Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Alola Foundation

I became aware of the Alola Foundation when I was pregnant with Luce, who is now two.

Recently I met with Melanie Atkins, the Victorian State Contact for the Alola Foundation to discuss whether Squirt Baby could do anything to help reach people who had not yet heard of Alola.  So here we are! 

The Alola Foundation was formed in 2001 by Kirsty Sword Gusmao, who took a special interest in the vulnerable women and children of Timor-Leste.  Amongst its activities, the Foundation funds programs to improve maternal and child health, create employment, promote human rights, strengthen community development and improve the status of women.

If you are considering making a charitable donation this Christmas, I urge you to consider the Alola Foundation.  A relatively modest donation can make a huge difference in the lives of women and children in Timor-Leste.

Three gift certificates are available - 

1.  A Maternity pack gift certificate for $25 buys a woman a pack containing essential items for use following the birth of her baby.  In Timor-Leste maternal and infant mortality rates are high.  Only 10% of women give birth in a hospital, usually because of shame of lacking basic supplies.  The maternity packs are produced in Timor-Leste and money raised from these certificates also supports maternal and child health programs to provide breastfeeding counselling as well as funding community support to encourage women to give birth in a hospital or health facility.

2. A Livelihood certificate for $50 provides a woman with the tools, materials and support to enable her to earn a living in the textile trade.  It helps women support their families, and gives them the opportunity of economic independence.

3. Scholarship Certificates for $75 support a year's education for a child - a gift that lasts a lifetime.

Squirt Baby has all three gift certificates available.  At markets I have EFTPOS/credit card facilities.  All money goes straight to Alola.

For more information, visit or email

If you have specific questions, I can put you in touch with Melanie - just email me.  Thanks!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Day of Firsts

Today was my very first taste of Mathilda's Market as a stall-holder.  Heck, I'd never even had the opportunity to visit one before.  And it lived up to expectations.  Even the torrential (and very much welcome) rain didn't deter the crowds.  I had my gorgeous friend Rosie to keep me company.  It was her first time on the business side of a market stall and she was FAB!!  Love you Rosie!  MWAH!!

I thought I'd get there a little earlier to give me the chance to set up and check out what was on offer.  Of course I squandered the time pfaffing about and didn't really get to see much of what was going on.  And then the doors opened and it was busy, busy, busy.  The lovely Lou (Buttons By Lou Lou) popped over to say hello, as did Dana (Twiglet).  Justine (Embellish'd) was a close neighbour and there was Jen (the Market Queen) and Carolyn (from GJs).  Actually, given that I was some distance from my regular stomping grounds I saw quite a few familiar faces.  It was an amazing experience - I'll put my hand up for that again!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vale Aunty Nell

Last night we received the sad news of the death of Aunty Nell.  Last week she suffered a massive stroke and never regained consciousness.  In the time of contemplation following the news I headed for the photo album.  I knew there were pictures of Nell holding our eldest as a newborn, so I began flicking through the albums from that time.

The first page I opened contained a smiling image of my Dad.  There were photos of my cousin's daughter who died within days of her birth.  Even now, more than nine years later, the emotions are raw and barely contained.  How do you recover from the loss of a child?  My friend Bron's Dad - smiling proudly on her wedding day.  The roll call of the missing goes on.  I didn't realise how many people have left our lives.  It is a strange sensation to see these smiling, familiar, loved faces peering out from the pages and to realise they are no longer walking amongst us.  Yet they do walk amongst us.  They have shaped us, given us love, taught us, comforted us, given us life.  They never truly go away.

My heart is heavy with the accumulated loss and grief.  After my Dad's death in 2005 I had a number of dreams.  Conversations that were comforting and gave me direction.  Whether they came from Dad or from my own subconscious is of no consequence.  In the dream I think of most often I was fingering cloth that lay about me, while I chatted with Dad.  We were talking about the prospect of me setting up a small business or returning to work. He said "You can't go back".  It was said softly, almost like a whisper.  The tone of his voice conveyed the meaning.  He wasn't talking about not going back to work. He was talking about not being able to go back in time, to look forward instead.  No going back.  Onwards with our own journeys.

Goodbye Aunty Nell.  Continue to walk with us.

Unearthed Treasure part II

Apparently some of you out there in the blogosphere have had difficulties viewing the image accompanying yesterday's post.  I've uploaded it again, so hopefully you will see, in all its glory (drumroll please) - "1982 The Winners".  Who could forget such classics as "Da Da Da I Don't Love You, You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha" and "Better Keep Your Hands Off My (Potential New Girlfriend)"?  Don't you love a long winded song title?  Stay tuned for more classic albums from the early 80s - I feel like I'm on a roll now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Treasure Unearthed

Look at this beauty!
Just before my 13th birthday, my big sister left home.  She was off to Hamilton to do nursing.  In those days, nurses were hospital trained, and were paid a small wage.  She was rich and this was my 13th birthday present.  It made me one cool chick (something I continue to be to this very day *g*).

Late last week I had cause to remember this treasure lay in the garage somewhere and my beloved knew the exact spot (it makes sense - he's a man, it was in the garage, need I say more?).  The tape is still in working order and we played it up loud.  LOVE IT!!!  Cassettes were great - you could take them in the car and pop them in your walkman.  Now they fall into the same category as typewriters - relics of the past.  But what a great past!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mathilda's Market

Mathilda's Market is on this Sunday.  It's my first, so I'm a little nervous!  I am also just a bit excited.  Here's the blurb:

Mathilda's Market showcases and sells beautiful handcrafted and limited production baby and kids goods. Carefully handpicked stallholders bring the most divine and original clothing, accessories, homewares and toys for the little ones. Exquisite wares are lovingly made by some of Australia’s most talented crafters and designers – many of them parents themselves. It’s a shopper’s heaven for those who want to stylishly dress their children or decorate their kids’ home environment, but don’t want to buy mass produced, chain store items. At Mathilda’s Market you’ll see the funkiest and most gorgeous of outfits for the kids, chic bedroom decorations and furnishings, bright and brilliant toys, must-have accessories, pretty and practical bags and shoes, dreamy vintage-inspired creations, handcrafted musical instruments and jewellery, fabulous dress-up costumes, striking linen ... and so much more! As most of the stallholders don’t have a shop front, you are guaranteed to find something truly unique. Come and see our stand at the upcoming Mathilda’s Market on Sunday 22 November, from 9am to 1pm at Hawthorn Town Hall, 360 Burwood Road, Hawthorn. With over 80 stallholders and yummy food this will be a fantastic day out for young & old. For a sneak preview, have a look at the website ( I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Weekend in Markets

I'm feeling weary.  Late nights and early mornings and another two markets under my belt are just some of the reasons for this tiredness.

Saturday was Yarraville and my market buddy Jacquie from Cottage Nerd and I spent the day under the fan on a warm Melbourne Day.  Here's a picture of our set-up.  You can't really see anything clearly - I blame the photographer!  We did have a nice day.  Caught up with Melinda (Here we go loopy lou) and Sarah (Faith hope and a whole lotta love), Lou (Totally Innocent), Katrina (IdTee), Helen (Miss Ruby May) and all the others!  I bought some lovely cushions from Glenda (Reaburn Design), biscuits for the children plus some gorgeous screen printed t-shirts for my girls and a rather special tea-towel for my big sister in the UK (PS no-one tell her please, it's a surprise!).

Today I was at the Shirt and Skirt Market.  By myself.  My market buddy deserted me in favour of taking an opportunity to be part of the Thread Den Market.  It was beautiful day to be out in Melbourne.  And, while I didn't venture far from my stall, I did catch up with Jo (Frankie and Ray) and a couple of other familiar faces.  Here's a few pics - 

Tarting up the place

It has come to my attention that my standards are slipping.  I'm spending lots of time sewing, and have begun to neglect my surroundings.  Of course I blame the children!  I do object to the time I have to spend cleaning up their mess.  I'd like to be Samantha from Bewitched and clear it all with a wriggle of my nose.

I have decided I need to tart the place up.  We extended our house three years ago.  Not long after baby number four was on the way, exhaustion set in and, well, it hasn't gone away (nor has the extra 15kg BTW).  So, not much has happened on the home front in terms of beautifying our surrounds.  We haven't even re-hung our pictures yet, or organised cushions for the now 3 year old couch.

I discovered some delicious printable wrapping paper yesterday at Love Mae.  Inspiration hit me.  In my stash I had some little frames from Ikea, some notecards from Nancy Girl and five minutes to spare.  This is what I made. (Just don't tell anyone I stood on a swivel chair to put them up!)

Look, let's face it - the picture isn't great.  But they do look fabulous up on the wall!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Double header weekend

Today I am technologically challenged.  Instead of editing this post I deleted it.  *sigh*  Perhaps it's the heat?

Anyhow, this weekend is a market double header.

On Saturday I will be at Yarraville.  This is the weekend to head to this part of town.  There's more than one market happening (although ours is the best!).  Tick items off your Christmas shopping list by buying handmade goodies at Yarraville Markets.

On Sunday I will be sipping lattes at the Shirt and Skirt Market at the Abbotsford Convent.  This really is a lovely setting - lots of shady trees, the Convent Bakery and more handmade delights.  Did I mention live music?  Fabulously talented and friendly stallholders?

See you there!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I heart the Australia Post courier too

As I arrived home from the shops this morning the Australia Post courier was walking down our driveway and this is what he brought...

from The Wool Shack.  I don't often buy books of knitting patterns, but this is one of the exceptions.  Lots of beautiful knits - I'll certainly be getting my money's worth out of this one.  Right now I'm flat out sewing for the summer market season and knitting isn't on the agenda.  But this book makes me want to whip my needles out right now.

Here are a couple of my favourite patterns:

and I'm imagining how gorgeous my little Luce is going to look.  Now I just have to decide on colours...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

*Wipes sweaty brow with back of hand*

Yesterday was the first ever Teeny Tiny Sister's Market and Squirt Baby officially had a good day.   It was good for a number of reasons - there were lots of lovely people out to buy handmade goodies (thanks to you supportive folk), being a local I get to see neighbours and friends (and even the occasional teacher from school!) and there was a great band of stall-holders in the foyer (Look at the Wall, Alkmini, Sissy & Bro, and PinkWhistle).   My Mum came along for a few hours which enabled me to pop around and say hello to some familiar faces and meet some people I have previously only "met" on-line such as Cathy from Little Eve (she has such a gorgeous accent and curly hair, so what's not to like?) and Kelly from Little Bubble and Tree.  Of course I didn't have a camera with me to take pics, so here's a couple from my "collection".

The Sweet Tweet Dress - flying off the shelves!  Making room for...

Wash Day pinnies - nearly ready for summer 2009/2010

Friday, November 6, 2009

Teeny Tiny Sister's Market

Okay, let's try this again (since version one just disappeared).

The Teeny Tiny Sisters Market is on TOMORROW!

That would be Saturday, November 7 from 10-4.

Squirt Baby will be in the foyer - in our usual spot - you can't possibly miss us!  Pop by and say hi (oh, that rhymes!).

I have been sewing like a crazy woman, so there's quite a bit of new gear making it's debut.  In particular, garments for older children up to 8 years such as shorts for the boys and appliqued skirts for girls that I'm rather pleased with!

Here are a few pictures taken in the glorious Melbourne sunshine this morning.  Most of my models are at school and kinder, so the Jacaranda filled in!

A-line in antique gold roses.  Sizes 0-2 years.

Contrast back of antique gold roses a-line.

Back-buttoning tunic with contrast sleeves and pocket for girls in sizes 6m, 1 and 2 years.

"Surfer" shorts for big boys.  Contrast pockets, front and back.  Waist is elasticised and has a drawstring too.  In sizes 3-8 years.

Red shorts with contrast front pockets and yoke.  Available in 3 months to 4 years.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Melbourne Cup Day

My Dad was a keen gardener, and he loved to mow lawns.  Twice a year, Dad would plant annuals in the front garden. Melbourne Cup Day was always the day for planting spring annuals.  Easter was the time for the autumn/winter planting.  I have tried to continue that tradition (not always successfully!), and so today we spent the morning outside in the garden.

Our house once belonged to my grandparents.  It's changed a lot since their time (it's a lot noisier now that's for sure) - we've extended and changed the garden a fair bit.  The garden changed due to necessity.  For a period of time it was tenanted and the garden suffered.  Then, during our building, it suffered again.  Of course, the drought hasn't helped, nor has time limitations!

This time last year we decided to do away with a front "lawn" (aka crispy weed patch) and instead plant a garden with plants that can survive tough conditions.  Last week I took out the last of the Calendulas and poppies to make room for new plants and annuals.  We've had a camellia in a pot since we had to move it for the extension.  Today it made it into the ground.  I'm sure I heard it groan with relief as it was lowered into it's new spot!  I planted penstemons, salvias and some iris & gladioli  I'd lifted and divided.  Some of my favourite plants are ones that survived from my grandparents' time, ones my Dad has given me from his garden and others given as gifts over the years.

Here are some pics of the old and the new, taken in the fading afternoon light.

"Superstar" planted by my Pa in 1950

Gerbera from Dad's garden

Rhododendron from my MIL

Kangaroo Paw - it reminds me of a family holiday in 1974 when we travelled to Perth on the Indian Pacific

Monday, November 2, 2009

My first love

Before I discovered fabric, and while I was still at school, I had a crush on paper.  In those days I had lots of pen-friends and although it was cheaper to use an aerogram, beautiful writing paper and envelopes beckoned.  It has come to my attention that some clever and generous peeps make samples of their work available - for free!  I'm sharing the love - here are some pretties for you to enjoy.

I love a list, especially one where I can check items - makes me feel as though I have achieved something!
From 74 Lime Lane - right click here to download

From Mufn Inc - right click here to download

From oh Smile - right click here to download

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ooooh Spooky

Still on the theme of nostalgia - we spent a week at Whitewells in the Malvern Hills with my sister and her newly-wed husband after their wedding four years ago.  Yep, it was "family goes on honeymoon".  Unusual, granted, but lots of fun!

They were married on the 29th of October, we travelled to the honeymoon destination on the 30th and started off the day of the 31st in a leisurely fashion.  At about 10am we decided to take our children for a short walk around the farm.  As we set off, my now brother-in-law Mark was setting off on walk of his own (at a brisk pace, compared to our "let's stop and look at everything" pace).  He said he would see us in an hour.

We had a delightful walk, treading ancient footpaths, picking blackberries and getting a tiny bit lost.  Eventually we made it back, caught up with the rest of the family and waited for Mark.  And waited.  And waited.  By 2 o'clock that afternoon we were getting worried.  The only Englishman in a party of Australians had disappeared without a trace, in England.

To cut a long story short, we called the police.  Daylight savings had just finished, and darkness would descend by 4pm.  We tried to stay calm for the benefit of the children and ourselves.  The Police told us to stay put and they would do the searching.  But, because we'd been hanging around all day we hadn't been to the shops and there was nothing to eat.  My other sister and I headed off to the nearest town to buy dinner supplies.  

Have you ever experienced a time when you are highly stressed, but trying to maintain a carefree air?  And while you're being carefree you make some unusual decisions?  Heather and I bought enough food to keep us supplied into the following week.  The bakery section was reducing still-warm loaves of bread to 10p (20c).  So we bought eight.

The return to the farm saw a fleet of Police cars parked outside the Cottages.  Darkness had now fallen and a helicopter had joined the search.  Apparently it was difficult for the helicopter because of the number of sheep in the area - the equipment they had did not enable them to distinguish the heat given off by a person from the heat given off by a sheep!

6pm.  A taxi pulls into the driveway of the farm.  Out steps a very sheepish Mark.  A very tired, lost and apologetic Mark.  The story goes like this - he got lost.  Very lost.  For the "short" walk, he had decided to leave his phone and wallet behind.  No money, no phone. No phone numbers.  Couldn't remember the name of our accommodation.  Eventually managed to find a taxi (not easy in this rural area) and find his way back.  Thinks he walked maybe 20 miles.

Anyhow - I digress!  This post is about the photo - taken at Whitewells on Halloween, after Mark had returned.  The owner of the farm had an amazing display of pumpkins at her front door.  As Australians, we would have just eaten them!  They do make a pretty display though, don't you think?