WWWhere have I been?

So, I’ve neglected my weekly update posts a bit… or a lot… or a very lot.

Where have I been?

Putting the SUPER into SUPERSlavisWife, of course!

Some of you may have noticed I have a vlog now. So that was being set up, the concepts were being worked out, the lighting and camera was being tested. Good fun.

I’ve thrown myself into work and setting up some new projects, so that now I am looking at £1000-1200 a month working on average only 4 hours a day, around 20 days a month.

I’ve also all but finished my book On A Budget and am working steadily at some other books, as well as working out release dates.

I’ve made a whole fridge full of preserves (well, half a fridge anyway), after last year’s lasted a full 12 months without problem. Crab-apple sauce (or “crapple sauce”), raspberry, elderberry, blackberry, sloe and plum jams, mixed jams and Autumn pie mix (pumpkin, apple, plum and spices) are now ready for Halloween and Christmas cooking and the remainder should last me the year!

And my weights are increasing apace as my figure further tones and shapes itself.

All in all, it’s paying off.

But now I have time to write recipes down again, so here’s the Wok! 😀

No pictures yet due to my poor timing of the post, but maybe I’ll add some of the cake and the fridge of preserves tomorrow. 🙂

Pork and vegetable stir fry.

Ingredients:

  • -1 deboned, degristled, skinned pork shoulder
  • -6 eggs
  • -200g dried turtle beans (presoaked)
  • -200g fresh garden peas
  • -100g runner beans or green beans
  • -2 onions
  • -2 bell peppers
  • -1tbsp ginger
  • -1tbsp tahina
  • -1tsp soy sauce

Utensils:

  • -chopping board and knife
  • -frying pan

Recipe:

  1. Chop up your pork. Roasting it first makes degristling and deboning easier!
  2. Roughly chop your onion, peppers and green beans.
  3. Roughly dice your onion. Pan fry with the peas, ginger and tahina.
  4. Add the pork, turtle beans and green beans. Cover and simmer.
  5. Add the soy sauce, diced red pepper and make a pocket for each egg.
  6. Cover and simmer until the eggs belong to go solid. Stir up and allow to finish cooking.

Jam cake.

Ingredients:

  • -500g jam of your choosing
  • -500g flour with raising agents
  • -200g dried fruit, chopped
  • -2 eggs

Ingredients for the topping:

  • -chocolate ganache icing (200g chocolate, 200g butter, 100g sugar, spices)
  • -chocolate toppings of choice

Utensils:

  • -mixing bowl and fork
  • -greased cake tin
  • -mixing bowl and spoon

Recipe:

  1. Mix the flour and jam together.
  2. Beat in the two eggs. You shouldn’t need more water.
  3. Fold in the dried fruit.
  4. Pour into the baking tin.
  5. Bake for around 1h at 130-160C.
  6. Once a fork comes out clean, leave to cool.
  7. Melt the ganache frosting and pour over the top.
  8. Affix the chocolate toppings.

We used plum jam, so Jon obviously wanted chocolate carrots as toppings. :p

Beef curry with veg and beans.

Ingredients:

  • -1kg minced beef
  • -350g dried turtle beans (presoaked)
  • -2-4 onions
  • -2 heads of garlic
  • -1 leek
  • -2 bell peppers
  • -1l of curry sauce (mix 1 cup of curry powder, tomato paste, salt and olive oil to taste, add water)

Utensils:

  • -chopping board and knife
  • -large pot

Recipe:

  1. Roughly chop all the vegetables.
  2. Place in a pot. Just cover with water and leave to simmer with the beans.
  3. Once the water has boiled down a bit, add the sauce.
  4. Once the sauce is hot, add the mince, stir in to cook through and leave to cool.

Also, a while back ASDGamer said he’d like to see a meal plan and some of the lower carb foods I have.

Disclaimer 1: I don’t plan recipes, I plan ingredients. For example, that particular week I was using the very last of last year’s jams as pie and cake mixes, we have a lot of chicken and I had set vegetables to use. But I get creative when it comes to seasoning!

Disclaimer 2: Whilst I generally eat low carb, only 1/3 or 2/3 meals are VLC. Jon’s diet is generally high carb with one or two low carb days a week. This is because our bodies, workloads and schedules are different, so I need to make meals and meal plans flexible.

Note 1: Unless mentioned, most complex dishes don’t have an extra carb source.

Note 2: All cakes, pies and breads are homemade by yours truly fitting the week’s ingredient plan, budget and dietary requirements. Sometimes they can be low-carb or no grain or low calorie or tiny portions. Basically, just because it’s baked doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy.

That said, here’s our meal breakdown from last week.

W 16 09 2015

Breakfasts

J: Porridge.

A: N/A.

Lunch

J: Sandwich and pie.

A: Chicken curry.

Dinner

Chicken curry.

T 17 09 2015

Breakfast

Eggy bread and sausages.

Lunch

J: Chicken curry and pie.

A: Salad with chili garlic sauce.

Dinners

J: Pizza, waffles and beans because change over day treat.

A: Chicken vegetable bake because fat.

Cake for pudding.

F 18 09 2015

Jon was ill today, so he’s been snacking on biscuits and tea.

He took an energy drink, an apple, two bananas, some sandwiches and porridge into work, but he may not eat it all.

Breakfast

Mango, leftover pie.

Lunch

Roast chicken and roast veg sandwich.

Dinner

Roast chicken and roast veg sandwich.

S 19 09 2015

Breakfasts

J: Finished the pizza.

A: Mango.

Lunches

J: Pork stir fry.

A: Two tomato sandwiches

Dinners

J: Pork stir fry.

A: Roast chicken with vegetables.

S 20 09 2015

Breakfasts

J: Oatcakes.

A: N/A

Lunches

J: Porridge.

A: Pie and coconut-milk plum ice cream.

Dinner

Pork stir fry.

M 21 09 2015

Breakfasts

J: Eggs and sausages and vegetables.

A: Beef sandwiches and half a mango.

Lunches

J: Porridge

A: N/A

Dinner

Pork stir fry.

T 22 09 2015

Breakfasts

J: A sandwich.

A: A mango.

Lunches

J: Eggs and sausages and vegetables.

A: N/A

Dinner:

Mince with vegetables and black beans.

9 Ways Of Enriching A Man’s Life.

Every person is different and, therefore, every relationship is different. It’s not like you can do exactly what your best friend does and have the same marriage as them.

On the other hand, generalities are also worth bearing in mind. Most people like food. Most women will want children at some point in life. Most people don’t like being shouted at. Most men enjoy sex.

And somewhere in between we have anecdotes, personal experiences that can be applied to life, with a pinch of salt.

That said, here are nine ways Jon finds I improve his quality of life, in the order they came to mind to him.

1: Massages to keep on top of exercise and injuries.

Jon has a number of injuries to his back and knees. This means that he needs to find that sweet spot between doing enough exercise to build the supporting tissues around the injuries and not doing so much that he’ll further damage any tissue. Which means a lot of massages.

After weights, after a sedentary day or before bed, Jon needs to have massages on offer to make sure his body carries on working. By massaging him when he needs it, I allow him to carry on lifting weights and working long shifts without suffering the pain that would normally follow.

2: Food.

Jon works long shifts and tries to keep busy in between them. He lifts weights, reads, writes, studies, trains the dog, learns to paint with me, goes shopping, goes hiking, helps me with the garden and everything in between. And that’s before we begin to look at his less educational entertainment, such as games, films, social media or TV shows.

Just to cook the high calorie, high protein, high carb, easily digestible food he enjoys would take 30-60 minutes of attention each day. Never mind learning how to combine ingredients and seasoning so that he can enjoy the variety of foods he likes, eat some cheaper products and improvise.

By cooking for him, I am either freeing his time for other things or making sure he gets the quality of food he wouldn’t have on his own.

3: Keeping things in order.

Again, because he is so busy with everything else in life, the house isn’t his first priority. When he gets home from twelve or thirteen hours outside, he doesn’t want to do the dishes, put the laundry through, walk the dog, iron a shirt, hoover the hallway and weed the garden. So having it already done is a big plus.

4: Take on small tasks and assist in projects.

Likewise, there are small jobs and large projects that take up a lot of time. If he is sending out CVs, composing a story or calling to book an appointment, then that will be eating into his time elsewhere. By having someone else to take on menial tasks, the end of his day is free.

5: Make things more fun.

Sometimes he just has to do things. Go and get some groceries, take the car to the mechanic, meet social obligations or go for a walk to relax a joint. On his own, he finds these tasks hard to enjoy. They’re just tedious parts of being an adult human being.

By making a bit more of an event out of them, we can take our focus away from the more tedious aspects of these tasks and enjoy our time together instead.

6: Companionship.

Few people like doing everything alone. And those who do often choose solitude because they find it hard to find someone else who shares their passion without spoiling it.

Jon is also a fairly solitary person, seeing even his closest friends only every few months. So having someone he doesn’t mind sharing his life with adds value to it. He likes having me there to spot his weights, sit in the garden with, go to the pub with or read to.

7: Keep updated and informed on various topics.

One person only has so much time to spend reading, clicking through links, finding studies and investigating theories. By splitting up our reading over the day and regrouping at night to discuss various events and developments, we keep updated on a number of interesting topics and always have a conversation subject to bond over.

8: Cheerleading and grounding.

Jon, as you have seen above, does a lot. A life like his, where you are always on the go, wears down eventually. So he enjoys a bit of cheerleading. That is, having someone to tell him he’s doing well, to encourage him through the day and to support him in his pursuits.

But he also enjoys being grounded from time to time. Everyone goes through times when their decisions or goals are unrealistic, self-destructive or too time-consuming. And at these times, most people need and want to be grounded, not cheered on.

By keeping me updated on his work and goals, Jon ensure he has a cheerleader and a grounder, to make sure he fulfills his ambitions.

9: Focus on the future.

This one’s a more nuanced one. I don’t actually do anything myself to create this. There is no way to make someone else pay more attention to one thing or less attention to another.

But simply by existing, Jon finds I’m a reminder of the future ahead. He knows he will have children with me. And he knows we both rely primarily on him. By removing most uncertainty, it gives him something to focus on. Which means life feels easier, even if it’s actually a bit harder.

And those are the ways Jon says I improve his quality of life.

Everyone is different, and this may not work for you and your partner. But maybe it gives you some ideas as to how to make sure they are getting the quality of life they deserve.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

Everything Dies Beautifully

As humans, we have a healthy appreciation for creation, birth, everything that is new and interesting. Which makes sense. Newborn babies, fresh fruit and innovative designs all hold promise and need to be loved and nurtured to grow and be useful to us. It gives us a sense of purpose to care for that what is new and young.

But as animals we also develop a violent aversion to it’s opposite. Destruction, death and everything that is old and samey worries us. We dislike the idea of growing old or of being hurt. But we also dislike seeing things growing old and becoming damaged. It’s as though our world is an extension of us, and we see ourselves reflected in that shirt we won’t throw away or that pet cat that died. We want everything to last forever.

The contradiction there, being of course that nothing can last forever without either becoming old or losing some interest. And nothing can be new if nothing is old. And nothing can be created without first destroying something else. Destruction, change, death and transformation are part of the process of creating new things.

A newborn life is built on thousands upon thousands of deaths, thousands of decaying, degrading bodies that break down and are reassembled into a new body. To create fire we must destroy coal and to create coal we must burn wood and to burn wood we must kill trees.

All sorts of devastating events aren’t really endings. They’re closer to recycling. Nothing can last forever in the same state because to create new things, life must first find some raw materials. Everything needs to change to keep on going, or to end and give rise to something new.

So, whilst it may shock and horrify us as animals and as humans, it’s wise to view disaster, pain, suffering, death and the slow processes that lead to them with more a sense of nostalgia than fear or sadness. After all, it’s always happening, all around us, and as life gives way to death, so does death give way to life.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

How To… female dread.

There is a concept in the PUA and Red Pill communities called “dread”. The basic idea is to do just enough to make a woman “dread” leaving you. Maybe she’s losing appreciation and he’s showing her how valuable he is. Or maybe she’s losing focus and he moves quickly out of her life to show he’s mobile. Or maybe she thinks he’s locked down and he’s illustrating that he is not focused only on her. To many women these behaviours may seem cruel. And oftentimes they feel cruel or even are cruel. But they are also natural and often necessary to give a man leverage in his relationship/s.

Likewise, if you are a man reading this, take this post calmly as, however cruel it may seem to you, these are natural ways a woman can ensure her man is focused on her.

1: Accept that you are living, breathing dread.

As a woman you are automatically a desirable partner, to some degree, to every heterosexual man on the planet. Quite simply put, in evolutionary terms one man is enough for hundreds of women to reproduce, but hundreds of men and one woman does not a tribe make. So we have evolved to place a base level of automatic value on a womb.

This means that whilst men need to work to remind a woman that they are valuable, most women are automatically valuable to most men. He is probably already afraid that you are too valuable for him, that you have options and that you can leave.

2: Do not threaten or corner him.

Threats are superflous as male relationship anxiety is internal. Dread on females is external because our romantic choices are external. Allow me to explain.

As women inherently have value, a man’s selection criteria are purely based on his own sexual and emotional desires. Who he wants to reproduce with is an internal process. It doesn’t matter if every man in his tribe wants woman X, if he is wired to fancy woman Y, he will fancy her. And, as long as both are fertile, it doesn’t matter that he chooses Y. Over the years, men have developed some shared preferences (hourglass figures, squishy thighs and buttocks, young face) and some personal preferences (red hair, long toes, shorter figure). But all these preferences are an inbuilt mechanism.

But as men do not inherently have value, women need to select men based on their added value, their external value. In one tribe, they may subsist on fish and need many fishermen. The women who select the best fishermen as partners bring more children to adulthood and their children also do better in life. But if a hundred years later the tribe finds masses of rabbit warrens, that generation of women needs to find the best rabbit hunters. Our desire has some internal basis, but, in principle, we desire partners based on external factors.

Therefore, when a man threatens with leaving or corners a woman emotionally, he is showing off. He is showing that he has external value that makes him better than the next guy. You know, in case she was thinking of leaving. He is basically saying “I can leave, I have options, don’t think you can crawl back to me when you make a bad decision”.

But the same doesn’t work for the woman. Because a man knows his woman has options. By virtue of existing, however apparently infertile she is, there will be someone who wants her. Because her value is internal to the man observing her.

By threatening, a woman isn’t saying “I have options”, he already knows she does. She is saying “I am taking another option”. Therefore, threats and cornering won’t just make a man closer to you, they could trigger extreme jealousy, anger or even make him give up, because you’ve clearly found someone better.

3: Do not withhold or control resources.

Another way a man can employ dread is by limiting a woman’s access to resources. If he is the main breadwinner, his status is greater than hers, he gets free perks or he is her only source of sex, then withholding these things sends home a message. It reminds her of everything she would lose were she to stray, that she is not entitled to anything he offers and that he is willing and capable of removing it at a moment’s notice.

Women rarely have the upper hand in terms of resources because, by our very nature, we usually get those resources from men. Even when a woman has her own resources, sex, food and status are easily attainable to many men. Men can even do with very little or without some resources, if that means they have more freedom and opportunities.

When a man withholds sex, a woman either must leave or win him back. When a woman withholds sex, a man starts looking elsewhere.

When a man withholds money, a woman must either leave or win him back. When a woman withholds money, a man starts making his own.

When a man withholds status, a woman must either leave or win him back. When a woman withholds status, a man would rather go without.

Whatever you take away from him physically, he will either do without or find elsewhere. By putting up that barrier you are encouraging him to turn away, not to climb it.

So we’ve seen what we can’t do. But what can a woman do to remind her man of her worth, of her freedom to leave and her needs and desires?

4: Keep calm and polite.

Being standoffish, aggressive and selfish will not make you look like a girl in demand. You are a girl in demand because you’re a girl. That won’t be the first thing he thinks when you get angry. It will just make you look undesirable. Why does he want to be with a girl who snaps over the smallest thing, or insults him over every argument? He can surely do better than her.

However, turn that around. If you can remain calm in almost every situation and master your emotions to a point where even you, yourself, stop caring so much about minor things, then you become more desirable. Who is this girl who can take a joke, go through some pain and still smile and relax at the end of the day?

If you are always polite and courteous, then he will not end every argument thinking he can do better than you. You will possibly even stand out as one of the few women he’s dated who can take an argument seriously without throwing ad hominems.

By making sure you are relaxed, balanced, polite and gentle at all times, he will not harbour any memories of the pain you caused him. He will instead be able to appreciate your efforts towards the relationship.

5: Nurture.

Another thing women are often very good at, but that we’re losing a little is our nurturing nature. Whether it’s a child, a cat or even a work project, we care for things closely, tenderly and carefully to ensure they fully develop.

And that is most men’s most intimate non-sexual experience of women. From his mother and grandmothers, to teachers and mentors, men grow up around women who nurture them to help them grow and develop. Some even become dependent on this nurturing to work hard and fail to thrive when there is nobody to congratulate and reward them.

Many girlfriends and wives fail to nurture their partners. In part, this is instinctive. We would, in a wild world, have babies and elderly parents and livestock that needed our nurturing more than our husbands. And men don’t really need to be constantly nurtured. They are well-equipped with a desire to better themselves for its own sake and a fear of failure.

But when a man is motivated by more than fear, he will often throw extra effort into his entire life. By nurturing your husband, keeping him relaxed, happy, fed and motivated to grow, you are making sure his quality of life improves dramatically. And he will associate that change with you and want to keep you around.

6: Be available.

Whereas men often withdraw resources such as sex, money, emotions or safety so as to remind a woman that he improves her life, we can benefit more from doing the opposite.

Men already know full well that women don’t need to provide. In fact, their many experiences and observations on women have already shown them that most women don’t want to provide or are even averse to it.

By doing your best to meet his needs, provide for him and give him everything you can you are telling him that you are different. And you don’t even have to actually give your all. Something as simple as listening to him complain about a day at work or making his favourite dinner will already tell him that you stand out. When so few women take a single step in this direction, being the one to go the whole mile often makes you by far his best prospect.

7: Be attractive.

Men are primarily attracted to our looks. It is their internal desire, the love that motivates healthy reproduction. So take care of those looks.

If you let yourself go he may start taking you for granted. This is literally the only situation where a man can undervalue his woman’s ability to find a new partner. When she gains an extra 20lbs, cuts her hair a way he doesn’t like or stops wearing makeup, he sees her as less attractive and this makes him assume that other men will see her as less attractive. He assumes that as he doesn’t want to work to keep you, other men won’t work to get you.

By keeping as attractive as you can, you keep him on his toes. Regardless of what you look like, how old you are, what you wear or where you come from, if you

A: try and be as attractive as possible to him and

B: put in a little effort each day

you will get complimented on your looks, your efforts, your style, etc. And he will like you. Combine the two and he will be reminded that you are still desirable and that thousands of men across the world would gladly replace him if he needed replacing.

8: Be gregarious.

The final step to female dread is to be gregarious. That is, to meet people, see people, talk to people and have fun. How you do this depends on you and him. Something like inviting his friends over to dinner and letting him see them compliment you and your cooking could be a firm reminder. Or he may need to see you dressed to the nines in an upscale bar with guys fighting to buy you drinks. The key here is that you don’t need to do anything on top of that. Just be your usual self, plus what you do for him. It will be enough to attract some attention and he will, trust me, definitely notice that his woman is getting attention.

And that is how a woman can apply dread. Skip the threats, the online dating accounts left open, the withdrawal of sex or the long nights out. Instead, be a joy to be around, an asset to his life, the easiest partner he’ll have (only once he has you, mind) and someone attractive and desirable to him. He will dread leaving you.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Disclaimer: Yes, it’s a little cold and cruel on the surface. The concept of dread is inherently troublesome to men and women alike because it kills our illusion of choice.

Using female dread as the example: a woman buys her husband a stash of his favourite chocolate bars, this makes him like her more.

He likes to think that she did it because she just felt like it and that he chose her out of his own free will. When he is aware of female game, he starts questioning it. Perhaps she did it because she consciously knew it would make him more attracted. Perhaps she is making him choose her. The illusion of choice is killed. This can even make something nice, such as getting his favourite chocolate bars, seem unpleasant.

When we are unaware of dread it’s easy to just think of such things as natural, loving, automatic behaviours. But when we are aware of dread, we realize that either on a biological or a conscious level, our partners are manipulating us into loving them.

It hurts to accept. But this is how it would be, whether we knew about it or not. And by knowing about it we can better use dread to our advantage.

20 Food Charts To Take You From Beginner To Pro.

I don’t normally do posts like this, but I recently realized what a collection of charts I was accumulating and how useful they have been to me. So, as a special treat of sorts, here are my top 20 useful charts that should help any beginner cook (and even some great cooks) learn some skills. Maybe you can save them as a file or maybe you can print them for your walls. Maybe you already know 99% of this or maybe you haven’t a clue yet. All I know is that these charts helped me and therefore I will share them.

First our utensils. Chasing Delicious have a great range of unit conversion charts.

1: Unit conversion by volume.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

2: Unit conversion by weight.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

Next, there is a range of kitchenware you might want to consider getting.

3: Kitchenware.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

4: Knives.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

And finally, some tips on storing food once you’ve got it.

5: General storage guidelines.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

Once the kitchen is all in order and stocked and we have an idea what the recipe is saying, we may want to look at cooking technique.

Again, Chasing Delicious have some great guides.

6: Cooking methods.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

7: Mixing methods.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

8: Techniques using eggs.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

Definitely check them out for their Kitchen 101 charts. 🙂

Or you could try some quick and healthy simple cooking by mastering your pressure cooker.

9: Pressure cooker.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

But it doesn’t just boil down to the right technique. There are little differences between very similar foods that can make big differences in the end result. Try and use these guidelines next time you’re cooking…

10: Grains.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

11: Pasta.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

12: Boiled eggs.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

13: A turkey.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

But we still aren’t done. We know what to cook, what quantity to cook and how to cook it, but what about seasonings? If you want to improve your seasoning, look no further than these charts.

Try and use flavour pairings not just to work out how to season one item, but to work out what foods taste best together. If they have no shared seasonings, they may be a bad combination!

14: Flavour pairings.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

If you are making a certain type of food, check which spices work with which recipe. If you cross-reference flavour pairings and cooking pairings you should find some fail-safe ideas for your next recipe.

15: Cooking pairings.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

Whether you’re cooking meat or vegetables, a roast a braise or even a pan-fry, a dry rub rarely goes amiss. You can even use it as a sort of marinade for the surface of your food.

16: Dry rub mixes.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

If you’re looking to cook something with an ethnic feel, but you don’t have the right spices or aren’t sure what exemplifies that cuisine, try these combinations.

17: Spices by Cuisine.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

Or if you aren’t sure and want to rely on the tried-and-tested but add a bit of a twist, why not mix your own sauces?

18: Sauce mixes.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

Finally, the drink can matter as much as the food you’re serving. For dinner parties or fancy meals, or just for ordering when you’re having a meal out, these guides can be a great help.

19: Wine pairing.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

20: Beer pairing.

20 Charts To Take Your Cooking From Beginner To Pro.

And those are my favourite food charts. I hope you found at least a couple useful!

I won’t be making many posts like this, but if you have any awesome charts to share I’d love to see them. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

We’re All Collectors.

I’m not exactly a massive fan of junk, clutter or collections. But I also have a deep, personal struggle with some hoarding habits. I went through a few events in my childhood where beloved items were placed in storage only to be forgotten, damaged or stolen. And when you’re being uprooted again and again, however much you enjoy it, you can grow attached to things that go with you. I also find that when you’re frugal you cling onto things because you realize the value there is in reusing everything you own. Water bottles are good for mixing and transporting drinks. Egg boxes are good planters, newspaper can be formed into fire blocks…

So I spend a lot of my life sorting, organizing and getting rid of junk. And an equal amount of time gathering more junk, because I saw something on Pinterest or because planting season is coming up.

Which is where I’ve been finding out the importance of libraries. Most people think only of conventional libraries, but there are, in reality, all sorts of libraries. You can have a video library, a seed library or a pattern library, for example.

And if we’re going to keep some amount of clutter in our lives, we may as well categorize it. I keep my craft materials on some shelves, sorted by type. Some piles of fabric, some sewing boxes, some assorted material samples and some furs and animal bones. Everything I need to craft things when the urge arises. I have a specific shelf for current projects, so when the urge arises I can just leave new materials on it. If I don’t finish the project I will just get rid of the materials.

Keeping your collections in an organized library does three things.

Firstly, it contains your work. Never take out two projects at once, always put materials back and sort everything you finish.

Secondly, it reduces waste. You don’t end up throwing away a few things every time you tidy the house.

Finally, it limits your collection. Once your library is full, you need to focus on quality and can stop yourself from becoming a hoarder.

Because we all collect things, so we may as well not drive ourselves or anyone else crazy doing it.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… introduce a puppy to new things.

As you may or may not already know, we recently got a puppy. Well, by recently I mean two months ago. And those two months have been pretty awesome, but also a bit of a trial, as all puppies are. However, between our shared knowledge of dogs Jon and I managed to completely calm her about new things in a matter of weeks. So this is how we went about doing it.

1: Noises.

Dogs don’t like new or loud noises. Even grown dogs get stressed by things like fireworks. But when you live on a junction with fields everywhere, there are plenty of loud sounds. Clattering, banging, large engines, fast bikes, sheep being transported… She couldn’t really afford to be scared of all of them. But she was.

The way we diffused this was by making sure she didn’t have an excuse to panic when we were in the patio. We kept calm ourselves, after all, she won’t die of being a bit scared. If she was running and playing, we would encourage her to keep playing. If she ran inside we would call her out and pet her and comfort her. If she stayed out we would give her repeat praise until the noise had gone on its merry way. This way she slowly learned not to run from these sounds. They still startle her, but she no longer barks, urinates in fear or runs away.

2: Other dogs.

I find it very odd when a dog is not good with other dogs. It’s often because of poor socialization as a puppy. If you had a puppy that lunged at every person who walked in the house, would you hide it away and let it continue the aggression, or would you punish it for violence and slowly socialize it? Just as we make sure our pets are fine with other humans, we need to make sure they are fine with other dogs.

Lamu is encouraged to meet other dogs when the owner says they are friendly. For small dogs we let them communicate on the same level. For large dogs, we first hold her up as they sniff her, then place her on the ground if they don’t get too excited. She knows she can hide behind us, but gets plenty of gentle praise for positive interactions.

3: Other pets.

We also had Wallace the cat. Wallace is a very sociable cat and needs a lot of physical attention, fuss and love. Which meant he saw the new arrival as a challenge. On the cat front, we had to make sure his needs were met: food, shelter, attention, freedom. He became very outdoorsy and avoided the dog at first, but as he grew familiar he became comfortable with being in a room with her and eventually with sitting together on the sofa.

On the puppy front, she was obviously too boistrous for a cat. To balance this we introduced them both on the floor in an open area, holding her and letting him decide how close he wanted to get. After a few encounters she realized he didn’t like too much fuss and submitted to him, which is fine as they now don’t interfere with each other’s lives too much.

4: Hoovers and loud appliances.

Like loud noises outside the house, except these are inside. Within five minutes Lamu went from being nervous about the hoover to being fine with it.

Step one was introducing her to it, letting her sniff around it and inspect it.

Step two was moving the head of the hoover without putting it on.

Step three was putting it on with a warning (“go”) and then turning it off after a few seconds, repeating until she was used to it.

Step four was letting her get near when it was on.

Step five was combining movement and sound for short bursts of hoovering.

Step six was hoovering properly.

During the proper hoover session she urinated in panic, but quickly calmed down and watched it after that. She was given a treat for following as I hoovered and watching me put the hoover away.

This whole process may need to be repeated the first five times you hoover around your puppy.

5: Collars and leads.

Third attempt at collar training. Already comfortable in it.

Third attempt at collar training. Already comfortable in it.

I suggest starting with the collar first and introducing the lead properly later. Get your puppy still in the calmest way possible (I found that restraining was too upsetting, but lightly controlling her with my arms as I buckled the collar was easier for both of us) and slip the collar on and into the right position. Immediately feed her a treat and praise her. Leave it on and distract her from it by playing or cuddling for an hour or two. Then, remove it and give her another treat and praise.

The third attempt she stopped trying to remove it and just kept wearing it. It was a bit itchy, but other than that she didn’t mess with it. She even napped in it.

The one thing I would advise is not to leave puppies unattended in full collars as they aren’t collar-aware yet and may get it caught and hurt themselves.

For lead training, start with just passive lead use. Attach it to the collar when the puppy will be mostly carried or sitting down, like at the vet or in the car. Build walking by using treats and toys to tempt the puppy forwards whilst wearing the lead. Eventually it won’t bother them and the walking training can begin.

6: Enclosed spaces.

Pups may often need to be enclosed for car trips, visitors, vet trips or bedtime, to prevent mischief. But puppies also hate being left alone in enclosed spaces. We used crate training to keep her calm when it was bedtime, house-break her and make sure she was fine with a crate for when we need to contain her as an adult.

You need to start by introducing the puppy to the space. Let them walk around in it, in and out, sniff it and roll on the ground. This will make it more familiar when the time comes as well as get their scent on it. The bedding should be nylon so it can’t be damaged and can be wiped clean.

Encourage them in and out of it and to think of it as a nice space by putting treats in it and keeping the door open. Practice closing the door and then feeding treats through the bars for further reinforcement. Also plenty of praise for calm, quiet behaviour.

When the time comes, make sure the crate is pleasant. A dog-safe hot water bottle and an item of your clothing will ease the puppy’s nerves a little. Make sure they have made their ablutions (gone to the toilet) before putting them in. Encourage them in like it’s just training, close the door and feed a treat. Then cover the main entrance for nights and moving. Plenty of praise for good behaviour.

For night-times, after a certain time do not check on the puppy. The first few nights it may be distressed, but reacting to the noise will reward the puppy. Instead, make sure the puppy is well around 10-20 minutes in and then leave it. It should be calmer by the fourth or fifth night.

7: Get em early.

The crucial part to all of this is that it must happen when the puppy is young. The longer you wait or the more you drag out the training, the longer it will take to calm your puppy down. If you introduce new things within a week of getting the puppy then you will save yourself a lot of trouble.

And that’s how we got Lamu calmed down and settled into her new home. It helped that she was a very young (8 weeks), fairly confident puppy already, but this advice applies to most puppies in their new homes.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!