Eclipse Frittata, an almost recipe

One highlight of the summer was a trip to Door County with friends. Our long weekend overlapped with summer’s big astronomical event, the total solar eclipse that crossed North America. Door County experienced about 70-80% of totality, and we went to the Lake Michigan shore to experience it. We took all the usual beach supplies, plus eclipse glasses, pinhole viewers, and a potluck picnic.

I can’t claim credit for this improv egg dish whipped up by kitchen whiz JL, but I will take credit for the name ;). It’s a great choice for a delicious easy meal that helps with leftovers. This one is really an egg bake since it takes almost an hour in the oven, rather than being started on the stove and finished in the oven, but the word frittata is just too much fun to pass by.


I’m calling it an “almost recipe” since you can vary it and still get yummy results. Just open the fridge and see what ingredients are waiting for you. Put in your favorite cheese and vegetables or greens. Here’s what I used.

Cooked pasta, about 1/2 pound before cooking

Approximately 1/2 cup pinto beans

1 c shredded cheese

9 eggs, beaten 

1/2 cup milk

Garlicky green beans (or other leftover cooked veggies), 1-2 cups

Put into greased 9×13 pan. 

Bake in preheated 350 oven for about 1 hour. Begin checking for doneness at 50 minutes with toothpick. It’s done when toothpick comes out clean or with baked egg crumbs and no liquid. 

A trip to Tolt Yarn and Wool

On a recent visit to western Washington state, I not only connected with family but also with all three of my blog’s topics by way of delicious homemade Dungeness crab sandwiches, two visits to a farm-to-table restaurant, many glimpses of a gardening season ahead of ours, and a visit to Tolt Yarn and Wool.

I’ve tended to be in Washington when the weather is very pleasant, so sometimes I look at the place with rose-colored glasses. Plus I was on vacation, right? When it comes to Tolt, though, I know its fabulousness is the real deal. I first heard about the shop on the Woolful podcast but had dismissed the idea of going there on this trip because of time constraints. My sister-in-law however has hoping to see the trunk show which Tolt was hosting and suggested a quick Sunday afternoon jaunt. I couldn’t say yes fast enough!

We had a 30-minute scenic drive from her home in a Seattle suburb to the town of Carnation. Tolt has spacious premises in Carnation’s downtown. You will find plenty of yarn, books, and notions to choose from, plus fiber for spinning or feltmaking. They also have room for crafting together and classes. I look forward to discovering more treasures on a future visit. 

Of course, I had brought some knitting with me (I made a hat on the train on the way out and had enough yarn for another, hats being excellent travel projects), but I knew when I walked into the shop where I was going to spend my souvenir money. 

I looked particularly at yarns that were from the Pacific Northwest and chose Snoqualmie, an organic Blue-faced Leicester and Clun Forest wool DK yarn. I really liked the store sample of the Cherry Creek Shawl, and just like at Costco, samples sell. So I bought three skeins of Snoqualmie in light blue (indigo-dyed, be still my heart), the pattern booklet (print copy includes a code for PDF download from Ravelry), and needles. You are probably thinking I already own the right needles…but they were in Wisconsin. I left the shop thinking that even though we’d just arrived, I win at vacation.

What’s happening in the food and gardening department? Well, April kicks my backside every year by making me extremely busy in every area of life, which is why a vacation by train was such a treat. I was able to do some garden prep work when it was mild in March and early April. My kale came back from last year on its own, and the berry bushes and cherry tree are doing great without any attention. The farmers’ market started in mid-April, so fresh greens are back on the menu. May will be a good time for a spring garden progress post!

What’s sparking joy?

img_3782  Before we pitched the tents in the backyard for practice, heck, even before August started, I had some moments of reckoning. Apparently I am a thick-headed student of the creative life. I’ve written several times about finding creative space in life, but I lost track again of my top ten (would this be on my top ten list of how I should be spending my time?) this summer. It was time to stare out into summer evenings and think about why I was feeling stressed and grumpy because when mama ain’t happy…well, you know how that goes.

I blamed my feelings of being rushed on the constant shuffling of family schedules and driving kids around and the sense of not getting things done on mosquitoes and the rain that fed a million weeds. Let’s be real. Leaky faucets, uncooperative caulk, drainage problems during heavy rains: the Yarnstead home has as many of those things as most 50-year-old houses. Aiming for balance requires constant adjustment. I get big plans, push myself to do more than is possible, and then bleh, stress becomes a more constant companion than creativity.

I didn’t think about how I’d felt that way in the past and what I’d done to feel better. Blaming is a waste of time; it keeps you from noticing all that you got done, gratitude, and  the therapeutic power of weeding (really! visible accomplishments, hands in the dirt, breeze on your face). So, how to get back to that top ten, how to recapture the focus I came back from Alaska with last year?

Think about what’s sparking joy. Yes, that reference is from from a KonMari-ing friend (thanks, J!),  but for me it’s not just about decluttering stuff. I will not be so busy. Do less, and don’t get stuck doing things because I’ve always done it that way or haven’t found time to think through what I really want to spend time on. Notice that you often do have enough time. Then follow it up with 4-5 days away from home, preferably away from electronics and out in the woods or at the shore. Soak up the restorative power of nature, and come home recommitted to your goals.



What I did on my summer vacation

I have a 50th birthday coming right up, and it feels like 50 years since I last posted! My last post was mid-June, and here we are in early August already, that idyllic slow pace of summer more of a daydream than reality. Rather than tire my readers out with the long post it would take to catch up, I’ll do a series of short posts.

My family took a long-awaited trip to Alaska. We flew to Anchorage and did our own land tour, seeing Anchorage, Denali National Park, the Palmer area (including the Musk Ox Farm and Matanuska Glacier), Seward, Exit Glacier, and Resurrection Bay. It was amazing! After 10 days there, we spent the weekend near Seattle with relatives. The Tour de Fleece started that weekend; I didn’t spin very much this Tour but managed to get a little in on each Tour day. More on that when I do a fiber arts catch-up post soon. For now, some summer vacation pics!

Musk ox family at the Alaska Zoo. My first look at the animals that produce qiviut fiber, and now I am crazy about them!
The Alaska Zoo also had some Tibetan yaks, another exotic fiber animal.
Posing with my kids at Earthquake Park (thankfully no action while we were there)
Another cute young musk ox. We enjoyed a tour at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, Alaska, where there is a thriving herd and friendly staff. Also shopping!
My souvenirs from the trip. Arctic Lace book and qiviut fiber for spinning from the Musk Ox farm. Roadside Geology from the bookstore at Denali. Not pictured is a small bag of Alaska wildflower seeds bought at the Alaska Zoo.

I came home tired, happy, and recharged. I think a longer break like that really helped me think about how I can refocus myself to spend time on the things that matter most to me. The trick has been trying to keep that focus when back into my normal routine.

My visit to Tempe Yarn & Fiber

Mittens in progress with yarn purchased at Tempe Yarn and Fiber
Mittens in progress with yarn and needles purchased at Tempe Yarn and Fiber

I’m a lucky knitter. On this past Boxing Day, I visited Tempe Yarn and Fiber  with a long-time excellent friend who has made her home in Arizona these past 20-some years. I had the pleasure of working at my Local Yarn Store several years back; while that store remains my very favorite, I can say that Tempe Yarn and Fiber is my 2nd favorite LYS. The staff were friendly, the selection excellent (I was shopping for knitting supplies, but there was stuff for crocheters, spinners, weavers, and felt makers, too!), and the store itself sunny and inviting. Ok, maybe that last part is because it was Arizona and I was starved for sunshine after a very gray December here at home. If you are in the Phoenix area, I definitely recommend you give this store a visit!

I  bought a multi-colored skein of Manos and a purple skein of Cascade 220, plus a 40 inch circular needle. I am making a pair of mittens with the Magic Loop method of circular knitting, which works great for bus knitting and not losing a needle.

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival Report

Fleece judging

This past weekend was the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. This is the third or fourth time I’ve attended, and it’s a great time for fiber lovers! I went through all the barns and watched part of the Shetland sheep show,  the herding dog competition, the fleece judging, and the Make It With Wool style show and awards presentation. There were also lots of sheep to see, of course, and an excellent display of hooked rugs. I always enjoy seeing the many sheep breeds raised in our region at the Hall of Breeds and checking out the sheep shearing.

Sheep shearing area: Before and After comparison
Sheep shearing area: Before and After comparison

I did NOT go to the marketplace this time; I alternate festivals when I shop and festivals when I take classes. My big purchase this year was an iced latte, very welcome on a hot and humid day. While I was sipping and waiting for my class to start, I noticed that all the cool kids had nice carts to tote their spinning wheels to class and later in the day were carrying fleeces out to the parking lot. Although I am quite content to be a handspindle spinner (no cart needed), I can imagine another fleece in my future someday (I had a Jacob fleece I worked with back in 2009, big job but very rewarding).

My Saori project in progress
My Saori project in progress

This year I was so glad to take a Saori weaving class taught by Chiaki and Dan O’Brien from Saori Studio Fun in Minnesota (hey, neighbors, thanks for coming down!). Saori weaving is a freeform style of weaving developed in Japan. Our teachers had Saori looms already warped and ready to go and a table full of yarns and assorted roving and yarn “scraps” to weave with, so we got started in just a few minutes. I had brought some handspun yarn and dyed (not by me) wool locks from home, and I used a lot of those in my project as well. It was one of the most inspiring, exciting, and centering fiber arts experiences I have ever had. I love the wall hanging I made and can’t wait to do more Saori weaving this fall and winter. One of my teachers thought my weaving looked like a flower garden, which delighted me since she didn’t know I was a gardener and I was choosing my colors spontaneously.

My completed wall hanging
My completed wall hanging

A side trip

Yarnbombing in the wild. Er, in Dubuque.
Yarnbombing in the wild. Er, in Dubuque.

We took a short trip to Dubuque over spring break. Relieved to be out of town and outdoors, at least part of the time, it was a great getaway. I discovered on this trip that my new smartphone is also an enabler; it found me a yarn store and showed me a map of its location. Golly, it was only 7 blocks from our hotel. I planned my long morning walk to go past it on my way back. On the way I went by some yarnbombing at an art gallery and reminded myself to get going on decking out the lamppost in front of my house.

Happy, happy.
Happy, happy.

I walked past many interesting homes and shops and soon found myself at Yarn Soup. It’s a lovely shop, in its charm second only to my beloved Sow’s Ear. I had a good chat with Sara, the friendly proprietor, and admired how she had hung her stock of knitting needles from hooks on the rungs of old wooden ladders.  I was so absorbed in soaking up the color in the shop that I forgot to take any pictures inside. Yarn Soup is full of beautiful yarns, and it took a lot of self-control to not do some serious damage to my vacation budget. For my next visit, I’ll plan ahead so I can get a bunch of yarn!

As a souvenir of my trip to Dubuque and Yarn Soup, I bought Astounding Knits: 101 Spectacular Knitted Creations and Daring Feats by Lela Nargi. If you haven’t read this fun book yet, I encourage you to give it a try. While it has a few patterns in the back, it is really a celebration of the smallest, biggest, most amazing, and most unusual projects in the knitting and crocheting world. You’ll find it a fun and easy read.