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nzmuse link love roundupI deemed April the month of self care. Sometimes you gotta be selfish.

I feel like I’ve emerged from a dark cave. Like I’ve been sleepwalking through life (which in a way I have) and I’m finally truly present again. It’s a grand feeling.

I’ve been really touched by how willing you guys have been to share your own troubles, stories, struggles, experiences with me. I feel like the world would be a better place if everyone was more open with each other. Some days I hate the internet – a consequence of spending every working hour on it – but every so often, I’m reminded of its awesome power for good.

Who gets to be an artist, really?

Why Aucklanders won’t leave Auckland

The diminishing economics of blogging

Reflecting on season 1 of Fresh Off The Boat 

Resolving to find contentment and happiness right now 

Tune into the universe and listen to life’s whispers 

There’s been quite a few posts debunking the glamorous myth of travel writing/blogging; here’s a carefully considered one I totally recommend 

And finally, my bud Sarah has put out an awesome e-book, Five Figure Writer, for freelancers. Not exaggerating. If I was in the biz, this is definitely a resource I’d pay for.

 

April eats: Sautee, Sento, Ima

In which I quickly review the various places I’ve dined at this month.

Sautee – Newmarket, Auckland

All round awesome mains (I had the gozleme – soft flatbreads with a filling of haloumi and greens) and helpful beer recommendations from the waiter. Alas, dessert was a letdown. The baklava was heated to bland mushiness – the worst I’ve ever had – thankfully it came with Kapiti ice cream.

Sento – Blockhouse Bay, Auckland

I swear we saw a brand new Japanese place pop up at the shops on the corner of Boundary Rd and Donovan St. What a random spot for such a joint, we mused – let’s give it a go sometime. And yet when we stopped for dinner one night, it had transformed into a Malaysian/Thai takeaway. (Either that or we both shared a strange but delightful hallucination.) Anyway, Sento seems to do both pretty well. The downside: we found a stray hair in one of our dishes.

Ima – Central city, Auckland

This is the second time I’ve eaten at Ima and I’ve yet to be blown away. We got both meat and veggie platters to share among a group. I loved the the falafel, the roasted cauliflower and the various dips, but was underwhelmed by the  tomato/cucumber salad and the meats, not to mention the portion sizes. And we were all unpleasantly surprised by the overbearing service.

Financial stocktake: Assessing the damage

Financially derailing fun:

  • Going down to one income
  • Traffic tickets
  • Illnesses (all bets are off when I’m sick, I will drop money on comfort foods like nobody’s business)
  • Actual health/medical expenses
  • All our annual insurance bills
  • Moving house
  • Depression/head burying/general laxness

Looking back, we just never really had a chance to get set up properly after coming back to New Zealand and have been on the back foot ever since.

T’s bringing in money again but technically it could stop at any time. (Also been having unpleasant dreams about being forced to move out of this house, sigh. This underlying feeling of insecurity is no fun.)

We’re still bleeding money post-move, what with work tools, long overdue dentist visits and a new line category: sports. (Coming off the year we’ve had, the physical and mental health benefits of the latter were WAY more important than waiting a full year for the next season to come around just for financial reasons.)

And now, to tackle the credit card balance that’s been accumulating. It’s a weird feeling, this. (Yes, we could take from savings to pay it off, but I am not giving up a cash buffer. Not without a second reliable income, no way Jose.)

Link love (Powered by chocolate and crackers)

nzmuse link love roundup

 

  • Sooo … Interstellar, eh? What a mindf***.

 

  • The ‘auto’ setting on our new washing machine (where it senses the amount and type of clothing and selects water level/wash function to match) is called ‘Fuzzy’. This amuses me to no end.

 

  • I was entertained all the way to work the other day listening to two ladies converse behind me on the bus. One was quite shocked when the other did not leap to reassure her that of course she would be a bridesmaid!

What’s new with you?

This week’s links

Making more money IS everything it’s cracked up to be

Dealing with the downsides of open offices

You only see on Facebook what I choose to show you

Your internet habits create your reality

What to do when life sends you back to the drawing board

Passing time while you wait to ‘make it’

How to rock working remotely

The things we DON’T want in a house

Women shouldn’t have to be afraid to walk alone

How do YOU do food?

By: Steven Depolo

Change has been all for the BETTER lately, as has the four-day weekend. But! One thing they have not been good for is creating new routines.

We’re now a bit further away from butcher/grocer (though we’re still super close to a supermarket) and T has started playing sports again, with training twice a week. Add to that the fact he’s knocking back protein shakes all the time and you can see why we haven’t found our food groove yet. Plus, we tend to do one shared dinner a week on Sunday or Monday with the flatties.

A lot of people seem to swear by intense organisation – but that’s definitely not our style.

For one, we tend to go by what’s fresh and on special. (Supermarkets do mailers detailing weekly sales but butchers and grocers do not.)

For another, T does most of our dinner cooking, and he’s definitely not a recipe kinda guy. That said, we both get into pretty serious food ruts that can be quite paralysing.

Neither of us are into prepping stuff ahead of time, either. (Sometimes I’ll make a few days of lunches on Sunday and that’s about it. Lunchwise he has an awesome inhouse cafeteria where he’s working so that’s him sorted.) But maybe it’s worth a go, at least with certain kinds of veggies.

I guess I’m just trying to figure out the best way to integrate a bit of planning and getting meal inspiration (which for me comes from recipes online and for him probably more like food shows).

Tell me:

Where do you do your grocery shopping?

Do you actively meal plan?

Do you prep ingredients ahead of time?

I hereby decree April the month of self-care

I hereby decree August the month of self careApril is always a goodie – a four-day weekend for Easter, plus a three-dayer for Anzac Day!

After the madness that was March, and the annus horriblus that was most of 2014-2015, I’m really really hoping for a break. One chilled out month to regroup and replenish with soul-feeding things, like…

Regular runs

I’m rediscovering the beach/bush trails just a few minutes from home, the same ones my friends and I used to roam as teenagers. They’re so blissfully peaceful, with nobody else around – a world apart from civilisation yet just a few steps away.

Game nights

The flatmates are into games too, so we’ve had a few game nights already! I don’t have a TON of board games but so far Cards Against Humanity has been dominating. (We’ve worked our way through most of the cards now, though.)

Making music

I’m pretty sure I’m past the songwriting phase of my life, but I want to get back to learning some songs that have been on my wishlist forever. It’s a lot easier to pick up my guitar when there’s actually space to play, rather than having to manoeuvre it out of its case, cram myself into a corner between the bed and wall and sit right next to my amp.

Creative projects

Ever since Webstock a little corner of my brain has been wanting to start something.  What, I don’t know. But I can definitely start with things that I’ve been wanting to do but just haven’t been in the right headspace to do yet, like get some of our wedding photos printed and hung on the wall; make a photo album from our RTW travel photos; and a video montage of our travel footage.

Leisurely baths

Alas, the spa jets in the bath don’t seem to work, but even so, it’s an epic tub with ample room for one or two people. I foresee a trip to Lush in the near future to pick out cute stuff to make bathtime extra fun.

Happy Easter!

Real estate trends I’ve noticed in 2015 (also, hallelujah, we moved house!)

By: Shubert Ciencia

There is no bigger nightmare than competing for housing in a growing city.

Ever-more intrusive rental applications

Self-explanatory. With a growing population and not enough housing to meet needs, this is what happens.

Shorter tenancies

For some reason, there’s a fair few properties being advertised as available for only 3-6 months, and others are advertised as longer fixed term leases with no mention of possible extension. Weird.

Renting out houses in two parts

Bigger houses are increasingly being rented out as separate upstairs and downstairs floors, self-contained.

More heat pumps

More properties than ever before now have heat pumps installed, which is a good thing. And I’m seeing more frequent mentions of insulation as a selling point… since, you know, having proper insulation is still the bloody exception. Still the minority, though.

The misery is widespread #solidarity

Why yes, I have been devouring everything on the internet related to our property clusterf***. What’s new?

“I don’t want to be a landlord – I just want to own my own home so I stop getting kicked out of rentals.  It just happened again last week and I’ll have to find somewhere else to live, yet again.  It’s exhausting and demoralising…”

– Interest.co.nz commenter

“Our lease is up in April. Not looking forward to this shit. Saw so many places with obvious damp or complete lack of weather tightness last time around. Property managers get outright aggressive if you ask about landlord’s plans to resolve damp, usually saying it’s already solved (despite damp smell and to the touch).

“Bring on WOF, willing to pay more to not get sick from shitty housing.”

– Reddit commenter

“The amount of money I would need for a deposit on a house is astronomical but trying to rent is making me want a house just so I don’t have to worry about renting ever again.”

– Wireless interviewee

Our new place

After 5 years of living on our own (wow, it feels longer) it will be strange to live with others again. The good thing is we have our own bathroom – we’ve moved into the downstairs floor of a house, so we’re largely self contained. And the others aren’t home much.

I am SO excited to have:

  • room to breathe! To swing a cat, even! There’s actually a cat, no kidding. No more constantly tripping over each other. Space to do stretches, play guitar, and just live alongside, rather than on top of, one another. Even if I wasn’t married to a hulk, I hate small spaces. Micro apartments and tiny houses can bugger right off. Unpopular opinion, I know. Lack of living space has caused us a lot of misery over the years.

 

  • a full kitchen! A real stove and oven, and a DISHWASHER (thinking back to previous places where we had a dishwasher, life was vastly improved.)

 

  • a dining table (I have never lived anywhere with a dining space since leaving home)

 

  • a bathtub (in the main bathroom)

 

  • outdoor living space (the deck is epic)

 

  • no sharing any of the following with neighbours – driveway/water meter/bins/yard etc  

 

And we won’t know for sure for a little while, but it seems like a decently warm and dry house. (Fun fact: I now have a new warning sign to look out for, thanks to a random person who was at one of the same open homes as we were. “There’s a bit of dampness – you can feel it in the carpet,” she said to her daughter. Indeed, upon further reflection, there’s definitely something to that). It was a family home for decades, so that bodes well.

I was really not sure I could make it through another winter in our last place. Also, our neighbours were becoming even bigger pains in the ass, and traffic along my bus route was getting downright unbearable. Now my commute is shorter despite having a longer walk at the city end from the bus stop.

Still, there will be no rest until we are owners. Your place is not your own otherwise – you’re at the mercy of leaseholders/head tenants, property managers, landlords. I can’t wait to have a permanent home – one we never have to budge from as long as we make our payments, and that we can truly make our own. I want a heat pump and/or amazing insulation. A spare bedroom. A garage/workshop for him. A pizza oven, that we’ll build in our yard. And a dog. I can’t express how intense my nesting urges are.

I know my property fixation is not good for my mental health and happiness, and I’m trying to get it under control. I almost feel a physical stab every time I hear of someone I know managing to buy their first home.

Example: A former coworker who failed to buy property a few years ago and bowed out of the game, calling it a bubble, has just bought a place. Prices have only gone up since then, so I presume she saw the light and got in while she could. Interest rates can only go up so much before they fall; the same is not true of house prices, and I see nothing that actually points to a real reason for a crash (the way things are going, nothing short of a nuclear explosion would reverse population growth, and we don’t have nuclear plants here).

So: trying to get this real estate thing down to ‘motivational’ levels rather than ‘obsession’. Which should be easier now we don’t live in such a tiny hovel.

Link love (Powered by sweet, sweet REM – no, not the band)

nzmuse link love roundupI am deliriously happy.

I didn’t realise just quite how miserable our living situation was. Thank the stars we’re out.

I’m so grateful for friends, who, when I think back, have made all our house moves manageable.

I’m sleeping better than I have in months. I’m due for a medical appointment soon, and I’m willing to bet money that my blood pressure will be back to normal levels. I feel like I can breathe again.

Life is good, for now.

This week’s links

I must give this a go! How to write a better blog bio in five minutes 

Living out of a suitcase – glamorously 

The importance of slowing down

When good enough is good enough

The beauty of being young: you still have time to get there

Wow. So much for paying professionals…

By: Gabriel

Man, I’ve dealt with some BS in my near decade of renting, but this has pushed me over the edge. Did I say agencies are better than private landlords? Whoops. I take that back.

That’s twice now the property manager has been an absolute twat upon moving out.

Last time around, dealing with them was a breeze throughout the entire tenancy … until our last afternoon. It was literally the day before we flew out of the country, leaving for 6 months. We waited, shivering, in our garage, as the rain started coming down, for the PM to show up for final inspection. Numerous calls to his phone went unanswered. Finally we gave up, placed the keys in the house and left. First thing in the morning, he starts trying to get in touch asking what happened – useless much? No, we are literally leaving the country TONIGHT, we do not have time to come back for a walkthrough – you will have to do it without us. We didn’t get our bond back until we returned to NZ, either – he never sent through the paperwork to me and I had to chase him for it when we came back to the country.

This time around, it was with an even bigger (and thus, ostensibly more professional) agency. Alas, they turned out to be douchebags pretty early on, and every time I thought it couldn’t get worse, it kept building until move-out. These guys instruct you to drop off the keys at the office, and then do the final inspection on their own rather than going through the house with you in person. Two days later we heard from them – outlining an absolute litany of basic complaints about cleaning. (The legal requirement is to leave a property ‘reasonably clean and tidy’, which translated to a pretty grey area. However, I can tell you never had an issue at ANY of the many places we’ve lived. We know how to mop a floor and scrub a shower.) They also conveniently ‘forgot’ that they had sold us the fridge upon move-in (for owner had wanted to get rid of it, probably as it was getting older) and more or less accused us of stealing it. Oh, and I’m not even going to go into the dramas they caused in trying to force us to move out earlier than our planned date.

I’ve been thinking a lot about power, and the imbalance of it in the renting market. I’ve already been incredibly stressed out for months on end, and this whole situation with the house has basically doubled my stress levels since the start of the year. I made the decision early on that my priority was getting the hell out of here with as little headache as possible, while knowing the agency was highly likely to make it a hassle based on their behaviour to date.

So often it’s a question of where you can afford the time/money to pursue a conflict. For example, they insisted on going ahead with hiring a cleaner anyway (end result: splitting the bill). As another example: it’s actually unlawful to have a clause in a lease requiring carpet cleaning at the end of the tenancy. However you’ll find these in many, many contracts. I know I have, and gone along with it because in a tight market it’s a miracle if you can get approved for a place at all.

And for bigger stuff … Do you really want to jeopardise your chances of ever getting another place to live, if you take something to the Tenancy Tribunal and have that associated with your name as public record (no matter what the result)?

Cannot wait to be off the renting hamster wheel.

Confessions of a non-shopaholic

By: Nattu

You know it’s time to go shopping when you have recurring dreams about clothes.

I wish I was kidding. I’ve lost count now of the number of times I’ve dreamt about finding new items hidden away in my closet. (Waking up in every case has been surprisingly disappointing.)

I really hate shopping. I tend to buy stuff in bursts – bundle up the pain, I guess. And it’s about time for one of those, since I haven’t bought anything in about a year. Belt-tightening (figuratively) and all that.

It’s embarrassing how many of my clothes are faded, stained, torn or need to be firmly retired to ‘at home’ status only for whatever reasons. I’m 27 this year and badly need to update my wardrobe accordingly.

Where to start? At the minimum:

  • Black pants
  • Jeans (probably one dark and one light/medium)
  • Multiple cardigans
  • At least one long-sleeved top
  • A non-summery skirt
  • More dresses
  • Black boots
  • Neutral flats
  • Swimsuit
  • A handbag
  • And maybe a soft blazer?

I am really not looking forward to this quest. Fashionista friends, put me in your prayers.