Tuesday 28 May 2013

Lappys back!!

For nearly a year now, my poor laptop has been hibernating. I thought it was dead.
One day it just decided to just stop charging and I thought it was the end. I dealt with it gracefully. Dave made a frankenstien desktop with parts from work and we were web-capable again. That is all I needed. Apart from the convenience of a laptop I really didn't miss it for the most part. Dave was also happy because I wasn't always reaching for the lappy when we watched TV.

With House-Moving Day coming up close, Dave has packed down his computer and I was destined for updates from the web-isphere from my iPhone but since I sold some stuff on Trade Me I decided it was about time I brought my lappy back to life. I recently found out that lappy was not dead, but the charger was. Thanks to a third party seller on TM, all I needed was $40. Bargain.
And here we are again. All my favourite tabs saved up the top, two-finger scroll (it's a Mac) and best of all, my photo library!

So to treat you all I will delve into my photo archives. Enjoy!

 I was in a couple of girl bands at school. We were pretty awesome. I was the drummer.

 7th Form bonding. We went bowling in teams. Our team was the Goths.

 I was a surfer girl. Although I look like a boy here. With my mens boardshorts and gangster walk and Superman backpack.

 Girl band 2.0

What I have a degree in. Sound engineering! This was during the set up for a Rockquest in Dunedin during a snowstorm!

Phwoar! Some major shame-age here, feel lucky my dear readers!

Regular crafty blog posts will resume once my life and home is in order!

Thursday 16 May 2013

Fancy-Pants TV

As a moving in present to ourselves (that's counted as a housewarming gift right?) we bought ourselves a new(ish) fancy-pants TV. Yes I know we are slightly behind the times here but that isn't the point.

It arrived today so we have a couple of weeks of getting used to it before we move in to our new place.

To make things even fancier, Dave decided that he would up-cycle some furniture to become the new TV cabinet.

This set of drawers we found on the side of the road in all of its brown veneered glory. It was so fresh on the curb we had to ask the owners if it was free. Lucky for us it was. Sadly we have no before picture of the ugly drawers.

Dave decided that he would take out the top two drawers and turn it into some shelves. This would make them able to house our array of gadgets. The white paint looks epic and ties in nicely with the rest of our furniture. I can't wait to see it in the new place!

Sunday 12 May 2013

First Home Buying - Lessons Learnt the Hard Way

As previously mentioned we are lucky enough to have purchased our first ever house!

We have yet to move in (any packing tips would be much appreciated) and are anxiously waiting for June 7th when we GET THE KEYS!

We had a bit of a long and tedious road getting to where we are now and I know we learnt a lot of lessons the hard way. So to save you the hassle I thought I might share a few little tips and tricks for first home buyers. I know everyone has a different experience but this is what we found worked best for us.

  • Brokers are your friends. A broker gets paid commission from the bank you choose to get a mortgage with. So it is a win-win situation - you get the best deal on a mortgage, he/she has to work hard to make you happy if they want to get paid.
    Lesson learnt: Trying to fill in application forms yourself may be fun at first, but having to go back and forth and back again to each bank is time consuming and soul destroying. Find a broker and they will be your middle man. If the bank needs more paperwork, the broker will ask you for it. The hardest part is pre-approval, once your offer has been accepted then it is nearly all out of your hands.
  • Pre-Approval is also your friend. Go to said broker and say you want to look at buying a house. He will ask a few quick questions to make sure you are in the right place financially and go from there.
    Paperwork you will need: 2 forms of photo ID - usually copies that have been certified by a JP
    - 3-6 months of bank statements for all accounts including credit cards. Handy tip - keep your accounts in the green for this whole time, it has been known for banks to refuse you if you go into overdraft.
    - A letter from your employer stating when you started and what your yearly earning are.
    -Different banks need different things but get organised and get a printer!
  • Kiwisaver pros and cons - Kiwisaver has a couple of interesting ways of using your retirement money for a first home. The first way is that you can use your employers and your own contributions plus any interest earned to go towards the deposit of your house. This does not include the $1k Government kickstart or any Govt contributions. You can find out how much you can withdraw by logging into your online IRD account and clicking the Kiwisaver tab. This money is to go towards the deposit of the house but the catch is that it only gets paid out on settlement day (or up to 10 working days after) so when you pay the deposit when the house goes unconditional you will need a temporary overdraft from the bank to cover this amount.

    - The other way Kiwisaver helps is by partnering with Housing New Zealand to provide a First Home Deposit Subsidy. If you have been contributing to Kiwisaver for more than 3 years (read: 36 solid months) then you are probably eligable for a grant. You get $1000 for every year you have been CONTRIBUTING to Kiwisaver up to $5000. Per person. The catch here is that we got caught out because although we have had our Kiwisavers open for 3+ years, we have been studying and had odd jobs or casual jobs that we didn't contribute to Kiwisaver. When you go to do the form you have to cross reference a list of your Kiwisaver contributions with a list of your income and make sure it adds up to more than 36 months. Ours didn't :( PLUS that part is super headache inducing!!
  • Research - As soon as you have decided that buying a house is the next Big Step in your life then go to as many open homes as you can. I am serious here. The more you look, the better idea you get for what a house is worth in the current market. We got our house valued after our offer was accepted and it was bang on what we paid for it. This is down to the research we did and what we thought the house was worth. It wasn't our max price, it was us being sensible and knowing what the limit was.

  • Open Home Hints
    - Don't be afraid to put your details down with an agent, if you find a nice one they might be willing to let you know of any places that suit you before they are advertised.

    -Ask lots of questions - know your way around insurance claims, ask what sort of ballpark figure the vendors are after, ask what chattels are included.

    - Don't be afraid to open every door and examine everything. That is the point!

    - Have a debrief after and list the pros and cons of that specific property, what the max price you would pay for it would be and if there are any deal breakers (ie next to train tracks)

    It also helps to have a list of ideals you would like your first home to have. Keep in mind you aren't spending mega bucks so if you aren't keen on DIY then you might need to keep saving or downsize a bit.
    Our major ideals were that we wanted some land and we wanted a standalone house. We also wanted a garage or shed but that didn't quite happen but there is the opportunity for one.
  •  Money in your Pocket - There are a few costs that appear once your offer is accepted that you need to be prepared for. You need to make sure you have enough money that is easily accessible (not in a trust fund etc) to pay for the below items. This money should not be included in the amount you have for your deposit.
    I recommend approx $3000

    - Builders report - $400-$800
    - Valuation (some banks require this) - $500-$600
    - Lawyers Fees (some banks put towards this as an incentive) - $1200 - $2000
    - Lease Break (1 weeks rent + GST generally)
    - Moving Costs ($50 - $1000+)

    Obviously every situation is different but I am mentioning this to save you from a giant shock when the invoices start arriving!
  • Builders Report - This is a requirement to all house buyers. Not all builders are qualified or experienced enough to carry out this inspection as you need to get it signed off and approved by the bank, the lawyer, the insurance company and yourselves.
    You can get a variety of services for this report - starting from a basic package to a package where the builder does the inspection and quotes for all the work needed to get the building ship shape. This can be handy if you want to know how much you will need to fork out once the house is yours. Not so necessary if you have an amazing hubby like mine who can do most of it himself. It is also worth mantioning that the insurance company will not approve your application without your builders report so as soon as your offer is accepted get onto this ASAP. You usually have 10 working days to get the report and the insurance sorted but things are crazy right now, especially in Christchurch.

  • Lease Breaking - Since this is your first home you are likely to be renting. The ideal situation is to have a periodic tenancy which you only have to give a few weeks notice. Unfortunately most property management companies have fixed term tenancies so unless you time things really well then you will have to break your lease.
    It seems that some companies do things differently but in my experience we are required to give written notice and pay 1 weeks rent + GST for an administration fee to get the house advertised again. You are also liable to keep paying rent until a new tenant is found. Lucky for us in Chch I am fairly certain that this will not be a problem.  
  • Welcome Home Loan - This is a Government incentive scheme to aid people who have trouble coming up with a deposit for their first house. There is an income cap and a whole bunch of strict conditions but if you qualify then it may be worth your while! You only pay 15% deposit on the amount of the house over $200,000. This could mean no deposit!
    We have gone through this scheme and have had ups and downs. I recommend going through a broker familiar with the process, having a good lawyer also familiar with the process and making sure you extend the finance condition on your offer from 10 working days to 15 working days.

Information Overload? Sorry about that. I would love it if this information helps in any way, any stress saver is a good one right?

Please, please keep in mind that all this information is from our own experience and may not be completely accurate forever.Some things I am still a bit hazy over but I think the basics are there. If you have any questions feel free to email me at amyliz80 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Good luck house hunting!

Saturday 11 May 2013

{Crafty Bake} Feijoa and Apple Shortcake Recipe

Feijoa and Apple Shortcake

250g Butter - softened
3/4 c Caster Sugar
1 egg
Zested rind of 1 Orange or Lemon
1tsp Vanilla
2 1/2 c Plain Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 cup each of sliced apple and feijoa pulp*
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp nutmeg

  • Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcuis.
  • Line a 20cm (ish) tin with baking paper.
  • In a bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, egg, rind and vanilla until pale and fluffy.
  • Mix in the sifted flour and baking powder. I like to get my hands in here to mix it thoroughly. 
  • Spread 2/3 of the mixture into the lined cake tin
  • Cover the mixture in the tin with the feijoas and apples then sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. 
  • Crumble the remaining mixture over the fruit. No formula here and it doesn't matter if there are gaps where you can see the fruit.
  • Put in the middle shelf of the oven and bake at 180 for 35-40 minutes.

Can be served hot or cold (chilled is best) with yoghurt or ice cream or cream. Or all three. 





* You can subsitute almost any fruit here, but if using frozen berries, defrost them in the microwave and then strain the juice off so the cake doesn't get too soggy. 
*Plum, Mixed Berry and White Choc, Apple and Cinnamon, Peach, Apricot - any tinned or fresh  fruit works. 

Friday 10 May 2013

Diary of a Derby Girl {Freshmeat Weeks 1-3}

Freshmeat 2013 begins with welcome packs. Anything with free stuff is good right? A collection of flyers, stickers, what Otautahi is all about and a free bandana (for soaking the sweat from our unfit bodies). It is exciting to see the freshy crew who have made the commitment to derby this year. Woman who we will have to get REALLY comfortable with, who will be both up in our grill and have our backs. I can't wait.
Once the welcome pack rummaging had finished, it was onto an off-skates warm up. This consisted of jogging around 30 laps of the track with an alternating leader calling instructions from the front - "high knees!" "inside!" "outside!" 'jump!'. Each of us needs to be comfortable yelling instructions to the rest of the pack. There were a few creative instructions thrown in  - I am sure we did "Gangnam Style" at some point. At the end of the 30 laps (or was it 20? It felt like more!) we got a much needed water break.
I am pretty sure that was our only off-skates exercise during the first week. A few of us (ME!!!) had our very own pair of skates to try out and we happily geared up. A couple of lessons I learnt that day:
  • You do NOT need to have your skates as tight as you can get them. You WILL get pins and needles in your feet.
  • One skaters set up is not necessarily how you want yours. I have second hand skates and have loosened the trucks, lowered the toe stops and changed the lacing configuration. I still have no idea if it is working for me yet!
Once we had our gear on we went through some skating basics that we will probably go through every single week. I'm ok with that because I know that bad habits are hard to break! I want to learn right!
Learning how to push off, having the crossover broken down into a few different steps, how to plough stop and how to T-stop were the main order of business. We then spent some time doing a few falls and trying (some more successfully than others) to grapevine across the gym in our derby stance. I was one of the less successful ones. I kept rolling everywhere and bobbing up and down like whack-a-mole. Once I got home I did some practice on our wooden floors!
The last thing we did that night was a team building exercise that was finally my cup of tea. We basically played a giant game of snake (like on the brick phones). We were in two teams on opposite sides of the track going the same way. The person at the back had to push her entire 'snake' around the track and catch up with the other team. The 'snake' doesnt do anything, just gets to squat there and roll along. It was all on the back pusher. And I totally nailed it! But is it an endurance exercise and the longer it takes to catch up to the other team the more exhausted but determined you become. My secret? Digging my skates into the ground on an angle to get the most grip possible.
Our second training was a bit of a gym-key-logistical-fail but a few of us managed to get an hour or so of free skating in.
The third week ran quite similar to the first but we did some dynamic stretching while off-skates and spent heaps of time on our crossovers and learning to use our toe stops to stop. We also played the opposite to the first 'Snake' game where everything was the same except the front person had to pull her whole team rather than push them. I think I did pretty good at this one too but I got too puffed and gave up after a few laps. Endurance!!
The final game we played was the on-skates version of Stuck-in-the-Mud where there are two people 'in' and if they tag you you have to stop and stand like a starfish. You can only move again if someone crawls/dives/slides/crashes through your legs. This was seriously awesome to play and it is really good for agility too.
So to sum up, after 3 weeks of freshmeat I am feeling a lot more confident on my skates. I am enjoying making new friends and learning from them and the All Star girls teaching us.
My favourite part is playing the playground games that have a whole new meaning on skates.
The skill I feel I am the best at so far is probably the baseball slide.
The skill I am struggling with the most is being confident enough to use my toe stops when going backwards.
The skill I am looking forward to learning is being able to skate really fast and execute good crossovers
The skill I am not looking forward to learning is jumping at a 'brisk pace'. Only because of the inevitable bails.
But onwards and upwards! Practice, practice practice and so on.

Thursday 2 May 2013

Rainbow Chevron Quilt

It has been quiet here on the blog lately, but it's because this happened:

We officially own our very first house! Things got a bit stressful at the end there and I am planning a blog post on First Home Buying In Canterbury Right Now. It's madness I tell you!

But more about that later, we have 6 weeks to pack up and sort out our stuffs. And we have plenty of it.

My latest project (I have two on the go but one is a secret) is a pretty Rainbow Chevron Quilt.
I am making it out of vintage floral sheets and the solid colours are from pillowcases.

I think the entire material for this quilt with a tonne left over was $20. Take that Spotlight! 
*Not including batting but I have a cheap source (Kutwell Fabrics).

I am in love with some of these fabrics! I couldn't find a red one because apparantly they weren't made in red! So I found some red floral in the scrap bin and it fits in perfectly.

Killer was 'helping' me lay out my pieces but what you don't see is her going mental and messing everything up. She loves it when I get the big sheets out and likes to hide under them. She also sits on everything important.

Photo bomb

I was hoping it would be double size but it looks like it will be a single quilt. I love when it is all spread out like this but it is highly impractical. 
So here is half of it, I have altered the green stripe to make it looks a bit more green - I found the solid green I bought! The rest is yet to be cut. So slowly but surely!