The World in a Post: Victoria, British Columbia

30 June 2011

Erin from Pughs News has kindly decided to share with us some details about living in Victoria, BC for my World in a Post series. Erin's an amazing gal and a great mom to two sweet boys. You should definitely stop by her blog to say hi! She sent along some questions and answers to share with you all. Thanks Erin!

Name: Erin
Blog: Pughs' News (
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

How long have you lived in Victoria?
Since I was born! My mom is from here and my dad is from Newfoundland, on the East coast of Canada. They were living in NF when my mom got pregnant with me, and they moved back to BC soon after.

What's the climate like?
Very mild. We don't often get snow. When we do, it is a major news story. Everyone freaks out and rushes off to buy snow shovels and big bags of salt! We're right by the ocean (it is an island, after all!) so we get lovely breezes throughout the summer and love to spend days at the beach. We have a fantastically long growing season. Victoria is known as The Garden City, thanks to all our blooms.

What are some of your favorite things to do during a typical weekend where you live?
We live in a suburb of Victoria, about 25 minutes from downtown. It's a really up-and-coming part of town, with lots to do. My hubby and I like to take the kids to Starbucks, and for long walks or bike rides on one of many nearby trails (in the summer we stop for buckets full of blackberries). We like to go out for lunch somtimes on a Saturday or to rec centre for a swim. The one thing we do pretty much every weekend is work in our garden. There's always something new to be planted, and weeds to keep on top of! (we have a big vegetable garden, and this year we're hoping for lots of fruit too)

What are some of your favorite restaurants in your town/city?  Favorite shops? 
I love Pagliacci's, a tiny Italian place right downtown. They make the most amazing foccaccia bread ever. I'm also rather fond of having afternoon tea at The White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay. The scones with preserves and cream are divine (and I love how everyone gets a unique- and beautiful- teacup)
As far as shops go, I am a real lover of books and stationery. We have an old bookstore not far from the harbour, called Munros Books (owned by the family of Canadian author Alice Munro) that I could while away the hours in. I love The Papery for writing paper, cards, ribbons... Lazy Susan's has fun vintage postcards, clothing and handmade jewelery.

Suggest some must see places for an out of town visitor.
Victoria is a great place for tourists, and a popular destination year-round. The Butchart Gardens are beautiful, and their summer fireworks shows are fantastic. I love the inner harbour and the causeway for wandering along with a cold drink. You can browse the fancy shops in the Empress Hotel, then walk across the street to check out the Parliament Buildings, then walk up Government Street to look in all the little shops (be sure to stop at Rogers Chocolates!) Definitely drive along Dallas Road to see the ocean and the Olympic Mountains.  I'd also recommend driving up-island to see Cathedral Grove and some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world.

Tell us why you love your town/city.
It's clean, the people are friendly, we have great parks and beaches, fabulous bookstores, good weather... I like the old heritage buildings and the fabulous green spaces. It's a very family-friendly city. I'm glad my kids are growing up here.  I love living near the sea. Nothing smells better than the salt in the air when you come home from a long trip away...

Anything else we should know about where you live?
We have some pretty great festivals and fun events here throughout the year. There's never a shortage of fun things to see and do. You should definitely come visit. We're only about 90 minutes from Vancouver by ferry.

I'd love to hear about your city/state/country! If you travel to a place a lot and feel comfortable you can talk about that too. You can do photos, a write up, or a video. Or pretty much whatever inspires you. :)

Contact me and I can ask leading questions or you can do a post on your own. Email me at allisonmseward {at} gmail {dot} com. 

Wedding Wednesday: Engagement Photos

29 June 2011

I showed a sneak peek last Wednesday of our engagement photos but today I'm giving you a good long look. We had a lot of fun working with my friend of Meredith Sizemore Photography. She was great working with us and is ever so sweet! 

Tell me your favorite because I'm thinking we may use some for our Save the Dates.... if we can ever decide on a date! Hah. I'll be looking back in a year and will know exactly what's happening with the wedding so it's strange to think about. 

Yep, we had a great time with these photos and it really gave Noah and me some time to reconnect with us as a couple. He is my best friend and I love keeping the romantic part of our relationship alive. We've never had someone take photos of us like this before and it was a great experience. Sometimes you forget about the cute little things you do with each other because after you've done them for so long you stop thinking about it. Then your photographer friend says "That's soooo cute" and you're thinking 'oh yeah, huh, I guess it is'. It's so refreshing and we left really happy. 

Now I get to sit back and enjoy! 

His grandmother's ring. Beautiful and it suits us so perfectly, it has meant a lot to me that his family passed it down for him to have. 

Let me know some of your favorites in case we use them in our save the dates! Hope you're having a wonderful day!

*Plus tomorrow I'll have a post from Erin for the World in a Post series!

*and check out Meredith's photography page!

Homemade Falafel

28 June 2011

Over the weekend I had falafel that was exceedingly excellent so I decided to try making some for Noah and myself! I'll be upfront with you: it was a success

In fact, the falafel we made last night may be the best falafel I've had. I used this recipe. I actually hadn't had falafel before my junior year of college. They added mini falafel burgers in one of the dining halls and I thought it was pretty good (especially when compared with veggie burgers on campus - yuck). Around here you don't find many vegetarian foods because we're a heavy agriculture society but I'm glad I got to try this! Without further ado, here's how you make these little suckers!

Start with a can of chickpeas and mash them up in a bowl.

Then put 1/2 cup of parsley, 1 onion, and about 2 cloves of garlic into a blender. Blend until smooth. 

Mix them into the bowl with the chickpeas. 

In a bowl on the side mix the coriander, salt, pepper, egg, cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice and baking powder (see clickable link to recipe above for details about amounts). 

Then mix that bunch in with the chickpea mixture as well (or have a handsome guy do it for you).

Add in 1 cup of bread crumbs so that the mixture will stick together if you ball it up.

Put oil in a skillet and heat it up then form patties with the chickpea mixture. Flatten then a little bit then drop them in the oil to fry. It may take a little time to fry all your falafel patties but that crispy edge is perfect!

You now have some delicious falafel to enjoy perhaps with a side of pita bread. The recipe also gives instruction for making a cucumber sauce for dipping which is pretty dang good too!

Warning: It takes a while. At least for our first time it took about an hour with a malfunctioning blender and trying to gather all the ingredients and such. Totally worth it if you're having a nice movie night in though!

Northern Virginia, City Living

27 June 2011

This weekend I headed towards some city living as I visited my sister in Sterling. She's staying with her long term boyfriend and his family while she works a summer job in the area before she starts grad school in August. 

{My sister and me outside the World Market}

She invited me out to stay for a weekend so we could catch up on sister time, I could truly meet her boyfriend's parents, and to shop around in the city area. When I arrived on Friday night we sat outside on the porch eating dinner with the parents. The suburbs are so different from the country life I grew up with cutting wood and mowing lawns.... It was relaxing and everyone was very friendly. 

You may know that I have a thing for pugs so while we walked downtown in Leesburg on Saturday we stopped at a dog and cat supply store. You know, one of those quaint little ones that's brightly painted? 

{I wonder if Noah would let me hang up that pug portrait...}

We also went to Tysons Corner for the afternoon. I don't know about where you are from, but in my neck of the woods malls are only one floor and may have ten to fifteen stores in them total. Not this mall.  We're just outside Washington DC at this point and this mall has three stories and a bajillion stores. Yes, bajillion, only a crazy word like that could describe having more than one of the same store in a mall. There were about three Starbucks in there! I've been before but it's been quite a few years.

{the unobtrusive outside}

{Bam! Three floors indoors}

On Sunday, before I left, we drove as a family to Reston to eat at a bright little Mediterranean place to eat. It's called Cafesano and is probably on my top ten lists of favorite places I've ever eaten. The atmosphere was just stunning inside and outside of this cafe with European, light decor on the inside and outside there were bunches of flowers in hanging pots and we were directly beside a beautiful lake. If I'm ever in the area again I must insist upon going back! Of course, I'm sure half my enjoyment was my wonderful company. 

{best bruschetta ever!}

{Helloooo Falafel}

Where I'm from restaurants don't plate food. I mean, it comes on a plate of course but it's not done up all beautifully like this. Did I mention they had a ton of vegetarian options? 

Then we walked down to the lake and small dock. Some girls came over and offered us what was left of their bread to feed to the ducks (how kind is that?). It was a beautiful last meal with my sister for the weekend and I'm so glad I was able to see her!

{My family}

The World in a Post: Harrisonburg, Virginia

23 June 2011

Hello World!

Today I'm going to share a little bit of Harrisonburg with you. Harrisonburg is certainly no tourist getaway but it's a nice little town nestled between mountains. The college campus takes up a good portion of the city and when it's summer it's a lot easier to cat around town.

In the video I shared only a few parts because 1) I don't have the resources to record it all and 2) How long of a video should it be anyways?

I focused on trying to show the small town and outdoorsy feel because I think those are two of the main characteristics of Harrisonburg. In the video you'll see:

  • Green, and lots of it. Is it similar to your neck of the woods or no? 
  • The farm market, small and downtown we have local farmers who bring food and goods to the table
  • A few quick shots of farms/barns because agriculture is big here
  • Mountains, beautiful mountains
  • the Shenandoah River
  • JMU's campus
  • A road or two: just because our typical roads look very different from big city roads I'm sure
  • quick bit about civil war: some people around here still care. I don't think it's a good thing, but I threw it in because it's something that probably makes harrisonburg different from your town and that's what I wanted to emphasize
  • Walmart - because shopping is not a recreational activity here, we don't go shopping for fun. There's just no place to do that here!
And I left sound in on purpose. I seriously considered putting a song over the background noise but I thought it added an element (voices in the farm market and especially the quiet, earthy calm out at the Shenandoah River around 3:20).

What you don't see but I would like to include:
  • Skyline Drive (the top of the mountains looking into the valley)
  • Hikes (I mention them but I'd love to show you some of the nearby waterfall hikes)
  • Wildlife - We have lots of squirrels and deer but no buffalo (if anyone lives in the west and would like to do a post that'd be AWESOME)
  • People - You get a glimpse of the population at the Market but I would like to emphasize that people aren't um dressy here. It's usually flanel, jeans, overalls, t-shirts.... It's rural and it's farm life. Of course the college crowd cares a bit more but the actual townfolk, they're kind and intelligent - don't underestimate farmers
  • The Green & Local movement - We have a big push towards green and towards local here. That AMAZES me. Trust me, it's very republican and very conservative here so it really surprised me to find so many ways to get involved here. Just goes to show that sometimes ideas are bigger than imaginary lines we draw. We have green councils, the farm market, the food co-op, and green  drinks (people get together to talk about 'green energy' issues over drinks) among many more. It may or may not seem like a lot compared to your area but after growing up in a city nearby in the Shenandoah Valley that didn't do this I really value a city that does.
  • Caves/Caverns - we have a ton of karst environments to tour and explore!
Harrisonburg may be a small city (town) but it's got a lot of great features. If you're into the outdoors then I especially recommend it to you. We have many hikes, caves, and water activities to do here. 

Hope that gives you some insight into my town!


I'd still love to hear about yours! If you're willing to do a post about your city, state, or country I'd be really interested to share it! Take some photos, do a written post, or make a video and send it to me at: allisonmseward {at} gmail {dot} com 

It'd be great to explore the world (and share it) through your eyes!

Wedding Wednesday: Engagement Sneak Peek

22 June 2011

This is the first photo our photographer has shared with us. 

We had a great time this morning walking around the lavender farm with our photographer and friend, Meredith. I'm excited to see the photos! 

Tomorrow I'll take you on a tour of Harrisonburg! I'd love to hear about your city, state, country or a place you feel knowledgeable/comfortable talking about! You could email me a write up, photo diary, or video. Get details here.

{For one more engagement preview you could click the Wedding Plans tab. Trust me, it's gorgeous! Meredith knows what I love!}

Picture Ready

21 June 2011


Ah.... I'm already excited about tomorrow morning! Six months after the proposal and we're getting engagement photos done. I'm happy.

My friend also took me out after class today to take photos of my eyes for her summer photo journal. That's very flattering. She picked two people for each eye color to include in her journal and for blue it was her boyfriend and me. How nice is that? Noah always says he loves my eyes but I always wish I had brown (my face desperately needs some definition). 

Well, I still need to pick out an outfit for casual wear tomorrow and it'd be great if we could get Noah's haircut (before 10am). Ok, so the photo shoot came up on us quickly! Hah. Any suggestions for colors to wear when you're in a lavender field?

I'm nearly done with recording my video for Harrisonburg Virginia. Remember, you don't have to do a video! It could be a write up about your city/state/country, photos, or any other method you'd like to use. Do whatever suits you, all participation is appreciated!

The World in a Post

20 June 2011

Ok, I mentioned on Saturday that I would like to do a sort of project on here and it would involve your help! 


I love travel. I love airports, traipsing around different states and countries, and experiencing a whole new place. However, all of that takes money, of which I have none. 

I also suspect that many of you love traveling as well. So, here's my suggestion:

Do a write up, photo journal, or a video about the city/state you live in or a place you've previously traveled to and feel comfortable talking about! I'll share them on here so we can see the world through each other's eyes. 

Send me a copy at allisonmseward {at} gmail {dot} com 

It can be a challenge to travel to all the places we love, so lets bring them to us! I'll have a video up for Harrisonburg, Virginia sometime this week.

Sunday 101

19 June 2011

Aspirations. Well, it's been a while. I haven't been conscious about completing these goals for a while but thankfully my blog won't let me forget!

{#73 My garden on 5-22-11 and 6-18-11}

Here is some of the progress I've made on my list of goals! 

17. Learn how to use photoshop. In progress.
21. Make more coffee than I buy. It's official, I'm marking it off the list.
23. Read a biography. Bossypants by Tina Fey. oh yes.
27. Find 100 geocaches. In progress. I have currently found 73 geocaches (I was at 50 when I started 101).
52. Have a firefly catching competition. done and done.
69. Cook at least 2 meals a week. Check for this week!

73. Plant a garden. Completed for my birthdayThis one has brought me a LOT of joy.
82. Learn how to set up a wireless routeer. Easy!

I hope you're doing well at completing your goals. Happy Sunday!

A Scheme

18 June 2011

I have an idea for a post I'd like to do on Monday (because lets face it, blogland seems to go silent on the weekends). But I'll need your help.


It's nothing big but I was inspired by Cafe Chick

Hope you're having a marvelous weekend!

Love & Thoughts

17 June 2011

Well, it's official. Noah and I have begun planning our wedding. 

A week ago we didn't know what budget we were working with and now we've contacted four places and gotten price estimates, have figured out our full budget, and are talking about wedding parties and the like. 


Lately love has been on my mind a lot. I think there are three main reasons for this. 

1. Planning a wedding.

I think it's pretty easy to see how planning a wedding could bring love around you a little more. I'm sure some days it will be difficult (I think Noah and I disagree more on how to have a wedding than on anything else in our relationship) but it's such a beautiful idea to be married to that man.

2. Bethany's engagement.

Seriously blogland, if you haven't checked her out, go do it! She was proposed to in Paris a little over a week ago and her story is beautiful and very well written. It'll make you grin for sure. 

3. This one's tough.

In my life there are a few adults who mean a lot to me. Once my mom passed away I've relied on a select few to act as surrogate parents to me and to show me love at a whole different level. I recognize that Noah and I are not the only successful couple in the history of the world and that we could learn a lot from other couples out there. . I found out recently that a couple who is close to me is going through tough times in their marriage. It was a shock. 

I have always thought that they were the happiest couple ever. They have been married for over twenty years, raised kids together, and seem to agree on everything. I thought all that was the hard part! The said they're trying to work through it, but for a while they'll be living separately. 

I asked the woman in the relationship for advice and what she said was "don't get married too young" and "make sure to speak to each other's hearts and not just be good at the business aspect of the relationship". 

Usually, from what I've seen the business part is the hardest or at least it's so hard that you don't realize other things that are going on. It frustrates me a bit to hear "don't get married to young" because I won't change my plans to get married to Noah next summer. I don't mean that to be defiant, we've just been together for over six years now and I am only more in love with him. I'm not saying that will allow us to work through everything and magically solve all of our problems, but I think what we have is more than a lot of people start with. I would never give up what I have with Noah. 


Main Ideas

Well, I guess the main thing here is that love has been on my mind a lot. Since getting out of my first heavy cluster of graduate courses Noah has been my focus. 

Healthy relationships can make our lives much easier and more satisfying although sometimes it can be work to build those relationships. 

I'll end this with a few questions.

What advice would you give to a newlywed couple or an engaged couple? What do you wish you had asked your parents about marriage? What would you want your kids to know about relationships?

Getting into Goals

16 June 2011

You may remember my Sunday 101 posts and I'm about to get back into them. Back around New Years I made a decision to try and stick to my goals for the long term. I called it 101 in 1001 and my list is filled with little aspirations that mean something to me. 

Example: Go to Britain.

So, after the hectic schedules of graduation and graduate school I'm ready to get back into it. When you fall of the horse you need to get back on right? The best way to reach a goal is to realize that goal, work towards it, and to not give up. Well, I'm not giving up.

Example: Learn a new instrument, adopt an animal from the SPCA.

I'm not saying I'll reach all 101 over the course of this project, but I'm sure I'll reach more by recognizing the goals and by keeping track weekly of the work I'm doing. 

So I ask you, in June, how are your New Years resolutions going? What are some major goals you want to achieve this month?

Example: Go on a horseback ride.

And, as I said in the very first post about 101 in 1001:

Now, I will ask of you a favor. As I go throughout this time trying to complete these goals, ask questions about them, give any helpful advice you have, tell about your own experience with completing goals & aspirations in your life, and mention a few goals of your own!

Homemade Salsa

15 June 2011

 Here's to catching up on some of the food posts!

I got this recipe from Ree Drummonds, aka Pioneer Woman. I've been wanting to make my own salsa for ages but we just got a blender so I can finally fulfill my wishes.

You need a can of whole tomatoes, two cans of Rotel, an onion, cilantro, sugar, salt, cumin, and a jalapeno pepper. You're also supposed to have some lime juice but, being me, I went without.

Throw in all the tomatoes (with their juice) and then chop up about half an onion or so and add it.

Then throw in some chopped jalapeno pepper (seeds and all). 

Next put in 1/2 a cup to a whole cup of cilantro. I was so proud getting my cilantro from our garden. I ended up using about half a cup for our salsa. 

Throw it in the blender along with 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/4 sugar, and 1/4 cumin.  Blend and voilĂ . You now have splendid salsa.

It really is delicious and amazing. Just be warned about the amount. Let me tell you your options:

  1. Clean off half a shelf in your fridge to store the salsa
  2. Be taking a bowl or two to a party in the very near future
  3. Share with the neighbors or friends
  4. OR.... be prepared to suffer salsa overdose.
Ree has a big family but around here, well, that is a ton of salsa. It should keep well, but just be warned!

Now, if you have a blender go and try this little joy for yourself. Mmmm!

Optimism & a Summer Wishlist

Yesterday in one of my classes we did an activity called Circle the Wagons. It's about building relationships with students and part of the activity asks the students to say a word that describes how they're feeling at the moment. I chose the word "optimistic". 

It's a beautiful summer, I'm officially a college graduate, and there are abundant hours in the near future to be filled with reading, farm markets, and journeys to the outdoors. What's not to love? 

I thought I'd make a post about my Summer Wishlist also known as those hopes and dreams you have for summer but somehow never get around to.

I'm hoping to be held accountable here! 



I've seen several bloggers talk about doing this and it's making my heart joyous. I'd love to float right down the Shenandoah!



I'd love to have several picnics over the course of this summer. Some whimsical ones with friends and perhaps a romantic one or two in the evening with Noah would be nice. 


Make my own sangria.

Something about this seems fun and delightful. I'm not very into alcohol (I can barely stand the taste!) but sangria isn't half bad. Even if I don't drink it it just seems like you must be a great hostess if you can make your own sangria. Maybe that's just me.


Go camping.

This could be a challenge because I don't have the tent right now, but we are less than an hour away from Skyline Drive and the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. There's every reason to go and no reason not to.



Remember, we're in an apartment so we don't have our own space for a grill or outdoor eating. Yet my favorite food off the grill has to be grilled pineapple. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! You can put a honey and lemon glaze over it and it's just perfect. There are actually quite a number of vegetarian options on the grill (think bananas, corn, vegetable pockets....).

I'm quite relaxed and content right now. I have a feeling that this summer will continue to be wonderful.
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