A to Z of my childhood

The A – Z of My Childhood: Why I Turned Out the Way I Did

X – Marks the Spot


When I was a kid, I loved making treasure maps.

We had been taught in school how to reproduce maps from the atlas using tracing paper and a soft pencil. This was a long and somewhat tedious process because, once the trace had been made, it had to be transferred onto art paper. This was done first in pencil and then in blue using a pen and ink.  The lettering had to be done in perfect copy book script,  the page bordered in red ink and the whole thing carefully shaded with coloured pencils.  Using the pens was a messy business and one blot ruined the entire piece of work, meaning that one had to start over.


Also, one was not permitted to use any creative license when naming the places on the map.  Brisbane had to be marked as Brisbane not Blood-Sucking Leechville.

When I drew my treasure maps, I used my best coloured pencils and sometimes one of those newfangled BIC ballpoint pens and I always had creative place names. The kitchen was Dorothy’s Dungeon of Dastardly Deeds.  The garage, in which many small lizards lived, was marked as the Pit of Foul and Ferocious Pythons.  Far more interesting, in my humble opinion.


The purpose of my treasure maps was not so much to conceal some item, but rather to send my brother off on a wild goose chase and thereby get him out of my hair for a while.  My parents had this mad idea that we should want to play together.  Where they got that idea from, I have no idea.  We rarely wanted to play together. He liked to annoy me, and I liked to annoy him, but we did not like playing together.

So I made treasure maps, lots of treasure maps…and, in a treasure map, as you know, X marks the spot where the treasure can be found.


Well, it does in most treasure maps but, in my maps, not always.  I found that it was much more fun to hide the item and draw the map so that when my brother arrived at the X, I would be lying in wait, ready to leap out and scare the socks off him.  Of course, this practice usually resulted in my being sent to my room to think about what a mean, nasty big sister I was, while my brother sat at the kitchen table enjoying a calming snack of milk and cookies.

I didn’t really care. My bedroom, aka Hepzibah’s House of Brain Melting Horrors, was where my books and my real treasures were.  My collection of tiny bottles, my miniature china tea set given to me by Nanna, my gold bangle (real gold, not just yellow metal), my shoebox full of cards and letters and my special set of colouring pencils in a wooden box, sent all the way from England by my great aunt…all my most precious possessions were hidden in secret places in my room.


And yes, I had made treasure maps for each of those secret locations, just in case I forgot where I had ‘buried’ my treasures. I had attached them to the back of my bookcase, the side that faced the wall, so that any snooping, pesky little brother wouldn’t find them.

Nobody was going to find my treasure…and in those maps X really did mark the spot.

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anxiety, mindfulness, organisation

Thursday’s Question

Thursday’s Question

Thursday is Question Day, so here is today’s question.

What is your favourite essential oil?


My Answer:

I have two faves.  Lavender and Wild Orange. I use DoTerra oils. I do not sell them but I appreciate the quality of their oils.

Lavender was my Nanna’s perfume. She wore Yardley Lavender every day. Even today, a half century she she passed away, the scent brings her back to me.

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Lavender has been used for centuries to relieve tension and insomnia. It is a most versatile oil and is a must in my house. Uses include:-

  • soothing skin – acne, razor burn, skin nourishment (masks, moisturiser)
  • cuticle care
  • deodorising the home – a few drops of oil in a spray bottle of water – blissful.
  • sleep promotion – add to the bath or diffuser
  • cooking – lavender cake -yum
  • easing stress and anxiety – apply topically (dilute with fractionated coconut oil) or diffuse


Wild Orange

Wild Orange is strongly scented oil. It has an immediate uplifting property that I really like, almost like it is energising the air. I love diffusing it in my office. It gives me the energy and focus to work on accomplishing my goals.




What is your favourite?  Please comment below, and don’t forget to say how you use your favourite oils to enhance your wellbeing and lifestyle.




anxiety, organisation, productivity

Planned Clean


When it comes to keeping my house clean and tidy, I like the K.I.S.S. method of attack -Keep It Simple, Stupid.

The routine has to be relatively quick and easy. I have other things to be doing besides cleaning.

This method of doing the cleaning ensures that the tasks do not become so big that they seem monumental which would cause me to become anxious. Then I would be too busy worrying about the house being a mess (thus making myself a wreck) to actually be able to take care of the mess.

So here’s how I do it.

Make the bed straightaway.    It’s a little thing, but having the bed made makes the room look much neater and gives a sense of accomplishment. I know that may sound silly, but it’s true. Leaving the room looking “done”, with the windows open so that fresh air can come through (weather permitting, of course), sets me up for the day. One job done – check!

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Load the washing machine. 

Next, I gather up the dirty laundry and get the washing machine going before turning on the coffee maker. It can be doing its job while I have breakfast.

Unpack dishwasher. 

During the day, dishes are rinsed and put into the dishwasher so that it can be run in the evening.

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Pick up and Replace

After breakfast, I do a quick sweep of the living areas, picking up anything that has been left lying around. These things are then put back where they belong….or in the bin as the case may be.

One Big Chore

This might be vacuuming, or cleaning the bathroom, mopping the hard floors, dusting, changing bed linen etc. You know the regular jobs that have to be done on a regular basis. Doing one a day means that you aren’t left with a mountain of work to do on the weekend. When I was still going out to work (I was a teacher for many years), I saved changing the beds for Saturdays because it took the longest to do. Otherwise this part of the routine would be left until I came home from school. Nowadays, I can get it done before I come down to my little office to get to work.

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Laundry Part 2

Transfer laundry from washer to clothes line or dryer. All that is left then is to fold the clothes as they come out of the dryer or off the line. DO NOT just bundle them all into the basket and think that you’ll fold them later. That is just adding another job and it often doesn’t get done. Then you have a basket of crumpled clothes. I hate ironing. If I fold right away it cuts the ironing down to virtually nothing.

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How Long? 

This whole routine takes less than a hour most days and enables me to keep on top of the mess and mayhem. Bear in mind that here are only two humans and two fur kids living in our house and that for larger families, it will undoubtedly take longer. Believe me, I remember the battles I had getting kids to pick up their stuff and put it away. My kids didn’t mind being part of the process as a rule but we certainly had our moments when it came to cleaning their rooms.

So, that is my K.I.S.S. cleaning routine. It helps keep my mind calm and my home clean and organised.

Planned Cleaning – Love It.

Here are some stickers for your planner to help you organise your routine.

                          Download them here.

Cleaning Stickers





anxiety, books, productivity

Mission # 2

Mission? What mission?

My mission at the moment is to write the next book in my anti-bullying series, Gummshoes.

After the holiday break, it is always a little difficult to get back into my normal routine of writing every day. Whether what I write is terrific or complete rubbish, I write every day.

I am a writer and that is what I do. It’s what I want to do. It’s what I have to do. On the days when I can’t be at my computer, I feel somewhat uncomfortable, almost guilty, because I haven’t accomplished anything. My mind then goes into overdrive and I don’t sleep well. Writing is part of me.

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This Mission:

The Gummshoes series was inspired by a television programme I saw one day when I had the ‘flu.  There I was, reclining miserably on the couch, when two young men were being interviewed. You can watch it here.

These two young guys had experienced bullying themselves and decided that they would stand up for younger kids who were being targeted. In one simple act of inviting those younger kids to sit with them at lunch, they began a movement which has now spread across the USA and into other countries as well.

In the past year or so, a young lady called Natalie Hampton has also taken a stand against school bullying. She started Sit with Us.  This is an app that allows kids to find students at their school who are happy to sit with them at lunch times so that they are not isolated.

Inspired by these wonderful young people, I wrote the first Gummshoes mystery.


Gummshoes is a secret group created by Frankie Gumm (Get it? Frankie Gumm – Gummshoes?) and his best friend Oliver Mollison. The two boys have been bullied for most of their school lives. Now that they are in sixth grade, they have developed some strategies for coping with the bullies. when they notice a younger student, Alex (Binka) Binkowski going through the same problems that they had to deal with, the boys decide to take care of him. As they investigate interesting goings-on at their school, they teach Binka how to be resilient and feel more confident.

In Mission # 1 – The Nobbled Numbskull the boys have to figure who is sabotaging the school’s star soccer player. How will Carson Road win the pennant if Jon Nittleson can’t play?

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Mission #2

In the story I am writing now, Frankie and Olly are confused when the school’s biggest bully, Nits, decides to hang out with them. This is a scary, yet intriguing situation for them. With the whole school collecting cards and tokens for a new game, Binka notices that something weird is happening with a display of medals in the Principal’s office.

This something for the Gummshoes to investigate, but will they involve Nits in the sleuthing or not? The boys are quite enjoying the thrill (and power) of being befriended by him.

Will Nits become a Gummshoe, or will Frankie and Olly become bullies?

Stay tuned for the answers.


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Olly                                                                                   Frankie






anxiety, organisation, planning, productivity

What’s On My Desk.

Happy New Year! 

To start the new year, I thought I would show you my workspace.

As you know, my husband and I have recently moved into our new home. I have a little office on the ground floor. It is a lovely place for me to work. The walls are painted a soft grey (like the rest of the house) and the trims are white. There are French doors which open out onto a little courtyard – at least, they will one day when the retaining wall and courtyard have been completed. As I write this, I have a view of the rock wall and the upper level.


I have shelves along one wall, complete with television (The Big Bang Theory is my fave show.) and all my reference books. Can you see my broom in the corner? I think it is a Nimbus 2000. The teal baskets store everything from small books to things like hole punches, camera cables, and CDs


Then, there is a small work bench which carries my printer, paper trimmer, and laminator. Underneath (thankfully cut out of the photo because they are a bit messy looking) are my paper supplies. The whiteboard is where I scribble ideas for upcoming books and works in progress.  The Medal Muddle is the children’s book I am working on at the moment.

IMG_1140On the other wall are my desk and another table placed at right angles to it. I don’t like my desk to be too cluttered, so the extra table allows me to have everything I need close to hand but not crowding me. I always scribble paper and pens and pencils beside me to make quick notes that are later transferred to my planners.

My laptop is on the side table. I always back up my book files to the laptop so that a) I have an extra copy and b) so that I can have them with me when we travel.



Also on the side table are my Silhouette machine and my planners.

Mini Happy Planner: Gratitude Journal

Erin Condren Life Planner:  2017 Planner

Kikki K Gold:  This year’s daily planner

Kikki K Black and White:  Business planner

Mint:  Useful bits and pieces

Blog Planners x 2

The Kikki K ones are usually on the desk when I am working.


And finally I have my diffuser which sends delicious vapour through the office. Today it is providing calming whiffs of Balance Blend from Doterra.


My office space makes me fell serene and motivated. I love coming down here everyday.

There is room in the middle of the room for my yoga mat so I start my mornings in a positive and invigorating way.

I think having a work space that is comfortable, welcoming, and which holds things that appeal to your eye is most important for your productivity. My office provides comfort, invokes inspiration and motivation, and definitely makes me a more productive person.

It also makes me happy and that, to me, is the most important thing. If I am happy and smiling, I am calmer, less anxious, less reactive to negative stimuli. That is a huge positive for me.

I love my office. I hope you have enjoyed seeing it.