Goodbye, Daylight Savings

So this weekend, the US, as well as a large chunk of the world, reset their clocks.  Of course, in the southern hemisphere, the clocks were turned forward instead of back, and some countries turn earlier or later, and a few states don’t turn at all.  But for those of us who do, we got an extra hour on Sunday.

Well, I was thinking of that extra hour, which is a bit of a misnomer, we don’t really get an extra hour, we just get back what we give up in spring, and vice versa.  And losing that hour in spring gets harder and harder every year.

But for one day, anyway, we have one extra hour.  For me, this has historically meant I sleep in for an hour in the mornings, relatively, and feel more rested for… y’know, a week or two before I’ve adjusted and then go right back to normal.  Cats, however, don’t recognize daylight savings time, neither coming nor going, and so they don’t care what *time* it is, it’s time for treats and they will let me know.  Loudly.  So I never really get that extra hour, anyway, and it takes maybe a month for the cats to figure out that I get up later.

Well, this year I decided to do something with that hour that wasn’t just sleeping in, but not really sleeping in because cats won’t let me.  I am going to use that hour for good!  For health.  For mental wellness (ha).

Since I’m already used to getting up at what had been 5:30, which now becomes 4:30, I’m going to just continue to get up at 4:30, which had been 5:30, and spend that hour in the morning doing morning exercises, having hot tea, taking it easy getting ready, just basically starting the day out well and slow instead of rushed.

This morning was day 1.  15 minutes of exercise, hot shower, a nice breakfast, hot cup of tea, a bit of time just sitting and relaxing, fussing with kitties, and making lunch.  Got to work right on time, but a lot more relaxed.

If you observe daylight savings, what are you doing with your extra hour?  (if you just say ‘sleep in’ that’s fine, too 😀 )

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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 😀

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. 🙂

Sewing Bug

The Sewing Bug got me yesterday, so I plopped myself onto the couch and watched a couple of movies while I made a new bag.

Now, the history of this bag is that my brother went to Scotland and brought me back this gorgeous wool scarf in my family tartan colors.   And despite how very wonderfully soft this scarf felt to my hands, it’s still just too darn scratchy for my neck, which is apparently overly sensitive to this kind of thing.

So rather than tuck it sadly away, never to be used and possibly forgotten, I decided to turn it into something I can carry around with me all the time, even if the weather is warm!  So I made a bag!

Both sides have the wonderfully fringey flaps to them, the ‘front’ has the tag which looks really quite slick on the front there, *almost like it was meant to be*.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The inside has two full pockets, one open, and the other closes with a zipper to keep important things from falling out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And if I want to close both sides, I flip the back flap all the way over!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s also a secret pocket, not shown, but its hiding under the front flap on the outside of the bag.

The whole thing was made simply by folding the scarf back and forth to create pockets, then sew all around the outside to hold the edges and bottom together.

Now I’ll look right at home at the next Scottish Highland Faire 😀

Daily Prompt: Dream Home

Sometimes The Daily Post offers up a prompt that is just too delicious not to take.  Especially for someone who pines for her lost architecture career and has recently been wanting – but too broke – to do more home renovations.

And then this comes along:

You win a contest to build your dream home. Draft the plans.

With a squeal of delight audible only to dogs, I opened AutoCAD and got to work to once again draft yet another set of plans for even more dream home ideas.

Because let’s face it, asking an architect to design their one dream home is kind of like asking a chef to make the one meal they’ll eat for the rest of their lives.

And my dream home will always depend on the exact circumstances of my life at the time, of course.  I have no kids, so guest rooms and craft/art rooms will replace the bedrooms.  This set of plans has a lower floor area of 1,289 square feet and an upper floor of 919 square feet for a total of 2,208.  Still within the manageable range for cleaning, a bit larger than my house now, and most importantly, more bathrooms!

Among the features that make this my dream house are the attached greenhouse, the library with reading nook (which is to say: a bed set into the shelves for good proper book cuddles with cats and tea during a thunderstorm), a nice walk-in pantry, mud room to hose down the people and animals when they come in from the mud, or to catch snowy boots.  I just realized I didn’t put the washer and dryer in the mud room but rest assured, they would be there in my dream house.

There is room in the entry way for a coat tree, a bench for shoes, and perhaps fresh flowers in spring in a little table beside the window.  I love the way the rooms flow into one another.  The kitchen has easy access to and from both the living room and dining room, who also access one another while maintaining a level of privacy as well.

Upstairs, all the bedrooms have walk in closets, and the (theoretical) kid’s rooms are separated by their closets to (hopefully) reduce the amount of annoyance one child can cause another.   But as I stated earlier, their actual use would far more likely be guest rooms or sewing and craft rooms.

The master bedroom has a private deck to watch the sunrise, and a nice big tiled shower.  The second bath separates the sink from the toilet and tub area to allow for multiple use at once.  Though they are on the same floor, the bedrooms are separated enough to allow for a measure of privacy.

The house would be laid out with east oriented up, so the green house would face full south, the kitchen would face east, and the library would be tucked up north, with the entrance on the west side.

Now all I need is about… oooh, $200,000 to build it.

So for today, this is my dream home.  I’ve drawn them before, I will continue to draw them in future, but just for today, this is my dream home.

mainfloor

Main Floor Plan
1,298 square feet
© Eliza Murdock 2013

upperfloor

Upper Floor Plan
919 square feet
© Eliza Murdock 2013

 

And just for the curious, other iterations of my dream home have included – but are not limited to – a library with just enough amenities to make it habitable, a hobbit hole to go in the side of my hill, a castle (on the smallish side), and a yurt.

Hand made gifts, part two

So here is my second half of the Christmas crafting creations!

First, for my nephew who is constantly carting around an armload of books, DS, games and other stuff where ever he goes, I sewed him a Avatar: The Last Airbender themed messenger bag.  The back has a pocket with embroidered patches of the 4 element symbols.

Avatar bag: back pocket

Avatar bag: back pocket

Here is the front flap with the arrow.

Avatar bag, front flap

Avatar bag, front flap

And I lined it with a wonderful wool-feeling fabric. Not sure what it really is, I picked it up at a thrift store, but it’s very soft.  I was prepared for it to be a “eh, cool.” but not really interesting to an 11 yr old, so I was rather delighted when he actually took his other gifts and stuffed them inside.  He *used* it, so that was close enough to liking it in my book!  Especially since I was up until 2 AM Christmas morning finishing it! (I ended up having to use my sister’s sewing machine, I flat ran out of time and some of the seams would have been too thick to reasonably hand sew.)

Avatar bag: inside lining

Avatar bag: inside lining

Of course, now my mom wants one, too!  And I’ll likely end up making one for my sister as well, and I really want one myself!  So I have several more projects pending, and nope, not burnt out on them yet!

For my sister and her hubby’s new house, I made them a Dream Catcher as a house warming/Christmas present.  I snipped some branches from their new willow tree and steamed them on the stove until they were nice and pliable, then wound a few into hoops.  Picking the one I liked best, I used my yarn and wove the center pattern, adding a couple of beads, then a tuft of kitty fur (one of my cats is half brother to hers.)

I also snuck out to her horses and got some of Cayenne’s mane, then bound both it and some turkey feathers with leather strips.  Added a few more beads, some shells, and a bit of bison fleece and was able to present them with this.  They were both delighted which of course made me delighted as well!

Dream Catcher

Dream Catcher

For my sister and brother-in-law’s individual gifts, I wove hand-spun yarn into bracelets and added a shell as clasp, and their two shells are halves of the same, so they fit together as a pair.  This one is his, and it’s laying on his gift bag, which he loved.  He asked if I’d make some more bags for him, their tribe gifts them to certain people at ceremonies or for doing a favor for the family or some such thing.  So I’m going to make several for him, and embroider a Lummi eagle onto each one, or some other notable Lummi animal art figure (like a frog or whale or some such).

woven bracelet with shell

woven bracelet with shell

Here is my sister’s, again the shell is the mate to the above, but I made her colors a little brighter, though there are many of the same colors in both, her base warp was white yarn, and his was a blueish gray.

woven bracelet with shell

woven bracelet with shell

All in all, everyone loved their gifts and I’m so glad I had a chance to do hand-made this year!

Spinning and Weaving

Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, life took a left turn when I wasn’t paying attention.  But I come bearing crafties!  I’ve discovered and am working furiously to perfect my Navajo ply, a three-ply style that plies the thread with itself as you go (rather than needing two other threads to ply with or trying to roll the spun thread into a ball and plying the ends together.)

I can’t explain it so I’ll show you a video I found.  Thing is, watching the video, I was convinced I would need four hands to pull this off because she’s using a spinning wheel and I only have spindles and you need two hands to work the thread and then one to work the plying spindle and another to keep the source spindle from getting tangled.

Well, I figured out how to do it using two spindles and yet only two hands!  And… I am utterly failing at trying to explain how so I’ve drawn really bad diagrams to help:A: start by making a small loop or slipknot in the end of your thread to anchor it to the plying spindle.  Draw a length of thread from your source spindle and pull it through the loop.

B: hook the length of thread you pulled through the loop back over the shaft of your first spindle, holding the original loop open with your fingers (keep the yarn from plying that loop closed or you’ll be fighting it the whole way.)  This will keep all your thread under enough tension so it won’t knot on itself.  As you turn your source spindle, the set up will act like a pulley system, as you unwind the thread it will run through the loop, around the shaft and to the second spindle.

C: when you’ve drawn out as much as you want, use the hand holding  your first spindle to pinch the three portions of thread about an inch or two out from your first spindle and then use the second spindle to ply the lengths.  Wind the yarn onto your plying spindle, then carefully unhook the loop from around your first spindle shaft.  This becomes the new loop in figure A, draw a new length of thread through and start all over.

This is so simple and quick and such a beautiful result!  Wanna see?

Navajo plied wools

Navajo plied alpaca

Navajo plied silk

 

Navajo plied cotton

Oh yeah… I spun cotton!  IT WAS HARD!  The staple length is so terribly short you have to be *really* careful how you draft it or you’ll lose it.  But I have my first ever tiny little batch of cotton yarn now!  And so fluffy white and ready to play with vegetable dying 🙂  I have some beet root that I think will make an excellent first try.

So now that I’m just blowing through the spinning and plying, I have lots of fiber to use for (drum roll, please) WEAVING!  I don’t have a full loom set up, yet, but I’ve started making bookmarks on my bead loom.

These were my trial runs, so I didn’t want to use my ‘valuable’ handspun yarns yet, but I did use some for the purple accent on the top one. The bottom has beaded accent rows.

The upper was entirely hand-spun. The lower used hand-spun warp and ribbon weft.

Purchased yarn warp with hand-spun weft

Purchased cotton. This was produced on a makeshift 12″ loom to get a longer bookmark, so again I went back to store-bought to make my first practice piece.

And then I decided to do a little longer piece and made it a choker:

Woven choker necklace with beads

Celtic knot button closure

Final result

I’ll be making bracelets for my sister and brother-in-law as well.  Oh, there’s another story.  Okay, so my sister took me out to lunch/dinner the other day to this place she raves about but I’d never had the opportunity to try, Boundary Bay up in Bellingham.  It was quite good!

My sister had steamers (clams) and I got a to-go box and took home her shells.  They scrubbed up beautifully and then I used my uncle’s drill to put a couple of holes in them.  Voila!  I now have pretty clam-shell bead, pendant, button, whatever!  So I picked out what I felt was the prettiest shell and the two halves will go on their bracelets as a matching pair.

So this is what I’ve been up to, lately.  I’m laughably behind on NaNoWriMo.  Ah well, there’s always the whole rest of the year. 😉