Step by step

From reports on Rome to winter dance performances, January was truly a jumble of fullness. I’ve been working on vegan recipes to add to our menu so there has been a bit of a scramble in the kitchen too. So far I feel confident in a new chocolate mousse made with coconut milk and deep, dark chocolate. I think the vegan crowd will consider it acceptable. I am now onto more savory options. As much as I eat meat, when I go out to dinner I notice I rarely will choose a meat option unless I trust where the meat is coming from and feel comfortable with how clean the kitchen is that it will be prepared in.  We will only be serving the most amazing meats, and our kitchen will be kept very clean, but I really do feel we need more vegan and vegetarian options. My husband keeps mentioning it as well. So right now that is on my mind, along with OLCC licensing paperwork, the bar top order (more on that next post) and all the little things that fall in-between.

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vegan mousse

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Even though we are still a good month out, spring has been peeking its bright head around the corner, and as you can see I have a stack of books that would make a bookworm proud. Though my ability to read through it may make them cringe, but hey there is no deadline . . .

 

Hope everyone is well! Happy February!

 

Cheers~

Marica

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.

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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:

 

Foodtruck:

  • 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

Restaurant:

  • 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

House:

  • 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. . .

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Happy January Everyone!

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A gift made my my dear friend Robin.

                                                           Cheers ~

                                                                            Marica

Better Blogging and big projects to come!

I realized—and I have realized this before— that I feel better when I blog. It’s almost like a chance to sneak away into my own mind/space/creative (for lack of a better word) time. I am so busy that it is much more rare that I sit down to write a post, but it sure does feel good. And when I say was busy, I’m a little scared of what is to come. We are taking a big step and opening a restaurant. Our food truck has been a wonderful chance to get ourselves prepped for this, but now we feel we have outgrown our food truck kitchen and are ready to plunge into full brick and mortar mode.

The shop will be only a 2-3 minute walk from our house, which is incredible as the kids as well as my husband and I can just jaunt over there as we are needed and whenever we please. It’s small, probably seats between 38-44 guests, and the kitchen is going to be AMAZING! I have dreamed restaurant for my entire life. As a child I wanted a place called The Secret Garden, a place where customers dined amongst shrubs and flowering bushes. This place is neither secret, or a garden, but it is going to be special, and a chance to have the atmosphere and coziness that a food truck just can’t offer. The contractors say it will be ready late January to mid February. This actually gives me a whole month of time at home and time to prepare for the restaurant. I’ll add more pictures as there is more progress. IMG_2872IMG_2777IMG_2647

                          Happy Friday Everyone!

                                                              ~ Marica

A kitchen that is almost done…

As per my usual way of doing things, I decided to fix our kitchen midst every other golly gosh thing going on—more on that soon. So here are some pictures of the before and almost after. I say almost because there are a few more steps in place before it becomes a finished ordeal. We are at a reasonable stopping place, but not a done spot.

I had this incredible helper who dug in with both hands. It was such a pleasure to work with him!

He got this picture of me proving my ever-lasting strength!
But true credit goes to the crowbar. Without a crowbar it would have been impossible…

This here is our new baby stove. Just in time to cook Christmas dinner too!

Happy Holidays!
                Marica

The BIRTHDAY BOOK IS DONE!!!

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! 
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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! 
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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. 
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Hope everyone is enjoying summer!
                                   

                                              Cheers~
                                                         Marica

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.

Run, Jump, New Year and New House…

Wow, how to even begin to catch up. Life has been roaring ahead over here in this little part of the world. I am beginning to learn that I somewhat like that—in fact I crave change—of course, only good, wanted, purposeful change.
To start we managed to sell our dreamy home we left behind in California. This was a huge step, in that it enabled us to find a new settling spot here in the city of Portland that we love.
To be honest, I had my eye on this house before our California place was even on the market. I dreamed about it, I held my breath about it, I waited to see about it, I didn’t even let myself check up about it… On and on for six-whole-months. The second our place in California sold I had my phone in my hand and was calling our realtor to request to go see it. It was love at first sight again! I say again because this was the same reaction I had to the first house we bought in California. It was right in a place inside me that is not really possible to describe.  
  
I should back up and explain we did drive by it when it first came on the market and I knew it was the place then too, hence the holding breath and dreaming. But the very moment of stepping up onto the porch was such a resounding feeling. It echoed “yes” and I could here my husband’s mind saying the same thing.  
The amazing part was, as we stumbled through what we hoped would become the newest member of our family, was that no one had put in a real offer on the house yet, our offer would be the first legitimate one, or so we thought.  The price had come down—which was of absolute importance to make the purchase possible—and it was truly like the house sat waiting for us. But, as stories like to go, hours before our offer went in another couple had put in a higher offer and the owners accepted it. I was blow away. Six months of patient dreaming, hoping all ducks would align, to come to the last three hours? The silliest part being that we had the chance to put in an offer the night we saw the house and me, trying to be “reasonable and less urgent then I usually am” agreed to wait until morning to put our offer in. I tend to have ideas and want to jump on them that very minute before I have time think or let the daisies grow. 
Well it was a harrowing few weeks as we once again waited, hoping somehow our back up offer would make its way to first position. Each phone call I received I would pounce, hoping there was a 303 in the number which would mean it was from our agent. I swept back and forth between frustration of wanting to make it happen and regret that we had miss-stepped, to the satisfaction that if it didn’t happen it was for the best, because how could fate have left it to depend on the last few hours unless somehow “fate” was involved. On a mellow Thursday, when I had finally given way to the fact it really wasn’t going to happen, I got a call. I didn’t jump, I was past the “jump because it might be” situation, and on to the stage of “we’re not getting the house, what’s our next plan.” I had been looking at houses in this area for over two years. This was the first place that had the essence of what we wanted. Portland, being a “green city” tends to have small yards. There are rules about not pushing the boundaries and causing sprawl into the wilderness. The reasonable thing to do is keep splitting larger lots up into several smaller lots to add more and more houses. Logical? Yes, but truly heart breaking. I like space. I like to stretch my arms and know that I am not going to elbow my neighbor in the noes. I like to look out and see trees and flowers. We, as a family, like to host parties and play in the dirt. And so, when I received the call, the one that after I said hello I hear “congratulations!” on the other end, I took a second to let it absorb.
All those months of waiting. And then all those weeks of trying to let go. It was a wonderful moment. And what a feeling, as I have been pulling up carpets and tearing down old mirrors, I have taking the first steps to get to know this new place.  A place that someday will feel so much a part of me that as I said before, it will be a family member. 

Many, many more pictures to come.
                                                         Cheers,
                                                                        Marica