What you WANT is not what you NEED.

It seems like a simple explanation on the surface. But we have a genuine problem understanding it. We have so much abundance that we ignore what our needs are compared to our wants. We just assume that anything that adds to our quality of life must be a necessity, whereas anything that simply feels nice with no lasting improvement to our quality of life or, indeed, with a lowering of our overall quality of life, must be a want.

But the reality is a touch simpler than that. Just a touch.

These are the things we need:

  1. Air to breathe.
  2. 1-2L of water a day.
  3. Enough calories and micronutrients to keep us moving every day.
  4. Somewhere to excrete.
  5. 5-12 hours of sleep.
  6. Shelter from the elements.
  7. Warm human contact.
  8. Safety and freedom from danger.
  9. Relief from stress, sexual tension and mental troubles.

That’s it. That is all you actually need. If you lived in a strong, moderate temperature cube with a toilet on the side, which daily gave you fresh air, two litres of water, one and a half thousand calories (assuming little to no activity) and a vitamin and mineral mix, where you could sleep as much as you like, call in a carer to cuddle you once a day and stretch, masturbate and play make believe, you would live just as long, if not longer, and your body would be just as well off, if not better, than you are today.

Literally everything we add on top of that is something we want. And our wants fall into three categories.

Things we almost need. Things that improve us on a measurable level but do not make the cut for bare basics. We can live just as long without them, if not well.

  1. Daily exercise.
  2. Sunshine.
  3. A circadian life.
  4. Massages.
  5. Variety of foods.
  6. Reproduction.
  7. Creative outlets.
  8. A soft place to rest and relax.
  9. Freedom of peaceful speech and interaction.

Things that are pushed upon us. Things that other people have and that we covet, or that we need in order to integrate with others. We could live without them in another culture.

  1. Wealth.
  2. Admiration, respect, status.
  3. Symbols of status and belonging.
  4. Gadgets and technological advances.
  5. Knowledge.
  6. Faith.
  7. Formalized relationships.

Things that instinctively we desire. Things that we want based on an instinctive impulse that is no longer applicable to the world we live in. In a modern world indulging these wants is detrimental.

  1. Excess of food.
  2. Freedom to complete idleness.
  3. Promiscuity.
  4. Freedom to be violent and retaliate.
  5. Freedom to seize.

All of those things, to someone in our society, could be seen as necessities, as things they have a right to. Everyone has something in those three lists that they would fight tooth and claw for. Some have even been acknowledged as universal human rights, rights that separate us from the animals.

But regardless of where you place them and value them, it is important to acknowledge that you need none of them. All you really need is the basic nine. Everything else is a luxury.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Bonus: The Valentine’s Day lunchbox.

Because Jon is working tonight, but he still deserves that extra special treatment. If anything, he deserves it all the more for working so hard! 🙂

The Best Lamb Burger Recipe

Sweet Hearts Jam Tarts and Brazils to snack on.

For dinner a heart-shaped lamb burger; mushroom, spinach and garlic fry; heart mushrooms cooked in lamb fat; beans, for some carbs; carrots, beets and courgette as hearts too.

Plus a bowl of turkey and sausage stew for his lunch, which was not pictured because it was still cooking when I did the photos.

He mostly wants to stay lower carb than usual, but not VLC, so plenty of veg to balance out the sweet things.

Who said cute bento (lunch) boxes were just for Japanese moms and girlfriends?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Valentine’s Day Sweet-Hearts.

Well, my attempt at returning to blogging is still a bit weak, so I have written up a new schedule and designated myself a weekly blogging day. That means a few things will be in arrears, but at least I’ll get on with everything.

Sweet Hearts Jam Tarts Easy Recipe

As a little thank-you for returning to read the blog, here is a simple recipe from my pantry, perfect to make for your sweetheart, to give your kids or for them to give their classmates, to jazz up a work space, to make together with your partner or just to eat because you’re a daft romantic who doesn’t care whether or not there’s anyone free to share them with because Valentine’s day is adorable.

Ingredients:

  • 500g strong flour
  • 200g salted butter
  • 5tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • pinch cloves
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 200-300g of any kind of jam (I used homemade damson and homemade raspberry jam from foraged fruits, because I’m a hippie little weirdo with too much time, but, seriously, anything is fine, you could even use chocolate icing instead)

Utensils:

  • mixing bowl
  • rolling pin
  • heart-shaped cookie cutters or a bit of patience and ingenuity
  • teaspoon
  • greased or nonstick baking trays

Recipe:

  1. Mix the flour and spices together.
  2. Add the eggs.
  3. Add the butter. Mix very well.
  4. Add water as you fold until the dough is smooth, elastic and only a touch sticky.
  5. Leave to rest.
  6. Preheat the oven to 160C.
  7. Dust your worktop and rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough to 1-2cm thick.
  8. Cut some hearts and lay them on the trays.
  9. Use the teaspoon to make a little bowl in each bow of each heart. Just press down a bit for an indent.
  10. Add just enough jam to fill each bowl.
  11. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  12. Put in the oven for around 20min, or until the Sweet Hearts are browned, still a bit tender, but hold firm when you lift them.
  13. Cool.
  14. Eat.

TTFN and Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

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!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

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.