Category Archives: Budgeting

Food on Friday ~ Booze

Alcohol gives you infinite patience for stupidity.

Some of you may be giving up alcohol for lent, or to lose weight, or to control your cholesterol ~ in which case here are some cool drinks you may well be missing out on.

Or, some of you may be determined to have a good time now that we are really in the deep dark depths of winter ~ in which case here are some cool drinks to help you get the party going.

Whatever, please drink responsibly. Don’t end up feeling as though you need to give up booze for good and all.

First this week, and bearing in mind that we have just had Valentine’s Day, San Diego girl Averie Sunshine offers us this very aloholic kiss on the lips cocktail.  Who could possibly say no?

Kiss On The Lips Cocktail

Continuing the St. Valentine’s Day theme, Tieghan Gerard from Half Baked Harvest offers us this delicious looking rose and ginger paloma.  Nice if you like tequila and roses ~ who doesn’t?

Rose and Ginger Paloma

I’m not certain I’d ever have tried this cocktail from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats, but having seen some of the things The Girl Riding Shotgun drinks I’m pretty certain that spicy blood orange beergaritas will find a few takers, at least in Orange County anyhow. Highly alcoholic.

Spicy Blood Orange Beergaritas

Another blood orange cocktail, this time from Andrea at Cooking With A Wallflower; blood orange vodka soda ~ or you could substitute tequila for the vodka, if you don’t like vodka.  This is just so easy, but please squeeze the fresh orange juice for yourself.

Blood Orange Vodka Soda

One of the things about booze is that it plays havoc with your cholesterol levels and the triglycerides in your blood.  This recipe for Mumbai mules from the Bojon Gourmet could help a little, as it contains cumin, which is good for you.

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Mumbai Mules

On a really cold winter’s day there’s not much better to come home to than a hot toddy.  Cookie + kate have a very easy recipe for a classic hot toddy ~ and you can make this as strong as you like.  Also, try making a hot toddy with dark rum for a completely different and interesting flavour.  My favourite was always Woods 100 Old Navy Rum.

Classic Hot Toddy

I like recipe collections, and I hope that you do too.  From the chi-chi Town and Country Magazine we have a collection of 21 winter cocktails to help you survive the cold.  From their collection I’ve chosen to feature a Porto Santo, which rivals a Long Island Iced Tea for a total booze-fest.  You could always get your guy to take you to the Island of Madeira to try your first Porto Santo cocktail.

Porto Santo


jack collier

I hope that you,

and all the great drinks’ mixers

featured this week

had a lovely St. Valentine’s Day.



Food on Friday ~ Packed Lunches

Is your lunch at work healthy and nutritious enough?

What do you eat for lunch at work?  Leftovers, a packed lunch, a burger, sushi, or do you eat out at some greasy Mexican diner / restaurant?  You know what?  Whether you sit at a desk all day, work in a factory, or outdoors, your working life is unhealthy enough without you adding junk food into the mixture.

Regularly eating lunch out is just about the unhealthiest thing you can do during your working week.  If you want to spend less money and become healthier, there’s one easy way to do it: stop eating lunch out.  But, never, ever, eat your lunch at your desk ~ it’s disgusting and very unhealthy too.

Even though taking leftovers, or preparing your own packed lunch may seem healthy, nutritious, and good for you, a lot of the time what you’re eating for your lunch at work probably doesn’t contain what you need for optimal functioning.  Dietician Susie Burrell has some ideas for what makes a perfect packed lunch, and so do the cooks we follow on this blog.

First this week we have Chungah at Damn Delicious who offers us 15 quick and easy lunch recipes that you are especially designed to take to work with no hassle, no more ordering out, and no more overspending at some unhealthy restaurant.  From Chungah’s list of 15 easy lunch recipes I especially like her steak fajita salad.

Steak Fajita Salad

This is a very healthy, tasty, and nutritious lunch idea from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower: roasted asparagus mushroom quiche.  This is easy to make and would be perfect for a weeknight dinner as well as something to take to work for lunch~ to be eaten either hot or cold.  You can also freeze a quiche.

Roasted Asparagus Mushroom Quiche

If the weather is warm where you are you may want to have a salad at lunchtime, but don’t buy a pre-prepared salad, make your own.  San Diego girl Averie Sunshine has 30 best easy healthy salads on her blog Averie Cooks; including this great looking loaded chicken taco salad with creamy lime-cilantro dressing.  And, all Averie’s recipes take less than 30 minutes to prepare ~ she says you can make this fabulous salad in 15 minutes.

Loaded Chicken Taco Salad with Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing

There is no getting away from it, a sandwich makes a good packed lunch, and this is a good sandwich.  From Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked harvest we have this Tuscan tuna sandwich, using ciabatta, tuna in oil, sliced avocado, cucumber, egg, arugula, purple cabbage, and feta ~ it should be nutritious enough, and other than the hard boiled egg, nothing needs to be cooked.

Tuscan Tuna Sandwich

If you have a microwave in your lunch room then a good soup is something you can prepare in advance and take to work for lunch.  Jessica Merchant from How Sweet Eats has a recipe for easy lemon chicken soup, that more than fits the bill.  If you pick the right ingredients you can have this soup ready in 30 minutes!

Easy Lemon Chicken Soup

Another nourishing soup recipe, this time by Joy Manning at ; chicken lentil soup.  It’s amazing what you can do if you buy a rotisserie chicken.

Chicken Lentil Soup

I have never featured anything from Cosmopolitan before, but there’s always a first time for everything.  So, from Cosmo, we have here 17 healthy packed lunch ideas for work.  Of this list I quite like #17 the grilled chicken and vegetable bowls, originally from Picky Palate.  Allegedly these are less than 500 calories and cost less than $5 per bowl ~ how cool is that?

A big thank you to all the great cooks featured this week.


jack collier

Food on Monday ~ Vegetarian and Vegan

Vegetarian and vegan dishes are supposed to be good for us.

Once, long ago, I lived a vegetarian lifestyle.  I got to like vegetarian and vegan dishes.  I got to like fruit and vegetables that I’d never heard of, let alone eaten before.  That lifestyle ended when the vegetarian girl I was trying to impress dumped me.

These days I will prepare and eat vegetarian and vegan dishes, but I do not live a vegetarian or vegan life any more ~ I like steak far too much for that.

However, all of these dishes are either vegetarian or vegan, and they all look very cool and delicious.  So why not eschew meat every once in a while?

Firstly this week, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest we have this vegetarian skillet lasagna.  Now this recipe does use cheese, however you could substitute the mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan with a vegan cheese.  There is a cool video attached to Tieghan’s post.

Simple Vegetarian Skillet Lasagna

From San Diego girl Averie Sunshine at Averie Cooks we have this very cool roasted curried cauliflower and chickpea salad.  This is a vegetarian dish or vegan if you don’t use the Greek yogurt in the dressing.  This dish should be ready in 45 minutes, and it would make a great lunch or light dinner ~ especially if you make enough to take a portion to work the following day

Roasted Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Another spicy dish, this time from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb; kung pao noodles.  As it goes one could eat this noodle dish by itself, or as a side dish, or one could add another ingredient say carrots julienne to make a great vegetarian dinner.  (or for those of us who aren’t totally vegetarian or vegan, we could add shrimp / chicken / beef…)

Kung Pao Noodles

Another vegetarian noodle dish, this time from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower; shiitake mushroom garlic parmesan noodles.  This delicious dish will only take you 20 minutes to prepare, and if you want to make it vegan you can swap vegan cheese for the parmesan.

Shiitake Mushroom Garlic Parmesan Noodles

I am not a fan of tofu, but if you want to be vegetarian or vegan I can almost guarantee that you will have to eat this soya bean curd.  At least the lovely Amanda at Chez le Rêve Français has a nice recipe to make the tofu taste good.  Her sesame garlic tofu looks pretty appetising.  For tofu that is.

Sesame Garlic Tofu

I love recipe collections, and this is a great post from Cookie + kate who always have vegetarian recipes on their blog.  So from 17 healthy vegetarian soup recipes, I’d like to feature something that isn’t a soup; homemade vegetarian chili, which is vegan and gluten-free if you follow the recipe quite strictly.

Homemade Vegetarian Chili

Another recipe collection, this time from Good Housekeeping, 37 hearty vegetarian recipes for the whole family. From this list I’m featuring creamy vegan linguine with wild mushrooms ~ the secret ingredient in this recipe, to make it creamy, is nutritional yeast.  You should be able to make this dish in less than 25 minutes.

Creamy Vegan Linguine with Wild Mushrooms


jack collier

A very big thank you to all the great cooks featured this week.



Food on Friday ~ One Pot Meals

Cooking can be fun, washing up almost always isn’t.

In my view, one pot meals are the way to go, particularly if you’re busy with work and everything.  There’s nothing worse than taking your plate to the sink after dinner, and then realising you also have a mountain of dirty pots and pans to wash up in the aftermath.  I don’t know anyone who gets their kicks from tackling a mountain of washing up.

So, why not give some of these great one pot recipes a try.

This is a nice looking recipe for a dish I really like.  From No Plate Like Home we have one pot thick New England clam chowder.  This is also known as Boston Clam Chowder and it’s a perfect winter comfort food you can make in one pot in under an hour.

One Pot Thick New England Clam Chowder

Another fabulous one pot soup this time from Dana at Minimalist Baker.  This hearty chipotle black bean tortilla soup needs just 50 minutes and one pot to prepare, and Dana says it’s very ‘hands off’.  This Mexican-inspired soup is also vegan and gluten-free.  How cool is that?

Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup

This is a dish I must try, from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats we have this one pot chili cheese pasta.  Looks like a great recipe you can make in one pot in one hour, and while it’s cooking you can prepare some salad to go along with it.  Also what a great dish for taking leftovers to work for a nourishing lunch.

One Pot Chili Cheese Pasta

Not only is this a one pot meal from Teighan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest, you should be able to prepare this one pot 30 minute creamy tomato basil pasta bake in less than a half-hour.  There are quite a few ingredients involved, but I think it would be well worth it.

One Pot 30 Minute Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta Bake

This is a more ambitious one pot meal from Simply Recipes, a Moroccan pot roast, originally posted by Sally Vargas.  This is going to take you some 3 hours to prepare, so it’s probably not an everyday meal ~ unless you use your slow cooker?  But for a one pot weekend dinner for you and your guests it looks fantastic.  The spice mixture should please everyone, (almost everyone).

Moroccan Pot Roast

This is a meal I wanted to feature; slow cooker beef stew with dumplings, just because it reminds me of my misspent youth.  I eventually found a recipe on the Good Housekeeping site ~ which is worth visiting anyway.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Dumplings.

For those of us who love recipe collections, we have this from Country Living; 33 quick and easy one-dish meals, and there are some great and some fabulous recipes in this collection.  Among all the dishes I would like to have featured is this cilantro lime chicken and rice, from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb.

One Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken & Rice


jack collier



Food on Friday ~ Comfort Food (Soups)

Comfort food is absolutely moving upscale.

Here in England the weather outside my garret is cold, dark, frosty, wet, and very windy.  Like a lot of people around here I’ve just got over the flu, and I still feel cold and shivery.  What I need to eat most is something hot, nourishing, and comforting ~ like a bowl of home-made soup.

These great soup recipes are mostly easy to make, don’t cost so much, but are absolutely upscale meals you could serve to any guest.

Ergo, first up this week, from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats, we have this silky ginger sweet potato soup.  I love the idea of adding fresh ginger to a soup recipe.  This recipe is vegan I think.

Silky Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

Another pretty soup, this time from Petra at Food Eat Love; celeriac and cumin soup with watercress.  This looks as though it would keep us warm in the cold winter nights.  Cumin is an interesting spice with lots of health benefits.

Celeriac and Cumin Soup with Watercress

Chungah at Damn Delicious has this great recipe for roasted cauliflower soup, with lots of garlic and herbs.  Looks fabulous to me!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

From Amanda at Chez Le Rêve Français we have a recipe for fat-free potato and leek soup ~ and I do love leek and potato soup. This recipe is pretty easy, fat-free, and gluten-free.  Oh so warming on a cold winter’s day.

Fat-Free Potato and Leek Soup

Dana at Minimalist Baker has a fantastic recipe for a 1-pot everyday lentil soup ~ and I do love one-pot recipes. This recipe uses just 10 ingredients and should only take you 30 minutes to make.  If you don’t like lentils you could use white beans or chickpeas instead.

One-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup

Here’s a very interesting and filling soup from In Diane’s Kitchen; Cajun shrimp, hot sausage & pasta soup ~ Wow!  This recipe is chock full of noodles, hot Italian sausage, shrimp, and a really great broth.

Cajun Shrimp, Hot Sausage, and Pasta Soup

And last but not least for this week we have a cool recipe from Averie Sunshine at Averie Cooks; easy 30-minute homemade chicken noodle soup.  I like easy recipes you can prepare in 30 minutes or less.

Easy 30-Minute Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

A big thank you to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday.


jack collier

Marmaduke’s comfort food is

a couple of soft-boiled eggs


Food on Friday ~ Recipe Collections

To me, good recipes are priceless

Well, I don’t know about you but I like it when I find a recipe collection post.  It means that I can easily find a choice of ‘similar’ dishes to choose from.  These posts are like miniature on-line cook books.  How nifty is that?

Ergo, with that in mind all the posts featured this week are recipe collections.

To begin, from Chungah at Damn Delicious we have 15 quick and easy healthy recipes.  What could be better, and I do like the recipes we get from Damn Delicious.  Among these 15 recipes is one for honey salmon in foil ~ and just how impressive is that for a quick and easy dish, (you should be able to make this in an half-hour).

Honey Salmon in Foil

Next, from San Diego girl Averie at Averie Cooks we have 15 skinny chicken dinners ready in 15 minutes… And these fast dishes are all healthy and gluten free. WOW! My pick from this collection is Averie’s easy 15-minute ranch chicken and vegetable skillet.

Easy Ranch Chicken and Vegetable Skillet

This is interesting from Heather Christo, who always gives us delicious allergen free recipes; healthy dinner ideas for dinner tonight!  There are 10 recipes in this collection, and I have chosen to feature Heather’s grilled steak with arugula and cherry tomato and basil salsa.  This should take about 35 minutes to make a fabulous dinner dish.

Grilled Steak with Arugula and Cherry Tomato and Basil Salsa

Tieghan at Half Baked Harvest has seven easy fall dinners, well we’re just out of autumn into winter but these are still great recipes, including the sheet pan sticky pomegranate chicken.

Sheet Pan Sticky Pomegranate Chicken

Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower has given us her 17 most popular recipes of 2017…  This includes her peaches and cream steel cut oatmeal, and if I was ever going to eat oatmeal I would choose this dish.

Peaches and Cream Steel Cut Oatmeal

Now here’s a big recipe collection from Jessica at How Sweet Eats; 18 weeks of healthier meal ideas!  126 of my favorite weeknight meals.  Fabulous!  From Jessca’s long list I just had to feature the rosemary chicken, bacon and avocado salad.  I know that in some parts of the world it may not feel quite warm enough to have a salad for dinner, but I know my friend in Orange County will like this dish.

Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad

Finally for this week, from Country Living, we have 95+ easy dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less.  Talk about a recipe collection!  I confess I almost didn’t make it past the first recipe for stovetop chicken pot pie before choosing a recipe to feature.  But, as a change from chicken we have 20 minute honey garlic shrimp from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

20 Minute Honey Garlic Shrimp


jack collier

nice cook book for you





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Core Values

Core Values are who you are when no one is watching.

Appreciation of natural beauty is one of my core values.

I cannot claim to know, accept, and understand in detail what my core values about Life are.  In fact, I even had to check the definition of ‘core values’ before I could work on knowing, accepting, and understanding my own core values.  The various definitions seem to coalesce into;

Core Values are Fundamental Beliefs and Principles that guide a person’s conduct and relationships with others.

It would appear that Core Values can be positive, negative, or pretty meaningless and neutral.  I firmly believe that almost everyone has all three types of core values, and we all have more negative core values than we would like to believe.

My own negative core values include;

  • Everybody lies.
  • The world is full of fools, and 90% of the people I meet will be much less intelligent than I.
  • The world is a dangerous and brutal place, and a man has to be capable, knowledgable, and tough to survive and thrive.
  • Casual sex, first date sex, sex with multiple partners, picking up girls in bars ~ are all reprehensible behaviours.

My more positive core values include;

  • Treating my friends with kindness, consideration, acceptance, understanding, and unselfish love.
  • A belief that there is great beauty in this world, and it should be protected, celebrated, and appreciated.
  • Life is short, and I should therefore make the very most of every minute of every single day.
  • I should continue to strive for self-improvement and self-awareness.
  • We should treat all others as well as we possibly can, just as we ourselves would wish to be treated.

If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.  ~  J.K. Rowling

As it goes, I have a small problem with the quote from J.K. Rowling, as it makes the assumption that some people are superior to others, ergo some people are inferior.  Actually, this is true, but it is not a pleasant thought.

My wishy-washy, neutral and meaningless core beliefs include a belief that politics, and religion are pointless, dishonest, and self-serving.  Which may really be more negative than neutral.

There are some other words which resonate with me when it comes to my core values;

Honesty, Integrity, Individuality, Enjoyment, Trustworthiness, Reliability, Wisdom, Simplicity, Learning, Discipline, Truthfulness, Politeness…..  All of these words should probably form part of my written core values.

It’s actually all pretty difficult stuff.  I think I need to meditate, or take a long walk, or just let my subconscious mind ponder the whole subject of my own core values for a while.  It could take the rest of my life.  It should take the rest of my life.


jack collier

Dawn seen from the garret.





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Food on Friday ~ very easy dinners

Almost anyone can cook a great dinner inside half an hour.

When you’re working for a living it isn’t always so easy to find the time to cook a proper dinner, and sometimes we just don’t have the energy after a long day at work, (maybe with a stressful commute thrown in).  Ergo during the week what we really want is something very easy for dinner, and preferably pretty quick and requiring the minimum number of pans and dishes.

I firmly believe that the recipes I’m giving you in this week’s Food on Friday fit the bill as far as easy mid-week dinners go, and will also make a great lunch to take to work, or eat at the weekends.

Firstly this week, from San Diego girl Averie Sunshine from Averie cooks we have this really easy chicken stir fry with noodles.  Healthy, very easy, and ready in just 15 minutes, this is a great mid-week stand-by dinner.  There are lots of vegetables in this dish, miss out the chicken, maybe add cashew nuts, and you could have yourself a vegan stir fry,

Chicken Stir Fry with Noodles

Another brilliant stir fry, this time from Dana the Minimalist Baker, 30-minute cauliflower rice stir-fry.  This healthy, flavourful, quick and easy dish is vegan and gluten free, and if you like you could swap broccoli for the cauliflower.  What’s not to like.

30-Minute Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry

When it comes to easy mid-week dinners, there’s nothing easier than a pan of soup you already have in the refrigerator.  So while some soups may take a while to prepare, make a big pot and you have the basis of several lunches and dinners for the week to come.  From Joy the Baker we have a recipe for carrot coconut red curry soup.  To begin with, making the soup will take you about an hour, so maybe that’s best done at the weekend, but once it’s made, add some crusty sourdough bread, and you have a great mid-week dinner.  This is a vegan dish.

Carrot Coconut Red Curry Soup

Another soup, this time from Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats; 30 minute Asian chicken soup.  As its says, you should be able to make this big bowl of health in a half-hour.  And best of all, this is a one-pot recipe.

30 Minute Asian Chicken Soup.

Now from Heather Christo we have a fast and easy bee pho, this isn’t really authentic because it’s a very shortcut recipe you can have ready in 45 minutes, a lot of which you can use to do other things ~ like find the show you want to watch on TV.

Fast and Easy Beef Pho

Even though it’s autumn, running into winter, and here in England it’s cold, damp, and grey, sometimes we still crave a salad.  San Francisco girl Andrea from Cooking with a wallflower has a good recipe for autumn apple salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette.  This great looking and very healthy fall salad should be ready in just 10 minutes.  Enjoy.

Autumn Apple Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Finally for this week, a collection for you from Good Housekeeping, midweek meal recipes, all of which should take less than a half hour and use no more than 10 ingredients.  I like the look of all the recipes in this collection, but especially I like this quick pan-fried salmon with sweet and sour leeks, (here in the North East of England we love our leeks).

Quick pan-Fried Salmon with Sweet and Sour Leeks


jack collier





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living with less

Having few desires means satisfaction with what you have.

Making radical plans always has more ramifications that one first thinks.  I have this germ of an idea to convert an old school bus into a camper / RV / motor home, and / or find a great plot and construct a home / holiday home out of shipping containers.  One of the ramifications is that the amount of interior space is likely to be limited in either of those projects.

But, there is an axiom; You don’t need more space, you need less stuff…

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.  ~  Will Rogers

Ergo, the first rule of living with less is to stop buying things you don’t really need.  A lot of us like buying new stuff: kitchen gadgets, clothes, pictures, ornaments and geegaws, books, and other sundry unnecessary crap.  Then we find our spare room and garage filled with the old stuff we have replaced with new stuff, and eventually we have to take all that old crap to the thrift store.

All this costs us time, money, stress, and heartache.  Buy stuff we don’t really need and our lives are filled with clutter, and clutter is incredibly stressful.  The simple answer is; ‘if you don’t absolutely need it, then don’t buy it’.  If there is no clean and empty space on your tables, kitchen counters, bookshelves, dressing table, desk, and in your bathroom, then you have far too much stuff.

Clutter, junk, piles of unused stuff, overflowing cupboards, a garage you can barely get your car into, a spare room full of more unused stuff… all this is bad for your physical, mental, and spiritual health.  If you can’t lose weight, you’re always tired, you’re always late for work ~ then clean up your clutter.

Instead of complications and clutter, consider simplicity and minimalism instead.

If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come.  Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.  Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough… and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.  ~  The Dalai Lama

Simple living will benefit your physical, mental, and spiritual health in many ways.  Living simply declutters your life and your daily schedule ~ who knows if you live simply you may even make it into work on time.

Living simply with less stuff, living a clean and minimalistic lifestyle, well it isn’t something that you should attempt to achieve overnight, usually this kind of huge change takes time, effort, and determination.  Take little steps, at least to begin with.  Some good ideas are;

  1. Get rid of all your duplicates.  If you have 2 of something, like 2 copies of the same CD, then you have 1 too many.  Take the duplicate to the thrift store.
  2. Clean out your garage and spare room, (and other places you store unused stuff).  If it’s been in your garage for years, and you’ve never used it, then either take it to the thrift store, give it away, or put it in the dumpster.
  3. Start a clutter-free area.  Have a minimalistic and clutter-free zone or room perhaps your bathroom, or kitchen, and then expand that through the rest of your home.
  4. Travel lightly.  Take half the stuff you think you will need, and twice as much money.  If your garage or spare room is full of luggage, suitcases, bags… then get rid of some of them. Most airlines will only allow one bag anyway.
  5. Dress with less.  If you haven’t worn it in months, and you don’t really like it, and maybe it’s a little worn, and it doesn’t fit you any more ~ then take it to the thrift store.  Have a colour and style theme that really suits you, and try your best to always stick with that.
  6. Simplify and purify your diet.  Go through your fridge, freezer, and larder ~ junk anything past its ‘use by date’ or is of dubious quality, or you shouldn’t be eating or drinking anyway.
  7. Have a £1,000 pound emergency fund, ($1,000).  Money for emergencies reduces stress and makes it amazingly easier to junk stuff you don’t really need.

I live in a 500 square foot loft apartment I call the garret.  The only thing I have too much of is books.  My bookshelves are full, my bookcases, (2 of them), are full, and there are books stacked on the floor…  I’m working on that, all of my books are for sale on Amazon.  In recent weeks I’ve got rid of half my clothes, (see point #5), and replaced some with far better quality stuff.  My kitchen counters and bathroom are totally clutter free, and my refrigerator is only half-full.  I’m not doing too badly on being minimalistic and clutter-free.

Trust me~ discarding unwanted stuff, being clutter-free, creates a raft of good feelings.

Simplicity is the most difficult thing to secure in this world; it is the last limit experience and the last effort of genius.  ~  George Sand

Good design and good quality is timeless.  Always buy the best you can afford, and never buy more than you need.  Remember K.I.S.S. ~ Keep It Simple Stupid…  Simplicity is Good, and Clutter is Bad.  Focus on what really matters to you, and don’t get suckered in to buying cheap bargains you don’t need.

Less is more.  ~  Mies Van Der Rohe

Be clean, simple, uncluttered, and minimalistc, (especially in the bedroom), and I promise you your life will be better.


jack collier

click on the book to find out more




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Off-Grid Electricity

Living off the grid brings a dangerous reality.

Whether I finally end up converting a school bus into a camper / RV, or building a shipping container home in the deep countryside, the chances are that I will need to generate my own electricity.  Luckily, these days this isn’t as difficult as you might think.  However, modern living uses a hell of a lot of electricity, especially in America.  We may be looking at an electricity usage of 30 kWh, (kilowatt-hours), every day.  However, with a little bit of arithmetic, (math), you can calculate your own likely electricity consumption, and your generating systems should be installed with that usage in mind.

There are three main ways to generate your very own off-the-grid power:

  1. A generator powered by an internal combustion engine.  Generators come in a huge variety of sizes, capacities, and prices, but a 6 kW (kilowatt), generator might set you back £1,500, ($1,800).  Other than capacity, the choice boils down to petrol, (gasoline), or diesel power. Generally speaking diesel is better, (but may be noisier).  With a little work you can also run generators on gas, (propane, methane, natural gas), wood alcohol, (methanol), and paraffin, (kerosene).  With some work, diesel generators will run on cooking oil.
  2. Solar Power.  Stick some solar panels on the roof, or in the yard, and you have electricity while the sun is shining.  Typically, solar power systems for a camper / RV, (and perhaps a shipping container home), produce 12 volt electricity, which is then used to charge a big battery, from which power is taken when anything electrical is switched on.  To step up 12 volt direct current to 110, or 230 volt alternating current you need an inverter.  These come in a huge variety of capacities and prices.  You can buy them at Home Depot.  Larger scale solar power systems, such as may be required by a decent sized shipping container home, usually need specialist installation.  You will probably need to find an appropriate contractor.
  3. Wind Power.  Wind power for a school bus camper / RV /motorhome would be very small scale and probably part of a 12 volt system.  A wind turbine for a container home would be bigger, but in the scheme of things, still very small scale.  A free standing wind turbine on a mast may need various regulatory permissions before you erect the thing.  Most likely you will also be digging holes and trenches, so I hope you can use a mini-digger, (tiny backhoe).

Typically, the ‘belt and braces’ type of guy, (that’s me), would install both wind and solar power systems for his Camper / RV / Motorhome, or shipping container tiny home, perhaps with a diesel generator as back-up for both.

If you haven’t realised from the above, then off-the-grid electricity comes in two flavours;

  • 12 volt DC, (direct current).  This is the same as you get from an ordinary car battery.  12 volt DC systems can be installed by anyone competent in DIY.
  • 120 volt (USA), 230 volt (Europe), and 240 volt (UK), alternating current.  This is what you get from the sockets in your home, and is often known as mains electricity.  Working with AC systems is normally not a DIY job, and at some point you will most likely need to employ a fully qualified electrical contractor.

So, you are generating your own electricity.  That’s only half the story.  Your camper / RV / motor home, and / or your container home will have to be wired to make use of all that lovely power.  Basic wiring is well within the scope of a person very competent in DIY, and 12 volt DC lighting is dead easy.  Mains electricity 110 volt and 230 volt AC is more complicated and you would do well to have your circuitry checked over by a properly qualified contractor before you use it.

Of course, these days you can actually buy a fully kitted out container home, complete with connections for all services, so all the wiring would be done for you.  That sort of misses the point, doesn’t it?  Amazon will sell you everything else you need to generate your own electricity.


jack collier

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