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by Sarabeth Jones of The Dramatic

I love to eat sushi, and so do most of my friends. It’s tasty, exotic, beautiful…sadly, it’s also expensive. I remember feeling flabbergasted when I realized that there were actually people who made their own sushi at home, but friends, I have become a believer. While I will always enjoy eating sushi out, making it at home is less expensive and super fun to do with a group of people. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite things to do when I’m getting together with friends.

sushi for days

There are plenty of wonderful step-by-step tutorials out there on the internet (the Pioneer Woman, for instance), and there are also plenty that will make you feel like you can’t make sushi unless you’ve trained under a chef. I’m going to tell you what you need to get started on your own sushi adventure, and give you the best piece of advice I have: don’t be intimidated. You’re not trying to be a sushi master, just have some yummy fun at home. Get a group of friends and get going!


You need a few things to get started. Fortunately, most of them are inexpensive:

· Bamboo sushi mats

· Sushi rice paddles

· Chopsticks

· Optional: sushi dishes & a rice cooker

Now, some of you that know what you are doing in this department are already gasping at me. I can hear you, aghast that I would say a rice cooker is optional. Here’s really what I mean: rice cookers can get pricey and I don’t want you to run out and buy one just to try making sushi. You can make sushi rice in a regular old pot. Try that first, or better yet, find a friend with a rice cooker and invite them to the sushi party. I do think the rice is better out of a cooker, but I am not going to complain if someone hands me sushi with rice from a pot. My mouth will be too full.


You will also need some condiments that you might not have in your pantry already:

· Rice vinegar

· Soy sauce

· Pickled ginger

· Wasabi

· Optional: Spicy mayo, Eel sauce

Wasabi is available as a paste or as a powder that you can mix yourself. You can buy pickled ginger and spicy mayo and eel sauce or you can make your own. You can get all of these things at an Asian market (they are usually cheaper here) or the international/Asian section of a larger grocery store.

seaweed salmon shrimp for sushi

Finally, you need the sushi ingredients:

· Roasted seaweed sheets (or nori)

· Sushi rice

· English cucumber (the long skinny ones)

· Avocado

· Salmon, imitation crab, tuna, or tempura shrimp

Let’s pause here because I know this looks overwhelming. If you’re just starting out, get a couple of mats and paddles, and divvy up the ingredients/condiments with your group. Maybe you just want to make one type of roll the first time; I would suggest grilling some salmon with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and rolling it with avocado and cucumber. Do some with just salmon and rice if you have kids around.

If you want to go bigger, get a couple of different types of seafood. For my last sushi party, we had grilled salmon (about a 3 lb slab from Sam’s), a package of imitation crab, and 2 boxes of tempura shrimp (from the frozen fish section). We rolled those with a combination of avocado, cucumber, and cream cheese. We also cooked 9 cups of sushi rice, because that’s the most our cooker will hold, and used about 25 sheets of seaweed. We ran out of rice first, but I actually like that, since it leaves some extra salmon and shrimp for those who might not like rolls as much.sushi on the porch

Now it’s time to make sushi!

Prepare the rice: well before you want to roll, cook your rice, dump it into a large bowl and sprinkle it generously with rice vinegar. As you roll, keep that vinegar handy. We usually sprinkle it several times – you just want to make sure your rice has that slightly sour taste.

avocado cucumber for sushi

Prepare the fillings: grill your salmon, heat your shrimp in the oven, etc. Slice avocado and cucumber very thinly. Remember how fun this is for a group? There’s a job for everybody!


Roll: lay your seaweed on a mat, rough side up. Spread sushi rice on it with a paddle (or your fingers if you’d rather) and place your fillings in a line close to one side at the bottom of the mat. Then, bring the edge of the roll and mat up and over, and keep rolling the mat over the top of the sushi like this:

how to roll sushi

When you roll the mat all the way over, your roll will close, like this:


Cut: I find this works best with an electric knife. Arrange your beautiful rolls on plates. Eat the ends as you go. Bonus!


Eat: Make a beautiful plate complete with soy sauce, pickled ginger, spicy mayo, and wasabi. Be sure to instagram your fun and then enjoy!

instagram and eat sushi

If you’re still reading this post, here’s a fun fact for making it all the way through. At the gathering where I took these pictures, we fed 9 adults, 8 teenagers, and 3 younger kids – all of whom ate their fill – for about $15 a family (about $75 total). We even had 2 large Ziploc bags of leftovers for lunches the next day. We always have a great time, everyone in the kitchen cutting and rolling and laughing – I hope you’ll try a sushi party soon!



Sarabeth Jones

Sarabeth Jones is a creative at Fellowship North who enjoys all kinds of artistic work; her latest project is bringing the national live-reading show Listen To Your Mother to Little Rock. She lives in Sherwood with her husband, Bryan, and their kids, Elizabeth, Jonathan, and Will.  She loves to write about they way they make her laugh on her blog,





When We Can’t Stop the Rain

by Julie on April 17, 2014

by Dorothy Johnson of Reflections from Dorothy’s Ridge


Recently while traveling, a friend pointed out the car window at a rainbow in the distance. To the east, I caught a glimpse of its colors arching against a backdrop of dark clouds. I had seen water standing in the fields beside the highway and hoped the folks in the locale of the rainbow were happy about getting precipitation.

Poets and songwriters have long associated rain with disappointment and pain, and rainbows with happier times. Remember Judy Garland belting out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz?

Even though it was written way back in 1921, everyone seems to know the lyrics to “April Showers.” Maybe that’s because it’s a hopeful song, admonishing us to expect good things to follow the inevitable rain. I think its author must have been familiar with Longfellow’s poem “The Rainy Day.”

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining / Behind the clouds is the sun still shining / Thy fate is the common fate of all, / Into each life some rain must fall, / Some days must be dark and dreary.

Those lines remind me of a tune from my youth, “Baby, the Rain Must Fall” by Glenn Yarbrough. It was the theme song for a 1965 movie of the same title starring Lee Remick and Steve McQueen that told the age-old story of a woman disappointed by an irresponsible man.

I lived my own version of that show. The details were different and don’t really matter. What does is that when I left, I managed to work through the hurt and not become bitter. It was a process, for sure. But I always seemed to have hope for a better life.

My husband experienced his own set of disappointments, but we eventually found each other. In July, we’ll celebrate 40 years of marriage. Maybe we’ve worked harder at our relationship because we both knew what we didn’t want. Loyalty and commitment haven’t hurt either. Whatever the case, I sometimes feel like I’ve been living under a double rainbow because our life has been so good.

Heartbreak knows no age. It can happen at any time of life. But happiness can come along, too, and doesn’t always involve another relationship. If you or someone you know is picking up the pieces from any kind of loss, take heart. Better days are sure to follow. Watch for them.

Sometimes it’s not a major heartbreak that gets us down as much as facing the dullness and sameness of difficult circumstances or embracing change over which we have no control. If you’re in that place, order the movie Singing in the Rain and watch Gene Kelley, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor sing and dance their way through pouring showers. They were amazing dancers. Their energy and enthusiasm always makes me smile.

Whatever your circumstances, today I wish you hope and joy and the conviction that the sun will surely come out again.

Beach Dancers

As I wrote this, an amazing number of songs about rain and pain that have been popular through the years played through my mind—too many to list. So I’ll leave that to you. Which ones do you remember?

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… Joel 2:25a

imageDorothy Johnson is an Arkansas girl who has rediscovered the joys of the written word. She writes from a ridge overlooking the Arkansas River and feels blessed to wake up to that view every day.  She says she’s lived long enough to understand the importance of exercising good judgment and the pain that comes when we don’t. She’s enjoying having a place to share her reflections on life and hopes you’ll join her, be encouraged and share your thoughts along the way.
twitter: @dorothysridge





As the daughter of an Arkansas cotton farmer, Talya grew up making mudpies and does her best thinking wearing gardening gloves. Talya is passionate about writing and spends most days working on her first book and blogging at Grace Grits and Gardening. She and her husband, John, live in Dallas with their two miniature schnauzers, Lucy and Annabelle. They have two college age children – a Texas Longhorn and an Arkansas Razorback.


Looking for Rainbows

April 14, 2014

Written by Miss April 2014 Keisha Pittman of BigPittstop Last Tuesday Northwest Arkansas experienced some crazy weather. As I was leaving town traveling to another part of the state I hit the crazy weather in waves. It was just beginning to rain as I left Rogers. By the time I got to Springdale, the clouds [...]

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Sunday Link-Up {April 13, 2014}

April 13, 2014
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Meatless Monday on a Friday {Foodie Friday}

April 11, 2014

By Terra Maples of Ahoyfriend This is vegetarian, pretty dang good for you, and oh so easy! So let’s get that Meatless Monday party started with this easy-to-adapt recipe.   I am a music loving, wine drinking, book reading, art making, dancing fool who transplanted to the hills of Northwest Arkansas from Kansas City in 2011 with [...]

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Gardening: Starting, overcoming, & creating happiness

April 10, 2014

Written by Natalie of Great Contraditctions As Winter is starting to transition into Spring, we are taking the time to enjoy being outside. I have been trying to be a gardener for a while now. Gardening is definitely an art form I have come to appreciate as my meditation from life’s stresses. I have a [...]

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My Little Artist Paints My Little Pony (Rainbow Dash!) {Wordless Wednesday}

April 9, 2014

  Shannon Magsam is co-founder of, a website for mamas in Northwest Arkansas, and NWA Mom Prom, the ultimate girls’ night out (happening on April 26th this year!). Shannon also moonlights as a freelance writer and PR specialist for a Fayetteville-based global firm. She was previously a newspaper reporter covering a broad range of [...]

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Being Social, Not Doing Social

April 8, 2014

By ARWB’s All Things Bloggy Gal Alison Chino, Photos photo by Whitney Loibner I know I was here all last month sharing my journey of blogging, but I am super excited about showing back up at Arkansas Women Bloggers to talk some more about blogging once a month-ish. So if you have questions about blogging or topics you [...]

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Pinterest Generation

April 7, 2014

Written by Keisha Pittman, Miss April 2014 Every generation has a title; a label placed on them usually by the generation that follows. These labels are full generalities and certainties found generic of the largest portion of this aged group. We all know them – The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials [...]

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