It's a few days before this interview with journalist, broadcaster and former magazine editor Wendyl Nissen at her home in the Hokianga.
How to cover a career which spans decades in the media and includes stints editing Woman's Day, New Zealand Woman's Weekly and Australian Women's Weekly during the 90s heyday of glossy magazines?
What to ask the queen of women's mags who veered into the land of sustainable, back-to-basics living and gained herself another title – that of Green Goddess?
Oh yeah, and she has just published her 10th book.
I get on the phone to my mum, who's a big fan of Nissen's straight-up, honest writing.
We wonder what her house will look like.
I imagine a rustic villa with a shabby chic interior, where French linens and well-placed throws feature alongside gleaming gumboots lined up in the hallway.
It'll be a bit messy, due to being in the country, but like most former Aucklanders they will have all the flash gadgets and shiny black SUVs.
Mum cut in.
"Well she won't have any Ralph Lauren cushions or any of that stuff," she said.
"Wendyl's got her feet firmly on the ground. She's very human. She's not a Mercedes Benz type of person."
Then mum said she had to go and wash the floor.
Hang on, there's a recipe for natural floor cleaner in Wendyl's book…
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Such is Nissen's influence on readers inspired by the columns and books she has written since leaving the corporate world 19 years ago.
She's now way more interested in organic gardening and worm farms, and using vinegar and baking soda to clean the house instead of throat-burning chemical products.
I've gone through our place and biffed out the oven cleaner and Jiff.
But it's living on the Far North's rugged west coast with her husband, fellow journalist Paul Little, that has been the biggest salve for her burned-out soul.
"Take one look at the place, it's heaven on earth," she said.
"It's one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. It's isolated and the people who live here are amazing, and they respect each other.
"Another thing we've always liked about this place; it's got a history. You can feel it on our land.
"A lot of people go to the Bay of Islands because it's pretty but here you have an amazing sense of Kupe and massive battles being fought on these very shores.
"You have to really respect that and be aware you're just looking after the land."
IT TOOK a while for Nissen and Little to settle into their place in the country.
The couple were searching for some peace and quiet after demanding careers which for Nissen began as a reporter in the early 80s and went on to include TV producer, author, businesswoman and radio host.
Little's CV is equally grand, having worked as a feature writer, newspaper columnist, magazine editor and publisher for more than 40 years.
They bought their modest Koutu house with expansive views of the Hokianga harbour at the end of 2013, initially as a holiday home to retreat to from Auckland.
Nissen's parents Cedric and Elis moved into the self-contained cottage attached to the house in early 2018.
By the end of that year, Nissen had chucked in her job hosting The Long Lunch on RadioLive and moved to Koutu boots and all to help her dad care for Elis who had early Alzheimer's.
Being in the Hokianga fulltime has lived up to Nissen's expectations.
A tour of the 2 hectare property takes in a productive vegetable garden and orchard, 16 chickens and two roosters, and a paddock with two calves Betty and Billie.
The previous two bovines were so tame Nissen bought them a Swiss ball to play with.
But you have to be practical when living in the country, and Bambi and Bruce are now in the freezer.
"Their meat tastes amazing," Nissen said.
"At least for two years they lived here and were fed treats every day and had a nice life."
The house does turn out to be rustic, but it's not messy at all, thanks to Little who takes care of the tidying up.
It's colourful and cosy, art and framed photos cover every wall, and the dogs, Flo and Rosie, are allowed on the couch.
Any Ralph Lauren cushions?
"No, but I do have a Gucci blanket."
Nissen also points out she has four friendly stray cats, including one with only three legs.
I mention an incident that happened a while back, which saw Nissen apply KY Jelly to a chicken which had become egg-bound.
She tells me of another time she and Little killed a wayward rooster which leapt from her arms the moment he chopped its head off and screamed around the property with blood spurting from its neck.
Sure is different from life as a glamorous magazine editor. Do you miss any of it?
"Not one single bit," she said.
"I love going out to do what I call 'my rounds' and feed the chickens and cows. There's something quite lovely about it.
"It's like I've come home. Both of us feel that ... when you just know it's right."
THE LAST time I talked with Nissen was for a Northern Advocate feature during Covid-19 alert level 4.
She spoke of how lockdown wasn't much different to her current life in Koutu, where she regularly forages for fresh produce and preserves an abundance of apples, pears and quinces.
It was the day before the collapse of Bauer, when she and her colleagues were told in a Zoom meeting they no longer had jobs.
At the time she was writing for NZ Woman's Weekly and its Australian counterpart, while Little wrote book reviews and columns for North & South and Kia Ora magazine.
All their freelance income was suddenly gone.
"I was most upset for my friends in the magazines," Nissen said.
"I'd worked with them for years. I knew there would be an end to it one day but didn't expect it to be that sudden or cruel. It was like a death."
The demise of Bauer wasn't the only setback.
Nissen's 10th book, A Natural Year, follows her life in rural Hokianga across the seasons with recipes, anecdotes and advice on everything from sourdough starters and sprouting, to menopause and natural beauty tips.
It was published in March but copies sat in the warehouse for a month unable to be delivered.
But there was a silver lining to the turmoil.
She's now writing for Good magazine, Lifestyle Block and The Spinoff, and is particularly chuffed with an upcoming article for The Guardian website.
"Lockdown challenged us; we'd been doing the same thing for 20 years writing the same columns," she said.
"Losing all our work has challenged us to do new things. We're a bit out of our comfort zone.
"Lifestyle-wise it was pretty much as normal as that was how were living anyway. Lockdown helped consolidate that."
Little didn't muck around while the country was in the midst of the crisis either.
He bashed out a new book in eight weeks after interviewing 22 people from various sectors to find out how the pandemic affected their lives.
The Covid Chronicles; Lessons from New Zealand is due to hit bookshelves mid-September.
Nissen's next book, a memoir about her mum who passed away from dementia last July, is set to be published next March.
Plans are also in the pipeline for Natural Care, a book on natural remedies and caring for yourself, pets, relationships, the elderly and whole neighbourhoods.
Nissen's realisation when she turned 40 that she wanted to be healthier and less stressed prompted a growing interest in living simply without chemical products.
Her first book on the subject, Domestic Goddess on a Budget, was published in 2009.
More followed, along with a business which created natural cleaning and laundry products which has since been sold.
The reinvented Nissen is a far cry from the fiery editor of tabloid women's magazines in the days when cheque-book journalism was king.
"I don't regret that time at all, I remember enjoying it immensely," she said.
"We're all different people at different stages in life, it's a mistake to say you'll always be the same person. It takes courage to change.
"Women who are from my era were told you can do everything, so we were fulltime at our jobs and parenting ... feminism did us great favours to be able to do all that, but we got exhausted, it was just too much.
"That's where the courage comes in; being able to redefine yourself."
THESE DAYS, Nissen will make the odd trip to Auckland to see their five children and two grandkids, though she's increasingly opting for online meetings for work.
She doesn't want to be "that Aucklander" who goes about trying to change the community in a bid to make things better.
Mostly, she just wants to close the gates and blend in.
"I love the fact that it's so isolated. I've run out of milk and rather than go to the Four Square I've opted for milk powder in my tea, I'm that embedded here.
"I've suffered from anxiety and depression so being in this environment suits me down to the ground. If I'm feeling a bit glum, half an hour out there [in the garden] and I feel great.
"The life I've got now is keeping me happier and suiting me better than my previous life.
"For me, the Hokianga has a spiritual component, it's got that west coast spiritual wildness. I couldn't have had that over in the Bay of Islands. I needed that sparse isolation."