Inspirational Monday – Frills in the Hills

Come and meet Melissa - (otherwise known as Liss)


Creator of          Frills in the HIlls


Can you tell us a little about your background before your children…

I grew up in Manly, Sydney and am the eldest of 3 girls in my family. All my family cook… it must be in the DNA but I can’t remember not being allowed to cook or not participating in preparing food in our family.   I travelled extensively both for work and pleasure before settling down with my ‘import husband’ who is from the Riverina district in 2003.  We’d met whilst both living in Canberra in 1997 but didn’t get our act together in the romance department until 2001..

Frills in the Hills – love the name by the way – how did this come about and why?

Well I live in Terrey Hills and I have 3 girls of my own, clearly wasn’t thinking my blog would be food based when I named it :)


How do you juggle working, cooking, blogs and a family?

When I started my blog over five years ago, I wasn’t working – so it was my hobby – blogging to me has never felt like a job as such – I’ve made income because of my blog (writing off the blog) but my blog is ‘my place’ and I think that if I made that commercial, I would lose my attachment to it.


Since going back to work, the posts are fewer but my love of the blog hasn’t diminished and in fact it’s super useful as my cookbook – my husband and kids use it when I’m not there!  Managing a balance between home and work is a challenge at times but I make my weekends count .Though the week my life is mostly about work,  and I travel frequently with my job, I’m very lucky I can work from home a few days a week when not travelling so that is super helpful to maintaining a good work/life balance.  I make time for my blog when I can – it can be a 2 minute Facebook interaction here or making and photographing recipes there and then blogging later another time.

The number one tip I have for working Mums out there is that you can’t have it all but you have to be happy and make the most of what you have, and that in itself can feel like ‘it all’.

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?

Yes and no.  I think parenting now is more strategic, we think through every risk, every possibility.  I find I’m terrible at letting my girls have the independence they need because I want to protect them so passionately… but this is where my husband is the better stay-at-home-parent because he supports their independence and it’s making our girls better people.  I had a lot more independence and was exposed to a lot more risk as a child – and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just different.

We also (and I’m working on this too) tend to give our kids everything we think they want and I think we need to pare this back a bit because we have to learn things just don’t happen and we have to learn we can’t have everything and do everything.

Have your own self expectations changed since having children? 

I thought I’d be more a ‘friend-parent’ but I’ve found I’m more effective as a ‘fair-parent’ where sometimes you have to draw that line and see through the hard lesson no matter how hard it is for you to administer it.

And twins as well – that is a huge undertaking for any family!

The first few years were a struggle, initially we had 3 under 2 with nappies (MCNs!), bottles, dummies, washing, washing, washing with very little sleep.  It was a good test for us and made us the really great parent-partnership we are today.   At this end of the scale (our girls are 8.5, 8.5 and 10) it’s great – we generally can cater to similar interests and the baby stages are long behind us.  No regrets now!


What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent …. and now do? J

I swore ironically that I would never swear in front of the kids, big fail on that one!

Can you walk us through a typical day for you…

During the week I live a typical ‘Dad-day’.   My husband is the stay-at-home parent (and at this stage of our girls’ life he’s better at it!)  So my weekdays are really centred around work.  I get up, get ready for work, commute to work.  Tetris-like-schedule, rush lunch at my desk, either work late and taxi home (missing my girls dinner and bed time :( )  or come home, quick family dinner – catch up on the day’s events..  then usually more work whilst watching telly. If I’m lucky, I’ll blog!   On days I work from home  I usually manage to squeeze in some cooking and a little more 1:1 time…

What is one resource that has kept you sane and helped you on your journey of motherhood? Eg book, person, website

Definitely my husband, he came into this crazy journey with a willingness to partner and share the load.  He’s completely awesome.  The other must-have is a sense of humour – if you can’t laugh you have to give up!

And one tip for us all on keeping it real…

Focus on the friends in your life who don’t place conditions on your friendship.  The best friends to have are the ones that still love you even if you haven’t bothered to pick up the phone for weeks or months.

Find out more about Liss and Frills in the HIlls

And check out this no-coke chocolate slice that Liss shared today on her blog – I am so making this with my boys tomorrow. YUM


Bringing home two babies…

In the beginning, when my babies were tiny, I made the decision to not let their twinship define them. ‘Why pay such homage to the fact that they were multiples’ I thought. Yes, it is indeed a very special thing to have a twin, and of course a wonderful blessing for a mother, but my girls are very different, they are sisters who happen to be born on the same day. I always try to assert their individuality and nuture their differences. We call them ‘the girls’ for example, and never ‘the twins’.

I joined my Mothers Group when the girls’ were 6 weeks old. At first, we would meet at the local Early Childhood Clinic, where we enjoyed many a cup of tea and chat whilst our babies lay on mats, content with watching ceiling fans twirl for an hour or two. Our meetings were fun and informative, and a highlight of my week.

As our babies grew however, so did our groups desire to explore the world outside of the clinic. Arrangements began to made to meet at the beach, or to swimming lessons, or the local cafe, and my heart sank a little. My idea of being a ‘regular’ mum with ‘regular’ babies was being challenged. How on earth could i juggle two babies, my pram and my over-sized nappy bag by myself in such ‘non-baby friendly’ environments? It began to dawn on me that not only was this going to be difficult, but it posed a serious threat to my girls’ safety – which baby should I leave in the hot car whilst I race the other to leave alone on the shore? My MG was lovely, and always offered to help as best they could, but they had their own little bundles to look after, and I felt like a constant burden having to ask for help or requesting different venues.

I think the epiphanic moment for me was at a Christmas catch up, when I had to explain that my 13 month olds’ would undoubtedly explode into snotty, blubbering messes at the idea of sharing a present while all the other kids had their own – I knew it was nobodies fault, that is was no one else’s job to anticipate the socio-political dramas I encountered daily with my girls, and that the extra present I had tucked away in my bag would suffice in pacifying my daughter who missed out… But it was then that I realised we no longer fit into a conventional MG.

I am lucky enough to have fallen in a with a beautiful group of mums through our local Multiple Births Club. When I joined my MBC, I was overjoyed. Mothers of twins, triplets and quads of all ages, meeting in enclosed parks, community centres and churches with purpose built ramps and saloon doors to accommodate my enormous pram – I found myself and my adventurous duo finally fulfilling the ‘regular’ stuff I had so desperately longed for. Adult conversation. Check. Coffee. Check. Time to pee solo. Check!!

I finally had first hand advice on tandem feeding, twin co-sleeping and logistical nightmares like how to get two babies from the car to the double shopping trolley and which aisle at the supermarket would fit my pram. I was in heaven, and I relished in the uncensored, honest, raw testimonials my new friends would share. Their multiples did not define them as mothers, these women simply played the cards they had been dealt, and got on with the job at hand.

Women in the MBC do not tolerate judgement. No one competes. How can you when so many multiples are born prematurely and display such variable stages of development? There was no “Little Johnny just cut his 17th tooth and can now recite from the Encyclopaedia”, but lots of “Oh my goodness, I was so tired doing the midnight feed, I accidentally put the bottles on the oven and the car keys in the fridge”.

No one gossiped – we all had our good days and our bad (which was usually disarmed with a warm casserole and a bottle of plonk delivered to your door.

Everyone pitched in – with organising get togethers, keeping children entertained, and even breaking up the odd argument between the toddlers (these mutliples seem to have a bit of a pack mentality, you see).

We were their to support each other, pat each other on the back and help each other as best we could. Sure, these gals still had babies of their own to juggle, but there is something entirely unapologetic about having a fellow mum dash your children to the ladies while you feed and burp her newborn.

Still to this day I meet with my MBC friends. Now that our children are growing we can finally meet at the beach, the library or the zoo, albeit much later than my original MG did. It has occured to all of us that the freedom we are now enjoying with our children is well earned and appreciated much more than we ever anticipated. Life with twins has certainly kept me busy, but as my girls have grown and learned to communicate and listen, we are definitely enjoying the life we so longed for back in the early days.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that whilst the good intentions of others don’t go unnoticed, there is something deeply satisfying about being surrounded by people who just get you. People who understand you, and accept you for the parent that you are.

There is absolutely support out there for you if you are expecting or raising multiples. You may not need it physically, or emotionally, or even mentally, or perhaps you do. Either way I can guarantee that you will appreciate the comradery that both you and your children will develop. The relationships my family has built are timeless, the confidence I have learned is priceless, and the advice I have been given, invaluable.

And yup, every so often, when the planets align, I still get a chance to pee solo ;)

Inspirational Monday – Sharon Collins – CBA

Meet     Sharon Collins


From    Commonwealth Bank

(Head of Executive Talent Acquisition for General Management at CBA)


Can you tell us a little about your background before your children… 

I was 34 when I had Stella so I managed to do a few things before being a Mum. After school  I travelled the world and worked as a model for three years. I came back to New Zealand  and went to University where I spent far too long studying.  I completed my Masters and met my husband.  We immigrated to Australia  so he could complete his PHD. I expected that we would only stay a short  time while he completed it yet we are still here today. . I got my first job in Sydney as a recruitment consultant. I went on to work for one of the big global search firms for fourteen years recruiting across a number of industries including financial services.

Where do you work now and what is your role?

Two years ago I joined  the Commonwealth Bank where I am responsible for Executive Recruitment

How do you juggle working and a family?

I have a huge support network.  It includes very supportive husband who shares the household  responsibilities (although that does not include washing), a very helpful daughter(who at 12 loves to cook), parents who come and stay over school holidays (I cannot believe how many school holidays there are), a very helpful sister and great friends (one of whom took my daughter to dance class after school for at least 5 years). . Oh I also have a great cleaner (essential for sanity)!

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?

My mother was a stay at home Mum. She was always at home after school and was always there for us. Interestingly we were very independent as children and would take ourselves too and from school and bike everywhere . Kids today are far more cosseted yet have so much  access to information. They are far more worldly.

Have your own self expectations changed since having children? How?

I think I am not quite as ambitious as I once was. I really want to have balance in life and even though I work hard and quite long hours I am home for dinner most nights of the week. I try to stop and enjoy things more because you realise how quickly life passes you by. This is especially as you watch your kids grow up so incredibly quickly! Stella at 12 stands eye to eye.

What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent …. and now do? 

Sound like my mother!

mother phrase

Can you walk us through a typical day for you…

Exercise (most days- way too early) make school lunch, drop daughter at train station work from 8-6pm….come home cook dinner (we all do). Crash at about 8.30. I am a closet crafter and love to crochet. I have nearly completed a king size rainbow blanket.

(there are hundreds of these around the house!)


What is one resource that has kept you sane and helped you on your journey of motherhood? Eg book, person, website

My sister…I read all the baby books when I was pregnant. Had the baby and never read another one. I just listened to my sister as she was a Nanny. So far the advice has worked.

And one tip for us all on keeping it real…

Do stuff for you! If you are happy then the family is happy. Took me a little while to figure this one out.

Find out more about The Commonwealth Bank of Australia here..

Inspirational Monday – little people nutrition

Meet      Mandy

Mandy with kale cropped

From     Little people nutrition


Can you tell us a little about your background before your children…

I was a girl just kicking back working and hanging with my husband, family and friends! I worked professionally as food scientist, specifically in product development, so creating food products for an international food company. I loved to eat out a few times a week with friends and have a few too many glasses of wine. Loved having a boogie on the weekends and lying in bed all Sunday reading the newspaper. Loved travelling around the world visiting different cultures. Spain, Portugal, Japan, UK, Ireland, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, France, Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand. Oh goodness, how times have changed!!

Can you explain what “little people nutrition” is all about and why you started it?

Little People Nutrition is about providing honest, practical food and nutritional information and tools for parents and carers for young children as well as the whole family. I also use it as a way to connect with groups of people, families, parents, children and community groups to run workshops on nutritional topics of interest, cooking workshops for families and children and also my writing and consulting work that I do for businesses around nutrition and food science.

I aligned my focus on area of childhood and family health and nutrition when my husband’s work took us away from Sydney. With a young babe on my hip in regional Australia (with the intention of moving regularly for the next 10 years) I commenced my postgraduate studies in Human Nutrition at Deakin. Having learned a lot about what drives consumers to eat what they do with my previous work I wanted to share with families how to make more informed decisions at a very basic level. To build the confidence of the family in their own choices and help them sift through the fads and misinformation out there.

What do you find the biggest issues families have with feeding children?

Truly believing in their own ability as parents and carers in guiding their children to make better choices. As well as persisting. Persisting is key with healthy eating for everybody. Slowly chipping away at healthy delicious whole foods until the family loves them and craves them (especially with fussy eaters).

The other issue is families interpreting what is in processed foods.

Just recently we had a situation with my daughter presenting with an immediate reaction to what she ate. I could not decipher from the label what it could be as the ingredients in isolation have all been consumed before. The problem with labelling laws in Australia is the variance in what food companies can name an ingredient. If I can’t decipher some labels, how can someone else, without my background.

What are 3 things you find help in feeding children healthy and nutritious meals that they will actually eat?


  1. Don’t be afraid to try new things with the family. You might not have liked avocado or tempeh as a child, but you child might! And just because they didn’t like it last week, in a few week’s time they very well may!
  2. Market the foods to them in ‘kid language’. Healthy means absolutely nothing to children. They couldn’t care less. But food that helps me run faster than my sister, makes me paint better, jump higher, win my swimming race, perform better in ballet class, sing louder and clearer, kids want these to be in their reach. They are all only white lies as obviously nutrient dense foods are helpful to the energy levels and overall health of our children.
  3. Make it fun. Food should be fun. Get them involved with the cooking or decisions in the menu planning and let them serve the food themselves, even if it is with their fingers.

How do you juggle working and a family?

Just trying not to drop too many balls at once. A constant juggle really but just focusing on what I have to do that day to meet a deadline.

 I have childcare for a few days for both girls and since moving back to Sydney, my parents look after one of my daughters for half a day.

I also have an incredibly supportive husband who helps me when I need to jet off early to a factory or he will pick the kids up. I am the main carer of the girls during the week but he is always there if I need it and relishes the opportunity. It really is about co-parenting as well. We are both responsible for everything although obviously my forte is not fixing the gate, and nor is his making spinach and ricotta cannelloni.

I also work a bit on weekends and probably three nights a week. But I am lucky as my work, especially the development of recipes and tools that I use with other families, I can trial them on my family first!!!

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?

Yes and no. My father was very hands on, every night passing that netball back and forward with me. And although my mother was the main carer, she worked at a minimum part time during my whole childhood. Very similar to our current situation.

I think parenting has become a verb rather than just being a parent, which has positives and negatives. I think there is definitely an appreciation of the gift of having children is and that although it can be a complete schmozzle, we are blessed. I know we don’t take it for granted.

Can you describe to our readers your work place and what is involved …

 My workplace is incredibly varied. Part of the time I am at my desk writing for myself or for other websites. Sometimes I am in an office discussing products and processed foods with Marketing, Supply Chain and Innovation. Sometimes I am out at processing plants, looking at the line of products and checking the quality, sometimes I am in a tasting room trialling multiple samples to decipher whether the product development is on tract, sometimes I am standing in front of a room full of parents talking about nutrition and health, sometimes I am cooking with a group of young teenage mums and sometimes I am cooking meatballs with a group of 3 year olds. So varied and so wonderful. I love it and am so blessed but have worked very hard for a long time to get here.

Learning about seeds

Have your own self expectations changed since having children? How?

I have realised probably in the last year that yes, I can have it all, but not all at the same time.

I remember when I was pregnant with my first daughter and I thought that on maternity leave for 12 months I would knock out a Masters degree and learn Portuguese fluently and start a catering business of healthier baked items. What the?! Pretty funny in retrospect.

Of course I am still on track with a few of those things but it will occur more likely in the space of 10 years, rather than 12 months!!!

My children are young for only a minute period of time and already my eldest is about to start school next year. I can’t believe it! But it means that if you can, or have the opportunity , or want to, enjoy the time with them as much as possible, even if it is just the weekends as soon, they won’t want a piece of you!!

What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent …. and now do? 

Gosh I don’t know. I don’t think I really knew what being a parent would be like. I do know that I said that I would never visit one of those play places. They still freak me out, all the plastic and people screaming in my face with kids eating fluro red slushies and hot chips but when we lived in the ACT, 2 degree days and a 2 year old, you just need to get out!

Can you walk us through a typical day for you…

Oh goodness, they are all different but one writing day may be:

Wakeup about 6.30-7am with an arm in my face and a leg in my back from my kids who arrive in our bed by 2am.

Breaky altogether, this is so sacred and I love that my husband is slow in the morning and spends breakfast with us.

Get ready and if it is a work day, off to childcare/preschool or my Mum drops by…around 8:30-9am.

Then I am in work mode where if I am writing content I will research it whether it is on-line or at the supermarket or calling someone or even in the kitchen recipe testing.

Before lunch I normally do some exercise if I am working from home and then have lunch. Exercise could be dancing to Beyonce or Xavier Rudd on Youtube,  yoga or taking the dog for a walk/run.

Then I get back into work and finish up what I need to do by 4 where I par prep tea, get the girls and get back and aim to cook dinner in the time that Peppa Pig and Charlie and Lola runs for so that we can sit down by 6pm. Any latter and I will have to dish out 13 pieces of green apple and begged for spider nuts (walnuts) and then they will be whiny at tea time!

The girls and I always eat together for dinner by 6ish and if hubby is home, he will join in.

Then there is quiet play for girls where hubby and I catch up, bath, books and bed for the girls (and sometimes me too if I am pooped). Otherwise I am manning the couch with my computer researching, writing or emailing people for either my work or for the blog.

I am normally in bed by 11pm.

What is one resource that has kept you sane and helped you on your journey of motherhood? Eg book, person, website

A few. I love some blogs like The Beetle Shack and The Veggie Mama. I also love Fox in Flats (although I am so not fashionable). I also love Natural New Age Mum for a different spin on things. And my husband, he is so calm and collected on all issues with our family where as I am known to become a little passionate, emotional, frenetic or panicky in situations!!!

Actually since I had my children before a lot of my girlfriends I did really turn to the internet and the on-line world for my dose of courage and reality. It made me feel what I was experiencing as normal.

Hit us with a great recipe that is family friendly and easy to make! 

Family friendly nachos - recipe for flower child


And one tip for us all on keeping it real…

Breakfast for dinner is always a winner. Eggs on toast are a completely satisfactory and healthy option for dinner for the family. Way healthier, quicker and cheaper than many fast food options.

You can find Mandy on:

Inspirational Monday – Planning with Kids

Meet     Nicole


From    Planning With Kids (Nicole has 5 children so she knows what she is talking about!)

planning with kids logo

Please tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in a country town 550km away from Melbourne. I came to Melbourne for university (Bachelor of Business) and never went back. I worked for a large telecommunications company before I had children in a range of roles from Performance Management to Project Management.

I went back to work four days a week 9 months after my first child was born and worked until our second child was born. After taking 12 months maternity leave with our second child, I decided to leave the paid work force. Eight years later to start learning some new “web 2.0” skills I decided to start a blog.

How did your book  “Planning with kids” come about? 

I had been writing the blog for about 18 months when an editor from Wiley contacted me. She had come across my work via twitter and wanted to know if I was interested in turning it into a book. I met with her at the end of August and handed in the manuscript just before Christmas!  It was a very quick turn around as they wanted it ready for mother’s day.

Do you find with 5 children being organized makes your day just that little easier?

I love having 5 kids but there it is a lot of work. I didn’t really start to get organized until after my second child. I can remember having a baby on the hip and a toddler at my leg staring in the cupboards at 5pm deciding what to make for dinner, when I thought there has to be a better way than this. It was a light bulb moment for me when I realized while there is much to family life you cannot plan for (when and if the kids will sleep, tantrums etc) but much of family life is repetitive. You have to shop, cook, eat, clean day in and day out.

I decided if I could create an organized base, I would then have more time for the fun parts of family life, as opposed to feeling like everything was just hard work. Being organized gave back the joy of family life.

What is one thing you think would help us all as parents to make our day run that much smoother?

A smooth day starts the night before. Everyone in the family is involved in getting things ready for the next day, for example:

My husband unpacks the dishwasher and empties the bins

The kid have their clothes out ready for school and their bags packed with what they need for the next day.

I make the lunches.

You can read more about what we do ourselves ready for the next day in this post 10 Things To Do Before You Go To Bed

Can you describe your workplace..(and maybe your creative processes…)

I am lucky enough to have a home office. It is a bright room and is the only room upstairs, so even though I am home, I find sitting at the desk in the office I can really switch onto work mode. It is great that is away from the rest of the house as it is easy to procrastinate by going off and doing some household task!

At the start of each year I write a 12 month content plan. This is completely flexible and I do change topics, add topics etc, but having the plan is an efficient way for me to work. I know the topics I am going to write about, so when I am running or in the shower, I start putting the post together in my head. By the time I sit down to write the post, I have it pretty much written in my head, so it doesn’t take too long to write.

How do you juggle work and 5 children??

Mostly I prioritise my workload around my family life. Working for myself and from home, I have great flexibility. I create defined work times, which are during school hours and then sometimes at night if I need to finish work.

I also have strict boundaries for myself and being online. It is easy to spend lots of time online on social media but not be productive and it take focus and time away from the family. I don’t go online (on any device!) before the kids go to school and once they are home from school, I don’t get back online until the youngest three are in bed.

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised?

Very much so. A classic example of this is extra curricular activities which I wrote about recently on the blog – Strategies to manage after school activities. Kids do so much more now and have much less unstructured time, which I am not so convinced is the best thing.

I think as parents also too we have much greater expectations of ourselves, which is exacerbated by social media. I see many parents falling into the trap of comparing themselves to what others are doing. Social media is a one dimension snap shot and never tells the full story of family.

I really try to focus on the simple things in family life – shared meal times, home made food and fun. I too fall into the trap of thinking am I doing enough, so have to remind myself of this quote from Anne Landers:

“In the end, it’s not what you do for your children…but what you’ve taught them to do for themselves.”

The bonus of having five kids is that I simply can’t do it all for them, so I have spent time teaching them independence skills so they can do more for themselves.

Have your own self expectations changed since having children? How?

I have become less self focused since I have had kids. I certainly do put their needs first on many occasions, however over the last few year, I have made sure that this is doesn’t happen 100% of the time. The kids need to understand that as they expect to have time to do the things they love and that I help them by taking them here and there, they also need to help so I can have time to things I like to do. I am a better mother when I have time to myself and I want the kids to respect the work I do for them and not take it for granted.

What is one parenting habit you swore you would never do, but now do?

Revoke privileges!  I regularly now change the wifi password on my eldest who loves technology as a consequence of his behaviour. I would rather it didn’t come to that, but it is a great motivator for him to tidy his room.

Can you walk us through a typical day for you..

4.45am – alarm goes off. Run to CrossFit, do CrossFit class, then run home.

7.00am – school morning routine

8.00am – walk the kids and the dog to school. Run home with the dog.

9.00am – on mornings we have after school activities I will prepare the evening meal and do some general house work.

10.00am – work

1.00pm – lunch break with some house work, generally laundry

1.30pm – work

3.00pm – pick kids up from school, homework, reading, after school activities

6.00pm – dinner with the kids. My husband gets home after 7pm so we eat without him. Then it is on to bath and bedtime routine for the 8 and 5 year olds.

7.30pm – start preparation for the next day. Wash lunch containers and repack.

8.00pm – homework help if needed, chatting with the husband and older kids.

9.00pm – either housework, folding washing or online work if I have deadlines I need to finish.

10.30pm – bed

Do you have a wonderful resource that you discovered once you became a mother. Person? Blog? Book?

“Children are people too” by Louise Porter was a game changer for me. It helped me find strategies for my second child who I was finding more challenging than my first. It is based on parenting out of mutual respect. Parents respect their child but do not tolerate inappropriate behaviour. I have reviewed the book in more detail on the blog here – Challenging behavior.

Do you have one tip for keeping it real?!!

Learn to apologise. I am far from perfect and on days where it all turns pear shaped, I may shout at the kids. have too little patience or have too high expectations of them. This isn’t the end of the world, it shows the kids that I am human and make mistakes too. On such days, as I wish them goodnight, I will apologise for my behaviour and let them know the next day is a new one and I will try harder. This gives us a chance to face the new day without any negative hangover.

Check out more fantastic ideas that Nicole has on her facebook page

or on her website

The universe…

You know that feeling, when everything just seems to be going in your favour???

Well, we’re there. Right now.

So many great things have happened for us at flower child in the last few weeks.

To begin with, we (or our Amber Teething Necklaces) took out Silver in the MyChild Awards.


Then we were short-listed for the Telstra Business Awards. To make it that far, we were pretty chuffed.


You see, the Telstra Business Awards aren’t a popularity contest. The entry takes around 40 hours to complete and delves into the complete foundations of the business. Not just the what we do, but the why we do it, the how we do it, our contributions to the community and to ourselves. It’s pretty full on. A reflective process.

So Lil and I trekked into the city a couple of weeks ago, to be grilled by a panel of judges on all that flower child represents.

I stressed. A lot.

I really want to win this. Not for myself, but to acknowledge all the good that flower child brings to people’s lives. I don’t do it by myself. As you know, flower child is what it is, because of the people.

When we receive emails, or people come in and tell us, that we have literally help changed someone’s life, it is THE most rewarding feeling.

You don’t get that in other stores. We share the ups and downs with you, because we genuinely care.

And then, today, we were announced as finalists!

Woo hoo!

Which is how I ended up at Sacha Drake today, trying on dresses.

Roberta and Irene at the Woollahra shop were just lovely, helping me try on dresses, ready for the Awards Night.They didn’t even baulk at my “I’ve been drenched in the rain 5 times today” hair style I had going on!


It was great that they could work out which body shape I was, and which colours would go well on me, because hey, I’m just not that glam fashionista you think I am!

My two favourites were the Rose and Cate dresses, both in Navy.

Sacha Drake "Rose" dress in Navy

Sacha Drake “Rose” dress in Navy


Sacha Drake “Cate” dress in Navy

The little diamonte belt is an extra, but wow, it takes the dress from great, to awesome. A little bling goes a long way!

I haven’t made a decision yet – which would you choose? Sacha Drake have 40% off at the moment – woot!

So, I’d normally say keep your fingers crossed for us, but I’m pretty confident we’re going to win.

I’ll let you know on the 2 July!


How to get your product into a retail store – Part 1

This is a question we get asked every day. In fact, we get so many emails, we’ve had to dedicate a section of our website  just for this topic!

As a  bricks and mortar shop front, we get loads of request, every week, from businesses wanting us to stock their products.

Some are beautiful, some are not, and some, I just wonder what the person was thinking when they emailed me mass produced goods…



For the beautiful things it pains me to say no (I will explain why).

Picture this. You have a product that you have spent months/years perfecting, sourcing samples, getting manufactured and now, its here.  Or perhaps you have seen something awesome and have secured distributorship for it. You want it to be in all the stores, because, let’s face it, you think it’s brilliant.

So now you need to think about how you are going to wholesale this product. Whether you choose to go direct, or utilise an agency, there are a few key things, that as the buyer for 3 stores, I look for.

If you are wanting to wholesale to stores, and I don’t just mean places like Baby Kingdom, I’m talking about any store with a shop front, and the larger on-line retailers, you will need:

Products liability Insurance (PLI).

This is your top priority. No supplier should take you on unless you have it.

What is PLI?  It’s insurance that covers you in the event that your product (or service) causes injury, death or damage to another person or business.

As a retailer, I don’t want to be responsible for someone’s death/injury caused by your faulty product. And you can bet your bottom dollar, that should something happen, all claims will lead straight to you, the manufacturer or importer (if you are the importer, you are deemed to be the manufacturer in Australia).


Unless you’ve got a massive mark-up on your product (more than 100%) for the retailer, in these tough, cut throat, economic times, no one is going to want to have to gouge 10% of the total sale price to give to the government when they can’t claim any input.

You can argue that the retailer can make the price anything they like, but at the end of the day, there is only so much tolerance in the general public for price differentiation.

If your product has an RRP of $30, an online retailer (not registered for gst) might charge $29.99. The gst registered business (who probably has bigger overheads and gets a lot more traffic into their store) is going to have to charge $33 to make the same amount of money.

If you were that retailer, and you have a choice of two similar products, with the same RRP, and one was registered for gst and one wasn’t, which would you choose?


“But I don’t earn/turn over enough to register”.

Being registered for gst shows a retailer you’re not some fly-by-nighter. You are confident your business is going to do well.

Additionally, it should be a goal that you’re aiming for. By enacting the process, you are much more likely to achieve it!
Account terms

I get it. You’re a small retailer and you can’t ‘afford’ to have stock going out with no money coming in. Neither can the retailer. The retailer is your agent. They are going to be out there, actively promoting and selling your product.

Think about it. For many stores, it’s a deal breaker.

Some sort of marketing plan

It doesn’t have to be professional, it can be sketched on a tissue for all I care, but I want to know how you are going to drive customers to my store, or create a buzz around your product. What’s in it for me?

If you can’t, or don’t know, to promote your product (surely getting it into the store means you’re promoting it, yeah???), think about how you will work with the retailer to get your product out there. Perhaps offer extra product for a giveaway, or offer to contribute to some advertising. There are many ways, that don’t have to be expensive. It just requires some creativity and openness.

Professional product shots

It’s YOUR brand, and you should want it presented consistently and professionally by all of your suppliers.

Do you really don’t want some half-assed shots taken on someone’s mobile phone representing you uber-cool product you’ve invested so much time and money on?
There is, of course, loads more, but this is what we deem “essential”, before we even get your product in for testing.

I’m not meaning to hammer anyone, just give you a bit of guidance on how you can beat the rest of the crowd if you want to get your product “out there”.

So, you’ve got the foundations in order.  How do you get your product INTO a store

Stay tuned for part 2

Salena Knight is the owner and head buyer for flower child. They have two stores in Sydney and an on-line store.


Inspirational Monday – Buster Boo

Meet     Sasha


From    Buster Boo

Buster Boo Widget

Can you share with us your background before children…

I grew up in rural Queensland, with a love of the country and wide open spaces.  After completing my Law degree, I practised as a Maritime Lawyer in Cairns for 8 years – our clients were overseas marine companies, and the owners of ships (great and small).  I travelled a lot, spent time working in London and met my darling husband.

How did Buster and Boo come about and why?

I have always enjoyed sewing as a hobby, and in the past 5 years, the styles, colours and design of boutique fabrics has really exploded with possibility.  When we had children, I knew I wanted their rooms to fit in with the decor and feel of the rest of our house – so I started searching for accessories that were fun and bright, but not traditional “nursery” prints…. When I couldn’t find many (and particularly boys prints), I sewed cot quilts and cushion covers from designer fabrics…  and Buster Boo was born.


What are your most popular products ? 

We have always tried to provide a balance of boys items, as well as lovely girls things.  our most popular quilts have been the Union Jack series, and Hello Tokyo for the girls.  Our ranges to date have been small runs, which gives me the opportunity to change our themes and colours regularly.


We recently added the range of bibs that bring another level of fun and style to baby meal times.


Our cotton cot quilts are our most popular product – they combine bright, modern fabrics that you will enjoy having in your home, with the natural hypo-allergenic warmth of Australian cotton snuggly fill layers.  We do not compromise on quality – your cot quilt is stitched from premium fabric, using Australian grown cotton fill, and made with love and care.


Can you describe your workplace.. 

Fabric Heaven.  LOL – I have a wall of bolts of fabrics, and my best times are spent mixing and matching to co-ordinate fun prints for reversible bibs and quilts.  

I believe that surprising colour matches can sometimes be the most effective, so the wall of fabric is moved around a fair bit, to play with possible combinations.

We also have a large cutting table, rolls of our 100% cotton fill layer, too many sewing machines and (my secret pride and joy) … an embroidery machine.


How do you juggle working and your family?

With great difficulty.  My children are now both at school, but we also juggle our 5 yr old son having been recently diagnosed with a rare syndrome of epilepsy, that has meant regular hospital trips. 

I try hard to have a stockpile of quilts and bibs so that when orders come in, they can be filled and posted as quickly as possible, rather than making to order.

We are also in the process of printing our first range of exclusive Buster Boo fabrics for our next range of quilts and cushions.  Having our own fabric means that we can re-print it whenever needed, rather than having to scour the globe for more stocks of popular fabrics.

On a practical front, I use a lot of apps on my iPhone for invoicing, accounts, banking and to run our website.  I can use that spare 5 minutes waiting at school to add new products, send out invoices etc.

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?

Absolutely.  I was raised on the outskirts of a country town.  My best friend lived 45 minutes drive away, on the other side of town.  My parents knew where I was, because to get there, they had to drive me, and pick me up again!  

Parents these days have the whole world in their house, through the internet.  It is easy to feel pressured to be “the perfect parent” or to do things a certain way.  The ability to sort out useful advice from propaganda, and to be confident in your own parenting abilities is so important these days.

Have your self expectations changed since having your family? For better or worse?

I, like most parents, have had to accept that I simply can’t do everything myself – from a career path that required extreme organisation and punctuality, to a mad existence of how many nappies I changed today.  Now that the kids are at school, I do place more expectation on myself, but my priorities have radically changed.

We recently had Ryan in hospital for nearly 2 weeks, with uncontrolled epileptic seizures.  Again, I had to re-evaluate my expectations and realise that it is OK to ask for help, and to accept help when it is offered.  Our school friends cooked meals for us, our daughter had sleep-overs with friends, church folk came and gave us a break at the hospital….. I now understand that expectations need to be flexible, because life and business will never be static.  Do not be unrealistic, and always accept help that is wholeheartedly offered.  At some time, you will hopefully be able to pay it forward yourself.

Do you have a wonderful resource that you discovered once you became a mother? A book? A blog? Person?

We live in Brisbane, so I always check the Brisbane Kids website ( for free and fun weekend or school holiday activities.

I have also absolutely learned deep appreciation for everything my Mum did for her kids.  It isn’t until you are in the daily struggles yourself, that you realise how much your parents did for you.  She still fields late-night phone calls from me when the kids have a high temperature or random spotty rash…

What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent – and now do!!

I am a big believer in “whatever works”.  If it works for you and baby, and is safe, then go with the flow.  I don’t deal with sleeplessness well at all, so when our first bub was still waking 4 – 5 times a night after months and months and months, I quickly accepted that the last few feeds of the night would be in our bed, so I at least got a bit of drowsy sleep.

Can you walk us through a typical day..

My husband is an Engineer, so he leaves for work at around 6.00am.  I try to have a silent cup of tea  before the kids wake up and general craziness begins.

Once the kids are at school, I drive straight home and get stuck in.  Urgent emails, then packing orders for post, then my favourite part …. creating and sewing.  I am trying to be more structured in my day – 30 minutes on emails, 30 minutes on packing, 1 hour on website / social media work, then 3 hours on creating, sewing and new prototype products. 

At school pick-up time I usually get 10 minutes in the carpark to do a sneaky bit of Pinterest pinning.  I try very hard to have afternoons for the  house and kids, so once we get home it is homework, laundry, play etc.

Then after dinner and kids’ bedtime, a sneaky glass of wine accompanies my trusty laptop on the couch, while hubby watches …. football (of any code!)

A tip for all of us on keeping it real….

I don’t like to think of it as “lowering your standards”, so much as accepting the stage of life that you are in.  There is a time for tidy houses, backpacking holidays, changing plans at the drop of a hat etc.  And then there is parenthood – a time for slowing down, seeing raindrops, cuddling kittens and being happy if the kids have a clean school uniform most days.  

Remember that your kids only get one childhood, and it is up to you to make the best of it for them, with the hand you are dealt.  Our little son is in and out of hospital, on daily medications, has grand mal seizures, regular tests, needles etc.  But the most awesome day of his life so far was at a hospital, when Spiderman abseiled down the outside of the building and he got to meet his idol.  Remember that you can make the best of absolutely anything, with a positive attitude (and the occasional Superhero) – I learned that from Ryan, age 5  :-)

Buster Boo range being put into the window at Flowerchild – Glebe

buster in glebe

Buster Boo also have a facebook page you can check out and like (you will definitely want too!)

Inspirational Monday – Toni and Gail

Meet     Toni and Gail

From      And The Little One Said


Can you share with us your background before children…

Toni – We moved to Australia in 2002 from New Zealand when my husband was transferred for work.  We settled in Balmain out of chance, and haven’t moved from the area since.  Love it!  Before and in-between children I worked in a marketing role in one of the big 4 banks and before that I worked for Telecom New Zealand in a marketing communications role.

Gail – I started my career in procurement in London at Network Rail where I also met my husband, we returned to New Zealand, bought a house and a lovely ginger dog called Moses. I remained in Procurement working for Fonterra and The Canterbury District Health Board until my first child was born. We then moved to Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne and finished up in Sydney having had 3 girls in 3 ½ years.

How did And the little one said come about and why? And where did the name come from?

We were looking at buying into a business with the idea that it would allow us to work from home with young children.  The business we initially looked at fell through at the last minute, but we decided to go ahead and start up our own business anyway.  In the end we are very glad we did as we had more control on what we would stock and could develop our own brand.

We did some research into what we thought was something we could differentiate ourselves with i.e. more small local Australian and New Zealand designers, and started to look into stock that we would love to put on our own kids.

In terms of names, we had quite a list of names that we liked. We wanted to avoid using our children’s names (although did have ‘Felix & Prudence’ on the short list!) as having 6 children between us meant someone would be left out.  Prue’s favourite storybook at the time was the nursery rhyme 10 in the Bed so that lead to ‘And the little one said’.  We tested a selection of names with our friends, searched if it was available and when it ticked all the boxes we ran with it.

What are your most popular products? 

The astronaut duvet went great guns (we’re looking forward to getting the fireman version soon!)


The Little Tyro educational sets have also been a hit and the jewellery is a constant best seller.


This winter we are seeing Petit De Nimes Jackets going well, they are very sweet woollen jackets with beautiful lining and the new brand Bund & Bo is going very well with beautiful tees and a gorgeous boys jacket.  This winter we have also started stocking Fox & Finch which is probably the biggest brand we stock and it is so beautiful people seek it out, the dresses are devine!  We are also loving the Frankie & Lola raincoats and gumboots – so cute, and Carbon Solider (previously YmamaY) as their clothing is very quirky and cool.

Untitled Untitled

How do you juggle working and your family?

With great difficulty!  Toni has two kids at school and after school care two days a week but a 1 year old at home all the time and a husband that works in Brisbane a few days a week every week it’s quite a challenge to fit in work!  Mostly it’s done when Felix is asleep or at night.  Ideally, we need to spend more time on the business but you do what you can!  Will be looking at childcare options very soon.

Gail has one daughter at school, one at preschool 2 days a week, and a two year old at home all the time… lets just say she is seriously looking at some child care options too.  We didn’t start the company to compromise on being with our kids so we need to set clear work/child times (easier to say than do!).

We work off a list of things to do so we don’t lose track and try to get together at least once a week to regroup and plan.

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?

Yes.  I think we had a lot more freedom when we were young.  We played with the neighbourhood kids and friends, went to the park and pool on our own and had to entertain ourselves rather than have a lot of planned playdates or activities.  Mum was at home most of the time when we were young and didn’t work again until we were all at school.   We walked to school on our own from a young age and holidays were caravaning around NZ.

Have your self-expectations changed since having your family? For better or worse?

Toni – yes.  I decided I wasn’t as ambitious as I once was, and I really didn’t want to return to a corporate job where the pressure to perform at work as well as be there for your kids was too much (tried it for a while, it’s hard work!).  I wanted to do something for myself that would allow me to be a bit more creative and resourceful.

Gail – Yes, with moving so much and having the girls so close I haven’t returned back to work. I had always presumed I would pick up my career after kids, but now I am more focused on the type of work I do rather than the level I will reach.  I lost a lot of confidence as an at home Mum in a new place (it gets pretty lonely) so I had to build that back up, challenge myself and make sure I didn’t get left behind, especially in a work environment.  I am very aware of how my actions influence my children’s, I want them to be proud of me too! Working for ourselves is hard work but very satisfying and you are constantly learning and adapting. I’m so happy we took the plunge!

Do you have a wonderful resource that you discovered once you became a mother? A book? A blog? Person?

Toni – I loved Up the Duff Baby by Kaz Cooke and Baby Love, and used them a lot with my first baby.   I also loved being part of a mothers group where we could all share the joys and woes of parenting.  A lot of us are still friends from 8 years ago which is great.  More recently, I love the BabyMac blog and Bec Sparrow’s blogs on Mamamia.

Gail – I think I must have stolen these books off my sister as I had the same ones, I had a coffee group with my first child in Christchurch so they aren’t around and that really is noticeable. I envy coffee groups! I have met some lovely Mums on our travels though and I find their support the most helpful and comforting.  I wasn’t really aware of online Mothers groups until we started the business, they are brilliant!

What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent – and now do!!

Toni – Ummm, not sure there was anything in particular.  I really had no idea what I was doing with first bub so was willing to take on any advice.

Gail – Give in.

Can you walk us through a typical day.

Toni – We are woken up at around 6.30 by Felix and the girls are awake shortly afterwards.  Before school there’s the usual breakfast, make lunches, clean kitchen, homework, look for various missing shoes, library books etc and then walk kids to school.  If I’m lucky will have a coffee with one of the Mums. But more often than not, will pop into local shop for milk or whatever, then come home to have a quick tidy up, load of washing on then put Felix to bed for hopefully 1-2 hours where I can get some work in answering emails, looking at doing something on Facebook (what a horrible distraction that is!), plan for the week, read/research then it’s make lunch for Felix when he wakes up, keep him occupied for a couple of hours while popping online when I can, maybe do an errand if I have to, but more often than not 3.00 comes around too soon, then it’s pick up girls from school where we have some activity which takes us to dinner time where I should have thought of something but usually haven’t, then home work, bedtime dramas etc, then I might do some more work at night before bed around 10.30.  Repeat.

Gail – Prue gets in bed with me at 5am, sleep until 6.30, have shower while husband gets the girls breakfast, he leaves at 7.30 and I make lunches, do sight words and written words, the girls get dressed while I tidy kitchen and make lunch, I usually re-dress 2 out of 3 kids, find shoes, reader bags, brush hair, teeth etc. take dog and girls on scooters to drop Annabel at preschool, head back past school for drop off. Head home, remember left the dog at school, retrieve dog, head back home. Put on load of washing, hang load out, give Prudence some painting to do while I try to think of something for Facebook post (equally frustrated as Toni) make morning tea, check site, wrap and package orders, walk to village to post orders, hang out at playground, home for lunch, movie or sleep for Prue while work, bake muffins with my little helper for after school snack. Pick up from school & preschool, Have afternoon tea at park/after school activity/home, then outside play.  Clean the house, inside for drawing, homework, cutting bits of paper into teenie tiny pieces and spreading it all over the kitchen while I prepare dinner.  Bath, reader while the younger two make another mess, one story book each, kids bed time, tidy kitchen, do some more work and bed ideally (but rarely) by 10

A tip for all of us on keeping it real….

Try not to stress too much, what will be will be, and things that look hopeless at first usually turn out ok.

Keep trying. Doing a little bit is a lot better than doing nothing and it makes it a lot easier to get back on track.

And the little one said we offer beautifully made, quality children’s clothing, toys, home décor and accessories.  Because everyone needs a little style.


Want to know more about And the Little One Said..??

Drop by and say hello to the gorgeous Toni and Gail.  or on facebook


Inspirational Monday – Alethea from The Wellbeing Studio

Meet       Alethea


From   The Wellbeing Studio

(this place looks absolutely gorgeous - I so wish I lived in Collaroy!)

download (2)download (1)

Can you tell us a little about your background before your children…

Before I had my daughter, I had lived as a ski bum in Whistler, Canada, travelled to many places throughout the world, met my amazing husband and followed him to this lovely place (northern beaches of Sydney) and employment-wise was dabbling in all sorts of work including my own remedial massage business, teaching yoga part time, doing events for various companies, admin, retail, customer service etc. A bit of everything but never quite sure where I was going to plug myself into full time. Then the opportunity to open my own yoga studio came along and here I am.

How did The Wellbeing Studio come about and why?

I realised how much the Collaroy area needed not only a full time yoga studio but a space where all types of health based workshops and events could be held. Essentially it’s a community space and our aim is to bring people together for health education and activities. (I love a good chat too so getting to know the amazing people who come through our doors is the biggest buzz for me.)

 We renovated for a very intense 4 weeks in February and then opened March 3rd, 2014. Those who know the old bakery down the alleyway behind Liquorland would be pretty surprised to see how the space has transformed!

Can you describe to our readers what your studio offers..

We have 14 classes a week of mainly hatha, flow, vinyasa styles of yoga and pilates. All levels welcome – from newbies to advanced practitioners.

The courses we currently offer are Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga, Prenatal Pilates and Kids Yoga (ages 6-9).

The studio holds regular workshops in collaboration with Flower Child that are related to parenting. We also hold a monthly event with a group called Luna Rosa which is about reconnecting with the cycles of the moon by bringing participants together for an evening of yoga, meditation, astrology and healing. All of the donations on the night go to a monthly chosen charity.

Future events at The Wellbeing Studio will include documentary nights, art exhibits, meditation, tai chi, whole food workshops, talks by various health professionals on an array of topics from sleep issues to children’s behaviour to women’s reproductive health to ayurveda, etc. The list is endless.

seated pigeon2

How do you juggle working and a family?

I’m not sure if I do it very well or any better than any other working mum. Some days run smoothly and others I think, ‘this is going to take some strategic planning!’ My husband and I are both self employed so we are always cross checking schedules and balancing our work hours so our daughter is cared for. I am really fortunate to have amazing friends and relatives to call on should I need anyone last minute.

Do you think parenting is different from when you were raised? How?

Yes, I think kids aren’t allowed to just adventure outside as much nowadays. Maybe the media puts so much fear into parents and we are exposed to too many horrible stories of kids being hurt or killed so people are not open to letting their kids do as much unsupervised.

I grew up in Canada and it rains about 9 months of the year in Vancouver yet we were outside so much and it taught us to be adaptive and creative and in touch with the natural world. I remember being free to build structures like tree forts and cubbies with various bits and bobs from our house and garage, playing kick the can (version of hide and seek with a capture the flag kind of twist) and hiding in neighbours composts and sheds to avoid being found, mucking in the garden and ravine behind our house, ‘fanging’ on our Power Wheels bikes down our street and knocking over empty garbage cans… just generally being crazy and adventurous, playing for hours and hours outside and our parents were really trusting. We fell out of trees, got road burns from falling off skateboards and bikes, got filthy – we even got sprayed by a skunk once…we hurt ourselves and yet those were some of my favourite memories! I wish all kids got to experience that freedom that I enjoyed.

Can you describe to our readers your work place..

I am truly blessed – my work place is a beautiful, relaxed space filled with the scent of incense, timber features, beeswax candles and indigenous Canadian art.  I have the most amazing line of work helping people connect within themselves and improving their health. The everyday conversations I have with people are generally uplifting, positive and inspiring – I am so grateful!

wall shot corner

Have your own self expectations changed since having children? How?

It took a very intense first year of motherhood to really understand the idea of surrendering to what is. My daughter did not sleep through until 18 months old despite attempting numerous sleep techniques and I look back and see that although I barely slept during her first year, I still had expectations on myself to perform the same amount of tasks each day and operate like I had before motherhood. What was I thinking!?! It took a lot of frustration and getting sick for me to slow down and surrender. I had to change my own expectations of myself and be realistic of what I could accomplish each day.

Now on days where I may not get much admin or housework done, I relish the hours spent admiring nature with my daughter which are absolutely priceless. I now try to focus on slowing it down and enjoying the moment rather than trying to complete the unending ‘to do’ list every day.

What is one thing you swore you would never do as a parent …. and now do? 

This one makes me cringe ’cause I always swore that I wouldn’t yell at my child but unfortunately it happens. No parent enjoys yelling at their child!

Can you walk us through a typical day for you…

I have breakfast with my daughter, Lily, and then check my emails and plan what I need to do for that day. She and I will head out to the beach or a local playground and enjoy some nature time together. We would then come home, eat some lunch, I’d do some admin work and then we’d have a nap. Upon waking, we run some errands, then make dinner and I would get ready for work. My husband comes home and then I head to work for a few hours in the evening. This is a smooth day, by the way, some days I am running errands all morning and dragging my daughter with me. She’s a great helper though so it’s like having an awesome little personal assistant!

What is one resource that has kept you sane and helped you on your journey of motherhood? Eg book, person, website..

Hands down the best resource for me was a book by Karen Maezen Miller called Mama Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood. Very honest, raw and funny – the author is a Zen buddhist Nun who is also a mother…helped me shift my perspective on a few things and reach the turning point of surrendering to what is. I would recommend it to all mothers.

And one tip for us all on keeping it real…

I too am practicing this all the time: just breathe.

 You can find out more about The Wellbeing Studio here..