Hey everyone! I recently read, and loved, Christina Schwarz's breathtaking new novel, The Edge of the Earth, which just came out from Atria Books. It's a story that begins in 1897, when two newlyweds are assigned to a lighthouse on the coast of Northern California, far from civilization. The novel brims with secrets and rich, memorable detail (an an ending that you will love!). Christina Schwarz writes with such beautiful detail, you will be able to smell the sea! I highly recommend.

Isn't the cover gorgeous?! Plume did a fantastic job with this one. It truly captures the feel of my beloved houseboat community in Seattle (the fictional and real one!). What is this story about, you ask? It's entirely inspired by the time I spent renting a houseboat on Seattle's Lake Union (remember, my husband encouraged me to rent a houseboat as my "office" for 4 months? Well, this is the book that grew out of that!) Here's a quick description of the story: New York Times bestselling author Sarah Jio imagines life on Boat Street, a floating community on Seattle’s Lake Union—home to people of artistic spirit who for decades protect the dark secret of one startling night in 1959. Since her debut, Sarah Jio has enchanted readers with her signature brand of romantic suspense. Her previous novel, Blackberry Winter, was an immediate New York Times bestseller—perfectly positioning Morning Glory to reach even greater heights. Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street. She discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier. Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but little suspects that Penny’s mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge. Also, I've very excited to share that Kirkus recently reviewed the novel, and it was a rave! They called the book a "treat for Jio fans" (which I loved!). And, I loved how my publisher gave the novel three pages in their fall catalog, with a special cover page that says, "drumroll, please

Last night (yes, on Easter!), I went on my very first hot air balloon ride! It was amazing, exhilarating, and so incredibly peaceful and cathartic for me on many personal levels. I'm writing an essay about this momentous balloon ride in the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, so be sure to pick up the issue on newsstands to read about the significance of this journey for me. For now, I thought I'd share some photos from the evening. I can't tell you how amazing it was. A big thanks to the Airial Balloon Company, especially Shannan, for being so lovely! (If you live in the Seattle-area, you should check them out!) The evening started out at the office, where the balloon pilots assessed the wind speed. Balloon flights can be a little fickle. That is, you can schedule something, and then it might be canceled due to poor wind conditions (this is what happened to me---I was supposed to go up the night before, but it was too windy). Fortunately, the wind was very calm on Sunday night, and we were able to embark on our journey. I was assigned a balloon basket with three other passengers. Our pilot was Tom, a wonderful former helicopter-pilot-turned-balloon-enthusiast who says the day he rode in his first hot air balloon in the 1980's something "snapped" in his brain and he decided that's what he wanted to do with his life (he also edited an entire magazine on hot air ballooning---so cool). So we drove out to the launch site (a big green grassy field). My husband and our three boys tagged along to watch (which they thought was pretty awesome, including seeing a cow skeleton in the field somewhere. That was a big moment for three city boys!). The boys ran around the field like wild men. As the pilots and crew members set up the balloons, we all watched with anticipation (and nerves!). There were two balloons going up that night. They were both so beautiful! They set them out on the grass and then fire them up with hot air. It's an amazing process to watch it go from a heap of fabric on the ground to a gorgeous round balloon. I also loved looking at the baskets, and commented to the pilot that I'd love to find an old one on eBay to convert into a cool couch or something! I'm smiling here, but really I'm sort of

My husband and I are in the process of building a home in Seattle. I'll be sharing more about the design and build process here. It's truly a dream come true to be able to do this. I've been thinking about designing and building a home of my own for years---actually, since I was 12 years old and helping my parents build our family home. It's in my blood, I guess. I'll keep you posted on the planning process in posts here. For now, I hope you enjoy having a peek at the first pictures of the house plans---and a really cool 3-D model that our architect made for us. Cool huh? I know it doesn't really show detail, but when I look at it, it already feels like home! I cannot wait to move in!

My family and I recently survived the stomach flu (well, we are surviving---still not 100 percent out of the woods yet). Whatever this bug is that has been circulating the country, it is not pretty. I have never in my life seen anything like it and will spare you all the gory details. Needless to say, we've been in stomach-flu-combat mode this week, and it's been really tough. Sadly, we ended up in the emergency room on Wednesday, when my baby (the 2 year old---he'll always be my "baby") took a turn for the worse. But, we're getting through, and he's getting better---slowly. I wanted to share the things that really helped us this week, in case they can help you, too. 1. Yogi Echinacea Immune Support Tea: All I have to say is, get this tea, pronto! While I'm sure it's perfect safe for kids to drink (but don't quote me on that), I have been drinking the stuff by the gallon-load these days and I think it's the reason I didn't get sick. OK, so maybe it's the placebo effect, but really, I swear by echinacea tea now for immune-strengthening. (P.S. I also love elderberry syrup---look for it in the natural foods section of your grocery store---for an immune boost.) 2. A good mini carpet cleaner: Three boys and one husband with the stomach flu. I needed this. A lot. You will too. 3. Bananas: Have you heard of the B.R.A.T. diet for sick stomachs? Bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, anabolic steroid. We did a lot of bananas for the 4 year old (it's all he wanted to eat). 4. Disposable mats: Before this flu, I had never heard of a product like this. But, the doctor sent us home with a pack of them (or something like them---not same brand) in the ER on Wednesday, and they saved me so much work. I put them around Colby (the baby) on the couch and also in the boys beds just in case. And there were lots of those "cases" so I was glad to easily peel away a disposable pad instead of change sheets at 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4:26 a.m. (I know, they're not very green, but I do my part for the earth daily. I figured I could take a hall pass this week.) 5. Extra Protective Cream. That's what this stuff is called. Extra Protective Cream. I think you can get it at drug stores, but we received it in the ER when my baby's bottom was bleeding from so much from such frequent diarrhea (there, I said it in a post: diarrhea). No other diaper cream could soothe his skin better. I will forever be grateful for this cream. 6. Electrolyte beverages: Though we did a ton of Pedialyte, I have a bone to pick with the stuff: it tastes gross and is loaded with artificial ingredients. Yuck! My kids like Knudson's (organic) Recharge beverage much better. 7. Rice! More B.R.A.T. diet love. This is not the time for brown rice, quinoa, any of that. Just keep it bland and simple. To jazz things up a tiny bit, I roasted an acorn squash and mashed it in with some soy sauce and rice for the baby one day (he loved it!), and it was so good, I made some for moi. Stay healthy, ya'll.