Friday, September 1, 2017

Easy and Quick Chopped Salad

I first had a real Chopped Salad at a pot-luck, made by my friend Lindy, who I knew in High school but didn't see again until about 5 or 6 years ago. It was great. I had no idea why I never saw or heard of chopped salad before. I love being able to put a huge salad in my bowl and eat it with a spoon. :-) I'm posting this here because a couple people asked me for the recipe (such as it is).

One of my friends teases me that I "don't like salad" because I never order it in restaurants. That's because the lettuce is always in giant pieces so it's hard to eat without getting salad dressing on my face. I like salad, just not wearing it!

I searched for recipes for Chopped Salad, and then realized why I never had one: none of the recipes were appetizing to me, often consisting primarily of things I either can't eat or just don't like. Also, many of the recipes were way too much trouble - I'm basically very lazy about food.

You might look at this and say that ingredients like Cruciferous Crunch, shredded carrots, and broccoli slaw are already prepared and ready to eat. Yes, but, they are not chopped. I eat my chopped salad with a soup spoon - the pieces have to be small.

So this is my own easy version made with things I like! I probably never make it exactly the same way twice, but this is the basic version. Almost everything is from Trader Joe's:
  • 1 bag Cruciferous Crunch, chopped
  • 1 bag shredded carrots - 10 oz, chopped
  • 1 box grape or sugar plum tomatoes 1 lb - cut each in half
  • 1 bag sliced mushrooms, chopped (10 oz bag)
  • 1 cup (approx) unsalted toasted sunflower seeds

Protein Add-ins, pick one (or mix & match):
  • One carton of TJ Fresh mozzarella Ciliegine, drained, cut each in half (these are little balls about an inch or so in diameter)
  • 4 - 6 chopped hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped chicken

Something a little sweet (optional):
  • 4 - 6 oz chopped dried cherries (TJ has some with no sugar added)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup raisins or other chopped fruit.

I mix all of this together in a large bowl. It makes a *lot*; pretty much fills a 1 gallon zip-lock baggie. Sometimes I add dressing when I mix it all up, but usually I wait and put dressing on when I eat it. I eat from a huge bowl (Chinese restaurant soup bowl) and I get 4 - 5 hearty servings.

Dressings (my favs):
  • TJ Cilantro
  • TJ Pear Vinaigrette
  • Panera Fuji apple dressing
  • Ranch dressing (I only like this when there's eggs and no fruit)

Serving time:
  • If there is no dried fruit, I sometimes chop a half or even a whole fresh apple.
  • Sprinkle a little shredded cheese (TJ Quatro fromaggio is good) or parmesan flakes [what's up with parmesan flakes? What's wrong with shredded parmesan?]
  • Some fresh HB egg if no egg already. OK, I'm weird, I like HB eggs.

Other additives/alternatives sometimes:
  • Toasted sliced almonds, pumpkin seeds, or pignolias
  • TJ has some sweet/spicy pecans I sometimes chop and throw in.
  • Have extended it with a can of garbanzo beans (Lindy uses black beans too). I imagine peas and/or corn would also be good.
  • Would be good with some avocado mixed in at last minute
  • Shredded or chopped bacon
  • Chopped/sliced olives if you like them.
  • I've made it with broccoli slaw + red cabbage slaw mix instead of Cruciferous crunch
  • I've also made it with spinach or spring lettuce mix

Sunday, April 29, 2012


I've been doing Zentangle® for a little more than a year, but hadn't done it for a while and recently took 2 great classes from Jennifer Van Pelt at The Stamp Addict. Learned some new tangle patterns and got some review and a new perspective on a few that I tried to learn in the past, but was unhappy with my results. I've done some ATCs with Zentangle and talked a little bit on my ATC blog about how relaxing it is. Honestly, it is much easier than it looks!

Here are a few more of my recent Zentangles.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Etegami Papers

These are the papers that I bought from last fall for use in Etegami (Japanese postcard paintings). They are postcard size (Japanese postcard size, which is a good size). They vary in the amount of "bleed" (nijimi) they have. Thanks to Dosanko Debbie for an explanation of the difference between absorbency and bleed! They were called Akashiya postcard size paper at Jetpens, which meant I didn't find them until just before they stopped selling them, because I was searching for "etegami". The ones I bought were AO-35L, AO-40L, and AO-50L (highest nijimi). They also carried AO-30L, the least nijimi. More bleed is preferable to many who have managed to practice enough to deal with the water. Heh. Mottoes from my Chinese brush painting days: Water is like a good friend you can't trust. Be brave but be careful.

Jetpens no longer carries these papers and my only option for buying paper for Etegami is now a 2 to 3 hour drive to a Japanese stationery store in LA, or ordering them directly from Japan, which makes the cost prohibitive for a small order. I'm sure other people out there have an even more difficult time acquiring paper for etegami. I have made a request at Jetpens in their Product Request form for them to bring back these papers or something equivalent. 

A friend purchased these papers at a Japanese stationery store, but I don't know if they're good for Etegami or not; she hasn't tried them. Update: Dosanko Debbie reports that these are OK for etegami, with the left being ordinary paper, and the right a higher quality. Thanks Debbie!

UPDATE: As of August 2012, Jetpens is carrying Etegami papers again!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekday Sketchcrawl - 8/12/11

The San Diego Sketchcrawlers (Weekday Edition) met today in Balboa Park - where else?  Our group consisted of Rachel, Kathy, Linda, Stephen and myself. We met in the Zoro Butterfly Garden, which is tucked away between the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego History Center. The garden started out as a sunken stone grotto that was designed as a nudist colony during the 1935 California-Pacific Exposition.  You can find more info about the garden at the Balboa Park website and the San Diego History Center. Thanks to Rachel for the history and  links. It is now a butterfly garden with plants and conditions conducive to the life cycle of butterflies. It was a lovely cool morning there. Most of the pictures have larger versions if you click on them.

The garden is full of walkways and places to sit and sketch.

There are a lot of huge trees.
A big mural.
And a river of stones.
One thing I noticed is that the pipes that they used for the railings have cool curvy ends.
Of course, since it's a butterfly garden, there are lots of flowers everywhere. Here's a buddleia.
Some kind of yarrow I think.
And even a heliconia, though I don't think the butterflies can feed from it's flowers.

We settled in to do our sketching.
After it started to warm up, the butterflies came out. The only kind I saw were Monarch butterflies, very eye-catching. I chased them around for a while and managed to get a few pictures. I don't know what kind of flower this is, but it was the only kind I saw them on, even though there are many other flowers in the garden.

Sadly, it was soon time to pack up and leave. Here are pictures of the artwork we did. Linda and Rachel did more than one, so I  had to take 2 pictures.

The tomatoes are the remains of a bag I brought of homegrown tomatoes from my neighbor that we snacked on. As you can see, Stephen brought his ukulele and serenaded us a little. Here is a closeup of one of Linda's pages.

And Rachel's ink sketch. She is in the midst of doing an ink sketch a day for 75 days. Go Rachel! 

 I caught a quick picture of Stephen adding shading to his sketch of the big tree.

There was a tree stump that is cut to make a nice place to sit, so first Kathy sat there for a picture.

Then of course everyone else had to pile on.

Then Stephen and I switched places.
A lovely time was had by all. I'm looking forward to the next time we can get together.

Go make art! Sketch something! Paint something! Anything!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weekday Sketchcrawl - 5/6/11

The weekday sketchcrawl group met today at the Balboa park rose garden. My previous post has a bunch of pictures of the rose garden and some of the beautiful roses. It turned out to be another beautiful day in the park; the sun was warm and the shade cool with just a bit of a breeze.
There were 4 of us this time. In this picture are Leon, Rachel, and Stephen. Turns out it is Stephen's Birthday today - Happy Birthday! I was somewhat late owing to a disagreement with the local snails as to the future of my petunias.
Leon is very quiet and lurked at another bench. Turns out he was sketching us surreptitiously and then had the nerve to complain that we made his sketching more difficult by moving around! However, he persevered and had a nice result.

Rachel made some itty bitty sketches all on one page.
Stephen sketched with his bamboo pen and sumi-e ink and seemed to spend most of the time waiting for the ink to dry.
 I made an ATC for day 34 of my ATC-A-Day project. Then there wasn't much time left but I sketched a little bit more of just the garden.

I forgot to take a picture from exactly my viewpoint (duh!), but this is close to it.

A great morning sketching! Now go make art!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Balboa Park Sketchcrawl 4/16/11

Saturday, April 16, there were just 2 of us sketching in Balboa park from San Diego Sketchcrawlers, myself and Andy. This is only my second time sketching "on location". We met a little after 10 and were planning to sketch in the desert garden but it was rather warm so we retreated to the pergola of the rose garden. This is on the east side of Park Blvd across from the Natural History Museum and the Science CenterHere is a good map of the main Balboa Park area. The roses were exploding all over the garden. It was so beautiful there and of course it smelled divine.

I forgot to take a picture of the museums from this angle. But not to worry, Andy made a beautiful sketch of the flowers with the museum in the background. She really caught the character of the museum building.

I did a few sorry sketches in my sketchbook, of which this is the only one I will show. I know I shouldn't make excuses, but I realize now I really shouldn't be trying to do watercolor on drawing paper, no matter what the sketchpad label says. Most of the rose varieties were identified, but I couldn't find the name of this one.

I decided to make an ATC for my ATC a Day project as I had brought some watercolor paper blanks. I picked out a rose named Chihuly to use for my picture and sketched a little border around it. Thanks to Andy for suggesting the border, as I usually make a hash of backgrounds.

I took tons of flower photos; here is a picture of one of the Chihuly variety roses.

After Andy left about 12:30, I stayed a little longer in the rose garden and then went over to the main area of Balboa Park by the museums and botanical gardens. Saturday was the 31st World Wide SketchCrawl, see here for more info. I only found out about it from Rachel the day before so I thought I would make an effort to sketch more. I took lots of photos and sketched the top of the Prado theater (playhouse) from near the reflecting pond. Poor building, it would collapse if it was anything like my sketch.
I went back over to the rose garden and decided to sketch a pretty pink-lavender rose "Blueberry Hill".

I need to get a sketchbook with real watercolor paper, it's hard to do watercolor on this regular drawing paper. I just put a light wash for color. Here is a photo of one of the buds.

I walked around the rest of the rose garden and I fell in love with a rose called "About Face". The insides of the petals are a pale peachy yellow and the outsides are a darker ruddy peach. They are so beautiful, they look like they are glowing. This photo doesn't even begin to do it justice.

 Just before I left I had someone take a picture of me in front of the pergola:

When the sketchcrawlers met on April 1 (see a video here), Rachel mentioned a suggestion from someone to cut off the top of a sock and wear it on the wrist of your non-dominant hand to have something convenient to use to clean off your brush while painting with watercolor. I thought it sounded like a good idea, so I tried it out and I like it. Here is a picture. The end of it is just outside of the photo; it doesn't even go half way to my elbow. It's especially handy if you are painting in a situation where you need to hold either the palette or sketchbook while working, so you have no way to hold a paper towel or rag.
Go make art!