Outside my window: I’m in my office and it’s late in the day. The sun is casting a long shadow of the house onto the front lawn, and the trees that stand sentinel by this side of the house have only a few leaves left on them. It’s still Monday, but I’m already thinking Tuesday thoughts (and writing Tuesday blog posts, as it were).

Rambling thoughts: This week marks the beginning of my work on my next manuscript. Last week, I sent my first manuscript to my other publisher; now begins the race against time to complete the second one. (I say that with a smile and a pat on my own tummy. I’m not worried — which shocks me as much as it probably shocks everyone reading this who knows me well enough to know how I am.)

In thanksgiving: For opportunities. For music. For 3:33 PM each day. For nieces who cook and husbands who fix things and daughters whose enthusiasm is contagious.

Kitchen meanderings: I have a kitchen. Indeed I do! And I am over my non-cooking funk — well, sort of — and even put together a four-week meal plan. I’m not saying I keep to it all the time, but it helps to know it’s there.

Nose inserted: My nose is firmly in The Sea of Monsters, by Rick Riordan, the second in the Percy Jackson series. My ten-year-old niece quizzes me on these things. (It’s great!)

Recent reads: I just finished Full of Grace: Encountering Mary in Faith, Art, and Life, by Judith Dupre, and let me just tell ya — if you have ANYONE in your life who would appreciate a book about Mary, GET IT FOR THEM THIS CHRISTMAS. It is one of the BEST Marian books and resources I have come across in two years of intense reading and study. I’ll be doing a full review for CatholicMom.com in the next few weeks.

In my ears: I’m putting together an Advent playlist, in part to help me prepare for Advent and in part because my next book is a collection of Advent reflections and I think the right music will set the tone for my writing. (A girl can dream, right?) Any suggestions?

Around the house: Sink: full of soapy water and dishes. Dryer: full of drying clothes (which I should have hung out!). Washer: at work cleaning a batch of clothes. Toys: scattered all over the playroom, sign of a three-year-old at work. Living room: girls curled up, watching Toy Story 3. (Again.) The house is getting gray in the way it does this time of the year.

A favorite thing: Autumn sunsets and the dear friend who texts me to remind me to look up at them and appreciate them.

Plans made, possibly kept: Rumor has it that I have a phone date with some of my favorite bloggy buddies later in the week, though I have writing to do before I get to that point. Other than that, it’s a light week…and I have a feeling I’ll be glad for that (things have had a way of sneaking up on me lately).

Food for thought: “When I am paid a compliment, I must compare myself with the little donkey that carried Christ on Palm Sunday. And I say to myself: ‘If that little creature, hearing the applause of the crowd, had become proud and had begun — jackass that he was — to bow his thanks right and left like a prima donna, how much hilarity he would have aroused! Don’t act the same!'” – Cardinal Luciani, later Pope John Paul I

Worth a thousand words: Taken by my husband in 2002, it’s not quite an autumn sunset, but it’s close…and it always makes me think autumn thoughts. This is the view from behind my house (the building on the left is a small barn). Just seeing this picture makes me say a prayer of thanksgiving…for this beauty, for that man, for my life.