Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

My work week is always jam packed; I work long days and when I'm at work, I'm lucky if I can take my breaks (and people think librarians only read books...). The food I take to work needs to be quick to make, easy to eat, and delicious, which is not always easy to do.

This chickpea "salad" is perfect and meets all of the above requirements! It also makes perfect leftovers as the flavors meld together and get better over time.

I love that you just throw everything into the bowl and dive in. That's my kind of eating!

Spicy Garlic Chickpea Salad with Fennel and Roasted Tomatoes

Extra-virgin olive oil
Two 15 oz. can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
4 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 pints cherry tomatoes
Rosemary and thyme to taste
1 cup brown rice
Jarred pepperoncini
Small bulb of fennel
Shredded Parmesan
Fresh parsley

Cook 1 cup of rice as directed on package and set aside. In a medium saute pan, add chickpeas, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until chickpeas start to blister. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss cherry tomatoes with dried rosemary and thyme and olive oil. Roast until they're blistered and beginning to burst open; about 20 minutes.

Put some rice in a bowl and ladle about 1/3 cup of the chickpea mixture into bowl. Add tomatoes and pepperoncini (to taste). Shave about 4-5 pieces of fennel from the bulb (the white part) and add to the bowl. Add Parmesan, parsley, and lemony vinaigrette. Mix to combine and chow down!

Lemon vinaigrette recipe can be found here.
Recipe adapted from bon appetit magazine.

This recipe is super healthy, gluten-free, and can be made vegan and dairy-free (just omit the Parmesan cheese)!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 Goals: Update!

I have no idea what happened to me this winter- the weather has completely taken every extra ounce of energy out of me! This past week has been a little warmer, bringing weather that's more expected this time of year. Honestly, I'll take the rain and the cloudy days over another snow storm. It means we're one step closer to sunny skies and days at the beach.

All the ice gets pushed up against the rocks.
But enough small talk. At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post that listed some of the goals that I wanted to accomplish by the end of the year. Some of them were goals that I wanted to become habits (like getting used to exercising a certain number of minutes each week), and others were fun things that I want to do in my lifetime. My blog brings a certain level of accountability to my life and I wanted to tap into that today and give an update on how those goals are doing!

1. Get at least 60 minutes of physical exercise a week.
I will admit that I let this one go at the beginning of March. I was doing well until a few weeks ago when I got sick and gave up my workout for a few days. I'm telling you, that's all it takes! So, I'm making a point to get back into the swing of things. In fact, after this post is published, I'm going to do some yoga.

2. Learn a new language.
French is the language I had in mind when I started this round of goal-setting. I have been using an eresource through my local library called Mango Languages that allows you to learn a new language with online courses. These include activities, conversational practice, and cultural insight. It's such fun! My next step is to try and find a "pen pal" who would be willing to email me and help me speak that way. Check with your local library to see if this resource is available to you!

3. Pay off one of our bigger student loans.
It's still early in the year so this hasn't happened yet. However, as of a few weeks ago, my husband (who is a budget wizard) and I came up with a financial plan for us that would allow us to pay off all of our combined school debt in 3.5 years based on our current income. I cannot tell you how excited I am that this can happen in less than 5 years.

4. Successfully bake a batch of French macarons. 
Still haven't gotten around to doing this year, but I promise, you'll hear about it when I do!

5. Get better at not comparing my life to the lives of those around me.
This is another one of those goals that I want to become a habit in my life. I've seen some improvement lately and I'm glad about that, but this is something that I will be striving for every single day.

6. Read 100 books.
Currently, I've read 34 out of 100 books. According to Goodreads, I'm 10 books ahead of schedule. Hehe.

7. Complete at least 5 things off of my 25 Before 25 list.
So far, I've completed 3 items off of said list:
Spend the night in Chicago: Luis and I spent the night in Chicago in November and it was such an amazing experience. It felt so good to get away for a few days and see the city just because. It's amazing how refreshing those little experiences can be to your life.

Go to a concert/play: In late February, we went to go see The Phantom of the Opera in the city with some friends. I have been dreaming of doing this since I first heard the music at age 15!

Take a class just for fun: Incidentally, my goal of learning a new language fits perfectly with this goal. 

How have your 2014 goals progressed? Have they? Haven't they? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Week in My Life

Happy weekend everyone! This is my first "Week in My Life" post of the year! I've decided not to do one of these a week, but maybe once a month or so. It's been hard to keep up with blogging and posting as regularly as I used to last year. I have different reasons for blogging than I did as well. But enough about that. Let's get crackin'!

We gave Beeboo a bath recently... she was piiiisssseddd.... But seriously. She smelled.

Arm candy. 

I'm loving the blue skies. I. need. Spring. now.

His and hers breakfasts. Bacon and eggs.

Paws in the sunlight.

I made the most amazing spicy Korean-Chinese vegetable noodle soup this weekend. Chock full of veggies and the broth was amazing! 

Mise en place... or not so much. I'm a messy cook.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Day.

It's obvious that just about every state in the country is experiencing crazy weather these days. It's been a brutal January, hasn't it? It snowed in some areas of Texas, some Midwest states are experiencing sub-zero weather (like Illinois), and schools in the area are closed today.

Both my hubby and I are home from work today, so we got to sleep in, we made bonkers awesome chocolate pancakes, and caught up on some work. I mean, what else are you supposed to do on a day like today?

What are things like where you're at? Stay warm today!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

10 Books to Read Before They're 2014 Movies

2014 is going to be a great year for page-to-screen adaptations. I will admit that I get excited when a book I like is going to be turned into a movie. There's something about seeing the characters and plot played out on screen that is very thrilling (provided, of course, that the adaptation is done well...).

So, here are 10 books that will be made into movies this year. *Drum roll please*

1. Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin

What it's about: Orphan/mechanic Peter Lake attempts to rob a lavish Manhattan mansion he believes to be empty. Once inside, he encounters Beverly Penn, a young girl who is sick and dying. From that moment on, the love they experience is enough for Peter to stop time and attempt to bring back the dead. 

Release date: February 14, 2014

Starring: Colin Farrell as Peter Lake and Jessica Brown Findlay (formerly Sybil Crawley on Downton Abbey!) as Beverly Penn.

I loved Jessica Brown Findlay in Downton Abbey and I'm a fan of Farrell, so I think they'll be able to pull of this fantasy-love tale. The trailer looked beautiful, too! 
2. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

What it's about: "St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger..." -Goodreads review

Release Date: Originally scheduled for Valentine's Day as well, but the date has been pushed up to February 7th, 2014. 

Starring: Sarah Hyland (Haley Dunphy on Modern Family), Lucy Fry, Zoey Deutch, and Olga Kurylenko (former Bond girl).

3. Divergent by Veronica Roth

What it's about: Set in dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions based on personality type (Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, Candor, and Erudite). When Beatrice Pryor takes the required test to determine the faction she should choose, she's labeled as "Divergent," a dangerous label that she must keep a secret. At the Choosing Ceremony, she follows her gut and chooses to join the Dauntless faction. She renames herself Tris and enters the initiation determined to conquer her fears. In doing so, she discovers herself and secrets about her society that change everything she knew to be true.

Release Date: March 21, 2014

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoe Kravitz, and Ashley Judd

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

What it's about: Hazel Grace suffers from stage IV lung cancer. Modern medicine has bought her some time, but basically she's a terminally ill time bomb. At the cancer support group her mom makes her attend, she meets Augustus Waters, a guy who pretends to smoke and has a prosthetic leg. The two become friends and through a mutual obsession over a book called An Imperial Affliction, the ill-fated pair soon fall in love.

Release Date: June 6, 2014

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Laura Dern

Seriously, if you have not read this book, stop what you are doing and go find it now. I haven't read something this stunning in a long time. John Green is a genius and puts forth an honest, yet sarcasm-ridden story about self-discovery, anger, love, and fate.

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

What it's about: In Jonas' world, everything is perfect. There are no diseases, no wars brewing, and equality has been achieved. There are no choices- everything from your occupation to your spouse and child have and will be determined for you. When Jonas turns twelve, he's chosen for a special position in the Community that requires training with The Giver. Only one person can be the "receiver of memories" and only that person holds the memory of pain and pleasure in a Community where that is absent. As Jonas receives the truth, there's no turning back.

Release Date: August 15, 2014

Starring: Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes, Jeff Bridges, and Alexander Skarsgard.

I have been waiting for this to be made into a movie since I read this in the 5th grade. So excited!!

6. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

What it's about: Mia's day starts perfectly- a snow day, pancakes are made, and they make plans to visit their grandparents. But in a moment, everything changes. Suddenly, Mia is overlooking a horrible car wreck. She sees her mother and father splayed out on the road, her little brother being removed from the car by paramedics. Then she sees herself being pulled from the wreckage "Am I dead?" she wonders. As soon as she loses everything, she must make a choice: should she stay?

Release Date: August 22, 2014

Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos

7. The Maze Runner by James Dashner 
What it's about: "When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift's doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade-a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. The Gladers don't know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. The next day, a girl is sent up-the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind." - Goodreads review
Release Date: September 19, 2014
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario

8. Mockingjay (Part 1) by Suzanne Collins

What it's about: Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. Will Katniss allow herself to become a pawn in the revolution she accidentally started? Without Peeta by her side, she's struggling with feelings of anger and distrust. Have they toppled the Capitol only to walk into the hands of another tyrant?

Release Date: Part 1 will be released November 21, 2014

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

9. Serena by Ron Rash

What it's about: "In 1929, newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire and ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of their favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, their intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning." - Goodreads review
Release Date: Sometime 2014
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper

If Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence's previous movies together are any indication of their on-screen chemistry, then I cannot wait for this. JLaw is going to kill it!

10. Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

What it's about: "Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community." - Goodreads review

Release Date: Sometime in 2014

Starring: Carrey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Michael Sheen

This list wouldn't be complete without one piece of classic literature. I've never read this novel, but I definitely will.

Have you read any of these books? Which movie adaptation are you most excited about? 

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014: Direction

As I sat down to write about my goals and intentions for this upcoming year, the word "direction" popped into my head suddenly. I realized that this word truly encompassed what I need to see in my life in 2014.

Last year, so many great things happened. At the same time, it was a very difficult year for many, many reasons. Looking back, the major thing I lacked was direction. After I graduated college, I jumped at the first job that offered itself to me and it turned out to be a major disaster. I tried a few other things before I finally landed the two jobs I have now (which are amazing and right where I need to be!). Working as a teen librarian has really set me and my husband in a direction that we both need to be heading. I feel really positive about this year because it's already starting out 100% different than the last. We are in a better place in just about every area of our lives and I am so incredibly thankful for that. So, choosing this word will serve as a guide and inspiration to shape my decisions and attitude in the upcoming year; it will help me be mindful of observing and managing my direction.

That being said, I've always stuck to things when I wrote them down somewhere. I always kept a journal growing up, and would flip through the pages often to remind myself of what I had said I was going to do or try to accomplish. While I don't normally set "New Years Resolutions" each year, I felt it was the next logical step if my "word" was direction. Goals often yield direction, so here are a few of my goals for this upcoming year.

Get at least 60 minutes of physical exercise a week. I know this is a cliche of all cliches, but for me, achieving this (tiny) amount of exercise is extremely important. It's not about looking a certain way, or even maintaining a specific body type- it's about prevention and wellness. Exercise keeps me in control of my body and also keeps me accountable for how I am taking care of myself. Physical activity gives me the energy I need to live the life I need to live.

Learn a new language. All throughout high school and college, I took Spanish classes, so I feel like I have a pretty decent grasp on it. I also took a course on French in college and it came so naturally to me. So I've decided that by the end of the year, I want to have a solid grasp on the French language. It's such a musical language, beautiful and expressive, and I feel like I need more of those two things in my life. Allons-y!

Pay off one of our bigger student loans. This is really high on our list of things to accomplish this year and will require a lot of willpower and fortitude to accomplish. Last year, I paid off all of the credit card debt I had (which, admittedly, wasn't much, but it still feels good!). Doing this will, naturally, allow us to achieve other long-term financial goals that we have as a couple.

Successfully bake a batch of French macarons. It will be done this year!

Get better at not comparing my life to the lives of those around me. I know this will add greatly to my happiness.

Read 100 books. I've goaled myself to read 100 books this year. That should be easy seeing as I work as a librarian, but I don't think I've ever counted how many books I read. Reading in college was impossible because I already had to ingest so much other material, so I've really been catching up these days.

Complete at least 5 things off of my 25 Before 25 list. I was happy to see that I've already accomplished 2 items on this list, but seeing as I turn 24 in about two months, I gotta get moving!

I'd love to hear some of your 2014 goals. What are you hoping to accomplish this year?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Achievements in 2013

I'm honestly baffled by how quickly this year passed. For me, this was a very up and down year. Sometimes I look back and say to myself, "this was a really great year." As I look back on 2013, my mind gets lost in the many memories and experiences I had this year. Some of them good, some not so good. So, I decided to reflect a little on some of the things that took place this past year, both the big and the small (and in no particular order).

1. I graduated college and received my Bachelor's in English Language and Literature.
2. Committed to a gluten-free diet and improved my overall health.
3. Luis and I bought a second kitty!
4. Paid off all my credit card debt (whoo hoo!).
5. Increased my sales in my Etsy shop!
6. Celebrated my second wedding anniversary with Luis.
7. Went to California in August.
8. Got a job as a banker.
9. Then I quit.
10. Then I got two great jobs and two great libraries and finally feel like I'm right where I need to be.
11. Made some new friends.
12. Attended a Young Adult literature conference and really got my feet wet in the world of libraries and YA lit.
13. Taught myself some HTML and will continue to learn more.
14. Started doing yoga regularly.
15. Learned how to use Photoshop.

What were some of your achievements this year? Have a happy new year!
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