Life

My birthday present (and a few thoughts on the art of gifting)

On July 21st we celebrated the Belgian national holiday which was the perfect excuse to take out the gift my boyfriend got me for my birthday:

The VonShef 4 person picnic backpack.

My boyfriend giving me presents is always a very funny process (for me at least). He’s really bad at gifting, he always gets panicked whenever he has to get someone a present, he can never think of what a person would like or want and he ends up scrolling the internet like a madman until a few hours before he needs to get to a party or a birthday celebration.

Of course I think this is lots of fun, because I’m the exact opposite: I’m a great gift giver. And through the years I’ve realised that the way to do so is to PAY ATTENTION. Pay attention people! To what your friends say they’d like, they’d need or they’d enjoy doing but never have the time or the company. And then offer it to them. It doesn’t have to be expensive (that’s what vouchers are made for! you can just buy a part of the product or the experience, ), but you can always put a smile on the faces of your loved ones if you just pay attention to the things they like and then you make an effort to offer them.

And that’s what my boyfriend did, which made his stressed face and hesitance to offer me my gift this year even more adorable. He knows I love picnics, he knows I want to do more of them (not that we can do so many given the Belgian weather, but still, a girl can dream), and he knows that I love doing them with friends….so voila! The perfect gift!

The VonShef backpack is truly amazing. It is so practical and works really well – our bottles of rose and still water remained chilled for more than 3 hours despite the heat, which was something I really appreciated (it’s a huge bummer having to run to the store for fresh wine in the middle of a picnic!). And it really has everything you will need for the picnic (the only additional thing I had to bring with me was a few toothpicks, everything else is already in the bag!!!).

We had such a great time that day and it really felt like a perfect way to celebrate my birthday and my boyfriend for implementing so well the first rule of the art of gifting: pay attention 🙂

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Life

What a little bit of bad luck can tell you about your relationships 

Yesterday morning, I hurt my pinky toe at the corner of the coffee table (major cursing ensued). The night before, my internet connection stopped working mysteriously. Today, I missed my bus and thus my only chance to find the super market open (and have a healthy dinner), due to limping because of said hurt pinky toe.

Two common things about the mishaps in the above paragraph: (1) bad luck (2) I missed my boyfriend in every single instance.

Partners are great to have fun with, but the real idea of companionship is founded on longing for the other person when not at your best (or at least so I believe). I have many suitors when I have my make up on, my fancy clothes and good hair. And that doesn’t impress me much. I only care for one when I haven’t showered for three days or I’ve gained gain a couple of pounds.

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I wanted to call my boyfriend because he was the only one I wanted to be comforted by at that moment. I wanted to talk to him because I knew he was on a business trip and wouldn’t be home when I got back from work. I wanted to hear his voice because it’s the most soothing sound on this planet (I should test him against whales once).

Who do you think about when your day sucks? Who is the first person you want to call when you hurt your pinky toe?

Life

4 tips to happiness when moving in with your partner 

As you might remember, a few weeks ago my partner and I decided to take the big step and move in together. We’ve now reached our first month as roommates, which I think it’s a bigger milestone than our actual anniversary!!! This is the first time that any of us are living with a significant other, which kind of was a terrifying thought at the beginning as it felt like two blind people trying to drive a car….But it has worked out (at least so far!) and there are some great lessons I learnt in the meantime. So here’s what living with a boy over the past 30 days taught me:

1. Privacy is important, more so in a long term relationship: so invest in a spare room, be it a study, an extra bedroom or a smaller living room. It is a great relief to know i have my own space when I want to read, talk to my mom on Skype or watch another rerun of Sex and the City without him rolling his eyes.

2. Discover what you like to do together in the house and do lots of it!: many people like board games. Others watch movies, attend to their garden or enjoy washing the dishes (in the movies at least..!) What we do is playing music, watching movies but also, more than anything else, cooking. Big time. My man loooooves cooking and spending time with him in the kitchen has actually also improved my skills a lot. Although I’m not as good as him, I always try to give him a hand and this makes the whole process much more fun. Here are a few recipes that require 4 hands (or more):

 

Pancakes

 

Bacon, pepper and mozarella pizza

 

Gemista (i.e. stuffed vegetables with rice) – I use tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, but you can also use zucchinis.

3. Keep the mystery alive: He doesn’t know how I wax the hair off my bikini line. I don’t know how he trims his nose either. This is something I feel very strongly about: there’s no need for a couple that has just started sharing a life and a living space to start acting like they’ve been married for 40 years. My partner is still my lover and I won’t sacrifice a bit of that by leaving the door of the toilet open, asking him to help me wax or postponing taking a shower until I actually have to leave the house. (But because nobody’s perfect, I have to admit I tend to shave my legs a little less often than if I was just going on dates…)

 

4. Try a bit harder (but just a little bit): I’m one of those people who tend to nag easily. If I don’t get things the way I want them, I might turn into this deeply unhappy creature causing strife to anyone around her. I consider myself a relationship person, but then again, I feel compromise doesn’t come easy to me. But exactly because I love this guy so much, and he loves me back, I’ve decided to try a little bit harder. To think twice before nagging. To try to make it work with less or with different material. To get used to his way of doing things while showing him what mine is. It’s like tango. Steps might be going back or forward, but it certainly takes two to dance it.

Life

The stress

I’ve already talked to you about the big decision taken earlier this year to move in with my other (better) half. It was something that made perfect sense at that moment, I was super excited about this new chapter in my life (it’ll be the first time ever that I’ll be sharing my home with my lover) and I could hardly wait for the day to come for him to move in and make our relationship even more #worthlivinit!

BUT.

There is a BIG BUT. What I hadn’t though about was the stress. All the stress stemming from having someone move in, give them space (both literally and metaphorically), adapt to their daily schedule, make arrangements to accommodate their lifestyle as well etc.etc. And I know that these things might seem evident to many people, but they’re not. At least to me. I’m only of these horrible characters that if I could have a relationship with my clone, I would 🙂 (I’m kidding) (I’m actually NOT kidding, it’s perfectly true).

And for better or for worse, the boy we’re talking about is not my clone. He’s actually pretty different than me in many ways. We do share the same values, but the way we think we should strive towards fulfilling them differs. And sometimes we get lost in trying to explain our point of view to each other. And this is I find is a crucial point in the relationship, the moment that I either say “Oh my god, I can’t have this talk again, let me be, go away”, or the time that I actually think “Hmmm, this sounds right, maybe the guy has a point”. And I’m trying to do more and more of the latter, which I find to be a big sign of growing up.

Another stressful factor is my fear of being “domesticated”. When we started dating I was feeling I would like to spoil him more and more. Cook a bit for him (I never cook, he excellent in the kitchen), offer him things that would make his everyday routine a bit more enjoyable etc. And then I reached a point when I was asking him every afternoon “what would you like for dinner?”. If he took more than 30 seconds to respond I got frustrated, because I had to wait in front of the meat counter in the super market. If he didn’t like what I was proposing for dinner, I would get frustrated that he was too picky. I felt I was inadequate as a partner, but then again I didn’t want to turn into this girl that designs her day around house chores.

These are only a few of the things that have caused me stress in the past few weeks. And I’m really trying to work past them, because they’re stupid and hurtful. But also valid in a way, so rationalizing my fears is the way to go for me now!

 

Life

Friends

People say relationships of a sexual nature are hard. What about friendships? I say they’re worse.

I mean relationships, they can get very hard for the most weird of reasons: because people love people. And when we love, breaking up, arguing, raising our voice, even standing by our (right) opinion is hard as hell.

But I’ve always found that it’s easier to break off a partner than a friend. I’ve actually never “broken up” with a friend. Of course, there are friendships that haven’t stood the test of time, people I stopped seeing because we changed cities, jobs, hobbies. And that’s all normal and cool, but I’ve never really broke it off with anyone. I’ve never been dumped by a friend, I’ve never had a fight with a friend, I’ve never stalked a friend to see if they’re cheating on me or lied to a friend to make them jealous. I’ve never felt like I never want to see a friend again or that continue hanging out with the same friend is bad for me.

And exactly because of the lack of drama during all these years, I’m now found at a very difficult position of wanting to break it off with a friend and not knowing how.

I get this feeling sometimes that we need to be good with everyone to keep our karma free of stains in case there is an afterlife. And then I remember that we don’t have 200 years, hence not enough time, to be good with everyone.

Which means…I’m torn.

Friends are for life, they are our chosen family and how can you break ties with family?

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