“Egg Cake” AKA Baked Omelet.

Jon’s expert analyses of these was “they are egg cakes” and that they were good with beans or salad, but he preferred them hot to cold. They’re a little based off spanish tortilla, only more layers and a bit slower and lazier for the cooking process.

No pictures because I kind of forgot them.

Ingredients:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 150g potatoes
  • 100g broccoli
  • 100g bacon
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 crushed or minced garlic clove
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • 1tsp salt – this may be a bit low for people who aren’t on restricted sodium!
  • dash of worcestershire sauce

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • small pot for boiling
  • pop-base cake tin, either greased, lined or nonstick, ours is about 4″ deep and 20″ across

Recipe:

  1. Wash and chop the potatoes and broccoli with a pinch of salt. Boil until fork-tender, but not too solid. Set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  3. Whisk the eggs with the milk and seasonings.
  4. Finely dice the bacon, bell pepper and onion. Sprinkle across the base of the tin.
  5. Add a layer of now-cool potatoes and broccoli.
  6. Give the eggs a final stir and pour over the vegetables.
  7. Bake in the oven until a skewer comes out clean and it no longer jiggles.
  8. Cool completely before reheating or serving cold.

The first beauty of this is that you can mix and match the fillers. As a rule of thumb: nonsweet fruits and scallions go in raw, starches are to be used sparsely and precooked, brassicas are to be precooked, cured meats and beef go in raw, seasoned and finely chopped, white meats and uncured pork need precooking.

The second beauty is that your total time used is around 5 minutes of chopping things, 5 whisking and 5 layering. The rest is all largely unsupervised.

A quality, high-protein, portable food you can make quickly and adjusted to your needs. I think it’s pretty awesome, anyway.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Cut Back Media, Cut Back Stress – 9 Steps To A Better Life.

Since I did the #NoNothingNovember challenge with leechblock, I’ve noticed just how much, or, better said, how little, standard media exposure adds to my life.  The usual ways we entertain, distract and inform ourselves may seem such an integral, normal part of life that it is easy to miss just how negative their influence can be. The majority of the media is sensationalist and biased. News providers, scriptwriters and social media engineers alike all know that anger, shock and fear drive our consumption. But the things which they present us with are actually in no way reflective of our lives. They’re just fodder to keep us hooked on their service.

As I’ve already admitted, media consumption is a fairly normal, integral part of modern life. Few people can completely get rid of it, and you can’t avoid it forever. But, you can be in control of what you consume and cut right back on standard media, enhancing your life without missing out on the information it provides. Here’s how.

1: Trash the TV.

Passive viewing is the most harmful way to consume media of any kind. Switch it on, play it in the background, let it seep into the brain as we are at our most vulnerable. Standard TV, in the modern era, has no advantages over anything else. If you need a bit of background noise, you can play a DVD, a recorded show, or, better yet, some simple music. If you want to be informed, then there are ways to become informed on demand.

An easy way to get rid of your TV is… get rid of your TV. You might want to leave the monitor up for other things, but just disconnect the cable, cancel the service if you can, and let standard TV leave your life for good.

Of course, you won’t be able to avoid TV all the time. I don’t beat myself up if the TV is on when I’m at a friend’s house or in a waiting room. I might even watch it if nothing is happening. But being like the average Brit and spending a day a week in front of a TV is no good for me. Even when a TV is around, the healthy bet is not to be the person who turns it on.

2: Limit social media time and reach.

It may be almost impossible to quit all social media, especially if you have a large and distant family, or if you use the internet for work. But you can exercise control over what social media does to you. For example, you may spend a lot of time arguing with people online. And if you enjoy it and find it fun: go you! But if after a day of shouting at an SJW you feel sick and tired and stressed, then perhaps now is the time to exercise control over your social media.

Do not engage with people who anger you. Many sites give you the option to hide their posts, and posts like theirs, from viewing. You can even block them. Ask yourself what they add to your life, and if the reply is “stress every time I log onto facebook”, then nix them.

3: Interact less with social media.

In a similar vein, if you want to see less drama and sensationalism: click, ‘like’ and share less drama and sensationalism. Social media works via feedback, and if you’re always clicking on bad news, commenting on things that wind you up, ‘liking’ social drama, and sharing things that enrage you, then that is all you will see. On the other hand, if you interact with things you enjoy and independently investigate things you are curious about, then your social media feeds will be enjoyable for you.

4: Select your news sources carefully.

Following from the last points: cutting out standard TV and altering what you see on social media does not mean you have to be uninformed. It is absolutely necessary to know about happenings in the world at large, developments in your field of interest, and events and trends that may influence the people around you.

Instead, rather than passively waiting for news to come to you via TV or social media, seek out news. Give yourself a time each day to browse some news sites, or even news feeds. Pick sites that do not particularly pander to you or to those unlike you. Instead, find sites that offer short, to-the-point, fairly unbiased reports of events. Give yourself a set number of news stories to read -more on this later-, pick them well, get up to date, and then close the website.

5: Subscribe to specialist magazines, newsletters, papers and emails.

If you want to be even further informed on matters that are most relevant to you: find highly specialist news sources and subscribe to them. If you’re into guns, look into newsletters about guns. If you’re into dogs, look into a subscription to a dog-based magazine. Read what you enjoy and stay abreast of news that makes a difference to your life.

6: Buy, and read, more books.

As in 5. Audiobooks if you have little time or suffer dyslexia.

7: Use leechblock, or a similar add-on.

During my #NoNothingNovember challenge in 2014, I cut back on time-wasting websites. This was a big step for me, as most of my work depends on the internet and it was very easy to get sucked into “just one more listicle, or picture, or article”. The worst bit? I didn’t even like the sites I was browsing. I was just looking, blank mind, at pictures of food and memes, getting wound up at the inanities of sites I disagreed with, and correcting incorrect articles in my head.

Being as it was far too easy to accidentally click on a website that would swallow my time just by checking emails, blogging, or doing a bit of research for work, I installed leechblock. This is a firefox add on that basically kicks you off websites you have added to a blacklist. Some were banned til the end of days, because they were worthless. Some were put on a time limit, to encourage faster selection of better-quality articles and prevent me from getting sidelined. Some were only allowed within certain times. All in all, it really helped to reshape my habits, and I have grown for using it. There are similar add-ons for other browsers, and even phone apps that limit access to time-wasting sites and apps after certain time periods. I personally eschew standard smart phones because I don’t need or want them. But if your smartphone is your life, consider deleting any apps that suck up your time and “culling” the amount of data you get automatically fed. Know the difference between “convenient news updates” and “live drama and clickbait straight into your pocket”.

8: Make more use of self-service entertainment.

By self-service entertainment I mean places where you can watch TV series, news, documentaries and films in your own time, on demand. So YouTube, anime feeds, and Netflix would be the big ones for me. There are two major advantages to this.

Firstly, you get to watch a few things for fun, as and when you like them. This beats standard TV at its own game, by miles. Some services even offer live TV shows or shows on a slight delay, so you don’t have to miss out on things you look forward to.

Secondly, almost all these services record your viewing habits for the purpose of recommending you new videos. If you spot that there is a heavy and unhealthy bias in your recommended viewings, then you know you need to adjust your habits until you get better and healthier recommendations.

9: Socialize with people who add value to your life.

Finally, replace as much media as possible with real people. If you’re on social media, aim to spend more time chatting to people in messages than trawling through pages and interacting with posts. If you want to watch a show, try and make it a communal activity. When you find out some interesting news, discuss it with a friend who is also interested and exchange the knowledge you have.

You acquire more, better, more relevant information from having good people in your life than you will ever gather from watching the news every morning. For instance, if there is an outbreak of alabama rot nationwide, the news may not focus on cases relevant to you. If it is in your area, you will find out about it from others who also own dogs, without having to watch three hours of news relevant to other parts of the nation first. Good social connections get you news to the point.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What are your media habits like? How do you try and make the media you consume more productive and positive?

Can We Both ‘Marry Up’?

It is a common assumption made by most dating resources and, indeed, most people, that relationships are a zero-sum game: that someone has to be better for having the other, and that for that to happen, the other must therefore be worse, having made a sacrifice to improve their partner. But I have already discussed why this is not necessarily the case.

What I’m getting to today, thanks to an interesting post by IB last week, is the mentality that brings about this assumption. Because there actually seems to be a step in between “I observe that most relationships are unbalanced” and “therefore there has to be a loser”. And that step is “everyone wants to marry up”.

In and of itself, the statement is innoccuous: of course everyone wants to marry up. We want the genetically fittest partner we can get, as well as a compatible one, so we look out for one who is generally an improvement on us. Sexier, richer, younger, more mature, more famous, brighter, etc. Thus, we look for something better. But the implication is that for someone to be better than us, they must be “hyper”, or “above” us. Thus, we win and they lose.

But the reality is that we also seek compatibility in our genetic fitness. The masculine seek the feminine, the feminine seek the masculine. The creative seek the scientific, the scientific seek the creative. The doctors seek the nurses or the patients. The artists seeks the muse, the model an artist. We want someone who can do what we cannot, what we either do not have the time or the energy or the skills to do. If it had a term, it would be “paideiagamy”: the pursuit of someone who rounds us out, who makes us a complete unit of society.

And this is where we find that middle ground of “marrying up”.

You see, there are two ways of marrying up.

The first is when partner A is clearly beneath partner B. Not just in one aspect, but as a sum total of their desirable qualities. In these cases, only two results are possible. Either partner B becomes idle, and lets slide the characteristics that made them better, causing an evenly married couple where partner A resents partner B for “bait and switch” and partner B resents partner A for “ruining B’s life”. Or partner B continues to work on improvement, or at least maintenance and grows distant, causing partner A to become insecure about the quality gap, causing anger on both sides. In short, you cannot just “marry up” and rest on your laurels.

But there is another kind of marrying up. This is where the partners are either equal or equivalent. Equal in that they are approximately the same in all desirable qualities. Or equivalent in that, despite specific differences, their sum total of desirability is even. However both partners are focused on improving themselves and extend that efford to each other. In working to improve each other, they end up with a continually better partner: one who gives them better access to that which they desire. But they are also improving, incentivizing their partner to also invest in them. Through this process, each member of a couple will appear to have benefitted greatly from the relationship. Their friends and family will compliment the quality of their partner for “fixing” them. But in reality both have improved.

Of course, the second kind of marrying up is all an illusion. Neither married someone objectively better than themselves. You’ve just married your approximate equal and both encouraged each other to improve, giving the impression to everyone but yourselves that one of you struck gold. But “true” marrying up is as much a recipe for failure as marrying down, or being lazy in a relationship are.

So the answer is: Not really. You can’t both marry someone better than you, not in absolute terms. But being unable to both “marry up” does not lead to “zero-sum game”. You can just as easily marry an equivalent, a slight superior or a slight inferior and end up both vastly better off for it. Which may make others assume you married up after all!

Ultimately, you can only win at the game when you play it together.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What is your perspective on improvement through relationships? And what would your paideiagamy look like: focus on complementarity, on similarity, on contrasts, on better qualities..? Do you think there are any more steps to the disillusion->marry-up->zero-sum-game mentality?

FitFriday, FatFriday XII.

Baby.

Well, I had a continual headache from Monday morning through Wednesday. That wasn’t fun. Jon said it sounded like a migraine from how much pain and confusion it was causing, only it didn’t react to light or sound. So just an awful headache. Went to the drs, just in case. Apparently some women “just get them” and after a check up they said no risk of pre-eclampsia, but let’s check the iron levels. Will find out if I was anemic by Monday. Though I have a faint suspicion that some lemon squash I was guzzling might have had something to do with it. No squash = no headaches. If it was the culprit, I’m not sure if I managed to overhydrate again or if it has a compound that triggers headaches in me.

But I’m finally getting used to baby’s “routine”, which is good. He will wake up with me and kick me in the intestines until I have my morning coffee, a bit after which he calms down. Unsure if this means he may have the same hormone issue I have, or if he’s just reacting to my own hormone regulation. OTOH, he is very little and probably not developing anything disordered yet, OTOH, caffeine passes through the placenta far better than hormones, so it’s probably that he reacts to. Then he will have two busy days for every quiet day, so on quiet days I will hardly feel him and on busy days he won’t stop kicking me senseless. And every day, when I lay down to go to bed, he kicks about a bit, rolls over several times and seems to settle into a pattern of resting and rolling as I fall asleep. I guess he appreciates the stillness after a busy day!

Diet.

Doing pretty good. I was so sure I was getting fat, and then I find out my weight is STILL stable. I’d better not be losing muscle anywhere. More pics when Jon has the time to get a nice full-body one of me not looking too slouchy or unclothed.

Managing to keep within my calorie ranges and the baby is growing fine, so, considering everything, I’m just going to stick at it. Lowering my sugar intake in favour of more complex carbs, though, because fresh and dried fruit and plain sugar have crept up and I’d like to not go on a sweets binge. Less sugar, more starch and protein.

Exercise.

I have been very, very bad with weights this week. General activity: great. Some gardening, resistance bands, yoga, walking the dog, nice long walk to the drs for that blood test… Weights have sort of been missed a lot. But there’s always something. Either I’m overtired, or I have lessons, or we have an errand, or something. I hope next week I can get back to it, because I know that if I don’t keep my weight workouts steady, I may suddenly lose some power and will have to roll the weights back for another six months.😦

How did your week in fitness go?

Jon’s Quiche.

20151206_182046

Jon has changed his mind about quiche from when he insisted it was “an omelet for gay French people”. Apparently when they are homemade they taste better and are now suitable food for a straight English man.😛

Anyway, here is a quiche made according to what Jon preferred, so maybe it will work for other pickier eaters who normally turn away from fancy food.

Ingredients:

Makes 2 quiches.

Pastry:

  • 500g flour
  • 300g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g cheddar cheese
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 2tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1tsp salt

Filling:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 rashers of smoked bacon or ham
  • 2 sweet onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2tsp crushed black pepper

Utensils:

  • chopping board and knife
  • frying pan
  • 2 greased or nonstick baking trays

Recipe:

  1. Mix together the pastry ingredients, crumbling in the cheese nearer the end.
  2. Mash half the mix into each pan and shape it to the pan, ensuring a robust crust at the corners. Put in the fridge and leave to chill.
  3. Chop the bacon, onions and green pepper and fry lightly. Stir in the salt and black pepper and leave to chill in the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven at 180C.
  5. Once the pastry is set and the bacon is cold, whisk the milk and eggs together thoroughly. Stir in the bacon mix and pour evenly into both pans. Scooping with a spoon may work better for even distribution.
  6. Place in the oven and cook until the top of the quiche is puffed high and no longer jiggles when shaken.
  7. Leave aside to cool. The top will deflate a bit, but this is normal. It is cooking in its own heat and slowly setting into shape.
  8. Serve cold or hot.

20151206_181912

“What is a normal bump?” 5 Pregnancy Variables.

At the moment I get a lot of “you’re still so small!” Especially when it comes to weigh-ins and I still haven’t gained since that week of super-gains at the start of the second trimester. But when I look at pictures of other 21 week women online, I see plenty of women my shape and smaller at this stage. And plenty of variety in the shape and size of bumps at all stages. Some women have huge bumps and have hardly gained weight. Some have tiny bumps but are heavier. Some gain more of both, some almost none of either. And these are women who all went on to have perfectly healthy babies. What gives?

Here are five variables I have found that seem to make all the odds.

1: Age of the mother.

A big one: younger women stay smaller for longer, then “pop” more in the third trimester. Almost across the board, the younger you are, the less bump there will be until later.

2: Sickness and cravings.

We will all likely get at least a little queasiness and a bit of the hungers at some point during our pregnancy. But some are affected more than others. If I had had my travel sickness 24/7, I’m pretty sure I would still be 68-70kg today. There is no way I could have ate anything like that. Likewise, if I was as hungry all the time as I get some of these days, I would probably be nearing my 80kg safe-limit already. Your appetite will sway you one way or the other, regardless of how hard you work to eat well.

3: Muscle tone.

I had figured I would “pop” fairly quickly, due to having been obese as a teen. I thought that, seeing as my abs have already been overstretched, there would be no resistance for the baby to grow against. Turns out it doesn’t work like that. Because I do plenty of core exercises in my yoga, lifting and belly dancing, my abs are pretty solid. And solid abs are solid abs, stretch or no stretch.

4: Height.

Yeah, it seems obvious, but if you’re a shorter woman: you could still be carrying a 6-8lb baby. And that means you will have a “regular” bump on your petite frame. It’s going to look huge. Likewise, on a woman with hips as big as mine, or a much taller woman, the same bump may look moderate or even small. It’s an optical illusion you can’t escape.

5: The other mothers around you.

Finally, this will not change how you gain weight, but it can create another optical illusion. As I said, I have been told I was quite small for my stage. Which I may be. But I live in an area where many other women are older, unfit, overweight and happy to snack on sugary things. My culture does not lean towards small bumps. On the other hand, women from a closer group to me (same age, same fitness and dietary habits] tend to be about the same size as me. I might only look small. Likewise, you may appear bigger or smaller if you compare yourself to a demographic which does not represent you.

And you can’t really win with this. At first I was terrified of getting fat. Then I was disappointed at how small the bump was. Then, when I knew baby was healthy, I was proud I was controlling me weight. And now I’m somewhere between thinking I’m too fat, but the bump is too small. No winning at all. I guess you just have to work hard to stay healthy, see where pregnancy takes you and work out where to go from birth when you get there.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

You don’t “deserve” to escape cubicle hell.

The other day I was watching a few videos about why people left their previous jobs. And it struck me as odd how many people will quit a job because:

-they’re not allowed to compete with their company in their spare time

-they don’t have enough time for their creative, yet underpaid online work, ie blogging or videos

-the work environment had standards and targets they were expected to meet

Of course, some of those are the very reasons I chose to work for myself. Don’t get me wrong: I completely understand the desire to escape cubicle hell, to either never set foot in it or to leave it. But the way so many people of my generation approach this dilemma is entitled, pure and simple.

We’re not talking about people pushing through with work and aspiring to make better of themselves one day, or people quitting their dead-end jobs and pouring out sweat as they get a business started. We’re talking about people moving back in with their parents, going on welfare and begging for blogger handouts because they would rather be parasites than drudges.

And all I can think is: this is not pursuing your dreams. This is believing you have a god-given right to avoid cubicle hell. This is believing you are somehow better than generation upon generation of people who fried chips, scrubbed toilets, swept floors and typed copies, who toiled in mindless jobs to keep food on the table.

It’s all well and good to aspire to leave that environment, or to avoid it. By all means, if you can: do. But you don’t “deserve” to avoid cubicle hell any more than any other person out there. You aren’t special. And if you can’t cut the mustard, then back to the cubicle it is.

Sorry…

…but not really.

In a related note, apparently at some point I was added to the RationalWiki list of secular doormats, probably by the very same special snowflakes who believe they deserve charity to live and blog on.😛 I take it as an award.

blog

TTFN and Happy Hunting!