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This Dash has finally met her Pinch Charming!

photo 3WHAAAAAAT?!?!?!

Kevin proposed last week while we were having my birthday dinner at Aperativo in Schenectady, which has been our favorite restaurant since we started dating. The ring is absolutely stunning, and he got my style so perfectly. It's unique and antique and shiny and really pretty and shiny!

photo 2The funny thing is, I had joked about him proposing at this dinner for weeks, saying it would be so perfect and convenient, not really expecting that he had purchased a ring and had hidden it away in the pocket of his shark shorts:

10403969_10202492918028830_8002313760625845671_oHow romantic :P

To be fair, as we were getting dressed for the evening, he offered to change. I believe my exact words were, "hells no, I want you to propose wearing shark shorts!"

cartoon-tyrannosaurus-rex-15156091After I got out of the bathroom and my creme brulee showed up, he reached for his pocket to grab the ring. Too bad I was hyper alert and was like "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" So he took out his phone for a birthday photo instead. Then, when I was distracted by sugar, he got down on one knee.

photo 1I was crying and laughing, and pretty much unable to see the ring in close enough detail because I was wearing contacts, but all in all, it was a great night.

10527722_856808377121_845531241731166126_n

We had to keep it secret for a day so that we could tell our families in person, but we had a lot of fun announcing it. His caption for this photo was "I've made a huge mistake."

So basically, super stoked. No idea when/where the wedding will be, but we've started looking at places online together. It's adorable that he's involved, and I'm just so lucky to have a wonderful guy to put up with my craziness. Plus, he's got a sweet present coming :)

In other news...one week until I leave for Israel!

 

 

 

 

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salmon, grilled, foil, cajun, filets, summer, oil, butter, evoo, lemon,

Don’t get me wrong, I adore grilling salmon on a cedar plank, or even directly on the grill grates, but sometimes you dry out the fish that way if you’re not paying attention. Throwing the salmon into a foil packet, along with something to keep it moist and something to add flavor works perfectly, and is more forgiving of a little negligence.

My favorite for years has been to make Cajun rubbed salmon, but just as often I’ll throw some garlic, lemon slices, and basil on top. Experiment with some flavor combinations and find one you and your family will love!

My very first post on this blog, almost three years ago (wow), was cajun salmon in foil on the grill. IMG_0531-1024x768

Gross. It did taste pretty good, but obviously I've learned a lot in three years. Mostly, never use these horrible plates.

salmon, grilled, foil, cajun, filets, summer, oil, butter, evoo, lemon,

A cost friendly way to make this dinner is to buy a large filet of fresh salmon, and cut it into filets yourself.

salmon, grilled, foil, cajun, filets, summer, oil, butter, evoo, lemon,

Alternatively, and how I usually make this meal, is by using frozen salmon filets.  ...continue reading

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I was late to work today because I got stuck behind a bus with its lights on. It was stopped in front of a house, where I could clearly see two parents standing around a tree. I thought maybe there was a cat stuck in the tree?

Nope. It was a kid.

A kid who didn't want to go to school, and climbed a tree. And wouldn't come down.

Eventually the bus drove off, and so did I, but not before I decided that that kid hates Mondays as much as the rest of the world, and his coping mechanism seems pretty foolproof to me. So if you need me, I'll be in a tree, avoiding responsibility.

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Apparently, it's the centennial celebration of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, which is just...crazy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrR7z3RBrGw

But the main reason you should watch this video and share it is because it's being performed by an amazeballs musician who just happens to be...

My best friend from first grade, and pretty much all through high school too.

I like to think that if our elementary school teachers could see us now, the two weird kids who huddled together in the corner with our legos, hid under tables, bit people, and got in quite a bit of trouble...they would be surprised. And hopefully pleased that the nerds who made up really weird games on the playground would turn out so well-adjusted and productive.

Obviously we're still nerds, but to record a 50 minute long piano solo in one take? That's just nuts. FreeGreatPicture.com-2186-photo-nutsAnd also quite nuts is that I am finishing my final round of edits before I send Starting from Scratch off to my beta readers and editors! My Israel trip sort of falls right in the middle of my planned publishing date, so I'm shooting for an August 1st release party! Who's super pumped? Meeeeeeee.

Okay, I'm going to bed.

 

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Last summer I started a little herb garden, and then created a teeny tiny vegetable garden that produced quite a few eggplant and zucchini. Pleased with how they both turned out, and eager to expand, this summer I dove headfirst into the dirty world of gardening and landscaping. I spent hours and hours each day, out in the sun, with dirt up to my elbows and a crick in my back from lugging bags of mulch and topsoil around my yard. And I won't even go into how much I spent at Home Depot...

Sarah, Westendorf, Pittsford, Rochester, New York, NY, garden, soil, clay, herbs, vegetables, ground, container, cage, beans, peas, arugula, caesar, romaine, red, tomatoes, peppers, squash, summer, trellis, zucchini, eggplant, leeks

But I love it! Isn't it darling?! I've doubled the size since last year, and just about tripled the variety of plants in it. In addition, I actually did a minimal amount of research this time, instead of just shoving plants into the dirt and hoping they grow.Sarah, Westendorf, Pittsford, Rochester, New York, NY, garden, soil, clay, herbs, vegetables, ground, container, cage, beans, peas, arugula, caesar, romaine, red, tomatoes, peppers, squash, summer, trellis, zucchini, eggplant, leeks

Sarah, Westendorf, Pittsford, Rochester, New York, NY, garden, soil, clay, herbs, vegetables, ground, container, cage, beans, peas, arugula, caesar, romaine, red, tomatoes, peppers, squash, summer, trellis, zucchini, eggplant, leeksI've got arugula, romaine, and a variety of red lettuce. The larger plants in the picture I started from seeds in my aerogarden with the seed starter kit, and the smaller ones were just seeds I dumped into the ground willy nilly, not really expecting them to grow. But they did! You can't see, but behind the lettuces I have a tomato cage. ...continue reading

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Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

So I thought I would show you my process of making six of the characters from Toy Story out of fondant and gumpaste.

*As a disclaimer, I am in no way a professional. Anything that comes out successfully took roughly 3x longer to make than if a professional did it. I make a lot of mistakes (you will see these in the process photos) and have to redo things over and over again until they are good enough to satisfy my OCD-ness.

So lets begin!

Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Day one: Monday. I decided to start with Mr. Potato head, thinking I could knock him out quickly. Turns out, potato brown is a hard color to achieve. I spent almost an hour mixing this stupid ball. Then I molded him into a potato shape and left him on the syrofoam to dry a bit.

Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.Made Mr. Potato head's shoes and facial features, set them to dry, and went to play video games with Beth. ...continue reading

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Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.That is what my mother said to me a few days ago when she checked on my Toy Story cake toppers I was making for Phillip. I think it pretty accurately sums me up, and I'm proud to be that annoyingly talented person. It's not like I'm not boastful of my varied talents and interests, but let me remind you:

I sacrifice a lot to dedicate this must attention (and money) to these little side projects. These characters took almost six entire days, and as I'll show you in another post, went through several reincarnations before I was finally finished with them. Granted, I would have loved more time to really perfect them, but for what they are...

They're pretty freaking adorable.

So without further ado: My Toy Story cake toppers!

Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

I think I really captured a lot of the details of the characters, and while they're not perfectly proportioned, I'm proud of the emotions they portray. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

They are cracking, however. Not sure how to prevent that in the future!Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

"There's a snake in my boot!"
Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Sheriff Woody closeupToy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Yes, I pressed the buttons and made Buzz Lightyear noises. Alone. In my house. Late at night.Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Slinky Dog's cute butt. I wasn't thrilled with how he turned out, but I have photos on my phone that I'll upload tomorrow of the step by step processes. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Rex! He was a nightmare logistically, and you can see he's cracking in a few places, but I'll be damned if he isn't structurally sound. Of all the characters, I'm least worried about him breaking apart before he can be presented to the little girl on her birthday.Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Closeup on how I did the teeth. Originally was going to put individual ones in, and then I reminded myself, "hey, it's 10:30 pm, and you haven't showered in two days. Finish this and go to bed."Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted. Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.

Oh Jessie. I'm so sad I couldn't get her the way I wanted. This is her 3rd head, and none of them captured her essence and vivacity. Oh well, At least her clothes are authentic.Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.Toy, Story, cake, topper, fondant, gum paste, pixar, disney, characters, sculpt, Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Cowboy, Spaceman, Dinosaur, Rex, Slinky, Dog, Mr, Mister, potato, head, Hasbro, Playschool, cake, edible, amazing, sculpted.And here they all are, ready to be carefully packed into a cardboard box and brought to the bakery. I hope they make a 2-year old's birthday cake spectacular, and hopefully Phillip will commission more work from me in the future!

I had so much fun making these, especially Woody and Buzz! It was so challenging, and a great lesson on gumpaste, sculpting, figures, and Pixar movies (I watched all 3 Toy Story's back to back...you know, as research), and I want more practice working on sculpting faces. I got pressed for time and had to rush Jessie and Slinky dog, which sucks. But hey, that's what working with a deadline does, I guess.

 So tell me: What do you think!? Could you see these on a professional cake? Do you think I captured their likenesses? Any suggestions, critiques, comments, requests? 

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strawberry, rhubarb, lemonade, lemons, lime, sugar, home made, squeezed, fresh, pitcher, summer, hot, night, day, porch, garden, delicious, kids,My friends, I have spent the past week and a half in my garden, up to my knees in dirt, worms, and plants. And I'm so freaking excited about gardening (who knew I would be that girl?) that I expanded my vegetable garden AND made a brand stinking new vertical herb garden.

Now that everything is in the ground (or, in the case of most of my herbs, in adorable pots), there's nothing to do but wait. Patiently.

Which I suck at. So that's why you'll find me, multiple times a day, squatting in my garden as I poke and prod my plants, urging them to grow strong and sturdy, helping the little peas by guiding their tendrils towards the trellis, that sort of stuff.

And after a long day of garden, mowing the lawn, any other summery outside task, it's awesome to relax with a tall glass of fresh lemonade.

This was another recipe I wrote for the most recent issue of the South Wedge Quarterly, to go with the strawberry-rhubarb pie. ...continue reading

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strawberry, rhubarb, pie, crust, flaky, spring, berry, crumb, delicious, easy, sugarcrafter, I assume we're all sick of these damn April showers, and are just killing time until May flowers start popping up, bringing heat, sun, grills, and fresh produce. Until then, yuck.

strawberry, rhubarb, pie, crust, flaky, spring, berry, crumb, delicious, easy, sugarcrafter,

If you’ve never made your own pie, you’re missing out. And if you’ve made your own pie but used store-bought crust, shame on you! Making pie crust is actually fairly simple, and for this pie I’m using a recipe from the Pioneer Woman, who is basically Jesus wearing an apron, and quite possibly a cowboy hat. ...continue reading