How To… balance a freelance schedule.

As most of you already know, I am a freelance worker and self-employed in my own tutoring business. Which is kind of cool, as it means I can sit around on my butt all day and somehow get housework done and make a full time income. But it also means the schedule is insane. My everyday life has changed a lot since I went from being “the rural housewife” to actually becoming “the second earner”, and the schedule is the weakest point of the day.

So, when you have this work here and that work there, deadlines all over the place and have to work from your own home, how do you balance a freelance schedule? Here are my tips.

1: Set hours.

If any of your work has set times, build the rest of the day around them. Don’t worry about other aspects of the day, just prioritize set hours and deadlines and let everything else work itself out.

2: Think about time.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Think of how much time you have to complete a project, look at the time you have available and make realistic decisions.

On the other hand, you can always cancel something halfway. Don’t fall for the fallacy of sunk costs. Sometimes it’s better to end a business agreement or a task halfway through in order to focus on something you would rather be doing.

3: Reviews versus money.

When starting up, sweat the reviews but keep an eye on the money. Reviews mean more money, even if you have to do some underpaid work to get there. But make sure you’re not out of pocket, either!

When you’re established, sweat the money but keep an eye on the reviews. You need to look out for yourself and your business. But make sure the buyers think they are getting their money’s worth, or you will have bad reviews.

You cannot prioritize both unless you plan on letting this become a full time job.

4: Home office.

Try and contain all your work in an area of the house. This way you will always know where it is and you will save insane amounts of time.

5: Powering down.

When you set foot outside your home office, the working day ends. Check emails, by all means, but don’t try and keep going day and night. Set aside some time to keep your house in order, enjoy your family and be yourself.

6: Write a list.

Write up a complete list of your daily tasks every morning. Write in timed ones first, then fit everything else in around the times. Include work tasks and home tasks. Push important tasks nearer the start of the day and leave less important ones as a footnote for if you have time. This should help keep you focused and make sure everything gets done.

OTOH, I’m pretty sure I need a break soon. I’m forgetting to power down.

How do you balance your schedule?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Ugly Turkey Stew.

It’s ugly. The stew, not the turkey. Turkey mince is ugly and tomato based stew is ugly and cabbage is ugly. But it’s delicious and it’s high protein and low carb, so no complaints. Well, at least not since I managed to get Jon to put on surplus fat with a bulking diet (I knew he wasn’t an alien!) and he wants to lose it.

So here’s our current staple, with herbs and spices as needed.

Ingredients:

  • 500g minced turkey
  • 800g chopped or pureed tomatoes
  • 400g cabbage
  • 400g peppers, aubergine and courgette
  • 2 large onions
  • 100ml chili sauce (10% chili, so around 10ml concentrate or paste)
  • 10 large leaves of sage
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • pot and wooden spoon

Recipe:

  1. Rinse and chop the vegetables very finely.
  2. Tear the sage leaves.
  3. Mix the tomato, chili, paprika, sage, salt and pepper together and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the vegetables and turkey mince.
  5. Keep simmering until everything is cooked through.
  6. Serve up with baked garlic, jalapeno sauce, mustard or all three.

Not very pretty, so no pictures, but it’s yummy, warming, filling and low carb, so it wins all round.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Things You Can Do For Your Baby Now.

So you’re pregnant. Or you might be. Or you’re TTC and getting way ahead of yourself. And you really want to give your baby the best imaginable start in life. What can you get started on right here and now that will give your baby a better start in life?

Here are ten things I am doing to ensure my baby has the best start I can give it.

1: Eat well.

A good diet for your baby starts well before weaning, before breastfeeding, before even conception.

Your baby’s intra-womb nutrition is very heavily based on digesting the fatty tissue around your hips, upper thighs and buttocks. This is why a low waist to hip ratio and a wide, round bum is appealing to the vastest majority of men: it signals “I have abundant baby food!” Before conception, this fat is very hard for your body to digest short of actually starving yourself. This is why it was so hard to lose your “fat bum” when you hit puberty. Your body wants a fat bum.

So what goes into growing a fat bum, full of healthy baby nutrition, without getting fat everywhere else? Your body shoves a series of types of lipid and nutrient into this fat:

  • omega oils
  • calcium, magnesium, selenium and zinc
  • fat soluble vitamins

Make sure to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids, to grow wide hips to feed many babies with. Just keep your portions under control to not grow much wider everywhere else!

2: Get husband to eat well.

His diet matters as much of yours, but mostly it matters before conception. After that it’s a bit easier on him.

The average man needs to follow these guidelines to produce numerous, strong, genetically balanced sperm cells:

  • extra zinc, magnesium and selenium
  • more green veggies
  • more protein
  • some alcohol, less frequently
  • fewer sugars

3: Work.

Whether you are an employee, self employed or a housewife, do as much as you can to make and save money as the baby is on its way. You will likely have nowhere near enough time to make or save money once baby is here, and you will probably be hit by the nesting bug and want to buy more things for the baby very soon.

So make a point of making extra money, saving more, and setting a lot to one side, for peace of mind.

4: Stockpile.

Set aside a small corner. Start collecting baby basics, like wash cloths, weaning spoons, bibs, burping cloths, bra and nipple pads, vitamins… anything you will need during pregnancy and the first few months. Whenever you see something at a good price, snap it up and save it. This will save a lot of panicked, expensive last minute shopping.

5: Take notes.

Go and see the doctor.

Join a baby group, online or in person.

Research.

Ask friends and family.

Find out everything you could possibly want to know about making a baby and take note of anything useful, interesting or unusual.

Not only will it help you feel a bit more prepared and avoid big mistakes, but it will bring some comfort, relief and happiness.

6: Stay fit.

Having healthy hip fat is only part of the battle. If you want a strong and healthy baby, you need to be strong and healthy yourself.

Keep your weight down. Don’t diet, but try and not put on too much fat before or during the pregnancy. Some very overweight and obese women can even healthily lose body fat during pregnancy. Remember: the fat your body feeds the baby is almost a completely different pool to the fat you burn when you diet. Baby will be fine.

Stay active. Go for walks, lift weights, play with the dog. Don’t overexert yourself, but it’s absolutely fine to exercise until you’re a bit out of breath or tired. As long as you aren’t sweating or massively straining your abs, you are doing well.

Get outside. Get in the sunshine, breath some fresh air, experience the calming effects of nature. Not only will you get some vitamin D (crucial for bone development of the baby and healthy bones in yourself) and cleanse your lungs, but being in nature is good for mental health as well.

Keep your immune system strong. Don’t expose yourself to multiple people with the same bugs. Don’t overwash or underwash your hands. Eat well-cooked or very fresh foods. Listen to your sickness. Your body doesn’t need to be overburdened.

7: Meditate.

Sit down and take some time to relax, think about the baby and just enjoy your body.

8: Nurture love.

The baby may come before other people, but it should not push them out. Show affection and kindness to friends and family. Make a place for your partner as the parent of your child. Make sure everyone feels loved and a part of this.

9: Plan loosely.

Start making some plans.

Think about the money you want to have saved by the time the baby is born.

Think about how you will manage finances and work and maternity leave, check what government grants are available.

Think about what names you want to go for.

Think about how you could adapt if your baby is born disabled.

Think about what your partner will help you with.

Plan, but don’t plan too much.

10: Don’t stress.

Chances are everything will be fine. And even if things don’t go according to plan, you will definitely be fine.

And that’s what I’m doing to try and give my baby the best start possible. What would more experienced mamas and papas suggest I start doing to get ready?

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

What Do You Owe The World?

We are all born with some sense of duty, of what is right by us and our kind, of what we need to do.

Even true to type psychopathic people, even extremely disconnected autistic people, even selfish small toddlers have some sense of “I had better do this for so-and-so” where there is no direct, tangible or logical benefit to doing it.

And we all feel it on a scale, on a spectrum. Some people only feel it for their nearest and dearest, for their pet, or even for a fictional character. Some people feel it for every single living thing, or extend it even to inanimate objects.

We feel this urge because it did us good. When you feed your dogs, they love you. When you lend to your neighbour, they lend back. When you massage your husband, he does the dishes. It’s a little exchange, a little social flow, that keeps everyone happy and provided for. Humans live through ties and we want as many strong, healthy ties as possible. That is why the concept of karma is so appealing: in many ways it’s true. Because when we gave a friendly tribe some sheep, we had a greater chance of surviving.

We feel like we have so much to give, we feel like we should give it. But, when push comes to shove, we really don’t owe the world anything. Satisfying this sense of duty, day in day out, will not yield any more than the pleasant feelings of doing it.

Not every person you feed, lend to, massage or give sheep to will give you anything in return. Not everyone is worthy of your kindness and generosity. Not all good or bad karma will come back to visit you.

If you wanted to give every person you know £1, you would have no money left. If you wanted to massage everyone you met, you would not have enough time. If you wanted to give a friendly tribe all your sheep, you would starve. We have a limited amount of time, resources, mental, physical and emotional energy to give. We don’t owe any single person, or this world, any of it.

Instead, focus it where it should be directed, focus it on the job it’s supposed to do. Give time, resources and energy freely to those within your social circles and watch it come back to you. Give less to people more distant to you. Give more to people who are closer, or who you want to be closer to. Give less to people who give less to you and the circle. Give more to those who give more to you or the circle.

Karma isn’t some magical force that will punish you with cancer if you don’t donate £5 to AIDS babies in Africa. Karma is your best friend not wanting to carpool because you didn’t make them a cup of tea the last three times they visited you. Karma isn’t magic. Karma is other people. Karma is tribe. Karma is family.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

FitFriday, FatFriday II. Bad Slav.

DIET.

Well, my diet isn’t going as great as I would like it to. I need to be more careful about sugars. I need to eat a little more fish and I am just coming to terms with not having liver.

But I am doing very well at eating veggies, controlling salt, eliminating dairy and alcohol and controlling caffeine. So I suppose I’m not too bad.

WEIGHTS.

Slipped a little bit due to helping a friend with work and generally running myself ragged, but some have gone up.

LIFT

WEIGHT

SETS

REPS

Deadlift

52.5kg

4

2

Squats

57.5kg

8

2

Squats II

45kg

2

12

Shrugs

60kg

5

2

Rows

36kg

8

2

Rows II

28.5kg

2

12

Overhead press

22kg

8

2

Overhead press II

15kg

2

12

Incline bench

38.5kg

8

2

Flat bench

30kg

2

12

Hammer curls

7.5kg each hand

2

12

Rear lateral raises

3.5kg each hand

2

12

TTC.

I am almost certainly either in the middle or at the end of ovulation and we have been at it like rabbits that haven’t seen each other in six months. So here’s hoping for conception this month. :)

I have got myself a bit stressed and overtired here and there but, considering how badly I generally run myself down and that my shifts are largely internal, this is as good as it gets.

I am on my B vitamins and folate, I am off all supplements with vitamin A and off livers.

We will be seeing the doctor on Tuesday to talk about low vit-A omega supplements and which mineral supplements are best, or whether I should just nom some washed eggshells and call it a day.

How is everyone else doing with fitness and health goals? Am I missing anything in my TTC plans? I keep feeling like I’m not doing enough.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… track your ovulation…

…if you’re not good at maths.

I am really, really, really focusing on this “having a baby” thing. I am surprising even myself with how much I am throwing into it and how badly I want to be pregnant ASAP. I know it may take longer than a month, but I really want to give it my all.

So, naturally, however much sex we’re having, I still want to track my ovulation and make sure we have even more on those few days.

My problem? I am rubbish at maths, and monitoring, and I’m not the most regular girl anyway. So, here are some top tips to tracking ovulation if you haven’t the time, the inclination, the obedient ovaries or the brains to work it out mathematically.

Warning for frank discussion of the nasty bits.

1: Body temperature.

You will be a bit warmer on average when you are ovulating. Not a lot, and of course being warmer could mean many things, but this could be a good secondary sign to look out for.

2: Fluids.

Don’t be afraid to just check how your natural lubricant is behaving. Egg-white-looking (translucent, jelly, stretchy) and abundant fluid means your body is trying to be nice and hospitable to any sperm that may pay a visit.

3: Count down.

Have around two weeks passed since the start of your last period? Chances are you will ovulate some time in the third week.

4: Approximate.

Was your last period on the 18th? Count back six days. Then your last ovulation was around the 12th. You will likely be ovulating around the 12th (10th-14th) this month.

5: Horny?

Finding hubby absolutely irresistible? Your mind is off all work and difficult to focus? Picking up the romance books at the library? That’s your body telling you it wants a baby.

6: Tight tummy.

In preparation for the possible zygote, your body will plump up the cushions (womb walls), get some refreshments (womb lining) and make a little space (womb filling). If your abdomen feels tight and expanded under the belly button but you don’t really, really need to pee, then your womb is ripe and ready.

7: Toilet breaks.

OTOH, if you really, really need to pee a lot, all day, there might be some swelling that is pushing on your bladder. It could be the womb swelling up, even if you can’t directly feel it yet.

8: Ask a girl in the know.

Have a close friend or coworker who religiously tracks her cycle? Know you are more or less in sync with her? Then ask away, chances are you match up there too!

9: Sticks.

And if you really despair, get yourself a little box of ovulation sticks and call it a day. All this calendar watching isn’t for everyone. :p

And that is how I am keeping an eye out for ovulation. Hopefully it’s helpful to someone.

How did/do you track your cycle? Did I miss anything?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Not-Thai Fish Curry.

Well, as I was saying yesterday, I like to buy from clearance websites. So I went a little crazy a few weeks ago and bought a 10kg restaurant-sized tub of Sharwoods curry paste (for only £1.50). Just a little crazy. And, to test it out, I made a Not-Thai Fish Curry. It was a bit hot for Jon, but I’m working on that next time.

This is a lie. It is not the fish curry. Same ingredients in the base, but not curried. I can't find my fish curry pictures. :(

This is a lie. It is not the fish curry. Same ingredients in the base, but not curried. I can’t find my fish curry pictures. :(

Ingredients:

  • 2 basa or pollock fillets
  • 3 small (15-20cm) squid
  • 100g mussels
  • 100g fish pie mix or smoked fish or salmon
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 400g mixed vegetables (pick plain ones, like broccoli, peas, spinach or aubergine)
  • 4tbsp curry paste or powder
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • pepper if needed

Utensils:

  • measuring utensils
  • chopping board and knife
  • large pot

Recipe:

  1. Chop the fillets, squid and vegetables.
  2. Mix all the fish and vegetables together in the pot.
  3. Stir in the seasonings and leave to rest a little.
  4. Add coconut milk and water. Bring the pot to a boil.
  5. Simmer for 30min.
  6. Serve with rice or beans.

As I said, Jon liked it but found it juuust too spicy, so I will work on that next time. Always learn the heat of every premixed sauce or paste you use, and adjust accordingly!

TTFN and Happy Eating!