Bar Exam Care Package

If anyone in your social circles is or has ever been a law student, you probably know that it’s that time of year again–bar exam time. Once upon a time, I was a lawyer, and before that I was a bar examinee, so it seems like every February and July I hear of someone who’s just taken the bar and is anxiously awaiting results. Just hearing about it brings back memories of studying literally all day while everyone else was at the beach playing volleyball, collapsing in tears, sobbing “How do they expect us to know ALL of this??”, and late-night frozen yogurt runs with my then-fiancé  to make it all better. If you’re in that boat now, keep plugging away, and know that the froyo really does help.

This particular bar season is special for me because my sister in law is in the middle of studying for it. I wish I lived closer to her so I could bring her a meal or a teddy bear or just a hug. But since that’s not possible from 300 miles away, I figured I would just send her a care package. I would have LOVED to receive a care package while I was studying. It’s so helpful to just know that people are supporting you even from afar. So if any of your loved ones are taking the bar, here are some things that might be of comfort to them while they’re studying:

1. A warm scarf – On the first day of testing I was freezing in the room all day. So after the day was over, I went to the mall across from the testing center and bought a scarf. The second and third days, I was much more warm and comfortable. Pick something soft and cozy for maximum comfort. 

2. Lip balm – I have really dry lips so I always have some lip balm on hand. It’s a must-have while studying.

3. Hair ties – If your examinee has long hair, these are crucial for keeping hair out of the way while studying or testing. I like these wide, flat elastics because they also don’t make creases in my hair. 

(3.5. Yan-Yan – Because I didn’t plan out this picture very well. But look! There’s fun words inside!)

4. Colored markers – I’m a visual learner, so color coding was so helpful for me while I was studying. I found this mini marker set in my school store while I was in law school and it was perfect for making color-coded flash cards. The little case is also perfect for toting all these colors around in your backpack. 

5. Tote bag – At the place where I tested, only certain things are allowed in the actual testing room, so everyone left their other things in the outside waiting area. That means that the outside area is covered in piles of bags and people’s stuff, which might make it a little hard to find your things once you exit the testing room. A tote that’s easy to identify makes it easier to spot your things among everyone else’s. It’s also helpful to get a cheap bag in case you lose it or someone takes your things (whether by accident or on purpose). 

6. Rome map – If your examinee is taking a bar trip, it’s nice to include a little reminder of what they get to do after the exam. Maps, mementos, or even a little travel diary might be fun.

7. Snacks – Of course! This is possibly the most important part of a care package. These are some of my favorite Asian snacks, but anything that’s easy to pop in your mouth while studying is great. 

Some other ideas for a care package include fresh baked treats (keep them fresh by shipping overnight), back support or a pillow (at least in California, they allow examinees to these into the testing room), cute pens/pencils/flashcards, or a soothing CD to listen to while studying. And don’t forget to include a card to let your examinee know you’re thinking of them! If you have any other ideas for a care package, let me know in the comments!

The past few weeks have been crazy. Apart from getting a stomach bug twice within two weeks (And no, I’m not pregnant. I would rather have been pregnant. I barely threw up during my pregnancy.), my little one has started eating solids–and I mean really eating. This kid takes after his parents for sure. But alas, sweet potato puree and rice cereal aren’t really the most exciting recipes to blog about.

Another thing we’ve been doing in the past few weeks is making a real push to eat vegetables. Our current plan, which is actually working really well for us, is to eat all of our daily servings of veggies before touching any carbs. We love it. But it also means that I’m prepping vegetables like crazy these days. The simpler the recipe the better–roasted brussels sprouts and sautéed cabbage are some of our favorites. But again, not the most exciting blog content.

So these almond raspberry oatmeal bars were exciting to me for several reasons: (1) they were my (first!) Mother’s Day treat to myself, (2) they are definitely blog-worthy, and (3) YUM. These disappeared within two days, and considering the fact that we only shared a few bars with my parents…let’s just say that sometimes you need a break from all the veggies. 

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Before we get to talking about food today, let’s talk about something super serious. Emojis! So basically I’m a dinosaur when it comes to the jargon of online discourse, because I never stopped saying “emoticon”. Like, when did the “-ticon” turn into “-ji”? I think I noticed people using this crazy wide range of little icons several years ago, but it wasn’t until just a few months ago that I finally figured out how to pull them up on my phone. I know.  (Is that a dinosaur or a dragon? Close enough.)

The variety of emojis is pretty amazing. Like how they have different species of fish . Or how they have these:, in case you’re talking about the horn section of the orchestra and you need to differentiate. 

Probably nothing is more wonderfully specific than the food emojis. Like how I can text my husband what he wants for dinner and he can answer:. (As if I couldn’t have guessed that one already.) Or, “Would you like some ?” “Yes, please, I’ll have a .” I’m probably butchering the usage of these things with my -level proficiency. 

Anyhow, today we are here to talk about . A juicy, jumbo shrimp stir fry with veggies in a sweet chili sauce, to be more precise. As long as your shrimp are already peeled and deveined, this is a super-quick, tasty, and healthy meal. I don’t usually do shrimp for weeknight dinners, but now I’m not sure why not, because shrimp is SO easy and hard to mess up. Just chop the veggies and toss them with the shrimp for a few minutes in the pan, and dinner is served.


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So my husband and I are trying this new thing where we limit our store-bought sweet intake to just $2 a week for the both of us. The past few months have been a little hectic with a new baby and work craziness, and when we’re busy, we tend to let our guard down when it comes to pints of our favorite Ben & Jerry’s. (Americone Dream… drool.) But the result has been that our sugar intake has gotten out of control again. It’s time for us to reel it in.

We haven’t actually discussed what this means for homemade sweets, but in the spirit of what we’re trying to do, I’m trying to hold off on making anything too delectable unhealthy at the moment. So ta ta for now, rice krispie treats, sponge cake, peanut butter cookies. You’ll be missed, but it’s for the best. 

Enter granola. Mmmm granola. It’s my sweet treat that isn’t too sweet. I mean, it’s got oats and nuts and coconut and dried fruit in it so it’s basically health food, right? Never mind the brown sugar and honey. There’s not that much in there anyway.

And the point of what we’re trying to do is really just to stop stuffing ourselves with junk. The granola that goes into my (unsweetened) yogurt in the morning is not junk. Whole pecans and toasted sesame seeds are not junk. Dried tart cherries and crispy slices of coconut: not junk. 

All right, enough justification. The point is that there are some truly wholesome ingredients in this granola, things that I love to eat and can feel good about eating. And if it makes it easier for us to wean off sugar, that’s all the more reason to love this stuff. 

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Hazelnut Nutella Baklava

Our lives have changed drastically since our baby arrived last year, in many of the ways that any new parents can expect. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been away from home later than 8 PM. If we’re having a movie night in the living room after the baby’s gone to bed, we keep the volume practically on mute the whole time. And I feel ridiculously lucky if I get 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

But one thing we didn’t expect was for our weekends to suddenly be so in demand. For the first few months of our little one’s life, every Saturday and Sunday we were hosting or visiting with family and friends who wanted to see the new baby. We’re so blessed to have people who love us and our kiddo. But after a while we realized that we hadn’t had much of a chance to just spend time together as a family unit. 

Last weekend was one of the first times that we got to just relax and hang out as a family of three. We took the metro the science museum, grilled burgers, and went for a hike. We laughed and cuddled with our baby, and took long family naps together. It was the perfect weekend, and it was exactly what we needed.

The weekend was made all the better by this hazelnut Nutella baklava. Crispy, light layers of phyllo surrounding a lush Nutella filling with chopped hazelnuts–this stuff would make a great addition to any day. The phyllo takes a slightly delicate touch to handle, but all in all, it’s a surprisingly easy dessert to whip up. It’s the best of both worlds: a decadent dessert that left enough time for me to enjoy the weekend with my family. 

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