Onward and Forward

I always feel a sigh of relief when the holiday season wraps up. I hate the kids going back to school, but there is a definite release of pressure and the calm new year to make friends with.


This is an especially exciting January. This year we are entrusting real walls with our food dream and creating a restaurant that will hopefully house customers all year at a semi continues rate. Food trucks are lovely, but winter and summer both hold their challenges from frozen pipes (and frozen customers—almost no customers) to hotbox days where you open the freezer just to cool your face down as you stand wondering what the F#%^*CK you were ever thinking. Nobody comes out for food when it’s a hundred degrees, so you just open to open and watch an empty concrete lot simmer in the sunshine. Yes, four walls, a ceiling, a floor and some good old-fashion tables accompanied by full backed chairs will surely go a long way.

Our house has made some exciting steps forward too, and our giant children are continuing to be more and more giant. I have written myself a list—still to be completed— of what I need to do this month:



  • Clean Floors
  • Empty and clean fridges
  • Empty of all equipment
  • Power-wash back
  • Take down signs
  • Light sand outside?
  • Scrub walls
  • Scrub steam table
  • Clean shed
  • Move fridges
  • List truck for sale


  • Paint
  • Wainscot
  • Sand tables
  • Assemble tables
  • Steam clean chairs
  • Purchase dishes/cups/bowls/silverware
  • Figure out bar top
  • Make wood signs
  • Complete menu
  • Make official ordering and shopping lists for each vendor
  • Choose and hang artwork/decorate restaurant space
  • Make bathrooms wonderful/paint and decorate


  • Trim door to basement
  • Install wood floor from kitchen to hall
  • Cap floor to dining room
  • Paint kitchen walls
  • Paint kitchen cabinets
  • Sand and paint bath tub
  • Organize sewing room
  • Hang kitchen doors
  • Hang bamboo on driveway gate
  • Dog door???


I also hope to get a little time to relax and recoup. I got some big paper, pastels and charcoal out. I figure maybe I’ll play a bit and see where that goes. I haven’t used charcoal or pastels in a long time.  In fact, I’ve been feeling artistically rusty lately. Not sure whether it’s just been a while, or if I am now past the age of being in tune and my personal flow of creativey has gone away. But that’s a post for another time. . .



Happy January Everyone!


A gift made my my dear friend Robin.

                                                           Cheers ~


Birthday Dinner


At long last I am actually writing this post. I have dreamed about this for almost as many years as I have been authoring this blog. It is with great satisfaction I can finally say–and mean it–The birthday book is done! 
crafts, chidren, homeschool, birthdays
I have told my husband and the kids so many times “the birthday book is done” that it started to loose meaning. Draft after draft, after frustrating small-tweaks-here-and-there draft, it is really truly completely, no-more-to-do done. I invite you to to pop some champagne for me… no not really, I can do that myself, but geez luize, it is good to put this one on the shelf and say fini! 
crafts, chidren, homeschool, birthdays
It was a project my good friend Robin and I started back when the kids were little. We traveled through so many stages of our lives and I have lived in five houses since we started. I guess I like to move! Or it has just taken a long time and finding the place that is home takes a long time too. 
But anyway, enough about that, here are some of my favorite images from the book:

Filled to the brim with step-by-step instructions for making original gifts, favors, cakes, wrapping, decorations and games, BIRTHDAYS: HANDMADE, HOMEMADE is interwoven with stories, photographs, illustrations and anecdotes. We invite readers to pull up a chair, pour a cup of tea and spend the afternoon making and creating. Our goal is to offer inspiration on how to make a birthday handmade, homemade and your very own.
Readers will love the creative ideas that make this book so personal and tangible. Projects range from fast and easy . . . Dinosaurs in real eggshells, to more timely and in depth . . . Dining table forts. Young parents and do-it-yourself enthusiasts will find endless help onhow to prepare and execute a homemade birthday party.
At a time when it seems like families are trying to take back just a bit of their own and blogs hum with self-reliant know-how, this book is a great jumping-off point for those aiming to leave commercialism behind and bring it all back to the ones they love. 
Birthdays: Handmade, Homemade is available online. 
crafts, chidren, homeschool, birthdays

Hope everyone is enjoying summer!


P.S. I have one copy to give away, so if you live in the United States and would like to enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below. I’ll pick a name at random and post a winner Sunday July 23rd.

Vegan Sweet Potato and Lime Soup Recipe


Dear Country Mouse,

Oh my gosh it is so dark and rainy up here. I do love it, but seriously it is rain, rain, rain right now. I’m trying to send some of this dripping, wet, goodness southward, but I have yet to succeed.

Your succulents are so wonderful! How fun to find the old pieces of ceramic-ware to turn into pots. Come spring, I think I will do that with a couple of my cracked tea pots I’ve been holding on to.

I made a nice sweet potato and lime soup today. Just note, I kept it vegan for the sake of some of my regular customers that I was expecting, though it would be lovely with chicken stock instead. You’d think my food truck was vegan as lately all the recipes I send you tend to be vegan. But truth is, as you know, we are far from it.

food truck, swwet potato soup

Vegan Cream of Sweet Potato Soup

Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft:

2 lbs sweet potatoes

In a decent size pot sauté for several minutes:

1 teaspoon safflower oil

1 large sweet yellow onion chopped

Add and continue to sauté for several more minutes:

2 cloves garlicchopped

Add and simmer for 20 minutes:

4 cups vegetable stock

Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and blend with:

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

Continue to blend adding the soup stock and add:

2 limes zest and juice

3 tablespoons molasses

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon saltor more to taste

1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

Return to the pot and bring to a desired temperature.

Also, I liked it with tabasco and  fresh parsley or cilantro on top. 

Anyway, I love you to pieces! Thanks for the cool idea on plant pots, I will be on that soon.

Hugs and hugs again,

City Mouse

Strawberries and Biscuits… a recipe…


Dear Country Mouse,

Today I realized strawberries taste like springtime. I was making salad at the pie-truck, our seasonal salad which is  made up of mixed baby greens, candied walnuts and bright, red sliced strawberries, when I couldn’t help but pop a slice in my mouth. We did the same salad last year for as long as decent strawberries held out and then moved on to autumn and winter fruits. Later on when winter was gearing up for spring I cheated—impatient me—I couldn’t wait and started our strawberry salad before the season was abundant. I should have waited. This morning as I sneaked that slice of strawberry, I tasted true, brilliant, vibrant flavor so different and so much more definable than it’s cardboard counterpart that I had been wasting my time with. My tongue shouted SPRING. And, the best part, we aren’t even onto my favorite variety yet. I like the little button-like strawberries, so almost pungent and deeply determined to carry through.  With a quick cut of the stem, the whole berry gets added to the salad. 

The Best Biscuit Recipe

The Best Biscuit Recipe

So Dear Country Mouse, we should have strawberry short cake soon. I have truly found a wonderful biscuit recipe, it has been honed over this years time, and after three hundred and fifty-five  days of making biscuits, I do want to share it with you.

Biscuit Recipe (copyrighted Paiku 2015)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

In a food processor pulse, or if you don’t have one simply combine: 
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder

Slice then add and pulse until resembles crumbs (or if using your hands crumble with your fingers until it looks like a coarse crumb-like texture)

12 tablespoons cold butter

Add and pulse until combined:
1 + 1/2 cups sour cream

Add and pulse until combined:
1/2 cup water

Press into a one-inch thick rectangle and cut into twelve equal squares.
Place on a buttered cookie-sheet. Bake at 375 for ten minutes, rotate pan and bake ten more.

Hope you are well and write soon!!!

   City Mouse


Monday, monday…

Dear Country Mouse,

It was so nice to chat on the phone today, even if just for a few minutes. After we got off I spent my morning drawing:

Then we managed to hit the woods for a bit. (we are planning our future wilderness living)

The drawing I worked on is for our one-year anniversary of opening the pie truck. So exciting! We will be making T shirts to wear, and sell, what do you think? 

Hope you had a nice day off; free of too much other work : )

     Sending lots of love,
               City Mouse

    P.S. We are considering getting a puppy. Talk me out of it!


Flowers and Tomatoes…


Dear Country Mouse,

How is your week going? Did the rain come? I took today off. I still plan to head down and putt around the pie-truck a bit, help get it open, but I mostly plan to have a leisure day at home. Hooray, there are never enough of those.

Did Alena like Annalisa’s work? It really makes me want to get out needle and thread and make some pictures for my wall. Readers, you can still enter to win a print of her work…

The plant nursery near my house says they’ll have tomato plants in by today. I’m so excited to pick some up get them in the soil. The sky is gray and dripping just enough to be perfect for planting.

I just read a very invigorating blog post on Floret Flower’s Farm Journal, totally inspiring for my tiny backyard… and yours? She has such a lovely blog, but this post is so inspiring as it tells about a Toronto based florist, Sarah Nixon who grows her gardens in other peoples yards. Grass roots or what??? I spend so much time trying to figure a plan for my wee yard. Remember when we used to sit in my half-acre expanse and ooo and ahhh over all the space? Well now we both have mini plots to work with. I say it’s a fun challenge.

All right beautiful lady,

Let’s talk soon!

             City Mouse

P.S. Kiss the kids for me!

Shall we hike?


Today I snuck away from the truck early to hike a small round of Sauvie Island. It is mostly a large meadow with old oaks covered in moss and lichen.  We were met by cows as we drove up the gravel road to park…


It has been a while since I was is such a wide open field and it made me want to run and jump like a pony…

I took extra special care to stop and capture pictures of mushrooms. I figure if we ever manage to shrink, we’ll need to have made our acquaintance with most of these lovely specimens… Which one shall we live under? Or we can keep looking for one with a wider brim… 

Hope you are having a good week!

Sending love,

     City Mouse

P.S.  Tea?

Launching: Dear Country Mouse…

Hello Everyone Lovely,

I am so excited to post about a new blog my goodest friend Robin and I are Launching:


Please stop by and check it out!
                                         All my best!