Tag Archives: Summer

Book Buzz: The Space Between Sisters

The ingredients for a pleasurable summer read are all found in The Space Between Sisters, Mary McNear’s latest novel in her Butternut Lake series.

Book Buzz; The Space Between Sisters

Take a scenic and charming lake community, add in two sisters and two eligible bachelors, combine with the allure of summertime, sprinkle in a bit of nostalgia and a few secrets, finish off with a dash of whimsy with a cat named Sasquatch, and voila.

The Space Between Sisters

Poppy and Win have the same parents but couldn’t be more different. Now adults, Poppy is impetuous and flighty and Win, a widow, is organized and steady. They haven’t lived together in 13 years, but one day Poppy appears on the doorstep of the Win’s lakeside cottage in Butternut Lake — jobless, out of money, and having nowhere to go.

The cottage, once owned by their grandparents, had been their summertime destination when they were children. The sisters both have fond memories of idyllic summers spent in Butternut Lake. When the grandparents died, Win — the more responsible sister– inherits the cottage, and she decides to live there year-round.

Poppy and Win were close as children, relying on each other perhaps more than most siblings do. Their household was chaotic. The parents were negligent and for large chunks of time the girls were on their own, even at a young age. They yearned for a stable home environment but the parents were unable to provide it.

Now adults, the love is still there. But it’s complicated.

Living together for the first time in many years, the sisters still love each other but find new tensions in their relationship. Win is frustrated with Poppy’s lack of initiative and her messiness. Poppy is irritated by Win’s OCD type of organization. At the same time, they are trying to reframe their broken lives: Win, reeling from the death of her husband, and Poppy, struggling with a painful secret she has been harboring for years.

But the bonds of sisterhood prove more durable than the adversity each has faced. Poppy and Win realize they are both ready to find closure with the past. Willing to move on, to accept what is and put it behind them, they find strength in the ties that bind them. In doing so, they find that they have much more in common than they once thought.

This is a breezy, easy read that definitely meets the requirements for a great beach book (even if you’re not at the beach). And if you haven’t read the three prior books in the Butternut Lake series, no worries. The Space Between Sisters is fine as a standalone.

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of The Space Between Sisters. Please leave a comment below and enter the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I received a copy of The Space Between Sisters from William Morrow for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

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Summer Fruit Tart

Summer Fruit TartWhoever came up with the idea of combining luscious summer fruit with a flaky pie crust and vanilla pastry cream has my gratitude. A summer fruit tart is one of my favorite desserts and hey, it’s mostly fruit, so it’s a healthy dessert, right?

When our local berries come into season I eat gobs of them by hand, but I also make pies and tarts. Fruit just tastes better — much better — when it is grown locally and available shortly after picking. Even an undiscerning palate can taste the difference.

Summer Fruit Tart

The pastry cream adds a delicate vanilla flavor and a nice texture, but if you opt not to use it, you can melt a couple of tablespoons of apricot or raspberry jam and spread that on the crust instead. The coating will keep the crust from getting soggy after the fruit is ladled onto it.

I like adding kiwi for a pretty contrast to the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Of course, if you want to go all July 4th, use just the red and blue and you’ve got the perfect dessert to bring to the barbecue.

Summer Fruit Tart


¼ c. sliced almonds
1 t. grated lemon rind
¾ c. flour
1 ½ T. sugar
½ t. salt
6 T. cold, unsalted butter, cut in pieces
3 T. ice water

Place the almonds, lemon rind, flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until almonds are ground. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water and pulse until mixture begins to come together.

Summer Fruit Tart

Gather dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes or longer.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface and transfer it to a 10″ tart pan. Pat the dough evenly so it covers the bottom and sides. Trim the edges.

Summer Fruit Tart

Line the crust with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove crust from oven, remove foil and let cool.

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

1 ¼ c. whole milk
½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 t. pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
¼ c. sugar
2 T. flour
2 T. cornstarch
½ T. liqueur (Grand Marnier, Kirsch, e.g.), optional

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean until bubbles start to form around the edges. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and add to the egg mixture, mixing until smooth.

When the milk is ready, remove it from the heat and add slowly to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. You don’t want it to curdle. If it does, you can stain the mixture. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds, adding them back into the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture into a clean saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk for another 30-60 seconds until it gets thick. Remove from heat and whisk in the liqueur if you are using it.

Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the top with plastic wrap — right on top of the mixture — to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature before using, or refrigerate until needed, up to three days. Whisk before using to break up any lumps.


When pie crust is cool, spread with a thin layer of vanilla pastry cream (if using), enough to cover the bottom. Wash and prepare whatever fruit you are using and arrange decoratively on top. Just before serving, sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top.

Summer Fruit Tart

Happy Fourth of July!


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Wordless Wednesday: The Last Day of Summer

The last day of summer has always been more bitter than sweet to me, but this year I was given a gift that made the transition much easier.

The stars aligned to bring my geographically dispersed children home at the same time for a short visit: the first time the five of us had been together in over a year. We savored the togetherness at our favorite destination, the beach.

I will remember this special time as the autumn leaves swirl and darkness comes early.

last day of summer on the beachgirls playing in ocean last day of summerseagulls on beach summer

family on the beach in the summer

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Two Lost Keys and Goodbye to Summer

Procrastination and denial are the culprits. This is a post that can wait no longer, with the official debut of the fall season tomorrow. Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to summer.


Our summer weekends are pretty damn wonderful. My family has a beach house on the New Jersey coast, “down the shore,” as the vernacular goes. Just two hours away is our beloved getaway. My husband and I, and assorted other relatives, relish our summer weekends of pure relaxation.

This is not a razzle dazzle beach community. No boardwalk, no shopping district, few good restaurants. That, along with my no makeup/no hair care policy makes for a quiet weekend of eating, drinking, spending quality time with family and best of all, getting engrossed in a good book for hours.

Duncan and I take early morning walks on the beach. The sunrises are extraordinary.

He zonks out after our walks …

and I move on to the next item on the agenda.

And that is pretty much the extent of it.

Reluctant to bid a final adieu, we lucked out when Mother Nature graced us with glorious September weekends that extended the summer just a bit. Which brings me to the lost keys.

Our plans last weekend were to spend the day in NYC and head down the shore at the end of the day. Daughter Laurie and her friend would be spending the weekend with us but wanted to leave earlier in the day. Could we give her the key, she asked.

We did. We went off to do our thing in the city. The key? She lost it. She lost it.

I almost lost it.

How do you lose something that you’ve had for no more than 15 minutes and fail to recover it? She and her friend looked everywhere, ransacked the apartment, to no avail.

Fortunately, another key existed, hidden in a safe spot at the beach house. No, I won’t tell you where. Laurie and friend were able to get in the house, and we joined them a few hours later.

The weekend was lovely, and we hated packing up on Sunday, but it was time to go. On the way home we stopped at Wegmans for some groceries. We got back to the car and I waited for Pete to unlock the door. And waited.

“Where’s the key?” he asked me.

“I don’t have it. I gave it to you.”

He emptied every pocket. Nothing. He retraced his steps, but no key. How does somebody lose a key between the grocery store and the car? Do you see a pattern here?

“Maybe someone turned it in,” Laurie offered.

And indeed someone had. Relieved, we got back in the car and headed home as night began to fall.

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