Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Hi from Houston! I guess I better get used to that, right? I apologize for my lack of posts these past few days, but I have been busy, busy, busy ever since I got home. From freshman volleyball camp to unpacking and cleaning out my room so that it can be painted to a few Pure Barre classes here and there to catching up with some of my Houston friends to HISD New Teacher Orientation, there hasn't been much time for anything else! I'm already feeling pretty tired, but I always find that I am significantly more tired after sitting all day than if I were to be moving around all day. Go figure!

I'll do a more thorough post on Thursday, but just know that I have officially traded in my green for red,

and come August 25th, I am officially going to be in charge of some little ninth grade humans. Who decided that would be a good idea?

Yesterday's orientation sessions were a little bit more exciting than today's (I may or may not have snuck out early), but I know in the long run that it is going to be good for me to have attended this. Plus, I'm already halfway done, so what's two more 8.5 hour days, right?

It's crazy, but when I was standing in the gym at Bellaire High School on Saturday, it really hit me that this is my life now. I am an English teacher and volleyball coach living in Houston, Texas. I can no longer identify myself as a student, which might be why I felt a little bit like a lost puppy just a couple of weeks ago. Being a student is the only thing I've ever known. And while I certainly don't have anything figured out, and I know that I am going to miss that college lifestyle from time to time, as well as the life that I had established in Austin, everything happening in my life right now just feels right. So even though some days are absolutely going to be harder than others, I can rest in the fact that I am where I am supposed to be. And that's the sweetest truth of all.

Hopefully I'll be back with you guys tomorrow, but I make no promises! Bear with me when it comes to this little blog - I promise I'm not going to give up on it!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Things I'm Loving Friday XIII

Well, it's my first Friday to officially once again call myself a Houston resident. It's bittersweet, and I'm so happy to be home, but it sure came quick! I might have cried on, I don't know, six separate occasions yesterday, so I think I'm good on the crying front for a while. They were happy and thankful tears, though, mixed with maybe just a few sad tears. Leaving yesterday is a blur, and all I really remember saying is, "I'm sorry, this is just really hard," but today is the start of a new chapter, and while I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm going to give it my all.

Anyway, I don't have anywhere to be until 5:00pm today, so I am going to try and get as much unloaded and organized as possible until that time. Real world, here I come!

But before we start in on that, let's continue with our weekly Things I'm Loving.

26 Foods You Should Learn to Cook in Your Twenties
I am in my twenties, and I genuinely enjoy cooking, so naturally this article attracted my attention. And though I am no food expert, I think this is a great article. All of these recipes are very practical, and I have already cooked almost all of them in my short cooking lifetime. Just kidding, but the two most important recipes found in this article? Guacamole and chocolate chip cookies. Know how to make those two things, and you will be the most popular person in the room.

Both this week and last I have woken up in the 5 o'clock hour a couple of days a week in order to attend a 6am Pure Barre class. So not only am I getting in a great total-body workout before many people are even awake, but I get to see one of my favorite sights - the sunrise. While waking up that early every day just isn't plausible, I become far too exhausted to function properly, it is more than worth the early alarm clock every once in a while.

Toy Schnoodles
One of the perks to working at SRD was that Jessica, our registrar, regularly brought her toy schnoodle (a mix between a toy schnauzer and a toy poodle), Lulu, to work with her. All of the residents always stop on their way into the building and up to their rooms to pet her, because she brings some much-needed stress relief. Haven't you ever heard of puppy therapy? She is so well-behaved, and loves making new friends, as evidenced by this picture of her and Dylan.

Motivational Posters
I won't lie. One of the things that drew me to becoming a teacher was the excitement of school supplies and fun posters on the wall. And I'll let you in on another secret. I'm so looking forward to decorating my classroom. That being said, I used a Teacher Heaven gift card to my advantage and ordered quite a few motivational posters that I remember being in my teacher's classrooms in middle and high school (I act as if that was such a long time ago).

You guys have probably figured out by now that I am a lover of words. I love to write things down - journaling, letter writing, and I absolutely love a good quote. Going off one of Sarah's cute ideas, I typed out a few of my favorite motivational quotes using the American Typewriter font, printed them on brown bag-esque paper, and these will be ready to tack up on bulletin boards in both my classroom and my area of the coaches office. As I've mentioned before, my high school volleyball coach sent us notes before every district and playoff game, and I would love to take on that tradition and do the same for my team.

And I hope to be back sometime this weekend to fill you in on my first couple of days on the other side of the volleyball world. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I try not to get too cheesy with this blog, but it's really in my nature, and I am warning you right now that this post might be a little bit on the sentimental side. With today being my very last day in Austin, and my last ever shift at SRD (though who knows, maybe I'll continue the trend and work here next summer, too), I'm allowed to get a little bit cheesy.

As I look back at my time in Austin, I can't help but think of Darius Rucker's song, "This." It is one of my very favorite songs, and I think it speaks nicely to how I even ended up in Austin. Might I suggest listening to it as you read? It will up the sentimentality. Seriously, I had it on repeat as I was writing this.

I'm not sure that I have ever shared this on the blog before, but The University of Texas was not my dream school. It wasn't even really on my radar until my senior year of high school. For most of my high school career, the only school I would talk to you about was The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia (duh). I became obsessed with the idea of moving far away and leaving everything familiar to me (I was very prideful of this), and attending this beautiful school in the northeast that had actual seasons and a prestigious reputation. UVA was my "dream school," and this was school I just had to attend. Well, April 1st, 2010 (actually March 26, if we're being specific) came, and by this time, I just wanted a yes or no answer. Many of my friends knew where they would be going, and I was tired of saying that I didn't know where I would be going yet. I had contemplated just saying "yes" to UT, solely so that I would have a definitive answer to the "Where are you going next year?" question, but my mom convinced me to hang on for just a few more weeks until I heard back from UVA.

To cut to the chase, I checked my status online, and I saw that I had been waitlisted. So while I was very obviously disappointed (what more did I have to do in order to be admitted?), it took me about 2.5 seconds to get in the car so that I could drive over to Uptown Park to stock up on some UT gear. Obviously I was upset (and out of my mind for voluntarily driving on I-610 in rush hour traffic), but something my best friend told me still sticks with me today: "Kelli, if you really want to go to UVA, you can make it happen, but it seems to me that God is pointing you in a different direction." And what a direction I took. It's so crazy to me that these past four years of my life could have looked so incredibly different had I tried to get off that waitlist and attend school across the country.

So, the first step I took was choosing to move just two and a half hours down the road to the live music capital of the world - Austin, Texas - so that I could work towards earning my degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Spoiler alert: I did it!
Which led me to live at Scottish Rite Dormitory, also known as SRD, the dirty SRDy, or the virgin vault, and that was arguably one of the best decisions I ever could have made. I met some of my best friends here, I had the opportunity to be a Resident Assistant with some truly incredible girls, and heck, I still can't seem to get away from the place! It made the transition from high school to college so much easier, and you better believe I will be coming back for the reunions.

I had the opportunity to study abroad and spend seven weeks in Barcelona, Spain with one of my best friends. It is easily one of my most favorite cities, and we had the time of our lives over there. We were also able to explore Madrid, London, and Paris, and I know that I will not be able to stay away from them for long.

I have always been into exercise and staying fit, and since coming to college, I have completed five half marathons, and I am currently signed up complete my sixth in January. Who knows how that might have changed, had I not had lived in a city so dedicated to staying fit? Town Lake is just a place that can't be beat.

I was involved with YoungLife in high school, but, to be completely honest, I never even considered staying active with it in college. I am so thankful that I found myself surrounded by such incredible people those first few weeks of college, because that led me to get involved in a YoungLife small group that met weekly, which led me to go through YoungLife leader training, which led me to be placed on a YoungLife team full of some of the best people you will ever meet.

Not only that, but I had the chance to hang out with a pretty awesome group of girls. I was supposed to be the one leading and teaching them, but I learned more from them than they may ever know.

I got to live in the cutest house with some of the greatest humans on this planet. There simply aren't enough words to describe the love, laughter, and crazy antics that went on in our little house and on Wild Wild West 35th. I will cherish these memories forever - especially the ones that involved "What Are The Odds" - and though we are all running off in very different directions, I look forward to the laughs that are sure to come when we all reunite.

Suite 1 forever
Going back to the YoungLife part of my college experience, I can't help but be thankful that it led me to Dylan. I remember thinking he was cute the very night he was placed on my team. Unfortunately for me, I was dressed as a hipster zombie, so while it would be a cute story to say that he thought I was cute from the moment he saw me, I wasn't really doing myself any favors. Above all, though, I absolutely loved getting to know him over the course of that year, and he grew to be one of my closest friends on the team. One sweet letter and one five-hour beach day later, and we've been discovering new restaurants together ever since. He makes me want to be a better person, my stomach hurts from laughing so much when we're together, and I just genuinely enjoy being around him (even when I'm reading and he's playing Sudoku). And though I know it will be hard to do the whole "long-distance" thing (which is really only two and a half hours so can that really be considered long distance?), I am excited to see how our relationship will grow this next year. And he gives me even more of an excuse to return to this great city.

And finally, because I have yet to mention the very reason that I came to this university, to do the whole school thing, I was able to complete the very best secondary teacher preparation program in the country. It was not without many thoughts of changing my major, many tears of frustration and stress, but also not without many sweet reminders as to why it is that I wanted to do this in the first place.

So, what I'm trying to say is, every seemingly wrong step or bad turn that I took, led me to have the most incredible college experience. I can't even express how grateful I am for the experiences I have had, the people I have met, and this city that I have gotten to know so well these past four years. As sad as it makes me to close the door on this chapter of my life,  I could not be more excited to head back to Houston to start a new one that has me teaching English and coaching volleyball at Bellaire High School. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and it is still so crazy to me how it all seemed to fall into place. It's been a great four years, and it's crazy to think that one little thing could have changed all of this.

Sidenote: I may or may not have teared up a little bit while writing this. Austin, you will truly be missed (though your lack of plastic bags and horrendous Mopac traffic will most definitely not be).

A sweet farewell from SRD

Last Night

Well, this is it. My last day at work, and my last day at Austin. But I'll save all of the sentimental stuff for a later post. As in, later today, I promise. I've already got it all typed up and everything. I have quite a lot to share with you guys, so let's get started, shall we?


I told you breakfast would be a little bit different this morning! I mean, it's not completely new, but it is a change from my usual egg whites and spinach breakfast. As I mentioned yesterday, I finished off both my egg whites and my spinach yesterday, so I decided to treat myself to a little JuiceLand smoothie on my way to work this morning. I ordered online so as to prevent any waiting that would make me late for work, and I ordered the Peachy Green (spinach, kale, apple, and peach), and added in some celery for an extra dollar.

I didn't drink it right away, rather I put it in the refrigerator until I felt like drinking it. It was absolutely delicious, and no matter how many times I try to recreate these smoothies, mine never taste quite as good as they do when someone else makes it for me. But I guess I'll just have to keep trying!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I started moving right when I got off work at 2pm. I still had a little bit left to pack, and I had quite a bit of baking and cooking to do. I headed straight home to thaw out some ground chicken (why can't I ever remember to do that earlier?), and get to work on some baked goods. I told all of my co-workers at SRD that I would bake for my last day, and I also wanted to bake a few things for Dylan's house to thank them for putting up with me always being over there.

Baking Extravaganza

I'll start this out with a little confession: I got a little cocky with my slutty brownies. I thought I could make these in my sleep, but yesterday I learned an important lesson - don't use fudgy brownie mix to make these. I was left with a fudgy blob of chocolate after cutting into them.

But let me start over. For those of you haven't been introduced to the beauty of the slutty brownie, or are just intrigued by the name, it's a cookie, brownie, and Oreo all in one delectable treat. To spice things up a bit, I even added in some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

I thought they were going to come out perfectly, but I guess I should have left them in the oven for a few minutes more. Oops! I managed to salvage a few, but I had to throw far too many of them away. But it only went up from there.

Next up on the list was a new-to-me treat: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars from Taste and Tell Blog. These treats are perfect for a hot summer day in Texas because there is no oven required. I typically shy away from no-bake treats because I find them harder than treats that are supposed to go in the oven, but these weren't too difficult.

The only change I made was to the crushed chocolate wafer cookies. Try as I did, I just couldn't find exactly what was used in this recipe. Instead, I purchased a package of Mother's Double Fudge Cookies. I used only the cookie part, and crushed them according to the recipe.

These really are an easy treat, and I have no doubt that they will be a hit. I personally don't care for cheesecake, but apparently lots of other people do!

And lastly, I made some Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies. These were a breeze to make because I made them out of a Duncan Hines Strawberry Cake Mix. I've been all about the box mix recipes lately I guess!

Anyway, I just recently made some normal chocolate chip cookies, so I decided to add a little color to my cookie repertoire. Again, these were super easy to make, and they would be perfect for some sort of breast cancer awareness event.

Mt. Bonnell Picnic

So, I think it's been mentioned that last night was my last night in Austin. Dylan and I were of course going to do something, and I told him last week to not make any plans on Wednesday around sunset time, but that's all I told him. He always tries to guess where we're going or what the present is that I got him. And as many times as he asked me where we were going, I kept my lips sealed. I was, for once in our relationship, going to surprise him. The only thing I told him was that I would come get him just before 7:30pm, and to just wear casual clothes because "it's not a fancy place, but it's one of my favorites."

Prior to picking him up, and after finishing up my baking, I set to work on some homemade P.F. Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps. These chicken lettuce wraps are one of our favorite menu items at both P.F. Changs and Pei Wei, so I was pretty confident that he would like them. He's the better cook, and I'm the better baker, but I feel like I did a pretty good job with these. They were all gone by the end of our picnic, so I'll let that speak for itself. And I apologize for my lack of pictures. Continue reading to understand why.

They were a bit more involved than I originally anticipated (they'll only take 20 minutes, yeah right), because mincing garlic and grating ginger is a little bit harder than I thought. As is opening a can sans a can opener, but with a little bit of help from a roommate, I made it work. But if you choose to make this recipe, and we both gave it an A++ so you absolutely should, just be sure to give yourself more than 20 minutes. So, I was in too much of a hurry to snap any pictures, and we were both starving by the time we sat down to eat. Thus, no pictures. Next time! And also for next time, I will be sure to add in some thinly sliced carrots and celery, just to spice things up a little bit!

Anyway, I tried to keep where we were going a surprise for as long as possible, but I knew once I started driving, he would know exactly where we were going. But at least I managed to keep it to myself for as long as I did! Once we got to the top, we found a spot with a great view and not a lot of people, and spread out the blanket before setting everything up. At this point, he still didn't know what we were having for dinner, so that was a plus! And because I know y'all are just dying to know, I'll share what was in our picnic basket (or our reusable bag, because this is Austin).
  • Taza Cinnamon Chocolate
  • Maine Root Blueberry Soda
  • Water
And a bottle of champagne that didn't make it up the mountain, but that we enjoyed upon returning to my house once the sun went down on the mountain.

A sweet last night in Austin. In more ways than one. And I'm not planning to leave Austin until after an early dinner tonight, so I'll be sure to have at least one more meal here!

And check back in a couple of hours for what will probably be the sappiest post ever seen on this blog. It's sure to make you smile, laugh, and cry (okay, maybe that's just me, but I promise it's a good one, and that it's well worth a read).