At Christmas time I had searched for an easy way to prepare eggs for a group. I like cooking up omelets, but they need to be prepared right before serving time and eaten when still hot.

We had some great omelets cooked for us recently on an overnight in Minneapolis. We waited in line at an Embassy Suites while the grill cook quickly prepared one after another for hotel guests.

It was the Italian frittata that I wanted to prepare for Christmas Day breakfast. I'd printed out a few versions of it and set aside the directions until the morning when we needed them. Cory and Molly were my helpers Christmas morning and they mixed up the frittata.

There are a couple of ways a frittata can be prepared. One way is to partially cook it over the stove in a heavy skillet, similar to cooking an omelet. Then sprinkle it with cheese and put it under an oven broiler for the last few minutes of cooking.

Another way is to do all the cooking by baking it in the oven. This sounded like what I wanted for our holiday company. I liked the idea of a cheesy egg mixture with veggies cooked in it, too boot. It could be turned out onto a serving plate and cut into wedges-perfect for a group to pass around the table.

Although two of the recipes I'd found were very specific, a third recipe was more along the lines of how I like to cook. It included eggs, "a handful of cheese, a splash of milk," plus vegetables, seasonings and "anything else you want to throw together." Another source mentioned this was a way to use up leftover vegetables.

Wedges of leftover frittata could be easily reheated. Since I like to cook a few times and eat from the cooking lots of times, the idea of leftovers is always welcome to me.

On a recent weekend, we had a last minute change of plans. We'd planned to go up north to our cabin over the long Presidents Day weekend. When we realized the following weekend was the Birkie cross-country ski race that ends in Hayward, Wis., we changed our plans.

I had been so intent on making our stay last three days, that I forgot to check when this year's race was taking place. We had spent part of the prior weekend in Minneapolis, so I actually found having more time at home a welcome thought. I would finally get the Christmas boxes put away.

It was also a family member's birthday, so even better to stay at home and party here.

So that Friday evening, I wanted to make something easy for our evening meal. Fridays are usually my big cooking night for my husband's benefit. I am sort of the mad cook in the kitchen, creating a huge mess, eating, then crashing to watch TV or a movie, but never cleaning up the mess until the next morning.

Thanks to my son, Logan, (and his hens) I have plenty of eggs in the fridge to cook and so I thought about trying a frittata again. Once more, I pulled up images on the Internet and checked recipes. One was pictured with chunks of bacon in it, others were formed in cupcake tins and one had globs of goat cheese in it.

Using the basic recipe from Christmas, I incorporated chopped onion and peppers, sliced mushrooms, spinach, two types of cheese, fresh basil leaves, and oh yeah, bacon! My only mistake was pouring the mixture into the spring-form pan without first lining it with parchment paper.

I was horrified when I realized egg was pouring out the bottom and down the side of the cupboard. Quickly, I poured it back into the mixing bowl, cleaned the pan, lined it with parchment paper and after adding a couple more eggs, poured it back into the pan.

Whew! After about 20 minutes in the oven, our eggs were ready!

Although we postponed our cabin visit, and haven't been up there since the last three-day holiday weekend in January, we look forward to a return next weekend. In spite of it being weeks since we were there, other family members have visited and made sure everything was in order. My daughter, Amanda, was up there over Super Bowl weekend and Dale's son, Brock, was there another weekend.

We have a protocol that allows guests to visit, while leaving it ready for someone else to come. One thing I quickly realized when adding a second home to our life was that I could not quite do everything myself. So guests get to make their own beds with a second set of clean sheets when they leave.

And it is a house with cleaning materials and a vacuum, so anyone can spruce it up and leave it ready to welcome the next guests (or ourselves).

My husband and I are progressing toward retirement, so the recent stay in the Cities involved sitting down with a coach who gave us advice on preparing our finances and having a realistic view on the income needed for the expenses we imagine we'll have. We both have our 62nd birthdays in July. Although I will continue working at one of my jobs (the part-time one), my husband will retire from his.

Oddly, we had a similar meeting with a financial rep six years ago. At that time, the adviser had told my husband he could have retired then, which was really a novel thought to him. I knew I wasn't ready, but because we went through the exercise of projecting expenses and income from various sources, we had made it much easier for ourselves now.

For Dale, the house up north has become a huge motivator in leaving his job. He has been busy drawing up to-scale plans for an addition he wants to build. He measures and re-measures. He was sure he knew how big the addition should be until he added cut-outs of a coach and loveseat and realized it might be too shallow. So we agreed, two feet more.

My big deal is having a kitchen that's easy to work in, with more counter space than I have now and enough cupboard space. This has been a big challenge for him, in finding a way to retrofit a kitchen that is basically a nine-by-nine room.

There are some odd things about the house that need to be reversed and set back to normal standards. We moved into a raised rambler that should have been a split entry, as it was originally built. One reason we were able to purchase the place reasonably was the real oddities that turned off other prospective buyers.

And when we looked at lake homes, Dale kept saying he wanted to purchase "a diamond in the rough" and that is what we got. We have fallen in love with the house, as is, however.

Besides visiting the retirement counselor, we also attended the Cabin Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center. So we gathered a big bagful of additional ideas and Dale located local sources for some of the materials he wants to use.

Truthfully, I am glad to let him do all the planning, so I only have to occasionally redirect to make sure the end result is a very livable space. For example, I wanted to be sure there would be room to set up a long table for a holiday crowd.

One thing that keeps appearing in photographs of vacation homes are kitchen islands with stools for guests, which makes the kitchen a centerpiece while food is being prepared and a casual place to eat. And thus, current plans include both an island and a counter with stools extending from the kitchen into the new addition.

Although retirement is coming soon for us, we have some months left to prepare.

The following is the frittata as I prepared it recently. Remember, this is one of those recipes that can be adapted to whatever vegetables, cheeses or other ingredients one might have on hand, in addition to eggs, the primary ingredient.