The Apartment Diaries: First Weekend Back At Level 3

Well New Zealand had a bit of a shock this week. Tuesday night, 9.30 (I was in a pub, enjoying being social) we hear that a family in the community has covid-19 so we’re locking it all back down again. Thank god I got in one last lot of drinks with some mates aye?

So this weekend I have only been out of my apartment for essential shopping and essential exercise (which has taken most of my weekend). I navigated buying things online then having them brought out to my car (drive & collect), spent far too many hours trying to find the right face mask online, only did half the housework on my list, but hit my exercise goals both days of the weekend.

I have barely spoken to another human being all weekend, but I’ve been busy enough that I could do with a longer weekend still. What I have achieved that I haven’t been achieving at level 1, is actually sitting down and doing some writing (like the blog). So that was one achievement.

For my readers outside NZ, a little insight into what things are like right now: the mood in NZ is a bit anxious. While at level 3 a degree of business can still be kept running and is probably similar to what many countries everyday living is like right now – people here are scared that the government will decide it’s not enough and do a second full level 4 lockdown. The last one caused huge economic loss, so everyone is hoping that it can be contained under a level 3.

People also feel a bit disheartened and betrayed that it looked like we had this under control. but now it’s becoming apparent that there has been some slippage at the border. They are also very angry with the people who have tried escaping quarantine, as a lot of sacrifice has been made by the team of 5 million and those escapees are individuals they can identify that have put the whole country at risk.

I know I’ll be relieved when we have this back under control and can go down a level, but the apartment walls haven’t closed in on me just yet.

Krystal xx

The Apartment Diaries: Low Cost Heating

The last few weeks, apartment living has become apartment hell with noisy building works being done right outside my window and the outlook being obscured by scaffolding and plastic. Coming into the colder weather, this darkened space has provided its sharing of lighting and heating issues, so in this week’s apartment I want to look at how to stay cozy and happy in a otherwise dark cold apartment.

One thing I’ve discovered is an electric water bottle, instead of having to use a kettle an continue to refill with hot water, this hot water bottle just need charging for about 10 minutes and lasts for up to 8 hours. Making it a pretty cost efficient option for snuggly warmth when watching TV or in bed, and runs no risk of boiling water leakage. If you pay water rates there’s also the bonus of that no water is used.

I’m also using my living room for workouts more as the weather gets colder because who wants to go for a jog in the wind and rain? And believe me there is no need for heating for a while after an intensive workout.

The biggest issue I’ve found is washing clothes. With no outdoor living I’ve always had to line dry in the living room. But with no warmth and sunshine, how do you get them dry and not have too much moisture floating around?

There is of course the easy answer of a dryer, but with fragile fabrics, a dryer will eventually turn them to shreds. So I tried a dehumidifier and using a heater. These do help but are probably even less energy efficient that using a dryer. So the best solution I’ve found is using a dryer for the more robust clothes and then triple lining the more delicate fabrics and timing for the same time as you’ll already have the heater on. Multitasking at it’s finest.

So a bit of a segue this week but another apartment diary done.

Krystal xx

The Apartment Diaries: Cooking In A Tiny Apartment Kitchen Made Easy

In a time of lockdown everyone seems to be taking to cooking with gusto; among them us apartment dwellers. But with tiny kitchens (or worse communal kitchens), we often lack storage for essential cooking tools, cooking is a logistics nightmare and the clean up is daunting. That’s why many of us rely on things like takeout, delivered meals and ready made options. But in the last few weeks they haven’t been as available, so in today’s diary I’m going to share some of the meals I’ve been cooking that involve little prep, little clean up and are tiny kitchen friendly. For those beginning to return to work as lockdown restriction ease, these meals are also a quick way to manage cooking while working.

Pita Bread Pizzas

As much as I love real pizza dough, the small kitchen bench I’ve got is not prep work friendly, so I tend towards these pita bread pizzas instead. The reason I choose pita breads is because they’re already cut to size, so there’s no portion distortion and you don’t even need to cut them into slices. Pita breads can also be had fresh with salad, baked into pita crisps and freeze well.

Ingredients
Pita breads
Your favourite toppings (I used cranberry sauce with baby spinach, grated cheese, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds)

Instructions
Take fresh pita breads out and place on a tray with a small amount of space between. Cover all pita breads with sauce then follow with your choice of toppings. Cook at 180 C for approximately 10 minutes (until cheese is bubbling and pita bread is toasted). Remaining pita breads and pita bread pizzas can then be frozen.

Lazy Linguine

I am a big fan of the one pot dinner and this is quick to throw on after a long day at work.

Ingredients
1 cup of linguine (or other pasta you already have)
1/2 cup of frozen vegetables (I used peas and beans))
2 tablespoons of Butter
Chopped Parsley
Grated Parmesan

Instructions
Boil water in a saucepan then put in pasta (for about 10 minutes), when pasta is halfway done add frozen vegetables into the water. Once pasta is al dente and vegetables cooked, drain then place the saucepan back on the element and melt butter. Stir butter in the saucepan until it begins to brown (also known as burnt butter or brown butter), then toss pasta and vegetable back into the saucepan and mix together. Serve and garnish with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.

Quick Tortillas

Using all ready made ingredients, these tortillas are quick to throw together and healthy.

Ingredients
Tortillas
Preprepared salad or coleslaw
Grated cheese (can also be brought preprepared)
Any other ready made toppings (ie cured meats)
Dressing

Instructions
Toss the salad and any other filling into the tortilla, mix together then roll or wrap it, depending on your preference.

Easy Mac’n’Cheesy

Macaroni cheese is my go to simple comfort food, but making it in a non stick frying pan (way easier to clean than a saucepan) and not bothering with prep work like grating cheese makes it even easier.

Ingredients
Macaroni elbows
2 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of flour
2 cups of milk (can also use half and half or evaporated milk)
1 cup of cheese (I like to use a mixture of edam, cheddar and parmesan)

Instructions
Boil water in a non-stick frying pan then cook pasta till al dente. Drain pasta then put the frypan back on the heat and melt butter. Stir in flour, making a roux then slowly stir in milk allowing sauce the thicken. When all the milk has been added add either grated cheese if you have it on hand otherwise just cube your cheese off the block to save time grating it. Stir until all the cheese has dissolved and sauce is thick then pour cooked pasta back into the frypan and mix together. This makes 4 servings, so have some freezable and microwaveable containers on hand for the extra servings.

I am not a chef by any means, but this was some easy food for thought. If you make one of these things or have an easy dish you think I should try, be sure to tag me.

Krystal xx

The Apartment Diaries: An Insomniac’s Tips On How To Sleep During A Pandemic

It’s pretty much a scientific fact that everyone’s sleep is messed up right now, with explanations including circadian rhythms and heightened anxiety. But despite science validating our lack of sleep, it’s probably not helping us actually go to sleep.

Then there’s the dreams, whether they be more about potential catastrophe or green monkeys dancing on a plaid ceiling and your high school English teacher singing opera, chances are all this REM isn’t helping you want to sleep or stay asleep either.

Being in my apartment I have the added stimulus of street noise. You would think that when the roads have been apocalyptically empty that wouldn’t be a problem, but I’m hearing as many sirens as ever.

So as your resident insomniac, I’ve put together a list of things I’ve tried and tested, when it comes to catching some zzz’s.

Meditation

Clear your mind and breathe slowly and deeply (insert long uncomfortable silence here). There is a lot of evidence that suggests meditation is very good for us; or mind numbingly boring enough to make you snooze, depending which camp of thought you’re in. As someone with a whirring mind and a healthy dose of cynicism. I’ve never been particularly successful at mediation. But I have found that if I’m likely to actually get to the end of a meditation recording, a beginner’s guided meditation works best and on a couple of occasions it has sent me off to sleep. So if you can get on this bandwagon, it definitely has potential for finding peace, calm and SLEEP!

Soothing Music

Soothing music is supposed to gently lull you to sleep, but personally I find it just makes me wide awake and feeling like I’m stuck in a horror movie where SOMETHING IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN…
But hey there’s music out there for everyone, so you might be able to find your sleep jam. For me, the closest I’ve found is lightly classical music sung in foreign languages. I become too engaged in the music if I understand the lyrics. But if you’re hoping it will speak to your subconscious and teach it the language, I can promise you it doesn’t.

If You’re Not Tired – Get Up

This is actually the one I’ve found most effective. If I’m still lying awake at 1am and not really tired, I get up and start the morning’s work, then if I can, sleep in slightly in the morning to make up for it. I’ve found if I put myself to work, when I get back to bed I often fall straight asleep. If you can’t sleep in the next day however, that can also be to your advantage for restoring your circadian rhythm. Expert advice suggests getting up and doing something relaxing under low light, but personally I find productive activity works better for me.

Counting Sheep

100…500…5000!
Seriously, does this work for anybody?
But hey give it a go, you could be the first.

Read A Book

Most people swear by this one, but I get too wrapped up in the book. I have on one occasion, finished a book at about 3am, but the cliffhanger was so intense I started the next one and couldn’t make myself put in down till about 4.30am. (I never said I was the queen of good decisions.)

If In Doubt Self Medicate

Preferably with a glass of vino and accompanying cheese board…but a sleeping tablet works too. I do of course have to disclaimer that this one isn’t actually a good idea on a regular basis. But you do you.

If you’re still struggling to sleep and would like some expert advice check out this link. And stay tuned for my next apartment diary, coming soon.

Krystal xx

The Apartment Diaries: What Can Happen In 24 Hours

The world has locked down and the love of my life (travel) has disappeared, while the second love of my life (beauty) seems to only appear when video chatting. So what is a blogger to do, when her loves are somewhat less present that usual?

The answer came to me as I walked through the door of my inner city apartment after returning to it for level 3. Bring the world into my little bubble. It was instantly obvious to me that living in a tiny city apartment during a period of lockdown was going to have its challenges and why not share these experiences either to amuse or commiserate with others.

In the apartment I’m in, I’ve kept it pretty small and contained because I travel a lot and basically just need a hotel room I keep permanently. The place is also fully furnished and minutes walk from everything. So usually it’s ideal. But like with any place, things can go wrong and it all seemed to after I arrived back.

After traveling I had to sanitize everything as a precaution against some pesky little virus that’s going around. In a larger home with outdoor living this wouldn’t be a problem, but it hadn’t occurred to me until I got back to my apartment that I had about a square foot of carpet to clean my suitcase on and hang a clothes rack. There was no outdoor space to put these things and it was literally an obstacle course to get to my draws, my desk or anywhere else I needed to get to within my bedroom and living space.

Then I was foolish enough to look in my well stocked freezer for some lunch. I’d purposely stocked it well before we locked down so I didn’t have to immediately navigate the supermarkets upon my return. But mysteriously, some of the food had defrosted, while everything remained frozen. And of course it was the more perishable items that had defrosted. With no idea how long they had been like that, I was suddenly confronted with deciding if they were safe to eat and when I decided they were now needing to come up with some things to cook them in. And all I wanted was some lunch.

After a day of traveling, cooking and climbing over the obstacle course of all the things I was cleaning. I jumped into bed, soooo ready for sleep. But my apartment is not quite done messing with me and one of the mattress boards collapsed, leaving the bed sagging in the middle. Fortunately being someone with a little ingenuity, I manage to fix it. But you can bet I’m cursing up a storm in my head the entire time.

So for a place that was supposed to be all set for me coming home, it wasn’t quite the first day back I planned. Keep an eye out for my next apartment diary as I continue to journal what it’s like being in an apartment in a time where we’re all staying inside.

Krystal xx