Friday, January 23, 2015

Reading Resolutions

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I made the new years resolution for the third time to read 25 books this year. Though right now I have quite the long list of books I intend to read there always comes a time where I get stuck, I'm not motivated and need something new to excite me. Thankfully the internet has come to the rescue with a whole bunch of resources to help us out with our reading resolutions! I'm going to use all of these lists to help change up my reading resolutions and bring new excitement to reading throughout the year. 

1. With the Oscars coming up, why not check out this list of 6 book adaptations all with top oscar nominations. So far, I've got 2/6 - not bad, could be better. 

2. Tomorrow is National Readathon Day! Check out this Pinterest board for book reading suggestions and breeze through your January picks from 12-4pm. 

3. Young adult fiction is one of my favourite genres. I always find the stories so exciting than must adult fiction novels. This infographic provides us with a YA fiction book for every day, month and season of the year.

4. Back to the movies - every book on this list will be hitting theatres in 2015. Read the book - then watch the movie. 

5. Finally, Strand Books NYC has created this giant list of reading resolutions. Some apply to the whole year, but some you can pick and choose depending on your reading needs. I'm definitely going to be consulting this list time and time again. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lemon Pecan Squares

Introducing my first baking post of 2015.  Having said I was going to challenge myself and bake new things in 2015, you may be thinking - lemon squares? Really Joanna? This is your big baking endeavour? And to you I say - Yes, it is. I wanted to make use of my beautiful gifted cookbooks and I have lists and lists of recipes written down and bookmarked. Lemon squares were one of them. These aren't your typical lemon square - the combination of pecan and coconut gives a delicious added nuttiness, and the hint of lemon is the perfect complimentary flavour. These lemon squares can be easily changed to any citrus and nut combination of your choosing - oooh what about orange almond? Grapefruit cashew? Lime macadamia? Call it! Dibs on the lime squares. Anyways, here are my lemon pecan squares, adapted from Butter Baked Goods Cookbook.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon ground flax
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup ground pecans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 300 mL can condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x9 inch pan with butter, and line with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in the microwave at 30 second intervals until completely melted. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flax, flour, sugar, coconut, ground pecans, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add in the melted butter and mix until well combined. Pour half of the oat mixture into your pan and press until firm and even spread.

In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the condensed milk and lemon juice until combined. Pour the mixture evenly over your oat base and sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the filling. Bake for 23-28 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Squares are best served chilled from the refrigerator.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Good Books: The Opposite of Loneliness

I've officially completed book number one of my 25-book pledge! Technically I started reading it in 2014 but you know what, I make the rules for my pledge and I say it counts. 

The book first added to my tally is The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. After having glanced through this book numerous times at work, I received it for Christmas this year and am so happy to have finally read it. Marina Keegan was a recent graduate from Yale University and very successful in the arts - from poet to playwright, to journalism and fiction. Upon graduation she had a career as a writer working for The New Yorker all lined up, however just five days after convocation, she died in a car crash. This book isn't her biography. Aside from the introduction made by professor Anne Fadiman, the collection of essays and short stories are completely Keegan's. I love this book because not only is it a collection of beautifully written stories, opinions and ideas, but it leaves Marina Keegan exactly how she wanted to be thought of - as a writer. It celebrates her talent as completely her own. This is her book. These are the words she left. 

The title comes from one of her most popular essays, The Opposite of Loneliness, published in the Yale Daily News - it is definitely worth reading. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Cheers to the New Year!

This was a great year. I baked so many new things - breads, vegan recipes, cakes, I read a whole bunch of different books, I met so many interesting people, and most importantly I learned so freaking much! My brain is going to explode trying to hold in all this new knowledge. This year I plan on doing the same. I'm going to continue to challenge myself in the kitchen by baking new recipes, experimenting with ingredients, and learning new techniques. I've been gifted many cookbooks this past Christmas and am excited to find new inspiration in every recipe. As usual I am starting up my 25-book pledge for the year. In 2014 I read two more books than I did in 2013 and this year I plan on upping my reading game once again! I'd also like to expand genres - maybe throw in some mystery books and biographies - so I'm very open to any suggestions. I also want to spend more time outdoors, even when it's cold and I want to put more effort into staying connected with friends near and far.

This year I don't have any grand resolutions. I want to continue to try and better myself through giving, healthy living, and kindness.  I'll blog from time to time, not necessarily on a schedule, but when I feel like I have something worth sharing - when there is something that makes me happy, and I think can make others happy too. Cheers to the new year!