Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: The Year In Review

It seems like the consensus is that 2011 came and went in a flash. I agree. I cannot believe that 365 days have passed since I last rang in the new year.

2011 held many lessons for me. It was perhaps the biggest learning experience of my life. It was filled with both happiness and sorrow, and it was characterized by both triumphs and letdowns. In the end, I feel like I'm coming out as a stronger and more confident person. Now, I am welcoming the New Year with open arms and am looking forward to what 2012 has in store.

Here is a quick recap of my year:

  • I met someone, and I learned what it takes to build and maintain a relationship. In fact, I'm learning more each and every day.
I like him

A lot

  • I experienced my first great loss -- and gained a guardian angel.

  • I moved out of Ohio University's dorms and was reminded how glorious it is to have my own room.

  • I was continually reminded how lucky I am to have supportive and loving family and friends. Life would be hard without my tribe.
My biggest fans

My soul sisters

My childhood pals turned adulthood companions

  • I interned for Intern Queen Inc. and became extremely passionate about my work. The first book I read in 2012 will be "All Work, No Pay" by Lauren Berger, the Intern Queen. Through my internship, I also became part of the Intern Queen family. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the achievements of my Intern Queen siblings.

  • I showcased my programming mastery by planning and hosting the first ever Harry Potter Day at OU.
Look who showed up

Which house are you?

  • I turned 21. (I actually found it to be anti-climatic.)

  • I ran hundreds of miles.

  • I became a very proud aunt.
Perfection in baby form

2011 was a good year. 
It was challenging at times, but most good things require a bit of work.

And now for my  New Year's Resolution: I'm not making one.

As I've said before, I don't believe in New Year's resolutions.  I see no point in wandering off course when I like the path I am on.

I think of the New Year as an opportunity to remind myself of the dreams and desires I already have. Just like couples renew their vows, New Year's is a time for me to renew the promises I have made to myself. It is the perfect occasion to find a new spark and to gain a new energy so that I may work even harder to accomplish my goals in the future.

This quote is my motto for the New Year:
‎"Do the things you used to talk about doing but never did. Know when to let go and when to hold on tight. Stop rushing. Don't be intimidated to say it like it is. Stop apologizing all the time. Learn to say no, so your yes has some oomph. Spend time with the friends who lift you up, and cut loose the ones who bring you down. Stop giving your power away. Be more concerned with being interested than being interesting. Be old enough to appreciate your freedom, and young enough to enjoy it. Finally know who you are."
- Kristin Armstrong
Happy New Year! See you in 2012.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Christmas Unwrapped

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy anything I left out!

I feel compelled to recognize all holidays of the season. If it were socially acceptable and family-approved, then  I would probably host formal celebrations for all of them.

However, I do have a special fondness for Christmas and its meaning. I thoroughly enjoy the Christmas season and start getting festive as soon as Thanksgiving (err, Halloween) is over. This year, I spent Christmas in the best way possible -- with family and friends.

My celebrations started a week before christmas. I left Athens with Nick (the boyfriend) and spent the weekend with his family in the Columbus area. We played pool at a billiards bar, exchanged gifts, went to a Christmas party with his mom's family, saw Sherlock Holmes 2 and took a trip to the mall. It was a jam-packed weekend, and it was exactly what I needed to get even more into the holiday spirit.

My present is in that bag

Once this fun-filled weekend was over, I traveled home to Dayton. My dad and I started my trip home on a high note with a trip to Panera. I love Panera. I mean, I'm obsessed. If Panera sent me a truckload of  bread accompanied by a boatload of soup, then I would smile for the rest of my life. I got the "You Pick Two Combo." I picked a half Mediterranean Veggie sandwich and a half cup of Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto and an apple on the side. After a weekend filled with carbs and cookies, this meal was exactly what my body wanted and needed.

I spent the next couple of days at home doing some last-minute shopping and gift wrapping and also eating lots of cookie dough (thanks, Mom).

My workouts didn't go to the wayside, though. After all, I needed something to supplement my cookie dough-eating habits. I have been experimenting on my parent's new exercise bike and have tested my endurance by completing new courses every day. I also snuck a cold weather run into the mix and started incorporating weights into my daily workout routine. I think my body is appreciating this fitness mix-up.

On Thursday, I went to lunch with my grandpa, mom, sister and aunts. We went to Jay's Seafood, which is located in the Historic Oregon District. The food was absolutely delicious, and the decor was tastefully festive. The lunch ended up lasting almost four hours. I guess that's what happens when you dine with talkaholics.

Later that day, my friends and I had our annual holiday party.

Reunited and it feels so, so good

We spend these parties talking, talking, eating and talking. We always think that we might want to go out later in the night, but we usually get sidetracked by our own stories and life updates. That's one thing I love about us, we make our own fun.

See, don't we look like an exciting crew?

On Christmas Eve, I accompanied my dad to church. We have started a tradition of going to 4 p.m. mass together every year, and it has become a tradition I look forward to very, very much.

After church, we headed to my grandpa's house and celebrated with my mom's side of the family. This little visit is probably the most symbolic event of Christmas for me. My family has been celebrating Christmas Eve here since before I was born. This is where are all of my most lasting Christmas memories are made.

The whole gang

We laughed, talked, ate and exchanged gifts. I also hung out with my favorite little person.

"Who? Me?"

It was my niece's first Christmas, and getting to spend time with her was the highlight of my holiday.

Ceci and her (self-proclaimed) favorite aunt

After visiting with my mom's side of the family, we moved on to the Snyder grandparent's house for more present exchanging and celebrating. Then, we headed home for a solid night of sleep.

I woke up Christmas morning to find that Santa had paid us a visit.

We were good this year

My parents, grandpa, brother, sister-in-law, niece, sister and I all opened presents together and then enjoyed a delicious brunch made by my mom.

My presents included a Nike running jacket, jewelry, scarves, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," a journalism keepsake box, socks (obviously), a Forever 21 gift card, money, and several other little goodies. I loved everything. It truly amazes me how well I am gifted each year because I never put easily acquirable items on my list. In fact, the only item that has been on my Christmas list for the past five or six years is World Peace. I'm still waiting on that one.

 Ceci is enthralled by the headbands I got her

Later on, we watched "Bad Teacher" (appropriate Christmas movie, right?) and told jokes and stories late into the night. I went to sleep happy and content.

Christmastime truly is the most wonderful time of my year ... Just ask Santa baby.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

3 Things That Would Annoy You

We can all admit that certain people have certain tendencies that annoy us. It can be something small, like using the word "irregardless" (actually not a word). Or, it can be something big, like tapping a pen incessantly during a two-hour lecture.

"Please stop, or I will keep making my annoyed face."

Most of the time, people do not notice their annoying tendencies. It is only when others mention their oddities or complain about their habits that they realize the pain they have inflicted upon society.

Well, recently I was introduced to three of my own annoying habits, and I feel compelled to share them with you now.

1. I talk during TV shows, especially the important parts.
I talk a lot, and "a lot" is an understatement. I fill awkward silences and chime in on conversations without invitation. A 30 minute or (gasp) 60 minute span of not talking is just too much to expect from me. When an idea pops into my head, I say it ... even if it's during the season finale of Dexter.

... Kellie has something to say

2. I have the bladder of a small child
If a car ride is over one hour long, then I make a pit stop. I can hardly sit through a full movie without making a trip to the bathroom. I always thought this infliction bothered only me. Then, someone brought to my attention how annoying it is for my friends and colleagues to wait on me while I run to the restroom. I guess no one likes to pause for Kellie's potty breaks.

At least I know not to pull this stunt

3. I have shopping OCD
I try on every size, shape, style, color and thread count of each garment before I decide which pieces make it into my wardrobe. I also inspect each piece for any defects before heading to the checkout line. I never thought this was a big deal. In fact, when I went shopping in New York City by myself, it felt perfectly normal to try on item after item until I found the perfect fit. Recently, I learned that trying on and comparing two different sized coats three (or five) times and then checking all of the zippers and buttons to see if they work properly is in fact NOT normal.
*My apologies go out to the shopping partner who witnessed this.

It's going to be a long day

It was not easy for me to learn about these flaws. It annoys me terribly to know that I annoy others. However, I realize that admitting these habits and facing them head-on will allow me to adjust my actions and to become a better TV buddy and shopping partner. (I don't foresee the bladder thing changing too much.)

I have annoying habits. I can admit it without shame because admitting to it has taught me a lesson in temperance. I should not let the weird habits of others bother me because I have plenty of weird habits of my own.

So, the next time that guy shakes my hand too long or that lady blinks too much, I will not be angry or annoyed. Instead, I will think back to the time I tried to hold a conversation with my friends during Glee ...

"Don't interrupt me!"

And I will understand. 

Blink on my friend, blink on.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Words & Sounds

I feel compelled to share some things with you.

First, this song:

I hope it gets stuck in your head, too.

Then, these words:

Whatever you are going through right now won't last forever. Nothing does. 
Stay positive; be nice to everyone; appreciate what you have; express your love through your actions; and put your restless mind at ease.

Now, let those ideas join the song. Get them stuck in your head.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Emergent Monday

This year, I am spending my Winter Break in Athens, Ohio. Athens is a college town. When students are away on break, the population decreases by thousands and the area becomes markedly more calm. This slowdown -- mixed with my lack of school assignments, meetings and internship duties -- has allowed me to test out some new activities and adopt several new habits. 

Here is a list of trends that have recently emerged into my life:

1. Oatmeal concoctions
Normally, I eat a Clif Bar (the seasonal flavors are the bomb) or Power Bar with a side of coffee for breakfast every morning. But on Winter break, I have had extensively more time to explore my breakfast options. Recently, I have wandered into the wonderful world of oatmeal. Up until now, my oatmeal of choice was the kind with dinosaur eggs. And yes, I do think that is completely appropriate for 20-year-olds. However, I am moving past my prehistoric ways.

Here are some of my latest creations:

1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup water
brown sugar & cinnamon to taste
banana chips
handful of Cheerios

1/4 cup oatmeal
1 cup water
1 banana
spoonful of Peanut Butter & Co.'s "White Chocolate Wonderful"
handful of blueberries
sprinkle of sugar

2. Sibling nights out
I am the youngest child in my family. My brother and sister could enjoy nights out on the town together long before I achieved legality. Now, we are all on the same playing field. When I was home for Thanksgiving, we all headed to The Greene to bar hop. As could be expected, this night with my siblings was anything but boring.

Don't worry, the baby didn't go to the bar with us
Boyfriend, not sibling -- I should have clarified
Me, my sister and my sister-in-law
Creep Alert!
Vogue-ing it out
Rivalries melt away with booze time

3. Outdoor runs
I ran 3 miles outdoors everyday in the summer. I knew my route like the back of my hand and (usually)  looked forward to my daily trek. Then, the cold weather hit, and I migrated to the elliptical section of OU's student gym to get my cardio on.

Well, Mother Nature decided to bless Athens with 60 degree weather yesterday. I, of course, jumped on the opportunity to move my workout back to the great outdoors. I know this trend won't be continuing, but it made me so excited that I thought it deserved to be on the list.

4. Movies
I never watch movies. I get too distracted by homework or projects, so I bail on the movie within the first 10 minutes (unless I'm at the theater because that would be a waste of money rude). On Winter break, I have no homework and only small blogging or social media projects. Therefore, I have been able to truly enjoy a wide assortment of movies.

Last week's viewing list:

  • New Moon
  • Eclipse
  • Breaking Dawn: Part 1 (in Theaters)
  • Super 8
  • Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Before you judge me, I read the Twilight books in high school and now feel compelled to watch all of the movies.

However, I do agree with these basic Twilight-hater tenets:

- Kristen Stewart is awkward.
- A love triangle with a human, a vampire, and a wolf is just simply uncomfortable.
- There is no need to be shirtless right now, Taylor Lautner.
- Edward Cullen is still hot no matter how much you hate Twilight.

*Disclaimer: I watched the Twilight saga films with an anonymous person who cannot be named due to reasons of pride and reputation. I DID NOT have solo Rob Pattinson swoon sessions.

5. Salads that are a work of art
This trend actually isn't new at all. I have just been waiting for the appropriate moment to showcase my mastery.

mixed greens
artichoke hearts
banana peppers
bleu cheese

6. Crafts
I did crafts all the time when I was younger. I was the weird kid who made origami sculptures and had her own calligraphy set. Unfortunately, that crafty, creative outlet disappeared as I aged. Luckily, my friend Maddie pushed me back into craft world when she asked me to make this:

Crayola Craziness

Step One: 
Select your color palette and secure crayons on canvas with super glue

Step Two: 
Melt crayons with hair dryer and let wax drip until you feel like stopping

Two steps is easy enough, right?

I know this list isn't earth-shattering, but I have thoroughly enjoyed (gently) shaking up my routine. Right now I have more free time than I am used to or comfortable with, so you better believe I filling that time with all sorts of new activities.

Oh yeah, I might even try Yoga tonight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Leftovers

It's hard to believe that it has been a week since my dad picked me up from my house on campus to drive me to Dayton for a family-filled week. My dad comes to retrieve me from OU every year after Fall Quarter finals, which end right before Thanksgiving. I think this is the only long car ride that I ever look forward to. There is just something so nice about recapping the quarter and catching up with my pops for a solid 2.5 hours.

This Thanksgiving was a little different for my family. Instead of traveling to my mom's cousin's house for a big Thanksgiving dinner with both immediate family and distant relatives, we stayed at home and had a Thanksgiving celebration at our house. Both sides of my family attended our holiday get-together. A total of 24 people (my brother counted) came to eat turkey and watch football ... and I guess to spend time enjoying family. 

My mom did an amazing job transforming our house into a Thanksgiving paradise. She also showcased her cooking skills by making some of the most wonderful food I have ever tasted. She even prepared the turkey -- and she is a vegetarian!

I feel compelled to share some tidbits from my holiday. As I have said before, I like lists. Therefore, this Thanksgiving post will be filled with them.

The first and most obvious list is what I am thankful for. I find new things to be thankful for every single day. This list includes a combination of things that I am constantly thankful for and things that I like a lot that just happen to be on my mind right now.

Things I am thankful for:

1. Family
Sibling love
The parental units
2. Friends, the old and the new
3. My health (minus the sinus headaches I get whenever I go to Dayton)
4. Coffee
5. American Horror Story -- I am unashamedly obsessed with this show.

6. My education and especially my grammatical knowledge -- This girl rarely misplaces commas or uses "your" instead of "you're."
7. Twitter -- Without it, how would I know what my best friends and my favorite celebrities are doing, thinking, eating, feeling, or wearing at all times of the day?
8. Animals that wear clothes
How could you not be thankful for this?
9. Blogs and Bloglovin' for helping me keep my favorite reads organized
10. Pandora -- Sometimes it's just too hard to pick music for myself.

The next list is also somewhat obvious. My only hope is that tofurkey will be on this list one day. Hey, a vegetarian can dream!

Things I ate on Thanksgiving:

1. Mashed potatoes
2. Broccoli casserole
3. Corn casserole
4. Green bean casserole
5. Sweet potatoes
6. Roll with butter and homemade jam
7. Pumpkin pie with tons of whipped cream
8. Cranberry fluff

Whew, I feel a food coma coming on after just making that list! I also ate the above foods in leftover form for the two days following Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with tradition. After all, the Thanksgiving holiday traces its origin to a 1621 celebration in present-day Massachusetts. (I Googled that.) But the great thing about traditions is that new ones can be created at any time. This list is filled with things that happened this year that I'm sure will become tradition.

New Thanksgiving traditions:

1. Northmont High School Class of 2009 partook (it's a real word, I swear) in Thanksgiving Eve festivities with the rest of the alumni.
*Note: My pre-Thanksgiving activities did not at all hinder me from waking up in time for the start of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
2. A turkey nugget joined the celebration.
Baby's 1st Thanksgiving
That is my niece, Ceci a.k.a. the world's cutest child.
She looks just like her aunt
3. The main event was at my parents' house.
4. My family didn't bicker on the way to a Thanksgiving gathering. No car ride means no car ride arguments.
5. I lost my voice from gabbing too much with family.
6. My dad went Black Friday shopping at midnight. He got this:
"I could be clothes and shoes"

Thanksgiving is always a special day for me. My life is overflowing with things to appreciate, and Thanksgiving makes me extra aware of how much I have to be grateful for. On Thanksgiving, I am reminded that the fullness of my life can only be matched by my post-pumpkin pie stomach.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Halloween in Athens

I feel compelled to relive my Halloween experience. I know this is a bit late, and Halloween is so last month. But I am still munching away on a bag of candy corn I bought amidst the festivities, so I consider it timely. Plus, I got the recap out before Thanksgiving. I consider that a success.

Halloween on Court Street: If you haven't heard about it, then look it up. It's a legend, a tradition and yet another reason Ohio University tops all other places of higher education. It even has its own Wikipedia page.

Halloween is especially fun for me because it is my birthday. Yes, I was born on All Hallow's Eve. Feel free to call me Elvira. I used to think everyone dressed up on that day to celebrate my birthday. I'm still not entirely certain that's not the case.

This year was my 21st birthday -- Let the festivities begin.

The costume:
Frankenstein & Bride of Frankenstein

I dressed as Frankenstein, and my manfriend (I should blog about him sometime) dressed as Bride of Frankenstein. I promise, he is very handsome when he doesn't look like, uh, that.

Special guests:
BFFs (for real)

Two of my best friends came to visit and celebrate with me. I have been friends with these ladies since I was 6 years old. Our friendship first sparked at Northwood Elementary, and the flame has lived on ever since. Cortney (left) and Alyson (right) dressed up as Sims. I don't play computer games. I thought they were just wearing neat hats.

Surprise visitors:
The Snyder women

My mom and my sister made a special, surprise trip to Athens to wish me a very happy birthday. I was shocked and delighted when they showed up at my house. My mom wore a terrifying mask when she came to greet me. I was afraid to hug her for the first 20 minutes of her visit.

The crew:
"We love HallOUween!"

You probably see some familiar faces in this crowd. Can you spot Rachel Zoe?

More memorable moments and creative costumes:

Soul Sistas

Dalmation - Frank - Speedy Gonzales

Creepiest costume of the night

Out on the town

We bring out the best in each other

Wrapping up the night on Court Street

OK, now who's ready for Christmas?
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