I’ve crossed the first thing off my 30 before 30 list: making our own sushi. James is a sushi fanatic, and I’ve been known to order my share of fishless Philly rolls, so we attempted to roll our own on Valentine’s Day. Now it’s clear to me with the work involved that it’s not worth it from a time perspective to do this on a regular basis. Still, we had fun shopping at the Asian groceries and fish markets, and Baby J even tried her first rice and cucumber roll.

Step 1: Find the fish and accompaniments. We bought our bamboo mats, nori, rice vinegar, pickled ginger and tubed wasabi from an Asian market in Oceanside. The fish (which I was concerned about, since we were eating it raw) came from Mission Fish Market in Oceanside, where the workers claimed it was safe for sushi. Baby J got a kick out of the live crabs in the tank there, and we said a quick prayer for fish safety to the red Buddha shrine stacked with oranges. We picked up the rest of the stuff—vegetables, cream cheese and sushi rice—from Stater Bros.

Step 2: Chop endless vegetables and prepare the rice. We cooked the rice according to the package and julienned the vegetables (avocado, cucumber, radish and carrot). Since I stupidly bought a tub of cream cheese rather than a brick, James had to manhandle it like Play-doh to get it into skinny pieces. We sliced the fish, mangling it with our knives.

Step 3: Roll with control (and forethought). We had decided on veggie, Philly, spicy tuna, California, and whatever could be made with the leftovers. The rice was either too thick or too thin on the nori, and the nori was either too small or too large for our desired rolls. Rice overpowered the sad little fish pieces, and it was the first time I was actually full from eating sushi.

Step 4: Give some to baby and cat, then coat in sriracha. Baby J loved the vinegary sushi rice, the nori and the mini cucumber sticks. Callie the Cat liked the leftover fish, although James insisted on cooking it so she wouldn’t get sick (what about us?) The wasabi and ginger we bought were much spicier than what’s normally served in a restaurant.

Step 5: Drink Sapporo and reflect. We do have great knives from our wedding, but they haven’t been sharpened and were not adequate for slicing raw fish. Luckily, instead of buying some lame sushi kit, we had found $1 bamboo mats and free chopsticks for our first time. Although we may not be nosing up to the fish counter again soon, it was a cool experience that fueled our admiration for the ubiquitous sushi chef. Next time, however, we’ll study those skills at Sushi Taisho.