Happy Sunday but also, Happy October! Honestly, I don’t know where September went and I swear I was paying close attention too. One of the best months of the year and it has to rush out of here. That’s okay though because October might be even better. Not only do I love Halloween but my birthday is also this month—the 25th! I am Scorpio, hear me roar! No, seriously, Scorpios are passionate but we’re pretty quiet until we need to be. Just ask my male lead, Marc, in Blind Spot.
With school back in session, I’m now waking up earlier than ever before. My high schooler is up at an hour I only see when I need to catch an early morning flight but now find myself stumbling down my stairs on a daily basis to see him out the door at. 6 am is not my hour, let me tell you, but it’s my life now so I try to make the best of it with a good mug of tea at least. I need EASY at that time of day so I’ve been drinking tea concentrate mixed with milk then warmed up. Right now I’m enjoying TAZO’s pumpkin spice latte that I believe I picked up on a recent Target run. You know how it goes, you stop in for a roll of tape and walk out seventy bucks lighter. Yeah, it was one of those days but I am really liking the flavor so I consider it a win.
On this beautifully warm autumn day, I’m currently sitting at my desk, eating homemade pumpkin donuts and sipping on some spiced apple cider. I’ve got my diffuser going with artnaturals Signature Chi Mind Motivator essential oil in it and I don’t think I’ve ever been more comfortable. We moved into our current home last year and I never knew just how uncomfortable I was in our last house until we settled in here. It was like taking my first big breath in a really, really long time. It’s helped so many aspects of my life to just…be. It doesn’t hurt that right outside my back door are trees that are right in the middle of changing their colors. If you’ve never been to upstate New York during the fall, you might want to add it to your bucket list because there’s nothing like it. It’s glorious, truly.
I just decorated my new bookshelves for Halloween (as seen above) and I love the look so much. Even my daughters asked if we can keep them like this. LOL. I won’t but they go look good for now. Most of the decorations shown I picked up at Michael’s. The skull with pearls might be my favorite though.
This past month I’ve been busy with kids and trying to spend as much time with them as possible, then of course school and all that entails. Having a high schooler, a middle schooler, and one still in elementary is CRAZY! I still can’t believe it but we’re making it through. I’m not even sure how honestly but we are. I was supposed to be writing my ass off in September and finish my current WIP weeks ago but that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen because I specifically chose to do other things other than writing. I gave my full, undivided attention to my children as two of them are going through a difficult time in their lives full of transitions. Their schools, their friends, their schedules, everything is so incredibly different for them all of a sudden. I remember those days of feeling lost and scared like it was yesterday. Going from elementary to middle school I remember being especially hard and my daughter isn’t handling it well. Then my son is coming off being fully remote for half of his middle school career to fully in-person at an all new private STEM high school that none of his friends attend. I can’t even imagine what that must be like. So I made the decision to put my kids first, with writing happening wherever I could fit it in. I was able to finish my rockstar romance, just a couple weeks later than I’d originally planned. I don’t anticipate the delay cutting into any important dates and I should be able to still release my new adult standalone this winter with no issues. You can add both to your TBR over on Goodreads now.
Another thing I’ve been letting myself do lately is rest. I’ve been taking breaks during the weekdays when the kids are in school and I’m writing for hours on end to go outside and enjoy the fresh air while I still can. And I stretch and breathe and snack on some healthy foods as well. I gotta tell you, it’s felt amazing to kinda slow down and listen to my body instead of forging ahead with little to no regard for what it might need. I swore this fall I’d make the most of it and I’m really trying.
With that being said, I also have a new show obsession I’ve been dying to share. I know I’m a little late to the party on this one and I’ve had several people that have been recommending it for a while now but I’m just getting to it…Sex Education on Netflix! OMG I’m only two episodes in and LOVING it. It’s so funny while having a relevancy most teenage shows lack. I also started Teenage Bounty Hunters and after only watching one episode, I’m hooked on it as well. Not as realistic but still wildly entertaining. The girls are hysterical. I’ve also been checking out documentaries that are extremely thought-provoking. Val and LulaRich, both on Amazon, as well as Britney vs. Spears on Netflix. Like I said, all three made me stop and think, then continue thinking long afterward. They’re the kind of shows that force you to look at your own life and decide what’s important…and what’s not.
Aside from some nonfiction books on writing and publishing that I’ve been consulting off and on, I haven’t read anything new unfortunately. Unless you count the numerous articles written by other experts in my field…wait, that totally counts as reading, right? Okay, I haven’t read anything for fun recently. Maybe this month I will. Here’s hoping!
One of my family’s favorite Halloween movies is Hocus Pocus so I’ve been playing the updated version of “Come, Little Children” by Clovet Mae basically nonstop for weeks. I always loved that part of the movie when Sarah sang that while flying over Salem. So haunting. So memorable. I’ve also had my Fall playlist on Spotify on repeat but am on the hunt for some more songs to add to it. Let me know if you have any recs. I’d love to hear them!
“Do you smell that?” I inhale loudly, waiting for her to do the same.
“Butternut squash rigatoni,” I sigh, holding my stomach.
“I love butternut squash. Too bad I have to eat alone.
You wouldn’t be interested in eating some with me, would you?”
This excerpt is from my enemies-to-lovers, Changing Lanes, and references one of my favorite meals: Butternut Squash Rigatoni. I already shared the exact recipe I use to make it with my newsletter subscribers but I thought I’d share it here too. I actually just made it last weekend and snapped a pic of the finished product. The lighting in my kitchen was awful but I think it still looks yummy.
I’ve been using this recipe for years, which is originally from Racheal Ray although I’m not sure if it was from her talk show or one of her many shows on Food Network. I make it pretty much exactly how it’s listed except I rarely use prepackaged butternut squash as I prefer fresh just like Paige in C.L. In that instance, I chop peeled squash into small chunks, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake at 400 degrees for 25-ish minutes. After it’s cooled a bit, I put it all in the blender with some broth or water to thin and blend until it’s a fairly smooth puree.
Butternut Squash Rigatoni
-1 (10oz) box of frozen butternut squash puree
-1 LB Rigatoni pasta
-1 TBSP Olive oil
-1 LB ground sweet Italian sausage
-3-4 Cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1 onion, finely chopped
-2 TBSP chopped fresh Thyme (or 2 TSP dried)
-1/2 Cup white wine (or broth of your choice)
-4 TBSP butter
-3 TBSP flour
-2 1/2 Cups milk
-2 Cups shredded cheddar
-1 Cup shredded parmesan
Defrost the puree (if using frozen).
Cook pasta according to directions on box using salted water.
Drain and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat.
Add onion to skillet until just softened.
Add sausage to skillet, crumble and brown.
Add garlic and thyme; cook another minute or until fragrant.
Deglaze the skillet with the white wine or broth.
Remove from heat.
Preheat the broiler in oven.
In a large saucepot, melt butter over medium heat.
Whisk in flour for 1 minute.
Whisk in milk and season with salt and pepper and a couple shakes of nutmeg. Thicken to coat a spoon when lifted out.
Stir in the butternut squash puree to saucepot and bring the sauce back to a bubble.
Add cheddar, stirring to melt.
Toss the pasta, sauce, and sausage to combine in a greased 9×13 pan.
Top with parmesan and parsley.
Broil to golden brown, only 1-2 minutes depending on broiler, watching carefully as not to burn.
Want to try this recipe while reading Changing Lanes? You can find it on Amazon *HERE*. If you do make this dish, be sure to email me and let me know! email@example.com
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That’s it for me this month. I’m off to start editing my next release. Can’t wait to share more soon.
Happy Sunday! I’m sitting outside on a beautifully mild day writing this and I cannot wait for more of these days. The weather says Fall . . .
Is it Fall yet? Sorry, it’s just that we’ve had such a wet summer here in upstate New York with mild temps throughout and it . . .