Save Your Phone From the Kids.

girl playing on mobile phone

There are plenty of reasons why you should keep kids away from your phone.  

Too much screen time.

Have you seen how much time children spend in front of screens of all shapes and sizes these days?  Television, tablet, iPod, Computer, It’s scary when you add it all up. They don’t need to touch your phone too.

Much better to send them outside to play — or settle down with a game, or a book. Old-fashioned fun it may be to them, but it’s a much-needed break from the realities of modern life. You could join in — after all, you need a break too.

They might muck up your settings.

After all, you spent a LONG time getting your phone just so. Everything is  exactly where you want it. Let the kids loose on it and who knows where every app will end up. And there’s nothing more frustrating than searching in a desperate hurry for the app that used to be on your home page and isn’t any more.

You have important stuff in there.

Emails, texts, contacts, banking apps… there’s plenty of information on your phone that you really don’t want anyone to share. One wrong finger tap and it could all disappear — or be shared with the world. Either way, it’s enough to make you grab your phone back now.

But the REAL reason you should never let kids near your phone is…

They will beat your high scores every single time!


Picking Up What?

“What are you doing next?” said my husband.

“Why?” I asked, somewhat warily. I’ve been caught out by this question before. You never know what a farmer might suggest.

“It’s time you had some fresh air,” he replied firmly. “Come and help me shovel the cowpats.”

So I put down my pen and went to help him pick up poop.

It’s not as bad as it sounds.

You see, last week we sold our 15 cows and calves. They had to go — we’re so dry that there wasn’t enough grass to feed them any more.

I was sad to see them leave. After all, the cows were the main source of beautiful free fertilizer for my tunnel house gardens.

So, really, I was delighted to go pick up poop.

And it really isn’t as bad as it sounds. Now there’s a lovely pile of weathered fertilizer conveniently located near the tunnel house door.

It doesn’t smell. It’s well past that stage. My plants will be pleased.

So am I.


“I don’t want another cat.”

I said it, and I meant it.

Our beautiful old boy had died after 21 years and he couldn’t be replaced.

Then along came Miaow, a cat like no other.

We found her one cold winter’s night, sneaking into the pantry to snack on the farm dogs’ biscuits. She’d been “sizing up the joint” for days before hunger drove her in.

She was perilously shy. One whiff of human scent and she fled.

But slowly, cautiously, back she came.  Food, warmth, a place to sleep eventually enticed her to stay.

Over the years we’ve come to an arrangement, she and I.

I feed her every biscuits in the morning and cat food each night. Once in a blue moon she will graciously allow a pat. I can tell she’d love more, but she just can’t bring herself to accept them.

From Wild Cat to Farm Cat

Miaow patrols the territory she’s claimed as hers. There’s no sign of a mouse in the pantry during winter, when she curls up on the box of stored farm papers she’s appropriated as her bed.

The hayshed is home over the summer months. Hidden in the hay, she keeps a close eye on the ducks nesting between the bales. She may be the bane of sparrows and mice, but I’ve never seen her pounce on a duckling. Early on, the ducks and Miaow declared a truce. Muscovies are big: the drakes easily outweigh and outnumber one little cat. Discretion is the better part of valour in Miaow’s pragmatic eyes when it comes to ducks and farm dogs.

Feed Me Now!

There’s no ignoring Miaow when she wants breakfast or tea.  A piercing call leaves me in no doubt that food is required. And not just any food: oh no, a nice cheap can of Chef or Whiskers would never do.  It’s got to be Fancy Feast, please, or maybe the expensive Dine Desire. It’s not worth my while to feed her anything else; the sounds of her displeasure can go on for hours.

All in all Miaow’s got me  wrapped around her little claw.  She is possibly the world’s most unrewarding cat. And yet, I’m pleased that she trusts us enough to stay.

I wouldn’t be without her.


Listen and Learn

A whole new vista has opened before my eyes — or should I say “before my ears”. Inspirational talks, new skills and even controversial opinions are taking my brain by storm. And best of all, it fits perfectly into my day. What is this new love? Welcome to the wonderful world of podcasting.

A podcast? What’s that?

A podcast is an audio file which you can access on the internet. You can listen to it online or download it to hear offline at a later date. Podcasts are often done as a series of installments and the ones that I follow are a bit like audible blogs in the fields that interest me — education, inspiration,  and of course, blogging.

Podcasts are broadcast by all sorts of different people and websites and are available on just about any topic you care to mention. A simple Google search will generate dozens of possibilities.

But I don’t have time to be stuck by the computer all day.

Neither do I. And this was my biggest problem when I first discovered podcasts.

But you can listen to a podcast on any device.

Particularly, you can download them onto your phone. This is a game changer. My favourite listening times are during my morning walk and on long drives. We have lousy radio reception where I live, and a limited CD collection in the car, so I was beyond delighted to discover the podcast alternative.

So how do you do it?

You will need to install a podcast app onto your smartphone from either Play Store (android) or the App Store ( iPhones).

There are lots of different ones out there, and it can be hard to choose.

Think about what features are important to you and what amount you’re prepared to pay. When looking at an app, click on  READ MORE and a full description will appear explaining all the features of the app. Return to the short version and scroll down to see the user ratings and reviews.

Which app did you choose?

I use CastBox. (The latest, version with the orange icon.)

It was simple to download and install. On opening it asked me a few questions about my interests and then recommended some podcasts based on those. However, I knew the podcasters I particularly wanted to follow, and it was easy to type each one into the search box. Up came the link and I hit “subscribe.”

Once subscribed, a series is then in my list. It’s easy to choose a few episodes, download them at home where I have plenty of internet data, then listen offline while I’m walking or driving. Piece of cake!

Make sure you delete them afterwards though — you don’t want too many podcasts taking up space on your phone.

Now I’m not affiliated to CastBox and get no advertising revenue from mentioning them. I actually chose them because they had replied to a comment on the reviews, which mentioned a bug in that app. The reply explained that there was a new version in which that bug had been fixed. I found it and the rest is history.

So now you know. All it takes is a digital device and the right app.

Be inspired, informed or entertained: it’s all at your fingertips.

What are you waiting for? Make a start. Join the wonderful world of podcasting today.

Piece Together a Picture of Paradise


Every December I have the same problem. Christmas Cards. I really want to send them, and I really, really want to include a letter as well.  After all, for some of my friends, this is the only time of year we’re in touch.

But, here’s the thing. The end of the school year is taken up with one thing, and one thing only. The School Production.  It consumes every waking moment (and sometimes sleeping moments too) as we work to get the big show ready. So, no time for letter writing there.  

And of course when it’s all done and dusted, so are my energy levels. Now I have the time, but my brain has shut down. Inevitably what happens is, the packet of cards sits on the shelf and stares accusingly at me, never to be sent.

So this year I did something a little different. Instead of cards I sent some postcard puzzles. Intrigued? I hope so. Here’s the article I wrote on my daughter Jenny, and her clever idea.

Piece together a slice of New Zealand

Young and carefree, Jenny McNamee loved to travel, working where she could and exploring the wonders of the world.  And even when she touched base back home in New Zealand, as a tourism expert she helped  travellers from all over the globe to experience the beauties of her own, lovely country.

But whether overseas or in New Zealand, the same problem always presented itself: Where to find that unique, small, lightweight, easy to pack or post, perfect souvenir?

Fast forward to 2017, and the arrival of baby Harvey presented Jenny with the perfect time to focus on solving the problem.

A search through her diverse collection of stunning photographs… the giant jigsaw on the dining room table… an exploratory click on the internet and “Postcard Puzzles” was born.

A jigsaw and a postcard in one, Postcard Puzzles solve the souvenir dilemma in a unique and playful manner.

You can break it up and do the puzzle yourself, or write on the back and mail it to family and friends.

All the photos are from Jenny’s own South Island collection. With four iconic images to choose from and more in the pipeline, postcard puzzles are available at selected outlets in Oamaru, Garston and Te Anau, or contact Jenny online through her Facebook page


The Electric Fan

I don’t remember a summer as consistently hot as this one has been. The month’s temperature map on the TV last night showed it clearly: the South was red (extreme) all over.

It’s weeks since I rolled shut the tunnel-house vents. Inside our house, everything that can be open, is. Most days the temperature is 30ºC or more. We’re tough, of course. No air-con here!

The HRV temperature gauge shows clearly that you wouldn’t want to be in the roof cavity in the afternoons —  it registers 50+ºC whenever the sun is out.

Now I’m not actually complaining about this. I much prefer having a dry, hot summer than the dry COLD summer that we had last year. That was horrible. And I know it could be worse.  At least I don’t have to play tennis in this heat.

But for the first time ever, this summer, I bought a cooling electric fan.  

And for that, I am very grateful.