FitFriday, FatFriday XIII. Feeling girlier.

Baby.

Pretty sure it’s baby’s fault I’m feeling so much girlier lately. Hormones. But even facial analysers are coming back calling me a few percentages more feminine and more attractive, so I suppose it’s not something to complain about. Only I’ve never been this concerned about social repercussions, making my hair nice, or small talk and gossip before. It’s like my brain is trying to force me to integrate. Shame I’m too asocial to find anyone to integrate with. Whoops. Then again, caffeine seems to get me thinking straight in no time and I’m sort of liking being a little more carefree about work and fussing over my appearance and the baby room.

The bump is still not progressing much. The midwife says even for a first pregnancy I’m measuring at 23-24 weeks, not 25+. But apparently my old bodybuilding and bellydancing routines may have given me slightly too robust abs, which may be resisting the effects of relaxin. Hoping that doesn’t mean I’m at much risk for diastasis recti, because exploding abs does not sound fun. They don’t work as they should already.

On the plus side, the baby is doing great. We can actually see him moving through the skin now and it’s the weirdest thing ever. Sometimes it’s just a twitch, sometimes my skin flies out of shape, and sometimes it looks like there is boiling water just under the surface, he’s so active. Unsure how freaked out Jon is by it as he conveniently manages to be at work, asleep, or otherwise distracted whenever the evening aerobics start.

Diet.

I have no idea what food I need any more. If I don’t eat at least 1400kcal I get a sore throat, which is a pretty good sign I need that much, but then again my belly is measuring small, but then again I have so little room for my meals, but then again some days I am quite active, but, but, but. Seriously, nothing makes sense. I’m going by “if I’m not getting very fat or losing weight and if the baby is moving, I’m probably OK”.

After a couple of busy days where more junk went in than usual I am recalibrating and getting better meals. I’m not really one to usually overeat or undereat when stressed, but if I have literally five minutes for breakfast, it’s going to be a bar of some description. Or Hello Pandas.

These are far too nice.

These are far too nice.

Workout.

Some weights continue to go up, which is weird because I was told that after the ab pains that was it for exercise. It seems the yoga I did to retrain my waist is working and now I naturally know how far I can stretch or tense without upsetting ligaments and muscles. Which means I can do more weights now than last week, despite being significantly fatter and more tired.

That said, the weights we dropped are going to have to stay out. Every time I try and do them there’s no body room, no energy, or it just pulls something. I need to keep myself in order so I can do other exercise for longer, not injure myself trying to reintegrate old weights too soon.

There will probably be belly pictures soon, when I’m feeling less awkward. But we’re on holiday shortly, so there’s no escaping the bikini pics. Will find some decent ones to post when we’re back.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How did your weeks in fitness go?

Oat Pudding.

Unsure what to call it. Not rice pudding as it was made with oat groats, but not porridge as it contained wholegrain oats. But it was nice.

Sort of fitting that an oats recipe goes up on Jon’s birthday. But I’m making a cake instead today. :p

Ingredients.

For the oats.

  • 2 cups oat groats
  • 1 cup porridge oats
  • milk to cover
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 1tbsp sugar

For the jam.

  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 10 plums
  • 1 stem rhubarb
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 1tsp paprika

Utensils.

  • large pot and spoon
  • chopping board and knife
  • small pot and spoon

Recipe.

  1. Soak the oat groats in milk with sugar.
  2. Chop the plums and rhubarb and mix with the raspberries. Put on a low heat to cook down.
  3. Slowly heat the oat groats to a boil and allow to cook.
  4. Mix the porridge oats into the groats and stir as they soak the remaining milk. You want a little bit of excess liquid when you turn the heat off.
  5. Add the butter on top of the oats and set aside to finish cooking in its own heat.
  6. Once the fruit is soft, add the spices and sugar and simmer, continually stirring, until the jam is thick.
  7. Serve the oats with a dollop of jam.

Oat pudding.

Bait, Bid, and Bite, everyday affections.

The flip-side to last week’s post about giving time and space, I would like to take the time this week to address the “bait and bite” of comfort-seeking behaviour in relationships.

In CBT this behaviour is referred to simply as “validation”, although it’s not exactly what we think of when we generally hear the term. In relationship psychology it’s called a “bid”. And it goes a little like this.

One member of the couple experiences something.

They feel an urge to share it with their partner.

Their partner acknowledges the vocalization and the experience.

It seems simple, and it is, but it makes an enormous difference.

When we reach out like that, regardless of whether we are pointing out a cute dog, explaining what went wrong with our work day, discussing something we read or looking for confirmation that what we witnessed did, indeed, happen, we are comfort testing our partners. We are saying “this is my life experience, and I want you to also experience it”. We are saying “please see what I have seen and tell me it is valid to you as well”. We are saying “this is what matters to me right now”.

And all we need is for our partner to acknowledge what we said and acknowledge our experience. That’s it. They don’t need to agree with us, to share our emotions, to continue the conversation. All they need to do, in essence, is say “yes, I can see the dog”, “I’m sorry your work day was bad”, “that book sounds interesting/not my thing”, or “I saw it too”. It’s that simple.

We “bait” our partners with actions that are designed to captivate attention and words to draw their attention to things around us. If they “bite” and acknowledge the bait, however minorly or however personal or weird their reaction is, we feel acknowledged, wanted, respected and loved. If they ignore us and react passively or dismissively, we feel insecure. It’s the ultimate comfort test and all humans do it, introvert or extrovert, male or female. It also directly correlates with relationship longevity.

Example of positive, comforting “bait and bites”:

Him: “Wow, look at that truck.” “Look there.” “Truck ahead.”

Her: “Pretty cool.” “It’s red.” “Is that a toyota?” “Not my thing.” “Where?” (Typically with some emotion in voice or on face, turning to look at what he is pointing out.]

All acknowledge what he has seen, what he is saying and establish some sort of personal connection. On the other hand, a negative, worrying “bait and bite”:

Him: “Wow, look at that truck.” “Look there.” “Truck ahead.”

Her: “Huh.” #silence# “Wait one moment.” “I’m busy.” “Sure.” (Typically in a flat tone, whatever is said, without turning her head to the truck.]

None acknowledge what he has seen, all refuse to share the moment or indulge in a personal moment, all focus entirely on her.

It isn’t about talking more, or forcing yourselves to talk about your day or to do things together. It’s more about the responsiveness percentage when you share information with each other. The more bait goes unbitten, the more detached a couple become. The more bait we bite, the longer the relationship lasts. So skip the candlelit dinner or the relationship adviser if you want to revive the spark. Perhaps first try and look at your partner, respond to their comments, and invite them back into your world.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How often would you say you make a bid of your partner? How often to they bite the bait? How often do you respond to their bids? If you’re not sure, try and keep a “bid diary” for a bit and tally up how much you share each other’s world.

Egg Yolk Cake. + Rhubarb Egg Tart.

Two recipes, because we need something to do with all those egg whites after the yolks are used up in the cake! All of this is absolutely terrible for you, whatever diet you are or aren’t on.

Yolk Cake.

Ingredients.

  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 200ml extra thick double cream
  • 300g mixed white and icing sugar
  • 300g flour and raising agents
  • a dash of vanilla

Utensils.

  • mixing bowl and whisk
  • greased or nonstick cake tin

Recipe.

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Mix together the egg yolks, egg, sugar, cream and vanilla into a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Fold the flour in gently.
  4. Mix in any raising agents.
  5. Pour into the cake tin.
  6. Bake for 30min. A skewer should come out without residue, but still be sticky to touch.
  7. Leave to finish cooking in its own heat.
  8. Jon says that keeping it in a tupper is essential to preserving stickiness.

Rhubarb Tart.

Ingredients.

For the crust:

  • 150g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • cinnamon to taste

For the filling:

  • 8 egg whites
  • 300g rhubarb stems
  • 250ml double cream
  • 5tbsp sugar
  • 1tsp thin vanilla extract

Utensils.

  • 2 mixing bowls with forks
  • whisk
  • greased or nonstick tart tin

Recipe.

  1. Mix the pastry ingredients into a firm dough.
  2. Press into a cake tin and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  4. Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
  5. Fold in the cream and whisk some more.
  6. Stir in the sugar and vanilla.
  7. Clean and chop the rhubarb stems.
  8. Place in the tart base.
  9. Pour the egg mix on top, ensure even and flat distribution.
  10. Bake at 160C until firm, puffed up, a little brown on top but still jiggly.
  11. Leave to cool before slicing.

It was a way of using up a few eggs and some cream, I suppose. Probably also two of the most fattening dishes I ever make. Oh well. At least they’re cheap.😛

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Why He Doesn’t Want To Come Home.

A phenomenon Jon and I have discussed previously, to no great conclusion, was revived by the recent idle drivel coming from the mouth of the UK’s own minor version of Bernie Sanders.

The short form of the matter is that, however much men will joke about “well, it beats being home with the gf/wife”, an increasing number of men actually act on it. They will go drinking right after work, take on overtime, or even go and do an unpleasant job for a friend or relative, relishing the time away from home. And we were stumped. But a little more discussion, insight and thought has led us to a fairly satisfactory answer: he doesn’t want to go home because he has no space there.

Humans may be social animals, but we are also private animals. As fairly reclusive introverts, Jon and I know this more than anyone. And we can see that even the most outgoing of extroverts from time to time withdraws into themselves the same way we need to do on a regular basis. Humans need time and space to think, to be quiet, to work on solo projects and to unwind. For introverts its about recharging, for extroverts it seems more about reminiscing and planning, for ambiverts its a bit of both.

And for most of our lives, we get that time and space. From around seven or eight years old, the point where we begin to see ourselves as a unit of society and socialize more sacrificially, passively and/or empathically, we are granted a right to time and space. We get to walk off on our own, have our own possessions to keep us busy away from everyone else, maybe even our own room if money and culture allow. This is Retreat with a capital R. And we need it. As we grow older, this boundary becomes more defined, even with friends and family. We learn to tell people we want some quiet time, that we’re tired, that we wanted to read a book or watch a show. And we learn that when others say similar things, they also need their space.

For some reason, though, many decide to throw this harmony out of the window when it comes to looking for a mate. My only guess is that it’s based on the same mechanism whereby people will lose weight, learn game, or even join a cult to find a partner. We simply put temporary effort into changing ourselves because we know, consciously or subconsciously, that being better means mixing our genes with better ones.

Some also temporarily give these people their personal space. They don’t have their own room any more. They don’t even have their own bed. They don’t have any space in the house where they can be left alone. They don’t have any time where it is appropriate to say “I just want to read a book right now”. Because they are convinced that they need to hand their whole lives to the other person in order for a relationship to work.

But the problem comes in with that “temporary” clause up there. Just as with spontaneous weight loss, a bit of game or joining a cult, unless your changes genuinely become a core part of you, this effort will melt away as the relationship cements. You will grow tired. You will have days where you don’t want to talk at all, or where you just want to sit down and regather your thoughts after work. You will want your time and space back. And so will your partner.

But in this sort of relationship, nobody makes the first move to letting that happen. All of a sudden, the person they loved and wanted to spend every second with becomes a chain around their ankles. They won’t shut up, they keep walking in on them gaming/reading/listening to music/indulging a hobby, they start pushing to do more things together to “relight the spark”. They both resent this constant presence and paradoxical distance.

And that is why he doesn’t want to come home. Because she is there. She is always there. It isn’t his home. There is no peace, no quiet, no time and space for him. There is no Refuge.

Of course, you needn’t spend any time apart to prevent this situation from developing. Jon and I easily spend every free minute together. He doesn’t have to go to the pub after work and I don’t need a girls’ night out to recover and get some social space. But you have to learn to be alone together sometimes. You have to be quiet, and restful, and minding your own business sometimes. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a little peace and quiet goes a long way.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your observations on couples who can’t spend time together? What are the ways you and your partner meet the need for Refuge? Have you tried being alone together?

The Garden Haul Comes In.

Interrupting the recipes for a quick update on the garden foods.

Well, we’re not quite there yet. Beans are not yet ripe, neither are tomatoes. Still got plenty of greens to harvest, as well as around 4/5 of the potatoes. The carrots and beets and turnips could do with another growth spurt too. But both in preparation for moving and because things ripen at different speeds, a load of stuff has already been coming in.

The raspberry bushes. Not actually “ours”. Wild-seeded.

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Raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant jam prep.

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This year’s attempt at restocking the jam supplies. Got blackberry jam to make soon, then elderberry jam and apple sauce. Hopefully plum jams, but we don’t grow our own so that depends on overstock from neighbours.

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Just a little peek into the top of our bag of frozen blackberries. Pretty much every time I’ve gone out, I’ve been picking early blackberries and freezing them. The picture doesn’t show it well, but the bag has around 1.5-2L of blackberries in it. They will need rinsing from frozen, defrosting gently, adding to however many fresh ones I can gather as September advances, then stewing down for more jams!

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The very last batch of rhubarb. Probably going to be a tart, or maybe a sweet sauce for topping a flan. Now’s time to move the plant roots into pots, to move down to our new place, ready to plant out next Spring.

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Around 1/10 of the potatoes, because we ate half of this batch before I took a photo. Digging them up 1/5 at a time, starting with the shallow ones, to prevent parasites and rot from getting them first. They’re possibly the starchiest potatoes I have ever had.😀

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And finally some of the greens we are growing. No pesticides, so a bit nibbled, but fine to eat.

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Here are some fresh greens, early beans and herbs being prepped for a stew.

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In short, the garden is serving us well this year.

Sadly my pea plants were not as robust as the beans, though, and produced only a handful of pods before succumbing to the sun during my week of absence. There’s always next year, though!

Burnout and Productive Laziness.

A recent post at ROK got me thinking about how easy it is to push yourself beyond healthy limits. We all have our reasons for doing it. Right now the nesting instincts are starting to kick in and seem to be merging with my money-saving drives, so I’m quite happily working in the garden until I realise I’m starting to feel a bit sick, or getting unnecessarily stressed about boxes in the hallway, or trying to put my sewing before paid work. I’m pretty sure the weird bug I had last week was down to overwork. But there are countless other reasons: the urge to impress, the thought that work is somehow sacred, the desire for the rewards, etc. We all have the capacity to overwork ourselves.

On the other hand, we are naturally lazy animals. All living beings are naturally lazy, in that we will do the bare minimum to fulfil our basic biological needs. Even our metabolisms are designed to do the most with the fewest calories possible, to complete processes sooner, to stay in stasis as long as possible.

And, although slothfulness is definitely a bad thing, I can’t help but feel that this gentle laziness is actually pretty positive. Unlike true sloth, where you sacrifice productivity and activity for rest, laziness is simply the desire to get things out of the way so you can rest. In short: you can be productive and lazy. Which is really what humans have been doing since the beginning of time. We have agriculture, electricity, mechanization and AI, all because we wanted to get work done sooner so we could get home and put our feet up. Every innovation, every great solution, every burst of creativity is born from an urge to not be doing what you are currently doing.

So don’t fear laziness. Harness it. Work out the path of least resistance to solve your problems and take it. Be productive, but not a beast of burden. And enjoy your rest.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!