We Will Take a Cup of Kindness Yet

31 December 2011

2011 has been the fastest year for me yet. On this day, the 31st of December, I can hardly believe the many things that have happened. I graduated from college, Noah and I embarked on our second year of living together, and grad school began. All in all, my life has been fairly normal. However, events outside of our control have been hanging over our heads this year in relation to my family and his. I think we're both a bit ready for 2012 to appear and to kiss as the clock strikes twelve, inviting in a year of happiness, marriage, and togetherness.

As resolutions go, I hope to adhere to my 101 in 1001 goals this year and to further my progress on each. Then, as a couple, Noah and I are aiming to spend at least five minutes each day purposefully spending time together, talking, or giving positive comments to one another. We probably do this already each day but I want to do it with intention.

2011, I enjoyed your days yet I still turn my face towards 2012 and the new hope that every year brings.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

24 December 2011

Christmas Eve is always a celebration in my family. We get together at my grandparent's house, drive around to look at lights, eat cherry squares, read The Night Before Christmas, and open presents. It's one of my favorite days of the year. Merry Christmas Eve!

Reasons to Smile

23 December 2011

We're officially at home and enjoying time with Noah's family. They have some lights up around the front of the house and a few trees inside the home which Noah, Nic, and I helped decorate with their dad. We have a packed couple of days in Winchester before we head back to prepare for student teaching.

Things I'm looking forward to (or... my reasons to smile):

  • Trying cupcakes today 
  • Christmas Eve at my grandparents
  • Eating cookies and cherry squares
  • Christmas services
  • Seeing my family (especially my aunt and uncle)
  • Visiting with Noah's family
  • New Years Eve, first night
Lots to do this time of year while simultaneously doing nothing. This will be my last year of graduate school and before the "real world". I hope to enjoy it by planning a wedding and looking for jobs to apply to (in the States and abroad). 

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and means that posts will be very sporadic over the next week. If I'm not online, I hope you have a wonderful holiday with lots of family, friends, and cookies (because cookies are the most important part don't you know?).

Home for the Holidays

21 December 2011

Today Noah and I are heading back to our hometown for the holidays. His brother will be flying in from California tomorrow and we'll be catching up with family and friends. Hope that you have a wonderful holiday!

On a side note, I'm thinking happy birthday thoughts for my mom who would have been 62 today. How fitting that I dreamt of her last night.

Wedding Stationary

20 December 2011

{Our Save the Dates from Magnet Street}

Remember how Noah and I won 150 free save the dates back a couple of months ago? Well, I found out this morning that after entering a daily contest for the 12 days of Christmas yesterday we also won $100 towards invitations!

So, a big shout out to Magnet Street for making me super happy about wedding costs twice in a three month period. If you're also a bride planning I would be sure to check them out!

 Oh, and the moral of the story is: be sure to enter contests - you never know, you could win!

The Swing of Things

18 December 2011

{How cute are they??}

I love finding $7 shirts at Target along with a clean, fresh smelling candle for $5. We're coming down to the wire here and I love shopping for gifts (and of course, the occasional gift for myself). After shopping I'll come home and eat some scones (love them!) and have some tea. While at home, with no finals to prepare for, I have taken up one of my absolute favorite past times again: reading! I am finishing up book four of the Game of Thrones series currently and then I will start in on One Day shortly thereafter. This semester I've fallen behind on all three of the hobbies I get the most joy from: blogging, reading, and taking photos. Time has gotten away from me!

Since I'm hoping to read at least a book a week over break, what are your suggestions? Any must reads this holiday season?

Christmas Time is Here

15 December 2011

Tonight Noah and I will be making bon bon balls with his family. I think they may be his favorite treat of all time. 

Personally, I'm a little excited to get out of my college town and away from teaching for just a little bit. I'm afraid if I stay here I'll stress over student teaching. Ok, is it weird that it still doesn't feel like Christmas to me and we're only 10 days away? I think this means I need to up my number of Christmas songs and start eating lots of cookies. Hah! Another thing I always do is drive around and look at Christmas lights up in different neighborhoods. I'm ready to do that too and hopefully I can share some pictures with you of my dad's house this year. 

Here's to lots of lights, joys, and songs over the next 10 days!

Decorations of Red

14 December 2011

The #starbucks barista threw a smile my way when I placed an order for Alli and Noah.
{the barista smiled when I placed an order for Noah and Alli}

People are slowly trickling away from the university now that Wednesday has arrived. Noah and I are both done with this semester which we're grateful for yet it means that we're just that much closer to an even bigger hurdle.

We are now making plans to make some bon bon balls (a Lizer family tradition), watch some movies with friends, and bake some fresh gingerbread. Plans to travel are being made and remade with family and friends for the holiday season. When we arrive in our hometown we'll be helping to decorate trees and put up a few last minute Christmas lights too.

As much as I love this holiday season I can't help but be a little anxious for this time next year when Noah and I will have our first Christmas as a married couple and when we can start creating our own traditions to follow in our family footsteps.

What are your favorite traditions? How did having a significant other change your holiday experience? We've managed pretty well the last couple of years but I bet things will be changing next year!

Tis the Season (to Finish Finals)

13 December 2011

We're hitting that time of year again! It's hard to believe how quickly this year went by.... We're only about 12 days out from Christmas. I'm loving the ABC Family Christmas movies at night and everywhere we go there are unique Christmas trees up (the bottom photo is outside an ice cream parlor and the first photo is inside a McDonalds). 

Today is my last day of finals ever. My final semester of graduate school is this spring but since I'll be student teaching there won't be any exams but rather just one, culminating project. Starting tomorrow I will be in full-on Christmas-mode. Singing Christmas songs, watching movies, making hot cocoa, and decorating some more of that delicious gingerbread. It's been a very warm December for us this year and a lack of snow is hindering my anticipation of the holidays but we're almost there!! 

Hope you're having a great week so far and that you're beginning to feel the excitement of the holidays too. 

What I'm Loving

12 December 2011

I was in Barnes & Noble a few days ago and came across these Library Candles which smell heavenly and are centered around classic authors (such as Walt Whitman & Jane Austen). I swooned right there in the middle of the store! 

These Robin Egg Soaps are absolutely precious. I would love to have these mottled soaps on my bathroom counter for guests to use. 

This recipe for gingerbread is heavenly. I swear these cookies get better every single day. Throw on a little vanilla icing and your party guests will be enamored with you and your baking skills. 


I never post about make-up which makes this statement remarkable.... I've had this foundation for less than a week and I'm already in love. It feels great when you put it on: cool, light, and airy. The classic ivory tone blends perfectly with my skin color and it feels natural all day long.

Plus I love that my finals are done and I have a few free weeks before diving into student teaching. Hard to believe where time has gone but I'm definitely looking forward to it. Check back soon for a Christmas giveaway to spread the Christmas cheer! 

Reasons to Smile

08 December 2011

Hello! It's about that time of year when finals are bogging people down and college students are living in the library or at a local coffee shop. Just Monday I had about five cups of coffee which is so unlike me! So, I thought it's time to come back to the heart of this blog and remind myself of my Reasons to Smile:

  • Ugly Sweater Party tomorrow!!
  • I have a good cup of coffee beside me
  • The majority of my finals are over or are dwindling down
  • It's warm enough outside to walk without bundling up like a pug in the snow (oh, yes, I had to throw those funny little pugs in somewhere)
  • My presentations went well
  • Mexican food may be in my future (does anyone else having serious cravings for Mexican food sometimes?)
  • I've got Christmas cards ready to go! If only I was better about getting to the post office
AND... If you're new here and would email me you address at allisonmseward {at} gmail {dot} com I'd love send you one too!

Scottish Scones

07 December 2011

Two recipes in a row? This must be a record.

I call them biscuits (though they are a bit different) but I found a quick, simple recipe at The Wind and the Wellies for a nice breakfast and snack. Since we didn't have self-rising flour and I am a baking novice I used this 'how to' in order to create my own.

They were pretty good but I made them at 9pm at night and must say they were even better the next day! I snacked on them while doing some finals.


2 cups of self rising flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup of milk

My directions:
Oven on at 400 degrees
Dust baking sheet with flour
Put dry ingredients in a large bowl together (flour and sugar)
Then rub in butter (you can use your hands to mix with the flour)
Slowly add cup of milk to ingredients
Mix until dough forms
Don't kneed! This will make scones harder, handle the dough as minimally as possible
Cut into shapes and put on baking sheet
Then pop in the oven until they are lightly brown (about 12 or so minutes)

Cauliflower Soup

06 December 2011

Last weekend I made cauliflower soup for Noah to take to work and we loved it. I got the recipe here initially. The only thing I left out was celery because we didn't have any on hand.

Now that it's cooling down here soups seem more appropriate than ever and are perfect as a way to warm up. Do you have a favorite or a go-to soup when it's cold outside?

Education Abroad

05 December 2011

If you've been reading for a while you may know that I have a thing for the United Kingdom and that I've always wanted to move there. Well, this semester I've been looking up a lot of information about teaching overseas. It is my dream to live abroad and while I may want to go permanently I am willing to work with Noah on the details. I'm interested in talking to people who have already taken this step. I was lucky this past semester in that the teacher I worked with this semester in a high school classroom has a sister-in-law who is living in England right now teaching abroad at an American school overseas. I'm always on the lookout for information.

This is where you come in.

Do you know anyone who has moved overseas to work in the field of education? Have you done it yourself?

At this point, I'm just looking for experience abroad. I'd like to be somewhere in Europe but I don't know if I'm limiting myself to the UK right now. That is certainly my long term goal and if I can start off there that's great but if not then Europe is a step in the right direction.

Just for nostalgia's sake, here are some photos from my beloved trip to the United Kingdom.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

02 December 2011

This week we went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. We had a blast! The first half of the concert consisted of their Christmas songs and had a narrator telling a story throughout. Then the second half mixed songs from a couple of their albums. Beyond the music, the concert was practically a light show for the audience. We had a great time in Richmond for the afternoon and evening before heading back home.

I am a firm believer in paying for experiences instead of material goods because I think you can take them with you throughout your life and relate future experiences back to them. The only problem we have as graduate students is that we can't really afford either too often. I'm not saying this concert was life-changing (like, say, a trip to Europe) but it was something I'll take with me for a long time I'm sure.

Let me ask you, what experiences in life are you grateful for? What opportunities did you take? Which ones do you wish you would have taken? 

Printables & Frames

01 December 2011

Way back in September I went out to Michaels and bought a little robin egg blue spray paint to decorate some dollar store frames. Ever since I've been swapping out little quotes or holiday printables to fill the frames and remind me of some good mantras throughout my days.

I want to share some of those printables with you because they've sure been giving me a reason to smile!

I found one cute Christmas printable here at Spoonful of Sugar.

These printables aren't Christmas-themed but rather could be used year-round. I love their soft color schemes.

I've also shared these printables before but if you're looking for some artsy decor you could use a couple of these around your house.

This Christmas quote from Elf is up right now in our living room.

These last ones aren't for frames but rather are cute little Christmas gift tags that you could use this holiday season! Check out Ginger & George.

Hope they give you a smile. All it takes is a click and a printer!

My Idol, My Aunt

30 November 2011

I think my aunt is one of the kindest, most compassionate women to grace this Earth and I am so lucky to have her in my family. As I go through life, getting my own place, have kids, and work with Noah's and my own family I want to imitate my aunt's ability to be a great hostess and always lend a listening ear.  

Whenever you walk into her house she is offering you some southern sweet tea, lemonade, water, soda, or any drink you can think of (and any attempts to help prepare food or drinks is firmly denied in her household). There is an ever abundant supply of food and the house is truly a home. I've come to realize that having a home seems to be an impressive feat any more. Now she has grandkids and is a kind grandmother yet stern enough to teach lessons when it's needed. 

Who is your idol?

Christmas Traditions: Lights

29 November 2011

Thanksgiving is over and while we're all working off our tummies from that holiday we're baking cookies, putting up trees, and shopping for gifts in preparation for the next one: Christmas. I have always been a lover of Christmas, secretly harboring a smile in my mind as I pass Christmas Trees in the stores, even if it is November 10th. There are lots of fond memories of my family related to Christmas and many traditions that I hope to carry on with my own children. There are several songs, smells, and foods that will always make me think of Christmas, but strangest of all may be the orange reels that you can find in a home improvement store.

People often underestimate the severity of our Christmas decorating when I try to describe it to them. We live out in the woods and as a consequence my father always held the belief that just outlining the house with lights would never be seen from the road so he needed to take some extreme action. Things got serious years and years ago with the purchase of the orange reels. We have roughly 20 or 25 of them that have lights stored on them. We unreel the lights and they go up around the front half of our five acres, are strung about the house, and put up on a series of six arches. Yes, arches. Homemade arches, as in pvc pipe, screw hooks, wire, and black spray paint. Didn't I say things get real?

After going from this meticulous system (not to mention the chicken wire/pvc pipe frames that we created and wove Christmas lights across to create patterns like candy canes, stockings, angels, snowflakes, and even Santa with his team of reindeer) it was a challenge to come to see Noah's family who wrapped lights around a piece of cardboard and spent fifteen minutes undoing knots!

Do you decorate with lights? Candles? Wreaths? What are some of your decorating traditions?

Full of Reasons to Smile

28 November 2011

I'm full to overflowing with love and thankfulness still. I think it's wonderful that we have a day to focus on the things we have and the people we share our lives with along the way. Before sitting down to eat our Thanksgiving dinner Noah and I made a list of things we are thankful for and I think it was a good exercise to practice. 

My reasons to be thankful:

  • I have a kind and considerate fiance
  • School has been a given and never a burden financially
  • Over the holidays I could see my beautiful sister
  • My friends are amazing
  • I have the kindest uncle and aunt a girl could ask for
  • There are so many opportunities afoot 

Aspirations 101

27 November 2011

{Thanksgiving Day}

1. Take one photo every day for a month. Hmm... I've been coming pretty close to this one for a while now without even meaning too. I have two ideas in mind here. Either I'll try to make December my goal month or I may try to take up Project 365.

9. Read two books a month. I have fallen drastically behind on this goal but with Thanksgiving Break I am slowly working my way back to catching up. Hopefully over winter break I'll be getting ahead once again.

15. Be awesome at making at least one baked goodie. Perhaps for the first time ever I decided to make chocolate chip cookies without any plans and without going to the store picking out each ingredient. I can't tell you why exactly but I was excited beyond belief to realize I had every ingredient I needed here to bake some cookies from scratch.

17. Learn how to use photoshop. This goals was hampered when my copy of photoshop was lost a year ago but I have a Mac now anyways and am on a trial download of Photoshop Elements 10. ALSO, for those of you interested in Elements, if you go to the Adobe website you'll see that it's only $50 from now until November 29!

69. Cook at least two meals a week. Check!

85. See my sister at least once a month. Well, while there were some interim months I did see my sister twice this past week and in two different cities at that!

We're almost to December which means people will begin to think about New Years Resolutions soon. I have been very happy with how well 101 has been working out for me. Lots of goals (some small and some rather large) have allowed me to think about things that I really want to accomplish and I can go back and view this list every day. Since it's not one continuous goal for the year I never have felt like a failure but rather that I am taking steps towards bettering myself and making some accomplishments I'm proud of! 


26 November 2011

Now that my sister is gone, I really miss my time with her. I said yesterday that I was able to go wedding dress shopping with her while I was in Williamsburg. If you want to see a dress that is a similar style to mine you can go check out her blog post about picking out the dress (but no peeking Noah!!). Yes, my sister is blogging now too! I LOVE IT. As a blogger, I can connect to so many people and now that my sister has one it's a great way to keep up with her life as she trains to be a school psychologist.

Guess what makes this week even better though? Not only did I see her when I visited Williamsburg but I will be seeing her again today when she travels up to Winchester to see our family! Lets hear it for some good, old-fashioned sister time!

Wedding Dress Shopping

25 November 2011

I went out in Richmond with two of my bridesmaids and we shopped around for a wedding dress. I really had a great time looking around with my sister and one of my friends, Meredith. Luckily, as a native gal from Richmond, Meredith could take us around in her car.

Lets be honest about the whole experience here.

Shopping for a wedding dress is unnerving. Until you are engaged you don't ever go shopping for a wedding dress so no matter what that first time is going to be a little strange. It felt like I wasn't supposed to be wearing one and I was worried that they wouldn't take me seriously. Luckily, once I started trying them on that feeling went away.

My gals and I picked out about six or so to try and then waited for a bit to have a consult go with us to the dressing rooms. On another side note, as the first of my friends to be getting married, I did not know that you often do appointments for these deals. Luckily, we went on a Monday and it wasn't an issue but the lesson was learned! Hah.

Anyways, I tried on two that I liked a lot but there were one or two little things that I would like to change or combine between them and about three that I wasn't sold on. One was so heavy that I was literally feeling it weighing me down. I swear it added my entire body weight again on top of me! Heck no for an outdoor wedding in July! Things like this make me wish for a fall wedding but the teacher in me says "no! take advantage of summer break!".

As we worked through the dresses Kelsey and Meredith had the appropriate responses and then as we were talking through the pros and cons of each dress the consultant told us to wait because she had a dress for me to try on.

I was worried.

I hate when someone thinks they have me pegged and then don't and I end up letting them down. Never fear though, this woman went to the racks and picked out this dress like she knew me. I would describe it but I don't want Noah to ever visit this page and see it so you can see a similar image here. (Thanks to Kelsey & no peeking Noah!).

I loved this dress. It was the right material, the right cut/style, and it felt great.

How did you find your wedding dress? Did you know when you first tried it on?

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 November 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! 

I have a lot to be thankful for.

W&M Campus

As a Duke, I love our limestone buildings and think they are perhaps the epitome of a beautiful stone to build a college campus with. That being said, William and Mary was a beautiful campus to drive through. As a disclaimer, all of the photos except for the last one were exclusively taken at the college of education where my sister is working towards her school psychology degree. They have raised bridges connecting the building to the main campus.

Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be if I had gone to a different university for either undergrad or grad school. It's impossible to know really! I love exploring new cities and new universities and this week I've gotten to do quite a bit of that. It's looking like Winter Break will be shaping up the same way. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful day today!
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