Wow, summer sure went by quickly! We’re already mid-way through fall and heading directly into winter and the holidays. It’s been a blustery last few weeks here in the Pacific Northwest, and many of the spectacularly colored leaves have blown away, leaving bare branches waving in the wind.

The bare branches are perfect for halloween. While I don’t at all care for the creepy decorations festooning some of my neighbors’ yards, I’m all for cute pumpkins. While my husband and I no longer carve pumpkins now that our sons have grown, I’ve discovered some serious talent while Piper and I are out on our walks.

Knowing that The Farmers Almanac promises a cold and dry winter in the Pacific Northwest, but lots of snow for most of the rest of the country, my kitchen adventures are definitely turning to soups, stews and chilis. I think pumpkin is one of those overlooked ingredients when it comes to savory dishes. Here’s an easy pumpkin chili recipe that’s ready in less than an hour, so you’ve got all evening to snuggle up with a cozy blanket and good book.

Easy Pumpkin Chili


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground spicy Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 (15-oz.) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 1/2 c. chicken broth


  • In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring to break into pieces, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  • Add the onion and bell pepper to the Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, pumpkin puree, chicken broth, and sausage. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pumpkin seeds, sour cream, cheese, and avocado.

While I’m on the topic of good books, I’m desperately trying to find the time to finish up my summer book reads. Next on my list is Rachel Hauck’s Best Summer of Our Lives.

Twenty years ago, the summer of ’77 was supposed to be the best summer of Summer Wilde’s life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow–the Four Seasons–had big plans.

But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, “Nowhere,” Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. All four of them arrived with hidden secrets and buried fears, and the events that unfolded in those two months forever altered their friendships, their lives, and their futures.

Now, thirtysomething, Summer is at a crossroads. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is a place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love’s voice.

While Autumn is a time of transition, the somewhat jarring mix of summer clearance items, Halloween costumes, and Thanksgiving turkeys side-by-side with Christmas trees, bows and wreaths can give me whiplash. I enjoy each holiday as it comes, and have never indulged in the countdown to Christmas. I don’t feel the need to be reminded that it’s 68 days to Christmas. Oops! I guess I did fall into that one.

If you’re ready to start on your Christmas reading list, I’ve got two books and a novella all set in the Christmas season, A Lancaster Family Christmas, From Rome With Love and An Unexpected Christmas Gift.

Enter my Changing Seasons Giveaway for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card plus a copy of my latest novel, Reinventing Ruthie or another of my books if you’ve already purchased a copy. US only. Winner will be announced Tuesday October 24 and has three days to respond to my email. Only by responding to my email can you win. Sorry, I don’t read Facebook or Instagram messages.