Some changes around here

If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed a huge gap in posts here. When I switched webhosts I lost about three years’ worth of blogs and updates. I managed to salvage some of them thanks to the Wayback Machine at archive.org. I’ll upload as much of it as I can in the coming weeks and months.

It may take awhile as I’m starting a new (second) job. I’ll blog about that a bit later, but it’s back in the quilting/crafting arena and I’m super excited about it! (I just found out tonight, actually!)

So in addition to putting my website back together, I’ll be working a few hours a week at my new job and I hope I’ll also find time to keep my blog and site more up to date. I feel like I’ve sorely neglected it the past year or so, but maybe I’ll have more interesting things to post, now that I have another quilting-related job.

Stay tuned. :)

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Italian Sausage Soup

Italian Sausage Soup

Kelly’s Italian Sausage Soup

I invented this soup in January 2009 and posted it on my Facebook page. Since then I’ve made it again and again, refining the recipe as I go. It’s delicious every time no matter how I tweak it. It would be great with crusty bread and sprinkled with cheese.

If you make it, tell me how you like it! (And it goes without saying, please don’t publish this anywhere else.)

Italian Sausage Soup

1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or hot), sliced into 1/4″ to 1/2″ medallions
1 onion, diced
2 – 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1 green pepper coarsely diced
1/2 red pepper finely diced
2 – 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup green beans
1/2 cup peas
salt, pepper
hot pepper flakes
oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary
32 oz beef broth
1 or 2 14-15oz cans petite diced tomatoes (with the juice)
1 14-15oz can northern beans, drained and rinsed

Slice the sausages and cook in soup pot over medium-high heat. Drain sausage on paper towels, reserve oil.
Lower heat and slowly cook onion and garlic in remaining oil, until onion is softens. Scrape up cooked bits of sausage but if some sticks, don’t worry.
Add other vegetables and season to taste.
Add broth, tomatoes and beans.
Heat to boiling then lower heat and simmer slowly for 30 minutes if you can wait that long.

Notes:

  • It’s easier to slice the sausage if they are slightly frozen. The slices turn into little meatballs as they cook.
  • You can use fresh or frozen veggies and fresh or dried herbs.
  • I’ve often added sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, or whatever I had that would be good and I’ve never had a bad batch.
  • You can use plain tomatoes or the kind with Italian seasonings already added.
  • This makes a lot, but you can stretch it by adding more broth.
  • This soup is much better if it simmers for a long time, or sits overnight.
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Ten tips for teaching new quilters

Shoofly block from a recent project

My guest post “Ten tips for teaching new quilters” was just published over on Caron Mosey’s Michigan Quilts blog. Go take a look!

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Still time to register for quilt class

There are only a few days left to register for the beginning quilting class at the Box Factory in St. Joseph, MI. Check out this blog post for details.

Here are some pictures of the table runner we’ll be making.

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Encourage a writer, support literacy

Photo via Stock.xchng.hu

I made my goal for January!

Those of you who have been following my blog for the past couple of weeks know that I have been trying to accomplish two goals:

  1. Complete the draft of my historical novel
  2. Make a meaningful contribution to a good cause

Happily, I can say that I have met my word-count goal for January!

I have written at least 4000 words in each of the past two weeks. (I started tracking around January 14.) If I can maintain that pace in the months between now and May I should have a manuscript of about 100,000 words ready to be edited, torn apart, re-written, and otherwise improved upon. (With the help of my amazing friends at the Tuesday Night Writer’s Practicum that is.)

I also have three sponsors now, (Hi Ami! Hi Gene! Hi Wilma!) but I would really love to have several more. The money you pledge will go to First Book, a charity that provides new books for children to help them learn to read. If I fail to make my monthly goal, then I have to make the donation instead of you, so either way, the charity wins.

By the way, First Book is given a top rating of four-stars by Charity Navigator, with  more than 92% of donations going directly to their programs and less than 8% going to overhead like administrative costs etc.

Will you pledge to sponsor me and help children learn to read?

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Write Your @ss Off Day

Photo via stock.xchng.hu

As all NaNoWriMo participants know, a great way to get motivated is to write with a bunch of other people.

The Editorial @ss has proposed Write Your @ss Off Day.You can check out her blog for more details.

I’ve chosen Saturday, Feb. 6 as my day. Pick yours and set a marker on the map so we can all see just how many of us are participating!

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Upcoming quilting classes

Beginning Quilting: table runner class

I’ll be teaching my first “official” quilting class on Wednesdays February 10 through March 3, from 6 to 8 pm at The Box Factory for The Arts in St. Joseph, MI.

I say “official” because until now I’ve only taught friends and family for free. It will be interesting (and I hope fun!) to teach strangers.

Fee: $40 for Box Factory members/ $50 for non-members

In this class students will learn cutting, machine piecing, machine appliqué, quilting and finishing techniques to create a simple table runner consisting of two pieced blocks and one appliqué block. That’s it pictured on the right.

A $20 kit may be purchased from the instructor (that’s me!) or a list of supplies is available. (See supply list below.)

The class can only accommodate up to six people, so if you have never quilted before and would like to try it, contact The Box Factory soon.

You can see the full rundown of classes on The Box Factory’s Facebook page.

Supply list

Supplies:

  • Sewing machine in good working order (you’ll need to do straight and zigzag stitches)
  • Rotary cutter, cutting mat and acrylic ruler
  • Scissors, seam ripper, bobbins, measuring tape, masking tape, spare sewing machine needles
  • Iron and ironing surface or ironing board
  • Neutral thread for piecing, coordinating thread for quilting, matching or contrasting thread for appliqué
  • 1 light and 1 dark fat quarter for pieced blocks
  • 1 fat quarter background fabric for appliqué block
  • Scraps for petals (at least 4″ x 4″)
  • 1 fat quarter or large scrap for flower center (at least 5″ across)
  • ½ yard fabric for inner border
  • ½ yard fabric for outer border
  • ½ yard fabric for the binding (may be able to cut this from the inner border fabric if you want the same color)
  • 1 package Steam-a-Seam 2 for appliqué
  • Batting (18″ x 37″)
  • Backing fabric of your choice (18″ x 37″)
  • Safety pins or quilt basting spray
  • Materials to create the label will be provided (If you have fabric markers, bring them to the last class.)
  • Extension cord or power strip would be helpful
  • Ott light or similar would be helpful

I will provide an ironing board, 2 irons, masking tape and some spray adhesive, but if you have your own it would be best to bring it so that we don’t run out.

Supply kits

Supply kits will be available for $20 / each and will consist of the necessary fabric and a sheet of Steam-a-Seam 2. You can specify a color-scheme when you register for the class. You must provide your own thread and other supplies as listed above.

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Writing goals update week 3

It’s the end of the third full week of the year. My progress on my historical novel has been a little slower than I’d like, but I’ve been doing other things such as writing magazine articles, designing a quilt, preparing to teach a quilting class, and collaborating with friends on what will be an amazing new project. (More to come on that very soon!)

For those of you who have not been following along, I am asking for sponsors to donate to a literacy charity each time I achieve my monthly writing goal. If I don’t meet the goal, then I am responsible for making the donation instead of you.

So far I only have one sponsor, and I started this on January 14, mid-way through the  month. She told me not to worry about the first two weeks of the year, since I wasn’t in full swing yet, so for January I theoretically only have to produce 8000 words, not 16,000. I will try to do better than that though!

My stats so far

Starting word count – 19,464 (edited: I originally started with 22,213 words, but had to delete a lot which pushed back my starting count)

Week 1 count – 467

Week 2 count – 2369

Week 3 count – 5281

So far for the month I’ve written 8117 words, so technically I’ve surpassed my goal of 4000 words per week! Yay me!

I do intend to keep writing this week though.

If you’d like to sponsor me by contributing to First Book, just check out my Jan. 14 blog post for info on how.

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Write like a rock star?

Bono

U2

In the pantheon of rock stars U2 are gods. I hear in them all that came before, and I hear echoes of them in others that have come after.

Although from time to time I’ll hear a song of theirs and think, “Huh? What were they thinking?”, for the most part I love almost every lyric, every note.

Then today I was browsing through my Twitter feed and found a link to this article courtesy of Joanna Penn (@thecreativepenn if you want to follow her, and if  you are a writer, you’ll want to follow her).

The article takes a page from U2′s approach to writing and applies it to writing articles and blog posts.

Basically – write the best hook you can, then write an even better one. I can see how to apply that to blogs or short articles. I guess I’ll see if I can figure out how to apply it to longer fiction. (Maybe it could be applied to each scene or chapter.)

Since I began writing fiction seriously (by “seriously” I mean, writing stuff that I hope will be published someday), I pay more attention to stories I hear all around me. Countless times, while driving down the road singing along with Bono at the top of my lungs, I’ve thought, “God, how did he get that whole story into three or four minutes?” Or, “How did they manage to tell a whole story with so few (perfect) details?”

I’ve thought many times that I should try my hand at poetry or lyrics just to see if I could produce anything even close to what the guys in U2 produce. Unlikely, I know, but I think it every time I hear a song like Grace or Until the End of the World.

And now, off to do my daily writing and see if I can meet my goal and also write like a rock star.

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Writing goals update

So far I have one sponsor for my 2010 writing goals. (Thanks Ami!)

If you’d like to help out the literacy charity First Book and encourage a writer at the same time, check out my post from Jan. 14 for info on how.

I will be updating my goals on the blog each week. Since I didn’t get started until mid-way through January, I’m a little bit behind. But I still have two weeks to make it up and I know I can do it. The bad part is that I have made some changes to my story and had to delete some of what I’d already written because it no longer fit. I’m past that point now though, so everything I write from here on out should add to my word count.

Starting word count – 22,213

Desired count at the end of January – 38,213

Week 1 count – 467 (there was a lot of deleting that week!)

Week 2 count – 2369 (much better, but not hitting my weekly goal. I blame it on trying to get other things off the ground such as my Etsy shop and becoming totally absorbed in another Ruth Reichl book.)

I’ll have to force myself to sit and write this week and next to make up my shortfall. I think once I get into the habit of doing it it will be ok.

Is anyone else trying to meet a writing goal this year? Let me know! It helps to have company!

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