A Law School Family Easter

April 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Live in the moment and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering!” 
-Crosby

Family is sometimes what you make it. Sometimes it isn’t about blood.

I love my law school family. They get me through finals stress, emotional breakdowns, caffeine meltdowns, sugar cravings, sweat-pants only weeks (yes, weeks), baseball cap days, social embarrassment from said sweats and baseball cap days, cruel professors, late nights, and lonely holidays.

And we have fun too. Dinner nights, and softball league arguments, and karaoke embarrassment, and flag football bruises, and Just Dance 2 awkwardness.

Michael cutting the mozzarella

The value of having these people in my life only continually goes up, especially as we all sift through case law, and text books, and outlines, and rules we should have learned before finals week. We sympathize, uplift, encourage, and inspire each other. And make each other laugh. Hibernating with copious sugar and caffeine in our study caves leaves us texting each other “I miss you!”s and “Only one more”s. I bake to relieve stress. Grant trades me two 12 packs of diet coke in exchange for my baked goods. Josh texts constant reminders of how close our Brinner (breakfast for dinner) party is after our last final. Early morning good lucks and late night funnies. We make it through.

I know I’ve told you this before, but I’ve become a MUCH happier person in this town ever since I found this group of friends. I honestly can’t describe how much I love them. In fact, I have a little secret: while I’m so beyond excited about my summer, I’m going to miss my friends here. A lot.

I hope they follow through on their promise to visit with Christa. And ride back with me. And go to Vegas on the way back. Ok…I digress. But, have I told you that I’m really really really excited about summer?

Anyway, back to Easter.

Because of our finals schedule this year, I didn’t get to go home for Easter. In fact, I haven’t been home in 5 months. I hate it. I miss my family. But, I’m also happy enough here that I haven’t hit the feeling of full-on homesick. Anyway, since my friends and I were all going to be here for Easter, we decided to celebrate together.

Because it just wouldn’t be Easter without a good (read: huge) dinner and family.

The drizzling.

Scott came to mass with me that morning and I saw at least 15 law students there. The solidarity of stressed students stuck here in Waco was comforting. I didn’t have time to do an full-fleged Sunday family dinner, we we opted for a pot luck instead.

As good as candy. Seriously.

That would be me.

Here’s how that went:
Me: Baked chicken pasta, bean salad, Texas gold bars.
Scott: Homemade salsa, and some chicken, sun dried tomato and spinach dish (That I need the recipe for…so good!)
Michael: Caprese salad skewers (that I helped him make and made a balsamic reduction for)
Becca and Josh: Red Velvet cake, apple crisps
Grant: LOTS of wine and a box for croissants from Wal-mart

For law students, mid-finals, we didn’t do half bad.

Cutting board from my mom, with the description.

My mom had sent me an excellent Easter basket the day before with a new apron, a wooden cutting board, a luggage tag, a prayer book, funny napkins, and a pashmina (seriously, she makes a killer Easter bunny. The woman knows me so well!). But, it wasn’t until Michael and I were putting together the caprese skewers that I realized the cutting board had been made out of olive wood from the Holy Land. Precious, Mom. And very Easter appropriate.

Scott, Michael, and Grant digging in.

We had an evening with lots of wine, sharing, a movie and a break from the stress of looming finals. If I couldn’t be home for easter, this was the next best thing.

Too many people for my apartment. And a baseball game on TV.

This is my Family. Even if they aren’t blood.

Michael had called earlier to decide what to bring. I was having a caprese craving like I’ve never experienced before. I usually crave sweets if I’m going to crave any type of food. Occasionally french fries. But, caprese was a new one for me.

Beautiful Becca. With Lauren and Scott on the couch.

So he suggested we put them on skewers. And I suggested we drizzle them with a balsamic reduction. Yummmm. We make an excellent team. I didn’t get any easter candy, but the perfect caprese skewer can make up for that.

This isn’t even a recipe. But whatever.

Josh tying my apron on Scott so he can do the dishes.

Its up there with pizza as my favorite food. And stawberries. And pineapple. And chocolate.

Yeah…pizza, caprese, strawberries and pineapple. Hawaiian Caprese Pizza next week. With chocolate covered strawberries for desert. #winning (yes, I often speak in hashtags. #blameTwitter)

Caprese Skewers:
Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
A few basil leaves
1 ball of fresh mozzarella (cute in cubes)
about 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Wooden skewers

Place balsamic vinegar in pot. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until reduced to a couple of tablespoons.
Meanwhile, skewer tomatoes, mozzerella, and torn basil leaves. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.

It sounds fancier than it is. : )

Best part of the evening. Shhh...he'll kill me for posting these.

**I promise a real recipe soon. Really. I promise.
Also, please excuse my horribly, poorly decorated apartment. I am a broke law student, remember??

Summer Reading List

April 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

Ahhh, ambition. Leave it to me to want to be a total slacker when it comes to studying for my law school finals, but when it comes to the summer reading list, then I decide to be totally ambitious. Dream big, Kelsi. Good call.

As though I have nothing else going on this summer, like work, hiking as much as possible, rafting just for fun, finishing up my Law Review article and trying to work on a novel, I decide to conquer a large chunk of the reading on my book shelf. There’s this cruel joke of law school where you read constantly, but nothing of any good literary value. (Sorry, Scalia…You make me laugh, but I wouldn’t call your opinions literature.) So when I get a chance to delve into someone else’s fantasy world, thoughts, ideas, etc, I just can’t help myself.

I mean, I usually read a little here and there throughout the year, but never as much as I’d really like to. It takes forever to get through a book when you only read in 5 minute intervals. And this isn’t THAT huge of a list. But, I also know that I’m going to be too busy doing other things to give this reading list the time it deserves. I sure am going to try, though!

SUMMER BOOK LIST

A Lesson Before Dying– Ernest J Gaines

The 5 Love Languages– Gary Chapman

The Alchemist’s Daughter– Katherine McMahon

Naturally Thin-Bethanny Frankel

Change of Heart– Jodi Piccoult

I Shall Not Hate– Izzeldin Abuelaish

Left To Tell– Immaculee Ilibagiza

The Screwtape Letters– C.S. Lewis

Committed– Elizabeth Gilbert

All the Pretty Horses-Cormac McCarthy

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee– Dee Brown

The Outline of Sanity: The life of G.K. Chesterton– Alzina Stone Dale

The Shack– William P. Young

Water for Elephants– Sarah Gruen

A Lucky Child– Thomas Buergenthal

Six Wives– David Starkey

The Other Queen – Philippa Gregory

Why We Watched– Theodore S. Hamrerow

I’m not sure what order I’m going to proceed in yet, but I think Water for Elephants will be first. Then, I’m open for suggestions. What have you read? Any suggestions?

Remembering:

April 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

Christa texted me this morning to tell me she woke up thinking about this birthday memory:

Cody, Matty, Me, Michael, Christa, Ryan in College Station for Cody's birthday

It was a good one. $2 margaritas at dinner lead to me introducing myself to 2 German guys we met at the bar. We became swift friends over the time they lived in College Station and we spent the whole night of Cody’s 24th birthday showing them around.

Christa and I hope to visit them soon. : )

Excellent memory. Thanks for the reminder, Christa! I’m laughing just thinking about how fun that night was.

Challenge Accepted

April 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… do the thing you think you cannot do.” 
-Eleanor Roosevelt

I had to eat my words today. Not too tasty. In doing so I found my next fear to conquer.

The other day, I told you about how I’ve been working on overcoming my fear of water. Well, over last Sunday’s family dinner, I had been telling the boys about how I don’t like being scared of things and letting my fears beat me. Today, after class I saw one of the boys, Scott, and told him I was looking to buy a road bike for the summer. I decided that riding a bike the 9 or so miles into town for work this some from where I’m living and back would be great exercise and would help me really embrace my summer outdoors.

Trek 1.1 WSD. A decent entry level road bike.

I also once did a duathlon (biking and running), and I trained for a triathlon with a friends, but didn’t end up competing. But I’ve always wanted to. So, I’ve been wanting a road bike for awhile so I could ride with friends (excellent social exercise) and maybe even ride in the MS150 one day.

But, when I told Scott about it today, he asked me if I was getting a mountain bike. My response? “Nah…I’m kinda scared of mountain biking.” He immediately responded, “what about not being scared?” Crap. The Sunday Dinner Boys listen when I talk?! I knew I loved them.

He was right. Cody liked to mountain bike and I tried with him once, but I sucked at it and I was quite perturbed that after taking spin classes at least twice a week and Cody never working out, he still kicked my butt. So, maybe the real truth is that I’m not scared of mountain biking. I’m just pissy that I’m not good at it. And because I wasn’t any good, I had to walk. A lot. Maybe I never gave the mountain biking a real chance.

So, challenge accepted. When the opportunity to mountain bike presents itself, I’ll take it. I don’t have to enjoy it, but I should give it a legitimate chance.

But, I’m still not buying another bike. One is enough for at least a year!

My Next Big Adventure

April 9, 2011 § 3 Comments

“Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.” -Lawrence K. Fish

I made plans. I kept them. I’m proud of me.

So here’s the background: Right after my mom graduated from high school, she says an add in Seventeen magazine for summer employment in Yellowstone National Park. My Granny and PoPo (her parents) had always taken them to the mountains, on hikes, and long road trips for their vacations. So she thought this sounded like a great fit. She didn’t go away to college, so this was pretty much her “college experience.” She worked in Fishing Bridge at a store and lived in the dorms. She loved it so much, she went back the next summer. After that, 3 of her 4 younger brothers and sisters went and worked 1-3 summers in the park (the only one that didn’t go had stayed because she met the man who became my uncle when she was in 6th grade and they’d dated since 8th. She wasn’t leaving him).

All of my cousins and I had grown up with stories of the park; bears outside the dorms, hiking, hitchhiking back. We all remember when PoPo left Granny at home for the summer after he retired because he so greatly wanted the same park experience (he loved it, but never wants to be aways from his honey that long again). I grew up around the women my mom met when she was in the park. We just went to one of their children’s weddings. We grew up with stories of people they met and adventures they’d had. We were all raised on the same types of vacations as our parents had been and had easily developed a love for peaceful long hikes, getting a little lost on a road trip, seeing the sunset over the Rocky Mountains. Every one of my cousins and I dreamed of working in the park. None of us did.

Until my sister. She finally did what none of us had done last summer. She and a friend got a job in the park for the summer. They had an amazing time. I had never gone for a summer because my Dad insisted I take college classes every summer, so I went on a study abroad to Poland and then, honestly, never wanted to leave Cody for any longer than a couple of weeks ever again. I’m glad I didn’t, because I value every second I was able to spend with him. But, I finally have the chance to go. And I’m taking it.

My favorite waterfall. Osprey Falls.

I met some of my sister’s friends when I went to visit them there. They were great. Mostly, I got to know some people at a Whitewater Rafting company. I’ve kept in touch with a few of them and even flew up to West Virginia with them to raft the Gauley River. I really liked the little town of Gardiner, MT, the north entrance of Yellowstone and wanted to work for this company. I wanted my summer in Yellowstone. So, rather than exactly working in the park, I applied for a job at the whitewater rafting company.

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t she a law student? Shouldn’t she have a clerkship?

Yeah…maybe I should. But guess what? I’m not.

I did that. I worked for the general counsel of a big company for about a year on and off. I interned for one of the best trial lawyers I’ve ever seen last summer. I currently have an externship with a federal judge. I’ve done the interning thing. If I don’t do my summer in Yellowstone now, when will I ever have the chance? When I retire, like my PoPo? I’m not counting on that. I’m doing it now.

Taking duckies down the West Yellowstone. That's my arm.

So this summer, in a few short weeks, I’ll be road-tripping solo to Gardiner, MT. I’ll be a photographer for the company and a back-up whitewater guide (This is a huge step for me…My next post will explain my love/hate relationship with water. Stay-tuned).

I cannot wait. Really. Really really really really. Enough reallys? Probably not. Its that exciting.

I can’t wait for a summer of simplicity. No tv. No air conditioning or heaters. I’ve made a list of hikes I want to go on. I’m taking a bike to ride around. I’m not packing heavy. Its going to be an excellent break from law school and I can’t wait for the adventures and life lessons I’ll learn.

So, next adventure, here I come. My gypsy half is giddy. My home-body half is scared of having just a few more people I’ll miss. That’s ok. This is worth the risk and the pain of missing people.

Be ready for the stories. I’ll be posting them.

My family (minus the bro) on top of Bunson Peak.

Nesting

March 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’ve been on a cooking/baking kick lately. Even more than is normal for me. I’ve started weekly “family dinner” for 3 of my great guy friends, which is nice just to give us a chance to hang out, force me to clean, give me a chance to try new recipes, and have a few glasses of wine with excellent company. Seriously, I’m so happy with my new friends here that I hardly leave. Don’t worry, I haven’t partaken in any kool-aid parties or joined a religious cult…yet. 😉

Also, i’ve been baking cupcakes and taking them to school so ravenous law students can quiet their hunger pangs. Maybe I’m buying friends…but I like to cook and they aren’t complaining. Maybe I’ll have enough winning recipes to sell some creations to a coffee shop for some extra dough this summer. Get it…dough?? Yeah, I’m cheesy.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few creations with you. I’ve been following a lot of cooking blogs lately and all of my ideas have come from there. I really recommend checking out cooking blogs; they’re like free cookbooks with lots of pictures. And you can find like a recipe for anything.

First; peanut butter cupcakes with peanut butter icing and chocolate ganache. (where i learned my first cardinal rule of cupcaking: let the cupcakes cool before icing)



Second: red velvet with buttercream


Next: Graham with key lime cream cheese (note, my iPhone photgraphing of my cooking has gotten better. The good pics will get their own post)


Vanilla almond with maple cream cheese icing


Finally: apple cupcakes with caramel


Yum!! Stay posted for more pics and recipes!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Stark Comparisons

March 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

My recent travels have sent me to two of the most extremely different places one could imagine: New York City and then Nosara, Costa Rica just a week later. Comparing the two helps lead me to what I need, where I am happiest.

New York:

View from Central Park


Hustle and bustle. People rushing. People everywhere. Destinations in mind. Everything you’d imagine it to be.
Just choosing lunch resulted in a debate between a couple of delis next door to each other, more across the street. Its just a deli! But we couldn’t decide what we wanted. Dinner was the same way. We picked a district, then walked around thinking as though serendipity would help stumble across the best restaurant. It was far too easy to be overwhelmed with choices such that making a decision was difficult. I would never be able to live there; I’d never be able to “know” the city. I’d never be able to tell you my favorite restaurant because I’d feel the need to eat at a different one every night. Part of me loved the sense of adventure for the few days that I was there, but my heart didn’t feel at home, it wasn’t at peace. There’s a feeling of home that comes from being in a place you love or just around people you love; you know that peaceful feeling that washes over you from inside your soul, relaxing you, eventually oozing out of you in the form of a gentle smile. Sometimes you get it from a smell that takes you back to another place. I often get it from “mountain” weather. But, despite the fun, excitement, adventure and enthusiasm I have for visiting again (clearly there is a lot more to see), “home” will never be a word a use to describe NYC.

Costa Rica:

Playa Garza

Embodies peace for me. Well, Nosara does anyway. The land is beautiful. Unencumbered by too much construction. Everything is simple. Mostly open air restaurants and bars. Even the yoga studio was open air overlooking the rainforest. The idea is simplicity. Choices are limited. You could eat out every day for a week and you’d cover every restaurant in town (and even then, you’d have pizza at least twice, and traditional Costa Rican, or typico tico, food a couple of times). Personally, I could live on the fruit alone…and maybe some agua pipa (coconut water). You can get to most places on a bike, by foot, or even four-wheeler. There is no “rat race.” I suppose you could opt to be the figurative Jones’ if you wanted to; set the standard for the town to aspire to. But, why? Converse to our typical American outlook, where you’d have to fight to be “out of” the rat race, there, you’d have to fight to be “in” the rat race. Life is more about what actually matters. Everyone goes to the beach for sunset, beer in hand, and watches (or surfs if you’re good enough), while the kids play. Who needs a cell phone when you know you’ll see everyone at the beach for sunset? This atmosphere could be “home” for me. My soul is peaceful. My mind has room to think about imporant things, mediate on life, rather than becoming clustered with the useless decisions of where to shop, where to eat, etc. Without the pestering unnecessary decisions, I can decide if I want to surf or fish, hike or kayak with my spare time (tough life, huh?). I realize that if I lived there, I’d work hard so I’d lose the vacation mentality, but my soul is peaceful. The sense of contentment radiates out of my pores and all I can do to express it is close my eyes, and gently smile.

Maybe that’s what we need. Maybe we need to experience drastically different lifestyles and places before we pick where we’re happiest. Rather than just riding the coattails of the decisions our parents made, setting out our “home” for us, we should question, fearlessly explore, finding where our souls are at peace; finding a place that we can be home.

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