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NZ Muse - Link love - blogging roundup

Thoughts for the week:

It’s amazing how powerful inertia and fear of change is.

It’s amazing how long people can tolerate living in limbo.

This week’s links

Ask yourself the hard questions

When financial fatigue gets the best of you

Class mobility, decision fatigue and budget failure 

The times when you need to say no

What exactly makes a happy marriage?

Marrying for money

And on a lighter note:

What happened when I tried being white (oh how I relate! Today I love my straight hair and my weirdly shaped eyes, but not that long ago I was obsessive about my lack of lashes and flat nose)

Foodie Friday: Japanese indulgence

Light and fresh are the two words I’d pick to sum up Japanese cuisine. While it took a day or so to adjust, the food definitely agreed with me. I grew up on a diet of rice, and to this date my stomach still does best with Asian food – I have trouble digesting heavier meals.

Also, impeccable? Someone on the Japanese food subreddit commented that while they’d encountered some food that wasn’t up their alley, they’d never had a bad meal there – and I couldn’t agree more.

Udon noodles in Tokyo - NZ MuseI’ll never get tired of udon and tempura.

Burnt ramen noodles at Gogyo restaurant Kyoto- NZ Muse

You definitely wouldn’t want to eat burnt ramen too often, but it’s certainly something special.

Champon noodles in Tokyo - NZ Muse

Stumbled across champon noodles, which turned out to be his new favourite dish.

Sushi in Kyoto - NZ Muse

Sushi (say no more). Lean red tuna, get in my belly. The miso that came with this particular meal was mind blowing – the most complex and subtle I’ve ever had. Like with Vietnamese pho, I doubt we’ll ever find that here at home.

5 things you really, truly must do in Tokyo

Sumo stadium 2015 - Tokyo must do

Although we briefly visited Kyoto – and swung through Osaka for lunch – most of our week in Japan was spent in the big smoke of Tokyo. Spoiler: I LOVE it. (I feel this way about most global cities, to be fair.) Here are a few things that stood out.

Stay in a ryokan

A must do in Tokyo: Stay in a ryokan
The whole guesthouse experience is just so unique, from the sliding doors to the tatami mats and the baths. It was an incredible introduction to Japan. Also: Sleeping on the floor is amazingly comfortable.

Order food via a ramen machine

Ramen machine for ordering food in Tokyo

Need I say more?! Didn’t think so.

Go shopping

Uniqlo cardigan haul from Japan

Everything is SO cheap compared to home. I’m madly in love with the merino cardigans I got at Uniqlo for practically nothing.

Also, as an Asian person, shopping in an Asian country makes so much difference, be it bras for the flat-chested or glasses for the flat-faced (you know how the plastic frames that are hot right now have only tiny inbuilt nubs designed to perch on high nose bridges, rather than traditional nose pads?! I found some with extra-big ridges).

Visit a park

Just some sake barrels in the park, enroute to Meiji Shrine
Every city needs green spaces, and Tokyo does them well. Ueno Park brought to mind San Diego’s Balboa Park, crammed with attractions (a highlight were the turtles in a pond!) and at Meiji Shrine, we saw an elaborately dressed bride getting wedding photos taken.

See a sumo match

Sumo wrestlers - Tokyo 2015

As it turns out, we were in town for the very start of the autumn sumo tournament. I wasn’t sold on the idea of shelling out for sumo tickets (and didn’t want to gamble on queuing up on the morning of the match) but it turned out to be the highlight of our trip. The bouts are short so the pace doesn’t flag, the atmosphere surprisingly lively and the rituals fascinating. And we got to see one match that was clearly a bit of an upset! We also saw some of the wrestlers before and after, as people lined the pavement outside like a red carpet to watch them come and go. What  a way to end our last full day.

Link love (Powered by brainstorming and planning)

NZ Muse - Link love - blogging roundupConfession: I’m a bit of an employment snob.

My career so far has seen me alternate evenly between working for big brands / household names versus smaller organisations.

I’ll admit, that prestige, or instant recognisability, has been hard to leave behind. It’s so easy to say, I work for X and have a stranger understand right away, rather than have to go into an explanation of the company. Giving that up was definitely a factor I considered.

This week I was part of a strategic planning session around sharpening our mission, if you like – in order to guide our work, and also (fringe benefit) enhance our employment brands (yeah, I hate myself a little bit for having just typed that sentence). I’m 150% behind what we do and am stoked to really see it gaining traction.

Fittingly, this week’s links are all about career, fulfillment and getting ahead:

The changing nature of creative careers

Forget about finding your passion – ask yourself these questions instead

When personal problems spill over into your job performance

Every writer should read this when feeling low

Two questions that guided a journey from poverty to Yale

8 things that surprised me in Japan

8 things that surprised me in Japan

Roughly in order of occurrence:

They eat lotus root!

This is a food I remember fondly from childhood. I guess I always presumed it was a Chinese thing. We’d have it in this rather plain, watery, chicken type soup. (Yeah, not very exciting – the lotus was basically the only part I enjoyed.) In Japan, we were served lotus root at breakfast, and alongside sushi one night.

The quiet is real

And the courtesy signs/warnings on public transport, incessant. No loud, obnoxious, inappropriate phone conversations on trains around here, thank you.

The only place that was remotely rowdy (bearing in mind we’re not drinkers and didn’t do anything remotely night-lifey, ha) was a little ramen restaurant we stumbled into – it was noisy in the way Gina’s Italian Kitchen in Auckland is.

So is the cute factor

Particularly when it comes to roadworks/construction. The billboards I expected, but these little surprises were next level.

Food isn’t just divine, it’s affordable

We ate well in Japan, and yet most meals clocked in about NZ$20 or sometimes less for both of us. That just wouldn’t happen at home.

The toilets are like nothing else

I was prepared for bidets. I was NOT prepared for heated seats and buttons in the wall you can push to lower the lid – so you don’t need to touch the toilet itself. GENIUS.

Everyone’s so well groomed

I was a slobby heffalump in comparison. No surprise.

Umbrella stands everywhere!

So, it was pouring buckets when we arrived in Tokyo. The first things we bought at a 7-11 were two white umbrellas. It wasn’t long before we realised practically every building has an umbrella stand at the entrance. Heck, at our last hotel, there were secure slots for individual brollies, with a lock for each one.

It’s really family friendly

For example: specific diaper disposal and diaper change table in the bathrooms aboard trains. Stroller service at the sumo stadium. High chair attached to the wall in a public toilet, presumably so mum can have a moment to relieve herself.

Just a few random thoughts. More of a debrief to come next week!

3 pet peeves of a freelancer

3 pet peeves of a freelancer - NZ Muse

I know a few people who’ve struck out on their own in recent times, one of whom has gotten through the honeymoon phase and has now lost those pretty rose-tinted glasses about being self-employed.

It got me thinking about all the things I detest about doing freelance work (aside from chasing payment, obviously)! Bad clients are rife, especially when you first start out. And as a rookie you often don’t know the traps to avoid.

If you’ve ever freelanced, odds are you’ve come across your fair share of bad clients. Here’s three pet peeves I have that I imagine are pretty much universal:

The client who doesn’t actually have a clue what s/he wants

You know the type. Wishy-washy, lots of back and forth over email. Potential clients who won’t tell you what they have in mind, are super vague on the details of a project, and ask you for a quote without giving enough information to go on, probably don’t know what they want. And clients who don’t know what they need are prone to scope creep, blowing out projects way past budget and timeframe.

The cheapskate

There’s always a client who wants you to cut them a discount because they’re a small startup, or threatens to go elsewhere because they can get the work done for half the price. Whatever the reason for their stinginess, it doesn’t bode well for your working relationship.

The needy one

Like a clinging partner, an overly demanding client expects you to be at beck and call, all the time. Last-minute changes and deadline shifts are all to be expected.

The single worst client I ever had ticked all of these boxes. I found myself groaning every time her name popped up in my inbox, and putting off responding to her emails as long as possible. Reluctance to even open emails from someone is a pretty good sign that all is not well. Unfortunately, since this client was a referral from another client – a GOOD one – I was reluctant to cut her loose.

But here’s the thing. If you don’t value your own time, how can you expect your clients to?

Link love (Powered by shortbread and rain)

Things that are hot:

  • Men with dogs
  • Men with babies
  • Men in the kitchen
  • Men who are nice to their mothers

(be still my heart)

This week’s links

Nobody on the internet is living the life you think they are

Money lessons from a rich uncle

Stop worrying that people are looking at you

Feeling ‘meh’ about working

Oddly specific fears for my children and how to raise a feminist son (Plus: my list of parenting fears)


Talking about money – sometimes other people will surprise you

What is 'real' savings anyway?

I love talking about money. I mean, you already know that, but in real life it’s even more awesome.

Asians don’t shy away from money talk, but I was always raised to remember that it’s a taboo topic in wider society here.

And so, I’ve been ridiculously stoked to be part of honest conversations with various colleagues about money over the past year or two.

Day to day we talk about the cost of housing, cars, travel. But pay is always a sensitive area, and one I’ve never felt safe broaching unless it’s around the time that I’m leaving that job – just before, or just after.

Every time it’s started with general discussions, tiptoeing around the subject and talking in percentages or just very vaguely. And then, the other person has come out with a number first. (Cue reciprocity.)

I’ve been surprised at how happy others are to disclose numbers, but in a good way – more transparency FTW.

Also, two thumbs up for the rad female bosses I’ve had who have encouraged me to negotiate pay.

Shameless plug: Next week is NZ Money Week, a campaign that I’ve been involved with through work. There’s a number of events – workshops, seminars – happening around the country (see and if you take this quick quiz you can enter to win a Les Mills gym membership plus some time with an authorised financial adviser. 

Wednesday Wanderlust: Places I’d rather be…

What I REALLY would love right now is to get away and be spoiled, somewhere luxurious like…

Minaret Station

Much as I love the city, I also really need space around me (hence, living in the burbs). I quite like the sound of escaping into the Southern Alps to a chalet accessible only by helicopter.

eagle's nest

Eagle’s Nest

Russell is a sweet little spot in the Bay of Islands and Eagle’s Nest is probably the ultimate place to stay. Infinity pool, Jacuzzi, personal chefs and spa therapists – yes please.

the farm at cape kidnappers

The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

Hawke’s Bay is one region I haven’t really explored (but would like to). As well as all the usual luxuries, I love the sound of the amazing food – straight from the veggie garden, inhouse pastry chef and local meat and seafood.

When was your last holiday?

Link love (Powered by the winter blahs)

NZMuse - Link love roundup with awesome reads from the week


As tagged by Revanche.

  1. What’s the best thing you’ve purchased or been given in the past six months?

New handbag. SO overdue.

  1. What’s your favorite snack? (No one gets to say fruit.)

But I love (some) fruit! Probably not my favorite, though. Honey roasted peanuts, then. Or any form of chips.

  1. What form of exercise do you hate the most. (“All” is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Let’s go with all. Particularly any form that involves equipment/machinery.

  1. If you could afford/manage to live anywhere, where would it be?

Right where I am, only owning instead. (A crash pad in NYC wouldn’t go astray, either.)

  1. What’s the geekiest hobby or pastime you have?

I don’t know, tracking my money?

This week’s links

An astute blogger recently noted that she knows of no couples with a female breadwinner that are 100% okay/happy/comfortable with that. And with the recent implosion of the only other couples I know who also fall in this category … well, this piece on the dilemma of the powerful woman resonated

We can’t afford to buy in our cities; that doesn’t make us entitled millennials

Such wise words by a commenter on this piece about knowing when to quit: “There are 3 components of our careers, the work we do, the people we work with, and the money we make. We need to be happy with the majority of these things. ”

Lots of good stuff to dig into in this series on the future of work

Sometimes it’s nice to have nice things

It’s okay to love money

Storytelling vs staging your life (on social media)

I’m too old for wayyy too many things