Every so often I get comments asking why T doesn’t become a chef (see: Boyfriend in the kitchen). He also gets the same query in real life from friends once in a while, particularly as one of his distant buddies is in the business himself.
It’s simple, really: cooking is one of those things that often makes for a better hobby than a career. Obviously, this isn’t a blanket rule, but in this case, it’s true.
The hours and the pay aren’t great. And progressing to the stage where you actually have real creative control? I suppose you might reach that point quicker if you had, say, your own catering business instead, but again, I don’t think this would be a good choice to fit in with the kind of lives we want to live.
Occasionally he likes to pontificate about how we should start our own cafe/restaurant after a disappointing experience dining out or a particularly ridiculous episode of Kitchen Nightmares - HOW do some of those incompetents ever get started? But I can’t think of anything worse – long and late hours, huge investment in a brick-and-mortar venture, low margins, stress and a high chance of failure. We are both interested in working to live, not living to work, and that’s especially true on his part.
Being able to put together amazing meals on the fly is a wonderful talent, but I don’t think it necessarily translates well to the daily bulk grind of a commercial kitchen. I’m almost certain it might even leach out the enjoyment altogether – in many cases turning a hobby into a career ends up killing the magic. Plus, every essay I’ve ever read by a chef or the spouse of a chef reiterates that they never cook at home. Call me selfish, but I want to keep his skillz for myself.
If cooking was a calling, a burning and all-consuming passion, it might be worth the sacrifices – but it’s not. It’s just one of the many things he’s picked up over the years (including welding, installing car audio, skating, and others) and happens to be outlandishly good at. Now if only he could figure out a direction…
There are lots of other pursuits of which you could say the same. Writing, while a wonderful hobby, is ostensibly one of them. Sports. Acting. Art. Music (for about five minutes back in high school, I was contemplating doing a degree in contemporary rock music).
Got any to add to the list? Ever been told “you’re so good at [X], you should do it for a living”? Or flagged a career path for lifestyle reasons?
Tags: career, reflections
Fiona Harries is a keen finance blogger who writes on many blogs such Frugal Plex and also UK Money Man. If you need advice on personal finance head on over.
There are plenty of loan offers available to the average individual. It is up to that person to determine which ones are right for his or her personal financial situation. This is more difficult when there are some many myths and rumours floating around about the lending industry. A few of the most popular myths about cheap loans are as follows.
There Is No Such Thing As A Cheap Loan
This one probably originates from the idea that there are some loans that are very expensive out there. Those who have possibly taken out these types of loans before may feel that there is no such thing as a cheap loan. This advice is simply not true though. There are cheap loans available, particularly to those who have good credit.
Cheap Loans Are Simply Scams
Others may say that cheap loans do exist, but they are simply a marketing ploy that is really a scam. They will tell you that trickery has been built into the loan to make the interest rate surge up once you have already accepted the money. There are some tricks that are played like this, but any such scheme would have to be detailed in the loan agreement you sign for it to be legal.
Cheap Loans Are Only For The Super Wealthy
This is not true either. Banks such as Clydedale Bank prove this by offering loans at good rates even to those who do not have a huge net worth. The actual net worth of the individual matters much less than the credit worthiness that they have demonstrated in the past. That is a far more important factor that banks and other lenders consider.
Taking Out A Loan Of Any Kind Will Hurt Your Credit
Much to the contrary, taking out a loan and paying it back on time to the agreed upon terms is a way in which you can actually improve your credit. Far from hurting your credit, borrowing money in a responsible manner is critical to beefing up that credit score. Cheap loans are a great way to do this since they have less interest attached to them.
Online Loans Are A Scam
There are plenty of online lenders that are completely legitimate services and are regulated just like any other lender. They lend plenty of money to qualified applicants, and they can sometimes even offer better rates than what it is possible to find from any other lender. They are worth a look.
Friends are awesome. We could leave it at that, and you’d know exactly what I mean.
But it’s also super handy to have certain kinds of friends. For example:
Our 1998 car has always driven slightly funny, and while we could pin it on something to do with the left back wheel, in 2-plus years no mechanic we’ve been to figured out what the culprit was. But after one conversation over drinks with an acquaintance who works on cars, T came home with a fresh take and a <$200 fix. Frickin’ wheel bearings (um, I think). Cars. So many parts. So many things that can go wrong.
The first time I got a UTI, I self-diagnosed through Google. But the hypochondriac in me still sought out comfort from my med school friend and reassurance that I didn’t have some rare illness that would end in my death.
When you live with a bunch of unruly boys who like to wrestle in the lounge and are prone to breaking windows (easy DIY fix) or smashing up light switches/wiring (not so easy to DIY) it’s much cheaper to bribe a mate who’s a sparky with a box of beer. Could also add other general tradespeople to the list.
Because TAXES. Holy hell, taxes. That said, accountants are everywhere. My mother, several friends’ mothers, several friends, even, and in the future, quite possibly, my own brother. I bet you have multiple accountants in your circles too.
A friend in a good band is invaluable. Their gigs give you a reason to go out on a weekend night, and they’ll hopefully play at your birthday party.
The friend with a bach
Holiday houses are not cheap to rent and they’re always booked up for the times you want to go away. Also add: the friend with the boat/jetskis/kayaks/other leisure toys.
A highly travelled friend is the one you go to for recommendations, insights and encouragement.
(While it might sound a bit mercenary, this really is just a bit of fun.) Got any to add to the list?
Tags: life, reflections
It’s well and truly autumn in New Zealand. This weekend we turned back the clocks (and I can’t tell you how wonderful that extra hour was) but at the very same time, temperatures plummeted like crazy. Farewell, long hot summer – it was nice knowing you.
On the plus side, at least T shouldn’t be sweating buckets on our wedding day, though I might be slightly blue from cold…
I swear it gets colder every winter, and that much harder to endure. The days are still pretty warm – and as I look outside right now, there’s not a cloud to be seen anywhere – yet now, towards the start and end of the day, I can now see my breath in front of me in any given room at home. I’m so glad we won’t be spending another winter in this house.
Make that: I’m glad I won’t be suffering through a whole winter this year. Instead, we’ll be hauling our backpacks around Europe, and probably experiencing temperatures neither of us have ever experienced before. Italy and Greece will likely be sweltering; our first stop in that region should be Venice (hopefully we can find a hotel with a strong fan or good AC). I’m very much looking forward to being immersed in all things Italian, from the historic cities to the countryside (where we’ll be volunteering for a few weeks).
Speaking of anticipation, I’m also (somewhat impatiently) awaiting a response from the proprietors of a lodge on Santorini, who replied to my booking and deposit payment with an email informing me that the (insanely low) listed prices were wrong, but they’d split the difference with me. I asked them to confirm the total balance payable at that rate, but haven’t heard back yet. They do say things shut down around Easter (this all happened just before Good Friday) so maybe they’re simply on a long break. Here’s hoping.
A tad extravagant for a Saturday lunch? Perhaps…
I’ll be honest: duck doesn’t really do it for me. It was the veggies – mushrooms, onions and basil – that I really wolfed down. And the sauce! Oh, the sauce. After a couple of wildly unsuccessful guesses, T shared with me exactly what went into it:
- Tomato paste
- A dash of oyster sauce (yes, really)
How about you – are you a duck fan?
I seriously don’t understand people who go tramping/hiking for fun. Back in high school, my friends and I’d go roaming around the bush/creeks/cliffs/beaches just out the back of our suburb for hours in our downtime. Today, doing the same kind of thing is really not all that enjoyable, but at least it’s a good workout.
Last weekend we made the journey out to Kitekite Falls at Piha, which looks a heckuva lot like Karekare falls, but is much harder to get to.
It was way too icy to swim by my standards – wading around int he shallows for a bit completely numbed me from ankles to toes – but worth the trek anyway.
Along the way, we saw St John Ambulance staff helping out someone to the side of the trail – we’re still not sure what happened – and heard a rather loud alarm go off at one point … again, not quite sure what that might have been for (shark sighting? tsunami warning?) but there were no emergency vehicles or any sort of commotion when we left, so it can’t have been TOO bad.
To the links!
SO true. The best and worst things about getting older, by Obsessions of a Workaholic
And another hilarious piece by The Frugal Model: Friends don’t let friends…
Thinking it’s time to quit your job? Examine your reasons – remember, there is potential to be unhappy anywhere. Via Dumb Little Man
I can relate, very much, to Donna Freedman’s post today on family and forgiveness
Both Krystal and The Asian Pear just wrapped up their pescatarian challenges and have some insights to share
It is okay to be (relatively) unremarkable. We can’t all be rockstars, and that’s okay, via Grow. (Related: my ramblings on how my dreams have changed over time)
A cautionary tale from Social Diary for anyone who’s ever been filmed for TV broadcast in any capacity. Be aware of your rights…
Ashley totally killed it this week with all her posts. Here’s a quote from one that really resounded:
“I have known about myself for a long time that I am kind, but not particularly generous. I am especially selfish with my time. Most introverts can probably be accused of this, since we need so much time to ourselves, but even my introvert friends are more generous with their time than I am. I hoard time and protect my freedom like the world is out to collect.”
Finally, I’m late to this one, but still wanted to highlight it anyway: true confessions of a mean girl. I wonder if this is true universally? Can one be popular without being mean and without the cliquey infighting? Thanks to one of my close friends in my younger years, I occasionally had reason to interact with THE single most popular girl (the most awkward point culminating in my dad driving us both to school one morning, without my actual friend there to act as a buffer – she stayed home sick that day, I think). And in about 8 years total of being at the same school as her, I really never got any of those impressions; she seemed above it all.
Recommendations for food apps, please!
I’ve been in a serious cooking funk lately, so I downloaded a couple of recipe apps in an effort to kickstart things again.
And then I thought, why not make a list of my favourite free food apps? Not just recipe apps, but food apps in general.
The opening image that greets you every time you open this app is quite exquisite, and possibly the most gorgeous on any of the apps I own. Use it to find good eats nearby, rate eateries, and follow other Foodspotting users. What I like is how visual it is – it’s all about the pictures of dishes and what looks good. There’s also a tab for specials, though it’s empty for my area. (I tried downloading Urbanspoon but it’s not available in Auckland. Sadface.)
Metro Eats (Auckland only)
I tend to stick to cheap eats, as a function of being on a budget and simply preferring ethnic flavours over traditionally haute cuisine. Take your fusion and stick it. While we’ve got a few classic favourites, it’s always good to find new restaurants. Metro magazine’s app comprises its top 50 fancy restaurants, 50 best bars, and 100 top cheap eats. Each listing includes a little bit on information about the food, the ambiance, and the address. I’d also like to see opening hours for each eatery – next year? (Also, one blogger with a very ambitious appetite is eating her way through the entire Metro list.)
The Insider (New Zealand only)
The Insider informs you about nearby deals and offers – that’s happy hours, two for one deals, and other specials in Auckland and Wellington bars, cafes and restaurants. You can search and filter deals to drill down to find what you’re looking for within quite specific parameters.
Epicurious offers both culinary inspiration and a baked-in grocery list so you can manage all your mealtime admin in one place. Narrow down recipes by categories such as low carb, low fat, decadent desserts, weekend brunch, and healthy snacks. My fave is the ‘I can barely cook’ tab for super easy meal options.
Half Hour Meals
Like Epicurious, Half Hour Meals incorporates grocery list and offers search by ingredients, cuisine type, meal type, special dietary requirements, etc. I’m all about minimal ingredients and fast cooking times (hence why I watch Rachael Ray/Jamie Oliver and my favourite cooking blog is Stonesoup), so meals in 30 minutes? I’m all over it.
Got any good foodie apps to share?
It’s funny how your eating habits as a child can shape your eating habits as an adult. I’ve grown to like certain vegetables I would previously never have touched with a barge pole (a subject for an upcoming post…) but by and large my tastes have remained the same. I don’t do green salads and I don’t really know how to deal with solid hunks of meat (we grew up eating stirfries). I think rice pudding and bread and butter pudding are two of the strangest concepts ever. And I’m just not into raw foods in general. At all.
We didn’t eat a lot of pork, either, but it’s something I’ve gotten more used since to living with T. That boy could eat bacon every day, but he also loves crackling, pork chops and roast. I’ll willingly go along with it, as long as he’s cooking – though as I’ve learned, pork can substitute for other meat in practically any dish (here’s one site to bookmark if you’re ever looking for pork recipes).
An interesting aside: pork cuts are getting new names in the US, ostensibly to lift flagging sales. (I don’t think we have the same problem here, as I haven’t seen any NZ Pork ads recently, though Beef + Lamb seems to be doing a bit of a push.) Personally, I always make a beeline for the leanest, cleanest ones – when you’re as noobish of a cook as I am, simple is best.
Are there any foods you’ve learned to like over time?
Nobody wants to spend more than is necessary on their insurance premiums. And you don’t have to. There are a number of ways that you can keep your insurance premiums down. Here are a few tips that could help you reduce your insurance outgoings.
1. Check your level of cover
An easy way to identify whether you might be paying too much on your insurance premiums is to check your level of cover. You may find that you are over-insured, which means you are paying a higher premium than is necessary. This can be adjusted, as required, by re-assessing your needs. But make sure you don’t under-insure. (Ed: As someone who’s been burgled multiple times, I’m fully behind this! To save money, we have a policy that takes depreciation into account – which is fine for electronics, which get cheaper by the day, and are generally the first things to be taken – but might not be so great for other, more unique items.)
2. Buildings and contents
It can be worth buying your buildings and contents insurance as a package, as some insurers will provide a discount on your premium if you buy both together from the same company. Get a quote for combined buildings and contents insurance now.
3. Make sure you compare like with like
Read the small print when looking for home insurance. You could find that the premiums for two different insurers are similar but when you look at the policies one gives you much better cover for the same money. Getting the right policy which pays out when you need it is as important – if not more important – than getting a cheap policy.
4. Choose a voluntary excess on your policy
Most insurance policies have an excess – the first amount of each claim you have to pay. So for example if you have a compulsory excess of £200 and your claim for £2,000 is approved you will only get £1,800 from the insurer. If you choose to take a higher excess on your policy than the minimum amount set you could find that you pay a lower premium because this reduces the risk to the insurance company. Be careful though – you must be able to afford the higher excess if you need to claim.
5. Protect your property
It could be worth having a burglar alarm fitted, as this can help provide peace of mind when you’re out. This could have other advantages too – some insurers might reduce your insurance premium if you install a specific type of burglar alarm. Check first whether there are any stipulations about what kind of alarms fit their criteria. And rather than fit it yourself, rely on a professional to install and maintain it for you. (Ed: Our insurer definitely welcomed the news when we moved into a place with a burglar alarm a few years back. I’m not sure if that lowered our premium, though.)
6. Approved locks
Keeping your property secure is also a matter of having good quality, strong locks. Although this won’t reduce your premium, it can help to keep you home safe, reducing the chance of you needing to claim on your insurance for any unwanted visitors.
7. Be prepared for winter weather
When the temperature drops, water pipes become at risk of freezing and bursting. The result is usually water damage to your home, which can cause you both expense and inconvenience. While being prepared like this won’t actually reduce your premium, by making sure the pipes in your house are insulated properly, the risk of water damage can be reduced.
8. No claims bonus
While your insurance premiums may be higher if you have a history of making claims, some insurers will also reward you if you have a track record of not making claims, over a certain amount of time. It can be worthwhile, therefore, to seek to build your no-claims record, to save money on premiums.
9. Don’t double count
Your building insurance should cover you for damage to permanent fixtures such as kitchens, bathrooms and fitted wardrobes – so don’t include these fixtures when totalling up the value of your contents.
10. Fight back against flood risk
If you’re worried about flood talk to potential insurers for advice. There are flood protection products you can use; these might include things like non-return valves and barrier technology. Although this won’t reduce your premium it can protect your home against flooding, and help reduce potential future heartache for you.
For further information about home and contents insurance or buildings insurance, see http://www.lloydstsb.com/insurance/home/homeoptions_insurance.asp
Tags: insurance, money
My Evernote is (figuratively) bulging at the seams. I’ve finally seen fit to organise my notes into folders, and right now my note containing Things To See And Do In The US is grossly inflated. That’s mostly thanks to New York, skewing everything! It looks like we’ll be there for a full week in September, but I doubt we’ll be bored somehow. If you’re looking for things to do in New York there are plenty of resources online, plus I’ve got no shortage of recommendations from friends.
A few weeks ago I went into a slight panic when one of my best friends (who’s off to Minnesota, I think, for a conference later in the year) asked if I’d applied for our visas yet. As far as I knew, the only places we wouldn’t get a waiver would be Cambodia and Vietnam. But in its paranoid and profit-seeking ways, I guess the government has to make things complicated and take its cut:
International travelers who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are now subject to enhanced security requirements and will be required to pay an administrative fee. All eligible travelers who wish to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for authorization and then pay the fee using the following process…
And so I paid the $30 fee and went through the ESTA rigmarole online. I tried not to freak out when we weren’t both immediately approved. Thankfully, a few days later I checked back in and found that we’d both been cleared. That’s about as much as we can do; from here on in we’re at the mercy of airport officials when we land, I suppose.
I’ve booked an apartment rental for our last few days in New York through a Wimdu host with good reviews (we want to stay somewhere nice for T’s birthday), but I’ve yet to decide what we’ll do for the days before that. Hospitality exchange hosts generally don’t want to commit until a few weeks ahead (I personally prefer not to when hosting) but given it’s New York, waiting seems risky when accommodation is so in demand. Do we wait and hedge our bets on finding an awesome free/cheap host who’ll show us the city from his or her POV, or shell out now for a guaranteed place to lay our heads?