Gratitude

First things first: Happy Thanksgiving!

Bearing the theme of gratitude in mind, I have an announcement:

I did not pass the California Bar Exam.

Yes, I will take February 2012. Yes, I was disappointed and sad to learn I didn’t pass. Yes, I am OK. And yes, I am sick of talking about it.

Luckily when I got the news I was off the grid, vacationing in South Dakota so I was able to talk to the people I needed to talk to and then go on a cell phone and social media blackout for about 3 days. It was actually really, really nice not to really deal with the fallout from the news. The past few days being back have been a little overwhelming. There is a lot I need to plan before I start studying again. Obviously, “the news” was upsetting to me. I really, really wanted to pass but I know the exam is weird and challenging. I also know I will take it again and I have faith that things in my life are going to work out the way they are supposed to. Truthfully, not passing felt weirdly liberating.

Through my many years practicing various forms of self help I’ve learned that when things don’t go my way I need to practice gratitude. And you know what? The bar examiners knew what they were doing putting the results day less than a week before thanksgiving. Gratitude has been on my mind all week as the holiday approaches.

Hungry Running Girl posted this about a month ago and I have reread it several times since Friday night:

Source

Tuesday night I came home and actually made a full on list of the things that I am grateful for. With that in mind, it’s time for my annual “thankful” post. Consider this year’s the “I didn’t pass the bar exam but I have so much to be grateful for” edition of the “Thankful” post aka: my gratitude list from Tuesday night.

My good health, my parent’s good health and the good health of most of the people I love.

Everyone is healthy and my biggest ailment in the past year was a tight it band. May this good luck continue!

Food. Shelter. Heat. Water. Health Insurance.

I mean really.

Southern California.

I live in a place where it’s 70 and sunny almost all the time. How bad can life ever really be?

Izzy.

She is ridiculous and I love her.

Running and yoga.

Almost nothing keeps me more sane and balanced and happy than running and yoga. I am so lucky that I am able to practice both of these things. Running has changed my life in the past almost 3 years <- not an overstatement.

I have a new part time job that I love in a place I love surrounded by things I love.

I’m not blogging the details of it at all but I love it and that is all there is to say.

Red wine, IPA, dirty Hendrick’s martinis, and amazing food.

I have no food allergies, I’m maintaining happy weight and I get to more or less eat what I please. Less than a month ago I had the best martini I’ve had in years with my best friend. Life is good.

This blog.

This blog has provided me so many things: new friends, free samples of products, and an outlet for my thoughts. I really feel like my writing is changing and evolving. I’m excited to write more.

The ability to do social justice work.

While I will be taking a hiatus to study for the bar, I’ve learned in the past few years that I’m at my happiest when I feel like I’m working for the common good. This knowledge is powerful and I trust that I will have a long, fulfilling career doing such work whether it is legal or non legal.

Long walks, good music, drinking delicious lattes, cooking and baking.

I did all these things tonight and they all made me feel better.

The election of this man and this photo of him with his wife.


Sorry to get political, but it’s true.

My increasing resemblance to Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Two amazing women whom I idolize and didn’t pass the bar exam the first time and went on to have formidable careers. In fact Hillary and I are both from North suburban Chicago, both went to woman’s colleges, both were deeply involved in student government, both went to law school and both didn’t pass the bar the first time we took it.

We also both like to drink beer and dance.

And last but certainly not least, my amazing friends, family and boyfriend.

If you want to know what love and support is I highly suggest taking, but not passing, the bar exam. I have had so much love and support thrown my way in the past 5 days. My best friend even sent me my favorite grilled cheese making bread that is only sold in Boston. I’ve received hugs from friends and countless text messages from people. I’m at a point where I don’t want to really talk about the details of not passing or my plan for moving forward but getting supportive messages has been a big bright spot in the past few days. I take none of it for granted and know that I appreciate every nice gesture so, so much.

So, what are you thankful for this year?

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Unemployment: As told through baked goods

Admittedly the title of this post is a little misleading. I am not technically unemployed. UCLA Law has a program that compensates me for work at a legal nonprofit, I have another part time job, and I am also applying for jobs. However, the fact still remains that compared to how many hours I was working over the past several years, I have had significantly less work to do the past few months since the bar exam ended. I’m not sure how many hours I worked on average while in law school, but the idea of working only 40 hours a week at a full time job still kinda sounds like a “vacation” to me. I know the grass is always greener on the other side and student schedules have many perks but law school was a huge time commitment especially in the months surrounding exams. The thrill of leaving work and being completely done with nothing to do over the weekend has not worn off yet.

As a result of this additional free time I’ve taken several trips: my big California road trip, Vegas, San Francisco and Boston. In addition I’ve been baking and I would like to give myself a little pat on the back because my skills have improved. I’m not sure why they’ve gotten better. I could be that I’ve been baking longer, perfected my homemade pie crust recipe (thanks Mom) or that I just generally feel less rushed but the product speaks for its self.

For example, do ya’ll remember the Pear and Cranberry Crustata I made for my friend Molly’s fall pot luck 2 years ago? The guests gobbled it up however I was so busy and stressed making it that the final result left something to be desired:

I mean, it was fine but far from the beautiful images in the Flour cookbook.

A few weeks ago I took another stab at it. This time I had all day to create the crustada:

Yep. Pride. It ended up looking more like how it was supposed to look.

Clearly unemployment time had its perks.

I also took a trip to Boston.

While I was in Boston I did what I usually do. Hang out with my besties and do a lot of eating…

Flour.

JP Licks.

My favorite weekend breakfast: Flour’s smoked salmon sandwich. Every part of this sandwich is perfect. The bread is soft yet crusty and the arugula is spicy and crisp.

Breakfast cocktails at Stephi’s on Tremont.

Overall, it was an amazing trip. One of the highlights of my post law life for sure.

Had to share this. It was on the wall in Flour and my mother loved it when I sent it to her.

The end of this week marks the day that I will find out my bar results. I’ve been working out, working, and making plans so that Friday will just be another day. No matter how it turns out I am sad that this mini chapter in my life is ending. Even though being in limbo is getting old I’ve managed to really enjoy this time. I’m just trying to relax and let things unfold as they are supposed to.

The best of the rest

So, over three months after it ended, I am finally wrapping up my posts from my California post-bar road trip with my Dad. I don’t have enough for a single post for each meal but I thought I would highlight the best food I sampled on my trip.

The first major stand out of the trip was this grilled cheese sandwich I ate at a tiny restaurant across the street from the entrance to Hearst Castle. The restaurant was a window that you walk up to. They were advertising grilled cheese on brioche so it was a no brainer. I was expecting a run of the mill grilled cheese but what I got was so much more:

Yes, that is oozing white and yellow cheddar cheese with avocado and bacon. I love the huge chunks of creamy avocado and the thick and crispy bacon. The bread was obviously grilled with butter.

The bacon could not be contained.

Crispy and perfect!

The shop also had a great selection of bottled sodas including these more off beat selections:

As a native Midwesterner I was drawn to the sweet corn soda but I restrained myself from actually purchasing it.

The next notable meal that has yet to see the blog is my lunch at Chez Panisse. Yes, that Chez Panisse.

Lunch at Chez Panisse was a big surprise for me. My parents made the reservation far in advance. For those that are not familiar, Chez Panisse is kind of a big deal. The Berkeley restaurant was started by Alice Waters in 1971. Alice is a pioneer of the local, seasonal and sustainable food movement. As a frequent farmer’s market patron and general fan of the local food movement, I was very excited to have the opportunity to dine in her restaurant.

I did not take that many photos when I was there. To be honest, I didn’t want to be “that blogger girl” with her camera out. My dad, my cousin Mary and I ate a three course meal and left no bite behind. The dining room was warm and inviting, like I was sitting down at a fabulous yet homey dinner party.

I did snag a photo of the amazing dessert I ordered:

Peach Tart with Blackberries and Blackberry ice cream. It was complete and total perfection. I actually do not have words to describe it. Suffice to say, if you ever have the opportunity to eat at Chez Panisse you should hop on it. Side note: for the past month I’ve been playing around in my kitchen with a version of Alice’s simple apple tart and it will be posted on the blog eventually. Promise.

While in SF I also dragged my Father along to the Saturday farmer’s market at the Ferry Building aka the greatest farmers market in existence.

I went to my favorite stand and got the pork sandwich with arugula and caramelized onions for breakfast at 8 am.

So much spicy and crispy arugula!

Gooood morning indeed!

After eating around San Francisco we headed into wine country and the food continued to be delicious.

Do you want to know what I love about Healdsburg? It was 60 degrees in the morning and around 85 during the day. This means that I was able to bundle up a bit and get a warm latte in the morning and then got to enjoy sunshine and warmth in the afternoon.

I insisted on more than one trip to Flying Goat Coffee.

Love.

No photos came out of the first meal we had in Healdsburg but we ate at a great restaurant that was recommended by family friends called Baci. Baci was notable because I had short rib ravioli. It was amazing. Does it get better than one of my favorite kinds of meat wrapped in homemade pasta? No. The answer is no.

Again, at the recommendation of friends we went wine tasting at several vineyards and tasting rooms. Our family friends are serious wine country veterans and gave several great recommendations in the Dry Creek Valley. First we went to the Williamson Vineyard tasting room off the Healdsburg Square. I splurged with some of my law school graduation money and bought a delicious and expensive Cabernet which I am saving for a special occasion.

Next we went to the Talty Vineyard. The tasting room was not supposed to be open when we were there but they opened up just for us to check it out. Talty exclusively produces Zinfandel. I drink red wine almost exclusively and I really like the spiciness of the Zins. The owner of the Talty Winery was so nice and took time with us even though he was not supposed to be open. I highly recommend checking it out if you ever end up in that region.

After we grabbed a quick bite at a pizza restaurant. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the restaurant but the pizza was something to behold.

After the pizza we went to the Teldeschi winery also in the Dry Creek Region. Again, great wine, nice people. I ended up taking home a Zinfandel and a Petite Syrah. Overall, it was a great haul!

My absolute favorite meal in Healdsburg was at Scopa. We barely got in because I forgot to make a reservation (whoops). Once we started eating even my Dad conceded that the food was worth the wait.

To start I had an arugula salad with grilled peaches.

This photo isn’t the best but the peaches were fantastic. The warm peaches mixed with the spicy, crisp arugula. I ate many, many peaches on this trip because they were in season at the time. This is probably my favorite way to eat peaches. They’re just so good when they’re grilled.

For the main course I had homemade ravioli. I can’t remember exactly what it was stuffed with but it was one of the best plates of ravioli I have ever been served bar none.

The photo doesn’t do it justice but I had to give Scopa a shout out. The sauce had rich flavoring but was light at the same time. Seriously, anytime you get anywhere near wine country you need to check out Scopa. The menu is all locally sourced and seasonal.

Oh and we ate this for dessert. Because I’ve irresponsibly waited 3 months to write this post I cannot for the life of me remember what it is (Dad- do you remember?) but I remember eating every last bite and wanting more.

I mean, giant slab of homemade whipped cream. So tasty looking, amiright?

Finally, on the way back to LA my Dad generously offered to drive through Santa Barbara to hit a bakery I had eyeballed on our first pass through. I had not been able to get a treat from said bakery because I had a nasty bout of food poisoning on my birthday. While I wanted a post birthday treat I didn’t feel like it was the right time to test my belly with more than my morning coffee. I realize I was probably gambling putting coffee in my system and I didn’t want to push it.

However, on the second trip I was able to successfully enjoy some New York Olive Oil Cake from Our Daily Bread Bakery in Santa Barbara.

I really like olive oil cake in general. I find that the olive oil makes the cake more spongy and moist than usual. I also love the flavor of olive oil. You can taste a hint of olive oil in the cake but overall the cake itself isn’t very rich. Perfect end of the trip treat!

So that does it for my updates from my road trip. I am so fortunate that my Mom planned this amazing trip for my Dad and I. While my Dad did give the occasional side eye as I marched him from food location to food location, I’m glad that I had a travel companion who wanted to eat as much good food as I did.