27 December 2010

White Christmas

A belated merry Christmas to our readers who celebrate the holiday! We are just back from spending a low key Christmas in Ohio with my family. [Photos and a video here.]

I was there for a fortnight; I headed to Ohio a few days after returning from London to help my mom and David after she had a medical procedure. I'm happy to report that she is well on her way to recovery, and their home is still intact even after having me in the kitchen for the last couple of weeks.

Just after I arrived, a huge storm blew through, bringing over 2 feet of snow (more than 2/3 meter), wind, and bitter temperatures. That pretty well guaranteed a white Christmas as temperatures remained well below freezing during my entire visit, and the snow was topped up with an inch or two of fresh snow every few days. I must admit that, while I don't miss living in it, seeing a blanket of white is truly beautiful.

George joined me for the few days prior to Christmas through today, and we were able to spend most of that time with family members. It was nice to see my mom, David, many of my cousins, my uncle, aunts, grandparents, brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. The oldest and youngest members of the family have changed the most, and that is always exciting to watch.

George, Amanda, Janie, David, Beathan, Justin, Yvonne, Laila

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with the few friends with whom we were able to spend time. As seems to be the trend, unfortunately, we didn't get to see nearly as many of my high school and college friends as I had hoped.

Although we really enjoyed our time with everyone, it is nice to be back in our home. This was my first trip in which I got homesick for Seattle. Moreover, I realized George and I truly are our own new family and that our own traditions in Seattle have become "home" and "Christmas" to me. I look forward to what future Christmases may bring...

24 December 2010

London and Paris

It seems like ages since we returned from London and Paris, but - alas - it's time to stop procrastinating and start writing.

Our trip to London was instigated by George's need to visit the Big G's London office. He works closely with several people based in London, so he tries to make a face-to-face visit about twice a year. Although I was supposed to tag along in March, I ended up changing my ticket to join George in December after a few things came up in March. As it worked out, we arrived during a major cold snap, which was accompanied by a dusting of snow in the city and heaps of snow not far from the city.

During work days, George worked, and I visited some of my favorite London attractions and explored a few new ones. The Churchill War Rooms (despite my liberal tendencies) and strolling along the Thames and through the city remain my favorites. Now is a fantastic time to visit St. Paul's Cathedral because the five-year restoration has recently completed, which means that the structure is free of scaffolding and the inside of the dome shines like a gem.

During evenings and the weekend, George and I were able to meet up with many of our friends who live in and around London. It was fantastic to catch up and see them in their element. We were especially grateful for their fantastic restaurant recommendations.

Of course, London was decked out for Christmas. I loved seeing a new approach to Christmas decorations, including lots of sparkling purple and pink ones. We ventured out and about in London's many shopping districts as we had done very little Christmas shopping before our trip. By the end, we were virtually done with our shopping but a bit weary from the crowds. George was a serious trooper, and I will not soon forget his willingness to both brave the crowds and carry all of the packages.

During the first week we were in London, I ducked away for a couple of days (my first!) in Paris. I found the Eurostar between London and Paris remarkably easy - comfortable, affordable, efficient, and generally pleasant. The ease of travel, both within and between cities, made me incredibly jealous. I was also reminded of the empowerment that results from traveling alone, even if only overnight.

Paris was every bit as cold as London, if not colder. The Parisians lived up to their cold reputation, too, but I survived with a combination of English, Spanish, and a little Lonely Planet French...with emphasis on the Spanish and French. In the end, I made my way to the Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Champ Elysees, and Louvre (outside only) before catching one of the last trains bound for London on a snowy December afternoon. I feel good about what I managed to see in the 30-odd hours I had in Paris, but I look forward to exploring a bit beyond the standard tourist itinerary on my next visit to the City of Lights.

I also plan to be in a bit better health for any subsequent visits. I woke up with a cold on the morning I left for Paris and spent all of my time there (and the first day or two after my return to London) with a tissue clenched in my hand. In fact, my only Paris souvenirs (for myself) were two packages of tissues. Nonetheless, I was and remain immensely thankful that I avoided a cold during both bar prep and our trip to the Maldives.

Overall, I'd say that George and I had an enjoyable trip, and I hope I'll be able to accompany him on some future trips across the Atlantic. As I mentioned before, some photos are posted here (London) and here (Paris).

10 December 2010

Finish Line

I've written about the DREAM Act before (here and here), and I'm happy to report that the House's version has been passed. Now, we just need to get it across the finish line of the Senate. Once it gets to President Obama's desk, it's pretty much a sure thing that he'll sign it.

So, if you're reading this in the U.S. and think that people like this, this, and this should be able to have a pathway to citizenship, please take a moment to sign this petition and jot a quick email to your senators, who can be located here.

09 December 2010


I'm freshly back from London (and a couple days in Paris). I'll write a bit more about it in the next few days, but you'll have to be satisfied with the photos in the mean time. They're on Picasa.

22 November 2010

Record Time

Here's my day in numbers:
2: number of hours it took me to get to work
17:12: the time I left work
21:43: the time I arrived home from work
4.5: number of hours it took me to get home from work
0: number of plows or salt trucks I saw
1: number of police officers I saw on the road

I have to say, I feel extremely lucky. I am home, safe and sound with my husband, but woah - what a commute!

Follow current conditions in our 'hood on King 5 News.

** UPDATE **
I woke up this morning to reports of friends who had 9-and 11-hour commutes home last night. I was very lucky, indeed.

20 November 2010

Baby Shower Bunting

As soon as I ran across this bunting project on a pretty cool life, I knew that I had to make it as the main decoration for a baby shower I was hosting. The shower has come and gone, and I think the bunting was a success.

I created and used a cardboard triangle as my template while cutting two layers of fabric at a time with my handy dandy new rotary cutter.

Then, I ironed the triangles and trimmed the roughest edges.

Next, I sewed two triangles back-to-back on two of the three sides of the triangles.

Finally, I sewed the triangles onto the twine, leaving extra twine on either end of the strand.

The bunting went all the way around the room, pinned to the wall in each corner and in the middle of the long walls. For extra strength, I overlapped the corners of the triangles when sewing them onto the twine. The bunting I made had 175 double-sided triangles; next time, I think I'd make a separate one for each wall or section.

Speaking of next time, the bunting is all packed away for safe storage until its next appearance. I don't think there will be another bunting made for the main room because this was such an undertaking, but I am already thinking about how I may make a more finished bunting as an earthquake-friendly nursery decoration (a long time in the future).

And...here is the mother-to-be, Annette, having her belly measured:

Are you ready to DREAM?

Come on a little journey with me...you've worked really hard at four-year university and just been awarded a degree. You can't wait to put the skills and knowledge you gained over the past years into action, but there's one problem: you were brought to the U.S. as a child, have no legal status, and cannot legally accept employment.

This is the scenario the DREAM Act is meant to address. Under current immigration law, "you" have no way of correcting your undocumented status. To refresh your memory, the DREAM Act is a piece of legislation that would allow young people to get legal status in the U.S. if they were brought to the U.S. as children, went to high school in the U.S., and either go to college or serve in the military in the U.S.

Those who would qualify for the DREAM Act are productive young people who want to contribute to this country, either by getting the right to work legally and use the knowledge they gained in American universities or by serving in the U.S. armed forces. They have been brought to the U.S. without any of the malicious intent that laws generally seek to punish, and it is pointless to continue punishing these young people who simply want to contribute to the country that they consider their own.

Fox News recently reported that...gasp...individuals may qualify for the DREAM Act who have...gasp...criminal records. The law requires individuals to have "good moral character," which is a standard consistent across immigration law. When it wrote the INA (Immigration and Naturalization Act), Congress did not explicitly define good moral character. Congress did, however, give some guidance, preventing a finding of good moral character for individuals who have been convicted of some particularly serious crimes. The rest of the good moral character determination is left to the discretion of the adjudicator. So, yes, it is possible that someone could qualify for the DREAM Act while having a criminal record, but those crimes would not be able to be the particularly serious ones Congress has already identified as disqualifying the good moral character finding. Moreover, because applicants under the DREAM Act have to have been accepted to a college, university, or military branch, there is actually an added layer of character evaluation for DREAM Act applicants than those applying for other forms of immigration relief.

I'm bringing up the DREAM Act again not only because I was annoyed at the Fox News article but also because the timing is ripe for this piece of legislation to finally be passed by Congress. So, I encourage our readers in the United States to take a moment to show your support for this humane and practical piece of legislation by adding your name to this petition. If you're willing to go a little farther, please contact your Congressional representatives. And, if you have questions or concerns, I'd be happy to help you resolve them.

As always, this is not meant to be legal advice but rather merely a bit of education.

18 November 2010


If this doesn't bring a smile to your face and make your stress melt away, I don't know what will. I think I need to catch the next flight to Chengdu to cuddle these pandas.

05 November 2010


Many years of jumping through hoops culminated with a seriously special moment this afternoon. While randomly checking to see whether my bar number had been issued, I discovered that I was officially admitted to the bar today. I am officially a licensed attorney.

Before this, it has felt like every legal milestone has come with conditions subsequent. Even when I finished law school, I had the bar exam hanging over me. When I finished the bar exam, I had results pending. After finding out that I passed the bar, I still had an online seminar, swearing in, and fees that I had to satisfy. And now, everything is satisfied, and I am finally licensed to practice my craft.

It's just as well that I'm licensed because I start my associate lawyer position soon. I know that many challenges await, but I've been working for years for this.

28 October 2010

Taking the Oath

On Tuesday afternoon, I took the oath of attorney and was sworn into the Washington State Bar.

It was just a few days from getting my letter to scheduling my swearing in. Unfortunately, that meant that one of my biggest supporters, my mom, was not able to be there. Fortunately, it happened to be scheduled when one of my most enduring and closest friends, Denaye, would be in town to share the moment. Denaye's presence was definitely fitting given that we were chatting on the phone when I got my mail on February 22, 2007 and discovered that I'd been accepted to law school. A couple of my local friends, Theresa and Shahms, were also able to get some time off of work to attend the ceremony. And, of course, my George was never far away.

I wish I could tell you that I'm now officially a lawyer. Unfortunately, that lovely letter that told me that I passed the bar exam also told me that I had about four boxes to tick: 4+ hours of online training, pay yet more fees, fill out yet more forms, and be sworn in by a judge. My final online video ended just a few moments ago, so I have officially satisfied every...single...requirement for bar admission. Now, it's in the hands of the bar association and the Supreme Court. Once they issue me my bar number and bar card, I'll be official.

18 October 2010


The official pass list is posted here. And the official stats are posted here.

My friend, Brian, stopped by the WSBA office today and sent me these photos:

17 October 2010

Backyard Antics

Our local Raccoon family came by this evening to welcome us back from Walla Walla, and to congratulate Amanda on passing the Bar Exam. Here are two of the little ones, climbing the tree behind the house (which will not make the Squirrels happy). Their sibling is nearby, out of shot, and Mama came by a little later to keep an eye on them.

As long as we are at it, here are some more photos of the denizens of our backyard from the last week or so. Our neighbor puts out peanuts for the Squirrels occasionally, but it turns out the local Woodpeckers like them too...

There's usually a pair of Woodpeckers and a trio of Squirrels, and the Woodpeckers have been known to try and drive the Squirrels off... which is particularly funny because apparently nobody told the Squirrels they were supposed to be intimidated -- they take no notice whatsoever.

This particular day, however, peace reigned between the avian and mammalian inhabitants of the yard, and everybody got some peanuts.

We get a variety of other wildlife, but these are the critters who are most amenable to being photographed. I mean, we have only seen a Coyote around here once, so chances are I'm not going to get a photo any time soon...

Walla Walla Wine Weekend

In celebration of Sam's 30th birthday, she and Brian invited George and me and two other couples to Walla Walla for a weekend of wine tasting. We had a great time seeing a bit of eastern Washington (a first for George and me), tasting wine, catching up with old friends, and making new friends. Because we had rented a house, we were able to hang out together and cook dinner at the house rather than deal with the hustle and bustle of a restaurant.

Over Saturday and today, we visited the following wineries: Waters, Gramercy Cellars, K Vintners, Russell Creek Winery, Mannina Cellars, Dunham Cellars, Buty Winery, and Terra Blanca. We definitely tasted a lot of wine we liked, but I felt that Walla Walla (at least the part that we visited) lacked the ambiance of Napa and Willamette, which have a certain romance with the vineyards surrounding the winery. Then again, Terra Blanca definitely had beautiful buildings, caves, and grounds.

This summer was so mild that the fruit has been ripening very slowly, and harvest is weeks behind across the Pacific Northwest. Because of the delay, we were able to see a lot of action: fruit still on the vine, fruit being sorted and de-stemmed, fruit in bins being fermented, barrels being filled. It's definitely a busy and exciting time to be in wine country!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend...made even more enjoyable by a very special letter waiting in the box upon our return.

Photos are here.

Sarah's Visit

My friend, Sarah, visited at the end of September/beginning of October. She and I became friends while we were both involved with student government in college. I've always really enjoyed Sarah's sense of humor and her brutal honesty. She is not the friend who will tell you that you're wonderful if she thinks you're being an idiot, and I really appreciate her willingness to question me and make me accountable for decisions. Sarah and I spent so much time chatting and catching up that I only took a few photos and none with the two of us!

My photos from Sarah's visit (and other autumnal happenings) are here. Sarah's photos are here.

Come back soon, Sarah!


We spent this weekend in Walla Walla, Washington on a wine tasting trip with some friends to celebrate one friend's 30th birthday. (More on that in a future post.) Just a few moments ago, we got home, got the mail, and read these precious words:

"Dear Amanda: It is our great pleasure and honor to inform you that you have passed the Washington State Bar Examination. Congratulations!"

To say that I'm happy is a bit of an understatement, and I am pretty certain that George feels even more strongly than I do because I know he was not excited about the prospect of living through another bar prep course. Woooooooooohooooooooooo!

16 October 2010

Bar Watch 2010

Bar results were mailed yesterday, and they are supposed to be posted online on Monday. I'll likely get my results when I pick up my mail at home tomorrow...or if they post online earlier. Either way, I promise to tell you as soon as I know whether I passed or failed..............................

09 October 2010

Our Crazy Squirrels

Despite being academically aware they're just another species of rodent, we can't help but be amused by the antics of our resident Grey Squirrel family. At this time of year, they're rummaging around the garden and nearby green spaces, gathering material for their nest -- which is in the branches of the Douglas Fir by our back door.

All three resident Squirrels were at it last weekend, and this guy decided that the funny looking biped with the camera needed an eye kept on him.

26 September 2010

Maldives - George's Photos and Videos

George has posted his Maldives photos here and created a YouTube channel here. Enjoy!

House Photos

A while back, I mentioned here that we had several house projects planned for the summer. The summer has come and gone, our projects have been completed, and it's time to show you the changes (improvements, hopefully).

We had new gutters, windows, doors, and insulation installed; we painted the new window trim and entryway. Over the summer, we began experiencing a more consistent temperature in the house, carefully tracked by George on his wireless indoor and outdoor monitors. As winter approaches, I'm hopeful that we'll continue to feel the energy savings both on our skin and in our pockets.

Instead of simply showing the recent changes, I put together an album (here) chronicling our house projects to date. Enjoy.

25 September 2010

Final David Update

I am very pleased to share the news that my stepfather, David, has been released from his doctor's care. According to my mom, it was 98 days from his initial admission to the hospital to his release on Friday. Though the whole process has been uncomfortable and inconvenient, it is a blessing that his original gallbladder issue revealed a pre-cancerous mass in his pancreas. If the mass had not been identified and fully removed, his doctors say that he would have eventually faced a very, very serious form of cancer. There have been ups and downs and more than a few complications over these past few months, but I am so pleased that David is now healthy, cancer-free, and able to go about his life.


Where: Soneva Fushi, Aggressor Liveaboard, and Soneva Gili in the Maldives
When: September 8-12, 12-19, and 19, 2010
Why: Proper honeymoon and post-bar exam trip

On Tuesday, September 7th, we flew to Male, Maldives via Singapore for the main part of our trip. We landed quite late in the evening and stayed at an airport hotel. On Wednesday morning, we woke up to absolute beauty - even at the hotel airport.

As soon as we were ready, we went back to the international airport where we were transported to the float plane airport and Soneva's lounge. After an hour or so wait, we were on a float plane bound for Soneva Fushi. The flight was one of the most memorable parts of the trip because we had a bird's eye view of paradise. The colors were more vivid than I have ever seen in my life, and maybe even more rich than I could have imagined. Sure, the islands are gorgeous, but I thought the color variations in the water around the numerous reefs were even more stunning. It was also amusing to be in a plane with a barefoot pilot and no cockpit door.

We had a fantastic time at the resort once we arrived. Every detail was considered in advance, and it was nearly effortless to forget about reality in such beautiful surroundings. We did a fair bit of reading, sunbathing, wandering around the island, snorkeling, and patronizing the over-water bar. The food was absolutely spectacular: fresh, complex, varied, well-prepared, and in perfect proportion. I loved that we had an espresso machine in our room because it allowed us to have morning and after coffee without going the least bit out of the way. Most people we ran into at Soneva Fushi said that it was not their first time, and I can definitely see why someone would want to return there.

After about 5 days at the resort, it was time to fly back to Male and pick up the Maldives Aggressor for a week of non-stop diving. You can read the crew's log of our trip here. While aboard the Aggressor, we did three to four dives a day and saw some incredible wildlife. We saw, snorkeled with, and dove with whale sharks, but I actually thought the manta rays were more impressive. It was really very special to be hovering just a few feet below a cluster of magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. We also saw more moray eels that I'd seen in my entire life combined. There was one particular night dive where we saw probably 20 moray eels out hunting - amazing. Of course, we also saw hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and more fish than I can even begin to describe. It really was a diver's paradise.

In addition to the diving, we made new friends aboard the Aggressor, meeting people from all over the world who have had some really interesting life and dive experiences. In this day and age of social media, I'm hopeful that we'll be able to stay in touch with many of them.

One of the most memorable parts of the Aggressor week was our visit to an island. About halfway through the week, we pulled up to an island that appeared deserted. As sunset approached, several of us took one of the smaller boats to the island to have a walk around it. The sand was incredibly soft, and it was a spectacular sunset. We really enjoyed our hour or so lingering on the island, exploring, and enjoying each others' company. In hind sight, it was particularly special because that sunset was the last we saw of the sun in the Maldives as it rained the remaining days on the boat and our final day in country at Soneva Gili.

George and I really enjoyed ourselves in the Maldives, and I would not be surprised if we eventually make a return trip. For now, it remains a very special trip and one we won't soon be able to duplicate or supersede.

Photos of Soneva Fushi: here
Photos of the Aggressor: here
Photos of Soneva Gili: here

21 September 2010

Hong Kong

Where: Kowloon and Hong Kong
When: September 5-7, 2010
Why: We have to stop in Hong Kong anyway; why not look around for a few days?

On early Sunday morning, we landed in a very wet Hong Kong. Though we were exhausted from 16+ hours of traveling, we knew we needed to make the most of our short time in the city...so we took a power nap, rallied, and went out to explore. Thankfully, we never had a drop of rain in Hong Kong except for when we arrived and when we were in the taxi to the airport for our departure.

First, we went to fancy dim sum, and, then, we followed the Lonely Planet tour of markets in Kowloon. The streets were packed with both people and vehicles, but we had a great time wandering through the bird, flower, pet, fish, and clothing markets nonetheless. George said that he felt less claustrophobic than usual in the crowd because he could see over most heads. By the end of the afternoon, our jet lag and adventures left us without energy to find dinner, so we took advantage of room service and an excellent view of the Hong Kong skyline and its light show.

On Monday, we took the Star Ferry from Kowloon to downtown Hong Kong. It was a bit rickety, but there were only a handful of people on the boat, and we had a great view as we approached the city. It was seriously hot downtown that day; I think I asked for the water bottle every half block. We loosely followed the Lonely Planet tour of downtown buildings. We enjoyed the view from the 43rd floor of the Bank of China Tower and the architecture of the HSBC Building. Our stop for lunch was a highlight as well. We had authentic dim sum, complete with ladies pushing carts full of goodies that we picked or refused by look without knowing what was in most things. It was my first real dim sum experience, and now I'm motivated to find dim sum in Seattle. I could have made a meal out of BBQ pork buns and dumplings.

We cut our day a bit short to have plenty of time to clean up before dinner. We had a reservation for T'ang Court, which has two Michelin stars. We both love food, and neither of us had been to a restaurant rated with any Michelin stars prior to our visit, so it was quite a treat. The service and food were incredible! I will never forget it because I had real wasabi for the first time, which resulted in me sputtering, coughing, and generally experiencing a complete head fire for a few minutes.

George and I both thoroughly enjoyed Hong Kong. I'd say that the overwhelming heat and humidity were the only things that really made us uncomfortable. It was extremely easy to get around because of the ferry network, system of underground tunnels, and subway. Due to its British past, Hong Kong definitely feels a bit like the UK with driving on the left side of the road, lots of double-decker buses, and British English widely spoken. Our hotel was located in the shopping district of Kowloon, so it felt like there were extremely high end stores everywhere - not exactly what I expected of Hong Kong.

On Tuesday morning, we had a breakfast buffet before setting off for the rest of our trip. We both agreed that we'd like to return to Hong Kong whenever the opportunity presents itself.

For photos of our Hong Kong adventure, visit Picasa.

20 September 2010

Oh, heaven is a place on earth...

...called the Maldives.

We've just (about 3 hours ago) returned from a wonderful trip to Hong Kong and the Maldives. I'm hoping to get most of the photos sorted and posted tomorrow. In the mean time, I'll leave you with these photos:

(Pet) Fish Market in Hong Kong

Sunset from Soneva Fushi, Maldives

Passing Scene from the Maldives Aggressor

01 September 2010

August Summary

August was a bit of a blur. I think it went something like this:

We started the month in Idaho, celebrating Aaron and Misha's big day.

Then, I spent the next two weeks working around the house, painting
window trim, spring cleaning, and generally getting our house in tip top shape. George was an absolute trooper; each night, he would come home from work and lend a hand until it was time to crash. (I'll post proof of our progress on Picasa soon.)

Oh yeah, I had a birthday, including a Natalie Merchant concert, a haircut, lunch with a few friends, a sunset sail on Puget Sound with George and some other friends, and a nasty reaction to the oral typhoid vaccine.

Then, we celebrated John and Sally's big day and got to hang out with, not only the bride and groom and a whole bunch of our diving friends, but also some of our wedding vendors, including Aaron and Meg.

The next day, George's cousin, Emily, and her fiance, David, arrived from New Zealand. We had a great time showing them around the city and catching up on family news.

The next weekend, we went to San Francisco to hang out with Emily and David some more and show them around the big G's main campus.

The next week, I started doing contract work for the immigration law firm where I worked my last year of law school. George and I have spent the last two weeks enjoying our return to being two working adults. It had been a while.

The month ended with a Crowded House concert at our local winery last Saturday.


15 August 2010

Another David Update

David's (hopefully final) surgery is scheduled for Monday morning. Your thoughts and prayers would be greatly appreciated.

02 August 2010

Weekend in Idaho

This weekend, George and I went to Idaho for Misha and Aaron's wedding. Misha is a friend from law school who will be starting her final year in a month or so.

The main event was held at Woodriver Cellars. The ceremony and reception were beautiful, elegant, touching, personal, emotional, sunny, and quite warm.

While we were in the Boise area, we went whitewater rafting; it was relatively tame, but I still ended up swimming. Ha!

We also went wine tasting. While the wine was not world class, it was quite drinkable. Moreover, we met characters at every single winery. Unlike places like Napa, these wineries are run by families that only produce a few hundred cases a year. Most of them even offered tastings for free. We checked out Bitner Vineyards, Koenig Distillery and Winery, Hells Canyon Winery, and Indian Creek Winery. Yum. Fun. Refreshing.

The icing on the cake was waiting in my mailbox when we got home last night. It looks like I've actually graduated.

For more photos from the weekend, check out Picasa.

29 July 2010

The End.

The exam ended nearly 5 hours ago. I'm still alive but really exhausted. The answer to the million dollar question (when are results published?) is October 18 at http://www.wsba.org/.

Besides that, I don't really know what to write.

I have gone through 20 years of formal education, 2 months of torturous bar prep, and 2.5 days of exam craziness...all waiting for this moment to arrive. Now that it's finally here, all I can get my brain to do is alternate between random, geeky legal thoughts and urges to sleep. I have no idea how I feel (besides tired). I have no idea what I feel like doing (besides relieving the constant feeling of guilt for not studying). It's going to take some time to feel fully human again (i.e. live without reducing everything to elements of a legal issue, type without counting characters, live more than 45-minutes at a time, relax without thinking of how many essays await).

I'm going to attempt to get back to normal by watching a movie, having a drink with friends, doing laundry, getting a massage, and celebrating a friend's wedding. That sounds like a good start. :-)

28 July 2010

Day 2

I'm pleased to report that I have survived the substantive portion of the bar exam. In the past two days, I wrote 18 essay questions totaling 13.5 hours of writing time. I feel moderately confident, though I felt a lot more confident before those last three questions this afternoon. (Can they possibly fail everyone when the call of the question was completely unclear and facts pointed to a topic supposedly not tested?)

Needless to say, I'm exhausted and less than excited about diving into professional responsibility, tested in 6 short essay questions after 6:30am registration tomorrow morning. Here goes...

27 July 2010

Day 1

I'm pleased to report that I have survived the first day of the exam, and I'm even smiling about it.

26 July 2010

T-Minus Way Too Little Time

I am feeling an overwhelming, paralyzing amount of stress with the start of the bar exam approximately 18 hours away. And, because I'm short on time to type out how I'm feeling, I'll leave you with a link to Above the Law and just a few words of my own.

Do I think I'm going to pass? Probably, but plenty of people who are smarter and better prepared than me have not passed the bar the first time through, so I know that failure is a very real possibility. Ultimately, I do not know (and will not know until mid-October) whether what I know is enough, but I do not know what more I could have done to prepare over the past two months. So, I'll study for a few more hours, eat some dinner, attempt to forget about the exam, attempt to sleep, and go to the Meydenbauer Center in the morning knowing that I'm about to leave it all on the field.

(Thank you for your cards, calls, texts, and email. I promise to respond eventually.)

16 July 2010

Treat Time

Even though I still had 3 essays* ahead of me, I just had to take a break to make dinner tonight. These days, little things like walking out to get the mail or making dinner or buying groceries are big treats for me. :-)

Inspired by an appetizer from Chateau Ste. Michelle's Riesling Rendezvous, I set out to create a pizza out of a pile of yumminess. The project was a success, so I've decided to write down the "recipe" and share it with all of you. Enjoy!

One Pillsbury Pizza Crust (homemade or frozen crust would work fine, too)
BBQ Sauce (We like mixing Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet n' Spicy and Rufus Teague Honey Sweet.)
3 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled
3 to 4 ounces of mozzarella, shredded
6 ounces of mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 medium to large onion, sliced and caramelized [how to caramelize an onion]
8 ounces of meat, cooked (we used chorizo from Bill the Butcher)

Cook meat. Caramelize onions. Add some or all mushrooms to the onions for the last 2-3 minutes (just to soften the mushrooms a bit).

As meat and onions are finishing, roll out dough on greased pan or pizza stone. Spread BBQ sauce across entire surface. Cover with 2/3 of the blue cheese. Add other desired toppings (onions, mushrooms, meat, other veg). Add rest of blue cheese. Cover with mozzarella. Bake at 400F (204C) for 10-15 minutes or until melted and browning. Slice and enjoy!

*In case you're curious, I finished them all!

13 July 2010

Better News

I have good news for a change...
  • David was released from the hospital today and is now recovering under my mother's watchful eye. He'll be returning for regular check-ups to get through this round of healing and then schedule the next surgeries.
  • The bar exam begins two weeks from today. Eeek! These last two weeks give me a half day to one day per subject to make sure I have everything down...and for some subjects, I definitely need every minute. You won't be hearing much, if anything, from me until it's over as I've taken myself off of Facebook and generally out of communication to focus on my finishing touches.
  • George and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary this past weekend. On Saturday night, we returned to Canlis for dinner, a tradition we hope to keep for many years to come. On Sunday, we spent the evening at a riesling tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle. We had an excellent time tasting riesling (and some sauvignon blanc and pinot noir) from around the world, though I admit we spent a lot of time hovering around the New Zealand tent and a fair bit of time at the Oregon table. Most of all, I loved getting to hang onto my sweetie's arm all night. Am I a lucky gal or what?!

07 July 2010

Update on David

David is out of surgery, though still in the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors were able to perform two surgeries (gallbladder removal as well as infection and fluid removal from the collapsed lung). The remaining two procedures will be performed after he is healed and rested a bit. For now, we're waiting for his collapsed lung to re-inflate and initial recovery to begin.

06 July 2010

Update on David

As I mentioned previously, my stepdad, David, is fighting serious internal illness. At short notice, the doctors have decided to operate tomorrow (Wednesday); the procedure will involve at least two surgeries and as many as four. Your thoughts and prayers would be greatly appreciated.

01 July 2010

Progress Report

Well, it looks like I've reached the halfway point in my bar study plan. We have just one more week of classes and four more subjects to cover, and then I'm left to study according to "the plan" for two weeks and a few days. The vast majority of my time post-class will be spent memorizing...by studying my outlines, writing and studying flashcards, and writing a whole lot of practice essays.

So far, I analogize the process to being handcuffed to a treadmill set just a little too fast. You can't stop it or slow it, and getting off is not an option.

For those of you who appreciate a numerical breakdown, I've done the following since June 1: attended 64 hours of class, written 15 outlines totaling 120 pages (size 11 font, single spaced), written 90 essays, and had zero days off.

For those of you who appreciate a visual, this is what my essays and outlines look like in a (virtually full) 3-inch binder:

I apologize if your call, email, text, or Facebook message has not been returned...or if it's been returned and you've received "I've been better" as a response to your inquiry about how I am. Hopefully this helps to explain it. :-)

27 June 2010

Hoping for Better Days

As some of you may know, my step-father took ill last weekend and has spent the last week in the hospital with a fairly serious internal infection and other complications. He has quite a road ahead because the infection needs to dissipate before surgery and, ultimately, recovery. My mother, the ultimate powerhouse, is amazing holding down the fort, making regular visits to David, and still managing to take care of everyone else.

I'm hopeful that better days are not far away, but your thoughts and prayers directed their way would be greatly appreciated.

19 June 2010

A new day means a new distraction.

Today, I can't stop thinking about bianco carrara marble. George loves it, and I've agreed to use it in our third (and final) bathroom remodel. Nevermind that this project is not going to get underway for many, many months; I still cannot stop thinking about all the ways that we can use this fun stone in the last bathroom. Shower surround. Counter top. Sink. Backsplash. Half walls. Trim. The possibilities are endless. Besides, marble is a lot more fun than bar essay writing.

18 June 2010

They're serious.

It's difficult to put the bar prep experience into words, but this article explains it pretty well.

Bytheway, Day 19 is the Rule Against Perpetuities. It's famous for being impossible to understand, and the California Supreme Court, in Lucas v. Hamm, ruled that it is so difficult to get right that a mistake involving the RAP does not constitute the basis for a malpractice claim.

13 June 2010

My Day in Numbers

It started with 2 extra hours of sleep and 1 cup of coffee.

And it continued with the following:
9 practice essay answers [three 45-minute ones; six 22-minute ones]
5 loads of laundry
1.5-mile run (most of it with George)
1 trip to the supermarket (with George)


11 June 2010

It is time to DREAM.

Although immigration is often given the face of the person sneaking across the border, there are so many immigrant stories and situations. When I read this article, it reminded me of how little attention is paid to the immigrants who were brought here as minors, grew up in the United States, and either want to pursue or already have pursued higher education or military service. Under the current system, there is no way for them to legalize their status while remaining here.

The DREAM Act provides a solution. As proposed, it provides a pathway to permanent residence through a higher education or military service for individuals who were brought to the U.S. as minors, graduated from a U.S. high school, have good moral character, and have been in the U.S. continuously for five years immediately prior to passage. I understand that it also applies retroactively for those who meet the requirements and have already completed the higher education or military requirements.

Although their passports say otherwise, these youth are American at heart. Aside from the humanitarian aspect of allowing them to remain near family and established roots, it makes economic sense. The U.S. taxpayer has given them a public education, and, without immigration reform, they may never have the opportunity to legally work in this country. Regardless of the circumstances that brought them to this country as infants and children, they now want to live and work and contribute to the place they call home. And why shouldn't they?

It is time to DREAM.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice and should not be relied upon.

09 June 2010


If I had to use just one word to describe Denaye on her wedding day, it would be grace. She was so elegant, in control, and calm...without a snap, a tear, or a worry. I think it was captured perfectly in the photos posted on SOTA's blog this evening.

Amazing photos. Even more amazing people. Besitos, Denaye y David!

08 June 2010

Make hay while the sun shines.

Make hay while the sun shines.

I thought it to myself this afternoon, and then I thought about how the meaning has changed over time and generations. When my grandfather repeated this idiom, he actually meant that he needed to cut the hay, bundle it, and store it before rain arrived. My mom was most likely to repeat it when she needed to accomplish something before a work deadline, the end of a vacation, or someone arriving at the house. For me, I was desperate (after doing my homework) to get in a run, a date with George, and a blog entry before my work load significantly increases tomorrow. My hay is in the barn, and I can rest well.

01 June 2010

What comes next?

For the next 8 or so weeks, I'll be taking a bar exam prep course from BarBri and then studying independently for the bar exam. Classes are roughly 5 days a week for just a few hours a day, but the curriculum calls for approximately 10 hours of study on class days with an additional 10 hours over the days off each week. Phew!

The bar exam is held in Bellevue on July 27 to 29. The exam tests 18 substantive topics (contracts, torts, evidence, family law, criminal procedure, sales, corporations, agency and partnership, Indian law, etc.) mixed up in 18 essay questions, each covering 10-20 distinct issues, over the course of the first two days. The third day of the exam is a half day with six short-answer essay questions on professional responsibility. Of course, everything is time- and character-limited. Bar exam results will be mailed on October 15 and posted publicly (on WSBA's website) on October 18.

At the end of all of this, I look forward to the little getaway we have planned to the tropics. Ahhhhhh!

In the mean time, I am not sure how often I'll be posting on here. Sure, it's a great procrastination method, but I'm doing to do my best to not procrastinate with so much on the line. On the other hand, this is a slightly easier way to send out a smoke signal than emailing or calling each of you. We'll see.


This is all that remains of the turkey that wandered through our yard this afternoon. Random.

31 May 2010

Starting Summer

Memorial Day marks a day of remembering our troops and the unofficial beginning of summer in the States. I did not spend nearly enough time acknowledging our troops today, but I did kick off the summer with a traditional summer pie. Yes, I made this year's first peach (and blueberry) pie. It was a bit tart, a reflection of the early season peaches, but still pretty tasty.

I hope that I eventually get an opportunity to make a pie for my grandma because I can't help but think about her and her award-winning pies each and every time I make one.

I also made another recipe from the Newlywed Kitchen cookbook: prosciutto and cheese pinwheels. It's similar to this recipe, but it includes pepper and sage (fresh from our garden - thanks, Pat). I substituted asiago cheese for the parmesan in the recipe. Of the three recipes I've tried from this cookbook, this is the third successful one. This one is a definite keeper!

My next adventure begins in the morning. BarBri, here I come!

29 May 2010

Just Another Day in Paradise

Days like today remind me of how much I love our suburban life.

To start, I made cheddar, ham, and dill biscuits* from my new cookbook, The Newlywed Kitchen. I need to use less salt and a tad more buttermilk next time, but they were pretty good for a first try. While they were baking, I used my wonderful new non-stick French skillet to make scrambled eggs mixed with my leftover ingredients as a side for the biscuits. I'll never again own a skillet that is not non-stick because this one is just so awesome. (The next time you need a gift idea for someone who cooks, consider a non-stick skillet. Really, they're that good.)

After a relaxing late breakfast with my sweetie, I went outside to take some "after" pictures of the gutter and interrupted our squirrel's breakfast. Isn't he/she cute?!

George is currently in the attic trying to eradicate the two wasps he spotted up there earlier. I have a photo of him in his protective gear, but I've been asked not to post it. Spoil sport.

This afternoon, I'm going to pick out some exterior lighting fixtures and contemplate making a fourth new recipe in three days. In case you're curious, on Thursday, I made curry chickpea salad from the above-mentioned cookbook, and, yesterday, I successfully completed my first attempt at tortilla de EspaƱa, a favorite dish from my time in Spain.

It's a shame that bar prep starts on Tuesday because I'm really getting into this suburban housewife thing. :-)

*For readers outside the US: Biscuits are, for the closest comparison, a savory scone. They're denser than a muffin but lighter and flakier than a scone. Come visit, I'll make some for you!

Draining the Seattle Rain We Love So Much

Yesterday, we had new gutters installed on our house. The before and after shot doesn't really do justice to the big change. Sure, there is a visible difference between the old gutters, which were sagging, rusting, and leaking at the seams, and the new gutters, which are seamless, straight, and drain at more appropriate places. But, the big difference is going to come over time.

The gutter guys discovered that several of our drains were clogged and all of them had been improperly seamed to the downspouts, allowing a considerable portion of draining water to enter the ground around the house. It'll be nice to have the peace of mind knowing that the rain will now be draining away from our house.

It'll also be nice to fire our gutter cleaning guys. The new gutters are equipped with micro-mesh designed to keep debris (mainly our over-abundance of pine needles) out of the gutters and on its way during the next windy day.

We have a little clean up work to do, including trenching one new downspout and cleaning up the muck from behind the original downspout locations, but the gutters are well on their way to making our lives simpler. After the gutters and two or three pending projects, I hope that we will make our goal of creating a more comfortable climate in our home. Stay tuned.

24 May 2010


With just a few weeks between graduation and the beginning of bar prep, we decided to take a long weekend to taste wine in Napa Valley. While we were there, we made a few new friends, drove through the valley, took a hot air balloon ride, and relaxed with a massage. Ahh...just what the doctor ordered to prepare for two very difficult months.

Elkhorn Peak Winery

Above Napa Valley at Sunrise

I'm experimenting with photo options, and I've posted some more photos on Picasa. Enjoy!