Tag Archives: blogging

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A few weeks ago I came across what just might be one of my favourite Quora threads ever: What is the most unfair advantage a person can have? 

I tend to agree with #2 answer – not needing  a lot of sleep - as someone who is a fairly low-energy person most of the time. I’ve always been someone who needs a minimum of 8 hours a night and gets stressed out if I have more than a couple of things on (outside of work) in a week.

What do you reckon?

This week’s links

Blast from the past: This time last year we were heading down towards the Mediterranean, having covered Berlin, Munich, Prague and stopping in Switzerland too.

A lovely post about a couple struggling to compromise on what city to live in; her description of her partner struck me as being a lot like me (perhaps why I felt like New York and me clicked right away). “She is the kind of introvert that likes being around a lot of acquaintances and activity partners while doing a lot of not-talking to them, and New York works pretty well for that.”

Oh, how this Billfold piece on pillows cracked me up. Ours always get disgusting in a matter of months, so I am committing to replacing ours at the one-year mark (they’re about 6 months old right now) – how often do you buy new ones?

Here is a really insightful piece on selling yourself as a job candidate and how much social status counts for

From Tiny Apartment: Playing parents for two weeks is overwhelming

Sometimes wealthy people are seriously out of touch, as Donna Freedman writes

Seriously helpful: How to nab international clients, over at Make a Living Writing

A confession at Makeup and Mirtazapine: I used to be a bad feminist

Nicole and Maggie tackle the other side of the tiny housing movement 

My Pretty Pennies’ best tips for travelling with a partner (and here are mine)

A few things a wife should just let go, at Newlyweds on a Budget

For real: An interview with a computer engineer who’s also a poet

I think it’s nothing short of awesome that writers are starting to talk about what they earn

Ira Glass is everything. Here he is on writing, work and creativity

I also find that somehow, the way I’m built, the hardest part of my job is simply to shift from one task to the next. The new task is like icy water you have to dive into. The old task is a warm bath. It’s especially hard when I know the new task is going to be really difficult, as half of them are. I always have to brace myself.

 

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This week marks a year since volunteering in the Black Forest, and I’ve been amusing myself with memories of those last couple of days – dancing to Gangnam Style, the secretly hilarious and articulate guy who turned into the life of the party after a few drinks, crying when farewelling our youngest protege. Already everyone’s names are fading from memory; I’m almost tempted to dig out the emails to remind myself.

This week’s links:

Where are all our strong female characters? The Dissolve tells it like it is

When a TED talk inspires you to take a mid-career sabbatical

Budgets Are Sexy reminds us that nobody can take away whatever you’ve already accomplished

Paula says getting paid to travel is a myth

Here’s a great way to think about choices: How will I feel about this when today is over?

I love this: When a mother gives her daughter her last name (I don’t like my last name – so that’s easy. But if I did, you can bet that’d be one tough decision to face)

Budget and the Beach shares five things to do when freelance work slows down

When it comes to pairing up, apparently class and attractiveness are fundamentally linked

At Dinner, A Love Story: Things loved and learned in Alaska

Lastly, this Hairpin piece on accepting your partner as is struck me to the very core:

“I am happy whenever I see see him in his element, powerful and engaged, creating the ephemeral landscapes that surround live performers. I understand that the daily rhythm of regular mealtimes, bill-paying, and laundry-folding must seem trite by comparison, but how else does a family build a life? So I end up raging at him about the impracticality of his chosen career path, the lack of dark leafy greens in his diet, and the fact that we have managed to save exactly zero dollars for college or retirement. His eyes still gloss over, but less so: he is making strides. Somehow we truly co-parent amidst the whacked-out hours and gigs and general mayhem that hustling as a young family with two toddlers entails. We are in love, even still, ever more.

“But the thing about being a recovering shithead is that even after you’ve made substantive changes to the way you live your life, unsavory flotsam continually drifts to the surface. He never did anything with the intention of hurting anyone else, and assumed that he was only flatlining his own credit and complicating things for himself in queue. In reality, the pre-existing fallout from the years before I even knew him limits our financial options and impacts our marriage every day. I am always worried, now, that someone is looking for him. This makes us both so sad.

“How can I apologize to you for who I used to be?” he asks.

Happy weekends!

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I’ve had it up to here with winter birthdays. I wasn’t expecting much for my first at home in three years, but I never expected to find myself at the doctor’s that very night – thankfully I didn’t have anything much planned.

Seriously. I might start marking the occasion on January 6 instead. Or something.

This June was the warmest on record in years but I find that frankly unbelievable. Every year winter feels colder and longer, and so far this one has been bloody tough for me. After all, we followed summer around the world last year, and now we’re back in a crappy freezing Auckland rental – any single-digit temperature mornings are one too many in my books.

Being sick also means I haven’t been able to give my present (new running shoes) a whirl yet, so I’m pretty grumpy.

Upside of being sick: lots of meaty reads for you.

This week’s links

I adored Femme Frugality’s guest post on Musical Poem about travel stirring the soul

And Leslie’s piece on her difficult first year in NYC

What it’s like to teach English in Japan (through the JET programme for NZers)

7 signs you haven’t travelled enoughvia World of Wanderlust

Jordann asks: what are your inescapable self-truths? (I have oh-so-many)

10 things our generation will be the last to see, courtesy of Young Adult Money (also: taping songs off the radio!)

Ahh New York. I love you so, grimy subways and all, and wish we had public transport a 10th as good as yours

More and more Americans are embracing extended travel, apparently

Via FQF: Can money take your passion to the next level?

So you got the job – now what? Via Life, Etc

I’ve been trying to keep up with the Hobby Lobby stuff in the US (and failing) but reading lots of good stuff in the process – like this Forbes piece on how insurance is for insuring against calamities and how the US lost sight of that, and the Daily Beast on how the Supreme Court has been skewing pro-gay, anti-women

How an arranged marriage evolved into honest-to-goodness love, recounted hilariously: “When you’ve grown up with the idea that Indian love leads to a rational, calm, reliable marriage and American love leads to a passionate, fragile marriage, then the fact that your Indian parents have fallen in American love is not good.”

Finally, appreciated Indra Nooyi’s honesty the other week when interviewed by The Atlantic: “We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all. My husband and I have been married for 34 years. And we have two daughters. And every day you have to make a decision about whether you are going to be a wife or a mother, in fact many times during the day you have to make those decisions.”

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I got super excited the other week when I saw my bank was pushing a special June offer for its low-interest Visa, with no fees for the life of the card. Anyone in NZ knows that it’s impossible to find a credit card with no annual fees here (though there is now Kiwibank’s Mastercard Zero – I’m not sure when that launched, because I never heard anything public about it and only learned of its existence through a random Quora thread).

Alas, you cannot earn rewards with that card.  Even with account fees, and my bank’s irritating tinkering with the rewards scheme, I still come out ahead overall sticking with my current setup. (And come to think of it, what is the life of a card anyway – is that the life of the physical card, or the actual account? Because if it’s the former, then it would only be a couple years before it expired and I’d have to start paying fees on the new one.)

This week’s links

Ways to be kind to yourself, via Makeup and Mirtazapine

Alexis Grant lays out the cold hard truth: No one will pay you just to write

Kim from So Many Places tries to get her head around returning to the US – and all that entails

Cassie’s turning 30 and has a bunch of astute lessons to share

It’s a fine line … Exactly how confident are you allowed to be before it crosses the line? Via Yes and Yes

Sometimes things happen either all at once or not at all, as Lindsay observes

Athena shares her ‘why’ of personal finance

Here is a pretty awesome and free budget cookbook

A weirdly cool photography project spotlighting mixed race families (though I would consider some of them mixed nationality, not mixed race)

Finally, there are just so many amazing snippets in this piece about Britney in Vegas I have to share:

Single-named DJs pump their skinny arms as women in tight tube dresses and Lucite heels they bought online a year ago straddle mouth-breathing men on VIP couches like they just heard there was an asteroid headed toward earth or just took a handful of Ecstasy; platonic girlfriends decide to make out at no urging at all because we’re in Vegas bitchez! One does not have to go far to feel the erection of a stranger in the rear of one’s jeans. It is in these small, handsy hours of the night that Caesars’ hope for Britney was born…

The first thing you notice when you land in Vegas is all the breasts. Breasts are the shining, veiny centerpiece of the uniforms in Vegas; it’s a city built on the breasts and shoulders of women. The only thing women aren’t in this city are magicians, but they are the people being sawed and made to disappear nightly for the magician’s applause…

They refer to her not as Brit-Brit, which is her family’s nickname for her, but as an assortment of words to describe her made into portmanteaux with her name: When she’s practicing for her show, they call her Rehearsalney. When she’s caught learning choreography or participating in a new sequence, she’s Dancney. When she goes to Target, which is constantly, she’s Errandney. And when she inspires them or pulls something amazing off, which is practically always, if you ask them, she is Godney…

And yes, that does make two weeks of Britney links in a row. Not sorry.

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Have I ever mentioned how much I love you guys? Because I do. I really do.

Remember my refried beans dilemma? Well, who knew a little bit of fat could make so much difference? Lard was indeed the magic ingredient. Now we just need to play around with the spices.

Blogging has brought me so many things, but this ranks up there among the best.

Blast from the past

This time last year we were arriving in London (which I found a lot more to my liking than I’d anticipated), having made our way south to north in Vietnam and returning briefly to Bangkok where we couchsurfed (floorsurfed) for the first time.

This week’s links

A million times yes to this: Adjusting today’s financial advice to include unemployment

Maybe one day… How to travel the Maldives on $60 a day

It’s true – even us introverts can cherish those fleeting travel friendships struck up on the road

A lovely tribute to the late Gerry Goffin, half of the Carole King songwriting powerhouse

The Toast brilliantly analyses Baby One More Time, which is still my favourite Britney song ever  (never figured out the ‘hit me’ part – is it like blackjack – ie let’s go one more round?)

The Atlantic examines why we sleep together. Fascinating. (I think I do tend to sleep better alone but I’m a snuggler and hate falling asleep/waking up alone)

Proof that I live in quite possibly the most beautiful country on earth

And my weekly Auckland housing-related link (via economist Tony Alexander)

There is talk that the Reserve Bank could consider putting extra credit controls in place in order to try and stem inflation sourced from the housing market… limiting how much someone could borrow to a multiple of their household income…

If the restrictions were harsh enough house prices could even be pushed lower, though that is not highly likely given that the overwhelming impact of credit restrictions will be felt by the group of people who have already been shut out of the market to a big degree by the maximum loan to value rules – young first home buyers.

Is this something about which we in the lower, middle, and upper middle classes, and those silly enough to self-identify in New Zealand as in the upper classes, will feel greatly worried about? Heck no. We have already bought lots of investment properties over the past few years …

While we will tut tut about how difficult it is for a young person to buy a property these days our incomes will rise and we will, yet again, feel happy that we ignored the many doomsters and kept buying properties the past two decades.

Sorry young folk, but much as you may feel the future belongs to you and your smartphone tapping ways, for now the wealth and the power belongs to us – the Baby Boomers.

 

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This week has been defined by two things.

Amazing food: Arancini and cannoli at Matakana markets. Dessert at Fed Deli (pity their poutine hasn’t improved – it could use a hell of a lot more gravy and soggier chips, but it’s still the best we have in Auckland). Yum cha with work peeps, which I literally haven’t had since we got back to NZ. Egg custard tarts, we belong together…

Amazing TV: We finally finished Angel. I was so upset about the ending to start with but in retrospect think it was pitch perfect. Here’s the best analysis of the final I’ve come across. Meanwhile, Game of Thrones wraps next week, and we’ll be finishing Orange is the New Black this weekend. We watched one movie – Mr Nobody – which was a total letdown. Fascinating concept but confusing in execution and needed a heck of a lot more editing.

How was your week?

This week’s links

Utterly stunning sentiment from Prose and Constellations: “We are here to live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.”

9 healthy breakfast ideas from my fave food blog, Stonesoup

Renting/flathunting in the Auckland ‘burbs sucks, but sounds like renting in the CBD is just as stupidly painful (thanks for enlightening me, Sense)

Residential parking permits are common in other big cities and were a bit of a pain for us in Toronto, but people here aren’t super keen on the idea…

Nicole and Maggie ask: Does what you do define who you are?

One of Seth Godin’s shortest and best posts ever: “Really tempting to spend time trying to get paid for what you love. It’s probably easier and certainly more direct to talk to yourself about loving what you do.” (I feel bad for having copied the entire post…)

Shonda Rhimes dreamed of being Toni Morrison growing up, and years later, when they had dinner together, all Morrison wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. I love that. Also, she delivers a great reality check on balance and success: “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means that I am failing in another area of my life.”

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Round about this time last year we were making our way north through Vietnam via Hoi An and Hue. This year, we’re working! Yes, T is once again employed. And that is all I’m going to say about that or I’m going to jinx it.

But on that note, I thought I’d touch on something I haven’t thought about for a long time – minimum and entry level wages. Until T was on the job hunt this year I didn’t realise the minimum wage is now $14.25 (a whopping three bucks higher than it was when I started looking for full time work), and I see Seattle just voted to raise its minimum wage to $15. It’s crazy that an American city is on track to overtake us on that front.

Once upon a time $18 an hour sounded like a fortune. It’s what my mum earned 10-15 years ago; I remember I was a kid when she got her first industry job here after we moved to Auckland, and that sum seemed so enormous. It’s what I made at my first grown up job four years ago, and I thought I was doing so well, making so much more than minimum wage. Now it doesn’t sound like a lot at all. That’s not even $40k – it’s barely enough to get by in this country, let alone this city. How things change. When I was in publishing I actually used to worry that the minimum wage would catch up with me.

This week’s links

The unexpected side effects of spending time living abroad

Here’s the truth: everyone trades time for money. “Stop trading time for money” is an inspiring goal, but it’s kind of like “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps”, in that it isn’t actually possible. 

For the fashion challenged like me, here’s a neat post about colour theory to help you look more put together

Right on. I can make fun of my race but you can’t (although spouses are exempt, right? That’s how we play it…)

Oh how I relate to this piece on loathing telephone conversations

Y’all may recall how I feel about salads. Here is how to make one without dumb leaves

More madness from our rental market in Auckland

Some real talk about pregnancy and having a first kid

 

Finally, enjoyed the stories in this thread about the best bosses. I’m so glad I’ve had nothing but amazing bosses in my professional jobs – managers who don’t micromanage, recognise potential and encourage you and champion you, who are sensitive to your workload rather than piling things on unthinkingly

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It’s funny how rapidly one’s reading habits can swing from one extreme to another. A couple of years ago I suddenly lost all desire to read YA and cheesy chick lit, and delved deep into literary fiction.

And then I finally got around to reading John Green. And I couldn’t get enough of him. Now I’m back on the YA trail with a vengeance (and since I may soon be getting into mentoring a high school kid, it’s probably good timing). Alas, I think Gus has been miscast in The Fault in Our Stars; he looks nothing like what I expected, and now I’m not so sure I want to see the film.

This week brought some record low temperatures to Auckland; it almost makes me nostalgic for the punishing heat and dust of Cambodia - if it weren’t for the fact that country broke my heart and I could frankly never bear to return.

 Onto the links…

A prime example of the madness that is our housing market (I’m only hard on you because I know you can do better, Auckland!)

I must confess I never knew much about Maya Angelou and I have no time for poetry, but this is a beautiful piece of writing

Trust me, this post about coping in dying industries is not what you expect. (Think … mugging, instead.) Just click the damn link!

An unusually contemplative post over at Get Rich Slowly ponders the different ways that we dream

It’s doubtful I will ever get to this level of investing savvy, but here’s a cautionary read on the risks of investing in different currencies than your own (obviously relevant to us here in NZ)

A poignant take on the drudgery that makes up adult life and living the hell out of it

Lastly, the deadliness of misogyny is hot right now. Here are three of my favourite takes on the topic:

Shamed to death for saying yes to sex, murdered for saying no

If you have sex, you won’t be respected, but if you don’t have sex, you still won’t be respected. It’s an impossible paradox. This week, that paradox became deadly. This week women have died for saying yes to sex. And women have died for saying no.

Your princess is in another castle

Men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end.

Our sexual assault problem is … not easily solved by a hashtag

We want men to be sensitive, but when they are, we make fun of them for being soft and “crying like a girl.” When a man chases us down the street and we’re attracted to him, it’s sweet. When a man chases us down the street and we’re not attracted to him, it’s harassment….

Mothers and fathers put much less of a box around girls. They are encouraged to use their imagination — if they want Legos, their parents are not worried about what it means; they simply give her Legos. God forbid, a little boy wants to play with a Barbie — most parents are not evolved enough to see that just because their boy wants to play with a Barbie does not mean he’s anything except curious and imaginative, as children are wont to be. However, this suppression of natural urges is struck down very early on, from how they should play to how they should act to how they should talk to how they are supposed to present themselves to the world.

(I have a few mixed feelings on this one but overall found it thought provoking.)

 

 

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Lately, it’s been feeling like one step forward, one step back, financially speaking.

A Reduced to Clearance shop has opened up near us – as in, a store that sells items approaching their best-before date. It’s AMAZING. 30 cents for a box of tampons? 50 cent drinks? Cheap toilet paper, milk, stirfry sauces, canned veggies, cereal? I’m in frugal heaven there.

 T’s tendency to ignore mail majorly backfired. We had to back pay his motorbike registration – it’s currently on hold and has been for awhile but earlier this year the ‘hold’ expired and it started accruing rego charges for a few months.

I got my first full pay from my new job. While it doesn’t really affect the finances, I’m back to a fortnightly pay cycle for the first time in a few years. What does matter is I’m taking home more, and I’ve also accomplished a goal that’s been languishing for a while – increasing my Kiwisaver contributions to 8 percent. A down payment/retirement is getting a minuscule bit closer. Speaking of which, I didn’t realise BNZ’s Kiwisaver scheme allows you to convert Fly Buys loyalty points into real dollars to go into your Kiwisaver account – ingenious.  I’m happy with my Kiwisaver provider but I tip my hat to them on this.

I don’t drink coffee, and hate to spend money on drinks, but I’m trying to head out with coworkers once a week on their coffee runs.  (I get a hot chocolate – $4.50 for a small.) Bonding is important, etc. And on the topic of small but regular expenses, I restarted our Spotify premium membership. It pains me to pay for something every month but it’s $12.99 a month – less than four bucks a week, a little over $100 a year. It’s worth it to have music on my commute. If I had lots of data on my phone plan I would stick with the free version (and live with only being able to shuffle tracks) but I don’t, so I’m sucking it up in exchange for offline access and total playback control.

Blast from the past

This time last year we were in … Bangkok! For longer than anticipated, too, thanks to that hospital sideshow.

This week’s links

For those who missed my post on the clusterfuck that is currently the Auckland property market (in a nutshell – buying sucks but renting in many ways is worse long term)
read this New Yorker piece, substitute all mentions of Vancouver for Auckland and you will get a pretty accurate picture of what’s going on

A traveller’s guide to New Zealand slang

And a stunning chronicle of an autumn road trip through the South Island

I love that the Wireless is consistently tackling issues relevant to young NZers’ lives, whether it’s how we’re screwed financially or whether we’d be better off in Dubai (you could not pay me enough to live in the Middle East for any amount of time, but YMMV)

Everyone is totally just winging it, so don’t stress!

What does self love even really mean? Via Yes and Yes

Little Miss Moneybags articulates the problem with found money

Ways to make your entry level job better, at Life After College

Stop asking me where I see myself in five years, says Gen Y Girl (AMEN!)

Finally, while I’ve taken a step away from publishing, I still I loved this interview with ex-Jezebel editor Anna Holmes:

I know many people freelance successfully, but I have no interest in making that my primary source of income. It’s too stressful, constantly having to try to think of stuff to pitch editors. The older I get, the less I want to write stuff that I’m meh about…

I don’t know what my next job will be, but it will probably be in media. A lot of times I’m just like, “I’m going to move to Namibia and work with orphaned elephants. Fuck this stuff.” I don’t have a five-year plan. Maybe that’s dumb, but it is who I am. I can’t pretend otherwise.

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It seems like overnight, people are starting to age around me.

Suddenly, I’m seeing laugh crinkles around the eyes, faint forehead lines, grey hairs.

And I’m feeling it myself. A bad night’s sleep leads to a sore back the next day. I’m a little pudgier in spots. It’s disconcerting, to say the least.

It’s all downhill from here, I guess?

Blast from the past

This time last year we were in … Thailand, hooning it round Koh Lanta in a tuktuk and swimming through caves and such.

This week’s links

I couldn’t agree more with Crystal – money means options, and options make for a happier life

Penelop Trunk ponders what it really means to work fulltime

Ashley warns us against ‘creating cynically’ (story of a journalist’s life, basically)

A debate on the value of a public service career, at The Billfold

I know I’m going to have to learn to navigate internal organisational politics, fast, so Ramit’s scripting advice for someone who goes blank when talking to people piqued my interest

Also, I finally updated my post, Love Where You Live, now that I actually have a global perspective to bring to the table.

Happy weekends!