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.

A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Faith

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

“And what does the Lord require of you?  Seek justice.  Love mercy.  Walk humbly with thy God.” – Micah 6:8

I love that this book ends with this chapter.  Reading the book through a second time as part of this group has made me think more deeply about each of these areas of my life.  As it should.  And as I read this chapter the for the second time, one thought couldn’t escape me.

It all comes back to faith.

With each chapter, I have shared my struggle in each of these areas in my life.  They are (but are not limited to….):

  1. I have more stuff than I need and I just keep accumulating it
  2. I don’t really like the way I look
  3. I’m well-intentioned with my meal planning, but when the time comes, I’m just too lazy to actually make the food I planned
  4. I want to do all of the fun things and not miss out on stuff, but I also thrive from just being home and doing nothing
  5. I want all the stuff.  The nice, pretty stuff.  All of it.  But I can’t afford everything that I want
  6. I love the idea of being hospitable, but really, I just want to stay in my comfort zone in my home and not have to make small talk with people I don’t know or don’t really like
  7. I get an endorphin rush when I see ‘likes’ on my Instagram photos
  8. I want all the things I need to feel rejuvenated (and there are A LOT of them) ALL.THE.TIME.
  9. Motherhood is so darn hard.  I want to do it all and be the best and I am just not.

Do you sense a theme in all of that?  Discontentment.  Lack of trust.  Selfishness.  Laziness.

Each of those struggles is deeply rooted in an area where faith is lacking.  And no amount of simplicity challenges are going to fix that.

Simplicity Challenges are great.  I highly encourage everyone to do all of them.  You have got to start somewhere.  But the deeper struggles will only be resolved by a healing that does not come from ourselves.

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

It is only when we trust in God’s promises that He has redeemed us from ALL of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we can even begin to deal with these issues.

  1. God has given us more than we will ever need.  Even if we die of starvation and live a life on this earth riddled with pain and heartache, the promise of eternity with God in heaven is the only thing that we really need.  And the only thing we absolutely could never attain on our own.
  2. I am God’s child.  Created by Him.  My value is not determined by my outward appearance, but rather, by who made me and calls me His own.
  3. God’s grace and forgiveness covers my sins.  All of them.  Even the silly ones like being so lazy that I won’t get up off the couch and make food for my family.
  4. The things in this world are good and many are blessings from Him, but the moment they become THE thing in our lives, our priorities need some readjusting
  5. The stuff of this world does not bring real happiness, satisfaction or joy.  Stop expecting it to.  Or hoping it will someday.
  6. My time on this earth is not about my comfort.  I have been put here to be an ambassador to a gospel whose cornerstone is inclusion and love.  Live in response to the undeserved inclusion and love that I have experienced and pass it on.
  7. I am God’s child.  Created by Him.  My value is not determined by other people’s approval of me.
  8. True rest comes from a relationship with God
  9. I am not enough.  I never will be.  And depending on myself to be everything my children need not only sets me up for failure, but it is lying to them.  I have to rely on God’s strength EVERY DAY and trying to do it on my own will only end badly.

When people hear that I write an organizing blog, I get the question, “Where do I even start?” quite frequently.  I don’t always answer this way, but my honest answer to you now, in light of this chapter, is….

Start here.  Start with what matters.  Start with where you started.

Created by God, separated from Him, and bought back at an immeasurable price. And end with His promise that this isn’t all fixed in a day.  Or a lifetime.  God spends our entire life refining us, continually pointing out our sin to us, so that we can continue to see our need for Him, ask Him for His forgiveness, which we are guaranteed in Jesus, and living with a purpose that is bigger than ourselves.  And is bigger than an organized home, a simple wardrobe and a delicious dinner menu.

Simplifying begins and ends with faith.  Trusting God isn’t easy.  And trusting God doesn’t make things easy.  But when we start with trusting in His promises, this simple life that we are called to live is filled with purpose and joy.  And that’s why we all started reading this book in the first place.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

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




A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: Simplified Motherhood

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

“There is no one-size fits all way to simplify parenting.  But there are ways we can manage the chaos and infuse our families with principles of Grace, Structure & Order.” – Emily Ley, A Simplified Life

I began my recap of the chapter on Finances by saying that there isn’t a topic on which I felt more unqualified to give any advice, but I’d like to amend that statement and say that I feel about a million times less qualified to write anything on parenting.  We’re just winging it about 85% of the time.  And that’s being generous.

However, like so many other areas that this book covers, the way that she breaks down the different areas and ways that we can chip away at the struggles gives me hope.  Did you find that to be the case as well?

Managing Physical Stuff

1 – Minimize The Amount

Start with toys and ask “What do they actually play with?”  Donate what they’ve outgrown (or store away for future children) and toss what is broken or missing pieces.  Even after doing this, our reality is that we still have A LOT of toys.

One option that I’ve heard other people do (but that I haven’t tried….yet) is to rotate toys.  They divide toys up into two, three or four groups (depending on the types and amounts) and only have one group out at a time.  After a pre-determined amount of time (monthly, seasonally, etc.), they pack away that group of toys away and pull out one from storage.  This is a way for toys to seem new to kids without having to go buy new stuff all of the time.

2 – Sort & Sift

Emily Ley suggests storing toys by activity or type (i.e building, reading, art, baby dolls, trucks, etc.).  My warning for this would be not avoid the trap of over-organizing, because kids will not be able to sustain that system and it sets them up for failure.  But, if you’re looking for a way for them to be able to get some toys out without emptying every single toy they own, this system works great!

Another suggestion that she makes – and we have found to be true in ALL areas of life, not just kid stuff – is the “one of a kind rule”.  What she means by to take the time to find something that works for you, and if it is something that you need multiples of (plates, cups, socks, water bottles, etc.), buy all of the the same of these.

I am so diligent about this with our kids’ dinnerware.  Storing kid plates, cups, silverware and the like is cumbersome enough as it is.  The only way I’ve found to not be overly irritated by it is to have one kind of plate, bowl, cup & silverware.  In hindsight, I wish we would have got all the same color of cups and and silverware, but live and learn.

Implementing Systems that Teach Action & Reaction

And now we enter a topic on which I say to you, ‘Teach me your ways, cuz I’m drowning over here’.

Let’s start with her points….

1 – Redirect

I worked as a counselor at Christian camp in college and one thing we learned that has stuck with me since then is “The issue’s not the issue”, the idea being that what a kid is upset about is not actually what’s wrong with them; it’s just a symptom of something deeper.  I tell myself this hourly as a parent.

Redirecting our child’s attention from the conflict to something that helps resolve the deeper issue – or, frankly, just distracts them – diffuses the tension.

2 – Get down on their level

Again, less learned working at camp.

We cannot fall victim to shouting wars.  Which is so easy to do, because we’re justifiably tired and getting up from where I am to walk to where they are only to have to squat down takes energy that I do not have.  But it is a game changer.  Eye contact and being level with your kids reaffirms their feelings and their value.  There’s no better place to start than there.

3  – Get on the same page as your spouse

Kids need consistency.  We all do, but kids need it more.

I’m validated in my kids’ eyes when Dad has the exact same reaction, expectations and consequences as Mom.  It’s still not easy, but it’s easier.

You know what’s not easier?   Figuring out how to do that.  My husband and failed miserably at this last night.  Three of the four members of our family had tears (and only two of the four of us are children, so you do the math).  Grace and communication are the only two things that I know are necessary in this process.

4 – Have a pocket trick

Emily Ley uses a dance party playlist that she starts when they just need a do-over.  I love this idea.

5 – Have a Hail Mary for yourself

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  The Hail Mary is for when the pocket trick ain’t doing the trick.

My Hail Mary is dropping whatever we’re doing, loading up the kids in the double stroller and going for a walk.  In Minnesota, it’s not ideal outdoor walking weather at least six months of the year, but the Hail Mary requires less than ideal circumstances.  I have pushed the stroller through snow many times and on those days where the windchill is 20 below (which happens often in January & February), we settle for walking circles around the mall.

Do what you gotta do.

Create Meaningful Family Memories

When I read this title I thought it would be all about coming up with super creative, fun things to do with your family that they will remember.  Which I hate.  I love fun memories, but coming up with how to get them is so far outside of my wheelhouse.  I’m just not that fun, creative parent.  My kids will leave our house knowing how to organize a mean sock drawer, but they will not leave with stories of elaborate, creative activities.

But even creating family memories is something that we should simplify.  Chores can be the source of family memories.  Good ones.

I just love her idea of taking our trouble points and teaching our children how to be part of the solution to those triggers.  Her example of having her son be in charge of collecting dirty in the laundry in order to lessen her burden in the morning is a great example.

Two birds.  One Stone.

Give your children responsibility and let that responsibility be helpful to you.  AND teach them how to have fun working.  It can be done.

My daughter’s job after meals is putting dirty dishes on the dish counter and my son’s is putting the dirty (cloth) napkins in the hamper.  We act silly and talk about doing it “cheetah fast” so that we have a couple minutes for tickle time or a Lego tower before bath time.  And it works 85% of the time.

Imparting Virtue & Character

“You are raising adults, not children.” – Emily Ley, A Simplified Life

I love this because it’s a big picture perspective.  Which is so hard to maintain in the day-to-day minutia of parenting.  Kids do whatever we do, which is good and bad.  But, let’s leverage that by having them do what we do alongside us at an age-appropriate level.

They can do chores alongside you – and learn how to clean a toilet.

They can do errands with you – and have a conversation about something that happened at school that day.  And help you carry the groceries.  🙂

They can sit in church with you – and build a foundation of faith for all of their days.

They can volunteer with you – and learn the value of giving to others.

Individually, these things don’t seem like a big deal.  But collectively, they are creating memories and are building blocks for the adults they will become.

Which is both inspiring and daunting.

“What if one day, we look back and realize these were the good old days?”

Read some of Emily Ley’s parenting books suggestions.

Simplicity Challenge

At the end of each chapter, Emily Ley has a ‘Simplicity Challenge’, which are 5 steps that you can do right now that make big strides toward achieving your goal.

Comment on each blog post with the number of simplicity challenges you completed that week.  I will track each person’s progress (this is a total honor system thing) and the person with the most challenges completed at the end of the book will get some swag.  Like good, helpful swag.   No clutter-y stuff.

Don’t forget to take photos of the process AND the progress and use #simplifiedsummer so we can all celebrate together!

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