little sarah Big World

Month: July, 2011

Fractured Weekend

There was a lot of good this weekend. A lot of bad. Really, just…a lot. I forgot to mention that on Friday’s walk we saw a bunny AND a beehive. Can’t beat that.

Saw the new Harry Potter. Played a show with my band. Moved out of B & J’s and back into my apartment, this time with Kevin.

And it’s nice to be home, but it’s stressful, all this shifting around. We didn’t have any non-flannel sheets. We bought a new comforter; I already hate it (Mom called it when she said I have chronic buyer’s remorse). We’ve both had to downsize from four dresser drawers to two. But I will adjust, I will adjust. I have to, right?

[Also there is the part where I forgot for no good reason that I was supposed to baby-sit for the family I nanny for tonight. I just stood them up, out of absent-mindedness. And the part where I inadvertently offended a vegan friend/colleague and felt like a complete dick.]

But my sock and underwear drawer is looking pretty tidy.

Small victories, Sarah. Small victories.

Salt Lake City Tourism

I’ve been thinking lately a lot about location, traveling, a sense of place, and a sense of wonder. Why should I only take photos when I’m abroad? Why should my experiences at home be any less exciting or wondrous or strange?

In fact, the more I travel and experience new places, the more my experience of the familiar–Salt Lake City, in this case–changes. It’s like being given new eyes, and suddenly things are novel again. I like it. Plus it is one of my life goals to let the world know that Utah is unlike any other place on earth. Or did you know that already?

So here’s Friday, after working out, out for a long walk. I wanted more, I wanted house parties and giant rums and coke (internal pluralization points), and dancing, and new friends. But what I got was okay. It’s a start.

dinner at B & D Burgers

stopping to smell the flowers

 

South Temple at dusk

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, with the whole “It was okay, it was a start” business. It’s just that I’m in a spot right now where I need to decide if I want to stick around and maybe try to plant some roots here, or pack up and leave again. Run away. It’s like I’m waiting for Salt Lake to tempt me into staying, and all this means that here I am, once again, floating up in the air, feeling disconnected.

But trying very, very hard to live in the moment. Take pictures. Enjoy what I have.

My Day Off

…will never truly be a Day Off. There is always so much to do! Oh, well, I suppose I like it like that.

And some of it was fun, like breakfast at Blue Plate with Dad.

It’s in sort of a weird spot, with lots of businesses around, but still close to a very residential area (the suburbs), and far enough away that I’ve only ever been there twice. It’s not downtown, is what I’m saying, but something about the busy road going right past and the surrounding strip-malls make it that much more quintessentially American–a good ol’ fashioned road-side diner. But with vegan stuff, too.

Also on the agenda for today is moving all of our crap from the house we’ve been house-sitting for almost a month back into my tiny studio. Yes, the boy and I are going to try sharing a studio. After never having lived together previously. Except for house-sitting, which is generally way more spacious. Moving looked like this:

But it’s not all ours, I swear! It’s just the glass recycling, which I went and dumped/crashed/smashed/recycled this morning, as a favor to the family. Because their cat died while we were on duty. Because throwing glass into a big dumpster filled with already glass is fun.

Wow, this is certainly going nowhere. Let’s make a list, that will seem productive, and then I have more work to do (rehearsal, weight lifting, burger eating…)

Up-coming Things on littlesarahBigWorld:

-new page layout! yay! more widgets!

-finally posting about Portland! and Boise! and Long Island! this is kind of a travel blog, right?

-pictures of my “new” apartment, where I’ve been living maybe since late March. but it’s still new. to me.

-you! having a nice day! enjoying the sunshine! eating burgers, why not?

Happy 7/11 Day!

I’m sure people must think that I’m this world-travelling, America-hating, wanna-be Ex-pat. One of those fiercely independent types who will never have children. Actually, that part’s probably true…

But I do love America. In fact, the more I travel, the more I appreciate the little luxuries we enjoy here at home, like a quick trip to the grocery store in pajamas–no big deal–or being able to have a pleasant sit-down meal of bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and coffee, any time of the day or night. You can’t have that just anywhere! That’s something really special.

What about apple pie? Haven’t you read On the Road? Didn’t you crave apple pie afterwards? Didn’t you love America? And fireworks, guys! FIREWORKS! In Utah, we have the 4th of July, sure, but then we have Pioneer Day–July 24th–which means more fireworks, and parades, and barbecues, and this is the West, guys, so we have mountains, and camping, and hiking, and wide streets.

Also: delicious micro-breweries. So American. Chocolate-chip cookies. Rootbeer floats.

And I love that I can go out in public, fresh from the gym, sweaty hair plastered to my forehead, and get a free Slurpee. Because it is July 11th. Because nobody cares if I am wearing running shorts. Because it is perfectly acceptable to treat my self to sugar slush after a work-out.

Because this is America, damnit. And I like it.

 

Taking Guilt-Free Photos of Food

“Taking good photos of food is hard,” said Richie last night at dinner. True.

And Whitney friend said a while back that “the next pressing topic of social commentary” was “let’s be honest, the photographic documentation of one’s lunch.” Also true, in many ways.

Yesterday, I posted to Facebook, “It is not a bad morning when your toughest decision is whether to use the French press or the Italian moka pot,” to which Rachel friend responded “First World Problems.”

ALSO also true, but I’m not going to feel bad about it. Do you know that I used to feel so guilty? About so many things, about all of the privileges I enjoyed. How selfish, to waste hours agonizing over my college Major, when there are so many people who would kill to be able to study anything at the university level. Especially when I was choosing between self-serving subjects like English or Music. Shouldn’t I have majored in Environmental Studies? Or Social Work?

How selfish, to want to see the world and learn new languages, just because it pleases me. Where is your dedication to Family, Sarah? Why can’t you just bloom where you’re planted?

Or what about the part where I was raised upper-middle class, where even though we were a family of six, we could fly out to California and spend weeks on the beach in Summer? The part where I always, always hated to bring new friends home; I didn’t want them to see how big the house, how nice the neighborhood.

But I’m done with all that. Like Whitney pointed out, feeling guilty for what I have doesn’t improve anyone else’s circumstances. And how ridiculous is it to not enjoy what I have been so fortunately given, just because I know that somebody else less fortunate would kill for such luck, such bounty? That doesn’t make much sense.

I do not think it’s gluttonous to take picture’s of one’s lunch, or dinner, and I refuse to feel guilty about it. Instead, I see it as a form of appreciation–I am not guilty, I am grateful. Grateful for the simplicity and elegance of a summer salad in a wooden bowl.

…grateful for a full plate, the joint effort of old and new friends, something beautiful and delicious and healthy…

…grateful for mild summer nights, eating outdoors, lots of wine and wildlife, the wind rustling through the trees.

It may be a First-World preoccupation, but I enjoy the aesthetic of a beautifully arranged meal. I do not take it for granted.

S! A! T-U-R! D-A-Y! NIGHT!

Lately I’ve been feeling strange and reckless, not caring, wanting to go out dancing, or to karaoke.

But, instead. Last night. I:

-babysat for Sister Rosie, who helped me paint my nails

-played Scrabble with Kevin (poorly)

-and baked Stawberry Upside-Down Cake with Cardamom

The recipe came from Joy the Baker. I adore her. I like the way she writes, personable and silly, and the way she breaks everything down, step-by-step (day by day), and her pretty, pretty pictures.  I’m always drooling over her blog, dreaming of all the magic I’ll make in the kitchen, but I rarely follow through. This was the second thing I’ve ever made at her suggestion, and I’ve been following for over a year.

Anyways, haven’t even tasted the cake yet, actually. It’s for a couple -vs- couple dinner tonight with Lindsey and Richie. You know, grown-up stuff. No karaoke. No dancing.

Though I have stayed up late and then slept in ’til 11:00 for three days in a row now, which is…something. Yeah, something.

I ♥ Graffiti

I do, what can I say? And I’m not the only one. Example: In Tours, we all had to take turns giving little presentations every Friday, and one girl did hers on graffiti. She wasn’t the one you’d expect to pick such a topic–a quiet, sweet girl with a slight southern accent–but she knew her stuff and defended it whole-heartedly.

As it turned out, pretty much everyone in the class knew something about graffiti, or “street art,” (we debated the difference), and everyone agreed that it is the unexpected aspect that makes graffiti so breath-taking. Art where and when you least expect it. I like that. And I think we can include other stumbled-upon displays of creativity, like a particularly interesting window display, or an uncommon form of public sculpture or design. You know, the things that give you pause, make you smile.

Art along the way, to brighten your day. Here’s my small collection from Tours:

 

 

(That last one was part of a series that I couldn’t capture in its entirety. Basically, huge metal cut-outs in public parks all throughout the Loire Valley, in commemoration of famous artists and musicians. I caught this guy in particular between Tours and Montlouis-sur-Loire, on that bike ride with Adam).

 

 

(That one’s actually the inside of a public restroom. Europe has some amazing public restrooms, in terms of art. I think I know what I’m talking about, but here’s further proof).

*       *       *

And this was a work in progress, that I passed by every day on my way to school, or, really, my way to anywhere, as this shop was just right down the street. Each of these photos is from a different day, over the span of 4 weeks.

 

Music @ Main

Remember when I was talking about how my nannying job is pretty sweet? Well, my other job ain’t half-bad, either. The Salt Lake City Public Library, guys! It’s a really gorgeous and interesting building, for one thing.

Aaand they do lots of cool programming. Like Music @ Main, where local artists/groups perform outside as the summer sun sets, and one can just lounge about, taking in music and fresh air and thinking how fortunate it is to live someplace unique, like Salt Lake City, like the mountains and the desert and the West. Something unassuming, unexpected. At least, that’s what I thought about.

This band is called Sugar Town, and the drummer is my long-time friend and former lover. True story. He is also the drummer for my band, Fauna, and the mastermind behind SLAPercussion. It’s important to support one’s friends in their endeavors, is what I’m saying.

…and to appreciate what you have, and where you are, right here, right now. Even if you’re scheming away about moving back to Madrid, possibly as soon as September. Just saying.

We threw a house party last night…

…and all I have to show for it is this photo of me, eating pastry in the car on my way to work for the second time this week.

Except, you know, hungover this time. But still with a nice skirt. Summertime calls for lots of nice skirts.

Summer Food

In France it was still Spring-ish weather–overcast, sometimes chilly, light drizzles here and there–and therefore completely acceptable to eat quiche and pastry for lunch everyday. Or brown bread with nutella for breakfast.

But here in Salt Lake it is HOT. It is in the 80s and the sometimes the 90s, plus it is dry. So, so dry. Like being baked in an oven. Quiche and pastry is too much. Okay, so maybe that’s exactly what I ate just last week when I went to Tulie with Allison, but I think we all know what I mean when I talk about Summer Food. Light, refreshing. Colorful. Like these fresh spring rolls that I learned to make last summer at Allison’s lovely apartment.

And now you can, too!

Fresh Summer Rolls

Ingredients:

Rice wrappers, rice vermicelli (glass noodles), fruits/veggies of your choosing, and stuff to make dip-dip. It’s the year 2011 and this is America, so you should be able to find all of this at the grocery store, but if that fails, try the asian market. Their produce is usually cheaper, anyways.

Equipment:

All that stuff, plus a shallow dish of water and a clean dish-towel.

Step 1: Boil the rice vermicelli

They usually come in little nests, and one nest is good for 2 people, unless you’re crazy super hungry, which you’re probably not because it’s 92° out and it’s the desert and so dry and you don’t even care about eating anymore.

Oh, but food-wise: we added chicken broth to the water, for enhanced noodle flavoring. The noodles boil super quick, maybe 3 minutes? Or less. Then afterwards you have to drain them, but you know this.

Step 2: Cut up your fruits -n- veg

We did mango, avocado, mint, carrots, and sprouts. This is my personal favorite combination, but you can kind of do whatever you want. Some people even like to throw in boiled shrimp or maybe pork, but then it’s not light summer fare anymore, is it? Regardless, you’re going to want to cut things up into little strips, or use a potato peeler, like we did with the carrots.

Step 3: Prepare your station

From left to right: pre-cut fruits and veggies, pre-cooked glass noodles (cooled down by now), clean dish-towel, rice wrappers, and a shallow pan of water. Ducks in a row, friends.

Step 4: Prepare your wrapper

The wrappers come packaged hard and brittle, but we want them to be soft and pliable. So gently soak your wrapper, moving it around a bit, for about a minute (maybe less), until it is soft enough to work with. Then transfer it to the towel, BUT BE CAREFUL!!! These things are sticky like Saran Wrap, and once you let part of the wrapper touch itself, it’s over. It will never un-stick.

Once you’ve gently laid your wrapper down (like a baby), fold the towel over and blot off any excess water. Gently, friends, gently.

Step 5: Pile on the ingredients and roll it up

Start with the noodles and then add a little bit of everything else. Don’t go overboard; you’re going to need enough spare wrapper to roll this thing up, burrito-style. It should look about like this:

Then fold it up–fold in the sides (left and right, if we’re looking at it as pictured above), fold the bottom part up over the filling, and then roll it up. Ta-da! Still, though, be careful, because it is so sticky and unruly, this moistened rice wrapper of ours.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until all of your ingredients are gone. This should yield about 3 rolls per person.

Step 6: Make some dipping sauce

I really have no formal recipe for this. Just use whatever’s in the fridge. We used Sriracha, some peanut-y sauce, and sushi unagi sauce. House-sitting for an Asian Studies professor means that all of this was readily available.

But another yummy and easy combination is Hoisin sauce (plum sauce–you can find it at most grocery stores), peanut butter (all natural, no gross Skippy or Jiffy stuff), and soy sauce. Easy. Done.

Step 7: Enjoy!

And then let me know what you think! I’d love to hear about variations in the filling or the sauces.

Oh, also, Happy 4th of July! Celebrate by purchasing all of these “ethnic” ingredients at your local grocery store. Just one of many reasons why America is so great, right?