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April/May 2021 Reading List

I’M GOING SO SLOW this month! I’m still only like halfway through Women of Sand and Myrrh which isn’t bad but I’m not in love with it and it’s moving a lil slow so yeah. That’s the reason I never got around to writing my April Reading List! So we’re going to combine my list for both April and May because I have a quite a few books lined up right now and I’m EXCITED about them.

My book list just keeps getting longer and longer guys… and I’m only trying to read books that fit into my reading challenge so I can get it out of the way and start Game of Thrones, but there are lots of good ones that DON’T fit in there that I really want to read as well so we might get a little side tracked. But you know what, it’s ok because I’ve got my whole life to read all the amazing books out there.

Also, I’m very happy with how I’ve developed as a reader because even just a couple of years ago I was reading all fantasy all the time, and I’ve branched out so much! And sometimes when I go back and read some YA fantasy I find that I’m actually not that into it- unless it’s really really good. With YA fantasy though I think it’s good to take a bit of a break sometimes because after a while the backs of all of the books were starting to sound the same. I’m excited for Game of Thrones though because I do love me some good magic and kingdoms and battles and politics, and I feel like Game of Thrones will definitely deliver all that.

There’s no fantasy on this list again though; we’ve got a mix of adult historical fiction (I also love this genre) and straight up teen fiction. All of these books are highly acclaimed, and I love their descriptions. Two of them fit into my challenge and one of them doesn’t, but I really want to read it so I’m going to read it. I’ll be speedy so I an get back on track, I promise.

Here’s my reading list for April and May!

The Rose Code

I need to read one book that was published in 2021, and this is it. The Rose Code came out in March and is a historical fiction novel that follows three very different women working as code breakers at Bletchley Park in England during World War II. I think it goes on for a while about what happens as they’re breaking codes, and then at the end of the war they’re split up, only to be reunited seven years later by a mysterious letter that has them cracking one last code to find a traitor from their past. This is kind of a thick book- over 500 pages- but I feel like I’ll blast through it because like I said I love historical fiction, and the plot summary sounds super interesting to me! It’s kind of giving me Dear Mrs. Bird vibes, which is another novel set in WWII Britain but without the code breaking. Anyways if you’re into historical fiction definitely give this one and Dear Mrs. Bird a shot!

Thirteen Reasons Why

Next up we’ve got Thirteen Reasons Why, which is the book that was turned into a TV show I need for my challenge. I haven’t watched the series on Netflix but I’ve heard great things, so after I read this I might have to check it out! Clay Jensen returns home one day to find a package full of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, a classmate who has recently committed suicide. Hannah says that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life, and that Clay is one of them. Clay follows Hannah’s tapes as the lead him all throughout the town and lead him to discover things he never knew. It sounds really good, kind of a thriller/mystery, and I’m really excited to get into it!

The Henna Artist

Sadly this is not in my challenge but it’s been on my list for a while so we’re going to get her done! Lakshmi is a seventeen year old girl who escapes an abusive marriage and becomes a henna artist in Jaipur during the 1950s. There is a high demand for her work from the wealthy upper class, and she becomes not only their henna artist but also their confidante. Her husband tracks her down and introduces her to a sister she never knew she had, threatening the cautious life she has led to protect her reputation. This book has great reviews as well, and I love reading books set in interesting places. Can’t wait!

Hop you got a little inspiration from my list! I think i should be finished by the end of May- if not before then- because these look like such great reads. So if I start reading other books I will definitely let you know. Happy reading!

Yours Truly,

Olivia:))

Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta

I’m loving my shrimp lately! It’s fast, easy, and so so good🙌 So I added it to this amazing pasta dish which uses a nice spring vegetable, the artichoke!

Artichokes can be a little scary to prepare because they’re not a super common vegetable. However, the flavour is DELICIOUS and they contain lots of antioxidants👌 I started by steaming my own artichokes and then using the hearts and stems, because the leaves are very fibrous. In the future I can do a whole post on how to prepare an artichoke. If you want to skip all the prep and get right to the pasta though, you can buy a jar of marinated artichokes. Either way, you’re getting lots of great flavour.

If you’re using marinated artichokes, then this dish comes together in a SNAP. We’re talking 15 minutes people. THAT’S A ONE. AND THAT’S A FIVE. I The artichokes are sautéed with some garlic, olive oil and cherry tomatoes, before the shrimp get added in with some salt and pepper. All of this together creates a really light sauce that is perfect to highlight the artichokes! I then tossed in some cooked lentil spaghetti, which is great because it’s packed full of protein. It’s also gluten free so that’s a win! Whole wheat or regular spaghetti works great too though!

Once everything’s tossed up, all that’s left to do is serve. This makes an amazing quick lunch or dinner, but it’s also kind of fancy so if your looking to treat yourself to a nice meal in, you’re all set. Hope you enjoy!

Yours Truly,

Olivia:)

Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta

Ingredients

-1/2 tbsp olive oil

-15 medium shrimp, tails off

-2 chopped artichoke hearts, steamed or marinated

-10 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

-1 large clove of garlic, minced

-2 servings of cooked lentil, whole wheat or regular spaghetti

-Salt and pepper to taste


Directions

1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in the garlic, tomatoes, and chopped artichoke hearts and cook for about 4 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and tender. Smash the tomatoes down during the cooking process to get the juices going in the pan.

2. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until they are light pink in colour. Season everything to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add in the cooked pasta, remove from the heat and toss everything together.

4. Serve warm and enjoy:)


April 2021 Bullet Journal Set-Up

Hi guys! I’m a tad bit behind on my set-up this month but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out and can’t wait to share!

I did something that I haven’t done in my journal before- watercolour. I didn’t paint directly into my journal because that probably would’ve bled through and caused some damage, but I painted on small pieces of watercolour paper and stuck them where I wanted on the pages. Combined with my brown kraft paper, it looks pretty sharp!🥰

I decided to paint olive branches because they’re fairly simple, have a nice colour palette and are also kind of special to me because my name is Olivia😂 With some brown watercolour, I painted the branch shape, and then went in with a bunch of different greens for the leaves and some black for the olives. I used my gold metallic marker in these spreads a lot as well!

One thing that wasn’t the greatest was my sticking-in method- I’m out of those glue tape roller things and had to use just regular tape😂 So the paper kind of sticks out a little which isn’t ideal. And the washi tape I used also keeps lifting up because it’s not very sticky. But you know what, it’s ok! I still like how it all looks and I will defintely remember to make sure I have decent glue next time.

These spreads are really simple and pretty and perfect for spring time:) Hope you get inspired!

First up it’s cover page time🙌 We’ve got that olive branch I did in water colour taped into the centre of the page over some torn kraft paper. I drew a diamond over top of the branch with my metallic gold marker and wrote April on top of that, finishing up with my washi tape! On the opposite page I tore out some more paper, drew another diamond, and wrote out my quote for the month. This month I want to work on some meditation and being able to create a place of stillness in my mind- it can be hard not to be thinking all of the time!

Next is my monthly calendar spread! I did a small calendar on one page, and made space for my goals, intentions, events and school stuff on the other. I also included another olive branch painting, and more kraft paper. The quote on the right hand side is “I have enough. I do enough. I am enough.” Which is important to remember🥰

My trackers this month are really simple, just that graph/chart style. I have yet another olive branch, a quote at the bottom, and more kraft paper! I really like how clean this looks, and the gold is so nice🙌🙌

Lastly I have my first weekly spread:) I did do a gratitude and blog planning spree as usual, but I just realized I didn’t take a picture! I’ll definitely post it on my Instagram though, so be sure to check that out. This weekly is super simple for the first three days of the month. I did a “Happy Easter” page opposite which I’ll post on my Instagram as well!

Have an amazing Easter weekend and a great month ahead! Make sure you get your journals ready so you can plan for success🙌

Yours Truly,

Olivia:))

Mediterranean Spiced Shrimp Bowls

Hey there! I took a bit of a break from posting for a while but I am coming back STRONG with these delicious Mediterranean Spiced Shrimp Bowls.

I love shrimp so much- all seafood is so delicious! I was looking in the freezer the other day for an easy protein I could whip up for lunch and I locked in on the bag of frozen shrimp. I’ve never done much cooking of meat/fish/crustaceans, but I decided to give it a try! And you know what? Shrimp is probably one of the easiest proteins you can make. They’re super fast to cook and it’s not hard at all to tell when they’re done. They’re also full of protein with roughly 25 grams per 16 shrimp.

I used some frozen shrimp and defrosted them by running them under cold water, although it said not to do that on the bag. I would like to know what the problem with that is. (insert laughing face emoji here). If you know you’re going to be making these ahead of time though, you can always throw your shrimp in the fridge to defrost over night, or even use fresh shrimp.

To make these delicious bowls, I started by tossing the shrimp with a bunch of delicious spices, and then sauteeing them in some olive oil. They only need about two minutes per side, and are finished when they’re opaque and slightly pink. So easy! Next we have a bunch of veggies- we’re talking peppers, onions, olives and some carrot ribbons- that get cooked up with lemon juice, garlic powder, and some tahini for some extra flavour. Finally, for some green-ness there’s a tasty cucumber and avocado salad. Serve everything over quinoa and you’ve got a LUNCH.

Let me know how you like these bowls! I definitely want to keep making shrimp recipes because the deliciousness times the easiness factor is out of this world. Maybe I’ll venture out into some other animal proteins too?!? Who knows! Enjoy:)

Yours Truly,

Olivia:))

Mediterranean Spiced Shrimp Bowls

Mediterranean Spiced Shrimp Bowls

Ingredients

For The Shrimp:

-20-25 medium shrimp, defrosted or fresh

-1 tbsp olive oil

-1/2 tsp cumin

-1/2 tsp chilli powder

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

-1/4 tsp cayenne powder

-1/2 tsp oregano

-Salt and pepper to taste

For The Sauteed Veggies:

-1/2 tbsp olive oil

-2 small carrots, made into ribbons with a veggie peeler

-1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

-1/4 of a white onion, sliced

-1 200ml can of sliced black olives, drained

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

-Juice of 1/2 a lemon

-1/2 tbsp tahini

-Salt and pepper to taste

For the Cucumber Avocado Salad:

-1/4 of a long English cucumber, diced

-1/4 of a ripe avocado

-2 tsp tahini

-Salt and pepper to taste

Other:

-Cooked quinoa for serving


Directions

1. Add the olive oil for the shrimp to a pan and heat over medium heat. Add your shrimp to a small bowl and mix them with all of the spices. Dump the shrimp into the pan and cook for about 2 minutes per side, until the shrimp are opaque and slightly pink. Transfer them to a plate and set aside.

2. Add the olive oil for the veggies into the still hot pan. Add the veggies in and sautee until the peppers are soft and the onions are translucent. Add in the lemon juice, garlic powder, tahini, and salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Mash the avocado for the salad in a small bowl, mix in the rest of the ingredients, and set aside.

4. To construct your bowls, start with some cooked quinoa, then add the veggies, shrimp, and cucumber salad. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice if desired and enjoy!


Cactus Cut Sweet Potatoes

Hey guys! I have a SICK recipe for you tonight- these Cactus Cut Sweet Potatoes are here to play. I love the version they have at restaurants, but today we’re baking pies and also using sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes because sweet potatoes are amazing😍

Sweet potatoes and potatoes are actually pretty similar in nutritional content, but potatoes are higher in potassium while sweet potatoes are higher in vitamin A. So it all comes down to which potato you prefer- and I think you already know which kind of tater has my heart😂

These cactus cut sweet potatoes are get super crisp and delicious in the oven, and are perfectly spiced! They may not look orange to you, but that’s because I used a Japanese sweet potatoe. I actually really like this variety, and they’re a bit smaller which is good for the recipe🙌 But regular ol’ orange sweet potatoes will work just fine as well.

This super tasty snack/side is also very easy to make. Start by truly slicing your sweet potato- I would say to about 1/8 of an inch. The average thickness I got was this:

Although I definitely need to work on my knife skills because my cuts were a lil all over the place😂

Next you’re going to toss your taters in a bag with some olive oil and all those delicious spices that make these cactus cuts shine! Paprika, chilli powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper all make and appearance, and of course you’ve gotta have that cayenne for spice.

The final step before the oven is to lay the sliced potatoes down flat on a parchment lined baking sheet- making sure it’s not too crowded so they have room to reach their full delicious potential! After roasting for 20 minutes, you’re going to flip em and them bake for another 5-10, keeping a close eye on those little suckers so they don’t burn. And then voila! You’ve got some warm, seasoned cactus cut sweet potatoes that are AMAZING with hummus, tzatziki, or just by themselves😍

I love this recipe because it’s perfect for a party (when we can have them) and also for snacking! I also had them as a side with my egg scramble for dinner and they were👌 Hope you enjoy!!

Yours Truly,

Olivia:))

Cactus Cut Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

-1 small japanese or regular sweet potato, cut into 1/8 inch slices

-2 tsp olive oil

-1 tsp paprkia

-1/2 tsp chilli powder

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

-1/4 tsp cayenne powder

-Salt and pepper to taste


Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Add the sliced sweet potatoes into a large ziploc bag with the rest of the ingredients. Shake everything up until the potatoes are coated with the oil and the spices.

3. Lay each slice on a parchment lined baking sheet, being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Place them in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the oven and flip over all of the potatoes with a fork. Place them back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes, until crispy and cooked through, watching to make sure they don’t burn.

5. Remove the potatoes from the the oven, let cool slightly and enjoy!