Small Things Like These

VeloAsia’s gift to the Vietnam cyclists

It was 22 years ago that our son, Travis, and Andy travelled to Vietnam with the tour company VeloAsia – and bicycled from the north to the south of Vietnam. When they arrived in Dalat on Christmas Eve, tired and dirty, they were asked to immediately sit down to an elaborate dinner at the Dalat Palace (5-Star) Hotel; this little hand-made bicycle was the favor each received at that dinner. It’s been in our workshop – unloved and under-appreciated – until this last Christmas, when Andy got it out to show it (again) to Travis…and to reminisce about their trip.

Here’s the route Travis and Andy rode

No, the German-made wool felt mice were not part of the original. We added them in January of this year, thanks to the wonderful Kenwood, CA Swede’s Feeds and their amazing selection of unique little gifts (in addition to big gifts, plants and pet food). I am particularly fond of the arrangement of the mice in the bike. The petite orange mouse (surely it’s a girl mouse) is in front and enjoying leading the way. But the larger, handsome and happy purple mouse is right behind her. He (surely it’s a boy mouse) has got her back and will always be there if she needs him. Maybe he even gives her shoulder and neck massages when she gets a little tense as they travel along. He’s probably glad he’s not bicycling alone and she really loves his calming presence.

This mouse and bike combo – now at home on our kitchen table – is a small thing – but it makes us smile each time we sit down to eat.

Speaking of small things, Andy in today’s Andy’s Corner writes about some small things in our daily lives that may seem innocuous but if ignored can lead to big trouble.  

Seems like small things can have huge impacts.

I think I’m not alone in feeling that the last three years have left many of us a little overwhelmed and not always operating at full speed. For example, I’ve always loved to read but the unread books are piling up; I enjoyed Hilary Mantel’s first two novels in her Wolf House trilogy – but The Mirror and the LIght, with its tiny print and 784 pages, just overwhelmed me. I’m trying to get into The Books of Jacob but am afraid I’ll be at death’s door by the time I get through all of its 992 pages.

Painting by Alejandra Villegas from Oaxaca, Mexico

Maybe that’s why these two recently purchased books by the Irish writer Claire Keegan appeal. They’re so short and small that they barely qualify as novels or even novellas; they’re kind of long short stories. And – better yet – the print is so big I can read them without reading glasses! 🙂

I ordered the 2010 novella, “Foster,” by Keegan when I saw it listed as one of the top 50 novels of the 21st century (according to the Times of London). I think I can be forgiven for not reading it sooner, since it wasn’t available in the US in book format until this past November.

“Small Things Like These” was short-listed for the 2022 Booker Prize

And then I bought “Small Things Like These” (how could I be so lucky as to get a book with the exact title of my blog?!).

These two little novellas – about Irish families in the 1980’s – are both a good read, but I have to say that “Foster”, narrated by a young girl, was my favorite. I loaned it to my neighbor Deb who reports “Wow! So simple yet powerful. Being inside this young girl’s head and being a part of her journey…her life tools were so minimal and yet under the veil of care and goodness, she blooms, ever so slowly.”

And there’s still one more small thing that’s making us smile. It’s our tomato seedlings, which finally sprouted after a long, harried wait and are now almost ready to transplant. After enhancing our soil with soil amendment, buying some Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer and a small grow light to help the seedlings grow – and paying an outrageous amount for about 20 teensy, organic unusual-variety tomato seeds, I figure each tomato we may be lucky enough to harvest will have cost probably $10! Maybe more! 🙂

As for food, there are lots of small – yet delicious – individual-sized desserts, and eating itsy bitsy desserts frees you from guilt about eating sweets. For winter you can’t go wrong with our little Louisiana Pecan Tassies. But spring is here and these petite blueberry cheesecakes are perfect.

Small-Little-Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

Small-LIttle-Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

  • Servings: makes 24 mini size
  • Print

You can easily double this and make standard cupcake size cheesecakes. Recipe adapted from Southern Living

  • 24 paper mini baking cups
  • 1 c cookie crumbs made from any crisp gourmet cookies (such as Lotus Biscoff)
  • 3 1/2 T butter, melted
  • Pinch of Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 1/2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 c blueberry preserves (Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Preserves is a good choice)
  • 1/2 c fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325°. Place paper baking cups in 1 (24-cup) mini-size muffin pan.

Stir together cookie crumbs, butter, and pinch of salt. Firmly press about 1 tsp crumb mixture into bottom of each baking cup (I used a glass jigger to help press evenly)

Bake at 325° for 6 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add the egg, beating until mixed in well.

Divide mixture among prepared baking cups, filling each cup almost to the top. You may have some batter left over.

Bake at 325° for 15 to 20 minutes or until just set. Cool on wire rack 30 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover and chill for a few hours before serving. If you have extras, they can be frozen.

When ready to serve, top each cheesecake with 1 tsp. preserves and surround with a few blueberries.

Recipe brought to you by and Andy and Ann.


  1. Nancy says:

    Let’s hear it for the small things in life! You mentioned two of my favorites. I loved Foster by Claire Keegan (had a good cry at the end) and I make your Simple Red Lentil Soup recipe often…always with Garam Masala. I can’t wait to try the Small Little Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes. Thank you!


  2. Anonymous says:

    Aw, this is almost directly romantic. It will surely never be divulged who the he is in this little anecdote. “Maybe he even gives her shoulder and neck massages when she gets a little tense as they travel along. He’s probably glad he’s not bicycling alone and she really loves his calming presence.”


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