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One of my newest favorite things took me by surprise: Writing this blog. I’ve been a professional writer for more than a decade. I’ve had my work appear in Woman’s Day, The New York Times, Time Magazine, Parents, and I am certainly proud of that work. However, I was absolutely unprepared for how much I look forward to sitting here writing with a specific audience in mind. Or how much I would enjoy reading other blogs. Or the rush of watching my traffic rise on a daily basis. Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting. Hopefully, I will get to know more of you over the coming months and years, and you will get to know me. Have a safe and happy Halloween! And on to the Favorites…

Quick cakes. I like cake. There, I said it. But only the real stuff. None of this boxed nonsense. However, having a huge cake sitting in the house is a bad thing since my husband doesn’t eat cake or sweets. It would be all mine, something my wardrobe wouldn’t love. Ahhh, but what if you could make one tiny cake at a time so you always had a fresh cake — hot, yummy, and portion controlled? Stacey J. Miller’s book, 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes, and her blog show you how to bake cakes in a mug in the microwave. What a smart concept! Once we run out of Halloween candy I intend on trying a few of these recipes out. Nothing says winter like a great big mug of blueberries and sugar! And cake!

Cooking, decorating, and Martha — oh my! I am no Martha Stewart, that’s for sure. I’d like to be more like her, though. Minus the whole arrest thing, of course. Martha whips up yummy food. She decorates with aplomb. She can turn everyday items into things of beauty. One writer, Brette Sember, is undergoing an experiment to see if she can Martha-ize her home and family. We, as readers, can follow along with her progress on her site, Martha and Me. This works out well. I can watch a real person try to emulate Martha, but I don’t have to touch a single glue gun.

Lunchboxes that make a mom proud. Getting back to the not-a-great cook thing…my lack of culinary prowess extends into my daughter’s lunchbox. She gets pretty much the same thing every day: Soybean butter and jelly sandwiches, a piece of fruit, a sweet of some kind, and something “dry” that she can eat during morning snack. Boooooring. So imagine how inspired I was when I came across Lunchbox Limbo, a site that tracks a mom’s journey to green her family’s lunchboxes while at the same time make them extremely appealing. Extremely. Sandwiches and lunches that are really edible art dominate the posts. I am awed every time I go to this site, especially since she’s making this “art” using mostly organic and healthy ingredients. One of these days I may even try one of her ideas!

Baking can be fun. Oh, Katelyn! I thought sending you off to preschool would be difficult. I had to send snack every once in a while. Maybe bake some cupcakes on your birthday. And then you got to grade school, and I realized the fun was just beginning. I know themed bake sales are cute, but goodies that look like what a bat would eat? And you’re an insect-eating bat? Good thing I found Bakerella and her cute-but-yummy brownie spiders. I can make those, right? (I’ll post photos of the little buggers before I send them into school next Friday.)

Giving back to those who protect us. I am anti-war, but I also support those men and women who give their lives to our country — often for years on end. A new charity called Phoenix Wish for Our Heroes lets regular people grant military wishes by visiting the accompanying Web site, and donating money to specific soldiers. The charity, which is launching the week of November 2, also has a Facebook page and Twitter account so you can follow its progress.

What’s your favorite food-related site? Talk back and tell me!

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