Black Bean Avocado Salad

Protein & Veggie Loaded Black Bean Avocado Salad ::

A few months ago, my husband and I strongly considered doing Whole 30, but couldn’t commit to the time it would take to prep all of the food  That and #iheartcheese.

We decided, instead, to be intentional about eating mostly vegetables and lean protein and limiting refined sugar and carbs.  Breakfast was easy; Scrambled eggs & berries.  Supper was doable by making meals where carbs could be left out.

But I really struggled with lunch.  By lunch time, no matter how much lean protein I ate at breakfast, I am starving and I want something fast.  And by fast, I mean from empty to full plate in less than 4 minutes.  I’m not exaggerating.

About this time, I found this recipe when Kate at The Small Things Blog posted a link.  I decided to take her suggestion and add some chicken and give it a try.  I made a few adaptations the second time I made it, so feel free to do the same.  Add stuff you like.  Take out stuff you don’t like.

Protein & Veggie Loaded Black Bean Avocado Salad ::

I’ve eaten it every day for lunch since then.  A huge bowl of it.  I may add some pita chips, fruit or cheese to the side.  Or not.  It’s that sustaining.

This salad also keeps really well – even the avocado!  I usually make it on Sunday and it’s good all week.

Black Bean Avocado Salad

(Recipe Adapted)

  • 1 seedless cucumber, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 1/4 cups corn
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 package pre-cooked chicken breast strips
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Protein & Veggie Loaded Black Bean Avocado Salad ::


  1. Place the cucumber, black beans, corn, orange pepper, cherry tomatoes, red onion and chopped cilantro in a bowl.
  2. Squeeze the fresh juice from the lime onto the salad & stir well.
  3. Mix in the chicken & avocado, season with salt and pepper.

Protein & Veggie Loaded Black Bean Avocado Salad ::


Simplified Summer Challenge PRIZE

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley ::

This past summer, a group of people from this community read through Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life together and used the book as a guide to simplifying our lives.  At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now (most take less than 5 minutes) that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

I’m giving away all of these goodies to the person who completes the most Simplicity Challenges by Friday, September 28th.

Prizes include:

Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley

Grocery List Pad by Emily Ley

Y-Weave 5 Piece Basket Set

Kenra Volume 25 Hairspray

Essie Gel Couture Set

Post-It Page Markers

Cable Clips

Go-Go squeeZ Variety Pack

To earn these prizes, comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed from that chapter.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed will get this swag.

I’ll make things easier once you’ve completed challenges, by linking below to each chapter’s blog post.  Log your challenges in each blog post’s comment section, and I’ll add them all up to determine the winner.

Chapter 1 – Simplified Space

Chapter 2 – Simplified Style

Chapter 3 – Simplified Meals

Chapter 4 – Simplified Schedule

Chapter 5 – Simplified Finances

Chapter 6 – Simplified Hospitality

Chapter 7 – Simplified Technology

Chapter 8 – Simplified Self

Chapter 9 – Simplified Motherhood

Chapter 10 – Simplified Faith

Happy Simplifying!!!


Currently ::

I Am Currently…..


This shirt.

A few months ago, I told you about my discovery of Athleta.  My love for that store has only grown.

In July, they had their big annual clearance sale, and I snagged this shirt.  The moment that I tried it on, I knew that this was going to be a closet staple.

It is the perfect layering piece.  And is ideal for these fall days that start out chilly in the morning and then are warm and sunny in the afternoon.  It’s made of a lightweight, breathable fabric that transitions really well in those middle temps.


Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley.

Confession: I’m not actually reading it yet.  But I ordered it this week and am PUMPED to get it so I can dig in.

If you’re new around here, we spent the summer reading through Emily Ley’s second book, A Simplified Life.  By the time I finished chapter one of ASL, I knew that I wanted to read Grace Not Perfection.  I have high hopes.  And absolutely zero concern that I will be disappointed.

SIDENOTE: I am giving away a copy of Grace Not Perfection, along with some other goodies to the person who completes the most Simplicity Challenges.  Read more about it here.


This Salad.

Grab a napkin to wipe your drool after you read the recipe.  Yep, a salad that makes you drool.  This is no joke.

I add cooked chicken and eat it for lunch EVERY DAY.


The Newsroom.

I am an Aaron Sorkin superfan.  You may think that you hear a little bit of shame in that proclamation, but you are mistaken.  I have zero shame about my love for that man’s talent.

He wrote The Newsroom for HBO, but because we don’t have HBO, I’ve only ever seen the pilot episode.  But a friend, who knows of my love for all things Aaron Sorkin, informed me that you can watch The Newsroom on Amazon Prime.

So there goes all of my free time while the hubs and I binge watch.



My Simplified Planner.  I wrote all about how I use it here, but suffice it to say that this little “book” is the only reason anything in my life gets done.

This past week, Simplified launched their 2019 calendar planners, of which there are 6 covers to choose.  In listening to people talk about how they didn’t know which cover to choose, I realized that I don’t think I’ve seen the cover of my planner since I started using it on July 31st because it’s always open.

And messy.


That it might be time for my five year old to drop her nap.  I’m drowning in my pool of tears.

Seasonal Transitions

How to Manage Seasonal Transitions ::

My daughter turned 5 on Sunday and started Pre-K yesterday.

Excuse me while I cry in my pumpkin spice latte.

Not because she is getting older or has started school, but because summer is over.  We just wrapped up the BEST summer and returning to the reality of a schedule and commitments is more than I can bear.

This is my daughter’s second year of “school”.  She did preschool two mornings a week last year, and I struggled hugely with that transition.  I thought the same thing that you probably did when you read ‘two mornings a week’: That won’t really change much for us.

I was wrong.

I was determined to do this transition better this year.  Here’s what I learned last year and am trying to do better this year.

How to Ease the Pain of Seasonal Transitions

Create a Schedule

This seems obvious, but if you think that you can skip this step, you will regret it.  Start with calendar appointments (things that have fixed times) and then add in what tasks have to get done each day.  You can see how I do this each season here.

Write down a weekly routine; what you do each day.  Make this as specific (schedule each day) or as vague (a brainstormed list) as you prefer.  Writing it down helps you to anticipate what’s coming next so that you’re not caught off-guard.

How to Manage Seasonal Transitions ::

Schedule Tasks & Set Reminders

Think through the periphery tasks that come along with your schedule.

For instance, now that my daughter is back in school, her backpack will need to be packed 3 nights a week and I will need to plan a snack for each week.

Your Reminders app on your phone is your BEST FRIEND in this situation.  Set a recurring reminder for the days and times these tasks need to get done.

How to Manage Seasonal Transitions ::

These small things seem like no big deal, but when added to other “small tasks”, the compounded weight of getting them done can make you feel like your drowning.  Let your reminders app be your life preserver in this case.

Switch Out Seasonal Wardrobes

If you live in a place where shorts and t-shirts are worn after Labor Day (not here in the tundra!), do everything except actually switching the wardrobes out of the dressers and closets.

Go through and inventory what you have, make a list of (use this free printable) and purchase what you need for each person for the upcoming season.  Wash it and have it ready for when the weather does finally change.

Create a “Drop Zone”

Find a spot in your house that works best to be the place for all the things you need to get out the door in morning.  And to drop all.the.things when you return home in the evening.

Shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, papers, keys, coats, bags… the list goes on for miiiiiiiiles.

How to Manage Seasonal Transitions ::

Word of Warning: Don’t let perfection get in the way here.

The goal is not to make the space look like a page out of the Pottery Barn catalogue.  Don’t let that unattainable goal stop you from achieving the purpose you need here.

If space prohibits you from having all these things in the same spot, fit as many as you can (realistically and functionally!) in one spot, and then designate spots for the other things.  It’s more important that everything have a home than everything’s home being in the same place.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Think through what you need to do to make a busier season work.

You can’t expect to just do what you’ve been doing and add in a bunch of new stuff and have it work well.

That’s what I tried to do last year and it bombed.  BIG TIME.  For any of you who have been around for more than year and follow me on Instagram, you may recall a teary Instastory related to this….

Reconsider morning and evening routines.  Enforce strict bedtimes for everyone (including yourself).  Prioritize self-care.  Set reminders on your phone for the things you will inevitably forget.  Hang a file folder on the wall for papers that need to be signed, read, returned, etc.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

We all have adjustment periods.  Try as you might, there’s no way to know exactly what you need to do until you experience it.

Use this adjustment time to your advantage.  Acknowledge pain points and work on solutions to alleviate them.

And when it’s too much and your kid didn’t get her form turned in in time to go on the field trip and you just served frozen pizza for the third time this week and you’re wearing your underwear inside out because it’s better than going commando?  It will be okay.  Sure, you could have done a few things differently and had a different outcome.

But you can’t change the past, so now, ask yourself, “What can I do to make it better from here on out?”

How to Manage Seasonal Transitions ::

How I Use My Simplified Planner

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

Let’s just start with the reality that the pictures of the inside of my Simplified Planner are not Pinterest-worthy.

Because I use the heck out of it.

What is the Simplified Planner?

The Simplified Planner is an annual paper planner sold in either a calendar version (January-December) or an academic version (August-July).  There is a daily version, where each page (except for Saturday & Sunday) is one day, or a weekly version, where a page spread is Monday through Sunday.

I think it’s best to let my new BFF, Emily tell you what’s so great about it.

Why a Simplified Planner?

A few years ago, I created this printable in order to have everything that I needed to know for my day in one location.  And it worked really well.  I had great intentions of writing out my goals for the day and using the extra minutes section, but the truth is that just never happened.  And there was no white space, which I found myself wanting.

As I became aware of Emily Ley through reading her book A Simplified Life, I was drawn to the simplicity of the Simplified Planner.

I chose the Academic Daily Simplified Planner.  Academic because our life goes in school-year cycles and Daily because I knew that I wanted a daily schedule and my tasks all on one page.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

Let’s call a spade a spade.  This planner, while beautiful, practical, helpful and all the other yummy adjectives is not cheap.  With a steep price tag of $58 for the daily and $48 for the weekly, I wanted to make sure that this is what I wanted and that it would do what I wanted it to do before I doled out that cash.

Emily Ley has copies of both the daily and weekly pages for free in her free printable library, so I printed off three weeks worth of planner pages and gave it the old college try.  I highly suggest doing this.

After using those pages as my planner, I realized that the simplicity of it was just what I needed.  I also liked that it was bound already (as opposed to my homemade printable which would get hole-punched and stored in a binder) and smaller than my binder.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::


How I Use My Simplified Planner

I have found that it works best to fill out my Simplified Planner one week at a time.  I pick a time each week – most often Friday afternoons – and transfer everything from appointments, tasks and meals into my planner.

Start with Your Calendar

Our family uses iCal for all of our appointments and events.  I open up that week on our calendar and transfer all of the events from our family’s electronic calendar into my planner.  Starting with appointments is helpful because everything else that needs to happen that day gets fitted around those fixed times.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

Fill in “Everyday Stuff”

Each morning, I do my devotions, take my pills and make our bed.  Ideally.  To help me remember to do this, at the top of each page, under the date, I draw a little square (or use my daughter’s little square stickers that she doesn’t like) and write D (for Devotions), P (for Pills) and B (for Bed).

I also write in each day’s workout and my rest time.  Some days, working out is a scheduled class at the gym, and some days, it’s just planks on my living room floor when I can squeeze it in.  I have also learned that when I write something in on my planner, I’m more likely to do it, so making my rest time during the final hour of my kids’ naps helps me be more realistic about the available time that I have to get my tasks completed.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

Add Tasks

I keep all of my tasks in the app Wunderlist on my phone.  Many of these are recurring, but without having them come up on the app, I will forget them.  I view all of the upcoming week’s tasks on the app and write them in my Simplified Planner.  From that point on, any additional tasks for the week get written into my Simplified Planner and only tasks that are due more than a week out get added to my Wunderlist app.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::


I write in each of the three meals that we eat into my schedule because it helps me to mark out the white space of available time.  I don’t plan breakfasts or lunches, so I don’t write anything more than the meal’s name in my planner.

I meal plan suppers, but have learned that what I think we will eat when is almost never how it goes.  I write the planned suppers on these Post-It flags and put the post-its on the days where they are assigned.  Then, when we change our mind, I can just move the post-it and not run out of white-out so quickly.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

After putting the suppers on their days, I will go back through and add in any corresponding tasks that may come with prepping that meal.  Most often this is thawing meat or prepping a crock-pot meal.

Color Code

This is completely optional.

Ideally, I would like to use Emily Ley’s color coded dot stickers to categorize tasks, but they were sold out when I ordered my planner.

Right now, I color code with pens because it gives me a quick at-a-glance way of knowing what my day looks like.

Because I will get asked, my color coding is as follows:
Purple – Errands/Appointments
Orange – Meals
Black – Work
Blue – Blog
Green – Household

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::


I bought the icon sticker set (only because the color coded dots were sold out), the sticker book, the page marker and the washi tape to go along with my Simplified Planner.  If I had it to do all over again, I would just buy the sticker book.  The stickers in it add a fun little touch to the pages and for how much time I spend looking at the pages of my planner, I want to enjoy it.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

There’s nothing wrong with the icon stickers or the washi tape.  I just haven’t figured out how to use the icon stickers well.  And the washi tape is great and some people would love that the colors coordinate with two of the planner covers, but I don’t care about that.  I could have bought much cheaper washi tape at Target and it would have served the same purpose.

I use the washi tape on the monthly spread for things that last more than one day and on the daily spread to mark off a large block of time during the day.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

The page marker is my only product that I wasn’t happy with.  It’s too narrow to easily find the page and I have found that using a binder clip works much better.  The binder clips is not as pretty, I’ll give you that.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

Monthly Calendar

I use the monthly calendar to track birthdays and anniversaries (where the icon stickers did come in handy) in addition to all-day or multi-day events (marked with washi tape!) or other notable events.  I don’t like to clutter this up with every appointment we have on our calendar, but it is helpful to have a place where the big stuff can be seen in a calendar view.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

Notes Section

The bottom section of the Daily Edition Simplified Planners used to be divided into two sections; The left half was for ‘Meals’ and the right half was for ‘Notes’.  Beginning in 2018, the Daily Editions now have one large Notes space at the bottom.

I love this feature.  As I mentioned earlier, I write my meals information in my schedule, so I don’t need to use the bottom part of the page for that.  It’s also a really handy place to write whatever I need to remember from that day.  Instead of having a bunch of little pieces of paper floating around with necessary information, when I need to find something I wrote down, I can find it in a Notes section in my planner.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

After one month of using my Simplified Planner, I can’t imagine going back or using anything else.  It has helped me to use my time well and prioritize what matters.  Which is all I really want out of a planner.

What’s your favorite planner and why?

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::

2018-2019 Academic Editions are sold out, BUT Calendar Editions of the Simplified Planner launch on September 5th.  If you want one, I highly suggest ordering on launch day because they do sell out.

How I Use My Simplified Planner ::