Frozen

…burritos.

So I bought a toaster oven for work so I could bring some things in and have a hot meal at lunch. I don’t use microwaves, I don’t feel like getting into a debate as to why, I just don’t.

Anyway, so the easiest thing to pop in is frozen burritos. Which will fall into one of two categories: arguably healthy and tasty but expensive as hell, or cheap and kinda gross and lacking even the redemption of a golden, flaky, deep-fried tortilla crust.

After a couple weeks I thought to myself: surely I can do better than this.

My favorite had been the Organic Southwest Chicken Burrito (brand withheld for fear of being sued)
Here’s a general breakdown of the nutrition:
Calories: 340, Fat: 9g, Sodium: 700mg, Fiber: 3g, Protein 17g

Not bad, makes for a filling lunch when paired with salad, and a good source of protein. But costs like 4-5 bucks.

Okay, so I bought a pack of organic tortillas ($3), can of organic black beans ($1.29), organic diced tomatoes ($1.29), organic onions (from my CSA), and organic cremini mushrooms (3-something a pound, I used maybe two ounces?). Add some Tabasco sauce for flavor/heat, or substitute salsa for the tomatoes.  Let’s say about 7-8 bucks worth of food.

Chopped the onions and mushrooms, mixed with one can black beans and half can of diced tomatoes, wrapped in a skillet softened tortilla, then wrapped in aluminum foil and put in the freezer. The above made 7 burritos, so that comes out to right around $1 each.

Here’s how mine stacks up against the store brand:

Bought: Calories: 340, Fat: 9g, Sodium: 700mg, Fiber: 3g, Protein 17g
Homemade: Calories: 230, Fat: 3g, Sodium: 350g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 10g.

So the store beats me on protein, but I come out on top in every other category: price, nutrition, and flavor! And vegetarian, even, so if that’s a consideration, you’re good!  Even visually, they look pretty much identical (so, mildly unappealing until you taste it).  The store-bought has a bit tighter folds, but that’s just because I over stuffed mine a tad.  Really, the hardest part of the whole process is stuffing the insides into the burrito without it escaping out the ends while folding it all up.

And I can certainly add chicken for more protein. In fact, when I run the numbers again assuming I’m adding a pound of chicken total to the recipe, which obviously a pound is then going to make more burritos, so assuming a final count of 10 instead of 7, that gives the following:

Calories: 258, Fat: 4.5g, Sodium: 375g, Fiber: 3g, Protein: 18g.

So if I add half a serving of chicken to each burrito that’s only about 50 cents each.  And now I beat the store-bought on protein!  About 80 calories less, half the fat and sodium, same fiber, and still less than half the cost.  Pretty much the only thing this isn’t is gluten-free.  It’s so quick to make, so easy to take to work and pop in the toaster oven.  And I can make a whole week’s worth in about 15 minutes on the weekend.

What’s not to love about making frozen burritos at home!?   You know exactly every single ingredient that’s going into it, no mystery “flavors” or “preservatives”.  And if you have kids, you can totally trick them into thinking they’re getting not super healthy food. ;)  Or if you have sudden guests show up, you can whip out a batch of burritos from the freezer and pair with some rice and salad, some salsa and guacamole, and have a great meal on the table in the 45 minutes it takes to reheat the burrito.

And for the super recycling conscious people, the plastic wrapper from the store-bought burrito isn’t recyclable, but the aluminum foil from home made is :D

Stones

So, I said I had more stories, and here’s another one.

While I was in Navajo Nation, I got a chance to listen to a young man talk about his pottery.  I won’t even begin to do this story justice, but basically he lives in an area that was once inhabited by the Anasazi people, and he can walk around his house and around the rock formations and find old pieces of broken pottery, formed and painted so long ago.  And it inspired him to start making his own, based partially on what he finds and partially on a modern twist to their forms and designs.

I thought that was one of the coolest things I had ever heard!  He had some pieces he showed us, and told us about how he makes and fires the pottery, and how he creates the dyes, and all of it how it was done for centuries.

His story then inspired me to do something like that!  I can walk around my house and pick up stones, and then just like *my* ancestors did, I started making stone carvings!  Ok, so I cheat a bit and use a dremel instead of arduous hand carving with manual tools, but still, I’m loving this so much!

My sister got the first one.  She asked if I could do a scrolly design in green.  I said yes to the scrolly, but said there was no way I could color it that it would last, I only have water-based paints and they’d wash off too easily.  But I got a nice pendant-shaped stone and started carving away.

Then… as I sat at my computer desk… out of the corner of my eye… what should I see?? But green nail polish!  Yes! That’s it, enamel, that won’t wash off at all!  And if it’s tucked into the groove of the carving, it won’t chip off, either!  So my sister got her green scrolly design in the end! :)

stone pendants

stone pendants

That, along with the other two, were the first ones I tried.  I was using a diamond tipped bit, so it would drill through the stone, and had to keep the stone constantly wet to prevent stone dust from getting into the motor and to keep the stone and bit cool.  (also, wear a dust mask!  The stuff in rock can be super-duper awful to get in your lungs!  As awful as that dust mask smells, it’s preferable to the alternative!)

Well, after having such success with that, I decided to try others, drilling lots of little stones into tiny bead-kinda things, I don’t have pictures of those yet – coming soon.  But then I was telling a gal at work about it and ended up making three more just tonight when I got home, two for ladies at work and one for me.  One of the gals collects heart-shaped stones, so I carved a heart onto hers so she could have a “heart stone” with her always!

Heart-stone pendant

Heart-stone pendant

The other gal gets this fabulous red stone pendant:

Red stone with crystal beads

Red stone with crystal beads

And I carved my Norse SCA name into this and then added gold nail polish to the letters to make them sparkle (you can’t see it very well in this picture but it’s there.  Trust me.)

"Sigga" stone pendant

“Sigga” stone pendant

 

So this is my new hobby to add to the growing collection.  Stone carving.  Soon I’ll work my way up to larger stones and larger images (beyond pendants) like the Norse did all over the bloody place.

 

I also painted a cavern scene.  I can’t really blame this on anything except maybe an abundance of rocks on the brain ;)

©2014 Eliza Murdock

Sub-landscape ©2014 Eliza Murdock

(that’s supposed to be an underground lake… and yes, that may just possibly have been meant to be a city down there. >.> )

 

Oh, and almost forgot, in celebration of the whole Norse thing going on, I’ll add a third poem to the prompt I posted in my last entry for every word starting with the same letter of the alphabet.

 

Vaginal Vacancy

Vikings verberate violently,
Verily! Valkyrie voices vie!

Vivid vigils viewed: vigorous, volatile.
Vanity vanishes, victory verges.
Voracious vyings, vaginal vacancies
Voluptuous vexations visit.

Valour, virtue vomited.
Vague vapors vent vitality
Vibrating veins, vindicating validating
Visceral vignettes vicariously.
 
Vikings verberate violently,
Verily! Valkyrie voices vie!

Violet vineries ventured,
Vast vats voiding vows.
Vibrant vert vale vistas
Vast vassaled vaults.

Vilified voyeuristic visits
Via vestal virgin, vandaling vulvas.
Veiled velvet vortecies
Violated viciously, vilely.

Vikings verberate violently,
Verily! Valkyrie voices vie!

I’m Back!

Oh lord and do I have some stories, not all of which are from the Arizona trip.

The dangers of “Farm Fresh”… there were chickens in my eggs this morning.  blaaaahhhhhh…

My friend’s camera is that epic sort of thing that has, y’know, whole different settings and lenses and wide-angle and shutter speed stuff.  So I didn’t bother taking a lot of pictures with my crappy little “point and click” digital camera.  So pictures will mostly have to wait for my friend to upload hers.

I did, however, paint pictures!

Sagebrush Range ©2014 Eliza Murdock

Sagebrush Range ©2014 Eliza Murdock

Desert Dusk ©2014 Eliza Murdock

Desert Dawn ©2014 Eliza Murdock

Also helped save two stupid goats who tried to off themselves by eating the bark from the stump of the freshly cut down Rhododendron bush, cut down precisely because it’s poisonous to most animals.  So we had to dose them with a ton of activated charcoal, which I happened to have with me, saving a trip to town and wasted time.

I wouldn’t recommend going rock climbing pulling a horse trailer filled with sheep.  That was something else, too.  Those poor sheep!  Trust me, it wasn’t that we wanted to, it was the only way out of where we were.

I’ve got a lot more to share, but that’ll be for later.  For now, enjoy the two poems inspired by Oloriel‘s prompt at We Drink Because We’re Poets:

This week, I would like you to pick a letter from the alphabet and write a poem – so that each word in your poem starts with that letter.

If you pick, let’s say, the letter “M”, each word must obviously start with M, any and all. Which means that if you do not pick “A”, you cannot use “and” and so on.

 

Scrimshaw

Someone said she sought solace
Some sweet sanctuary
Skin softened, smoothed, sensual;
Saffron scented smoke swirling skyward.

She sipped sobriety slowly.

Silk-swathed slumber,
Sacred stones, solitary sentinels
See sunset stars, sundials, survey
Such significant sights.

So simple, sanity succumbs.

Sapphire sands shift, settle,
Surrounding sandled steps.
Seraphims sigh singing Sappho’s signs…
Silent soon, she slips southward.

Sanguine sublimity subdued.

Statues standing silent
Sans seeing, scattered
Scant sincerity sent seeking
Sceptered serpents.

Sometimes stained shells survive scratches.

The Toast

Titan toasts, to tokens these!
There thick the texts told,
Tiger’s teeth tearing tithes to threads!

Taken true, tainted taels
Turned thrift to trickery.
Temptation takes ten-fold throats.

Thunder thrust toward twilight treasures
Tossed, tumbled trove;
Torrid trysts trod tiptoe.

Topaz temples tailor traveler’s talismans
Thirteen, twelve… then two:
Time, tomb.

Trials taught, tempests tamed.
Takeup, takeup! True tribulations told.
Talented troubadours toast their trials.

That’s What I Want

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t
Live in a world
Where there’s no mask
For my face
Of pigmented foundation
And smokey-eye shadow
Lipstick to give me
That luscious full pout
That’s what it’s all about

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t
Give up my caffeine fix
My Mountain Just Dew It
Diet Coke habit
Six pack on my hips
To wash down a bottle
Of diet pills I take
To kill the hungry pit
And make size zero fit

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t
Let my boyfriend’s eyes
Stray to other girls and guys
He might decide
The younger, thinner model
This season’s fashion accessory
Is what he wants on his arm
The centerfold promised lies
Of airbrushed, photo-shopped thighs

I can’t, I can’t, I can’t
Let even a second go by
Where I’m not center stage
My Twitter page
Filled with photos of food
I didn’t eat, but still tweet
From my smart phone ap
Current mood: a bleating sheep
Like this if you’re asleep

 

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Late Start on the Garden, and Other Ramblings

Very, very late start. As in, I just planted everything yesterday. So technically before June.  I did have some salad greens going in planters already, and the borage is just starting to break the surface, but yesterday my dad tilled up the old chicken pen and last night I planted golden and purple potatoes, lentils, kidney beans, multi-colored pop corn, golden beets, three kinds of carrots, and two kinds of radishes.

Late start, but  most of it is short season or cool-hearty so it’ll either be ready before winter, or won’t care if it isn’t.

Here’s the general layout of what I’ve planted, the whole plot is about 12′ x 20′ – ish… and then the half-barrel planters that I drew below are tucked in around my front door and the side of my house.

GARDEN

You know you read too many post-apocalyptic/societal collapse books if after you plant your garden, you begin planning how to defend it from your neighbors…

I’ve also spent a good deal of time this last week slashing blackberry brambles and scotch broom from the side of my hill.  It does make me a little sad, I think scotch broom is so pretty, but it’s considered an invasive weed here in Washington, and my neighbor on that side of the hill is very allergic to it’s pollen so I keep it down for her sake.

Finally bought myself a machete, though, which should make the whole endeavor much easier.  I had just been using my dad’s brush lops but that is a rather slow and clumsy method.  He couldn’t find his machete, and even the lops are getting very old and the stopper to keep you from smashing your fingers together when you cut something is gone, so for an early father’s day present (since I’ll be in Arizona over the actual father’s day) I got him a new set of loppers that won’t smash his fingers!

And yes, for the last two weeks of June I will be traveling in  Arizona with a dear friend of mine who attends the Sheep is Life celebration on Navajo nation.  (So I guess if you ever wanted to stalk me, you’ll know where I’m going to be for a whole 3 days).  We’re driving down from Oregon with a stock-trailer full of sheep and chickens.  Road Trip!

My sister had her gall bladder out last weekend, rather unexpectedly, and so I’ve been stopping by her place in the evenings to help with stuff she can’t manage, and really just hang out and be company since she’s bored.  It’s partly what sparked my sudden desire to go ahead and do a garden this year when I had been resigned to just keeping the barrels and that was it.  It’s funny when you go somewhere and get into a “let’s do stuff” mood and then you get home and you keep looking for more stuff to do!

Not that I have any lack of stuff to do.  I’ve gotten on a cleaning binge as well, and I have reclaimed my living room from the ravages of neglect, and gotten my kitchen back in shape, and mostly tidied up the dining room and guest rooms, but my own room is always the last thing I want to tackle, and as it happens it is the last thing left this time, also.  I will be doing a purge again as well, getting rid of stuff that has become clutter and taking it to Goodwill or Salvation Army as donations.

So that’s about it.  Oh yeah, and the now five short stories I’ve started but can’t seem to finish… I think my muse is just in other-mode right now, so I’ll keep jotting down the ideas as they come and trust that someday, the rotten little muse will come back and cooperate. :)

Æthernet

First of all things was the expanse into which all other things burst forth in a great cataclysm of fire and light.  Yet while the æther is of all things the greatest, the mystery of it is also greatest.  For as in darkness is hidden secrets that light may reveal, this darkness resists the light of understanding, as a veil over our eyes which obscures.

The æther birthed the Creators, who gathered to themselves the Firstlight and formed them into the forges of the Gods.  In them they made yet greater and greater creations, binding together the lesser with the force of their hammer blows.  They toiled until they could create no more, and their forges burned until they had exhausted their fuel.

Some, weary of their work, left their forges to cool and die.  But some burned too hot, and in their folly they did not see the doom they heaped upon their own heads.  They pushed too far and their forges, in a violent burst, expelled all of the creations, scattering them across the æther.  These greater creations from deep within the forges, cold without the Creator’s fire, gathered around other forges, some closer and some further away.

Among the Creators were some who were not content with the way of the others.  Instead, burning first their own fuel, they hungered for more.  Such hunger was in them that they sought to consume all others.  They are the Nassanai, their forms like spiders with grasping legs.

These Creators have turned to Destroyers, the Devourers of all that fall into their spiral webs.  They have spread their nets across the æther, catching all that wander too close, and from their dens they draw in their nets toward their waiting mouths, consuming all things: Creators, creations, forges, those which gather for warmth, and even the Firstlight.

So hungry are the Nassanai for more and more to fill their bowels that they may even catch one another, their webs colliding, distorted, and engage in a great battle.  In the end, a victor will remain, even more powerful and even more hungry.  The Nassanai will consume, destroy, and battle until time has ended and only one remains, and the Firstlight shall in the end be extinguished, and thus will come the end of all things, and only the æther will remain.

 

***

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Train Ticket

Window seat for one,
Passage out of town
The old fashioned way:
Train ticket, out bound.
Midnight departure,
Red-eye double-track.
Star filled horizons,
Beacons in the black.
Last call for boarding,
Destination: nowhere.
Two carry-on bags
Ought to get me there.
Don’t know how far
‘Til my journey’s done;
Train ticket, out bound,
Window seat for one.

 

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