Creative Halloween Ideas for Kids

Halloween is coming up on October 31st, 2016. Here are some fun craft and foodie ideas for children with The Wong Side of Life!



Halloween hand masks


Paper pumpkin (lantern style)


Feet print ghosts.


Hand X-ray using cotton buds & white paint


Pumpkin style lanterns


Cotton bud skeleton


Spider web using pop sticks and wool (black or white)


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Book review & interview with author Anita Heiss


Kicking Goals by Anita Heiss, Adam Goodes & Michael O’Loughlin.

Anita Heiss is an Australian author working across a range of areas: children’s literature, chick literature, non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary, extending her reader’s knowledge and understanding of contemporary Aboriginal life in Australia. She’s a wonderful role model for the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy and an Advocate for the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence and an Indigenous Literacy Day Ambassador. Kicking Goals is her latest book which is a collaboration with former footballers Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin.


Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin are AFL legends, blood brothers and great mates. They’re two of the best footballers ever to play for the Sydney Swans. But how did they meet and become mates? What were they like when they were kids? What did they get up to at school? And what was it like to go from being normal teenagers to AFL superstars? These are popular questions kids would love to know. And all of these questions are answered in Kicking Goals where they tell their stories of friendship in their own words, as told to Anita Heiss.


My favourite parts in this book are the moments where Adam and Michael reveal their humility and kindness.

Michael says, “Adam’s friendship means a lot to me. The toughest moment for me was the death of my grandmother, and Adam was really solid. With those types of things, and with my family living thousands of miles away, you need to be able to rely on each other.”

And Adam says, “Kids can be leaders by helping others who might be struggling to learn. If you’re really good at something, you can help teach other people your skills.”


I was lucky to interview Anita Heiss earlier this year.

Lin Wong: What do you do each day that gives you joy?

Anita Heiss: Starting my day with a run gives me joy – this may be along the Brisbane River, Maroubra Beach (Sydney) or around Treasury Gardens (Melbourne) depending on where I am on any given day. Running clears my head, helps me work through my storylines and makes me feel good about myself and the day ahead.

The second thing I try to do most days is have a coffee with a tidda. The venue really doesn’t matter; it’s just the time to yarn, debrief, laugh and quite often plot that brings me joy.
Lin Wong: What do you do to stimulate your creativity?

Anita Heiss: I people watch. I talk to people. I put my running shoes and hit the pavement. Sometimes, I just lie down and clear my head of anything that is not about what I am supposed to be focussed on, because the one thing that stifles creativity most is a head full of chaos about things unrelated to my current project.

Lin Wong: What has inspired & motivated you to write your first ever book?

Anita Heiss: I was at UNSW doing my Honours degree and realised nearly every book on the shelf about Aboriginal anything was written by a non-Aboriginal author, and even authors who had never been to Australia. I knew that my responsibility as someone with access to education was to provide a voice for those without. My first book Sacred Cows (Magabala Books, 1996) though was really a statement to say that we (Aboriginal people) could equally write about non-Aboriginal people because we have been socialised, educated and employed though white institutions.

Kicking Goals is Anita’s latest kids’ book and I give it a 9/10.

Well done and congratulations to her, Adam Goodes and Michael O’Loughlin for creating great kids literature.



Fabulously Creative with Walter Mason

Walter Mason did a wonderful Fabulously Creative workshop for writers this week at Ashfield library.

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Walter’s first book, Destination Saigon was published at the age of 40 and says, “Anything fabulous can happen at any age in your life!”

He started the workshop with us closing our eyes and we had to think about our intentions for the workshop, “What I want to do is…” and then after a minute or so Walter rang a beautiful sounding bell, reminiscent to the bells you hear at temples. The beautiful sound echoed through the room, I felt like I was being transported into a Buddhist monk retreat.

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He shared with us “fabulous people” who inspired him as a writer. They include:

  • Rabelais (1483-1553) who came to Walter in a dream and was a writer, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, master of crude jokes and songs. He was a monk who often wrote about getting drunk and many other salacious stories. The lesson he learned from him – “Write warmly and take delight in everyday life.” A wonderful Rabelais quote was, “Wisdom can’t enter an unkind heart.” I really love this quote.
  • Ouida (1839-1908) was the pseudonym of the English novelist Maria Louise Ramé. She lived at Langham hotel in London and ran up huge hotel and florist’s bills, and commanded soirees that included soldiers, politicians, literary lights (including Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, Robert Browning and Wilkie Collins), and artists (including John Millais), “A little scandal is an excellent thing; nobody is ever brighter or happier of tongue than when he is making mischief.” The lesson learned – “Go to the places that inspire you.”
  • Baron Corvo (Frederick Rolfe) (1860-1913) was an English writer, artist, photographer and eccentric. He often carried eccentric and peculiar notebooks and pens and often had a story to tell for everything he had. Lesson: Write extravagantly and with style, and always keep eccentric notebooks.
  • E.F. Benson (1867-1940) An English novelist, biographer, memoirist and represented England at figure skating. He was a precocious and prolific writer, publishing his first book while still a student. Principally known for the Mapp and Lucia series about Emmeline “Lucia” Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp. Lesson: “Observe the world minutely and always look for stories in people and the places you encounter each day.
  • Edith Sitwell (1887-1964) was a British poet and critic and the eldest of the three literary Sitwells. She often spent one day of the week in bed! She had an ostentatious style due to her costumes and was an outrageous person, born with a twisted spine. Lesson: “Be noteworthy.”
  • Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) was an English poet, novelist and garden designer. Lesson: “Cherish every moment in life and write about it. There is never a perfect time-all stages of life are worth celebrating.”
  • Elinor Glyn (1864-1945) was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialised in romantic fiction, which was considered scandalous during her time. Lesson: “Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.”

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We then did some fabulous writing activities. They include the following:


Walter asked us to write a 50 words blurb about ourselves within 5 minutes. There was however one other small restriction placed onto us, and that was that we had to include one special word – one that was pulled out from his blue bag filled with typed words. My special word was, DROP!

So I wrote – Joy Hopwood’s a creative who works in the arts and entertainment industry. She founded the Joy House Film Festival and does creative kids workshops in schools as part of her “Kindness is for Free” workshops, an anti-bullying and racism initiative, with her DROP dead gorgeous Wong Side of Life puppets.

We all read out our blurbs and some other people had to include words such as “damage,” “bang,” “bake,” “pumpkin,” “chase” and so on.

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We then had to write down a time in our lives that made us think we were writers.

I recalled a time in year 7, at school, when our class had to write down procedures of looking after our pets. I wrote about my pet goldfish and at the end of my story I wrote, “This is how I look after my goldfish, even though he died last week!” After reading it out loud, the classroom erupted into laughter and my teacher said, “I always enjoy reading your work Joy, because of the honesty and humour you put in your stories. Your stories often put a smile on my face.” This was the first moment in my life that I thought I could be a writer.


Walter made us all address our fears and told us of an incident when one writing teacher told her class to get their names printed on business cards with one word job description underneath – “WRITER.” This affirmation made the class think differently about themselves. One of my favourite activities was when we all had to draw a vertical line in the centre of our pages and write down our fears on the left side and then a positive counteraction on the other side. For example on one side of the page I wrote, “My writing is untidy,” and on the right side of the column I wrote, “My writing is neat,” and so on. After everyone wrote down their lists of fears we were then instructed to tear off and throw away our fears and have our positive affirmations displayed near our computers or writing place. Walter stressed that it does matter how we talk to ourselves and that he once completed a 12-step programme of, “Fake it until you make it!”


Writing and telling a story in 300 words is called flash fiction. By starting the story off with the action makes the story immediate and dynamic. Many flash fiction stories omit the set up of the story, and just went straight to the action.

For example, “My bird flew out of hands and dived into a world of the unknown…” or “He walked out on me after I confessed…” and so on.


Walter told us about Twyla Tharp’s prompt box. Tharp is a dancer and choreographer who’s produced over 130 dances and ballets over the last 40 years. She believes that creativity can be learned and implemented for the world to savour and enjoy and often uses the “prompt box” technique. Twyla Tharp explains her filing organisation/ creativity project started system: “I start every dance with a box. I write the project name on the box, and as the piece progresses I fill it up with every item that went into the making of the dance. This means notebooks, news clippings, CDs, videotapes of me working alone in my studio, videos of the dancers rehearsing, books and photographs and pieces of art that may have inspired me. he box makes me feel organized, that I have my act together even when I don’t know where I’m going yet. It also represents a commitment. The simple act of writing a project name on the box means I’ve started work.”




Walter also told us about his creative teacher, Jan Cornall who has “creative shopping bags.” Each bag holds items that inspire the writing process. Walter said that his teacher has one bag titled – My memoir, another – My creativity and so on. This is another wonderful creative idea for story and writing stimulation.

Like myself, Walter has journals. He says journal writing stimulates a part of our brain into action. By writing one page a day, in bullet points is a great start; you can use it for articles or for writing a book. To conclude the workshop we wrote down our future dazzling successes, in five years time.

I asked Walter what gives him joy in his life and he replied, “It gives me joy doing the thing I want to do. It gives me joy helping other people, realising and reaching their dreams. I get really excited when I see other people doing something they want to do and if I can help them in any way it really thrills me. It gives me joy being with people I love and it gives me joy to be loved in return. It gives me joy that I have done something that makes someone happy.”

Destination Saigon   Destination Cambodia

Walter has two books published, Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia, I strongly recommend them. He writes with great passion and humour. He has a few talks and workshops coming up. Here’s the link


Q and A with Indira Naidoo – The Edible City

Indira Naidoo is a renowned journalist, best known as SBS News host. In 2006 she became media manager and spokeswoman for Choice magazine and then in 2009 was one of 261 candidates selected to be trained in Melbourne by former US Vice President Al Gore to conduct regular presentations about the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Her first book, The Edible Balcony, was an instant best seller. Yesterday, Indira launched her second book, The Edible City at the Sydney School of Mechanics. I had the pleasure of interviewing her today for my blog.

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The transition from media into environmental activism was an easy one for Indira, because she often reported on issues such as the environment, sustainability and climate change-issues she was passionate about. When working at Choice, rain water tanks were illegal at the time, but today, they’re all part of ‘every day living’ and ‘sustainability.’ It all started when a market farmer gave Indira a tomato to taste, and when she bit into it, she was in heaven. “It was the best tomato I’ve ever tasted,” Indira said. This inspired her to transform her 20 metres balcony to an edible garden consisting of fruit, vegetables and herbs. David Wenham approached her after buying her first book The Edible Balcony to become the Wayside Chapel Ambassador, because her book inspired him to transform his small balcony to an edible garden.

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Indira helped transform The Wayside Chapel‘s rooftop to an edible garden. And in July 2015 they installed a bee hive in the corner of the garden, so they now have delicious honey. There are horticulture / garden volunteers who help daily and homeless people too. Jon, a gardener there says, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy.” The Wayside chapel’s garden help feed the homeless and gives a constant supply of nutritious and tasty food to their wonderful cafe too. Even Kylie Kwong’s restaurant Billy Kwong even uses the Wayside Chapel’s honey in their pork buns.  The Wayside Chapel cafe is open to the public weekdays. At Christmas (2015), 600 homeless people came to the Wayside Chapel’s Christmas lunch and most of the food was produced by their own edible garden!

The Edible city

Today, Indira spreads her message of sustainability to schools, corporate businesses, councils and governments, not only in Australia but overseas too, (e.g. New York) “making urban spaces liveable” is a passionate mission of hers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Indira for my blog.

What gives you joy now in your life these days?

“Probably things to do with growing, gardens and food I guess and friends and family to share it with. Food is about as intimate as our connection with nature gets, putting it our mouths. The intimacy that comes from gardens and food.”

Who were your role models growing up?

“I’ve got lots of areas of interest – political leaders, presidents and prime ministers and political activists. From Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, JFK, David Attenborough, Gough Whitlam.”

What are your views on diversity now in Australian film, television and in the media? Do you think it’s getting better?

“I think in the last fifteen years we gained a lot of ground in the 70’s and early eighties and late nineties and in the new century it’s been wound back. A lot about how we value diversity and multiculturalism, generally in our community and in the arts I’d say it’s not looking as rosy as the path we were on about 15 years ago and a lot of that has to do with the political leadership of the country which hasn’t sold the value of diversity. And so a lot of it comes connected to that, whether it’s arts bodies, theatre groups and television shows, it all flows on from the prime ministers of our time and how much they value diversity, so I think we’ve gone back a little bit in the last fifteen years.”

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In your latest book, Jon said, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy,” do you think our society is slowly becoming to value the importance of community or our economy these days?

“We just have to look at the news each night, how it covers stories like finances, houses and properties and how it talks about the economy and not much about this poor old lady across the road. There isn’t a lot of regard paid to the value of community, there’s a lot of emphasis on the economy and growing wealth, money and finances, so I think we’ve lost the balance, we’re out of balance at the moment and we need to go back to value the community.”

What would you like people to take away after reading The Edible City? And what would your legacy be?

“If I can just open people up to look at their living spaces in a different way and then they can bring more nature into the city and their lives and engage them to grow their own food, like lettuces, as there’s a real joy attached to that. It’s a lot of fun. Once you grow that seed and watch that seed germinate and then see the fruit and being able to eat what you grow, is just such a wonderful, joyous connection to nature and our environment. It’s just so tasty and delicious. Once you start that journey, you’ll never look back, bringing more nature and green into our cities it can only be better for our quality of life and overall happiness.”

What an inspiring woman Indira Naidoo is! The Edible City is now available at all good bookstores and The Wayside Chapel (The Wayside Chapel 29 Hughes Street, Potts Point, 2011. Phone: 02 9581 9100) has a tour coming up at the end of February 2016. The Wayside Café is open Mon – Fri 9am-7.30pm Sat 9am – 4:30pm Sun 12pm – 4:30pm. I’ll see you there!











HAPPY NEW YEAR – my top 10 new year resolutions for 2016

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Welcome year 2016 – a new year to make changes that we’ve been holding off in the past. Now is the the time to make it happen. I’ve made a list of New Year’s resolutions that you may like to take on board and adapt. I hope it brings your life joy!

Start spring cleaning your life! – starting with your home environment, clearing out clutter in your living and bedroom is a good start. Getting rid of junk and unused items that clutter your home is therapeutic as it’s based on the basic principle that the environment in which we live in reflects our inner self. So literally clearing and re-arranging and organising your living space allows your mind to do the same. Freeing yourself of the unnecessary while preserving the essentials allows space for creativity and well being. For me throwing out boxes and perfume bottles I’ve collected through the years and giving away clothes that I haven’t worn for over a year to charities, gives me a new sense of freedom, freedom of living lighter. You can do it too!

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Making time to spend with friends – life gets so busy as we all get caught up with work. Now is the time to reflect on the friends who have helped you through the tough times and who have supported your work and who make the effort to want to catch up with you. Not the takers but the ones who reciprocate. Those are the friends to make time for and to cherish.

Volunteer / Charity work – it’s time to give to the community. This year I hope to spend more time with charities. It’s time to get healthy so I can give blood to the Red Cross Blood Bank. So many times I’ve been turned down because my iron count is too low. Now is the time to get healthy so I can donate blood / plasma so lives can be saved. For every blood donation it saves up to three lives! Also I’d like to spend more time at the local children’s hospital and charities that I hold close to my heart.


Time to get healthy – in order to give blood, I have to start eating and exercising more regularly. I’m cutting down on my sugar treats to no more than one treat a day and to exercise 2-3 times a week. Eating vegetables has always been a bit of an effort for me, but to have roasted vegetables and tasty salads like a Thai beef salad is a good start.

In 2016 I’d like to see The Wong Side of Life puppets in more schools across Australia, as it’s a great anti-bullying & anti-racism initiative. It’s rewarding to hear a child say, “I can relate to the Lin Wong character.” As this reinforces the fact that bullying and racism exists in our schools and that role playing and puppet making through our creative workshops can help empower school children.

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To spread more joy in the world and to have more diversity content in the media, film and television industry-our Joy House Film Festival surely helps do this. It’s great to see our festival grow through the years and this year I look forward to see more short films that reflect our society and more stories that capture the essence of joy. I look forward to see you there!

Screen shot 2015-02-07 at 5.09.00 PM  Joy House film festival (long shot)

Getting more quality sleep – this year I intent to cut down on my social media to no more than one hour a day in total. By turning off all social media by 10pm, this allows me to have extra sleep. having 7-8 hours sleep is a luxury for me. I look forward to more sleep in 2016.

Traveling – This year I’m looking forward to travel overseas. I’m looking forward to go to Asia and U.S.A. to visit family and friends and to follow through on some business meetings.

Joy and Elmo in NY

Spread joy through my new book release. I’m looking forward to spread more joy in people’s lives through my new book release. Stay tuned.

Forgive and forget – in 2016 it’s time to forgive, forget and move on. One great lesson my late mother told me was, “Don’t feel sorry for yourself as there’s always someone in the world who has had a much harder time than you. So move on!” So on that note, let’s move on and enjoy 2016 – a year of joy!


Christmas joy 2015 (plus foodies & creative ideas)

Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s that time of the year where I reflect the year – 2015

Every year I write a list of things I’m grateful for.

Family and Friends – during the good times and the bad times, you always know who your true friends are for the most challenging times of your life. My late mother always said, “There’s always someone in the world worse off than you, so don’t feel sorry for yourself.”


puppets  kids

I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring The Wong Side of Life’s Kindness is for Free into schools – an anti-racism & and anti-bullying initiative. We’ve been able to add role playing (drama) by using my puppets so children experience what it’s like to be “the bully” and “the bullied,” as well as making popsicle puppets as part of a creative craft activity.



We also had a great Joy House Film Festival year, with the most entries received and audience thus far. I look forward to spread the joy each year by showcasing emerging filmmakers’ short film and giving prizes for not only best film, but also best youth and diversity short film. This is proudly supported by MEAA’s Diversity Committee. It’s a free yearly public event. Thank you to our sponsors – Media Super, Hoyts and Bendigo Bank (Willoughby North).

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I love giving talks and was lucky to do so for Laneway Learning this year – a great crowd and AAFFN panel in Melbourne.

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Christmas is also a difficult time for people, especially those in hospital. Every year I like to donate my Fairy Joy books to my local children’s hospital. To be able to give is most rewarding feeling.

FJ         FJ2

I hope you’ll be able to pay it forward, give joy, be loyal to your family & friends. Being grateful, ethical and giving is good for the soul – it’s a way of living a joyful life!

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Blessings to you and may 2016 be awesome for all.

Here are some creative foodies, craft & art ideas you can make and share for Christmas. Spread the joy!



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Christmas tree hands – I did this in my creative lesson with the school kids- they loved it!


Christmas tree reindeer made from pegs – made by my next door neighbour’s son.



Reindeer egg cartoon head


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Thumb print reindeers


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Moje Wypieki,,,, ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,,

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Creative Halloween ideas for 2015

It’s Halloween on the 31st October 2015. Here are some creative

ideas which everyone will love. Parents, teachers and kids- these

are the best I’ve found for 2015. EnJOY!

  1. Hand Paint print Vampire.

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2. Popstick Spider

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3. Skeleton ( made from paint & cotton buds)

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4. Paper Spider

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5. Spider candle holder

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6. Halloween lights
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7. Halloween Cheese Burgers
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8. Rubber Party Glove bags
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9. Mummy sausage rolls
Picture by  CheekyKiwi
10. Easy Halloween costume (decorate an umbrella)
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