This is the time of year I love most (even if my allergies disagree).

A bald eagle in a tree near the North Valley Overlook on Turtleback Mountain

The birdsong and frog song, the succession of blooming plants, the longer days, and the shifts between sunshine and rain.

I’m finishing up a project that I’ll be sad to leave. I love the characters, the setting, the story. I’m sure I’ll be doing future revisions and edits, shifting and changing, but for now, I’m going to move onto the next big thing.

These moments of shifting can feel good. “Hey, I finished a book!”

Yet, I can also feel unsure.

The possibility awaits: wonderful and scary; exciting and daunting; a dash forward and a long pause. All those contrasts hit me, freeze me.

I’m back to the act of creating again. The pen to the notebook–


Roasted Pumpkin Pie

Some Rustic Pies

I read on Twitter yesterday a Tweet from Ally Carter (an author of excellent YA novels), reminiscing about pumpkin pie made with real pumpkin (not the canned stuff). Some years ago, I started making pumpkin pie with roasted pumpkin, and the results are fantastic! Ally and Tina Hoggatt requested the recipe, so I posted it here. 

I searched through my photos for a good picture of the pie. This is the best I can do. It was from Thanksgiving a couple of years ago. The one in the front is the Pumpkin pie. Just ignore the ugly crust; I tend to do rustic over perfect. You can see the deep color of the roasted pumpkin in the pie. Pure deliciousness! 

I don’t have a recipe for the pie crust, but there are plenty of great ones out there. I love Smitten Kitchen’s excellent recipe and tutorial for an all butter, really flaky pie dough. 

all butter, really flaky pie dough

I’m getting seriously hungry writing this. 

Here it is:

Roasted Pumpkin Pie Recipe 

Adapted from the Bakeshop’s Sugar Pumpkin Pie Recipe which was published long ago in Sunset Magazine. I changed a few of the ingredients. I replaced the corn syrup with maple syrup, added molasses, reduced the sugar, and increased the pumpkin and spices.


1 Sugar Pie pumpkin (or any squash that resembles pumpkin). Preferably organic from a local farm like Farmer John’s on Orcas Island.

2 eggs (from local hens, of course!)

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (or your favorite combination of cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg . . .)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon molasses (optional, but it’s pretty awesome)

3/4 cup (generous) organic half-and-half

1 partially baked 9-inch pie crust, the deeper kind of pie dish works better (make the crust and precook it in the oven for about 10-15 minutes 400 degrees).  Not a necessary step, but it helps.



  1. Cut pumpkin in half crosswise, remove seeds and punkie guts. Then set cut side down in a pan. Bake in a 375-400 degree oven until very soft when pressed.
  2. When cool enough to touch, scoop pumpkin flesh from rind and discard rind. Smoothly purée flesh in a blender; you need 1 generous cup. Use the rest for something else (a second pie!).
  3. In a bowl, mix the 1 cup pumpkin purée, eggs, sugar, salt, and spices. Stir in maple syrup and ½ and ½. Or put everything in the blender and blend!
  4. Set the prepared pie dish with the crust on a baking sheet. Set baking sheet on the bottom third rack of a 350° oven (middle will work as well). Pour the pumpkin mixture into the crust (or do this before you put in the oven).
  5. Bake until pie center barely jiggles when gently shaken, about 50-55 minutes. If crust rims start to get too dark, drape affected areas with foil.
  6. Cool pie on a rack. Serve warm or cool.


If you have any leftover pie filling (it happens), you can make pumpkin custards. Just pour the filling into a small buttered ovenproof container and bake. You now have something to eat while you wait for the pie.

The Art of Keeping Sane: My Life as a Musical

This is a new series in my blog inspired by the things I do to keep myself happy.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have the real world turn into musical? Just when you need it, someone would start singing and music would play and people would dance. Yes, I know those are called flash mobs, but I have yet to witness a flash mob in the real world.

I am not a gifted musician. I played the clarinet for a few years as a child. I can read uncomplicated music and plunk out a few tunes (with one hand) on the piano. My voice is flat, so I only sing when I’m alone. I do have an irritating knack for remembering lyrics—all lyrics—sometimes really dreadful lyrics from songs and commercials that everyone else has forgotten.

Yes, I can remember as far back as age six, right before my mom got rid of our television (thank you, Mom), a groovy Coke commercial with those catchy lyrics . . .

“I’d like to teach the world to sing . . . “

Yeah, that one. I’ll save you the torture.

But, it isn’t just dreadful commercials I sing, I also make up songs in my head.

After grocery shopping, I walked out to the parking lot, and made up this lovely tune (to be sung to the tune of “Dirty Old Town” by The Pogues):

I left my car by Island Market–

Dirty old Forrester, Dirty old Forrester.

I sing my creation to my children. Their typical response?  “Just stop, Mom. Please!”

I stop. But it doesn’t stop the song from going through my brain, over and over and over again.

On those rare occasions when I find a missing sock and bring the pair together in my sock drawer, I sing this classic:

The green apple sitting in the bowl with all the red apples inspired this:

I’ve had this song stuck in my head for years.

I’ve changed the lyrics:

She’s a Bella dog and she’s okay,

She likes to wag her tail all day.

"Please stop, human!"
“Please stop, human!”

This is my way of creating a musical world, but you have to admit, it would be pretty awesome if music would just start playing and we could all start dancing and singing ourselves right out of any funk we create.