June 2012 archive
Snapshots into my life right now:
- Someone posted our class photo from 2003 on Facebook and started tagging everyone in it. I can’t believe it’s basically been 10 years since we started high school.
- Bodies are funny. Not so long ago, I couldn’t eat peanut butter without breaking out in cysts, I couldn’t go a day without washing my hair and NOT look like a homeless swamp monster, and I had less of a face than I did an oil slick. None of these are true right now. Yay hormones righting themselves, eventually!
- Attending the Magazine Awards this week, it struck me just what a rich history and tradition the industry has. I hope one day digital media will host its own equivalent (and yes, I know there are the Webbys, ONYAs, etc, but one that’s purely editorial would be bangin’).
- I would quite like to be able to put the phrase “award-winning” in front of my name. Perhaps some day.
- I was finally, I think, getting comfortable with the idea of getting married in the next year or two. And then I wasn’t. My original life plan included getting married close to 30 or so, at which stage we would then be ready to buy a house and have kids. Marriage was a trigger, really, for that next life stage. Getting married at 24/25 means coming back post-honeymoon to years more of the same: renting crappy Auckland housing stock while scraping together a deposit. Someone I know reckons she was never this cold while living in Canada (where it SNOWS) because property there is actually properly insulated.
Links I liked this week:
Blueberry cream cheese pie with shortbread crust (via Poor Girl Eats Well). Drool!
Triple berry buttermilk bundt, by Smitten Kitchen
Stonesoup explains how to get more fish into your diet, even if you don’t live near the sea
How to learn a language in 90 days, at Zen Habits
Ask A Manager busts some myths about job interview thank-you notes
Aloysa shares her thoughts on the can-women-have-it-all debate
Earth and Money shares how to pull off a frugal, green wedding for $5000
Finally, TeacHer Finance voices something I’m feeling lately – that the financial journey never lets up
Photo credit: Wikipedia
So, it looks like I’ll be in Sydney for my birthday next month.
It’ll be my first time in Australia (and indeed the first time I’ve flown anywhere by myself).
The good: I’ll be overseas, in a warmer place, on my birthday. The bad: I’ll be overseas, by myself, on my birthday.
But I reckon I can make it work. I’m a happy wanderer and people watcher, and because it’s a work thing, I’ll only have nights to sightsee. I’ll be there for four nights, as far as I know, three of which are probably good for getting out to enjoy the city.
Any tips on what to see? And where should I go to exchange my NZD into Aussie money?
There’s a truly irritating ad that’s currently doing the rounds on TV here that bleats on about the true cost of owning a car. Basically, it’s a public service message urging us clueless consumers to factor in the cost of petrol, and to check fuel efficiency ratings to see how much car X might cost to run vs car Y.
Automobile (Photo credit: A*A*R*O*N)
You want to talk the real cost of car ownership? Fine.
There’s a good $430 gone, if you’re in New Zealand. Every year. More, if you have a larger car.
Varies wildly, of course, by location, gender, vehicle, driving history. But that will account for another few hundred dollars, at least. For us, that’s $1000 every year.
Oil. Filters. Tyres. Other miscellaneous fluids. I know we generally have to replace our tyres every 12-18 months, and our filters are not only pricey but annoyingly fiddly to replace. Another few hundred a year.
On top of the normal things that need topping up or replacing. Parts give out or break, over time. You misjudge the distance between your rear and that wall, and tear your bumper loose. Some asshole swipes your side mirror clean off while passing you on the road (it’s happened to us twice. Steer clear of other motorist on Hillsborough Rd, yo). And be sure to consider – especially when buying a car – whether parts are going to come cheap, or even be easily available. I know someone considering buying a BMW but the matter of parts is proving pause for thought.
Plus we could always go into potential parking costs, driving fines, or even venture down the path of depreciation, assuming you plan to sell your car eventually. But these are the unavoidable, non-negotiable realities. (Excluding, of course, non-legit running of a car. I’m more than familiar with people owning absolute clunkers that haven’t been registered or warranted for months or years.)
Have I missed anything?
Tags: cars, money, personal finance
This one ‘ere’s loosely based on a dish I spotted over on Hungry and Frozen (who has a cookbook deal in the works, hurrah!)
1 large chicken breast / 2 small
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (or something else chilli-ish)
1 onion, sliced
1 capsicum, sliced
1 handful of desiccated coconut
Juice and zest of a lime (about 2 tablespoons juice)
Mix up all the spices, lime juice and a dash of vegetable oil in a bowl. Toss the chicken in the mixture until coated.
Fry the sliced onion and capsicum in a little oil for a couple of minutes.
Add the chicken and more oil as needed. Cook through, then mix in the coconut.
Serve over a bowl of white rice.
Frugal factor: reasonable. Really depends on what kind of pantry staples you keep. I basically already had everything I needed.
First, my phone stopped charging. That was $100 to fix.
I always stay up later than T, usually either reading or doing something online. I have a reading light with a switch on my side of the bed, so when I do decide to turn in, it’s just a matter of reaching up and flicking it. Sometimes I can’t be bothered getting up to put my laptop on the desk, so I plop it on the floor on my side of the bed. Last month, while coming around to kiss me goodbye in the dark, dark winter morning, he stepped on the edge of the laptop. $200 to replace the screen (momentary panic when someone I thought was reasonably web-savvy on Twitter told me it would be just as pricey to buy a new one, and my computer is starting to slow down a lot, but not enough to fork out for a replacement).
T’s also motorbike needs some work. (He may decide to sell it after that.) More moolah.
Our annual car insurance bill arrived. The good news: the premium actually dropped, thanks at least in part to the no claims bonus increasing from 40 to 50 percent. I had planned to cancel full cover, but now that it’s decreased to less than $1000, I think we’ll keep it on. Even third-party, fire and theft alone is still something like $400-500. But that’s a hefty lump to pay all at once, nonetheless.
Then the car itself. Oh, the car. We needed two new tyres and two lights fixed. We also needed a butt ton of wires fixed – some T melted ages ago while puttering around with the stereo. After all that, the ABS light was still on (which is stopping us getting a warrant) so a new ABS computer too. $1500. And after that, the light is STILL on. Now apparently there are more buggered wires in the back that need replacing. FML.
And apparently I owe tax. Back in 2010 I pulled in a decent amount of side income through a freelance gig, and I think ended up owing less than $500 come 2011. That ended last year because I joined the company fulltime. However, my last couple of invoices fell within the 2012 tax year (and added up to about $2000). But add that to my normal income for the year and somehow I owe just over $1000 to the IRD. Grr. I personally can’t think of a fate worse than becoming an accountant (it’s just not up my alley) but I can see why they charge so much. Infernal taxes. To add to that, ACC seems to think I’m self-employed and has sent me a letter to confirm my cover. Goody – more dealings with government agencies to straighten that out. It was great being able to bank that extra $ at the time but the extra taxes and hassle almost negate the benefits.
We splashed out on a bit of a staycation – a night at the Stamford, dinner out (with a voucher) and brunch the next day (plus parking, to the tune of $271. No regrets, and it was a much-needed break, but still a pretty penny.
The government’s budget slashed funding for students. That’s put an end to one of my best friends planning to move in with us. I’m glad; I love living alone, just me and T, but the extra money would have been nice, and he’d be an ideal flatmate, a busy grad student rarely home. Our spare room is absolutely tiny and not worthy of being called a bedroom, but he was keen to move in nonetheless – he suggested it. OTOH, we’re technically not supposed to have any other flatmates, so we’d have to disguise the fact someone else was living here come quarterly property inspection time.
Finally, my no clothing/beauty purchases ban is still going strong. But I may well need to replace two pairs of shoes very soon, and also, my handbag. I don’t believe in buying expensive ballet flats, because they wear out just as quickly on me. But I think it may be worth shelling out for a decent bag that won’t fall apart. What’s a reasonable amount to spend?
Tags: money, personal finance, rant
One thing I don’t think I’ve ever admitted to here is the frequency with which I Google myself.
Usually this throws up nothing too surprising – aside from recent bylines, the odd link from another site to something I’ve written, or a comment I’ve left on a site that must be of higher page ranking than I imagined.
On a whim, I typed my own name into the search bar on Friday.
I – or rather, someone sharing my name – was apparently embroiled in a national scandal involving corruption, fraud, and accusations of sexual favours. It was all over the Singaporean news. Awkward.
Suddenly, it all made sense. Why I’d had 100 people, mostly from south-east Asia, viewing my LinkedIn profile the other week, when usually that number is more like 5-10. Why people have been Googling my name (and landing on the website I work at).
Guess making the headlines in Singapore will do that for you.
I’ve never set up a Google alert for my own name – it somehow seemed too narcissistic. Maybe it’s time, though.
Bitch has totally ruined my Google search results.
I know I just posted about the importance of giving, but it’s hard to muster up money and motivation to give to an acquaintance – who has lived the most privileged life you can imagine – who is now fundraising to go overseas on a charity mission. Just saying.
I’m a bad person.
Thanks to American Debt Project for hosting the latest Totally Money carnival (I’m an editor’s pick!)
And Nerd Wallet for hosting the Carnival of Personal Finance (I’m in there with my post on charitable giving)
Susannah Breslin busts three myths about working from home.
Life, Etc talks blog envy, and features me in her latest Life as a Pie post
Some advice on talking to people who’ve recently lost loved ones, via Jessie’s Money
A timely post for me at Makeunder My Life about the reality of relationships – I guess the key is lowering your standards to be more realistic, without going too far.
Walking in Heels shared lessons learned from a decade of driving and dating
Brutally honest. Redhead Writing on admitting your fears
The dark side of budgeting is a scary place. I’ve been there (via The Happy Homeowner)
Lies that TV tells us, at Twenties Hacker
An expat’s lament, from Musings of an Inappropriate Woman
This (nail on the head) Editorialiste post made me depressed about my industry
On a happier note: Butter ice cream! Hungry and Frozen is a girl after my own heart
Or how about these chocolate swirl buns at Smitten Kitchen?
And finally, one of my favourite this week: Neurotic Workaholic’s post, When I was a kid…
In my quest to become less of a culinary nohoper, I have learned a few things along the way.
I will never buy tortillas or burritos again!
I live by this Jamie Oliver flatbreads recipe. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a bit of time (and a bit of mess on the kitchen counter) but these only cost a few cents. Beats paying up to $7 for a pack at the supermarket.
The key to making Indian food at home…
Well, I don’t know, because I haven’t cracked it yet. But cream is definitely an essential ingredient. It helps a lot.
I am becoming a generic snob
I buy home brand dairy, bread, and pasta. But the amount of products that I insist on buying name brand is far longer: Ketchup, cereal, biscuits, pasta sauce, juice, fizzy drinks, ice cream (everything else I choose based on the best deal).
Food processors are worth the money
Ours has been amazing for making everything from mayonnaise (although I’ve mastered the technique for getting the right consistency, I’m yet to crack the perfect flavouring. Any tips?) to tabbouleh and cheesecake toppings.
But I do wonder if we still need…
A stand blender, you know, with double whisks that you place your bowl under.
Got any cooking tricks to share?
(I’m still a bit of a kitchen fail, in case you were wondering, but I’m probably now closer to ‘competent’ on the scale than ‘can’t boil an egg’.)
Tags: cooking, food
T and I have been through a few life milestones to date. We’ve done the long-distance thing. We’ve been through a layoff. Moved more times than I care to count. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that we’re opposites in myriad ways.
The two things we share, really, are a love of movies and TV (there are a few shows we watch religiously, like Game of Thrones and Bones, plus I’ve converted him to Glee and New Girl) and food (we’ve started to eat healthier over the years and I’m grateful he’s come along for the ride. We’re eating less pasta and meat, more veggies and experimenting more. While he still eats a buttload of burgers, I have to give it to him: he can, equally, binge on fruit. It’s strange).
One thing I doubt I’ll ever bring him around to is reading. But lately I’ve been trying to rope him in on a couple of things.
One is running. He was a serious athlete growing up and has talked about getting back into rugby league (though it’s likely all talk – I don’t see any real motivation there). He’s also in need of some kind of exercise routine since he stopped hanging out with his wrestling mates and going to the gym (we picked up a cheap membership off one of those daily deal sites). While I just venture out on random routes around our neighbourhood, though, he likes to actually go somewhere different – scenic, flat, a bit more of an experience.
And the other is music. A friend came over and fiddled with T’s bass amp a little while ago, and managed to get it going again. And my guitar amp, which randomly lost overdrive some months ago, got its distortion channel back just as randomly. So we’ve had a couple of evenings of trying to learn a few tunes together. May there be more.
I’ll admit that my motivations may also be somewhat selfish.
Reading requires very little of me and is my first love. These other two? They take work. I usually need some prodding along, and I’m kind of hoping T would help keep me on the straight and narrow track. Accountability, and all that.
Couples: what do you like to do together?
I’ll be honest. I wasn’t blown away. I dutifully spooned it into my mouth and it made a perfectly adequate dinner that evening.
The next day, however? Like so many tomato sauce based dishes, it shone a day later. Overnight, all the flavours soaked in.
Liberally adapted from a Dish recipe…
A bunch of silverbeet leaves
3 pork sausages
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tin tomatoes
1 cup stock
Cheese (Parmesan is recommended, but I’m not a big fan of parm – I think we used gruyere)
De-skin sausages and slice up. Cook in some olive oil until done.
Remove and set aside. DO NOT clean pan.
Add onion and garlic to pan and cook till soft.
Add shredded silverbeet, tomatoes and stock, simmer until silverbeet is cooked, then return sausages to pan and heat through. Season to taste.
Mix in cooked spaghetti. Top with grated cheese.
Frugal factor: high. This is a lot plainer than the original, however.