All we need is love

All we need is love
All we need is love

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Red, White and Blue Carnations- the result

This wacky experiment took an unexpected turn this morning, as we woke up to find our split carnation broken completely in half and lying on the counter. But, we did not give up. We cut another white flower down the center and this time placed it in half green and half purple water.

Why did we try purple again? Well, over night, before the flower broke, our split flower had soaked up the blue dye but not the purple dye. We were excited to see a purple carnation! Since my kids both love the color purple, we thought we'd give it another go!

This is what the set-up looked like. Since we had to start over again, we'll have to wait a bit to see some results. These things take time!

Our blue dye carnations turned out just lovely! They are going to be the perfect addition to our 4th of July flower arrangement!

Check back later for a post
to see what became of the green and purple flower experiment!

Friday, June 29, 2012


I made sauce today. I say "today" and literally mean it- it takes all day to make. But that's okay- it's worth every second because it's amazing. My Dad handed down the recipe to me and my siblings, and it is probably my entire family's favorite thing in this world to eat. In fact, we went around the table once and had the cousins say their favorite color, food, etc.. 
I'm sure I don't have to tell you what MOST of them said.

I can't give you the recipe 'cause then I'd have to kill you. LOL! 
 I just wanted to show you some of my mason jars filled with this beautiful goodness from today's batch and make you drool a bit. Happy dinner tonight!

Red, white and blue Carnations- the project

Although July 4th is still nearly a week away, I thought we would start on a project to add a little festive decor to our home as the day approaches. I picked up some red and white carnations from the flower shop today with the intent on making some of the white ones blue. Red, white and blue carnations is what I am hoping to have once the day is through.
I have no idea if they will turn out, but I guess we will see tomorrow! 
Here's what we did.

We took 2 glass cylinders filled them half way up with water.

Then we put a few drops of royal blue food coloring into one, and some purple in the other. Why purple?? Well, we had an additional experiment going. I'll tell you about that too.

We used Gel Paste food coloring that I purchased at the cake decorating store. It creates a more intense color with just a small amount of product.
  Then we took an Xacto knife and very carefully sliced one of the carnations in half length-wise (for the purpose of our additional experiment of course).

We placed 2 of the carnations in the glass containing blue water within seconds of trimming the ends off. Then we took the carnation with the stem that was sliced in half and placed half the stem in one glass and half in the other. I can't wait to see what happens! I wonder if it will make a difference!

Check back tomorrow and see the results of our little experiment! See you then!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Rainbow Ring

Aria made this adorable ring the other day by painting the underside of one of those flat-bottomed glass stones used in decorating. Then she hot-glued it to a simple metal ring base. Isn't it cute?? She's so crafty!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Creative Itch. . .

I am having a creative itch. I get it every once it a while. Just about every day I am flexing my creative muscle in some way or another, but from time to time, I get this need to make something uber-creative. It's usually a cake of some sort.
I used to bake and decorate cakes for a living. I had my own business, Custom Cakes by Sarah- a name I still use when I get the occasional cake job. I stopped accepting cake jobs a couple of year ago because it was too much on my plate given the fact that I had graduated from school and was working full time as an RN. Sometimes I really miss it.
Now is one of those times. Since there is no one commissioning me to create a masterpiece for a wedding, I'll have to make my own design for an event I like to call, "Just because". I have an idea in mind of what I might like to make- a creature of some sorts- a fantastical, reality-meets-cartoon-like creature. I can't wait to get started and show you what I have come up with!

In thinking about this future cake project, I decided to look through some pics from my old portfolio. I came across some pics of a car cake I made ages ago. Not your typical sheet cake-eh??
This was a fun one! It's making me super excited to get decorating!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bandera's Grilled Artichokes with Remoulade

What you see here is one of our family's favorite dinners- grilled steak and artichokes with Remoulade (not pictured). Of course we love a juicy, flavorful, grilled steak, but the real favorite is the grilled artichoke.
(Don't you just love the funny face Aria made it into??)
Greg and I have been going to this restaurant in Scottsdale, Bandera's, since one of our first dates, and HE has been going there even longer than that! We have always gotton the artichoke appetizer. We CRAVE it! Even on a date night when we were not eating there, we will occasionally stop by for a choke and a drink (me- an Amaretto Sour, and Greg- a Kettel One Martini with 3 blue cheese olives, "up"). After 10 years of this, we thought we would try to create it on our own, and let me just say, it's so good that we haven't been back to Bandera's in quite a while! Want the recipe? Here it goes!

Bandera's Grilled Artichoke with Remoulade

1 Artichoke per person, halved, trimmed and with the choked removed
1 small lemon per artichoke, halved
Montreal steak seasoning

Remoulade (outrageously yummy dipping sauce)
2 cups Mayonaise
2 Tablespoons whole seed mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Teaspoon of Worchestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons capers
2 Tablespoons sweet relish
3-4 cloves of fresh minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare your artichokes and then add them to a pot of boiling water with your lemons, squeezed with juice, rind and all. Boil on low for about 15 minutes. Remove them from the pot and allow to cool in the refrigerator for atleast a half an hour.
Preheat your grill. Drizzle your artichokes with EVOO and  season with the Montreal Steak Seasoning then place them on the grill, turning until lighly heated through and you've made some nice grill marks on it. We like a little charring on the outside as well. It gives it great flavor, just like Bandera's make it.
In the meantime, place all of your Remoulade ingredients in a foodprocessor container and process until incorporated. It won't be smooth- you will want the chunkiness- but you want the relish and capers to be broken down a bit. Serve this along side your choke for dipping and enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Poker Card Streamers

 My sisters threw a poker party for my brothers-in-law for their birthdays last night and had these adorable card streamers hanging from the ceiling. I couldn't get a great picture of them to capture how great they looked, but I am sure you can get the idea. 
Apparently they got the idea from my pretty paper garland that I made for Aria's party a couple months ago. I think it's genius! They bought a few decks of cards from the dollar store, and then sewed them together right down the center. 
Simple, creative, perfect
Great job girls! I'm impressed!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Paracord Survival Bracelet Tutorial

Last week I saw some friends of mine wearing these cool Paracord Survival Bracelets. I asked where they got them and they said that they MADE them! Apparently they sell them at places like R.E.I. (Recreational Equipment Inc.) for about $10+, but you can easily make them for a fraction of the cost. In fact, we purchased 100 feet of cord (from R.E.I.) in 2 different colors for a little under $10. That will make you a ton of them for yourself and to give away as gifts. 

Here's what the two toned ones look like. They are reversible, so it's like getting two bracelets in one! That's Aria's favorite part about them. I agree, but really the best part about them is that they are made out of about 6-8 continuous feet of very strong utility cord that can be disassembled in the event of an emergency and used for whatever the need. They are perfect to wear when camping, fishing, hiking or any outdoor activity where emergencies may arise.

 Plus- they are easy enough that the kids can make them! 

Today, they made themselves one, plus one for their dad, and their uncles for their birthdays!

Here's out tutorial explaining how to make them. The hardest part is getting started, but once you have done one, you can do another in about 10 minutes time.

Paracord Survival Bracelet Tutorial

First gather your supplies. All you need is a lighter, a pair of scissors and at least 10 feet of utility cord or paracord. I'm sure you can buy it other places, but we bought it at R.E.I. You can use two colors like we did, but that's not essential, we just like the way it looks.

Next, take the end of each color of cord and fray them a bit with your fingers. Then, melt them with a lighter for about 15-20 seconds until they liquify a bit and then join them together firmly, pressing with your fingers as they cool. Be careful not to burn yourself in this process. 

It should look like this when it's fused. It helps to give it a couple good tugs before your continue to ensure that you have a secure fusion.
Once you have fused them, fold it in half from the center and measure 3-4 feet of doubled cord, then cut. This will give you 6-8 continuous feet of cord.

(You will need no more than 6 continuous feet to make a child or woman's bracelet and up to 8 to make a grown man's bracelet.)

Now, take another piece of cord and fold it in half. Make this long enough to wrap around your wrist plus a couple of inches. You want to tie a knot in the open end. The bracelet should be long enough so that when it's completed, the knot will slip through the loop in the end and stay on your wrist. 

I'll refer to this as the bracelet base.

**Here's a reference for how long to make the bracelet base:
Aria's base- from the inside of the knot to loop end was 6 inches (she's 10)
My base- from inside of the knot to loop end was 7 inches  (I'm an average adult woman)
Greg's base- from inside of the knot to loop end was 9 inches (he's got big burley man hands :o))

We took this old scrap of wood from the garage that had screws in it to hold our cords while we wove it, but it isn't necessary. Aria make one while Cole was using the wood piece by taping the end to a table. Just use your creativity and you'll find a way to make it that works for you. 

So, take your bracelet base and secure it to something to stabilize it.

Next, place your fused cord behind it, with the jointed section in the center.

Take one side (in this case it's the blue side) and loop it over the bracelet base to form a backward "C".


Then take the other side (the black cord) and bring in over (or on top of) the blue cord. 


Now bring the black cord behind the bracelet base like shown.


Pull the black cord up and through the blue loop like this.

Give it a nice tug and you should have your first knot! It should look like this. Make sure the jointed piece stays centered behind the bracelet base.

In the picture to the right, 2 more knots have already been tied. But I wanted to show you that once you have completed the last knot shown, you do the same process for the next knot, it's just reversed. Let me show you.
First make a "C" with the blue cord over top of the bracelet base. 

 Now, bring the black cord over top of the blue one.

Then, pull the black cord behind the bracelet base, as before.

Pull the black cord up and through the blue "C" loop.

 Pull the cord tight and you will have made another knot!

Notice as you continue that one color will remain in the center and the other will flank it on the borders. This is how you will ensure you are doing it right.
Once you have knotted it all the way down the length of the bracelet base, trim the excess and burn the frayed end until it liquifies. Then press the melted tip into the side of the bracelet to secure it. If this step is not done correctly, your bracelet will unravel.
You can also trim the excess cord past the knot end and burn that as well to seal it.

So there you have it- your very own Paracord Survival Bracaelet! Now put it on and wear it proud! When an emergency arises, you just might be the one prepared to save the day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Norman Family Game Night

Scrabble anyone??? 
I don't know about you, but I find that we need to organize lots of media-free activities for the family during the lazy days of Summer or the kids and the hubby will just want to fall into a drooling stupor in front of the television, computer or another media feeder of some sort. One thing we like to do when we have a free hour is play a board game. Scrabble is one of my favorites  (probably because I'm good at it), but I also enjoy it because it really makes the kids use their brains!
 I would have to say that our family favorite is not Scrabble, but a strategy game called Blokus. (I'll have to tell you about it sometime.) No matter what the game though, I love the time we spend engaging together in one activity. We joke around, share in victories and failures and learn how to be better sports. 
We played a game tonight. . . . Aria won by a whopping 2 points! It was so nice just being close to my kids and being able to stare at their beautiful faces for an hour. I hope this encourages you to pull out a family game from your closet tonight and spend a little quality time with the ones you love.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sunsplash Wednesdays

We started a tradition a couple years ago in going to Sunsplash every Wednesday for a few hours or more. We meet up with Aunt Suzi and her kids so Cole and one of his favorite cousins, Erik, can play together. Aria usually brings a friend or tags along with the boys.
Normally, it would be quite expensive at about $30 per person for a day's admission. Instead, we purchase a Summer pass at the beginning of the season for about $60 each and we can go as often as we like  from mid-May through August. It's a great way to cool off and have a some fun, especially for us since we don't have a pool. 
It's definitely something we look forward to each. I'll have to bring my camera along one day and take some pictures of the kids on the slides. Until then, here's Aria and some of her girlies before a day of sun!

My angels!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tools I Love- Scoopers

Scoopers. One tool I never had a decent version of. . . . unitl now. About a year ago I bought myself one of these awesome stainless steel scoopers from my one of my favorite stores, ABC Cake Decorating Supplies, and I have never looked back! They cost about $12 a piece, regardless of the size, but they have nice variety of sizes to choose from to use for all sorts of purposes.
I am sure you are seeing these things and you might be wondering why you would need different sized ice cream scoopers. Well, these babies aren't just for scooping out Ben and Jerrys. They can also be used for portioning out anything that you need consistent amounts of. . . .  like cake batter into muffin tins. Using these, you can scoop out your batter quickly and efficiently, without making a mess and ensure consistently-sized cupcakes. This I love!
Here I have one for regular sized cupcakes and one for mini cupcakes. They can also be used for scooping out cookie dough for perfectly porportioned cookies or even pancake batter. I'm sure the uses are endless, I just haven't encountered them yet!
If you know of any that I haven't noted, you should mention them in a comment below! What do YOU use them for???

Monday, June 18, 2012


This is Greg. . . . and this is a kumquat. 
This is the first kumquat Greg has ever held.

This is Greg eating his first kumquat.

This is Greg hating the kumquat. (They're a little sour!)

This is Greg seconds before he spit the kumquat from his mouth. 
That was also the last kumquat Greg will ever eat.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

This morning we celebrated one of the best Daddies around- mine. Since some of us had to work, we met for breakfast and coffee. We missed Greg, Jessica and her kids who both had to work, but we still had a nice time celebrating our awesome father.

My dad is a hard one to shop for, so I usually end up making him something. This year, the idea literally came to me in my sleep. We had bought some candy recently for another project, and I realized that if you put 2 packs of one candy in particular together, you would say "2 Pop Rocks", which is very true. My dad, who is called "2 POP" by all of the grandkids, really does ROCK! LOL! So, I made him and the kids matching t-shirts with 2 packs of Pop Rocks on the front. On the back of his shirt it says, "My family thinks I rock!" Love it!

I took a few pics of the dads and their kids to commemorate the day. 
Here are Jim and his beautiful girls (PJ was not pictured).

Charlie and his two

Then Alissa took one last pic of us kids and our Daddy. AWE!
(Miss you Jess!)

Happy Father's Day Daddy! We love you!