Friday, January 30, 2009

Follow Me

It's been a while since my last blog entry and this is because I have been horribly, disgustingly, pathetically sick. The bug knowing that I like variety gave me a sore throat, cough, stuffed nose, red goopy eyes, and general all-around misery. Now though that I am 97% better (my voice still has the gravelly sound of a lifelong smoker) it is time to get back to my blog.

As you might have noticed to the right of the screen I've added the little "Follow Me" application. I encourage everyone reading this to go ahead and click that button and become a follower.


Well, it will help you keep up to date on all of my exciting blog posts, but there are also fringe benefits - not for you, my loyal readers, but for me. The prime benefit, of course, being that I can now introduce myself to people by saying, "Hi. Kate Karyus Quinn. I have followers."
That's a winning opening line if I've ever heard one.

Beyond this novel icebreaker though is also just having the knowledge that there are people willing to follow me. This is something I never really foresaw happening since I have a terrible sense of direction. Really terrible actually. Also, my memory of how to get places is not so good - in fact there are places in my hometown of Buffalo that I used to go to all the time, but now could probably no longer find my way there. My husband, by the way, is always shocked when I have trouble finding my way around my own hometown, but then again he has a great sense of direction and memory for those types of things.

I also can be a little absentminded. I'll put my keys in my coat pocket and then spend ten minutes in a panic, dumping everything I own out of my purse (or diaper bag, whichever I happen to be carrying) desperately trying to find them. Or I'll be daydreaming and turn left when I meant to turn right. And I also have a bit of trouble determining the whole which way is North, South, East, West. Oh, and I sometimes have to make the little L signs with my hands to remember which is left and which is right.

However, I can read a map. That's a definite plus. And even if I don't have a map always with me, isn't getting lost sometimes just part of the fun? You know that whole it's the journey, not the destination type thing?

So, come on. Make the little L signs with me, find the right side of the page, and click the follow me button. You won't be sorry... probably.

Friday, January 16, 2009

American Idle

So after heartily patting myself on the back for posting not one, not two, but THREE whole days in a row I then backslid into my slovenly blogger ways and haven't posted since last Saturday. Not that I think there's anyone out there slavering for fresh content from this blog, but nonetheless I feel the need to apologize.

The thing is I just kind of got busy. What with my freelance job of transcribing raw footage from obscure reality shows (yes, I really do make money in this way), tending to my WIP, diapering the child, feeding the husband, trying to keep up with my resolve to keep our home more clean (not that it was ever truly filthy, but sometimes I would let the toys that my son feels the need to spread all over the place, stay, well - stay spread. Now I attempt to corral them back into their proper places twice a day. And I've been making the bed, something I haven't regularly done in well over a decade.), dressing in multiple layers and drinking insane amounts of hot tea to keep myself warm against the Arctic chill that seems to have spread across half the country (And I am in Knoxville, I don't even want to think about what the people further North must do to keep from freezing), and finally and perhaps most importantly I have spent four hours of my week watching American Idol.

Yes, it's true. I watch American Idol, and not just in that 'if I happen to be in front of the TV and it happens to be on' kind of way. No, I deliberately set my DVR to record the whole freaking season. I watch the auditions. I watch hell week in Hollywood (my favorite part, truthfully.) And then I watch every week of singing and eliminations. Although to be truthful, I usually fast-forward through three quarters of the elimination show.

I don't know when my AI addiction officially started.

I was barely aware of season one, and only watched parts of season two. During season three was probably when my interest increased. This was also the season that I ended up actually attending a live taping.

In retrospect it was not a super terrific experience. It was kind of one of those deals while during it you are thinking, "Yeah this is fun," mostly because you had anticipated that it would be fun. However, afterwards you kind of realize that it wasn't really truly all that fun. In fact it kind of sucked.

Here's how it went. While waiting outside on the sidewalk several hours before taping to pass the time my friend Melissa (who had gotten us the tickets through some sort of email lottery system) and I made posters (Mine was for Fantasia and hers was for LaToya).

The low point was getting a sunburn.

The high point was when Paula Abdul came by with some Entertainment Tonight cameras following her and talked to all of us in line. Paula asked us about our signs and we both had an opportunity to say something inane on camera like, "Whooo. Yeah, go Fantasia. She's gonna win!" The next day a friend from college said she had seen us on TV. You know, on second thought maybe that was the low point.

Years later when we finally got inside to see the actual taping of the actual show I was more interested in watching the Steadicam operators running around the contestants then I was in the actual show. Also our seats kind of sucked and it was loud. The kind of loud that leaves you with a headache to take home with you. (Sadly this was not the worst being in the audience for a live taping of a TV show experience I would ever have. That honor goes to my afternoon at NBC's shortlived - like only one or two episodes actually aired - Celebrity Cooking Showdown.)

Maybe that experience put me off Idol, because for the rest of that season and the next two, I barely followed the show. I might catch an episode here or there, but I couldn't sustain any long term interest in it.

Then along came Season 6 and without even intending to I ended up watching all the audition episodes, which meant I had to see what happened in Hollywood, and then I was one percent invested in the lives of the contestants and had no choice but to follow it through to the end. That was the year of Sanjaya, Melinda, and eventual winner Jordan Sparks. As far as talent went it was a lackluster year, but for drama - it was one of the best.

Season 7 I again watched from the beginning, and unless something tragic happens to my DVR (I love AI, but not enough to watch it in real time with all those endless commercial breaks) I will probably watch Season 8 all the way through as well.

So there it is - my American Idol confession in the full. In my defense I can say only one thing: I have never voted. Everyone must have a line, and that is where I choose to draw mine.

Anyone else want to confess to be an Idolaholic?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tea Time

Debora Dennis of The Saucy Scribe had the results of a cool What's your Word? quiz on her blog yesterday. Since I cannot resist an online quiz I rushed right over to take it myself, and while I was there found another quiz asking What Kind of Tea Are You?

I have been on a bit of a tea kick lately, in fact, I have almost completely forsaken coffee in favor of this leafy brew, and so I was curious if this quiz could accurately determine my tea tastes.

You Are Black Tea
You have a bold personality. You're not afraid of simply being yourself.
You have the courage to speak the truth. You are fearless in your actions.

You come off as a bit intimidating and unapproachable. Only confident people are attracted to you.
You don't try to scare off anyone. You're just an intense person!

Shockingly, the black tea part was dead on. Irish breakfast tea, English breakfast tea, and most recently English afternoon tea - are three different, yet similar types of black tea that I have come to enjoy and that Twinings is kind enough to produce and my grocery store is good enough to stock. I also like the occasional cup of Earl Grey as well. Really I like almost every kind of black tea.


A week ago that word would not have been in that sentence, but that was before I tried Twinings Lapsang Souchong black tea (I told you my grocery store has a wide selection).

Twinings uses little leaves on the front of the box to indicate the strength of the tea and I had gotten it in my head that I wanted my tea stronger, kind of like coffee, which as I already mentioned I've stopped drinking in favor of tea. You can see the contradiction, but alas, I could not.

The box describes the Lapsang tea as: "A strong, golden tea with a very distinctive smoked character."

This is a fairly accurate description of the tea, except I would have edited it slightly to make this one small change: "A strong, golden tea with a very distinctive SMOKED!!!!!!!!!!!! character."

My husband, being a good sport, tried the new tea with me, and the smell of our two mugs of tea being seeped... well someone just walking in would have thought we had a smoker in the middle of our apartment going full-blast. We were brave though and despite the overwhelming stink - drank the tea with the usual cream and sugar (or in my case, Splenda) and it was okay.

Well, the first sip was okay, probably to a certain extent because I was expecting it to be thoroughly awful. In the end I dumped half of my mug down the sink. Andy finished his, but he did have a smaller mug and a stuffy nose from sickness, which gave him a bit more relief from the smoke assault.

The box of Twinings Lapsang tea is now sitting in our pantry, where it will almost certainly continue to sit until I can bring myself to toss it in the trash. Unless, of course, one of my readers has a fondness for incredibly smoky beverage (perhaps someone who made a New Year's resolution to quit smoking?) - in which case I would be more than happy to send it to you for your enjoyment.

Oh, as for the rest of the tea quiz results - the part where it says I'm fearless, intense, and unapproachable? That's only true when I'm drinking the smoky tea.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Past, Present, and Future

It's time for another blog chain entry. This time Abi started things off with a lovely set of questions.

1. What writing related things have you done in the past?

Well besides doing lots and lots of writing - like enough to fill notebooks and journals dating all the way back to second grade - the other writing related thing I've done is read. I've read a lot, and I continue to read a lot.

I suppose another writing related thing I've done is acting. Oddly enough the bug bit me in eighth grade when as part of a Christmas pageant at my school I was cast as Brenda Star. I was literally a star... like the kind that wears a gigantic cardboard star on her head with a whole cut in the middle of it for her face to stick through. A star so big that I had to walk through the door that led onto the stage sideways. My one line: "I'm Brenda Star ace reporter and I'll get to the bottom of this." What I learned from acting that I can now apply to my writing wasn't humiliation (although obviously I did learn that), but how to think about a character's motivations.

Of course, after graduating with a BFA in theatre I realized what I really wanted to do was direct. And so on to film school in California. It was in taking apart and examining the structure of a screenplay that I started to figure out how to tell a long form story and keep things moving. Also in writing my own screenplays I was really able to work on how to show the story through action instead of telling.

2. What WIPs are you working on now?

I'm working on an Urban Fantasy that I am aiming to finish the first draft of by the end of February at the latest.

3. Do you have anything brewing for the future?

Not really. After I finish my WIP I will let it sit for a month of so, and during that time might work on rewriting some old short stories I've had lying around for awhile. Then I'll rewrite my WIP and prepare to send it out into the big bad world. Beyond that I haven't a clue except I know that I will be writing.

4. Are you setting any writing goals or resolutions for 2009?

It's not really a 2009 goal, but rather one I started towards the end of 2008. I was trying to write 1000 words a day and came up short pretty consistently. This was, as you might imagine, rather discouraging. I switched to a goal of 500 words a day and have found that on most days I can not only reach this, but often surpass it. A double win.

That's it from me. If you want to read the post before mine you can find it at Mary Lindsey's Weblog and as usual Archetype Writing is the post after mine.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Soup and The Soup

With Christmas and the New Year behind us we are officially in what I like to call, "the sucky part of winter." Despite my mother pointing out every single day around Five PM that the sun was still out which meant the days were getting longer, which in turn meant that Spring was right around the corner, which really just means that my mother is crazy - because winter has only begun and we have many more cold days to get through before we can pull out our flip-flops once more (Although my mom wears flip-flops in the winter anyway for walking around the house. This btw is the same mother who when I was younger swore that the very thought of wearing a shoe that had a part that went between your toes was so unbearably uncomfortable that she would never have anything to do with them and neither would we It wasn't until I went away to college that she mysteriously converted to the ways of the flip-flop).

Anyway, without the distraction of the holidays winter can start to feel like an endless amount of grey, cold, and miserable days and on these types of days nothing tastes so wonderful as a bowl of soup. With that thought in mind I decided to post a few of my favorite soup recipes.

This first one is from allrecipes. I made it over the holidays for my family using some of the leftover ham from our Christmas dinner.

Delicious Ham and Potato Soup


  • 3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup diced cooked ham
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.
  2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.
I make this pretty much as directed, except towards the end I use a masher to smoosh the potatoes so the chunks are smaller and some of them just melt away. Also, it didn't thicken up as much as I wanted it to, so I threw in a bit of instant potato flakes and that made it the perfect consistency.

This next recipe is a Rachel Ray one from the Food Network and is what I made to go with our Christmas ham. It was a great starter and while I was originally skeptical about the relish it turned out being the best part of the soup and really just made the recipe for me.

Pumpkin Soup with Chili Cran-Apple Relish


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 turn of the pan
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 ribs celery with greens, finely chopped (save time and purchase celery already washed, trimmed and cut into sticks, this makes chopping fast work)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning or 2 teaspoons ground thyme
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can cooked pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


  • 1 crisp apple, such as McIntosh or Granny Smith, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Heat a medium soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Add the oil and melt the butter. Add bay, celery, and onion. Season the veggies with salt and pepper. Cook 6 or 7 minutes, until tender. Add flour, poultry seasoning and hot sauce, to taste, then cook flour a minute. Whisk in chicken stock and bring liquid to a bubble. Whisk in pumpkin in large spoonfuls to incorporate it into the broth. Simmer soup 10 minutes to thicken a bit then add in cream and nutmeg. Reduce heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

While soup cooks, assemble the relish: combine apple, onion, lemon juice, cranberries, chili powder, honey and cinnamon.

Adjust seasonings in soup and relish and serve soup in shallow bowls with a few spoonfuls of relish.

I added a lot more seasoning to the soup, just because it tasted a bit bland to me. I also added a bit of mace seasoning, which had been part of a Squash soup recipe that I made years ago and just gives a little bit of a kick. For the relish I doubled everything, except the onion, which I halved.

My final soup recipe is one that I discovered last winter and now make at least once a month throughout the winter months. It's also from the Food Network, but this time from Tyler Florence. The grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and green apple recipe that was featured on the same show is also delicious and I would recommend it, but I don't make them together because it is just too heavy for me that way.

Hunter's Minestrone


  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1/2 pound small rigatoni
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3/4 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 12 slices baguette
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.

To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup. Add the parsley, and salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.

To serve, preheat the broiler. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top.

The only change I make to this recipe is to use turkey instead of pork sausage, just because it is less greasy and fattening, but tastes just as delicious.

Finally I cannot talk soup without mentioning my weekly Friday night guilty pleasure - The Soup on E!. It is just a bunch of clips from the past week of television, internet, and whatever else with totally funny commentary. Honestly you just have to see it for yourself. You can watch clips here or catch it on E! either on Friday night or during the week when they replay it a million times.

Any fans of soup or The Soup out there? Leave a comment and let me know.