Out to Lunch: Imogene’s

by on Mar 19, 2014

Imogene's Chinese Chicken Salad. PHOTO BY ELLY LEITZ

Imogene’s Chinese Chicken Salad. PHOTO BY ELLY LEITZ

Sometimes you’d rather stay IN for lunch than go OUT for lunch…and if you’re wrapping things up after a busy week at work, it’s the perfect time to indulge yourself at your desk with Imogene’s. The catering company delivers individual lunches anywhere in Yakima on most Fridays. If they’re delivering that week, they’ll publish the “menu” on Facebook the Monday prior…one of my favorite things to look for at the start of every week.

Recently I ordered their “Classic Chinese Chicken Salad.” As I’ve said before, Imogene’s salads are usually the stars of the show. Everything else is delicious, but the salads are remarkable. This one was no exception: A combination of Romaine and Napa cabbage, roasted chicken breast, orange segments and red bell pepper with crushed peanuts sprinkled over the top. Add to this a savory and sweet (but not too) soy-cilantro vinaigrette, and I’m head over heels in love.

And then, just when you think it can’t get any better, they package up a cute, bite-sized grapefruit cake with ruby-red grapefruit icing. The perfect little sweet treat to top off a mid-day meal.

Lunch menus run the gamut from prosciutto and cheese sandwiches with herb spreads to the flame-broiled prawn and tropical fruit salad they have on their menu for this Friday. All in all, a great way to spend $13 on lunch.

For more info on Imogene’s, click here.


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“Junk” into jewelry

by on Mar 14, 2014

My family seems to have a lot of nuts and bolts laying around lately; this is mostly due to my 6-year-old’s fascination with taking things apart (and then leaving the pieces strewn across the living room). He’s taking apart a lot of small toys with tiny little screws and tiny little screwdrivers. (It’s darling.) These tiny little screws, nuts and bolts like to hide in our carpet and magically appear when I vacuum. (Not so darling.)

So recently, when I was scanning our floor for the flotsam and jetsam of my son’s nightly work, a thought popped into my head: Maybe I could make some of these itty-bitty parts into cute hardware-inspired earrings. Later that night I was looking at a jar of buttons I have. I fill it with those extra buttons you get with a new blouse – for some reason I can’t throw them away, yet I don’t think I’ve ever used any. I thought I could turn those into cute earrings, too.

Junk, really. But these days a little DIY can turn junk into something really darling. All you need are earring posts and loops (you can find them at JoAnn Fabrics), a glue gun and a little imagination. Or Pinterest. That works too.

These tiny gold buttons make the perfect every-day earring.

These tiny gold buttons make the perfect every-day earring.

This loop earring was made with one of those tiny bolts simply threaded onto an earring loop with a tiny square connector.

This loop earring was made with one of those tiny bolts simply threaded onto an earring loop with a tiny square connector.

This one's super cute - this little bauble is also a button. Just threaded onto the earring loop and ready to go.

This one’s super cute – this little bauble is also a button. Just threaded onto the earring loop and ready to go.

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Cooking Up Yarns at the Spring Harvest Mill

by on Mar 12, 2014

It might seem a little odd that you’d need a “recipe” to make yarn, but that’s exactly what Spring Harvest Fiber Mill calls the formulas they tape to their milling machines. “Our recipe cards,” owner Bob Cathel calls them.

Bob and Danise Cathel opened their mill in rural Sunnyside in a barn on their property last July. According to Bob, the machinery for the mill came from Colorado “from a gentleman who was getting out of the business,” and the Cathel family and an employee or two have been busy “cooking up” yarns ever since.   Spring Harvest recently got a boost from the New Vision business plan competition held in Yakima earlier this year; the company took the top prize of $10,000, and hopes to continue to develop a unique niche in the agritourism and milling industries.

The Cathels’ original business plan (besides their “day jobs”…he’s an environmental engineer at Hanford, she works part-time from home) was to breed and sell alpacas at their farm, called Silbury Hill Alpacas. Alpacas are prized for their soft, warm fleece—it’s even softer and warmer than wool. However, Bob noted that as fiber artists themselves, the Cathels were continually frustrated by the long turnaround times when they’d send off alpaca fleece from their own animals to be milled.  


Bob holds a skein of mixed-fiber wool in the Spring Harvest shop.

Bob said they aimed to have a much shorter turnaround time with their own mill in. Many people now send in alpaca fiber in and ask for specific recommendations from the Cathels…some fibers make better clothing, some make better rugs or blankets. The Cathel’s business partner, Amanda VandenBosch, is an internationally-recognized alpaca judge and a co-author of a book on alpacas. Bob said that her expertise has been instrumental to the setup and development of their mill.

Drying rack

Recently-washed fleece rests on drying racks

The Cathels host fiber artist gatherings and other classes at the mill as well, which boasts a cozy retail area where yarns, felted sheets, woven rugs, and weaving equipment can be purchased (the retail shop is open on weekends).

Bob holding one of his rugs

Bob with one of the rugs he’s made–and yes, those are all natural alpaca colors

Bob’s probably most excited lately about weaving—the mill building hosts a large loom that he uses for rugmaking. “I’ve been able to convert a few of the knitters and crocheters,” he grinned. Danise has also been using the mill’s felting machine to meld alpaca yarns into beautiful soft-toned rugs—a luxurious take on the traditional braided rug.

You can learn more about upcoming events at the mill by “liking” the mill’s Facebook page or visiting their website.  And you can find out more about classes and tours offered at the farm on the Silbury Alpaca’s website here.

Yarn twister

The yarn twisting machine at Spring Harvest Mill

Felted pads

One of Danise’s luxurious felted rugs

Pile of yarns

Some of the yarn for sale at the Spring Harvest store

Felted sheets

Felted sheets…these can be used for hatmaking and other projects

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It’s the Little Things

by on Mar 11, 2014

My birthday is coming up soon, and I can’t decide whether to celebrate or stick my head in an oven.

Big events naturally start me thinking about everything that’s changed in my life. I realized the other day that I’ve had something like eight different jobs since the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008.

I remember being recruited by a bank contractor in 2007 back when I was still publishing a community newspaper in central Washington. They called us because they knew a newspaper would have digital cameras, and asked if I could take a few monthly photos of houses that were in foreclosure for them. Sure, I said.

After the crash happened, our little newspaper immediately took a huge hit—we lost something like $20,000 in annual advertising commitments in a single month. Just as suddenly, we found ourselves taking dozens of foreclosure pictures every month. I was making more money with that second job than I was with the paper, and seeing how many of our friends and neighbors were in financial trouble made me realize we were in the middle of something quite disastrous.

Then our press in Ellensburg shut down when the Daily Record laid off seventeen of their employees, and I was so rattled by then that was the last straw for me. I managed to find a buyer for my business (albeit at a bargain price), but when the new owner couldn’t bring the newspaper around, I lost my job.

Since the state’s community colleges had also taken a hit and weren’t hiring full time, I cobbled together a full-time teaching position by working as an adjunct college professor at two different community colleges. This forced me into an insane Bermuda-triangle type commute between Wenatchee, Moses Lake, and Royal City, ferrying around all the stuff I needed to teach class–as well as my battered old Nikon so I could take foreclosure photos along the way.

The next year I was able to find a full-time job, but found myself trying to learn three complex and stressful positions while I was in the middle of a divorce (and while I was still teaching a class in Moses Lake, I might add). Fun times.

I had to move twice in three months because I couldn’t find a place to live near where I was working in Beverly, and I wound up living in the corner of a leatherworking shop in Ellensburg last winter. I struggled for months to slip some money to my three sons (all of whom were in college at the time), complete a nearly 100-mile daily commute, and feed and board my three horses.

Then I gave away my horses and quit my job so I could afford to move to Yakima last spring, and be closer to a man I’d only been dating for a few months. It was a move that surprised my family, my friends, and even myself.  I also surprised myself by immediately finding a job at a newspaper again—I never expected to be so lucky.  

So it’s not really a surprise that big events, like a birthday or Christmas, still can make me feel like I’ve been keel-hauled.

As two folks who left decades-long marriages, R. and I share a lot of the same psychic aches and pains. Sometimes it feels more like we’re playing musical chairs more than enjoying holidays as we juggle time between two families and work. We miss our kids desperately, even though some of our torment is natural due to kids growing up and leaving the nest.

And sometimes I’m still reduced to tears over stupid things, like the fact my clothes dresser—the only one that I own now—won’t fit in our bedroom no matter how we rearrange the furniture. I think about the  xeric garden that I spent a decade coaxing out of Saddle Mountain sand that I had to leave behind. I see pictures of one of my mares on Facebook—her new owner is of course delighted with her—and it stings.  Worst of all, I still miss my family. My boys go “home” on breaks from school back to Royal City…but they only “visit” me here in Yakima. It’s not anyone’s fault; it’s just the way things are.

But when I was thinking about my dreaded birthday, something suddenly occurred to me.  What are anniversaries, really? Aren’t they just a way of mentally marking time?

And that got me thinking about all the things we think about that help us mark time. Whenever R. and I meet for lunch, we always give each other a little kiss before we split up and head back to our respective cars and our afternoons.  Even after all these months together and even after all the lunches, I still look forward to that kiss. Sometimes I’ve even caught myself thinking about how I’m going to get to kiss him after lunch when I pull into the restaurant parking lot, long before we’ve even sat down and ordered our food.

That little peck on the lips seems like such a dumb, sentimental thing. But on the other hand, I’m starting to figure out that the little things are the glue that holds it all together. The real trick is learning how to mentally stack all the little good things that happen each day up against the occasional bad thing.

 It’s not about the bittersweet birthdays or the awkward Christmas. It’s all the grins shared over stupid YouTube clips, the cups of coffee someone makes you, the weird and affectionate verbal shorthand that you fall into with someone who’s a good friend who understands your mind.  

Those little anniversaries are the ones that really matter.

“Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things, in which smiles, and kindnesses, and small obligations, given habitually, are what win and preserve the heart and secure comfort.” ~ Humphrey Davy

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Inklings Author Fair

by on Mar 8, 2014

The Inklings Author Fair yesterday was held at the old library building just west of the Chalet Shopping Center. That was a good thing, according to event organizers, because the bookstore isn’t quite big enough to host such a crowd.

Inklings has hosted local authors before, but it’s been about a year and a half since they’ve had hosted such a large event…and they’ve never hosted this many local authors at once. Since the Chalet store owners also own the old library building property, there may be plans in the works to host other gatherings here in the future.  Inklings staff said they’d love to see local author fairs like this one happen once a year, and so would dozens of other folks who attended the event.

All the authors who attended have local ties, although not all of them currently live in Yakima. Two of the authors at the fair…Spencer Hatton and W.D. Frank, have been featured in Yakima Magazine recently. (If you’ve not checked out Hatton’s column on whipping up a batch of “special brownies,” yet, that link will take you right to it).

If you haven’t checked out the Inklings website already, you can sign up for an email service that’ll keep you up to date on the latest Inklings happenings. Enjoy!

Robin LaDue

Author Robin LaDue chats with event attendees

Spencer Hatton

Spencer Hatton (and Yakima Magazine columnist!) showing off his trademark dry wit

Author Louise Achey

Dr. Lousie Achey’s book Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate discusses the dangers of adverse medication reactions

Here’s a complete list of the authors who were at the event (and the titles of their books):

Louise Achey, author of Why Dogs Can’t Eat Chocolate

Diane Ashley, author of How to Help Someone Who is Grieving

Ardith Carratt, author of Margaret Keys Hoech: The Hat Lady and the Roberto and the Inventors series

Roland Coleman, author of Certified So

Linda Estela, author of Lily Camara Catches Heat

W.D. Frank, author of Everyone to Skis

Spencer Hatton, author of Counting Crows

Robin LaDue, author of Totems of September

Susan LaRiviere, author of Wolf Castle and Celebration! St. Paul Cathedral Centennial 1914-2014

Michael McFarland, author of Fallow Ground

Doug Ramsey, author of Poodie James

Donna Scofield, author of Back Home and the Family Chuckle

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