cool, pale grey seas and blue skies. This seagull was taking a late afternoon rest along the shores of the marine sanctuary at Rickett's Point on Sunday afternoon, watching the people and dogs stroll by.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Becalmed on a Saturday morning

becalmed4, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

I have to say this is one very serene way to spend a Saturday morning. I snapped this pic along the shores of Port Phillip Bay as the stunning autumn morning light turned the sea a deep pale grey-blue. I think this guy looks like he's fishing but hard to tell!

Monday, 26 May 2008

The Three Wise Men of Bayside Council

When I had my first child, I used to walk past the shell that was once the Black Rock Maternal and Child Health Centre and think about how nice (no, how necessary) it was for us to still have a health centre in the area.

Instead, like all mums in that area at the time, it was a case of getting in the car and driving to a wonderful, but very stretched centre in another suburb because the Kennett Government in its seek and destroy mission to wipe out community services, had deemed this centre as no longer necessary for mums. These were the years when visits to maternal health centres were cut back to a far more fiscally restrained timeline.

Its closure, to me, represented a far wider issue relating to services for mothers and children: how services had been cut back to bare necessities.

Something I had already been reminded of in the major public hospital where I was booted out after the birth - as per standard policy - before I had even learned to breastfeed my child. Sent home with severe mastitis which tooks months of antibiotics to clear up, because my time in hospital was offically over and they didn't really want to know. An irony really when I ended up back there in casualty with the mastitis - was I any less of a strain on the health system there than in staying another night or two in the maternity ward? Which health policy planners came up with the idea anyway that women should leave hospital before breastfeeding has been properly established? No wonder we have such low rates of breastfeeding. But I'm getting off topic - that's another story.

I was reminded again of this dearth of funding for early childhood when it came time to enrol my first child in three year old kinder. Fabulous kinder programs, amazing and dedicated teachers, beautiful facilities, but limited funding meant that compared to many international and even interstate models, our three year olds are not getting the hours they need in an early learning environment. Unless, we pay privately of course.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that I, like many new mums, learned very early that
much more could be done to support the health and wellbeing of new mothers and babies. Something Kevin Rudd has been alluding to recently, with talk of more money being injected into early childhood.

However, in its wisdom, Bayside Council is wanting to go against this hopeful new avenue for early childhood and instead sell this important public asset. I've written about this before and how important this building is. Three Bayside Councillors agree and are against the sale. Stand up and take a bow:

Cr Alex del Porto
James Long
Clifford Hayes

If you're in the area and believe in our maternal health centres, come along to the rally and sausage sizzle:
When: Saturday May 31 from 10.30am - 12 noon
Where: Black Rock Pre-School, 55 Bluff Road, Black Rock

For more information, the campaign to save the centre now has a website:

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Some recent vintage market finds for kids' rooms

I have a serious market addiction (I keep telling myself that at least it's not an addiction to anything bad) and that means most Sunday mornings I find myself at one of Melbourne's fabulous markets. I steer away from Camberwell these days as the prices are high and you never really feel you've found that great bargain find anymore, although it is sometimes worth a wander just to look at some of the amazing wares there. No, my stomping grounds are the more suburban markets. Recently, these are some of my finds for kids' rooms......

Vintage plastic

Vintage plastic collection

Old wooden boat shelves - perfect for display

Amazing vintage children's desk

These aren't vintage but I recently found these great little tin animals and thought they were very sweet

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Parenting then and now: How your mother did it compared to you

I was talking to some friends recently about how many of the choices we have about parenting were just alien concepts a few decades ago. But is everything so much better now? The question has inspired some then and now comparisons of motherhood. Feel free to leave your own comparisons in the comments section......

Billowing maternity smocks in flurid florals
Figure hugging lycra and maternity denim


Feeding them basic mash and meat or a mashed version of whatever the family is eating
Gnocchi, risotto and organic vegies.

Cloth nappies and many, many hours of boiling and washing them
The rise of the organic disposable nappy. Drop them in your bin guilt-free!

Toilet training as soon as possible (often around age one) to get them (and you) out of the dreaded nappy routine
It happens when it happens (to our own parents’ horror) just so long as we get them over the hump before kinder starts.

Regular visits to your maternal health nurse
A tightly pared back health visit schedule thanks to funding cuts

Bottle feeding with sweetened condensed milk for babies
An overwhelming choice: Soy formula, milk with extra omega vitamins, iron-enriched formulas, the list goes on. Then there’s the new range toddler formulas……


Breastfeeding in private
The right to breastfeed anywhere (well, at least in theory)

Leaving work with your first child and often never returning
Mothers who are expected to run two full time jobs – the kids and the paid employment.

Your bouncing bundle of joy sits in the bassinette on the back seat of the car
A car seat for every occasion and circumstance

Friday, 16 May 2008

Greening your pet

Cat in the light, originally uploaded by Baysidemama.

For those Baysidemama readers in Melbourne who happen to read Saturday's Herald Sun, my new green living column is in again tomorrow in the Home mag. This week I'm looking at how to reduce the eco footprint of your pets. You'd be surprised just how much greenhouse gas your average Fido produces each year (although to put it in perspective, it's still a lot less than the average human).......

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Autumn colour from the Dandenong Ranges

For out of town readers, the Dandenong Ranges are about an hour's drive from central Melbourne and are renowned for the incredible forests of gum trees. There are also a lot of exotic plants and these yield an amazing display of colour every autumn......