I'm busy finishing up a few books that I committed to reading for jacket blurbs (I can't wait to tell you about them---such good stories!), and then I'm on to a big stack of new books that I've been collecting to read. The first, The Paris Wife (I feel like everyone and their mother has read this one but me!). The lovely Camille Noe Pagan sent me a copy in the mail recently (friends who send friends books are the best kind, I say!). Next? This one's kind of funny, but it is a nostalgic read for me: I'm going to dig into Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy. I ordered it on a whim recently because I remember reading it as a child (and loving it), and yet I can't recall what happens in the story, so I want to re-experience it. (P.S. Don't you love that imaginative bookshelf above? How cute would that be in a child's room?) What are you reading this fall?

Yesterday my favorite mug, the lime green circa 1963 number, broke. I couldn't believe how sad I felt when I saw the handle crack right off. I felt so sentimental about this mug, it was as if I'd lost a treasured friend. I bought a set of these bright green mugs in college, at the Goodwill in Bellingham, Washington, when I was 19 years old. I remember trolling the aisles with my roommate, looking for treasures for our new place. I don't remember anything I purchased that day except for the set of green mugs. I still can't figure out why they appealed to me, really. They were very loud in color, and very retro looking. But, I have loved them over the years. I always kept them even when they didn't match my grown-up dishes and mugs. What's a kitchen without a little personality, right? So they stayed in the cubbord, next to the more sensible ceramics. But, slowly as time went on, they've all cracked, shattered (my husband broke a few, I broke a few more, and I think the boys are responsible for at least two). And when the last one bit the dust, I felt like holding a memorial service for it as I tossed it gently into the trash can. (Sniffle, sniffle.) So, it's time for a new favorite mug---for coffee, tea, and Nespresso. I like the one above. It reminds me of my busy life and all the beautiful books I'm excited to read and to write. Do you have a favorite mug?

Do you bird watch? I have a confession: I used to think the idea of it was so booooring. I may or may not have even exchanged a few snickers with my husband about bird watching, too. But a funny thing has happened to me as I get older (I'm 33): I appreciate birds so much. I love to look out my kitchen window and see the little finches (some black and white, some with yellow heads) peck around for seeds and worms. I love it when a proud blue-jay perches on the fence, daring us to look at his bold colors. I love it when a hummingbird flutters in mid air. Watching them is so calming and peaceful, and I can now see why people make a hobby out of it. It's also fun to see my little boys notice the birds, too. They love robins, finches, and once we saw a bird with lime green wings (it looked like something out of a tropical rain forest, right here in Seattle). But they don't care for crows much. I don't blame them. I don't either.

I'm so happy to share that my second novel, The Bungalow, which will be out in December, has been picked by the lovely Kathy Patrick, who runs one of the biggest (if not the biggest!) book movements in the country, The Pulpwood Queen Book Club, as a book pick for 2012! Here's the official seal (so fun!): Kathy wrote to share this with me today, and I was so excited and honored! She has impeccable taste, and her selections are always so fantastic. (And, I almost fell out of my chair when she said that she thought The Bungalow would make a great movie---fingers crossed on that front!) I'll also be making an appearance at Kathy's big event in Jefferson, Texas, in January: The 2012 Girlfriend's Weekend! I'm really excited---and I'm bringing my baby, who will be 11 months then, and my mom too! My mom and I are calling this our Thelma & Louise adventure (the mom, daughter, baby, literary version!)

We had a quiet day today---a quick lunch out with the boys, errands, etc. I did zero writing, but I did get a jog in (always a good thing). But I couldn't help but feel a tugging at my heart all day, remembering how the world changed on September 11, 2001. But there were other things weighing on me today, too. My 2 year old is having surgery tomorrow, and I'm anxious about it. So I do what I do when I'm anxious: I cook and bake, and pray. Today, while looking for recipes for kabocha squash gnocchi (which I made, and loved---and so did the kids, oddly!), I came across an unusual recipe. I've always loved twice-baked potatoes, but had never considered how amazing twice-baked butternut squash could be. Going to make this soon!