Category Archives: Budgeting

Food on Friday ~ Healthy and Easy

the basis of all happiness is good health

It’s all very well my trying to eat a very healthy Paleo diet, but face it, if the recipes are too difficult or too time consuming I’m just not going to make them.  There is a limit to how much time a chap living alone is prepared to spend in the kitchen.

All of these recipes are healthy and easy, so enjoy.

First up this week, from Ali at Gimme Some Oven we have chicken and wild rice soup.  May as well face it, it this viral epidemic gets worse we may all be glad of some chicken soup.  This is real comfort food.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.

Next, from Joy The Baker we have a roasted lemon chicken soup. This looks and sounds fabulous.  I’ll bet this is a great pick-me-up too,

Roasted Lemon Chicken Soup

From Well Plated by Erin there this great looking but deceptively easy salmon wellington, (although I would have called it salmon en croute). I’d serve this with roasted asparagus.  What a fabulous and fabulously easy meal to serve for dinner, or for a dinner party

Salmon Wellington

Another salmon dish, sheet pan chipotle salmon with cilantro lime special sauce, this one from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest; .  I like sheet pan cooking, a lot.

Sheet Pan Chipolte Salmon with Cilantro Lime Special Sauce

With St. Patricks day coming up what about trying this Irish Stout beef stew with herbed dumplings?  This recipe is from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats.  (To be honest, St. Patricks day is a non-event in most of English England.  And right now the last place I want to spend any time is in a crowded bar.)

Irish Stout Beef Stew

And finally for this week, from In Dianes Kitchen we have a really simple recipe idea for sugar snap peas and bacon.  What a smashing side dish, or with rice it would make a good light lunch to take to work, perhaps.

Sugar Snap Peas and Bacon

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

even on his little boat, Marmaduke is quite the chef

Food on Friday

our caveman ancestors didn’t have combine harvesters

My healthier living plan involves something like the Paleo diet, although not in a strict nor fashionable way.  However, it does mean that there are some types of food that I’m not going to tuck into on a regular basis; dairy, eggs, and most especially wheat / grains and their products like bread, noodles, and pasta.  (I love pasta.)  However, my food guru tells me that long grain and wild rice as well as quinoa are good on even my pretty strict Paleo diet.

First up this week from Erin Clarke at Well Plated by Erin I’d like to show you this Korean beef bowl recipe.  This looks super delicious, and I would serve it with long grain and wild rice.

Korean Beef Bowl

I am really going to make this blackened shrimp kale caesar salad next week.  One of the things I like about this dish is that it’s complete with so few ingredients.  You can usually rely on Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats to have some very healthy, tasty, yet simple recipes.

Blackened Shrimp Kale Caesar Salad

Earlier this week I made salmon and asparagus in a garlic lemon butter sauce, cooked in a foil pack, the recipe from eatwell101.  Let me tell you, it was simple to prepare and absolutely delicious.  I can recommend this to you all.  (That’ not my picture, but my dish came out looking exactly as per.)

Salmon and Asparagus in Garlic Lemon Butter

From Holly at Spend with Pennies I like this recipe for instant pot chicken and vegetables.  I don’t have an instant pot, (we call them a pressure cooker), but I’m pretty certain I can make this dish in my little combination microwave / fan oven.

Instant Pot Chicken and Vegetables

This is a different take on a staple vegetable; from Dianes Kitchen why not try these herbed carrots?  As a ‘wonder food’ carrots are a brilliant source of beta carotene, fibre, vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants.

Herbed Carrots

Despite that I’m in England in winter I’m eating a lot of salad, and I am attracted to this brussels, butternut, and edamame salad with orange sesame sauce by Heather Christo.  Her dishes always look so fabulous.

Brussels Butternut Edamame Salad

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

no longer on my menu

and I liked both

Who Do You Want To Be Tomorrow?

my wish is to wake up a better person than when I went to bed

We always want what we think we can’t have ~ that’s just human nature.  It’s striving to get what we think we can’t have, to dream the impossible dream, to find new experiences and new loves that makes men and women do things like climb Mt. Everest, invent the wheel, put a man on the moon, and besiege Troy for the love of Helen.  And every time ordinary people said they were crazy.

If we become a better person we are not only able to take better care of ourselves, we can also take better care of others, especially the people we have feelings for, especially the one we love the most of all.

When you take care of yourself, you’re a better person for others.  When you feel good about yourself, you treat others better.  ~  Solange Knowles.

Ergo, the first thing you should want to become is a superior version of yourself.  Look after yourself, get healthier, fitter, stronger in body, mind, and spirit ~ get control of your emotions, get out in the fresh air and sunshine, get some exercise, read some good books, listen to some uplifting talks on YouTube…..  Not only that, take a good hard look at yourself and be brutally honest; are you looking as good as you could?  Hair, manicure, clothes, shoes, is your skin as healthy and glowing as it could be, do you smell nice?

What about your finances?  Have you got spare cash at the end of the month, or are you continually broke?  Are you in a dead-end job that pays peanuts?  Do you actually manage your money, balance your cheque book?

And how are your relationships?  Are you still madly in love with your partner, or are you in a dysfunctional relationship?  Do you like to see your family regularly, or, like me are you totally estranged?  Have your friends all turned to strangers?

You know you need to make some changes and rearrange your whole life, and deep down you really know what it is you need to do ~ so do it.  You have had enough lessons from life ~ so use them and unfuck your life.  You’d think you’d have made some changes by now, so dump the apathy, and be who who really want to be.

And if you don’t know who you want to be, then find yourself your ideal role model, and become them.  It does not even have to be a real person; you may want to be India Jones, James Bond, Achilles, Holly Golightly, Ellen Ripley, or Aphrodite ~ don’t just sit there, do something about it ~ act as if you were that person.  You will never become your role model, but along the way you will become a superior version of yourself.

Some say that there are going to be some changes around here ~ tomorrow.  And that they are just running around in crazy circles like a rat on a wheel.  All I know is I hope we find our way someday soon.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

don’t all men just love that kind of discourse with a woman they care about?

Food on Valentine’s Friday

if music be the food of love, play on…..

At St. Valentine’s Day a young man’s mind turns to love and romance, and having been a young man once I can vouch for that.  For all I know a woman’s mind turns to love and romance, and probably food too.

But what to do?  Perhaps the young man want’s to take his best girl out for a special meal, in which case find the best restaurant within a reasonable distance of her place, even if you can’t quite afford it…..  If the restaurant is in or near a good hotel, and if you think she would like it, then book a room, have champagne sent up.

Or, you could cook something special for the object of your affections.  Here are some recipes that might go down well on this Valentine’s weekend.

First for this Valentine’s Day we have a steak.  Cooking a great steak is fairly easy if you know how, and Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest has a fabulous recipe for smoked ancho chile salted steaks with drunken burst sweet cherries + burrata.  If your paramour likes a big red with their steak, then maybe find a bottle of Barolo.

Smoked Ancho Chile Salted Steak

From Joy the Baker there’s a fabulous recipe for shrimp étouffée risotto.  Joy suggests that you cook this dish together ~ whatever floats your boat.  (An étouffée is a spicy Cajun stew made with vegetables and seafood.)

Shrimp Étouffée Risotto

If you want to risk pasta, what with your date dressed up to the nines and all, then we have 15 romantically simple pasta dinners that scream ‘That’s Amore!’  This from Brit+Cco.  This is a very risky dish of linguini with clams, but it’s so easy and so impressive.

Linguini with Clams

Should your love be vegetarian, vegan, of just into eating a lot of plant-based food right now, then Heather Christo has a collection of 100 plant-based recipes.  To save you the bother of looking through this list I’ve found you this beet quinoa salad with pomegranate, mint, and pistachio.  This dish can serve as a starter, entree or a side, and you can make it ahead of the evening and keep it in the refrigerator.

Beet Quinoa Salad with Pomegranate, Mint, and Pistachio

Our idea for a romantic dessert comes from In Diane’s Kitchen; this delicious looking strawberry pie.  Diane says this is the easiest strawberry pie she has ever made, and face it, you don’t want to be spending all evening in the kitchen.

Strawberry Pie

Our final collection for this Valentine’s day comes from Country Living; 65 Best Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas for the Most Romantic Date Night.  I particularly like this Engagement Chicken Pasta, but maybe don’t tell her what it’s called unless you have the ring.

Engagement Chicken Pasta

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

if you are eating Italian, ask if the restaurant has a demi-frizzanti Franciacorta.  That will impress.

What Do You Want In your Life?

life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all

look towards the far horizons

Might I suggest that you take some time out to be with yourself, find a time and space where you can be alone with your thoughts, an hour and a place where you will be certain of just a little privacy, and ask yourself some simple questions.

  • What do I need?
  • What makes me happy?
  • What is it in my life that’s making me unhappy?
  • What and who am I afraid of, and why is that?
  • Where and when do I feel safe and comfortable?
  • What is happening to my health, why am I tired all the time?
  • When and how can I make some time for myself?
  • Who are my friends, and who can I really trust?
  • How can I spend more time with my real friends?
  • How can I express myself, how do I show the real me to the world?
  • How can I connect with the people I love and care about?
  • How can I pay all the bills this month, what about the mortgage?
  • How do I find the time to do the shopping, and how do I pay for it?
  • If I leave, who is going to do everything that needs doing around here?
  • How can I ever show my face in that bar, ever again?

Some of these are big important questions, and some may seem more trivial, but if you ask yourself any of these questions, then the answers are very important to you.  If you try to look at the big and very important questions first, then you may become discouraged because they are just too difficult to answer.  So maybe don’t look for any answers at all just now.  Just for now concentrate on the questions, write them down in your journal, or notebook, but for Gods sakes don’t leave your jottings anywhere where anyone else has the slightest chance in Hades of finding them.

If all that seems to difficult, then make the questions simpler, like;

  • How do I feel today?
  • What excites me?
  • Who has captured my heart?
  • What I want is…..
  • My heart longs for…..

Or perhaps write all this stuff down, and then burn it, and flush the ashes down the toilet to join your failed marriage / relationship / friendship / love / partnership / shitty job.

Only by knowing what it is that we really want, need, and desire ~ and what we don’t want in our life under any circumstances can we move on in any constructive and positive way.

Some say that we have to understand what our needs are, first and foremost.  And that if you don’t know what your needs are how can you ever satisfy them.  All I know is that the more you are forced to give to others, the more you need to give to yourself.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

give yourself a wonderful sunrise,

enjoy the peace of the natural world

Unfuck Your Life

you can start with nothing,
and out of nothing and nowhere, you will find a way

if you sink low enough you could live in a building like this

Although I have been putting them on this blog for ages, I never understood quotations like the one at the top of this page, probably because I didn’t read them properly, and never took the time to think about them carefully enough.  The little bit I thought I understood about self-help, self-development, self-denial, and spirituality I found to be rather twee, overly religious, and happy clappy churchy.  How pretentious of me.

The modern church is producing passionate people with empty heads who love the Jesus they don’t know very well.  ~  Voddie Baucham.

The same dismissive attitude applied if ever I attended a self-help group, but in all honesty I put that down to the fact that I dislike intensely all clubs, groups, associations….. In fact I don’t much like being any place with a bunch of weirdos who have a committee and a ‘chair’ because I very quickly get totally unimpressed.

And yet, I always felt that I was drifting through my dysfunctional life, with just the occasional passage of being; a very cool guy, living a really great life to keep me sane and interested.  I was a mess, and the worst part was that I knew I had it in me to be a far, far better man than I had ever been before.  Some things I had already accomplished, I still have a cool roof over my head living in the garret, I have money in the bank, and generally speaking I’m pretty fit, strong and healthy.  (Admittedly I only just got of hospital, where they said I looked like a bad advertisement for death.)  But, generally, as my school reports and annual reviews at work usually read; He could do better if he tried.

As you’ve sought out my blog, then maybe you think there are some parts of your life that aren’t looking so good either.  And, that you could do a whole lot better if you tried.

The place to start is to stop doing all those things that completely fuck up your life.

  • stop lurching from one disastrous relationship after another
  • stop all that promiscuous casual sex that makes everyone with even an ounce of morality think you’re a cheap slut
  • stop the drunkeness, drug taking, smoking, smoking pot
  • give up the gambling, the impulsive buying of things you don’t need or want, spending and wasting a shit load of money you don’t have
  • stop driving that junker of a car that gets you a ticket every time a cop can be bothered to pull you over
  • stop getting yourself fired, or walking out on jobs you can’t afford to lose
  • stop alienating your family and true friends, just because they might tell you the brutal truth about yourself
  • stop being a total fucked-up jerk

Some say that there is a little good in all of us.  And, that if you dig deep enough you will always find a treasure.  All I know is that when I stopped being a total fucked-up jerk my life suddenly got much better.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

selling yourself and your self-respect isn’t a good way to escape your fucked-up life

 

Living Alone With Dignity

Life is a pigsty, and if you don’t know this, then what do you know?

I was just 18 when I first left home.  I bought myself a slightly neglected bungalow.  (In England a bungalow is a single-story dwelling, (it helps when your first job is being a banker)).  Hallway, reception room, 2 bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen ~ and every room needed redecorating.  The kitchen especially looked like something from the WWII era.  In fact the kitchen looked like WWII had been fought in there.

There was central heating that didn’t work, and an Edison-vintage electrical system that did, although technically the lights were so dim they were darks.  I had my clothes, two pieces of furniture that I stole from my folk’s place, (a beach chair and a mattress), my music, a tin plate and some cutlery.

The bungalow was close enough to the bank that I could walk in about 45 minutes.  I sold my sports car, an Austin-Healey Sprite, bought a Reliant Robin three-wheeler van, and tried to work out what else I needed to buy with my sudden small stash of cash.

With cash burning a hole in your pocket there is always the temptation to buy things that will give you instant gratification, more records for example…..  Well I gave in to a little of that and got myself a TV.  The rest of the stuff I bought was more practical; a washer / dryer, some tools, an oven, bed linen, brushes and paint, cleaning cloths….. stuff like that.

Ripping out the entire kitchen was messy but satisfying ~ and the little van was useful for taking all the wreckage to the city dump.  That thing did hundreds of miles on a teaspoon of petrol, (gas), and all the time I had it I never even opened the hood ~ of course eventually the poor thing fell apart.  Later I learned about car mechanics, regular maintenance, giving love, care, and attention to everyone and everything in my life.

My life was pretty good until I had almost finished my professional examinations ~ then I experimented with dating.  My first girl was older, curvy, blonde, great legs, and before I knew where I was she was leaving her stuff at my place and taking over.  That first time living alone taught me three great lessons;

  1. Don’t spend money you haven’t got.
  2. Nobody is allowed into my place.
  3. Do everything for yourself.

As well as building a new kitchen I made all the furniture for that place.  I still have some of it; decades later.

Some say you should never wrestle with an amoral woman.  And, that if you do, you will get dirty.  All I know is that she will like it.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Reliant Robin

one of the worst cars in the world

Stress #5 ~ Getting Out

that’s why I drink ~ escaping from the real world

Some situations you can find yourself in are uncomfortable, painful, difficult, dangerous, intolerable.  It might be work, family, marriage, living with someone, romance, an affair, a stalker…..  It could be as bad as gaslighting, where you are being psychologically manipulated so much as to doubt your own sanity.  Or you could be verbally and physically abused, bullied, threatened, and deeply hurt.

I myself was once bullied at work by my director, aka the Ginger Bitch, she was a woman and I was a very senior and very successful executive.  It made going in to work at all an immensely stressful thing, it kept me awake at nights, and I started drinking far too much.  Drinking too much is only a temporary escape.  For a while I fantasized about pushing her into traffic on a very busy London road, decided that wasn’t a good plan.  So, I did the only sensible thing I could, and left that job, got myself out of there, escaped.

If you are in an intolerable situation, then the most sensible thing you can do is leave, get out, escape, leave town, change all your numbers and email addresses…..

And this is where it will get heartbreaking for you.  Leaving home is a momentous decision you will shy away from making, put off for as long as possible.  You would rather live in misery than make the irreversible decision to leave your abuser.  Before that you will try all kinds of other ways to escape; booze, drugs, an affair, promiscuity, vacations on your own with all of the aforementioned.

It’s no good, eventually for your own safety and sanity you will have to leave.  Before that you need to prepare;

  • tell nobody of your plans, not family nor friends
  • stash away a lot of cash in a place known only to you
  • if you can find a place, say a storage unit, then stash away clothes, shoes, utensils, and anything else you might need in your new life
  • get a new cell, new email id, new internet provider, new tablet
  • decide where you are going to go, not to your family nor friends because your abuser will find you there ~ a woman’s refuge in another town is good
  • leave home when your abuser is at work, at a bar, with their whore, vanish, disappear, tell no one or your abuser will find you
  • buy a different car, preferably a van, pick up your stuff, and drive, keep to all the traffic laws, drive a long way in an unexpected direction

Sadly it might be more complicated than that.  You may have kids in tow, you might be reported to the police as anything from a missing person to a kidnapper of your own children, you have no job so you might go broke fast, if you tell a relative where you are then your abuser will find you.  Tell nobody, and I mean nobody where you are; send a postcard from another state to tell people that you are safe.

Some say that escaping is easy, it’s found at the bottom of a bottle of booze.  And that things are bound to get better soon.  All I know is that escaping takes bravery, determination, and a shed load of preparation.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

just think how good freedom will feel

Stress #4 ~ Money Trouble

being in control of your finances is a great stress reliever

Next to being in a dysfunctional relationship, money troubles are the commonest cause of severe stress.  Sadly, dysfunctional relationships and money troubles often go together.

There are four sets of reasons that may have caused your money troubles;

  • Misfortune.  This is not your fault,  You may have lost your job, have uninsured medical expenses, your ex may have never paid child maintenance, your water heater may have exploded in a cloud of steam…..
  • Laziness and Stupidity.  You never open your mail, you don’t check your balance when you withdraw cash from the ATM, you can’t be bothered to balance your cheque book, you don’t bother to look for the thriftier items when you go to the supermarket…..
  • Compulsive Spending.  You max out your credit cards and then get another, your favorite pastime is shopping, when you’re stressed you go shopping, you buy shoes you will never wear, you’ve bought a car you can’t afford, you buy stuff you don’t really want, need, or already have…..
  • Addictions.  Maybe this is where things get really, really bad.  You’re a drunk and you spend a fortune on booze in bars and supermarkets.  You’re a drug addict, you’re always jonesing for your drug of choice, and you would do anything to get your next fix, including spending the rent on coke.  You’re a gambler and when you’re in a casino you lose track of time and money.  You’re a sex addict and pay for a fuck or a suck, and you’re addicted to on-line porn and sex-chat…..

So you’re flat broke, have bills to pay, and you are very, very stressed, suicidally so.  So WTF can you do?

  • Stay calm, make yourself a cup of tea, sit down, get a pen and paper and make some notes.
  • Work out exactly how much you owe in outstanding debt, including all your credit cards, parking fines ~ basically write down and add up every single penny you owe.  Depressing isn’t it?
  • Work out exactly how much is the bare minimum amount a month you need to live on, including food, rent, utilities, car repayments, insurance, parking, and petrol, (gas).  Compare that with how much you’ve got coming in, and  if you’ve got less coming in than you will have going out, find something on your list you don’t need to buy.
  • Find the nearest discount grocery store, and resolve to shop nowhere but there in future, and to buy only their cheapest stuff, providing it’s nutritious.
  • Contact your bank, finance, and credit card companies and see if they can help you by deferring or reducing repayments.
  • STOP FUCKING BUYING NON ESSENTIAL STUFF.  If you have to, then cut up all your credit cards.
  • Find a way to recover from your addiction.  If you have to go to a couple of AA, or NA, or GA meetings a day then get your butt down there.  Take part.  STOP doing whatever it is that you’re addicted to; if it’s booze or drugs you may need medical help.

Some say that something good will turn up soon.  And that the Micawber Principle is a load of bullshit anyway.  All I know is that one shouldn’t throw good money down the drain.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

it isn’t this pensioner’s fault that she’s broke

you should have her worries

Food on Friday ~ Home Grown

growing your own food is like printing your own money

Some say they can’t grow their own vegetables because they just don’t have the space.  And that all that bending and kneeling isn’t good for them.  All I know is that if you get yourself a planter, or three, you can keep yourself in organic vegetables for 8 months out of every year.

Buying a planter can be quite expensive, but if you’re handy at all you can build your own.  And if you’re no good at DIY, then find a man who can.  (I made that planter above)

And if your space is really very limited, then just add some ingenuity.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables seems daunting to many people, but it’s actually very easy.  All you need is a few square feet of good dirt, water, and a little time.  Among the benefits you’ll see are;

  • improving your health (and your family’s)
  • saving money on groceries (your planter should last decades)
  • enjoy better tasting food
  • know exactly what you’re eating and where it came from
  • stop worry about food safety
  • have a sense of achievement
  • get some outdoor exercise
  • reduce your impact on the environment and food waste

If you have no idea where to start there are innumerable websites that will give you advice, hints, and tips; garden organic, good housekeeping, david domoney, to name but three.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

try it, and I guarantee you will like growing your own

 

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