Divergent Review

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Via thereelword.net

From the creator of sci-fi thriller Limitless and period drama The Illusionist, comes Divergent, an adaptation of the YA novel by Veronica Roth. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, as has been the trend in recent years, this society is divided into five factions: Amnesty (happy people), Candor (the eternally honest), Erudite (knowledge seekers), Abnegation (selfless) and Dauntless (the fearless). A young woman named Tris (Shailene Woodley), fights against the structure of her world when she learns that, as a Divergent, she doesn’t fit into any of these five factions.

Unfortunately, this film fits perfectly into its cookie-cutter mold. At its core, Divergent is a coming of age story about a young woman truly finding herself. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the message to be yourself is all but presented in bright flashing letters at the bottom of the screen. The irony of this film promoting individualism, whilst giving the audience a case of déjà vu for films gone by (The Hunger GamesTwilightI Am Legend anyone?), should be lost on no one.

While Woodley gives a phenomenal performance, delivering the dead pan sarcasm of her character flawlessly and truly engaging the audience in Tris’s pain, it can’t make up for the predictability of the story. The antagonist is clearly the system itself (and its representatives), but the story arch seamlessly hits the stages of every other “find yourself” flick there is. Girl steps outside comfort zone, wonders if she’s made the right choice, is encountered with obstacles, overcomes them, somewhere along the way a boy enters the picture. Even the romance is lacking, as there is very little about Four (Theo James) that convinces of his love for Tris. James adequately portrays Four’s tough exterior and makes him likeable as someone who would probably do the right thing, but that’s about as far as the character goes.

The news isn’t all bad though. There are some good laughs to be had in an otherwise solemn action flick, and the cast gets an all around A+. Tony Goldwyn and Ashley Judd play Tris’ parents and Abnegation natives in performances that bring depth and love to their characters. On the other side, Kate Winslet and Jai Courtney round out the “bad guys” as Jeanine and Eric. While this certainly isn’t the highlight of Winslet’s career, she does a reasonable job of making you question her motives, and Courtney does his character justice by ensuring the audience fully supports the idea of punching him in the face throughout the entire film.

In all, this film is worth seeing purely for the performance from Woodley and the rest of the cast. The story line is overfamiliar and doesn’t exactly flow seamlessly, but there are brief moments of the individualism the film promotes. I can’t stress my love for Woodley enough in this role, and any fans of hers will surely like the film, if only for her sake. If you’re not sure, see it and see if she wins you over too.

THE REEL SCORE: 6/10

Fly the Coop: How to know your business is ready for premises

This was a blog post written for Urbette, a startup where we matched like minded businesses with space to share.

Fly the Coop: How to know your business is ready for premises

So, a few years ago you started your own business out of your home. Maybe you manufacture knitted hats for cats, design kennels for handicapped dogs, or are a freelance accountant (specialising in businesses run by parents of talented children). Whatever your business does, you set up shop in your dining room or garage and took the first step to your dream career. That’s a huge thing! But you’ve started to outgrow your grassroots start, and you’re wondering if now is the time to take the leap and find premises for your business to grow in. But how do you know? Here are some tell tale signs.

Boundary lines have become blurred and zig zagged

Everyone knows how important having work life balance is to maintain a healthy state of mind (not to mention a healthy physical state!) Sometimes working out of your home can get in the way of that. For some people, not physically leaving work behind somewhere makes it difficult to stop working at a certain time like you would in an office or a shop. While it’s great that you have a career that you’re passionate about, it’s still important to have time for yourself and your loved ones! Setting up shop outside the home is a great way to keep work at work. Plus, it eliminates having new clients (i.e. strangers!) coming into your house.

Cat hats/sketches/spreadsheets have infiltrated the entire house.

You can see on your calendar that The Very Important Project is due tomorrow. But where were you when you were reading over those briefs? Oh, briefs, wait…the bathroom! If you’re finding documents or products behind the toilet or in the freezer, it’s time to find an office or shop to work out of. Preferably one with a fantastic filing system.

Your arms are too short

Metaphorically, of course – you’re perfect the way you are! But maybe your fledgeling business has grown, and your reach isn’t quite long enough to help customers in far away lands. By setting up premises, you’re able to have a business address (rather than giving someone in Germany your home address!) You can relocate to an area more central for your customer base or closer to your suppliers, but that’s still a reasonable commute from your home.

Talking to the cat you model the hats on seems normal.

Spending all day working from home knitting hats for cats leaves little time for human interaction. I’m by no means suggesting you leave Mr.Tibbles behind (take him with you!) but it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have a coworker or two to bounce ideas off or have lunch with. When you’re stumped creatively or having technical problems or just want someone to tell exciting news to, sometimes Mr.Tibbles just doesn’t cut it.

It’s a scary leap, I know. But it’s exciting as well, and it’s doable! To make it easier, consider cosharing with someone. Sharing space and resources can make the transition easier financially, plus having a likeminded business around means expanding your client base organically. So think about who your contacts are, and reach out to them! The first thing to do, is start the conversation.

Big Mistakes to Avoid in a Renovation

Big Mistakes to Avoid in a Renovation

Sure, renovating is a great way to refresh your home or raise the value before selling. You can go through a professional contractor, or even make it a DIY job! But these projects can get out of hand quickly, so we’ve put together a list of some of the biggest and most common mistakes to avoid.

Going over budget

It’s absolutely essential that you establish a budget before you get going on a renovation. Once you know what the project is, determine what materials you’ll need and the hours of labour that will need to go into it. Get quotes from a few different places so you know you’re getting the absolute best deal. Have a list of negotiable vs non-negotiable items so you know what you can hold off on, and what you need now. Make sure you’re prepared for potential problems by having a buffer in the budget from the get-go. These things will all help you get through a renovation without breaking the bank.

Underestimating the job (or overestimating your skills)

There’s a reason that a whole industry of people waiting to help you renovate your house exists. Some of the jobs you want done may not be as simple as they look, and it’s important to know everything they entail before you start smashing things yourself. It’s particularly important to keep this in mind when it comes to electrical issues, so you don’t A) electrocute yourself or B) burn the house down.

Living on site

While you may not be excited at the prospect of kicking yourself out of your own home for a while, you’ll thank yourself later. You may think that you can handle the noise and chaos for however long the project takes, but it will become old very quickly. Not to mention, if you’re hiring contractors, you’ll find yourself under their feet and they’ll be under yours. If you’re doing the job yourself, you’ll have a hard time just relaxing at home knowing there’s work to be done in the other room. So find a family member to stay with or a short stay apartment, it’ll make life easier in the long run.

Not painting properly

There’s not really a 1 size fits all solution when it comes to painting. You have to consider multiple factors like, what surface am I painting on? What kind of treatment will it get (kids, house parties, pets, etc)? There are different finishes to consider, indoor vs outdoor, in fact, colour is really just the first in a long list of considerations when it comes to choosing a paint. If you’re painting to cover cracks or scratches, what do you need to use to fill them in? If you don’t take the time to figure these things out and spend the money to get the best tools for the project, you’re basically throwing money down the drain, as it will likely need to be redone.

Rushing

If you rush through a DIY renovation, it will show. It simply won’t look as good in the long run, and frankly, it could be a safety hazard! If you’re doing this, do it right and take your time. Pay attention to details and if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Failing to plan

Not to be everyone’s Year 9 English teacher here, but there’s a reason they say ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’. It’s immensely important to know what you’re getting into, know what you want out of it and to know how much you’re willing to spend! By planning things out in detail, you’ll have a solid idea of how long you’re willing/able to spend on this project, as well as what you’re going to do when things inevitably go wrong!

Renovating your home can be a great experience and add value to your home, absolutely. Knowing what can crop up along the way and what mistakes to avoid can ensure that it’s a positive time for you, and not a stressful one! One more thing to consider is whether you need and qualify for a construction loan to complete the project. If so, it may be best to enlist the help of a mortgage broker to grind out the details of the loan and ensure you can focus on other parts of the renovation, knowing your finances are secure.

Unique Storage Ideas for Small Spaces

To quote the late-great George Carlin, ‘A house is just a place to keep your stuff – while you go out and get more stuff.’ We at My Local Broker think a home is a bit more than that, but at its core, that is what we use a house for. So what do we do when we have too much stuff and not enough space, but we aren’t quite ready for a bigger home? These storage ideas will help.


Use a pipe or a rod as a rack in a small corner. This is a great way to use the space you have without taking up valuable floor space with excess furniture.

Source: Yahoo

Source: YahooDon’t let cables and cords take over the place! Use bulldog clamps to keep them in line. These come in different sizes so they’re great for all kinds of cables, and you can attach them to tables or fabric.

Source: Pampered Mom

Source: Pampered MomTension rods are great for organising bottles of household cleaners under the sink. Getting them off the shelf means more space to keep other things (recycling bin anyone?) and makes them easily accessible.

Bonus tip: you can do the same thing with heeled shoes in your closet.

Source: LifeHack

Source: LifeHackWant to entertain, but feel torn by also wanting a place to store some of your books or blankets? Enter: the ottoman. Or a storage bench. Whichever style suits you best.

Source: Etsy

Why Should You Care About the Dollar Fluctuating?

What do you mean “the dollar is going up/down?”

The Aussie dollar, and the rest of ‘the Majors’ all trade against the US dollar. Why is this? It dates back to World War II, and something called the Bretton Woods agreement. After the war, the US was the only major country to pull through with a relatively strong economy. Because of this, the US dollar was selected through the Bretton Woods agreement to be the world’s reserve currency, and the current system of setting exchange rates against the dollar was enacted. These agreements have been altered and revisited throughout the years since, but for the sake of understanding how the dollar fluctuates, we’ll leave it at that for now.

When the dollar goes up or down, that’s comparing its value against US dollar. So for example, at the time of writing, the Australian dollar is valued at $0.74. That means that for every Aussie dollar we have, it’s only worth 74 US cents. On the flip side, for every American dollar you have, it’s worth $1.34 Australian.

So, why does this matter if you’re not a stock exchange regular or travelling overseas? There are a few ways it can affect you, and you might not even realise that they are.

Imports and exportsThis is actually a positive side effect of the dollar’s value declining. Let’s put this into an easy to understand example. Let’s say Australia is exporting wool to the US at the rate of $100 for 50 kilos, and the exchange rate is $1/$1. Great price for wool, right? But then something happens, and the Aussie dollar drops to $0.75 to every US dollar. Even better! The US can now import our wool for even lower prices, which causes a rise in demand. However, the opposite can happen if the Aussie dollar rises. Cost for importing our goods rises with it, and demand goes down as the US decides to see if they can get their wool cheaper from someone else.

Online shoppingIf you’re anything like me (or 65% of my coworkers) you know your way around an online store. How often do you buy from overseas shops? Well, in doing that, you’re converting your hard earned Australian dollars into US (or another) currency, which basically means that jumper that seems like such a good deal actually might not be.

Retail PricesThe other side of the dollar falling is that it affects our hometown retailers. In order to continue their revenue streams and make sure their businesses aren’t heavily affected, many retailers will raise their prices when the dollar drops. Unfortunately, the opposite cannot be said when the dollar rises, as businesses aren’t inclined to cut prices when the economy is good.

Personal investmentsOn a positive note, if you have personal investments overseas, the dollar decreasing is good news for you. When you go to cash in on your investments, you’ll convert the funds into Aussie dollars and reap the rewards!

There are a lot of things that impact the value of the dollar, but this will give you a general idea of what all the hullaballoo is about when you hear it on the news. There are many ways to benefit from a lower Aussie dollar – for some tips on doing so, have a chat with your local mortgage broker. They’ll be able to advise you on property investments as well as put you in touch with a financial planner if need be.

Fish are Friends, Not Food

Fish are Friends, Not Food

Original post date: Sept 2015

About a year ago, I became a vegetarian.

Yes, yes, I know, now you’re either picturing a hippie wearing rose coloured glasses, a PETA activist throwing paint all over people, or a trendy hipster who just wants to follow the latest fashuns.

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In reality, I probably fall somewhere in the middle of the first two. Way less extreme than throwing paint (or anything) at people, but I did partially make the change because I love animals and don’t want to be party to causing them pain. And also, because I just don’t want animal flesh in my body. Plain and simple, I don’t like the thought of it.

The change has been pretty painless. I’ve always been like that. When I decided to quit smoking (for the 3rd time) it was because I wanted to quit, and it was grossing me out. And quitting was easy. It’s been relatively the same with cutting out meat. I don’t want it anymore, it grosses me out, so I stopped eating it. That simple.

The only thing that’s been annoying about it is the way other people react to it. Not that most people are rude, but I get so tired of being asked, “Why though?”

My initial reaction is almost always:

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But, I don’t. 5 years as a well-trained pageant girl and my inherent nature as a communications specialist has taught me it’s better to just answer their question. Insert a little self-deprecating humour, stick to my guns, and just answer. Eventually, it’ll be over. Obviously, when it’s someone like my Nana, who cooks for me occasionally, I understand the reasons behind the question. “Does she not like my food?” Or my parents or other family members, worrying that it’s some diet plan (spoiler: vegetarians actually eat pretty crappy diets a lot of the time. See: chips, pizza, chocolate, cake, doughnuts, pasta, etc.) We get sick of veggies too.

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There’s a huge desensitisation between people and their food (and a lack of education), and it’s just something I couldn’t stomach anymore.

7 DIY Tips to Upgrade Your Furniture

You’ve got the dream home, and now it’s time to furnish it. But you’re also probably trying to minimise extra costs. Rather than buying all new furniture to fit your new aesthetic, try these tricks to update what you already have.

Contact paper

Contact paper is the unsung hero of DIY furniture rehab. It can upgrade old or cheap furniture quickly and at a minimal cost. You can also get a variety of looks, whether you want to make an IKEA piece look like a marble topped console table or give a nightstand a modern, metallic look. You can use cut out shapes if you’re going for a minimalist vibe.

Hello Lidy

Keep it fresh

It might sound pretty obvious, but a fresh coat of paint can completely change a piece of furniture. If the piece is damaged or even if it’s just old and you’re sick of looking at it, just give it a new colour and watch yourself fall in love with it all over again. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even sand the piece to give it some more texture or use painters tape to mark off a pattern or design.

Centsational Girl

Give it legs

Give your basic IKEA furniture an Anthropologie upgrade by giving it legs. You can buy legs for almost any IKEA style at http://www.prettypegs.com (they ship worldwide). Lifting it off the ground can give furniture a more custom, polished look. Add them to your sofa (with a new cover if you’re sick of the colour as well!), bookshelf, bed, nightstand, etc.

Ikea Hackers

Cut Add corners

Adding brass corners to relatively plain pieces gives them a vintage feel you would normally pay big money for. You can order them via Amazon, and they’re simple to install. Whether it’s a coffee table, drawer fronts or your desk, this industrial era DIY will bring some life back into your furniture.

Little Green Notebook

Repurpose

Have a look at what’s lying around your house, and try to look at it in a new light. Got some empty jam jars? Give them a new purpose in life, and use them as brush or cutlery holders. You can even spray paint them to match your décor. Maybe you have a suitcase that doesn’t get any use? Make it into a side table. Kids outgrown their crib? Get a glass pane and make it into a desk, or break out the saw and create a bench that has sentimental value. Using what you already have to fill a need can save you a lot of money in the long run.

A Diamond in the Stuff

Make it metal

You’d be surprised how much of a difference a can of metallic spray paint makes. A simple metal and glass shelf frame can immediately get a custom look, instead of the ‘everybody-has-this-IKEA-piece’ look. This is also an easy way to re-vamp a piece that you’re repurposing.

Dream a Little Bigger

Make a hard(ware) change

This can be a slightly more expensive option depending on what kind of hardware you go for, but it still shouldn’t cost as much as replacing the furniture completely. You can find plenty of options on Etsy or eBay, from vintage glass to brass pieces. Alternatively, you can make your own drawer pulls! You can create simple but gorgeous leather pulls for drawers without built in hardware, and all you really need is an old belt, scissors, a hammer and nails.

Sugar & Cloth

DIY projects can seem daunting to some, but these are all relatively simple options that you might even be able to do without leaving the house! When buying a new house, it’s important to minimise cost wherever possible, whether through these cost saving ideas or by utilising a mortgage broker to make sure you get the best loan for your needs.