When I first moved to California I lived off of Trader Joe’s challah and chicken salad. In a happy series of spontaneous events, I presently find myself enjoying a variation of that comfort meal. Kettle cooked salt & vinegar potato chips are the blessing providing a contrasting crunch. I’ve been meaning to share my life-hacked simple lemon chicken salad recipe on the blog, but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now’s a good time. My expanded bandwidth is brought to you by the grace and faithfulness of God by way of me passing both portions of my Real Estate Licensing exam today. Hollapraize.

simple life-hacked lemon chicken salad

The life-hack-ed-ness of this recipe is with regard to buying a hot or refrigerated rotisserie chicken instead of baking it yourself; saving time, clean-up, and energy. In my experience, Food Lion and Whole Foods have good chickens for $4.99 and $6.99, respectively. Chop up the chicken {I usually us both the white and dark meat} and mix in the following enhancements:

the juice of one lemon + chopped shredded carrots {buying the carrots shredded is an additional life hack} + dollops of mayo to taste and texture. The lemon is super flavorful, and I usually will just add salt and let the citrus shine.

That’s it. That’s my go-to recipe and it is surprisingly satisfying. On occasion, including the batch I’m currently enjoying, I’ll add in raisins and a chopped apple, chili & lime seasoning, and a bit of black pepper.

In other news, my heretofore capsule wardrobe has increased to include a cozy cardigan collection. Included are a couple of Lucky Brand’s that I was super stoked to come across at TJ Maxx. It’s less about the brand or any associated status, and more that God gives good gifts to me that He knows I will enjoy. There is just something about Lucky Brand that is particularly aesthetic and consistent to me. So far I’ve enjoyed the drapey, burnt orange + indigo cardigan as a recent outfit staple to work and while enjoying weekend day-trips to Lake Norman. I’m looking forward to busting out the duster as the temperatures cool. 😄🍂

Lake Norman | Huntersville, NC

After passing my Real Estate licensing exam this morning {again, I say – Hollapraize.}, I celebrated with life-update texting and sitting down with my 30.3 & 30.4 Surfer’s Journals over a dark-chocolate campfire mocha and salmon bagel sandwich at my cozy neighborhood Caribou . . . familiar restorations on the other side of something; with the lightness and relief of realized faith. I ended up on the phone with my big brother and didn’t get much catching up on The Surfer’s Journals before wanting to homebody a little bit. Regardless, it was nice to just sit for a moment without having to be anywhere else or get anything else done.

I’m learning new rhythms and incorporating play, which I’ve shared a bit over the course of my last few posts. Lately that’s looked like home design and story development on Sims 2.

My journey began towards the start of the summer with minimalistic beach houses featuring clean, sharp lines and enormous picture-windows to soak up the coastline and maximize natural lighting. After discovering a shingle-siding option that reminded me of Berkeley, I gradually shifted inland and up into the mid-island mountains. Big-picture windows remain a signature feature, but have been accompanied by cozy paned windows that compliment the shingles and pitched roofs. In the past few weeks, this little mountain village has been developed, with two military families, a retired couple, and a redemptive love story having relocated to the southern coastal lots that are overlooked from the hills. The image below doesn’t really capture the elevation or distance, but there are a few other pictures that offer a better perspective.

this is all so extra and so much fun. ha.

A few of the lots in the hills are actually business that my Sims have started . . . Speckle & Cork’s wilderness store, Blended Brothers Coffee, and Jewelyette’s cafe/art gallery situation. The redemptive love story I mentioned was actually pretty riveting, ha. One of the guys I made met one of the game-populated sims and fell in love. He proposed too early and she rejected him. It was awkward and sad. They ended up patching things up and got married at the Grove Cove Inn which is the hotel I built from scratch but forgot to take a screenshot of.

Enyhoo, today I made a fresh Sim and decided on a small departure from my typical design choices. Can I just say . . . the Lord established the work of my hands, ha.

super cute.

I went with white brick, and smaller, paned windows. The pitched roof allows for two-story windows on the sides and back of the house. I opted for several Japanese Mapel-esque trees in addition to the pines and willows. With the North Shore and coastal properties I pretty much stuck to palm varieties with proliferating bamboo accents for interest if there were fishing ponds involved. I also chose this pretty, feminine tile for the exterior entrance and bathroom. The purple accents set the tone for interior paint colors – a rich, deep purple with wainscotting, and a lavender with molding.

The kitchen features pretty traditional options – pine flooring, white cabinets, granite counter tops, and higher-end appliances. I did swap out my typical beige or white paint for a nice Sage color that fits the landscape well.

random garden gnome purchased from a neighbor’s wilderness store, ha.
An assortment of neighbors the game sent to welcome my Sim to the neighborhood, ha. These are actually all Sims that I created: Vinya Speckle {married to Bryck Speckle who owns Speckle & Cork’s}, Strength Cooler {aspiring military general}, and Matthew Sttymaker {who – as aforementioned – was embarrassingly rejected during his first proposal to his now-wife, Andrea}.

In this version of the game, you can choose from among a few categorical life aspirations when you create a Sim, but you don’t know what their personal, specific life aspiration will be until you began to build their life on a lot. The Sim I created today has an aspiration to reach the top of the music career! That’s going to be fun because I’ve actually not had a Sim do that yet. With her aspiration in mind, I created an open-concept living space and oriented her instruments in front of the two-story windows I mentioned – facing the coast where you can see some of the other properties I’ve developed.

I have some sort of super expansion pack which includes ‘seasons’ as part of the game play. The day after you start a new Sim life, the season changes from summer to fall. Depending on what kind of foliage you have, they’ll drop their leaves and your Sim can rake them, play in them, burn them, and/or compost them. Ha. The game also adjusts the lighting for the seasons, so you get different dusk, morning light, and golden hours depending on which season you’re in.

Vinya Speckle & Gracie Yung bonding over an exciting game of rock, paper scissors.

So extra. And so much fun. 😄🍃🍁

let the favor of the lord our god be upon us and establish the work of our hands upon us;

yes, establish the work of our hands!

Psalm 90:17

. . . take heart,


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