little sarah Big World

Tag: true story

Spring Cleaning

…means books off the shelves!

I washed the window sills, Friends. And found 4 ladybugs in the process, which I added to my collection:

My apartment has a minor ladybug infestation. It charms me to no end.

*       *       *

Happy weekend!

Big Sis, Little Sis

~OR~

Rosie Has Two Mommies

(and so do I)

Saturday night my little sister Rosie slept over. She is five years old, and sometimes I’m hesitant to explain our relationship. Technically, she is my mother’s lesbian lover’s daughter. So…no, we’re not related by blood. But what does that even matter? I don’t call Beth my mother’s lover, anyway. I just call her Beth, and I refer to her as my step-mom. Which…well, admittedly that confuses people.

Though, interestingly enough, living in Utah means that I can be a 26-year-old with a 5-year-old sister, and most people don’t bat a lash. We’re professional reproducers here, folks.

But…living in Utah also means that I’ve never been too jazzed to reveal my personal family information to strangers. Because not only am I a non-Mormon (born and raised), I’m a non-Mormon raised by a lesbian and a Jew. Try telling THAT to your friend’s mom while she’s carpooling you to soccer practice!

But I do believe in honesty, Friends. It’s just that I also believe in, you know, protecting what’s mine. So sometimes there’s internal conflict.

But…honestly? Mostly there is little conflict. Mostly there is watching Tangled and eating home-made popcorn with little Rose, who decides that she DOES like my special seasoning (Earth Balance butter + salt/nutritional yeast/Mrs. Dash) and also that she should probably just tell me the entire plot of the movie before-hand. Just in case I might get scared.

Then there is giggling in bed, and going to sleep at 9:30, and then waking up at 7:30. There is trying to play Simpsons Clue at a coffee shop, where we both drink hot chocolate and eat bagels. By then it is only 10 or so, so we decide to go bowling. Because Rosie’s never been, and because…why not?

Because that’s what sisters do–they hang out, watch movies, have sleepovers, go to cafes, and try new things together.

And that’s the honest truth.

 

If You Can’t Be With the One You Love…

…Love the One You’re With

I have a very rainbow-centric job…

…and I kinda dig it.

Truth Time: remember when I was not digging it? And not dealing well? (Here ‘s a refresher. Also here.)

And, really, I was pretty all over the place with most things. Emotionally.  Some days my jobs were okay, some days I liked my friends, some days I felt like MAYBE I’d made the right choice…but other days I was just hanging in there. Like a cat on a tree branch.

But…then I decided not to make any more plans. Because making plans was stressing me out. See, making plans meant making A DECISION, which naturally involved re-assessing all past decisions, in an effort not to eff everything up again. But it also meant trying to figure out the future, and what I might want a month or a year from now.

And I just don’t know that, Friends. I just don’t know.

*       *       *

So. No more plans. Just here. Just this. Some other quote from Rent…

Seriously, though, letting go of the past AND the future has done wonders. Guess what? My jobs are awesome. I love kids. Even when they’re little shits. Okay, especially when they’re little shits. They’re just so bad ass. Look at what my kiddos did for the storytime craft last night:

A metaphor:

You know how some times everything sucks and your friends are flaky and your family doesn’t understand you and your job is killing your soul and you don’t want to do anything and nothing is ever going to get better? But then really it turns out you just needed to eat?

I guess I just “needed to eat.”

Milestones

~OR~

Please Let Me Remember Tomorrow That I Dropped Picked-Off Nail Polish Into a Water Glass and Not Just Re-Fill It and Start A-Drinking

 Tonight my mom asked me why I’d decided to become a vegan.

Then she listened carefully to the answer. And later she seriously considered my suggestion that she eat more whole grains.

It was pretty bad-ass.

*       *       *

Yesterday I went to brunch at Vertical Diner with Nicole friend. We had both been pretty shit-faced in public the night before. She’d rambled on to an acquaintance at a bar, and I’d negotiated with a high school-aged Jamba Juice employee. Milestones. 

I am not yet too old to be publicly intoxicated. I have not yet reached Patsy and Eddy status. But someday, when I do reach that point, I will be okay with it.

SO okay.

*       *       *

Anyways, the point is that Nicole and I have decided to regress to high school levels of debauchery. And I’m okay with that as well, Friends. I’m okay with staying out late and having sleepovers and making bad choices and giggling and hanging out with my friends as though they were my very life-blood.

No parents, no rules.

(Which at this age means not only that my folks aren’t around, but also that I, myself, am not a parent).

Except my mom IS around. And we drink two gin and tonics (each) on a Monday night. And shoot the shit.

Then I come home and blog.

*       *       *

You’re Welcome!

The Difference a Year Can Make

~OR~

National Pi(e) Day!

…was last Tuesday. How did I not know about this in advance? Anyways, now I know, because it will be every year, March 14th (3.14…). This day, however, is not to be confused with National Pie Day, which is January 23rd. I celebrated that one last year.

Which gets me to thinking about how much has changed for me in just over a year. Last year, I baked that pie at my moms’ house, where I was living in the basement, next to the coal shoot. I baked the pie by myself, because baking is one of my many coping mechanisms, and I had much to cope with–lack of friends, lack of personal space, lack of direction in life, etc. I was taking everything personally, you see, feeling that I didn’t have decent friends or quarters or plans because I didn’t deserve them.

Now, I do have those things:

AND a much-improved sense of self-worth. And guess what, Friends? It was the self-worth that came first. I had to trust that my shitty circumstances were just that–circumstances. That they did not reflect who I was or what I was capable of or what I merited. I had to trust that I could and would have a better apartment, better friends, and better, more-suitable goals. That I was not inherently flawed, but just going through a bit of a rough patch.

And now? Well, now when I bake a pie, I have many lovely ladies to share it with, friendships that continue to grow and develop and deepen all the time. Now I don’t have to use my moms’ kitchen (unless I’m house-sitting), because I have my very own. It’s small, and imperfect, but it’s all mine.

Now I don’t have to feel guilty about dropping out of school, or quitting my band, or looking for a new job, because I know that it’s okay to want better for myself, and that I deserve it. I know that my thoughts and ideas and dreams and aspirations, no matter how radical or half-baked or uncertain, are all mine. I can do what I want, like eating leftover pie for lunch.

Not that there was much left over.

Meaning

It’s not every day in the First World that you wake up knowing for certain that you’re going to see a dead body. And I was thinking about that, last Friday, in the shower. While I got ready for your mother’s funeral.

I know we joked about it, made light of the situation, maybe even more than most would. It’s just that she wasn’t that type of lady, you know? Not the type for us to go into hysterics over, not a warm and compassionate person. And I didn’t know her as much more than just…your mom.

But you loved her. You love her so much, of course you do. And I should have known that. I should have said something better.

Instead I said I was really sorry, and you said “Thank you.” And you said “It’s okay.”

Anyways, I didn’t even get a good look at the body, so busy was I trying to find a place to warm up, but it’s probably for the best. See, I don’t believe in embalming. I prefer my deceased to look, well, dead. Gone, expired. But you don’t know that, because that’s not the type of thing you say to a 26-year-old planning her only parent’s funeral. You just say “Of course I’ll come, of course I’ll play the violin.” And try not to cry when you see the oldest sister’s broken, wet face.

I should have said something, when I got up to play, but instead I made some comment about…wearing heels, was it? Some silly little thing. Then, later, I thought of all the things I could have said. And what I wanted to say was:

“I didn’t know Linda very well, I only knew her as my best friend’s mom, and to tell the truth I was always a little scared of her. I think we all were. But really I was scared of most people’s parents, because they saw me as a bad influence. And I don’t think Linda ever saw me that way. She always welcomed me without much fuss, if I wanted to stay for dinner, or if I wanted to have a sleepover. I never felt out of place in her home. I’m sorry that life was so hard for Linda, especially these last few painful years, and I know that now she’s not in any pain. I dedicate this song to her.”

But I didn’t say that. I just played my violin, and nobody clapped at the end, because I guess that’s how it’s done at a funeral.

And you said so much, and so well. You made everyone laugh, and you made me bawl silently, and you told stories that I never heard, and you gave so much life and depth to your mother with your honest words. It was a side of you I’d never seen before, and all I could think of was how amazing you are, and how strong, and how lucky I am to have you as a friend.

You know, when I came back from Spain, I was plagued with anxiety and regret. I thought I’d made the wrong choice, yet again, and I almost couldn’t live with it. I kept searching for a sign, a reason that would justify my decision, where I could look and point and say “See? There. That’s why I had to come back. It was meant to happen this way.”

But instead I grew, and grew up, and I don’t think like that anymore. I don’t think that things happen for a reason, that they’re meant to be one way or another. I just try to do my best, to accept the decisions I make and deal with the way things are.

So I can’t comfort you the way the others did, can’t tell you that your mother is in heaven, because I don’t believe that. I have no Celestial Kingdom to offer you, no promises, no answers. I do not think that I was meant to come home from Spain so that I could be there for your mother’s funeral.

But for the first time since coming home, I’m glad I did.

Brewtah

 

~OR~

This is How We Brew It

(in Utah)

You might think of Utah as a conservative Mormon-filled wasteland. And you’re right! Sort of. But just as an oasis appears in the desert, so do Utah liberals, radicals, and groovy-types (both Mormon and and non) find ways to express themselves, challenge the dominant culture, and create local, worthwhile enterprises.

Which is why we have so many frickin’ microbreweries in a state where you can’t even buy high-point beer at the grocery store. Viva la revolucion!

And speaking of oases…it’s not ALL ladies’ nights and slumber parties for this littlesarah. Because sometimes my Adam friend comes up with the idea of touring as many Utah breweries as we can in one night, having a sampler of all their beers at each one. He even researches brewing history! YES. And he has a car. So we hit the road one late Friday afternoon.

And drink a lot of beer. Like this:

Brewery #1 – Roosters Brewing Company & Restaurant (Layton location)

I’ve already raved about Roosters being  my favorite restaurant of all time. But we didn’t want to drive all the way to Ogden, so we went to their second, business park-y location in Layton.

Same great beers, same great food. Different location. NBD.

Our favorites were the Diamondback Ale and the seasonal Irish Stout. But they were all good. Except for the amazingly-named Polygamy Pale Ale (“You can’t have just one!” etc.), which I didn’t like. But Adam finished my shot of that, so it couldn’t have been all that bad.

Also, I’ve decided to try my hand at veganism, FOR REALS, so this night was not only about drinking local brews in abundance, but also about gorging on meaty treats that I will miss forever. (But it’s all for the best).

*       *       *

Brewery #2 – Bohemian Brewery (Midvale)

This one was probably my favorite. The atmosphere was like that of a Swiss Chalet (or at least what I imagine a Swiss Chalet to be like, having never been to one…), and the beer was the epitome of European deliciousness.

Each beer was distinct, crisp, complex and refreshing, but my favorite was the Czech Pilsner. I could probably drink 3 or 4 of those before temporarily getting sick of it. The Bavarian Weiss was also good, and super light. We deemed it a summer beer, which was just part of the fun we had deciding which exact atmosphere would be perfect for which beer. Oh, us!

*       *       *

Brewery #3 – Hoppers Grill & Brewing Co. (also Midvale)

Fun fact; if you sit at the bar, there will be sports. If you sit at three bars in a row, you will get super sick of looking at sports games.

Hoppers was hands-down our least favorite. Was it because they’ve perfected the chain-like atmosphere, despite being a small business? Was it because their slogan is “Your Local Chill!” (which doesn’t even make SENSE)? No, it was because their beers, despite being many and varied, all tasted a little flat, both in terms of carbonation and flavor. But I’ll give them points for presentation.

The only beer worth mentioning was the Uno Mas, a Mexican-style pale lager that was pretty much the most delicious Corona I’ve ever had. But probably not worth the drive to Midvale and the harsh overhead lighting.

*       *       *

The Aftermath

I got mud on my “bad-ass boots.”

We tried to meet up with my Dad at The State Room (not a brewery), but there was a $12 cover charge for a raggae/dub band, so we bailed.

We hit up the “tasting room” at Epic, only to realize that there was one chair in a sad little backroom with a grill in the corner and 30 minutes ’til close. Pity, since they have some of the dankest beers around. We agreed that it’d be best to do Epic as a stand-alone, lunch-time affair.

Then we met up with Stephanie Red and Whitney at Desert Edge Brewery, where I failed to take any pictures. Sorry. Anyways, we didn’t do samplers there, and I was sick enough of beer at that point to be unable to finish even my one glass of Anniversary Amber Ale. AND I wanted to complete my Last Supper of Meat with a delicious brew-pub burger and fries BUT they do not have fries at Desert Edge. Burgers, but no fries.

Is that even legal?

And the burgers weren’t that great.

So MAYBE we’ll go there for round two of the Brew Crew, or maybe we’ll try out one of the other three brewpubs in Salt Lake City alone.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

One Time I Ate 16 Courses

~OR~

A Complete Amateur Reviews the Mist Project

Sometimes I can get really into something just because a friend of mine is into it. So where I was never all that into action flicks, I now get totally excited to see them with my Lindsey friend, because SHE’S totally excited to see them. Also…they’re just ridiculous. Have you seen Total Recall? Or The Fifth Element? ‘Nuff said.

Lindsey’s also really into good food. Like, fancy, sit-down dinners. Whereas I can be satisfied by most brew-pub fare. But as seen through the eyes of my friend, a gourmet dining experience becomes an adventure! And somehow I’m magically able to eat, like, twice as much as normal, who knows why?

To celebrate my 26th, she took me to the Mist Project–Salt Lake’s very own guerilla dining experiment, or what their website calls “a multi-course, multi-sensory experience.” We had two bottles of wine! Which made the night go a little something like this:

Course #1: Bread

There were two types–fennel seed/golden raisin/semolina and olive/walnut. I’m allergic to walnuts and Lindsey’s allergic to olives. But the first bread was tasty, and warm. Plus there was butter for dipping. Can’t argue with that.

Course #2: Spoons

These are prepared by students and vary from night to night. Ours was a take on a caprese salad (mozz/tom/basil–that watermelon-looking thing you see is a honey-roasted tomato…I think) and an asian-y thing involving tofu and peanuts and eggplant. The first one was too vinegary, but the second was good. I dunno. I’ve never had an amuse bouche before, so that was cool.

Course #3: Duck-Themed Shot Glasses

The left one is a duck confit with feta, sweet potato and barly risotto. Amazing. The right is a duck tea/palate cleanser. In the middle is a wafer-like savory cracker filled with fois gras. SO GOOD. So creamy, and salty, and…my mouth is watering. The point is, these things used to be ducks, and now they are an edible science experiment situation.

Course #4: Sticks

That round orb is a barley gelato which is just as interesting as it sounds and about a billion times more delicious. So good. I’d buy a carton of it, honestly. In the middle was a wee shot of popcorn with candied bacon, sage, dehydrated beehive cheddar, and powdered bacon fat. Unfortunate, really, because now I have to spend the rest of my life eating just regular popcorn. The pork-belly-looking thing was pork-belly, and was as tasty as one would expect.

Course #5: Beets

That whole yellow bottom part of the plate is a beet-flavored jello (a shout-out to our Utahn heritage). Those bubbles were the first (and best) of many foamy garnishes; they’re chlorophyll-honey bubbles. Also there were a bunch of different ways to eat beats, none of which was better than how I like them–roasted, over a bed of arugula, with goat cheese.

Course #6: Tuna

I don’t know, guys, sometimes I just want all of my flavors and textures to fit together nicely on a plate and not be some sort of equation that I can’t work out.

Course #7: Scallop

I like scallops, sure. Even if you fuck around with them and throw in some mushroom foam and “apple fluid gel,” my mouth will still recognize and appreciate their silky, meaty texture.

Course #8: Guest Chef Course!

This was actually our favorite, but we were so stoked about eating it that we didn’t take a picture. Oops. It was a super slow-roasted squid in it’s own ink. Smoky, squidy, inky. Amazing.

Course #9:

I only like my lamb that one middle-eastern way where it’s ground up and mixed with spices and then formed into long sausages around a skinny sword. And this was not that. Fun Fact: that egg-looking thing is actually a “reverse sphere of curried yogurt” on top of sherried tomato gel. Oh! Also! This course had fried sweet breads (glands), and they were not bad! Though I guess most anything tastes good fried. Except ear; ear is weird and wrong no matter how it’s cooked.

Course #10: Short Rib

This is a blurry photo of a too-salty short rib parfait. But I ate most of it anyway, because it was topped with potato mousse and a RYE AND CHORIZO CRUMBLE. I mean, come on.

Course #11: Campfire

SO GOOD. Our waiter assured us that it would be “downhill from here,” and thank goodness for that, because it meant I could go to town. What you see here is soy and coffee cured beef sizzling on top of a 500-degree granite stone rubbed with beef fat. YES, that is a true statement. A true statement accompanied by a literal can of baked beans. S’good. There were other shenanigans, like edible coals made of meringue and also some  veggies, but I focused mainly on the best beef I’ve ever had in my life. And I don’t even LIKE beef.

Course #12: Intermezzo

Another palate cleanser! But why would I want to cleanse an edible campfire homage from my tongue? Oh, because you’re serving a spiced apple cider flavored granita with merengue and cream that tastes just like apple pie but is impossibly light and refreshing? Okay then.

Course #13: Sunrise From My Plane Window

Sometimes I think chefs can go too far out there (remember all that foam?), but this is an example of where it works. A hand-blown sugar sphere covering a lychee wrapped in passion fruit mousse on a popping candy base? That is a fancy way to dress up pop rocks, Friends, and I am all for it. Even the cotton candy clouds were good, and I normally hate cotton candy. Plus the blue background was a cocoa butter spray that you could write messages in. We talked about leaving our numbers for our cute, hickie-sporting waiter, but decided against it.

Course #14: Palate Cleanser

I think maybe we weren’t supposed to chew up our dry ice Mist tablets? But we did. These cookies were prettier than they were yummy. Also I don’t understand how a cookie will cleanse your palate SLASH why did we need cleansing after two fairly light dessert-type courses? Anyways.

Course #15: Edible Forest

Did I mention that this was supposed to take place at Paradise Palm and have a forest-y plant theme? But instead it was at the former Metropolitan, and besides the campfire, this is how to do it right, edible-botanical-style. The base is crumbled chocolate cake “soil” and pistachio sponges (meant to look like moss) dusted with powdered sugar “snow,” and then we have delicate, intricate chocolate trees filled with glace cherries and cherry marscapone ice cream. Then our hot waiter poured warm chocolate sauce over the whole thing. It was beautiful and delicious and sensual and just rich enough to finish off our meal in style without overdoing it. Except…

Course #16: Mignardise

…except then they brought us this cluster-fuck of random and unnecessary treats. Some of them are made by local bakeries! But what does that matter, because you just followed up a perfectly wonderful last course with a slapdash smattering of not-so-greats on top of your leftover edible soil. Mignardise are supposed to be small, sweet bites served after a meal with coffee. But there was nothing small about the giant log that even our waiter warned us not to eat, because it wasn’t very good.

Anyways, that’s really my only picky-pants objection to an otherwise amazing, lengthy, and thorough meal. It was super fun! And now I’m a vegan, so it’s probably good that I got that out of my system. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.

If I were a professional critic. Which I’m not.

 

What You Missed at the LEO Party:

A Sarah Custen Guilt Trip

Let me just start off by saying that I don’t even understand why people pass up the chance to gather, eat, drink, and be merry. I do not accept excuses of upcoming tests, family obligations, or illness. I demand that good times be had by all, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I am a highly-biased reporter, is what I’m trying to say.

So for those of you who simply could not make it to the wonderful and magical and cooperative LEO Holiday Party, here’s what went down.

There was food. Delicious food. I personally enjoyed two different types of ham, some sort of marinated tofu magic, corn-n-veggie salad, and roasted cauliflower. Also rice. But that was so much more! So many epicurean delights! I ask you: why would anyone pass that up?

There were desserts, plural. Myriad, really. Maybe you feel like this doesn’t apply to you, because you are lactose intolerant, or celiac, but did you count on…

…dairy-free, gluten-free strawberry-coconut cupcakes?!?!? Because those were there. I know, because I brought them. And did we enjoy these treats in isolation? Did we stuff our faces and then run home to our DVRs? No we did not!

We socialized! Oh, man, we socialized so hard…it was CRAZY.

Also Whitney Houston played. RIP, Whitney.

Also there was booze, and afterwards, there was more booze, at the Red Door. That’s what we call an after-party.

Then after that I left to go out dancing. Lately I have a need to dance bordering on clinical.

ALMOST AS GREAT AS MY NEED TO SEE ALL MY COWORKERS’ LOVELY, SHINING FACES AT THE LEO PARTY. And you wouldn’t want to deprive a girl of camaraderie, would you? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.

See you next year!

…and Some Nights

Some nights it is all about beer, brats, spuds and ladies. While watching Newsies. Did you think those things were not compatible? Did you think that ladies’ nights had to be about wine and finger foods and girl talk and rom-coms? Well think again:

This is real life, Friends. This plus, you know, complaining about things (work, life, boys, etc.), looking up hot boys’ pictures on the internet, giggling over silly and/or perverted jokes, and just…enjoying each others’ company. Mutual love. And Boozies.

That’s when you turn Newsies into a drinking game, Friends.