Category Archives: Personal Style

Dreambook

Feeling a greater sense of meaning and purpose in Life.

An American friend has sent me a most wonderful and thoughtful Christmas gift ~ which I have already opened!

It’s a book; Rituals for Living, Dreambook and Planner.  When I say it’s a book it’s kind of a journal, and diary, and project planner.  The project in this case being My Life.

Stop playing small and start seeing yourself as the magical creator that you are.  You can create anything you want.  We want to help ensure that what you’re creating reflects your highest potential and most authentic self.  ~  thedragontree

It’s about connecting with what’s really important to me; identifying my core values, gifts, and life purpose.

It’s also about developing habits and rituals to help me to realise my dreams.

At heart I am an engineer, I like planning, I need to make plans before starting any new enterprise or project. Well, this is a new project, it’s the rest of my life.  A big project that deserves some big plans.

We firmly believe that if you set out to achieve your goals while remaining steadfast on the necessity of playing, caring for yourself, connecting to family, friends, a higher power, and the natural world ~ you actually amplify your ability to succeed.  ~  thedragontree

I firmly believe that this book, the gift my American friend has sent to me, will help me achieve my fullest potential and realise my dreams.

In part it’s about self-awareness and self-actualisation, and in part it’s about developing habits and rituals which will lead towards the fullest and most congruent realisation of my desires, dreams, and goals.

You know what?  This is a wonderful gift, and I know it was sent to me with love.

One of the benefits of writing this blog is that I can publicly thank my friend for this wonderful Christmas gift.  Oh, and the kind friend concerned also has a blog.  https://therobynbirdsnest.com

There are a couple of websites which sort of go along with this life planner;

http://www.thedragontree.com   and  dreambook.vision

 

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

 

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So, don’t be a fake.

The most poisonous people come disguised as friends.

Some say that I’m an egotistical fake, and that all my problems are caused by my own lies and character defects.  All I know is that I’m working very hard to be a better guy.

I took a walk outside early this morning, down by the sea where I usually find solace and serenity.  The snow and wind were in my face, and the seashore was shrouded by a cold mist.  Today there was no tranquility for me.  My soul feels hurt, hungry, and lacking in love for myself.  All I feel is regret and sorrow.  What I could see of the surf was angry and accusatory.

Some would say that I’m a prisoner of my own ego, and that my personal identity is driven by conceit and self-importance.  All I know is that it’s sometimes difficult to get through the next 24 hours, and then the 24 hours after that.

Sometimes I was a fake just to cope with life.  BPD can do that to you.

What I’m trying to say is that I need to get my life in order ~ start to be honest with myself and everybody else, become reliable and trustworthy, stop being hurtful and aggressive at the drop of a hat…  Perhaps then there can be some trust in friendships and I can begin to have real relationships with sensible people.  I need to consider the feelings, needs, desires, wants, and commitments of others.  I need to give more and take less.  I need to change my ways.

It’s OK for me to want what I want, but becoming a fake to get it is abhorrent.

Some say that if nothing changes, then nothing changes.  And, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  All I know is that this post is the start of something different for me.

All prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is difficult.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

 

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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

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

 

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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

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

click on the book to find out more

 

 

 

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Beyond the Shadow of a Doubt

Maybe I’ll live so long I’ll forget her.  Maybe I’ll die trying.

All about me I see

near distant large-scale enigmatic monochromatic

artistic images masking manifest realities falsehoods

endured and survived commonplace denial of truths

tattered and deteriorated like the grey smoke rising

over deceits doubts commitments I see all about me

I see the fiction of she

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

learn monochrome photography

 

 

 

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What do women really want?

Women don’t like mind games.  Most women like romance.

I’m just a guy, you know?  Ergo I don’t actually understand the woman I care for, and sometimes I don’t really know what she wants from me.  However, in an effort to be a ‘better’ guy I’ve been exploring the internet, and I believe these are the behaviours a woman would like me to bring to a relationship.

You know what?  I worked out #1 all by my self.

  1. Do not be a jerk.  (From time to time I have been a 21 carat jerk.)
  2. Give her respect.  Respect her opinions, career, interests, friends, family, needs, dreams, and desires.  Respect her body, her mind, and her soul.  Accept and understand who and what she truly is.
  3. Give her time and space.  She’s an independent lady, so don’t be clingy and dependent.  She is not responsible for your happiness, you are.  Don’t pressure her into doing things she’s not ready for.  But, when she needs you, be generous with your own time; always be there for her.
  4. Be confident and capable ~ take charge when you need to.  She needs to know that you can always be relied on to take the lead when necessary.
  5. Always help her to feel safe.  Don’t ever be threatening, and if she’s worried about someone or something, or scared of something or someone ~ then help her to deal with it!
  6. Respect her privacy.  Don’t ever intrude where she wants to be private, and never, ever, comment on what she posts on social media.
  7. Follow through with your plans and ideas.  Women like to know that if a guy says he is going to do something, he will actually do it.
  8. Be completely honest, unless complete honesty is hurtful.  Women don’t like liars, and once you have lost a woman’s trust it’s hard to get it back again.
  9. When it’s appropriate be romantic.  And, what is truly romantic changes from time to time, and from woman to woman.  To be romantic; You need to get to know her.
  10. Be polite, well-mannered, and well-spoken.  Very good manners take a little effort ~ but I’m lucky here, I’m a true English Gentleman, and good manners come naturally to me.  And never, ever get drunk when she’s around.
  11. Self-deprecating humour.  Don’t make jokes at her expense, but it’s OK to poke fun at yourself.  She will probably like gentle humour, and dislike you trying to be funny by being vicious and nasty about other people.
  12. If she ever feels the need to apologise, accept her apology with grace.  Especially never, ever, mention the things she’s apologised for ever again.
  13. A Man should never be late.  She may have no sense of time, she may always be late for everything, but you should always be there on time~ always.  If you’ve promised to call at eight o’clock, then you should call her at exactly eight.
  14. Be consistent, reliable, and trustworthy.  Women don’t seem to appreciate unreliability, a good guy needs to be the same good guy every minute of every day.
  15. Listen to her.  When she wants to talk, listen patiently with acceptance and understanding.  Don’t give her solutions she hasn’t asked for, just listen to her.
  16. Respond to her texts and emails in a timely manner.  She may take forever to reply to you, but if you get a message from her, then respond as soon as is humanly possible.
  17. Always be clean, tidy, and well-groomed.  You and your place should always be pretty immaculate, especially the bathroom.  And, if you are ever invited to her place, treat it with the utmost respect.  Clean your shoes, get a manicure, get a haircut, have some great pictures in your place….
  18. Be faithful in word and deed.  Don’t screw around, don’t date other women, don’t constantly flirt with other women, don’t check out other women, don’t ‘like’ other women’s pictures on social media, and do not constantly jerk off to porn.
  19. Be complementary.  Tell her she looks pretty, her hair’s nice, tell her you like her. and if it’s appropriate tell her that you love her.
  20. Do things just for her.  Clean her car, make sure she’s always got petrol, (gas), in the tank, fix things for her, send her flowers and perfume, but bear in mind point #9, and be romantic in the right way and when it’s appropriate.
  21. Sex.  Do not try too go to far and too fast.  If anything, follow her lead, and remember point #10 , and always be polite and well-mannered.  And, if and when you sleep with her, remember that her pleasure is important.  You may need sex, but perhaps what she really wants is love.

Writing this stuff, it all makes perfect sense, and I don’t believe I’ve got anything badly wrong in this list.  But, Ladies, if I have, then please feel free to tell me about it.

And, writing this stuff I realise that I do most of these good things most of the time, and some of them all of the time.  Sadly, that isn’t good enough.  Point #14 behoves me to be consistent, reliable, and trustworthy ~ I need to do all of the above all of the time.

That’s a tall order, but if she is worth it, and you really care, then she’s worth all of it all of the time.

In future, I shall make every effort to follow my advice from this list.  I am going to do this stuff.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

pictures by Jack Vettriano

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Food on Friday ~ Brussels Sprouts

Many people don’t understand the humble Brussels sprout.

With the holiday season coming up fast it’s already time to start thinking about the food we traditionally serve at our family get-togethers.  One of the vegetables that’s an absolute must here in England over the holidays is the humble Brussels sprout ~ do not ask me why, because left to my own devices I probably wouldn’t eat the little brassica ever again.  (The farty facts are true.  But so is the fact that sprouts are really very good for you.)

One interesting factoid about the humble sprout, anybody who knows anything knows that sprouts are better after they’ve been ‘frosted’.  Ideally you don’t pick Brussels until after the first few hard frosts of the year ~ ergo, don’t waste your money buying fresh Brussels sprouts, frozen are far better just as good.

However, this holiday season I will be cooking a side dish of Brussels sprouts, so let’s find some interesting recipes to choose from.

First up this week is this from Heather Christo, Brussels sprouts with bacon, red onion, and avocado.  This is an easy 30 minute dish, and like all Heather’s recipes it’s allergen free.  You could turn this into a vegan dish if you missed out the bacon and chicken stock, but that would maybe be missing the point?

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Red Onion and Avocado

Another Brussels sprouts recipe with bacon; this recipe for pan roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, dates, and halloumi is from Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  Halloumi that’s a strong cheese.

Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Dates, and Halloumi

This is very different from Chung ah at Damn Delcious, and something I would never have thought of on my own, brussels sprouts gratin.  This looks like a very rich dish, with milk, cream, and cheese ~ and we also have bacon, garlic, and shallots.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

I’m pretty certain this is a vegan dish from Cookie + kate, but anyhow kung pao brussels sprouts are certainly different and interesting.  If this doesn’t grab you as a vegan Brussels sprouts dish Cookie + kate also have roasted brussles sprouts and crispy baked tofu with honey-sesame glaze.  (Is honey strictly vegan?)

Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts

Something a little simpler from San Diego girl Averie Sunshine at Averie Cooks; balsamic roasted brussels sprouts ~ and I am going to try this 35 minute recipe this weekend.

Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is a recipe that should appeal to my friend in Orange County, from California girl Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes we have golden beets and brussels sprouts.  This vegan dish should take you about an hour to make.

And, finally for this week, for those who like recipe collections we have 25 brussels sprouts recipes from Martha Stewart.  Included is this simple 30 minute recipe for sauteed brussels sprouts.  This may well be the side dish I make over the holidays.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net.

click to buy your sprouts already prepared

 

 

 

Marmaduke does not like sprouts

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Witch Moon

Witches are women of the false and beautiful moon.

~

the spider ran, the cobweb’s gone

did you eat it when the moon was new?

I chased your cat, what do you say to that?

I’ve even broken up your broom.

I ain’t superstitious, but strange things I’ve seen

I ain’t a superstitious fellow, but you worry me.

~

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

release your witch, click on the book

 

 

 

 

 

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Shipping Container Homes

You don’t need more space, you need less stuff.

Back when I owned a trailer park, shipping containers often made instant buildings which could serve a myriad of purposes for me, from simple storage units, through a workshop, to a pretty nice office.

(not my office, a home made from shipping containers)

What I have never yet attempted is to use a shipping container to make a tiny home, or more likely, use several shipping containers linked together to make a decent-sized home.  The place to start is to learn something about shipping containers, and then buy the right units.

Shipping containers are usually strong steel boxes with doors at one end, but they actually come in lots of versions.  The standard width is 8′ (eight feet), the standard height is 8’6″ (eight foot six inches), and the two standard lengths are 20′ (twenty foot), and 40′ (forty foot).  There are a whole raft of non-standard lengths starting at 5′, but a 10′ container is the more common of the non-standard lengths.  The internal floor areas work out at 150 sq ft for a 20′ container and 305 sq ft for a 40′ container.

Given that most people regard 1000 sq ft as a decent size for a home, (plus a garage), then we are talking of at least a couple of containers to make anything that approximates a ‘normal-sized’ house.  Container architecture is a discipline all of its own.

You obviously need a plot, the appropriate permissions from whatever building authority is responsible for all the regulatory stuff, and you may / or may not need to lay a concrete slab on which to stand the container(s) you’re going to turn into a home.  (Whether or not you need to lay a concrete pad depends on the ground, and how long you expect the container home to stand there.)

It’s no good just buying a plot, plonking a used shipping container there and expecting to live in it.  Shipping containers are steel boxes, and that means they are damn hot inside in summer, and bloody freezing inside in winter.   To make a home you will have to line out the inside, and perhaps even clad the outside.  Even if you just buy one 40′ container and are going to be happy living in 305 sq ft, you will still need to do a hell of a lot of work to make your steel box habitable.

One of the first things you need to learn is how to cut steel plate.  Your box needs more than a big door at one end, you need windows, (at least), and maybe another door, and perhaps holes so you can link one container to another to make a bigger home.  Luckily, shipping containers are mostly made of steel that’s only between 1.5mm and 2mm thick, so it’s easy to cut.  Realistically there are 3 ways to cut steel on site, (using an ordinary hacksaw will take you aeons and you’ll hurt your wrist and hands).

  1. Oxy-acetylene cutting torch.  These things are dangerous, and unless you’ve done this kind of cutting before, you would be best getting instruction before attempting to use an oxygen / acetylene torch.  However, a cutting torch is fast and it’s easy to cut complex shapes.  If you want circular cut-outs for round windows / portholes in your tiny container home, then oxy-acetylene could be for you.
  2. Electric jigsaw.  The sides of steel shipping containers are pretty easy to cut, so an ordinary electric jigsaw will chop out your doors and windows.  And, you can cut curves in steel with an electric jigsaw.  This is possibly the best choice for the averagely skilled person.
  3. Stihl cut-off saw.  STIHL is a trademark, but what we are talking about here is a big power saw of some description.  Cutting lots of big holes in your containers, on site, you may well want something like a petrol powered Stihl saw, (and make certain you have the right disk for steel).

The benefits of using steel shipping containers to make a tiny home, (or something bigger), is that it’s pretty fast and inexpensive to get a weatherproof structure on site, they’re strong and durable, and you can put them down just about anywhere.  A shipping container is probably the start of the ultimate off-the-grid home.

I can and have lived off-the-grid in a log cabin I built myself, (from a kit), but I would strongly caution anyone thinking of doing this concerning water.  You will need a constant supply of potable water, either from the mains or from your own well / borehole.  The average American uses between 80 to 100 gallons of water every day of the year.  It’s possible to finesse around all the other services; sewage, electricity, gas, heating, telephone and internet, but shipping water in a small bowser on a regular basis is an absolute non-starter.

Once you have a weatherproof structure with the doors and windows installed, and you’ve made a start on connecting your services, then you can start on the really fun stuff, which is fitting out the interior to suit your tastes.  The only limit to your imagination is the dimensions of whatever containers you have bought.

Making a home out of steel shipping containers is within the scope of anyone who is fairly competent at all kinds of advanced DIY, and who can also manage a project.

And all this gives me a problem; is my next project a school bus camper, or a container-based tiny home?

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

click on the book for more

 

 

 

 

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sex, lies, and deception

Ladies sometimes behave badly and lie about it afterwards.

Commonplace denial of truths

conspiracy theories masking fictions

black smoke rising as manifest realities

unbearable burden tattered preoccupations

endlessly survived, displacements deprivations

endure prolonged lies fact togetherness separations

careless cheap deceit deception falsehood treachery lies

Commonplace denial of truths and love’s long-lost affections

Commonplace denial of lies

~

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

click on the book for insight

 

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