Daily Life

30 September 2011

Hello! It's Friday again which means just a few more hours until a glorious weekend. I've been having a lot of fun in my high school placement for these two weeks but I'll try to get better about visiting blogs on a daily basis.

This weekend is our homecoming but I'm not sure how many times I'll be on campus for it. In fact, I think I'm a tad more excited about setting up some coffee dates and catching up with some fellow education gals. This coming week I have a goal to get to the gym more, see a few more friends, and get outside more. Perhaps I'll watch the sunrise a couple of days? That sounds so easy on paper!

How do you keep motivated when you get busy? Those of you that are officially on the "Career Path", how do you balance work and the gym? Do you schedule in time or just go when you can?

Well, hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

What I'm Loving

29 September 2011

{this DIY monogram}

I'm loving:
  • chevron, I love contrast and the two colors zigzagging make me quite happy
  • DIY projects - have any suggestions?
  • The hot cocoa pictured above is so thick and creamy I couldn't even finish the cup I had yesterday and I love sweets
  • Ravelry.com because it helps me find new knitting ideas
  • free books (on Kindle and given to me)
  • having time in the morning to blog
Hope you're having a good day. We're heading towards the weekend so hold out just a bit longer!

Learning Something New

28 September 2011

I mentioned that I learned the basics of knitting over the weekend and let me say that it has given me a whole new appreciation of crafts made with yarn. I'm not sure whether I'm slow because I'm a beginner or because knitting is just a slow craft but now when I see sweaters or scarves I'm just flabbergasted at the amount of time and energy that must have been put into the project! It's been a lot of fun though and I'm amazed how many people I can connect with over this knew knowledge and experience. Who knew so many people still knitted?

Do yourself a favor and try something new this week. You might enjoy it! If not, heck, you'll at least make some new friends in the process or have an interesting story to tell. 

What would you like to learn or experience? 

Garbanzo Bean Salad

27 September 2011

Fresh, vegetarian, and cool this garbanzo bean salad makes for a great lunch. 

The basic idea here is to have chickpeas served with a mango dressing (incredibly sweet and different). I found the recipe at My New Roots which specializes in vegetables and healthy food options. This recipe is fairly simple once you blend the mango. 

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas) (about 2 cans)
1 red bell pepper
3 carrots
½ large jicima root (or any crunchy veg)
1 cup chopped spinach
½ cup cilantro
(Besides the garbanzo beans, the other vegetables are totally your choice. These are the veggies that I bought at the market, and that I had on hand in the fridge. Use anything you can to sop up all that delicious dressing, otherwise, the beans will be swimming in it! Try to get something green in ya – that’s where the spinach comes in, and you won’t even taste it. The cilantro, however, is NOT optional.)

1 large, ripe mango
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 large green onions, with tops
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. sea salt
½ chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (substitute ¼ tsp. ground chipotle or use your favorite chili spice) 

1. Peel mango and place in a blender with all other dressing ingredients. Blend on high until uniform and creamy. It will look like a smoothie. Season to taste.
2. In a large bowl, pour dressing over garbanzo beans and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad filling (at this point you will undoubtedly say, “Sarah, there’s way too much dressing.” Trust me.). 
3. As you chop up the vegetables for the salad, add them as you go and stir to get an idea on how much more you need. Stop when the salad is well-dressed but not super gloppy. 
4. Serve with sliced avocado and lime wedges on the side. Garnish with more cilantro, sprouts, pumpkin seeds, or whatever you have on hand. 

Bonjour! The International Festival

26 September 2011

On Saturday I went to the local, annual International Festival. They sell handmade goods, serve lots of different foods, and have booths with crafts and information about different countries and cultures. I met two friends there and even ran into a couple of other friends along the way. It was a nice way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday and I even got to enjoy my favorite Indian food in the city because they had a stand! We stopped at a stand that was passing out name tags in different languages. I told the girl who made mine to pick a language so I ended up with French: "Bonjour! Je'mappelle Alli." It was a good time and I'm glad I was able to stop in during my last year at the University.

How was your weekend?

Aspirations 101

25 September 2011

If you don't know what 101 in 1001 or if you'd like to see a complete list of my goals check out my Aspirations page!

13. Play the piano. This one is at least being talked about. As a music education major, Noah has some friends who are majoring in piano performance and one of them may be able to teach me. I'm a little bit worried about time though. I would love to be better at the piano though so I'll keep it in the forefront of my mind.

31. Do yoga once a week. Checked off with my roommate last Sunday!

33. Do more DIY projects. I actually have a number in mind still. I really want to do the Silhouette necklace but I would like Noah to get his hair cut before I put a permanent picture in a pendant. Hmm.... Since he's in California still that one may need to wait a while.

34. Build up a fashion style. Ok, this one is somewhat in the works but not exactly in the way I meant it. I am more conscious of what I'm wearing each day now that I'm going to school with high schoolers and on my spare time I'm experimenting with hair styles and the like. I've actually done a few complicated french braids on my head (that's hard to do with your own hair!). Also, I've done really well about only buying clothes from thrift stores or with a coupon for certain money off. It's not even one of my 101 goals I just thought I'd like to save money.

37. Learn a craft. On a whim yesterday I bought knitting needles, yarn, and a guide book. Then I ran into a friend at the international festival who knows how to knit so she came over last night so show me the basics of casting on and simple knitting techniques. This weekend my goal is to make a pot holder.

49. Discover more outdoor locations that are beautiful. We checked another one off the list by going to the natural chimneys last week.

75. Send more mail in the old fashioned manner. I've been doing really well about sending mail and packages to my sister actually. I hope once I finish a knitting project that I can send her something.

The Weekend

23 September 2011

It is Friday, glorious Friday. 

For some reason this week I've felt like it should have been Friday by Wednesday. You mean I still had two more days to go? What?! It's been a great week honestly, I just think that starting practicum has kept me busier and consequently made me more tired than normal. 

Today, perhaps even as I write this, Noah is on a plane for Los Angeles, California. I'm already missing him and (not gonna lie) I'm a little bit jealous. Yet I've got some girl time planned this weekend and there is an International Festival tomorrow that I want to go to. 

Here are some things I'm hoping to do this weekend:
Happy Friday! Hope you're having a wonderful fall day!

Peppermint Tea

22 September 2011

On Saturday morning I bought a peppermint plant at the farm market to add to my container garden. The first thing I did when I got home was pick some leaves to create my own peppermint tea.

First I picked of leaves (probably around 4 tablespoons of fresh leaves) and then arrayed them on a plate. Then I placed them near a window to get sunlight for about 48 hours so they could dry out. It probably would have gone faster if it was summer with all that bright sun we had but I was using a cloudy light that was coming through my bedroom window. Then I put the leaves in a pot of boiling water. I let the leaves soak in the water (in a tea ball) for about 6 minutes and then strained out the leaves and poured myself a cup of tea.

It was clear which was very startling at first but the peppermint taste after the fact was just perfect! I'll definitely be doing this often.

Practicum Experiences

21 September 2011

It's Wednesday morning and the beginning of my third day as a practicum student in a high school. I've actually been enjoying myself pretty well in a high school setting which is a little bit surprising. This morning all of the sleep-deprived days, lack of food, and stress of regular coursework got to me a little and I've been feeling sick. After waking up at 6:30 and showering I laid on my bed just looking at the wall for twenty minutes. We all have those mornings right?


I'd like to go into the morning with some smiles so here are some happy and funny things that have happened so far:

  • A student asking about why dead bodies float in water while we were talking about density
  • Watching 2012 in an astronomy class and students laughing every time someone with a Russian accent talked
  • I was asked if I was a substitute
  • I was asked if I have a 14 year old son named Caleb (seriously guys?!)
  • A student asked me why I wanted to be a science teacher (sweet)
  • Helping a student understand density and seeing him succeed with concepts
That's just to begin, but since it's 7:46am I better be heading out! Hope you all have an excellent morning and that it starts off a little better than mine. I also hope someone can make you laugh and smile today. I swear it'll make you feel better.

(Take note - while in class yesterday I recorded the fact that when I smile and laugh I feel physically better than when I do not. Much less tense!)

Avocado Salsa

20 September 2011

You may remember me making a list of recipes I'd like to try that area healthy and this was one of the ones I tried out this past week. It was very simple. I only had to chop up about three of the ingredients and open a can of corn and one of black beans. So fun, tasty, and simple!

You need:
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 can sweet corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 tomato
I originally found the recipe here!

Refreshed & in Nature

19 September 2011

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time with friends at a nearby regional park called Natural Chimneys. The reasoning behind the name is the towers of limestone rock that jut into the air about 100 feet or so shown in the bottommost pictures. They were beautiful while looking up from the base but when we climbed to the top the view was breathtaking. It was definitely worth the incredibly steep climb where you had to use roots to pull yourself up. We had a great time looking through caves, exploring small tunnels, and hiking the trails. It felt great to get outdoors and hang out with some good friends. Now my spirit is refreshed and ready to start in on the week.

Today is my first day in my high school practicum. I definitely feel more confident after having met my host teacher which greatly reduces my stress about the whole situation and rather increases my excitement. I hope you're having a wonderful Monday and an exquisite start to the week!

Morning at the Market & Aspirations 101

18 September 2011

Saturday morning I went to our local farm market and perused the isles looking at what vegetables the new season has to offer. I love seeing all the fall offerings and the morning had just the most perfect, crisp weather with a slightly grey sky. Just lovely.

As for my 101 in 1001 goals....

33. Do more DIY projects. I have another one lined up for this week that I've linked to before. I'm loving all these crafty ideas from other bloggers!

46. Do a thorough cleaning. Hmm.... in the works?

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

101. Host a tasting. I'm seriously considering doing this one soon. A fall weekend with baguettes, grapes, cheese, and wine? It would sound pretentious if I wasn't a 22 year old who didn't know anything about wines or cheese.

Winner & the Weekend

17 September 2011

The winner of the My Memories giveaway is Amanda! Congratulations!

I'm hoping to get all of my classwork done today and start browsing lesson ideas for meteorology. Then tomorrow Noah and I are hoping to grab some friends and go to the Natural Chimneys which are fairly close by. Maybe we can even make a picnic out of it? I've already got a date with my roommate to hit the gym this afternoon and if I'm quick I can still grab some veggies from our morning farm market. 

Hope you're having a great weekend!

Last Day for Giveaway

16 September 2011

{Using the software for a speed scrap}

Today is the last day to enter the My Memories giveaway! I'll be contacting a winner tomorrow so make sure you have entered to win the software.

We are just a matter of days away from it being truly autumn here. It's already beginning to feel like fall with crisp mornings, clear days, and a few darkening leaves here and there. Fall has always been my favorite season with it's hayrides, pumpkin patches, and apple picking. There's something so relaxing and perfect about walking through a farm or stopping to take notice of leaves that are changing color. I have high hopes for fall this year. Hope you're looking forward to a great weekend!

DIY Jewelry

15 September 2011

I'm listing some links to DIY earring & jewelry tutorials. You may remember that I made button earrings early in 2011 which are super easy to make if you have a hot glue gun and buttons. I also have a jewelry making kit that has jump rings and hooks to keep me occupied (which I used to make the shown earrings). If you know Kim, you'll have seen her DIY t-shirt tassel earrings earlier this week too! It's definitely in to make your own jewelry.

Customizable Earrings
Feather Earrings
Colored Necklaces
Flower Headband 
Jewelry Holder Frames
Silhouette Necklaces
Fingerprint Necklace

I honestly couldn't pick just one to link so I leave you with all of them. I think I may try the silhouette necklace first though. It's quite easy and I'd love to have one of Noah around my neck. Too cute. Could also be a great gift for your mom when Christmas comes around!

Teaching in the Works

14 September 2011

In a matter of hours I'm meeting my practicum teacher to have coffee and talk about what students I'll be working with this semester. I feel an odd lack of nerves. I'm sure a lot of it is that I'm just going in to meet the teacher today instead of jumping right into class which is a big difference to me let me say. I had a fantastic experience the last time I did practicum, a whole year ago now, and I'm hoping this time goes just as well!

This time around I'm working with high school students. In fact, I'll be working in two Earth Science classes and one Astronomy class. I'm really excited for both. While I don't feel fully prepared (at all) for the astronomy class I'm really excited to learn more about it because I could be teaching it one day!

On a side note, is it weird to be worried about how I'm dressed? I'm only going to be a few years older than the high school students so I want to add as many years as I can by dressing up. Hah! How strange. In my day to day life I pick out my clothing in less than fifteen seconds and go but with student teaching I'm a nervous wreck!

Well, hope you have a good day! We're having an exquisite morning here and I hope you are too.

AND... You can still enter the scrapbooking software giveaway!

DIY Scarf Necklace

13 September 2011

Using this tutorial by Flamingo Toes that my friend sent me to make an Anthropologie look-alike necklace, I made an effort to sew for the first time in years. (If you click on the link you'll see that mine looks a bit different. I credit this to the fact that I did not have four yards of chain but rather three feet of chain.)

Let me say, if my friend and I could have used a sewing machine it would have shaved off at least two hours of this project. Who knew how long it took to sew end of a scarf together? By the time we finished we had spent nearly four hours making these necklaces. They turned out rather pretty though and will be a lovely accessory when teaching.

What you need:
-Needle & Thread (thank goodness my friend already had this on hand)
-Sheer Scarf (we went to a local thrift store and picked out ours)
- Chain (apparently four yards of it but my version used about 45")

Now I've got an itch to properly learn how to sew. Fingers crossed that can be accomplished! Maybe I should add it to my 101 list.

Make sure to enter the giveaway here!

My Memories Giveaway!

12 September 2011

What's up for grabs?

A free copy of My Memories Suite - digital scrapbooking software!

Hello! As a warm welcome to DIY week here on Reasons to Smile, I'm hosting a giveaway courtesy of My Memories. They're a digital scrapbooking company and I've had a lot of fun exploring their software. As a girl who has scrapbooked since high school and has been a historian for two different clubs I was very excited to test out digital scrapbooking.

{Using a pre-made template by K Studio and my own pictures}

{a quick sample with one of their templates}

Let me say - I love it! I am impressed with their number of templates (there are new ones updated on their site for free periodically). It's very easy to work with and you can customize embellishments, fonts, and page layouts with just a click or two. If you're not a big scrapbooker you could also use this program to create cards, calendars, or perhaps even a blog header.

How to enter:
1. Check out the My Memories website and come back here and comment to tell me which digital scrapbook kit you liked the best. Leave me your email so I can get back to you!

For extra entries:
2. Be a follower of my blog. Leave a comment telling me you follow.

3. Like the My Memories facebook page. Leave a comment saying you did so!

4. Tweet about the giveaway mentioning either @MyMemoriesSuite or @allisonmseward. Leave me a comment with your Twitter username so I can see the link.

That's 4 entries total. 

To be entered you must do Number 1 but all the rest are optional for extra entries!

Extra: If you'd like to go ahead and purchase the software you can use this code to get $10 off the My Memories Suit and $10 off in the store:

The giveaway will end on Friday, September 16. 

Aspirations 101

11 September 2011

{A recent rainbow}

Time to catch up on my list of goals and aspirations for the week!

Big news of the week? I made cake pops (#77)! I'll post pictures and a quick "How To" at the end of the week. 

Second announcement? I made my own necklace (#99). I used a scarf. I also used a needle and thread for the first time in ages

30. Workout at least three times a week. I've been working on this. Five times last week and four this week. I'm hoping now actually to make it my goal to go five days a week for this semester. Knowing I have student teaching next semester I'm a little hesitant to officially raise the bar to five times.

33. Do more DIY projects. Definitely been doing more of these!

69. Cook at least two meals a week. This one has been going strong for a while now.

77. Make cake pops. CHECK!

89. Build at least two different outfits from a thrift store shopping spree. I was close to this one before but now it's officially marked off the list!

99. Create my own jewelry. I made a few earrings two weeks back but it didn't feel like quite enough. Although yesterday I spent nearly four hours with a friend making necklaces from scarves and I feel like that much time dedicated to a DIY jewelry project allows me to cross this one off my list. Of course, I plan to continue to make my own jewelry but I am allowing this to be crossed off!

Have a wonderful Sunday! Good luck working towards your goals. You can do it!

Tea & Cake

10 September 2011

Today has been nice and relaxing and I've been marking off items on my 101 list for tomorrow's post. Currently, I'm sitting in Starbucks finishing up some homework and trying not to think about my cooling cake back at the apartment so that I don't start drooling on my keys. Yes, I said cake.

Tonight Noah and I are planning to go to a Trombone Cookout when he gets off work. I may or may not be bringing something cake-related to share.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend. Oh, and heads up, next week I'm hoping to focus on crafty posts and DIY projects. You can look forward to a giveaway on Monday as well!


09 September 2011

{image via}

Thanks for being so encouraging this week on my health related posts, I truly appreciate your support.  You lovely ladies help carry me through my days. I've had a great time communicating with you and pushing ever farther on my journey towards a more health-conscious me. {On a side note, check back Monday for a giveaway!}

 I'd love to see your health-related posts so now it's your turn! Link up (Click the "add your link" button):

Emotional Wellness

08 September 2011

{Durango Loop photo from our trip out west in 2006.}

Step 1. Organize your life. I am a firm believer that if you have control over situations it makes your life a lot easier. That doesn't mean that you'll always have control, because you won't, but rather that if you can take time now to make your life easier later, well, you should. Managing your time to your best ability will help you create time for you.

Step 2. Be creative. Have an outlet where you can reach your soul. Take time for arts, crafts, music, dance, anything that makes you feel good. If you're like me and are not an artist yet greatly appreciate the gifts of other, perhaps you should check out this site where you can find free printable art.

Step 3. Personal. Be sure to include inter- and intra-personal time while you're relaxing. I love the company of people so I tend to shoot for interpersonal time but ti's important to have time for yourself to do solely what you enjoy.

Step 4. Explore. Maybe this is just me but when I get a chance to get away for a bit I feel loads better. If you can get out and have adventures near where you live that's great! If it's raining or you don't have the gas money (I hear you) then watch a happy movie, read a book that takes you away, or look through photos of a place you'd like to travel to.

Take some time to enjoy yourself today. How do you relax emotionally?

Pump It Up

07 September 2011

The last two weeks have been going rather well in regards to the gym although I'm still putting forth effort at working healthier foods into my meals.

The best way for me to motivate myself is by telling someone I'm going to go workout. Again, it's that whole accountability deal. It's an effort to get active for me.

I typed "Running Dog" into Google and it gave me the above picture. It's much better than putting a picture of me running - trust me.

Lately I've been pushing through the first hump of Resistance. I've been using a machine called a CrossRamp which is a sort of combination between an elliptical and a stair-master. It works well for me. I'm hoping to move on in about a week to a bit of running. My roommate has also gone with me a couple of times to the gym and we're hoping to go swimming once or twice a week as well. The last aim I have is to do yoga on my off days. It'll be good to stretch my muscles and increase my flexibility!

Oh, and my side focus is getting in more fruits and vegetables which is proving to be quite a challenge for me. What are your favorite fruits and veggies? What time of day do you work out? What's your favorite exercise? 

In the Kitchen

06 September 2011

This week is all going to be health, exercise, and food related posts that help push me forward in my goal to be more health conscious. Thanks for all of your positive responses yesterday! I'm very excited to see the posts that you link up on Friday. 

Today I'm listing out some healthy recipes that I'm hoping to make this week. Do you have any favorites?

Recently I made this Vegetarian Slow Cook Chili and it was quite good. It was nice to get in a good dose of protein as a vegetarian and I definitely recommend it! 

And these are recipes I'm aiming to do throughout the week. I'll be buying ingredients tomorrow to do them. If you're with me on Pinterest you may have seen some of these yesterday evening as I was browsing. 

My overall goal beyond specific recipes this week is to get a fruit or vegetable in at each meal. I'm hoping to move up to a fruit and vegetable each at every meal but I'm slowly working towards an all around healthier me! 

Hope your week is off to a good start.

Inspiration in Accountability

05 September 2011

I like to think sometimes that I can do everything on my own. Don't we all? However, sometimes when we're fighting Resistance (with a capital R, meaning our resistance to doing things that are good for us or make us stronger) we could use some help. For instance, I have a very hard time nurturing good eating habits and getting to the gym, and I mean a really hard time. I resist making that change. Sitting in front of my computer or reading is much more enjoyable for me and, to be honest, just as satisfying. Sure, I feel good about myself when I'm working out and when I get done but it's not quite good enough to motivate me to go.

That's where I need help.

Kim always tells me that exercising makes her feel good. It's her stress relief. Her love of working out inspires me to want to do better. Plus, Torie is now helping me out by being my Accountability Partner. She's been wonderful about listening to my efforts and struggles at eating right and exercising often. Telling her about my efforts throughout the day makes it feel more worth it.

Heck she puts up with pictures like these because I take pictures of everything:

So, here's a big thanks to Torie from me!


I'm asking a favor for later this week! I'd love for you to share a post (whether it's one you have yet to write or one that you've already written) about exercise, eating well, or any other health-related topic on Friday. I'm looking for any push of motivation I can find so if you'd link up this Friday I'd much appreciate it! Hope you're having a fantastic week and good luck finding motivation for what your need is. Again, you don't necessarily need to write it on Friday it could be one of yours that you already really like but I'll put out a reminder in my post on Friday that I'd love some links to your inspiration.

Aspirations 101

04 September 2011

{Mountains here in Virginia}

Remember my list of aspirations? Here's a few more to mark off the list!

9. Read 2 books a month. August is complete! Game of Thrones and Love Wins kept me on that horse no problem. However, I am struggling to get back into reading after I stopped for about two weeks. I'm ready to dive back in!

15. Be awesome at making at least one baked goodie. At least Friday night was progress right?

30. Work out three times a week. I was at the gym five times this week for half hour periods. More about that tomorrow though!

33. Do more DIY projects. Did you read about making a bag out of a t-shirt?

42. Lose 10 pounds. Ok.... This has gotten worse since I started this list in January. I have only gained weight so instead of ten pounds...well, lets just say it's a few more than that. I only weigh myself about three times a year because I think it's bad to be too concerned about your weight. Now though I need to go back and motivate myself. Again, more to come on this tomorrow.

75. Send more mail in the old fashioned manner. Getting better at this! Want a card? Send me your address and I'd love to put a stamp on one for you!

94. Use the slow cooker. Complete! Hope to do it again when I'm teaching. YAY!

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Baking Cookies

03 September 2011

My reason to smile today is an abundance of good friends! Last night my Littles came over to bake cookies from scratch with me. I expected it to take from around 7pm until 9pm but we ended up talking until midnight! Tonight I'm hosting a game night at the apartment and am looking forward to spending more time laughing until my stomach hurts.

Here's to good times, good food, and good friends!

Have a great weekend!
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