With the first day of summer just around the corner, I find my mind frequently wanders to things I’d like to do this summer rather than actually focusing on the tasks at hand. I even have a section in my journal for my Summer Bucket List.

Summer, with its long sunny days, is time for vacations, travel, the outdoors, simple recipes, and good books. Piper and I cover a lot of ground in our daily walks, but there’s something appealing about being a tourist in your own neck of the woods. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there is an abundance of locations to explore. From urban cityscapes to pristine wilderness, I’ll never run out of adventures!

Piper and I love to walk on the beach at low tide, with Mount Baker and the Cascade foothills in the background.

Washington is a gorgeous state, blessed with amazing walking and hiking trails, more than three thousand miles of coastline, and not one, but three, national parks within easy driving distance from Seattle. To the south, Mount Rainier dominates the Seattle skyline, and Mount Rainier National Park, the nation’s fifth oldest national park, is less than two hours away.

Photo of Mount Rainier taken on an early moring walk with Piper.

To the north, there’s North Cascades National Park, also less than a 2 hour drive, and stately Mount Baker, where I’ve skied often, even on July 4th.  And to the west, a two-and-a-half hour drive will take you to the amazing Olympic National Park, with nearly a million acres to explore, including 50 miles of coastline. I recall as a girl when my little brother won a fun stay for our family in Lake Quinalt Lodge in the rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula.

Summer doesn’t always mean go-go-go. To me, the appeal of summer also includes sitting outside on our deck on the island with family and friends. When I think of the 4th of July I can’t help but recall my mother-in-law’s fabulous Strawberry Shortcake made from local strawberries.

Strawberry Shortcake


2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup shortening
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped
1-1/2 quarts fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ square baking pan.
  2. In a bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to the creamed mixture.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
  5. Cut into nine servings. Split each serving horizontally and fill with whipped cream and strawberries. Replace top of cake; garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and more berries. Serve immediately.

As a writer I read many books. Like a chef who adores food, I love reading. I find imagination, inspiration, new vocabulary, learn insights about people and relationships, and find out what works and doesn’t work in writing. There are books that leave me less than enthused, and others that I think about long after the last page.

One author I consistently enjoy and who never disappoints is Elin Hilderbrand.  Her latest novel, The Five-Star Weekend, is on that summer bucket list I mentioned earlier. My ordered copy will arrive soon.

Hollis Shaw’s life seems picture-perfect. She’s the creator of the popular food blog Hungry with Hollis and is married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon. But after she and Matthew get into a heated argument one snowy morning, he leaves for the airport and is killed in a car accident. The cracks in Hollis’s perfect life—her strained marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter, Caroline—grow deeper.

When Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”—one woman organizes a trip for her best friend from each phase of her life: her teenage years, her twenties, her thirties, and midlife—she decides to host her own Five-Star Weekend on Nantucket, where my family vacationed before we moved out west. But the weekend doesn’t turn out to be a joyful Hallmark movie.

I can’t wait to read this book!

While I’m busy planning my summer activities, I’m also editing a book that I’ve been working on, plotting another new one, and enjoying the reviews for my latest novel, Reinventing Ruthie. I learn so much from my readers and thank each one for reading my newest book and leaving a short review!

If you’d like to add my latest novel, Reinventing Ruthie, to your summer reading list, enter to win one of 20 Kindle copies on my Goodreads Giveaway

Fun to watch my sons playing frisbee on the beach at low tide with Mount Baker in the background.

What are your plans for the summer – on the go, stay at home, or something in between? To help you on your way, I’m giving away a $100 Amazon gift card and a copy of one of my books. U.S. only. Winner will be announced Tuesday, June 27, and has three days to respond to my email.