Category Archives: Budgeting

What Some Women Say They Don’t Want

Should a guy always pay the tab in a fancy restaurant?

Following my ‘Shipping Forecast’ post earlier today, I have been roundly disabused about what women want.  A close friend of mine has told me, in no uncertain terms, that most women do not want ‘guys who pick up the restaurant bill, arrange the vacations and buy the tickets, and who will go to wild parties and pretend to enjoy them……’

Funny, she could have fooled me, because where ever I have been with her, whatever great road trips we have been on, whenever we have been to a nice restaurant, or called at a cool bar ~ I have always paid for everything.  And, from the first time I met her she has expected me to always pay for everything.  (With the exception of a few drinks, or a meal once in a while…..)

Also she has expected me to enjoy meeting her family and friends at various lunches and get-togethers.  Quite frankly I don’t want to get to know her family and friends.  We don’t have that kind of relationship.

As it goes I don’t mind always picking up the tab, but I object when she says that’s not what she wants, and that it’s not what most women want.

Or, have I got things totally wrong, again?

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

the end of a great road trip

Food on Friday ~ one pot meals

When you’re cooking a delicious meal, it’s easy to feel good about life.

Living alone in the garret, meals that I can make using just one pot / pan / baking sheet really appeal to me.  I like cooking, but I don’t like washing-up afterwards, so the fewer pots and pans I use the better.

If you can make your whole meal in your slow cooker / crock pot, then that also counts as just one pot.

As for me, not only do I try to make all my meals in just one pot, I also try to use no more than 5 ingredients, (not including herbs and spices), and make meals that require no more than 20 minutes of prep time.

First this week we have a soup recipe from Dana at The Minimalist Baker; 1-pot golden curry lentil soup.  I bet this would be fabulous after a long walk on a cold autumn’s day.  This vegan dish takes about 90 minutes to make, but most of that is it just simmering away on its own.

1-Pot Golden Curry Lentil Soup

Now from Chungah at Damn Delicious we have a cold fighting chicken noodle soup.  You’ll only need one pot and about a half hour to make this wonderfully warming autumnal dish.  And maybe it fights two kinds of cold…..

Cold Fighting Chicken Noodle Soup

Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb has a collection of pumpkin recipes for this fall, and knowing how Americans like their pumpkins coming up to Halloween, I thought I would feature this creamy pumpkin soup with grilled cheese croutons.  You are going to be able to make this in less than a half-hour

Creamy Pumpkin Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has posted this great looking recipe for one pan sesame chicken.  admittedly you’d want to serve this with rice, but these days I make my rice by using a microwaveable packet, so that doesn’t really count as using a second pan.  hahahahaha

One Pan Sesame Chicken

Moving on to a slow cooker recipe, there’s this gorgeous looking healthy slow cooker turkey an white bean chili, from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  I like that Tieghan has served this dish with sliced avocado.

Healthy Slow Cooker Turkey and White Bean Chili

Found for us by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes there’s this great one skillet dish from Lisa Lin; pasta skillet with chicken sausage, cheese & spinach.  Ready in just 30 minutes and so easy to make in just one skillet ~ and if you don’t have a skillet, get one.

Pasta Skillet with Chicken Sausage, Cheese & Spinach

Our collection this week is from Country Living magazine again; 33 quick and easy one dish-meals ~ I know a girl in California who might find this collection most helpful when it comes to meal planning.  From these 33 recipes I particularly like the honey-soy glazed salmon with mushrooms and peppers, for a $12 spend and 35 minutes it doesn’t get any better and easier than this.

Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon with Mushrooms and Peppers

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

This is Marmaduke’s idea of what goes into a one-pot meal.

Food on Friday ~ Apples

There is more to love and desire than just picking apples.

How boring one may think, a whole Food on Friday about apples!  Well, leaving aside that apples are one of the most interesting, nourishing, tasty, and healthy ingredients you could add to a dish ~ an apple is the most mystical and spiritual of fruits.

Myths about the apple being the ultimate symbol of love, sex, and sin go much, much further back than the Bible’s Adam and Eve.  The ancient Minoans had almost the same apple myth, and their civilisation goes back around 9,000 years.  Most appropriately we are now in the star sign of Libra, and if you know your Myths of Libra you will also know that this is the time of Aphrodite, and her fruit is the apple ~ well it would be, wouldn’t it?

So to begin this week, from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower we have apple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal.  Now I’ve never liked oatmeal, mostly because I hate milk.  But, this recipe appeals to me, and it uses almond milk ~ cool.

Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal

San Diego girl Averie Sunshine has this recipe for caramel apple sheet pan pancakes.  Ready in 10 minutes for breakfast or brunch, or a dessert…..  Oh Wow!  (Perhaps I’d make the pancake mix from scratch.)

Caramel Apple Sheet Pan Pancakes

Some combinations are just meant to be, and this is one of the very best.  From Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest we have apple butter and sage pork chops ~ perfect.

Apple Butter and Sage Pork Chops

Another main course, this time from Heather Christo, pasta with apples, bacon, sage, and chantrelle mushrooms ~ and this recipe is both gluten and dairy free.  Never mind that so much, it both looks and sounds delicious.  Apple and sage go so well together, and there is no truth in the rumour that apple is a female aphrodisiac…..  sage is a different matter all together.

Pasta with Apples, Bacon, Sage, and Chantrelle Mushrooms

Lets move along to dessert, or something for afternoon tea and from Todd and Dianne, the White on Rice Couple there’s this spiced apple coffee cake.  For me, this looks delicious.  It’s a recipe I’d like to try, even though I can’t bake for love nor money…..

Spiced Apple Coffee Cake

And now a drink for those of us ho don’t want to get absolutely hammered on scrumpy, Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a cool post entitled; how to make an apple cider shandy.  You know what?  I don’t touch booze anymore , but if I did, I’d make a beeline for this at parties.  Something else, you can cheat on this already alcoholic recipe and come up with something that’s almost as strong as scrumpy.

How To Make An Apple Cider Shandy

Finally for this week we have our recipe collection.  From Country Living Magazine 60+ easy and delicious apple recipes to make this season ~ and amongst this cornucopia there’s this simple and easy garden tuna salad sandwich.  You need not use white hot dog rolls if you want a healthier alternative such as a sprouted grain bread.

Garden Tuna Salad Sandwich

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

I have written a previous blog about apples.….

and one about the medicinal use of rosehips in apple cider vinegar

Lucky Jack?

Only a fool will let miserable situations run on from year to year.

Despite everything, there have been some dark clouds over my head.  Ergo yesterday, on a whim, I took a train ride to the nearest big city to do a little shopping.

More than just going shopping yesterday, and buying whatever took my fancy; in a few weeks I’m going to New Mexico to attend a ‘new-age’ retreat, and I’ve just booked a week on the Algarve for over the Christmas Holidays.  That Christmas trip will be my 6th vacation this year.  How fortunate is that?

Oft times I tell you of my woes, bemoaning my luck, revealing the darker parts of my psyche ~ and yet there are so many others who are far worse off than I.  Even in this moderately wealthy country, this green and pleasant land that is England, much misery abounds.  There are those who struggle to find the next penny, let alone have the cash and freedom to just take off whenever they feel like it.

And, in America, that Land Of The Free there are more people living on the streets than a supposedly civilised country should countenance.  Some say those people are just down on their luck ~ some bad luck America.

Without revealing too many confidences; yesterday I had to give a friend enough money for petrol, (gas), to allow her to visit her son who had been rushed into hospital.  Even some of my friends aren’t as fortunate as I.

Maybe I want so much that I aim too high, and just going off shopping, or taking a vacation, is ultimately less than satisfying for me.  Those foreign trips may put me under a different sky, but I still often feel alone and unsatisfied.  Perhaps this is because I have unreasonable expectations, or that I am acting with selfishness, or it may be that I am not living a mindful life anyway.

One hope is that my upcoming New Mexico trip will give me some new psychological tools to put in my bag.  Another is that as I become more self-aware and more self-confident, I will be able to look at my life, my relationships, my wants, needs, desires, and dreams in a more honest and mindful way.

Some say it’s not what you keep that matters, it’s what you are prepared to leave and lose.  And, that if you have doubts about people it’s time to walk away.  All I know is that the harder I work at things, the luckier I get.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Living on the streets is not much fun

Back to Square One

You can’t do the job if you haven’t got the proper tools.

Yesterday I was very tempted to book a trip to Agadir in Morocco, even though I’ve just returned to England after my recent vacation on Crete.  (You would like Crete.)

The Moroccan adventure would have been for a week, departing England on October 11th.  The whole deal would have cost me less than it’s costing me to fly the Atlantic for my trip to New Mexico in early November.  And, that upcoming trip is one reason I’ve decided not to take the Road to Morocco just now ~ I would probably have spent my whole time in Morocco thinking about going to New Mexico.

That, and the main reason for travelling right now is me not wanting to be here on my own, me escaping from what’s going on inside my own head, not wanting to face the fact that I’m the world’s biggest screw-up, me running away…..

I don’t think I’ve shared that each day I pray to my Goddess, and that I write these prayers on slips of paper about the size of a personal cheque, (check).  I save these prayers, and each day I take an old prayer from the found vase I keep them in, and contemplate what I was saying in the past.

Today, the old prayer is from December 1st 2015; …..please help me to learn a way to stop finding the bad things in Life.

That is just as appropriate right now as it was then.  I am still right back at square one.

In my life there has been heartache and pain.  For most of my life I suffered from undiagnosed and untreated Borderline Personality Disorder ~ a seriously dangerous mental illness.  For the past few years I have been striving diligently to be a ‘better man’.  And, it would seem that I haven’t had that much success.

Here’s the thing, no matter how hard you try to achieve something, no matter what you do, you cannot succeed if you don’t have the right tools for the job.

Today I have come to realise that I don’t have the right tools to achieve enough significant personality changes to become the better man, the superior man.

And then Serendipity kicks in. This New Mexico retreat I am attending in November has the strapline From Chaos to Coherence ~ The Power To Thrive In Life Extremes.  If you know anything at all about BPD, you will know that I go to extremes, but perhaps this retreat will put some more and better tools in my psychological toolbox.

Some say that all prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is ‘no’.  And, that if the only tool you have is a hammer then you see every problem as a nail.  All I know is that if you’re fighting with the alligators, it’s difficult to remember that you’re supposed to be draining the swamp.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Right now the alligators are winning,

so fuck the swamp.

Food on Friday ~ Collections of Easy Recipes

Time is what we want most, but what we use worst of all.

These days a lot of us don’t have a lot of time to cook, and we certainly don’t have much spare time for finding recipes, meal planning, shopping for ingredients, meal preparation ~ and a lot of us tend to eat on the run.  Real life gets in the way of an idyll spent in the garden / yard and kitchen.  For some of us work chews up 10 hours an day and then family commitments chew up whatever time is left.

Ergo, I’ll try to help with some recipe collections that are mostly easy recipes, with just a few ingredients that you can use for several meals during the week for dinner and a healthy lunch to take to work.

First up this week, from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes we have 21 best recipes with ripe summer tomatoes ~ what could be easier or healthier?  From the collection I like this very simple dish, avocado heirloom tomato salad ~ you can serve this with any leftover chicken, steak, or cheese you may have in your refrigerator, or just drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and have a very healthy lunch.

Avocado Heirloom Tomato Salad

Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats has a cool collection; 25 of my favorite easy dinners ~ (she says this is for back to school, but I don’t care much about that…..).  What I do care about is the very first recipe in this collection; rosemary chicken, bacon, and avocado salad.  Once you’ve made the rosemary chicken you have endless possibilities, but this salad looks fabulous.

Rosemary Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Salad

Chungah at Damn Delicious has posted 12 quick and easy summer recipes ~ I do love quick and easy.  From Chungah’s collection I’ve chosen these garlic butter scallop bowls ~ scallops served with cilantro lime rice and pico de gallo, how fabulous is that?  This will take you a little time to prepare, but doesn’t it look worth it?

Garlic Butter Scallop Bowls

Here’s a super-sized collection from Olive Magazine; 42 best ever quick and easy healthy recipes ready in under 30 minutes ~ wow!  From this collection I have chosen to feature a chargrilled chicken chimichurri salad.  This will be ready in just 15 minutes and it’s perfect for dinner ~ but make enough to that you have some to take to work for lunch.

Chargrilled Chicken Chimichurri Salad

This is a fair-sized collection of quick and easy recipes; from Country Living magazine we have 99 easy dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less ~ come on, there’s 3 months worth of dinner recipes here.  From their list I’ve decided to feature this grilled pesto chicken with summer squash, by Marian Cooper Cairns.  This dish is so fast and so easy…..

Grilled Pesto Chicken with Summer Squash

I’ve never done this before, but this is a link to a whole sub-section from the website of San Diego girl Averie Sunshine; it’s her entire 30 minute meals archive.  From Averie’s archive I have chosen this foil pack lime cilantro salmon.   This is so easy to make, and it will be ready to eat in 10 minutes ~ you heard me right, just 10 minutes to produce this wonderful healthy dish.

Foil Pack Lime Cilantro Salmon

Here’s something else I’ve never done before.  Here in the garret I often use packet sauces to make my cooking tastier, quicker, and easier.  I guess that in England we are spoiled for choice with this type of product.  However, I know you can buy this kind stuff in the USA, for example I know that you can buy exactly the same kind of Schwartz packet sauces I use from Amazon.com.   Or if you’re sick of Amazon you can buy Schwartz sachets from BritSuperstore,com; there is an almost endless choice of flavours and cooking methods, and all you need to know is written on the back of the packet.

 

Some of the Schwartz Range

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

honey salmon in foil

from a January 2018 recipe collections post.

Food on Friday ~ Cookies

Life is better with fresh baked cookies in it.

In everything I’ve shared with you in Food on Friday, I haven’t posted much about baked stuff, mostly because I’m terrible at baking.  I have no idea why that is ~ but there you go.

On the other hand, I do like cookies, (except we call them biscuits here in England), and if I ever called at a friend’s house and they’d made any of the cookies / biscuits featured in this week’s Food on Friday, I guess I’d have to force myself and eat some / a lot.

From Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest we have some nice looking browned butter coconut chocolate chip cookies.  Tieghan says these are both delicious and easy, and I have no doubt that she’s correct on both fronts.  Anyhow I like both chocolate and coconut, and I like them better together.

Browned Butter Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some more chocolate chip cookies, (why not?), this time Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower has a great recipe for soft and chewy cherry chocolate chip cookies.  Andrea says these cookies are a perfect snack for road trips, and as you all should know, I love road trips.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know what?  When it comes to cookies you almost can’t go wrong if you add chocolate, and Amanda at Chez le Rêve Français has one of my favourite combinations with her chunky chocolate and hazelnut cookies.

Chunky Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

As you might expect Dana, the Minimalist Baker has some very good recipes for cookies, and this recent post caught my eye.  So how about; vegan trail mix cookies (gluten-free + grain-free), would you like to try those?  I had thought of featuring Dana’s recipe for 1-bowl ginger cookies (gluten free) but thought you may like the trail mix recipe better.

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies (Gluten-Free + Grain-Free)

A blog post about cookies would not be complete if it didn’t include a recipe for traditional Scottish shortbread.  So here, from Scottish-at-Heart.com we have the best Scottish shortbread recipe.  Although there are actually two recipes and a lot of other good information in this link.  And, if you’ve never had proper Scottish shortbread ~ then try some, right away.

Scottish Shortbread

I am really not certain how his would work in the USA, but here in England we also have savoury ‘biscuits’, and across the pond you may even call these biscuits instead of cookies.  Anyhow, from Petra at Food Eat Love I’m giving you a recipe for chilli cheese buttermilk biscuits.

Chilli Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits

And finally for this week, what would Food on Friday be without a recipe collection.  So from Baking Mad we have a whole bunch of cookie recipes, (they don’t say how many and I haven’t counted them), ((actually there are 57 recipes on this page, and that’s so cool)).  To go with a coffee I particularly like the look of the vanilla sugar cookies from Nielsen-Massey.

Vanilla Sugar Cookies

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

cookies are just so versatile and moreish

this is melt in your mouth toffee

from Averie Cooks

A short break in Wales

Or, how not to drown.

Not so very long ago, during a solo vacation in Turkey, I very nearly drowned in the Mediterranean.

These are my co-vacationers in Turkey- who didn’t almost drown.

As I’m going to Crete in a couple of weeks I thought I should do something about my non-swimmer status, (for all practical intents and purposes).  So casting around on the internet I found Sarah Kentish, ( http://www.swimwithsarah.co.uk/   sarah.kentish@btinternet.com ) who could give me some intensive, 1 to 1 swimming instruction, before my vacation in Crete.  And believe you me, finding some proper swimming instruction in the narrow time-window I had available was nothing short of miraculous.

Sarah said that she could teach me how not to drown every time I went in the water, and she was going to be teaching in the Imperial Hotel in Llandudno. And so, I booked a series of lessons and sent off my payment.  Snag was, I had no real idea where Llandudno is, other than it’s a seaside resort.

Llandudno is in Wales, and about 250 miles from where I live….. which doesn’t sound so bad.  Except I was travelling by train.  The journey there took six-and-a-half hours and involved 5 different trains.  (The journey home from Llandudno was not as bad.)

Still, I got there to find that the Imperial Hotel is a Magnificent Victorian Edifice.  My room was nice, the pool in the basement was nice, and Sarah was nice.  Under Sarah’s instruction, in 5 x 40 minute sessions I went from being effectively a non-swimmer to a chap who was more than just ok in the water.

Other than just how much I needed proper swimming instruction, the most surprising thing about this trip was that the main dining room at the Imperial Hotel is world-class.  They serve the most sublime food in elegant surroundings, (posh frock and expensive shoes elegant).  How they can have a world-class dining room in Llandudno is beyond me.

The downsides were; the trip cost a small fortune, the weather was dreary, and Llandudno by rail from my place may as well be on the dark side of the moon.

Llandudno is a pretty smart place, but it seems to attract the elderly more than cute girls in small bikinis.  On the other hand there is a hell of a lot more to do in that Welsh seaside resort than you’d think.  The Imperial Hotel is fairly pricey, but mostly worth it.  Individual, 1 to 1 swimming instruction is also fairly pricey, but very, very worth it.  It might save my life one day.

And, that’s why I took a short break in Wales.

Jack Collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

The pool at the Imperial Hotel

Travel is Good for My Health

Do not tell me how educated you are,  just tell me how much you have travelled.  ~  Mohamed

The apartment I live in is called ‘The Garret’ and I feel very much at home here.  However, some recent thoughts, emotions, and events have convinced me that I’ve been spending far too much time in the garret.  Ergo, I’ve decided to get out of the garret more, travel more, take more vacations, and relax in the sunshine a lot more.

Travel and change of pace impart new vigour to the mind.  ~  Seneca

I have very few responsibilities, a hell of a lot of time on my hands, and more than a little money in the bank ~ so there is no earthly reason why I shouldn’t be taking 4 or 5 vacations a year, or even a round half-dozen should the mood strike me.

And, it’s not as though I want to travel to far-away and strange-sounding places.  The camel route to Iraq holds no attraction for me.  Neither do the madchen and the gay muchachas.  And as for Paris, London, and Rome, I’ve spent so long in those cities that they’re like a second home.

There’s a hell of a lot of the world I just do not want to go to, not ever again.  And you can include in that list all of Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.  As for the America’s, I’d never cross the US border going South again.  I caught malaria in Mexico.

The places I really like are the nicer parts of the USA, some of the Caribbean, and most of the Mediterranean.  I also really like Tuscany and the South of France.  Scandinavia isn’t bad either, (at the right time of year).  None of which destinations are so very exotic, or so very dangerous.  If I’m honest I like going to places where most of the locals can speak some English, and they serve really good food.

In a couple of weeks’ time I’m going to Crete, and after that probably back to California.  Next year Malta, Cyprus, and Turkey are on my list.  Who knows after that?  But a Caribbean Cruise is looking attractive.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.  ~  Helen Keller

The one downside for me is that I will mostly be a solitary traveller.  But, who knows who I may meet along the way.  And, one never knows, I may even find an attractive travelling companion to take along with me.  On road trips, in a Mustang convertible, a guy needs an attractive and intelligent Girl Riding Shotgun anyway.  A road trip without The Girl Riding Shotgun just isn’t a proper road trip.

Some say that travel is good for the soul.  And, that a good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.  All I know is that I hate dull routine disrupting my life.

So, from now on, if you can’t find me, it’s because I’m on vacation.

Jack Collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Santa Monica is pretty cool.

Food on Friday ~ Vegetables and Salads

Cooking and eating outdoors, in the open air, is far more relaxed and mindful than exactly the same meal prepared and eaten indoors.

It really is high summer, a time for long evenings, barbecues, and alfresco dining.  Chill the wine and the beer, and prepare to be relaxed and happy.  This week we are going to concentrate on salads and vegetables to go along with whatever meat or fish you have on the grill.  Unless you’re vegetarian or vegan, or just like vegetables, in which case a lot of these recipes will make a complete meal for you.

Personally, I just love salads.

From San Diego cook Averie Sunshine we have this dish of grilled vegetables with smoky honey mustard dipping sauce ~ looks fabulous.  Averie says this recipe is easy ~ ready in 5 minutes ~ healthy and there’s zero cleanup. Grilling vegetables is so very good.

Grilled Vegetables with Smoky Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

The Bojon Gourmet has a very elegant looking dish, a summer vegan green goddess salad ~ avocado, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, seeds and a cashew herb dressing.  I think this salad looks interesting, different, tasty, and refreshing. I also think that most of us could add our own little interesting twist to this recipe.

Summer Vegan Green Goddess Salad

The cool and together Jessica at How Sweet Eats has published a recipe for a 20 minute Thai avocado salad, and you have to admit this looks fantastic, filled with taste and texture.  I guess it’s 20 minutes if you can use a chef’s knife.

20 Minute Thai Avocado Salad

Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes has found for us this dish by Summer Miller; lentil salad with summer vegetables.  This should take you 35 minutes to make, and is a brilliant side dish, or as a light lunch.  Make a lot and take some to work the following day.

Lentil Salad with Summer Vegetables

Heather Christo has a different kind of recipe for a warm summer afternoon, this tomato peach and avocado salad with cilantro vinaigrette.  Heather says that this is a beautifully simple 30 minute salad that will totally blow your socks off.  I tend to agree. Nice to take to work for lunch too.

Tomato Peach and Avocado Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

I very much like the recipes from Cookie + Kate, and this one is no exception.  Anyway, what’s not to like about colourful strawberry arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette?

Colourful Strawberry Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Lastly for this week, from Chungah at Damn Delicious we have 15 quick and easy vegetable side dishes.  This cool collection includes this 25 minute recipe for baked Parmesan mushrooms ~ I love baked mushrooms.  Actually I often like side dishes and appetisers better than the entrée.

Baked Parmesan Mushrooms

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Marmaduke also likes salads

%d bloggers like this: