12 Things I Learnt in 2014

I’m not gonna learn anything over the next two weeks and since DCH did this, I decided I would do better (because, who can’t?)

1. If you try to burn your apartment down by accident, you won’t get charged a call out fee by the New Zealand Fire Service. 

When Crackden was almost burnt down by a forgotten mixer, my first stress was “shit, I’ve burnt the house down”. My second was “shit, I can’t afford this”. Discovering that there was no call out fee was a good time.

2. Sour beers are delicious and the best beers in the world. But also $$$. 

Thanks to Steph at Craft Beer College, I got to try a whole bunch of sour beers and they are now my favourite beer. The journey started at Beervana and continued onwards. Goldings Free Dive features some good ones in the fridge. You will pay for quality.

3. You should always check how much that bottle of Mikkeller will set you back. 

$47.50 for a beer was DELICIOUS well-spent money but was a bit of a shock paying it. By the time I realised, the bottle had been open and that’s a dick move. It was worth it though.

4. Agile Project Management is a thing. 

Who knew?

5. No one is gonna do your shit for you so you’re gonna have to do it yourself. 

I need to stop talking about shit and do some shit.

6. How to make really good meringue. 

There’s a secret. Sadly, I didn’t perfect this in time for everyone’s Thanksgiving present but I did about a week later. Oh well.

8. There is always new music. 


9. Swimming in the ocean will always make you feel better. #swimgang for life. 

10. Falling down steps hurts. 

I’ve learnt this before. I just felt like learning it a lot more this year.

11. People can do the most amazing of things. 

From fundraising for an operation for a cat, to helping another friend get a much needed MRI to a beer calendar, people will answer a call for help or a call to make things better. 

12. You’ll always be surprised by who is a decent human being. 



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you can’t move up with your eyes down

It’s been ten years today since my mum passed on. It’s very strange to think it’s been that long – sometimes it seems like yesterday that we were hanging out at Seaview Terrace and other times it feels like a lifetime ago.

I still go to ring her a lot – just to hear her voice and tell me about her day. I still want to photograph clothes I’m not sure about and get her opinion before I buy them (I’m pretty sure this strategy would have saved me some terrible fashion choices). I still just want to talk bollocks with her and cackle away loudly as we tended to do.

I wish I could introduce her to my friends who she would love both for the strength, the love and the laughter they give me. She would find the women that I’ve surrounded myself with in Wellington, of whom there are far too many to mention, just as inspiring and loving as I find them. I would like to introduce her to the dude. He’s important and that’d be nice for them to meet.

Mostly though, I wish she could see what Max and I have managed to make of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been tough, terrible, awful times. But she’d be proud of us. She’d be proud of both of us for getting overseas and going to crazy places, she’s be proud of the jobs we have (and in my case, the many, many jobs I’ve had), she’d be proud of the women that we’ve become because Max, at least, is bloody brilliant and amazing and I’m so proud of her so mum would be even prouder.

I think what she’d be most proud of though is our capacity to love. I think that’s the most valuable thing I learnt from mum was to love without discrimination and without conditions. Unconditional love is a big deal in the DuxDare clan and it’s something I take through to my entire life.

At the end of the day, there is always so much love.

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Week Two…

sorry this is late. It’s been a busy couple of weeks so this will be a short post. Mostly because last week passed by in a haze of pain killers and forgotten everything.

Helpfully my handy expense tracker tells me the amount of money I spent that day although not what exactly I was doing. Bank statements back this up so whew, we’re doing ok.


Spent zilch. Nada, nothing.


Was sick for most of the day so spent nothing except $3.5 on peppermint tea bags from the supermarket. 

Total: $3.50


Did a small grocery shop. Ended up buying nothing other than meat. It was $19.05 for a weeks’ worth and I still have frozen vegetables from last week.

Total: $19.05






Had an engagement party that I’d budgeted $15 for but because I wasn’t drinking, the guy at Kitty O’Shea’s gave me free non-alcoholic drinks all night. I think he thought I was doing this as a sobver driver but really it’s just cuz painkillers and alcohol don’t go so well together. I can prove this.

Total: $0.00

Weekly Spend vs how much I expected to spend

  1. Unexpected: $0 / $0
  2. Social: $15 / $0
  3. Groceries: $22.55 / $50

Monthly Budget Remaining

  1. Social: $125 – $39 – $0  = $86
  2. Groceries: $200 – $49.38 – $22.55 = $128.07
  3. Unexpected $0 – $320 – $0 = -$320


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Cheese Scone Recipe

This morning I woke up craving a scone. Not just any scone, one of the family recipe scones (also helps that I was determined not to buy anything and had the ingredients at home). This is the scone recipe I grew up on. It’s pretty simple – and makes delicious fluffy, amazing scones that are just SO EASY TO MAKE.

I’ve also included in here how you make the scones for one person so you can do what I did which was to be late to work because I had to have a scone and that meant baking it just for me.

Makes 10 – 12 scones

3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated cheese (I’ve made this recipe with three different types of cheeses and omg, so good)
1 cup milk (plus a little extra if you think the dough is too dry)

Preheat your oven to 220° and chuck some flour on the bench for later so the dough doesn’t stick.

Chuck dry ingredients into a bowl and then mix in the grated cheese.

Make a hole in the centre and pour in the milk.

Mix with a trusty wooden spoon – try not to overmix cuz you’ll lose fluffiness.

Shape into whatever shape you want your scones to be – make them about 3cm high.

Transfer onto a baking tray and bake for around 15 minutes or until they’re golden.

At this stage, get the dough off everything it’s been on (bench, bowl, spoon) cuz otherwise it will stick like a mofo and you won’t ever get it off. 

Devour. Immediately.

Extra for Experts 1

To make a single scone, use the following measurements (thereabouts)

1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Pinch teaspoon salt
1/2 cups grated cheese
1/2 cup milk (don’t pour it all in at once, just in case it ends up too wet)

Extra for Experts 2

I’ve very successfully made blueberry scones from this recipe and really, the sky is the limit with what you do with them.


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Broke Ass September: Week One

So it’s Week One of Broke Ass September. I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy but it has definitely been eye-opening. I’ve been tracking my spending using Pocket Expense 5 which has been really useful. Just the conscious effort of putting things in there has been really good and a bit of a mental note to myself about what I’m spending and what that means.

Weekly Breakdown

Monday: didn’t go so well because I went to the hospital and didn’t do a lot of forward planning for how much pain I was going to be in afterwards. Ended up getting a taxi home ($20.00) and promptly threw up in the cab ($300). I cried when I threw up and then cried some more about the soilage fee. People have suggested emailing the company but I’m worried it would be taken out of the taxi driver’s pocket, not the companies so I’m just going to own it. I figure that technically I wasn’t buying anything but I still felt pretty shitty about getting a whole 12 hours into Broke Ass September and then dropping $320.00.

Lesson: don’t go home after general anaesthetic without something to throw up in. 

  • Unexpected: $320
  • Total: $320

Tuesday: I bought the weekly groceries which was a grand total of $31.58. It was actually really nice going to the supermarket with such a limited amount of money. I knew what I was going to buy (menu planning for the win!) so it was mostly a slow walk around the supermarket finding the cheapest stuff. New World Metro had a special on chicken so I got six chicken thighs for $6 which I was pretty stoked with. In terms of eating this week, it’s also been great just having everything at home already. There’s not that lunch time panic of “shit, what am I going to eat” because I already know so it’s saving me time as well. Winning all round!

I also spent $4 on a cup of coffee that will come from social budget because I wasn’t at work and after operation, decided to treat myself.

  • Grocery Shopping: $31.58
  • Social Budget: $4
  • Total: $35.58

Wednesday: Didn’t buy anything. At all. I left my wallet at home so I couldn’t be tempted to go out and spend anything which was really good idea.

Total: $0

Thursday: blew it completely. Well, not completely and for a good cause. I spent some of the left over grocery money on going out to lunch with my really lovely friend who had had a rough week. It was well worth it and because it fitted into my grocery spend, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

  • Groceries: $7.5
  • Total: $7.5

Friday: did pretty amazingly actually given I went to Rocky Horror Picture Show in the evening. We got a free popcorn and fizzy drink with our ticket (you could also get beer but I’m not drinking at the moment). I did get a goodie bag which was full of the props to throw (toast, rice, streamers, toilet paper etc) but split it with someone so that was $5 which I’m going to take out of the amount I had budgeted to spend on this super exciting housewarming I’m going to tonight – it was going to be $20 but now it will be $15.

  • Social: $5
  • Total: $5
1) Me with crooked red lipstick (always) 2) © Embassy Theatre - doing the Time Warp 3) © Embassy Theatre 4) me and this dude I kinda have a crush on.

1) Me with crooked red lipstick (always) 2) © Embassy Theatre – doing the Time Warp 3) © Embassy Theatre 4) The dude I kinda have a crush on and I

Saturday: it’s only half way through the day but I spent the remainder of grocery money on stuff for the weekend which was a total of $10.30 leaving me $0.62 to play with. Lolz. I’m also going to be spending $10 on drinks for tonight’s house warming.

  • Groceries: $10.30
  • Social: $10
  • Planned total: $20.30

Sunday: Obviously who knows until tomorrow but I know there’s a couple of things planned like brunch with the above friend. I’m going to spend $20 on that (which wasn’t exactly planned but as I said, tough week and I’m happy to support her). I’m going to take it out of my social budget which means my wedding of the year budget will be $50 (also minus the coffee on Tue) which is definitely doable although I may need to buy some shoes which will also come out of that so we’ll see where we end up.

  • Social: $20
  • Planned Total: $20

Weekly Spend vs how much I expected to spend

  1. Unexpected: $320 / $0
  2. Social: $39 / $20
  3. Groceries: $49.38 / $50

Monthly Budget Remaining

  1. Social: $125 – $39 = $86
  2. Groceries: $200 – $49.38 = $150.62
  3. Unexpected $0 – $320 = -$320

Lessons I’ve Learnt

  1. Expense tracking is a really helpful way of keeping track of how much you’re spending. This may seem like Personal Finance 101 but yeah, it’s been really good to track what I’m spending.
  2. Don’t beat yourself up over things. Shit happens and part of financial security is dealing with shit. I’ve been pretty flexible with where money comes from – I figure as long as if I spend something on something, it decreases the amount in another place, I should be all right.
  3. However, unexpected shit like throwing up in a taxi is pretty terrible. Like, $320 is a LOT of money to me. Believe me, I cried when I threw up and cried even more when he charged me the soilage fee. Still makes me want to sob to be honest.
  4. Turning down work lunches SUCKS. I did this twice this week, once for a general invite out and another to compete in the Cozy Cake Shop Challenge ($20 worth of food, you have to eat it all within an hour). To be fair, both these times I couldn’t have eaten even if I’d wanted to due to health shit but yeah, felt a bit stink buzz.
  5. I couldn’t have done this week if my workplace didn’t have a proper coffee machine.
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Brokeass September

Wow, this blog has been so sadly neglected and to be honest, I look at it now and think it needs some love. Not just some posts but also a bit of a rethink on how I want to present my life. If I even do. Thoughts to come.

Anyway, there is a reason for resurrecting this site right now and it’s to do with money.

It’s really bloody hard to talk about money. In  NZ at least, most people have no idea what their friends earn, let alone their colleagues – if you’re a person who hates talking about this, you may want to skip the next paragraph cuz I’m ripping the bandaid right off.



I earn under $50K. My student loan is around $45K which I pay the minimum off automatically. I don’t have any savings other than my Kiwisaver which is sitting at around $6200. I have about $8K in other debt (honestly, credit card at 18? What was I thinking?). This isn’t a huge amount but it’s enough to make me pause and wonder when I’m going to grow up and sort it out. I’m 28 now, when is the right time? I feel like I need to step up and take some responsibility. And not get to five three days after pay day and think “fuck, I have nothing left for another week”. Add to this that there’s things I want to do over the next few years and it feels like it is time. The things are:

  1. Save up to go to Sri Lanka for Christmas with family in 2015.
  2. Pay off my debt.
  3. Save up the deposit for a house all of my own where I can put in a nice kitchen.

Dreams are free eh?

So, part of “Sort Your Shit Out Kelly Dare” is Brokeass September.

Brokeass September is me making a commitment to not buy anything during the month of September. There are rules. There are commitments. There are desperate thoughts of “shit, what do I need to buy before September”.




I made this commitment on Twitter and Facebook this morning and one of the interesting things that has come out of it is the amount of “exceptions” people are already asking me to make. This isn’t intended as criticism but I find it fascinating that the thought of socialising with your friends in a situation that doesn’t cost the earth is so bizarre to us. How many people end up spending far more money than they would like going out to dinner, drinking at a bar, having brunch each week? I tracked my spending last fortnight (my pay cycle) and I spent a whopping $321 on socialising with friends. Seeing that figure actually physically made me feel ill. That’s $321 I spent to hang out with the people I love. And I know the people I love don’t want me to get into debt to see them. Well, I hope they don’t.

So, Brokeass September. It’s going to be a time. I’ve outlined my plans below for those following along at home – if you’re interested in taking part, do it! I’m fascinated to hear how other people do. You can flick me a line on twitter (@_kellydare) or email me. For twitter, use the hashtag #basept so I can track it.

My Brokeass September Rules

No buying anything other than food that you cook at home.

  • This means no brunches, no dinners out, no stopping in to buy something just because it is convenient.
  • No buying new clothes because seriously, I have enough.
  • No buying makeup or skincare or anything.
  • Luckily, I have a coffee supply at work or this whole thing would be vicious.

Grocery Shopping once a week, limited to $50

  • I think when you buy food on a daily basis, you end up spending more money than you need to so I’m going to only shop once a week and limit that to $50 a week. Mostly, I’m just cooking for myself and I know of families who live on that a week. So for one person, this should be easy.

Exceptions and Special Occasions 

I was going to write a whole thing on this but I’ve just realised it would be easiest to say that I’m giving myself a budget of $125 for the whole month. This covers off two birthday drinks ($15 a pop), a very important house-warming ($20) with the rest on a two very dear friends wedding.

  • Exceptions are drugs and medical treatment which hopefully will be minimum.
  • My gym membership. I spend $50.00 on my gym membership each month. I won’t be giving this up.

Things I’ll Buy Before September

To keep myself honest, there’s a few things I’m definitely buying before September.

  • Personal care products: conditioner, toothpaste – all the stuff I refuse to live without. This isn’t Survivor. 
  • Fishnet tights for Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • Shoes for the Wedding Of The Year.
  • Top up my phone with $50. This should be enough to get me through a month (most of this will go on a data pack).

I’m pretty nervous about this. It’s going to be the first time I have ever attempted to control my spending. Also, excited though because I feel like I should definitely do this and if not now, when?

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Music – Zig Zags

In my effort to avoid Christmas as much as possible, I’ve been wandering the streets listening to random music from a mix tape I got made when I left my last job. On it is a band called Zig Zags and their lo-fi sound reminds me of sitting in a garage in West Auckland listening to a band from high school in the best kind of way.

The good: It’s beer drinking music – and it’s grungy punk. And I like it. Especially this track with Iggy Pop (yeah, THAT Iggy Pop). Interesting fact about this song: it’s a cover of a Betty Davis track of the same name. It was made for Light In The Attic Records anniversary and they said of this combination:

Digging deep into the grooves of the original, Zig Zags discovered a secret heavy Sabbath vibe lurking just below the funk surface. Mixing that with their usual sludge-punk leanings, the god-like Iggy Pop was brought in to sing. A natural choice.


The bad: I may be walking the streets of London trying to find a Christmas present for my sister for under a tenner but all I want to be doing is sitting on the couch listening to this way too loud and drinking a cheap beer.


Best for: drinking, dancing.

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Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to go to Japan with the JENESYS programme which is run by the Japanese Embassy for Future Business Leaders. I know, I didn’t think I’d count either. But, it was an amazing trip. Around 30 people under the age of 30 went over, and believe me when I say NZ has got some super great talent.


  • hanging out at the New Zealand Embassy in Japan.
  • Loads of great nights out including the best karaoke sessions ever.

Sad and important highlight:

  • Visiting the Minami-sanriku in the Miyagi Prefecture. It suffered horrible damage in the Great Eastern Japan Tsunami, with over 10,000 people dying from here alone. You can read more about the town here. If you click on the images with a * below them, I’ve added a comment or backstory. We got to talk to some of the people from the area as well as local business owners. Seriously, our group was dumbfounded by what they went through.
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The Goonies


Aside from that moment (which for those of you who don’t know, is called the Truffle Shuffle), The Goonies is a classic film of adventure, romance, and awkward teenage rebellion. And Chunk is quite simply the best character. He’s always hungry, he can smell ice cream through the freezer door and then there’s this confession that just seals the love:

Francis Fratelli: Tell us everything! Everything!

Chunk: Everything. OK! I’ll talk! In third grade, I cheated on my history exam. In fourth grade, I stole my uncle Max’s toupee and I glued it on my face when I was Moses in my Hebrew School play. In fifth grade, I knocked my sister Edie down the stairs and I blamed it on the dog… When my mom sent me to the summer camp for fat kids and then they served lunch I got nuts and I pigged out and they kicked me out… But the worst thing I ever done – I mixed a pot of fake puke at home and then I went to this movie theater, hid the puke in my jacket, climbed up to the balcony and then, t-t-then, I made a noise like this: hua-hua-hua-huaaaaaaa – and then I dumped it over the side, all over the people in the audience. And then, this was horrible, all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life.

Jake Fratelli: I’m beginning to like this kid, Ma!

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The Best Things About Being a Kiwi

I’m in the middle of compiling a mix tape for a friend at the moment. She’s just moved over from Britain and on a night out during the Sevens, realised she didn’t know the words to The Exponents so I’m fixing it. And really what this is doing is reminding me how much I love being a kiwi. These are the top five reasons:

Our music kicks serious ass. All right, so there’s probably better than this out there but I challenge a Kiwi to not know the words to this song. Or at the chorus. Brings back so many memories of hanging out in pubs, summer BBQs, winter BBQs in the garage and almost burning the house down, and long road trips of singing loudly (and badly) to this song. So many happy times.

There’s more to our film industry than Hobbits. I promise! I was summing up why I love NZ film today in a skype conversation and basically came to the conclusion that I love and adore it because we do so much for a country of 4 million people. From Peter Jackson’s work to Ant Timpson’s general amazingness to the passion displayed by our filmmakers with no major backing to all those people who work behind the scenes making shit happen. This just makes me grin and stokingly happy.

We’ve got crazy weather in NZ. From tornados, to lightening storms, to sunshine. But the best times are hanging out on beaches in the sunshine listening to good beats and arguing about whether dubstep is really music.

Long roadtrips = summer. I love driving around NZ. Usually in a madcap mission to visit friends from all over the country in a matter of days. The trip where we did almost 5000kms in seven days stands out as really the best NZ road trip of my life. Also the late night missions from Auckland home to Wellington home to catch up with my favourite people.

Bland Bay

The alcohol. OK so this might make me seem like an alcoholic but seriously, NZ kicks ass in the drinks brewing. Beer – like Tuatara (a family owned and run brewery from Wellington that is some of the nicest drops on tap) to Stonyridge who produced one of the most delicious wines I’ve had tried. Accidently drinking the $190.00 bottle instead of the $30.00 one was a mistake. But a very good one to make

Other honourable mentions:

Number 8 wire, pavlova, summer weddings, summer loving, camping, tents, trailer driving, attitude, fight to the death, culture, food, fresh crayfish, smoked mussels, Coromandel, Wellington, Taupo, Queenstown, gorgeous sunsets.

Also, sometimes my patriotism makes me feel ill as well.

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