The man and I have just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. Against my parents best wishes, I married the bad boy. Every parents worst nightmare? They said it wouldn’t last. Well news flash, we did. My husband is my best friend, my rock, my everything. Some of my friends think we spend too much time with each other, I’m sorry we enjoy each others company. I’m thankful for the life I have and the two amazing adults we have produced. I am immensely proud of them.

On that note, to celebrate the moment we went on a road trip. The weather in our neck of the woods is fairly dreary at the moment. Lots of rain, more rain and then a smidge more rain just to keep everything damp. If we are really unlucky our mornings start with the occasional icy frost, that’s if it’s snowing down south. A raincoat and gumboots are essential wardrobe items.

We headed south through the rain and the fog, The Chateau in Tongariro National Park our destination.


The Chateau is located on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. We had been hoping to catch a glimpse of the mountain, unfortunately low-lying cloud smothered Ruapehu during our stay. The ski season opened earlier this month, as you can see there has been very little snow.

Empty car parks, empty lodges and some well equipped climbers.

Our night spent at the Chateau was everything we imagined. We had been warned about ghosts visiting us during the night and the reviews on The Chateau had been mixed. We spent the night in a beautifully appointed suite and I am happy to say that not one ghost paid us a visit.

The following morning we set off up the western side of Lake Taupo heading for Rotorua. Every mans dream, long straight empty roads.


We crossed the Waikato River at the Whakamaru Power Station and followed the river to State Highway One. The sun had finally crept out from behind the clouds with stunning views over the river.


The man and I spent the afternoon at The Polynesian Spa in Rotorua. In desperate need of a little tender loving care I had booked myself in for a relaxing massage. I’m not quite sure if there was some miscommunication, I seemed to end up having a deep tissue massage. Five days later my neck is slowly recovering.

The teacher in me is very reflective. I try hard to suppress that urge in my personal life. The good stuff is celebrated, the not so good tucked away in a box, labelled ‘Not to be dwelled on’. If you get what I mean. It all sounds rather hypocritical. I’ve always been rather good at wearing two hats.

I’ve included a template that may interest some of you. In my early teaching days I would often get my students to reflect at the end of term. I called it ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’! It was always problematic, most students will readily talk about the good stuff and avoid the negative. After all they’re perfect. Therefore this writing template is all about the good stuff, if you want??


Reflections non pc version

I hope all is well in your part of the world. Lots of crafty stuff happening here. I feel a show and tell post coming on. Until next time.

Ka kite ano





Posted in Free resources, Holidays, resorts, travel, travel destinations,, new zealand, The Polynesian Spa Rotorua, writng resources for teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No, I haven’t been hiding under a rock

Winter has finally arrivedIMG_3164

After my recent health scare I’ve been working on trying to immerse myself in the ‘World of Relax’. Unfortunately no one had told me it doesn’t really exist. Apparently it is a mere figment of my vivid imagination.

So here I am stuck in the in-between, trying to be something I’m not. Cool, calm and collected! Someone that can switch off at the drop of a hat. Ridiculous really, I’ve spent sixty long, fun-filled years creating this mess that I am.

Nevertheless, if I want to live for another twenty or so years things have got to change. In the middle of all this I got busy teaching. My days of lolling around, dabbling in my many creative pursuits, came to a crashing halt.

It was probably a good time to walk away. I’ve stuffed up my latest sewing project; an oversized merino top is now languishing in the corner collecting dust.

On a more positive note I’ve finished a mosaic umbrella stand, it’s a bit of a mish mash, but it works. After sitting around for 18 months it’s good to have it finished.IMG_3787

A vintage knitting project which has been absolutely driving me bonkers for months is complete (photo to come). Another Yay moment. To keep myself awake in the evening I knit for Plunket babies.IMG_3782

So ….. I got busy. I’m currently putting together a resource that I hope to sell online in the near future. An end of term survival guide for teachers, the title may change, I’m thinking about that one. An individual journal for each student, with juicy writing prompts, a splurge of art, a touch of maths and smidge of other challenging stuff. Something very different that will keep classes entertained at the often problematic end of term.

Over the last two weeks I’ve been testing my resource in the classroom. My dream is to open an Etsy shop. The creative bunny in me is leaning more that way. Teacher Pays Teacher seems far too sophisticated for me?? So watch this space.

In the middle of all the teaching madness the man and I escaped, spending a very damp, grey weekend with friends in Whangamata.

I’ve squeezed in estuary walks at home.

The ocean beach is very unpleasant in southerly winds. With the onset of winter our little dog has developed a limp.


Toffee was born faulty, with an arthritic hip; an operation at seven months of age alleviated the problem, until now. Unfortunately I suspect that the arthritis gods have returned.

May your days start with a magnificent sunrise and end with a technicolour sunset.

Ka kite ano from New Zealand.

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The Power of a Picture

For the sake of this post, pictures come in many forms. Let us first consider the dictionary meaning of a picture; it is a design or representation made by various means.

We create pictures with a needle and thread. Rosemary McLeod’s book, With Bold Needle and Thread my inspiration.


We create pictures with a crochet hook, she’s rather cute really!


Webby Duck Amigurumi

We create pictures with broken tiles.

Longevity pot

We create pictures with knitting needles.


We create pictures with paint, charcoal and borrowed photographs. I was told I’d never be able to draw the hands by my university lecturer. Such a helpful soul!

The good and the bad

We create pictures with handmade stamps, scissors, glue and tissue paper.

paper mache mouth pic

Creating pictures sustains me, gives me pleasure, distracts me, and fulfils a need. It has the power to heal.

I often reflect on my education. My years in high school were spent immersed in academic subjects. There was no choice, if you were deemed to be smart, Maths, English, Science and French were your lot. If you were really unlucky you had to study Latin too. Thankfully, I escaped that fate. Oh, how I wish I could have spent my days playing in the Art room. Fast forward to now and it would have been one of my subjects of choice. To add to my chagrin the art teacher at my high school was Gretchen Albrecht, a well-known New Zealand artist. Oh, the possibilities?

I don’t consider myself to be a fabulous artist, I’m a work in progress.

As a reliever I need lots of tricks in my toolbox, different stuff. I frequently get asked to plan for the classroom. As most relievers know if you are familiar with the school it’s not problematic. Problems can arise if you have to plan for an unknown situation, but that’s another story.

The magical ingredient is enthusiasm, a sprinkle of enthusiasm and the possibilities are endless.

I’m sure this strategy has been used in the classroom before. Walking into a classroom that has a large whiteboard begging to be used, makes my heart skip a beat. Suffice it to say I always manage to find something to draw on. The tools each student requires for the task are readily available, a pencil and rubber. You tube tutorials are my teacher.

Starting the day with a step by step drawing lesson tends to hook students in. The pictures I choose are often cartoon like. The sketches done one line at a time, the class mimicking my efforts. Before I start my demonstrations we always discuss the elephant in the room. That voice in your head that tells you “You can’t do it”. I remind them, that if I wanted a perfect picture I would take a photo. I help those that struggle, but only after they have tried themselves. Funnily enough very few ask for help.

As I draw they witness ‘the teacher’ making mistakes, my straight lines are not perfect, I talk to myself, chastising myself as the picture comes together. The level of excitement rises in the room as images appear on their pages. My mistakes, my weaknesses empower them.

The picture is chosen to support a short piece of descriptive (juicy writing), it may be factual, or a narrative.

For example ….

take a pic images_Page_1








I’ve successfully used this with Yr3-5 classes. The descriptive writing stage was supported with the Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and a science based fact sheet on rabbits.

take a pic images_Page_2

I’ve successfully used this with Yr5-8 classes. It was coincidentally Sea Week, the descriptive writing stage was supported with students fishing stories, and a science based fact sheet on sharks.

take a pic images_Page_3

I’ve successfully used this with Yr5-8 classes. The descriptive writing stage was supported with Delilah the Spider by Colin Thompson, and a science based fact sheet on spiders.

Students write a draft, I conference with them and work is published on a suitable template. Then they redraw their picture. Surprisingly enough there are very few complaints, pictures are redrawn using their originals as a guide. All in all the whole process has proved to be very successful.

I have included a variety of templates for publishing students pictures and descriptive writing.

Blank portrait template

Blank portrait template big lines

Blank landscape template

Blank landscape template big lines

If you have read my earlier posts on juicy writing the emphasis is on using at least one new word every time you write, hence the ‘My new word box’.

Creating art is my happy place. I am well aware that it is not for everyone. I’ve played you tube sketching tutorials in class, rather than guiding the lesson myself. It doesn’t work as well. They’d rather watch me fumble my way along, messing up as I go. Most importantly I always have a wee practice the night before, fine tuning my skills.

Here’s to the power of a picture.

Ka kite ano






Posted in Craft project, Free resources, Free teaching resources, Juicy Writing, Writing ideas, writing resources | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with the blips in life.

I have been struggling with how to start this blog. Do I shoot from the hip or tailor it?

I have always thought of myself as a bit of a tough nut, I get sick occasionally, being in a classroom is fraught, they are bug factories. It’s usually a cough; you see my lungs are my weak point.

Anyway I picked up a virus just over a month ago; it didn’t follow the usual pattern. I had a headache, a bit of a head cold, a tickly cough all sort of normal stuff. Then the weird stuff started to happen, a very sore mouth …. Strange? My left eye threw a wobbly, maybe an allergic reaction, to what, I don’t know.

I was busy working, hanging in there, and then a teachery thing happened, the stuff teachers don’t talk about. Something incredibly stressful.

Two weeks ago, I had a severe asthma attack, my first. I was alone; my inhaler had expired and I was very scared. I was lucky I got through it. I’m not going to go into the gory details; suffice it to say that I’ve had the absolute sh …….t scared out of me.

I am a frequent flier at the doctor at the moment and am slowly weaning myself off Ventolin. I don’t do sick very well, my stubbornness is both a gift and a curse in this situation.

On a positive note my Summer Harmony blanket is finished. Being stuck on the couch does have advantages.IMG_0062

As I was slowly coming to terms with my new reality, my ever patient other half and I had a holiday in the South Island planned. A bit of touring around and a couple of days tramping around Mt Cook, yeah right! Distractions are good.

Armed to the eyeballs with steroids and Ventolin we set off.

IMG_2637Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, from the southern end of Lake Pukaki. I’ve stood here before, but never on a perfect day. A wow moment!IMG_2640Mt Cook Alpine Salmon now has a shop on the shores of Lake Pukaki. We celebrated the glorious view with salmon sashimi and a cold beer. They are expecting a million  tourists to stop here this year. My, how times have changed. Fifteen years ago we would fly into Christchurch, grab a hire car and drive. We booked no accommodation, prices were negotiable and the roads were safe. With international visitors reaching record levels, accommodation is difficult to find, prices are exorbitant and you have to be very careful on the roads. IMG_2712Mt Cook Village, the Hermitage on the right ….. no vacancies. Aoraki Court Motel our home for two nights.


The first swing bridge on the Hooker Valley Walk. Three hours return from the Department of Conservation Camp Ground.

IMG_2724IMG_2728IMG_2739Over another swing bridge, turning right towards Mt Cook.

IMG_2745IMG_2762Hooker Lake, the Hooker Glacier terminus at the far end of the lake. Mt Cook shrouded in clouds at the rear. Very windy and extremely cold.IMG_2797 Sitting in the bar at the Hermitage Hotel a picture perfect Mt Cook, a wisp of cloud tickling its peak.

IMG_2798Mt Sefton

After our stay at Mt Cook we headed north to Hanmer Springs, spending many an hour soaking in the therapeutic hot springs. My lungs loved it.

Our next stop Kaikoura. Our first visit since the devastating 7.8 earthquake in November 2016. The trip north was very slow, lots of stop start motoring. Large portions of the road are one lane only. There is evidence of massive slips everywhere. A timely reminder of just how catastrophic the damage was to infrastructure. IMG_2851Kaikoura from the Peninsula Lookout, not the best weather. It was pleasing to see that tourists had returned. Always in search of good food we weren’t disappointed with the fare at the Pier Hotel.


March 2018

The man and I were keen to check out the coastline around the peninsula. During the earthquake the Kaikoura Peninsula uplifted by a metre. The coastline changed dramatically, lifting up to two metres in places. The picture below was taken at the same location in 2007.


December 2007

Heading south from Kaikoura, our destination Christchurch. Contrary to what the main stream media are saying we are very impressed with the city centre. On our last visit the city centre was being demolished, quake damaged buildings lined every street. The city centre is now thriving, there are new parks, new low-rise buildings housing businesses, new terrace houses and apartments. Large art installations and murals decorate the landscape.


The Trans Alpine Express has been on our “To Do List” for some time.  All aboard …  we headed west across the Canterbury Plains.

IMG_2955The Waimakariri River.

IMG_2980Arthurs Pass

IMG_3019Halfway, Greymouth. The Speight’s Alehouse in the background, a great place for a late lunch.

IMG_3034Just about to enter the 14km long Otira Tunnel on our journey back to Christchurch. We wait as another locomotive is added to the rear of the train to assist us on our climb through the Otira Tunnel under Arthurs Pass.

IMG_3063The upper Waimakariri River.


The Waimakariri River with the Canterbury Plains in the distance. Homeward bound.

I struggled through our week in the South Island. It was absolutely freezing cold which I’m sure didn’t help my predicament. Stepping off the plane in Auckland into a balmy 22 degrees Celsius was a relief. The elephant that had been sitting on my chest finally went and found something better to do. I still whistle when I breathe. I’m on preventive medication now. Thankfully my chest x-ray came back clear, a huge yay moment!

Ironically, a few days after my asthma episode,  a mosaic that I created many years ago caught my eye. The words BREATHE stared back at me, it was made for a reason, obviously breathing has never been my strong point. Mmmmmm, food for thought.

On that note I have lots of creative ideas to share in my next post. I’m looking forward to writing a more light-hearted blog. So from me to you, best wishes.

Ka kite ano







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Convince Me

The man has been busting to go to ‘anything’ at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it is New Zealand’s largest indoor arena, the home of the Highlanders rugby team and occasional concert venue. Late last year the man announced that he’d organised a wee trip to Dunedin to see Roger Waters play at said stadium.

Dunedin has always been a one night stand sort of destination for us. The thought of spending three days there did not excite me. I have vivid memories of gloomy weather, sea fog and the streets surrounding Otago University littered with broken glass.

On a positive note we had spent an absolutely stunning night at Larnach Castle the previous year, which I highly recommend. Ironically the weather on that occasion was foul, it was bitterly cold and we were surrounded by sea fog the entire time.

My challenge was discover the good stuff in Dunedin, to convince myself that this was a worthy destination. The weather in New Zealand was unusually hot during January, in fact the month of January had been our hottest on record. With the sun shining we set off.

The weather in Dunedin was spectacular.


Otago Harbour


Aramoana Beach


St Kilda Beach in the foreground, St Clair in the distance. The beachfront cafes at St Clair did not disappoint.

Our accommodation was centrally located, in George Street, we walked everywhere. This enabled us to take full advantage of all the lovely bars in the city. The stifling heat necessitated lots of beer drinking, of course.

A must do is the Dunedin Street Art Trail. Armed with our map we spent a morning exploring the inner city, discovering art.















Of course we finished our little jaunt off with a well-earned beer at The Duke of Wellington, which was conveniently located near mural number 37.

Lots of unexpected discoveries, Dunedin is an op shoppers paradise, I suppose this is to be expected in a university city. Everything was a third of the price you’d pay in Auckland. Second hand furniture, antique finds were eye-wateringly cheap. There are a plethora of second-hand book shops, allow time to explore. With a lot less traffic it is easier to get around, whether you’re in a car or on foot. Finally the café scene is alive and kicking, serving a wide variety of food, not just your standard fare.

Another must do, if you have wheels, is to drive north to Moeraki and dine at Fleurs Place. An easy hours drive, the seafood restaurant sits on the water front at Moeraki Bay. Local fishing boats supplying fresh fish daily. It was our second visit, keen to try something different we shared the Kai Platter. A gourmet feast of smoked fish, groper, eel, flounder, lemon and cream fish. Pickled fish and mussels, raw fish and a large bowl of shellfish.

smoking fish

For those of you who are feeling daring you could always try the muttonbird.

Ironically we booked tickets on the Taieri Gorge Railway, unfortunately the trip was cancelled. Sea fog at the harbour entrance prevented cruise ships from entering the harbour. A large percentage of the train had been set aside for cruise ship passengers. Oh dear, never mind.

Our evening at the Forsyth Barr Stadium ticked all the boxes, an easy walk from our accommodation, the magnificent covered stand and great music.

Dunedin you rock! Sunshine, great sights, delicious food and excellent company what more could a girl want. I’m convinced.

On a more teachery note, with all this convincing going on, persuasive writing came to mind. I have created a resource that could be used as an introductory activity in persuasive writing. There are three versions, yr1-3, yr4-5, yr6-8. Naturally modelling will have to take place, most importantly choose the version that is suitable for your individual students. As always I love to add an artistic element, a thoughtful character and an outline for arty students to draw their own thoughtful cartoon character.

Convince me

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Ka kite ano.




Posted in Dunedin, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Free resources, Holidays, resorts, travel, travel destinations,, new zealand, Teaching Writing, writing resources | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Something Out Of Nothing

In an effort to stop myself from adding more clothes to my burgeoning wardrobe, I have decided to sew other stuff. Eons ago my friend Margs taught me to felt. My mish mash of multi coloured swathes were then refashioned into a variety of bags.


This bag has travelled the world, it has since been replaced with something a little more practical. Getting a little tatty, never the less I still love the colours.

My most used bag, holds my knitting and crochet. It doesn’t go unnoticed.  At my weekly knitting group, one of my fellow knitters asked about its origins. On discovering that I made it, she responded by saying I should sell them.


Aaaaah, a great idea, unfortunately as anyone who sells crafts at local markets knows, there is a limit to what you can charge for your products. The hourly rate, once you consider the cost of raw materials and time spent, equates to an hourly rate well below the minimum wage. And let me add, that is before tax!! Basically it’s a labour of love.

So, back to the reason for this blog. To prevent myself from getting the teaching twitches. ( I should be in the classroom preparing for the new school year). I have decided to distract myself, creating something out of nothing.

The teacher in me can’t resist following the Technology Design Process. So here goes.

Identifying a Need

Make a tote bag that can be used for shopping, crafts etc. That I can maybe sell?


  • I collect recycled wool blankets, they will be used to make the bag.
  • Felt I have made will be used to decorate the bags. Making felt is time-consuming and time is money. Felt bows will be used to decorate.
  • Suitable fabric to line bag
  • I can sew, knit and crochet


I would like to make a product that I could sell. The bag will appeal to women who want something unique. The bag should be quick and easy to assemble, which will allow me to sell it for a reasonable price.

Concept Drawing

Concept drawings


A medium-sized bag, with strong handles, similar to my craft bag. The bag should be lined and able to sit upright, not collapsing when it is placed on the floor. Felt bows will decorate the bag. I would like to include some other form of decoration, a 3D element?

Mock Up

My craft bag is sort of my mock-up. My only concern is the material I am using is not as firm and the bag may not stand up on its own.

Product Development

I felted some fabric to be used for bows. A variety of colours were used.

Carded wool was laid out on bubble wrap in two layers, perpendicular to each other.

A net curtain is placed over the wool, boiling water and soap flakes are carefully poured over. Lots of rubbing followed.

After being rolled hundreds of times, then tossed onto bubble wrap, washed and ironed, we’re done. A piece of felt big enough to create multiple bows.

The bag was cut from a blanket purchased at the local op shop. It was lined with a piece of fabric in my leftovers box.


Putting the bag together was relatively easy. The handles are reinforced to add strength.


The lining was problematic, it slipped and slid as I sewed it.


Felt bows being made.


A terrible photo of my 3D butterflies. Great pattern, I’ll use it again.




Photographs, where do I start. My eyes aren’t what they used to be , my photography skills went down the toilet as my eyesight deteriorated. The man gave me a flashier camera, to improve my skills?? It didn’t help. It was bulkier, too hard to carry around so I took less photos. I’ve gone back to my cheap and cheerful, and guess what I’m having fun.


If you revisit the aim of this little experiment, it was to make a bag I could sell.  The whole thing is an unmitigated failure. It took way too much time to make, time is money. Adding fluffy bits like bows and butterflies didn’t help. Oh well, the frivolous stuff is part of who I am.

The bag is not as rigid as I had hoped and flops over when put on the ground. overall I am pleased with how it looks.

I suppose I’ve proved a point craft stalls don’t pay. I need to find something equally as funky to make, that is going to be a heck of a lot cheaper. Watch this space.

On a positive note someone will get a really cool birthday present.

Ka kite ano.


Posted in Craft project, Technology Design Process | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Winding Down

I started writing this wee little ditty over a month ago, took photos, then Paddington happened, Christmas popped up and the visitors arrived. It’s been languishing as a Word Doc that I’ve added this and that to since. Yesterday, I dusted off my computer and read it. As you can imagine it was a disjointed mess.

So here we go a recount of my last two months. It starts with an itch I have to scratch. I am quite convinced that a significant percentage of the population have lost the ability to reason. The world is becoming a crazy place, in fact 2017 seemed to be a year filled with more than our fair share of craziness. Donald Trump is President of America, New Zealand now has a new inexperienced government, which makes me incredibly nervous.

The teaching profession continues to be criticised. As a reliever I have the luxury of walking in and out. Doing my job well, making children’s day magical, so that their teacher can return to a problem free world. My heart goes out to all teachers at this time of the year. Their holidays will be spent catching up on tasks that have been neglected and nursing themselves back to good health.

Professionally 2017 has been a year of new experiences. I had to laugh when a recently registered teacher announced, “That at least they now knew everything about teaching”. Oh my gosh, you never ever stop learning.

Anyway I digress, we’re winding down. Summer is finally here. Lets get back to the things one does to distract themselves from the craziness that surrounds them.

Long walks on the beach with the man and the dog.






Crocheting …… Attic24  is one of my favourite blog sites. Late last year I was searching for a summer project. I decided on the Summer Harmony blanket as seen on the Attic24 website. Just a wee something to keep me busy, I would wile away my summer evenings crocheting blanket squares. Sewing it together in the cooler months.

I purchased the wool through Lucy’s shop, $58.00NZ delivered. My Christmas present to me, what a stupendous deal!



As you can see from these photos I’m ripping through it. It is stinking hot here and I’m desperate to finish this rug. Not that we need it, but I’ve never been known for my patience.

Journalling saved my bacon during term 4 last year. Relieving in the last term of the school year is often fraught. The need to do something new and different, something that could be used across all curriculum areas and at all levels, saw me creating journals. I played around with different styles of covers, bindings, etc.


Covers made from the delicious Daphnes Diary



My most important consideration was, as a reliever, I don’t have access to unlimited resources. After a rummage through my book collection I found some sacrificial offerings. A very successful term of journal making ensued.


In the classroom


For all those teachers out there, a gift for you. I have included some of my doodlings below, if you’re so inclined. These journal pages have multiple uses in the classroom. They could be incorporated into personal journals for each student, used to publish individual writing. The possibilities are endless.

Sharyn’s journal pages

Before printing, go into your print settings, Page Size and Handling, click on Custom Scale, changing it from 100% to 98%, this will ensure that the borders aren’t trimmed.

Wishing you all the very best for the coming year.

Ka kite ano




Posted in Craft project, Creative writing, Crochet, journal pages, Free resources, new zealand | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment