Chicken Fajita Salad with Spicy Cilantro Ranch Dressing

Chicken fajita salad recipe

Are you like me and love a good salad for dinner? I threw all this together with items we already had in our fridge & freezer the other day for a quick weeknight meal and it was so fantastic, My hubby’s already requesting it again this week, and he’s not normally a salad for dinner kinda guy!

Chicken Fajita Salad with Spicy Cilantro Ranch Dressing

Chicken Fajita Salad with Spicy Cilantro Ranch Dressing by Lina Darnell

(serves 3)


one head of red leaf lettuce chopped

about 2 cups of grilled sliced chicken breasts ( I keep a bag of frozen already cooked chicken breast strips in the freezer for quick meals like these, but left over or freshly grilled chicken works great too!)

1/2 white onion sliced

2 bell peppers sliced

TBSP. olive oil

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp garlic

salt & paper to taste

1 cup frozen corn, defrosted and drained

1/2 a can black beans, washed and drained

3/4 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup grated Mexican blend cheese

Cilantro Ranch Dressing 

(note: I had some dressing left keeps well in the fridge)

I cup of your favorite ranch salad dressing

handful of chopped cilantro

1/2 jalapeno chopped


Heat skillet and saute onion, bell pepper, and grilled chicken strips chicken until cooked along with cumin, garlic, salt & pepper

In a high powered blender or food processor mix your ranch dressing with the cilantro and jalapeno. (Omit jalapeno if you don’t care for spicy.)

Place your meat, peppers, and onions on top of your plated lettuce. Top each plate with the cheese,chopped tomato, black beans, and corn, divided. Lastly pour your dressing over your plated salads. Enjoy!

Easy Chicken Fajita Salad

The cilantro in the ranch dressing really makes the salad super flavorful! Let me know if you end up trying it! Thanks for stopping by,

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The 36th Avenue

“Cabana” Patio Makeover with DIY Drop Cloth Curtains

how to sew drop cloth curtains

It’s finished! Our patio makeover is complete and I’m excited to show it to you today before summer is over! Our goal was to create a nice “cabana” inspired seating area. You see we have been spoiled in the past living in two major resort cities Phoenix, and Vegas. We used to love doing small staycations during the deeply discounted summer months. There’s nothing better than renting a cabana at The Trump or laying out at the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess, except maybe our own cabana in Fresno! (The beers are cheaper and you can be less self conscious in your swimsuit).

Lets take a look at some before pictures. The previous owner of this house started to stucco the wood pillars of this pergola and just left it, so we asked our landlords if we could remove that and he was fine with it.


I knew I wanted to do curtains in order to hide the garbage dumpsters, and to create two separate seating areas instead of having one large one. You may remember our first seating area makeover earlier this summer featuring cushions, pots, an umbrella, and outdoor rug from Walmart.


Let’s start with the curtains. Since curtains with actual outdoor fabric can be crazy expensive I decided to use drop cloths from the hardware store made out of heavy canvas. They are around $10 per panel and I used four. Since it rarely rains here, this is a perfect option for me. I’ve had them up for a month and they look the exact same.

All I did to sew them was fold one side down iron the fold really well, and sewed a straight line. It was so easy. I’m so doing this the next time I need indoor curtains!

My husband bought a couple wood dowel rods and hardware like you would use in a closet and installed them, They are really easy to take down in case you need to wash.

drop cloth outdoor curtain tutorial

bringing the indoors outside

drop cloths as outdoor curtains

Lets talk about my two end tables. My husband works in construction and brought them home for me. They are spools for electrical wire. I can just imagine this conversation. “Hey man can I have those two spools. “Ya what for?” “My wife has this decorating blog…and spools are the new pallets” HA

They were huge so he was also nice enough to cut them down for me.

electrical spools as side tables

electrical spools as side tables

I had fun styling this space and love the idea of bringing the indoors outside. We’ve had these metal wall art faces forever and my husband keeps trying to take them to Goodwill or sell them at every yard sale. I painted them green along with some other random accessories.

patio cabana makeover

Did you see my post a few weeks ago on how I gave these pillows a makeover with Chalk Paint? They were the plain beige pillows that came with our five year old outdoor couch.

painting and stenciling pillows

green patio accessories

basil plant

cabana makeover

I love these simple outdoor patio lights from Target.They are inexpensive and work great!

patio seating area

This other seating area under the umbrella was pushed to the side a little bit and we have this little pool for the kids now. Its a small above ground that has a filter. It’s been so great for the kids and us to cool off in. Now I can sit in my shaded cabana, watch the kids swim and sip my iced tea. Perfection…

I hope you’re having a great summer! Thanks for stopping by to see my little cabana.

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The 36th Avenue

My Favorite Camera Photo Editing Apps

4 favorite phone apps

Are you like me, obsessed with documenting life via your iPhone? It’s so convenient to grab it when your kids are doing something cute, plus It’s completely possible to take some great photos with your cell phone camera! My biggest tip is keep your hand as still as possible and if you tap the screen right before you take a photo it focuses the image.

Today I’m sharing my favorite photo editing phone apps you may not know about, along with pictures I’ve actually edited. These will take you beyond Instagram, which we all know and LOVE. I usually end up editing my photos on one of these apps and then sharing them to Instagram.

Rhonna Designs- This is a brand new one and it’s by far my favorite! My personal Facebook friends are probably so sick of seeing these and I don’t care! The fonts and banners are the most stylish by far. It has so many built in inspirational quotes, memes, and word art. Plus it also has the cropping and filters we are used to having. Cost $1.99, only for iPhone as of now.

a river

PicLab- This one is great too. It has beautiful typography, nice filters and photo effects, and lots of shapes, and borders. Cost: Free and .99 to take off watermark on the bottom right, for iPhone or Android.

Camera+ It might sound weird, but I like this one for editing cell phone pics that aren’t square. It has excellent clarity features and I like that you can adjust the brightness ect. It’s also easy to use, has filters, and text. It’s not my favorite for text but does the best job at editing the actual image. Cost $1.99 for iPhone or Android

BubbleFrame- This one is just plain fun and reminds me of scrap-booking with all the pretty and stylish background patterns to choose from. Plus it’s really unique because you can fill it with adjustable “bubble” photos. It now also has text on photo features. Cost: $1.99 for both iPhone or Android

I hope you all are having fun snapping away those perfect summer memories! Have you used any of these apps yet? I’d love to hear how you edit your cell phone pictures.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie Recipe & Our Vacation to Gorgeous Montana

fresh strawberry pie recipe

Last week we went on an awesome family vacation to beautiful Montana! More on that is a minute. While I was there I made this fresh strawberry pie for the first time and it was so EASY and so delish! My MIL makes this and she suggested this recipe.I used a store bought pie crust.

Fresh Strawberry Pie Filling

(Here’s what I used for this pie) and go to Cooks Illustrated for the full directions. They used twice as much strawberries and I didn’t have any lemons.)

  • 2 Pints Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Sure-Gel (Pectin)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • top with whip cream
  • Bake and cool store bought pie crust before you poor in filling

It turned out great and super festive for the 4th of July!

fresh strawberry pie recipe

So onto our big trip. We decided to drive from CA to SW Montana to visit family and it took about 18-19 hours each way. It was our longest trip with the kids. They did pretty well. We found out their max time in the car is about 7-8 hours per day, after that things start to get interesting! ha. I think they slept about 1 maybe 2 hours total in the car…I did try to keep them busy though with road trip bingo, which you can download here, and both ipads were loaded down with movies and games 🙂

road trip bingo for the car

I actually grew up camping each summer near this part of Montana about 45 minutes east and north of Missoula,. This is where we spent all our time last week too near the small town of Seeley, MT next to Seeley, Placid, Salmon, and Holland Lakes. I’m always amazed at how close together these lakes are and it’s absolutely beautiful driving through the area. My kids and husband had never been here before so it was fun showing them around.

montana image

Here we are dressed up in our 4th of July best waiting to go to fireworks!

4th of July Kids

We stayed right on the river and here is the view from the deck.

River View

This view was so great to wake up to and have coffee each morning. Falling asleep to the sound of the river was pretty great too.

Deck on the River

We took a nice three mile hike up to Holland Lake Falls one day.

hiking Holland Lake Falls

Holland Lake is so quite and peaceful. If you look close you can see the falls in this photo below taken near the beginning of the trail.

picture of the falls at holland lake, MT

I love hikes that have a falls and nice view from the top. This one has both!

The Falls at Holland Lake, MT

holland lake from the falls

I LOVE this view of Holland Lake and some gorgeous glaciers.

Holland Lake, MT

Photo of Holland Lake, MT

Here’s the river my kids caught their first fish in! Doesn’t it look like a post card?(This is from my cell phone I wish I had brought my good camera down.)

Clearwater River, MT

It only took them about 10 minutes to start catching fish!

gone fishin

We all had a blast swimming and boating on Salmon Lake,

Do you notice how there’s hardly any people?! That doesn’t happen in CA or NV 🙂

floating Salmon Lake, MT


boating on Salmon Lake

This is the view of Salmon lake as it tuns into a river. I thought the reflections were pretty.

Salmon Lake, MT

And finally some pretty wildflowers the kids picked on a walk displayed inside some milk glass!

wild flowers in milk glass

We had such a great week in big sky country! If you ever have the chance to bring your family here I’d definitely recommend it! Next time we’re for sure going to check out Glacier National Park.New Signature Graphic


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