Out with the old

Compared to the USA, in NZ it’s much more common to move into a house without any appliances (or whiteware as it’s known here). We negotiated with our sellers to leave everything behind for us. Even though most of the appliances were somewhat older, they were good quality brands, and we didn’t want the hassle of shopping for those big items while we were moving.

But things break. Our stove lost a burner a few weeks ago, and we were pretty easily swayed to buy a new one instead of repairing it.

The new cooktop is about 6 inches wider, giving us an additional burner. But most importantly it’s induction!

So far we like the controls better than the old stove (although we wouldn’t have minded actual knobs you can turn, that’s basically not an option on these drop-in cooktops) and we REALLY like the quick heat and cool of the induction elements. All our good pans (thank you Costco in 2008 or so) work just fine on the induction surface.

We already replaced the oven last year… what will go next? Maybe our second-hand freezer, or maybe the microwave? Time will tell…

A glass act

There’s the new windows, which make all our secondhand furniture look better, don’t you think? And more importantly : All the leaks that led us to this point are fixed.

After a series of delays and more cost than we really wanted, we’re all cozily buttoned up with actual double-paned windows that open to a nice amount (two down, all the rest to go). We’ll remember fondly the idea of having what a window repair guy with the gift of the gab called a ‘small conservatory’ (just a bay window in fact), but actually the new arrangement is nicer and more functional.

Now… what’s the next project going to be???

Watersprite Tears

Our new house didn’t need much work, but several rooms wanted a coat of paint. My office / man-cave was the worst. Lee was ready to tackle the job over the Christmas break.

That beige color was even worse in person, sort of peachy. Ugh.

I wanted something similar to the blue-green shade we found in Brattleboro. And when one of the paint chips was named “Watersprite Tears” I was pretty much done looking. I imagine the paint-color-namer as the sort of stereotypical gray librarian person who’s just yearning to break out and Create. Well, mate, whoever you are, nice work.

The end result was brighter than I thought it would be, as is often the case in my experience. The room now feels very like it belongs in a tropical villa… which is fine, actually. It makes me smile just to walk in.

Thanks Lee for doing all this work!

It’s curtains for you, kid

After 35 or so years of adulting, I’ve learned a few things, such as to take the win when you can.

Yesterday’s triumph: hanging these curtains in the bedroom with only a couple extra holes in the wall and NO trips the hardware store.

Giving Thanks

Before setting up for our amazing Thanksgiving / housewarming / election celebration party.

And after…

One of the two turkeys we made for the day.

The artsy idea was to get the turkey / palm tree juxtaposition to contrast with pictures of autumn leaves and frosty pumpkins but it wasn’t so great… if I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t have noticed.

This bird was done on a beer can chicken holder gadget in the smoker and came out superbly. Turkeys here aren’t as big as in the 🇺🇸. Of course a good cook can make do with any old setup, just like Chris Froome could beat me on any old bike. But my new BBQ gadget (the Char-Broil Big Easy if you’re in the market) really has made me into a star despite my lack of innate talent or formal training in the grilling arts.

Almost unbelievably, that’s the last picture. We had 60-70 people from several unrelated contexts (other than knowing one or both of us). I went into full mingle mode and didn’t pick up my phone till it was over.

It was a great party though!

Action Man

That, my fellow Americans, and my formerly European friends in the still for the moment United Kingdom, is Action Man.

Action Man was G.I. Joe in other markets and has quite a history. How he ended up wearing this rather unconventional collection of accessories (outside of the highly sought after Action For Men Rainbow NightClub play set) is unknown.

We met him on the way in to tour an open house that we were already leery about… would a large complex of townhouses we can afford be a bit too noisy and full of kids for us? Yes, said Action Man, it will. It most certainly will.


As we get ready to start our third year in Auckland, it’s time to think about whether we might want to move or not.

Buying is probably unwise at this time for various reasons, and besides we really couldn’t afford anything we’d want to live in. So, renters we remain.

Our place was an amazingly lucky find… it could be a little bigger, maybe on a quieter street, but it checks almost all the boxes for us. Of course, lower rent would be great… and we really miss our kitties and would love to have one here.

So when the landlord sent us the lease for next year, with “only” a $25 per week increase, we had a tough choice.

We looked at a lot of ads. Pet-friendly is the hard one… landlords can be picky on that front without it being considered illegal discrimination. We finally found a house that seemed like a real possibility, and got a nice walk-through, shown above. There were some quirks, but it seemed like a real possibility. The ad said “pets negotiable” but it turned out that meant “no pets”, so “no deal”.

So, back to our own landlord… we offered to stay another year if we could have a cat. He agreed!

Stay tuned…

Tube Houses

For reasons to do with French taxation practices, scarce land, and national preference, it’s quite common in Vietnam to build a really tall narrow house.

One man’s trash

We have walked past this house several times without really seeing it. Or the old car rotting away underneath. Spooky!

There must be quite a story… the land alone, probably a tenth of an acre, would bring a million bucks more or less, even with a house to tear down.

Is there ever a good time? Or a bad time?

New Zealanders, and Aucklanders in particular, are very focused on building personal wealth through real estate. There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but mostly it’s been a great investment for quite a long time. In Auckland, for example, tax values are up almost 50% in the last three years, and retail prices more than that. Bubble? Time will tell. The new government has said it will limit foreign buyers’ ability to buy real estate, causing a bit of a flurry among the (largely Chinese) community of foreign cash buyers.

This particular property is leased by a property investment firm. They are being kicked out as that building is part of a large parcel that is about to get sold and even further densified.


You know there’s a housing bubble when, in the same block, there’s a guy who can afford a Maserati but not a garage… 

and another guy has the same problem with his McLaren!

You can’t go home again 

Still true, even though we keep littering the country with places we call home. 

But you can visit your old house…

And go to diners you used to love for the best huevos rancheros ever…

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