little sarah Big World

Month: January, 2012

Can’t Stop; Won’t Stop

I got a new job, friends. A second job, at Salt Lake Roasting Co. That’s right, I’m a barista now. Who’da thunk? This is me taking charge of my finances, Friends. Keeping busy, getting things done.

And I’ve been pretty busy on the social front, as well, despite my most recent stint of Extreme Financial Lock-Down (see need for a second job, above). Last night I had dinner with Lindsey Friend, which called for a new and improved batch of cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread. I made the dough in advance (as you may well know), and it gave me a scare (too dry! panic!), but then added some water and reduced the sugar from the original recipe. I also used almond-coconut milk, which is AMAZING (Blue Diamond brand. Go buy some), and crammed more little squares into the pan than I thought possible. The results were like this:

And then dinner was like this:

Then tonight I’m watching Harry Potter with the neph, tomorrow I’m breaking financial lock-down to go out for Indian food with coworkers, Thursday its 60s night dancing with Nicole Friend, and Saturday is the Dr. Dog concert with Stephanie Friend. Plans, Friends.

That’s not even counting work and a dentist’s appointment and running and probably more baking.

I think we can call this being on a roll.

 

 

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Epic Baking and a New Life

~OR~

“I am PMAing so f***ing hard right now. I am PMAing all over this f***ing town!”

(a recent text sent from me to Eric Friend; PMA = Positive Mental Attitude)

I was maybe in a slump for a while, Friends. I didn’t want to talk about it too much, because I didn’t want to admit it to myself, fully, and I certainly didn’t want to bum you guys out. Not a terrible slump, mind you, but more like a handful of wasted days. Too much Glee watching. Not enough accomplishments. Too many regrets and not enough action.

But praise the powers that be, Friends! I am grateful for the long-awaited, patiently honed power within myself to rise up with fists and get moving again. We can call it a Positive Mental Attitude, but the word that keeps coming to my mind is “Impervious.” I am a woman on a mission and nothing can stop me. Un-fazable.

*       *       *

Last night I repotted Percy, Kevin’s succulent that I’m supposed to be taking care of but really I barely do anything and he is just THRIVING like you would not believe above and beyond the confines of his small pot. (Before pictures here). So I gave him a new pot, a new life. I even repotted some of the clippings back into the small stripey pot and gave it to my Moms so they can have a Percy of their own. Son of Percy.

I wound up repotting him in the dark and cold, my Moms backyard, with a flashlight and stiff fingers. This was possibly due to my afore-mentioned slack off-ery. But I am a new woman, with a new life, and I will get things DONE even if it means frozen hands and dirt on my coat. I am impervious. And I got a free dinner afterwards. (Thanks, Moms!)

*       *       *

Also yesterday I was blown-off twice, by different people, to varying degrees. But did I let it get me down? I did not. Because I am UNFAZABLE, Friends, and because it meant that I got to spend Saturday night watching Glee and drinking wine and going for a long, solo walk through the quiet, cold night to buy more flour and almond-cocunut milk. And then baking, Friends. Epic Baking.

I made pear-plum jam-filled oatbran muffins and used the leftover batter to make a loaf of apricot jam-filled oatbran bread. That almond-cocunut milk (Blue Diamond brand) is to die for, Friends. I could not stop eating the batter.

I even pre-made the dough for another round of cinnamon-sugar pull-apart bread, a labor of love, for my Lindsey Friend. The baking, Friends. It was epic.

*       *       *

And the disappointment at having plans canceled for somewhat dubious reasons? Not epic. The wallowing in self-pity and regret? Non-existent.

Because I do not take it personally, Friends. I do not let it get me down. I enjoy a quiet night in by myself, baking and drinking, and then I clean up. Wash the dishes, read a good book, snuggle into my bed. My new life.

A Labor of Love

~OR~

I Bake Because I Care

~OR~

I Bake Because You Are 70-Years-Old and Deserve Something Delicious

My Granny Mary turned 70 on Thursday. 70, Friends! Isn’t that amazing? Maybe you can’t tell from my low-lighting, high-motion picture, but she is a fox. She can pull off that sweater-with-leggings-and-boots look better than anyone I know. This is a woman who grew up on a rural farm in Idaho, became a mother in her teens, a grandmother in her 30s and a great grandmother (several times over) before most people have entered retirement. A woman who loves butter, wine, travel, gossip, sewing, saving, and a good story.

A woman who deserves a loaf of sweet, cinnamon pull-apart bread, even if it does take the better part of an already busy day to make. Because baking bread is a labor of love, it is something so personal and involved and messy, requiring patience and faith and a whole lot of sugar and spice and everything nice. But Granny Mary is worth all that.

I used this recipe from Joy the Baker, whom I adore (though not as much as my grandma, just sayin). It’s not a difficult recipe, just time consuming, as there is a lot of waiting involved. I used the waiting parts to run errands and go for a run. I’m nothing if not productive.

Anyways, you start out by making some dough, with yeast and everything, which stills feels like exciting, uncharted baking territory for me. You let it rise in a warm spot for an hour, while you mix up some cinnamon sugar (with nutmeg) and go to the grocery store. You know, errands stuff.

Then you roll the dough out and admire the beautiful winter sunlight that shines through your kitchen window, for about the hundredth time. Have I mentioned that I love my apartment?

You slather the dough with melted butter (I used vegan, and I also used almond milk in the recipe, mostly just because that’s what I already have at home), sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mix, and then cut it into little squares. Then you stack the squares together into a pan. Like this:

Joy’s recipe calls for a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, but I was using the tin-foil, give-away-style pans and those only came in 8 x 3.5 inches at the Freddy-Smith’s, which means that I miraculously had enough for two loaves! One for Granny, and one for the party.

Although, looking at Joy’s post again, I think maybe I could’ve crammed my squares in tighter. Ah, well. I’m just giving you guys options. I’m nothing if not fond of keeping my options open.

Anyways, so then you wait another 30 to 45 minutes for the dough-squares to rise in the pan(s), maybe go for a run or do some laundry, before baking. Which is another 35 minutes or so. Again, totally worth it. Because the end result goes a little something like…this!

70-year-old bad-ass grannies deserve beautiful baskets lined with brand-new kitchen towels and filled with home-made sweet bread, fancy butter, expensive honey, and gourmet chocolates, from their grandchildren. They deserve a day’s worth of baking. They deserve to be surrounded by four generations and to drink wine and laugh and eat as much cheese as they like.

They deserve to have their cake and eat it, too.

Or at least mine does. And don’t go thinking that we got her a store-bought cake with that crappy plastic frosting, because we special ordered it with WHIPPED CREAM FROSTING, which is amazing. And yes, she deserved it.

Happy birthday, Granny.

Fifteen Minutes

~OR~

Now I Know Why I’ve Never Been to Sundance

I’ve been busy, Friends, trading in my traditional 3-day weekend of baking, reading, running and writing for a new adventure: Sundance. The Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT, to be specific.

I should clarify, though: no, I am not seeing movies, and celebrity gawking has been minimal (though I did see three different members of Modern Family, separately! That was cool). What I am doing is busking, Friends. I am making money and having my photo taken about a bajillion times per hour. So are my friends:

They even got inteviewed! Check it out here. I didn’t get interviewed, though. At least not in any way that’s shown up on the internet, as far as I can tell. What I did was play viola in the freezing cold, fingers numb, with my friend Eric and Corbin, in shifts. When Eric and I weren’t playing his compositions or Bach or “Mad World,” our friend Corbin was laying down a mean Rachmaninoff. Like this:

The thing is, even though I’ve lived in Utah my whole life, I’ve never been to Sundance. I’ve only seen one Sundance movie AT the festival itself, and that was at the Tower Theater on 9th and 9th. Not Park City. I’ve never experienced the celebrities-meet-quaint-mountain-town madness, and I’ve always wanted to, to be a part of it all. This was one reason for coming home from Spain–to be able to play with Eric at Sundance and claim my fifteen minutes of fame. Haven’t you wondered what that would be like, Friends?

Well, wonder no more–it’s not that great. Park City is not even close to the quaint mountain mining town it once was and currently pretends to be. It is a land where the women wear fur boots and vests with black leggings, and the men wear tech gear, and all the locals are trying to see and be seen by celebrities, thinking they have some special insider status, and all the celebrities are trying to see and be seen by other celebrities and could give a shit about the locals. Also there are a lot of restaurants and art galleries and Sundance volunteers running around in puffy orange vests.

And then there’s us–a scraggly bunch of kids from “The big city” (Salt Lake, Friends), just trying to stay warm and make a few bucks. At the end of longer songs I can’t feel if my fingers are touching the strings or not. To stay warm we walk around, pop into galleries to “admire the art” (read: “sample the free punch and snacks”), and watch greatest hits of the 2002 Winter Olympics on a cow couch (a cowch) at Java Cow, where I ate a Rico burrito that somebody left on the table, having only taken one bite. It was delicious.

Sundance…not so much. Definitely not worth giving up a happy life in Madrid. Ah, well…this is how we learn.

Cross that off my to-do list, and on to the next adventure!

Sidetracked

~OR~

What We Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Busking

Yesterday it was too rainy, and then too snowy, to head up to Park City. Instead, we had tea and cookies, followed by vegan burritos while clusters of soft flakes plummeted to the ground outside shrink-wrapped windows.

Then we walked through the park, discussing gender roles and stereotypes and slurs. There were ducks, also, but no chicks. No chicks, no queers, no gyps, no jews. (You know, slurs).

And then…a wintry car ride up a steep hill, drinks with my moms and their friends, and on to a hardcore show/bake sale/benefit.

I didn’t stay the whole time, didn’t even stay until my friend’s band played. I was supremely uncomfortable–needed to pee, but there was not toilet; desperately thirsty, but didn’t want to add to the bladder situation; etc. And it’s just not my type of music. Not at all. I might not even be correct in referring to it as “hardcore,” I don’t know.

I used to date a guy who made me feel like I was closed-minded, because I didn’t like some of his favorite music. (311, Phish, etc.–if you must know). And I believed him, thought it was just a question of opening myself up to different things. I suppose I can’t lay it all on the boyfriend, that’s what I get for dating too young, before I knew myself. But I do know myself now. I know that I don’t like screaming, or loud noises in general, or needing to pee, or the cold, or standing alone in a room full of strangers. Hell, I don’t even like crowds. And I still don’t like Phish.

So I left. I drove home and indulged in vegan chicken wings and a salad. Yes, that is how I indulge these days.

Because I am more of a walk-through-the-park-on-a-snowy-day type of girl. And I know that now.

Sistah SIStah!

~OR~

Diff’rent Strokes for Diff’rent Folks

(and by “Folks” I mean “Fathers”)

Still no internet, Friends. I’m working on it. I even figured out how to use imgur and how to do a double space, html-style. It’s awesome. Awesome in a “Yes, I learned some basic skills of the Twenty-First Centrury, and now I’m patting myself on the back about it” sort of way.

ALSO right now I am filling my weekends up busking at Sundance Film Festival in Park City. With Eric Rich. You know, the piano bike guy. So there will be more on that to come.

*       *       *

In the meantime, I highly suggest that you internet-meander over to my LINKS page to check out what my friends and favorites are posting. Lately I am all about Joy the Baker and The Dainty Squid. I read them while waiting for my own photos to upload, for full blogging submersion.

They are very much a pair of homey little sights, writing about baking, decorating, collecting, cultivating a cozy little corner of the world for one’s self. And I guess I’m into that? In theory, at least. However, my Sister Natalie is into that shit in practice, in real life. She is a full-blown adult, having completed the grown-up triumvirate of home-owner/mother/wife. And now she has her very own blog! I am so proud! Sister-to-sister pride YES.

Anyways, check it out, is what I’m saying. The Nat Kitchen. That’s my sister. Yes, we are related, no we don’t look alike. She is nesting hard-core, and while I like to think that I’m into that (reading up on these blogs and all), after about five minutes at her house all of the babies and animals start throwing up and won’t hold still and I remember that this is not the life for me.

Oh, also: pictured above is my nephew, Sebastian. That’s her son. He’s pretty awesome. You might remember him from this. Yes, I am linking to other peoples’ hard work, no I am not really posting anything new.

*       *       *

Strange, though, that I should be so interested in these domestically-blissed websites, while I am obviously still in the depths of what my father calls my “Odyssey Phase.”

I mean, somebody’s got to have the adventures, right?

Indeed

Hey, folks. Hey, Friends. I’m about to do that thing where I post a lot of things in the past. Retroactively, we call it. I know that’s not your favorite. Your favorite is when I post new, exciting things with lots of pretty pictures every day. Hell, MY favorite is when I post new, exciting things with lots of pretty pictures every day.

But we can’t always get what we want, Friends. We can’t always get what we need (in my case a Macbook). But if we try sometimes, we find…a lot of retroactive posts. Indeed.

The Namesake

~OR~

Remember When I Used to Do Book Quotes?

“Pet names are a persistent remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated. They are a reminder, too, that one is not all things to all people.”

“She has the gift of accepting her life; as he comes to know her, he realizes that she never wished she were anyone other than herself, raised in any other place, in any other way.”

“She was exactly the same person, looked and behaved the same way, and yet suddenly in that new city, she was transformed into the kind of girl she had once envied, had believed she would never become.”

“In retrospect she saw that her sudden lack of inhibition had intoxicated her more than any of the men had.”

*       *       *

Isn’t it funny, they way you filter even the books you read through your own actual experience, so that the parts that speak to you also speak to your current frame of mind.

Also the movie version of this isn’t that good, even though it has Kumar of Harold and Kumar in it. Just a heads up.

Snow Day

~OR~

No Work and All Play Makes Sarah Want to Stay

Woke up to soft flakes gently falling. Ran outside in my long johns and rain boots to bring in the ol’ mountain bike, lest he catch cold. Blackberry-buckwheat pancakes for breakfast and a long snowy walk to the grocery store and back.

Toasty toasty in my little apartment, with a new down comforter and new bedding. The place is cleaner than ever, from right before I left for Spain. I’ve been baking nearly every day, reading in bed, listening to music, dancing around.

It’s hard to leave a place where I feel so comfortable. But not every day is a snow day; I can’t just stay in my cozy little apartment. There’s work, and friends, family, obligations, people I’d rather not see and situations that I’m ready to get out of.

It’s hard to leave, but that doesn’t mean it’s not right.

To My Great Aunt Miriam

Today you are 100 years old, Aunt Miriam. And I am 25, soon to be 26, which means no more health insurance, and it means that I am no longer in my early- or mid-twenties, but rather inching closer to thirty, closer to a time when I should settle down, should figure it out. And I have not figured it out, do not believe in settling. You have lived 100 years, and what do I have to offer you? We’ve long since ceased to exchange letters, trinkets, postcards. Haven’t spoken in years and I wonder if you would recognize me in the flesh, my cheeks hollowed, face leaner, like a woman, and even this body, like suddenly my small breasts and wide hips make sense, separated by a long, slender torso. I have lost my baby fat, broken hearts, taken drugs. And what do I have to say to you? What have I learned? Who have I become?

Twelve years ago you were 88, and I was 14, which I thought was so much, so old, and now the number seems like nothing, inconsequential. Still, you took me seriously enough to invite me into your home, a “monastic” little apartment, as my mother had warned, and I slept in the same room as you, on a firm, compact bed, a twin, with you the other half, just across the room.

Was I nervous? Was I worried about keeping it light or fun or easy, in such close quarters? Was I self-conscious to be sharing such an intimate space, to fall asleep next to each other, our lungs drawing breath from the same sweet Florida air?

I do not remember. The pictures show that I was awkward, towering over you, wearing a thread-bare men’s polo shirt and plastic glitter bracelets. I was a gawky, presumptuous teenager. But you let me in. We shared a room–the most unexpected sleepover–and in the morning  we sat down , on the back porch, birds chirping, and talked.

An interview, recorded on tape, for my 8th grade social studies class. We had focused a lot on genealogy that year, on ancestry and personal histories, and now here I was, the special child, flown in from Utah at my parents’ expense with my three siblings left behind in Ogden. All to speak to you, Aunt Miriam. My oldest living relative.

Listening to the tapes tonight, for the first time in the twelve long years since, I am struck by how casual my tone, how forward the questions. Like I thought I had the right. Like I thought we were equals. And businesslike, my goodness! I am just plowing through the questions, not knowing when to leave good enough alone, not knowing when to let your tangents have free reign, as you spin stories and weave anecdotes and share yourself openly with me. I am only interested in getting to the end, filling out my form, getting all of the answers. Completing my assignment. So I don’t even notice, when I ask you to describe your character, and you talk about bouncing back, about how some things are harder to bounce back from than others…and…needing to keep in mind that there is another child to care for. I didn’t even know that you were talking about Rhoda, and Judy, your daughters. That you were talking about Rhoda’s illness, probably the most painful and draining and impossibly cruel and unchangeable circumstance of your life. I was too young, and I was too matter of fact. And nervous, probably, to have been given such power, such responsibility, to hold court with an elder for an afternoon, wielding my tape recorder and pen.

I said that I would become a musician, Aunt Miriam, and I didn’t. So close, but not quite. A bit too distracted, I guess. But I did go to college, like you advised. I went to college, and I was uncertain, and I called you from a coffee shop near my rented room in someone else’s apartment, sophomore year, to ask your advice. Because I didn’t know what I wanted to do and needed to pick a major. Because I was not good at making big decisions, and you put things into perspective. Showed me that my selfish confusion stemmed from a gross abundance of opportunities. And I am grateful for my many opportunities Aunt Miriam, but I am still not good with decisions. My life has not followed a straight path, and things have not been so cut and dry as your decision to switch from French Teaching to Elementary Education, because you got a C in a required class, easy as that, decision made and on to the next thing. I’ve drifted, I’ve backtracked. I’ve doubted and worried and starved and indulged. But I’ve learned some things, Aunt Miriam. I’ve learned French, and I can speak that, can have a conversation, and I can do just about anything in Spanish, which I guess is what we can call being fluent. I’ve lived abroad. I’ve seen Europe, already, more times by the age of 25 than you probably did in a lifetime, though it was the thing you’d dreamt of, waited for, saved up, and for me it’s been more of a chance encounter, repeated, with variations.

I wish I had known how precious a gift you were giving me, Aunt Miriam, but I did not, didn’t even know what to say for the most part, and so simply moved on to the next topic. I was not yet the woman I am now, the woman that I would become, who would know what to say when you tell me that your closest friend passed away from cancer, or your baby sister, 68-years-old, and how you did not feel like celebrating after that, not even your eightieth birthday. Or at least I might have know how long to let the silence linger, an appropriately thick and rich moment, without words. But these things come with age, I suppose. I am still not the woman I will become, Aunt Miriam. But I am getting there. And I hope, still, after all these years, to make you proud.