Girl Power!

As you may (or may not) know, Mr. Yarnista (aka Big Mike Mike) is a pretty darn good guy. Like, a really good guy. When we opened Firefly Fibers in the spring of 2010, I was quite honestly... TERRIFIED. (And this is a huge understatement.) I left a well-paying, comfortable job that not only provided benefits like health insurance, vacation & sick time, but also regular paycheck. I want to say that we "gave things up", but the truth is, we just had to put things like days off, family vacations, and extra spending "on hold" while I focused on getting the shop up and running. 

I wasn't ever confident that I could make this work (starting a new business is never a sure thing), but Mike was betting on me and that kept pushing me forward, especially on the hard days. Over the last 8 years, he has never wavered in his reassurance that I could (and would) be successful as an entrepreneur. Today, I'm barely able to keep up with the knitters (some days I can't) and I'm so proud of and thankful for Firefly Fibers and its knitting community. Ya'll are the best!

So, what does this have to do with "Girl Power"? Well, I know that not every woman has the support, encouragement, or financial opportunity from their partner, friends, or family to go out on a limb and take a chance on a life-changing career path. And... today is International Women's Day, so I'd like to pay it forward and help other women be successful. Did you know that the first National Women's Day was in 1909 (in the United States) after women protested working conditions in the garment industry and the United Nations started celebrating it in 1975 during International Women's Year? More dates here on the United Nations website and even more on International Women's Day here on the official website

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. International Women's Day (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first arch WD gathering supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Yarnista's kind heart has been focused on International Women's Day and he shared his beautiful idea during our last podcast - to help other women around the world achieve their entrepreneurial dreams via micro-lending with the Firefly Fibers lending team on! Of course, we're partial to women in the textile industry, but lending to anyone (man or woman in any industry) to help them achieve their entrepreneurial dreams is the end goal.

WHAT IS MICRO-LENDING? Sometime in the early 2000's, I read Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus and was moved by how a small amount of money (a micro-loan) can literally change someone's life (he also inspired the Kiva founders). Unfortunately, Kiva wasn't yet born at that time and micro-lending wasn't a matter a of just a few clicks on the Internet to help someone on the other side of the world. Thankfully, Kiva has changed that and is changing lives $25 (or more) at a time.

HOW DOES KIVA WORK AND IS IT SAFE? Yes, there's always a chance that a loan could default, but Kiva has a 96.9% loan repayment rate (when they repay, your money is returned and you can loan it out to someone else) and they've been around since 2005. Read more about the loan process and how it works here on Mr. Yarnista has yet to have a loan default. *knock on wood*

AM I LOANING ON KIVA? We both are! Mike's been at it for a while (he actually gave Kiva gift cards to family members as Christmas gifts this year) and I signed up for a Kiva lending account today, joined the Firefly Fibers team, and set up 2 loans in less than half an hour.

In keeping with International Women's Day, I loaned $25 each to help these women achieve their loan fulfillment (click through to read more about each, to see their loan progress, and support them):


Amani is in Palestine and she's 25 years old. Her loan is for a sewing machine, yarn and fabric.


Hli is in Thailand and her loan is for raw materials for weaving as she transitions into the role of main breadwinner of her family.

Again, as a woman-owned and operated business, Mike and I want to help other women in the textile industry achieve their entrepreneurial dreams, but we/you can loan to anyone! 

I hope this has inspired you to join our Kiva team and support entrepreneurs around the world! If you have any questions about micro-lending (or anything else really), just leave us a comment.


In the Kitchen | Let's talk about...

Let's talk about FOOD! I love food. I mean, I really LOVE food! I love cooking it and eating it and I even love reading books about food. Food. Is. Awesome. As you may know, these last few months have been insane in the most amazing of ways, but with the busyness of our lives, it's super easy to decide not to cook and just pick up take-out or eat something from a box a wee bit more than we should. I'm happy to report that has not been the case... thanks to Real Plans!

Real Plans is a subscription online meal planner offering a variety of options for dietary needs/restrictions that I discovered through one of my favorite foodies, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo and I've been using it ever since. I was instantly in love, but I wanted to see if the love wore off over time. It's been more than 3 months now and I love Real Plans even more today!


TRUE! I'm now spending a fraction of my previous planning time getting organized and cooking so much more for our family! Over the last 2+ years, cooking at home has become even more important for me with my celiac disease diagnosis, because in addition to it being rather difficult (and expensive) to dine out, we're also limited in options. I have yet to be bored with Real Plans and my 'to cook' list is growing weekly.

I've always loved cooking. My mom is a wonderful cook and shared the joy of the kitchen with me at an early age. I honestly can't even remember how young I was, but I do remember feeling right at home in the kitchen and it's the same to this day. I love the flavors, colors and smells of fresh food and making something delicious from scratch is one of my favorite past times. I enjoy it so much, that many times I'm at a crossroads of knitting or cooking and cooking can win that contest. I love cooking THAT much!

I also adore my cookbook collection (really, I'm a total sucker for pretty pictures of food and flipping through pages and putting on post-it notes), but getting organized for the week was time consuming and was expensive (really, I wanted everything) and I would much rather spend my available time actually cooking. But... I found that if I didn't spend the time planning, I'd toss whatever into the cart at the grocery store and so much of the food would go to waste over the next week because I lacked a plan. 

Now I spend about an hour each week planning things out and we're saving $ at the grocery store. Real Plans has paid for itself (and then some) with what we're saving. Wanna see how it works?

So... now I feel like this is an infomercial, but seriously, this has changed my life and I'd only share if I believed in it and I wholeheartedly do - I believe in it so much that I'm an affiliate now. I'm also asked frequently about how I plan food out and I've been so happy with Real Plans that I HAVE to share the joy! In addition to a HUGE library of recipes that are built in, there are some amazing additions that are really reasonably priced, including: Nom Nom Paleo, Whole 30, Well Fed, Cookie & Kate and more! AND... (yes, this is where I say... "wait, there's more!") you can modify the existing recipes (ingredients, portion size...) and you can add your own recipes. The latter is very important to me because I find so many delicious recipes online and it's as simple as adding a url to the recipe box or clicking on the Real Plans Chrome extension to add it. It's so easy and quite fun. 

That's all the words I have for you today. I'm passionate about cooking at home and healthy eating and I hope I've inspired you to get organized and into your kitchen. Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.



Leisure Time | Port Huron Brewing with guest Mr. Yarnista

He goes by many names - hubby, Mr. Yarnista, and (of course) Mike... - and today he's our guest here on the blog! Mike is very passionate about supporting small businesses and beer, and this year for his birthday he got to do both!

Here he is to tell you all about his special day. Enjoy!


This ended up being way late for a whole bunch of reasons, but mostly because I procrastinate... just like in school. I guess some things never change. I hope my boss doesn't fire me. Anyway, to the blog post:

Well, I did it again. I got older. It almost always seems to happen around this time of year. Summer is coming to an end, kids are going back to school, and I get older. For those of you that might want to send a gift the next time I get older you can reference the contact info on

When Alisa asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year I pretty much had an idea in mind. A couple of years ago an old high school friend opened a brewery in Wisconsin Dells. I’ve been wanting to visit since he opened, but for various reasons it never worked out. Tanner and I were both in the percussion section of the high school band. We also played drums in the jazz band. I was a Senior when he was a Freshman, but it wasn’t long before he was a better drummer than I was. I knew that the percussion section would be in good hands after I graduated. Wait a second…what was I talking about? Oh yeah, the guy with the beer. We invited a couple of good friends to join us, and, as she does every Saturday at 3, Alisa closed up the shop & we were off to Port Huron Brewing Company.

When we arrived we found Tanner sweeping up the tap room floor while his wife worked behind the bar serving up pints and flights. After a quick chat and introductions we sat down at the bar and ordered our first round of drinks. As we drank our beer the tap room continued to fill with people arriving for the 4:30 brewery tour. Then, Tanner grabbed a Pepsi and we were off to see the brewery.

If you’re ever in Wisconsin Dells I definitely recommend stopping by for a tour of the brewery. We’ve been on other brewery tours, but Tanner has a way of explaining the brewing process in plain English that non-brewers can understand. And, he puts a lot of his personality into it. You can really tell that he has a passion for his work.


Not only did we learn how beer is made, we learned how beer is made at Port Huron Brewing Company. PHBC has only one full-time employee, and Tanner is it. The bottling process generally takes 3-4 people to run smoothly. At bottling time he calls on friends and family to help him out. At the end of the tour Tanner talked about how everything got started. He went to school to learn about brewing (which included time in Germany) and then worked for a couple of local breweries, including Capital Brewery in Middleton. It was during this time that the joking from his friends and family started. “You should open your own brewery,” they said. Pretty soon the jokes weren’t so funny anymore as the business plan developed. Financing was obtained through those same friends and family who showed their faith in his desire and ability.

PHBC Tanner Solare

And he’s good at what he does! I don’t consider myself a “beer snob” by any means, but I appreciate a good beer. So, next time you’re out on the town and find yourself in a place that sells Port Huron Beer you should buy a whole bunch of it because it’s delicious and Tanner is awesome.

To find out where you can buy Port Huron beer you can click herehere, or over here and the Engine House Tap Room at Port Huron Brewing Company is currently open Friday's 3-9 PM and Saturdays 2-9PM (days and hours change seasonally, so visit the website before heading out).