Tips to Simplify Education and Life with Mobile Tech

This post is written in partnership with U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

Now that we are all firmly back to school, thinking about ways to use technology to simplify is on my mind.  This year we have two kids who are at two different levels, as well as a very active almost 3 year old.  Technology is definitely coming into play during our schooling.  And honestly, it is taking part in schooling from pre-school all the way to college.

Tips to Simplify Education and Life with Mobile Tech

One of the big changes that we have had this year is to listen to a lot more audio books.  Since we spend a lot of our time reading together as part of the kids’ education, I realized that me spending all of that time reading is not always possible.  Letting the kids have an audiobook to listen to while they work on chores or art, or even while having their rest time, it helps.  Having the audiobooks is also a plus when we are out and about trying to get to different lessons, or when we are patiently waiting for Emma to finish her saxophone lesson sitting in the car.  U.S. Cellular has great coverage that allows me to download new books or listen to music whenever we are out and about – which seems to be often.

Emma and Jack are also downloading a lot more e-books for their free reading this year.  Having the options available at our fingertips is wonderful.  It is also a great option for college students.  They are able to download everything from textbooks to their favorite novels.  Reading on my iPhone is something I do myself every single day.  I always have a book at my fingertips, and I prefer that to getting lost in the world of social media.

Tips to Simplify Education and Life with Mobile Tech

Another area that technology has come a long way is with the ability to listen to music anywhere.  Having Spotify and Apple Music let us listen to music whenever we want – plus, have you seen some of the amazing lists on Spotify?!  Also perfect for the student who loves to listen to music while studying, or when you need that down time.

The change in the realm of entertainment – TV and movies – is huge when it comes to technology.  I remember several years ago, before I had my first iPhone (a 3GS) that I couldn’t imagine watching a show on a screen so small.  That was also the year that my 1 year old decided she no longer wanted to sleep, and I got sucked into binge watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix...on my iPhone…so TV on my phone has been a constant since then.

It is also a way for my kids to have some down time in the afternoon, either by watching an educational show, or sitting down to watch a documentary, there are so many options available.  I remember being so excited to have a TV in my college dorm room, but they aren’t really necessary now because kids tend to use their iPhones and iPads to watch anything they could want to.

According to recent U.S. Cellular survey, 59 percent of smartphone users watch video using their devices; up from 48 percent just three years ago.1

Everyday tasks are easy to manage as well.  Using the notes app on my iPhone 7, I constantly make lists throughout the day.  Lists of things I need at the store, things I need to work on with my kids, even as an alarm in the morning.


Students are able to use their mobile device to replace so many items, it definitely lightens the load.  Everything from alarm clocks, to books, to large music collections, can now be stored right on their device, cutting down on clutter and having everything they need at the touch of the screen.

What apps do you use to simplify and manage your everyday?

¹ Between Nov. 10-17, 2016, a total of 701 online interviews were conducted among a nationally representative sample by Consumer Insights, in partnership with Maritz CX.

When you are trying to Find Your Rhythm

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.

Fall is such a wonderful time of year.  The kids are back in school, and you are able to find some way back to a good rhythm.  At least, that is how it is supposed to go.  What happens when you are still trying to find your rhythm more than halfway through September?

Easing back into a good rhythm and routine is important for everyone.  Going from the lazy days of summer to two tests and a paper the next week is probably not the most enjoyable way to start a new season, or a new school year.

For several years we have been homeschooling all year, so that our days allow a little more wiggle room to ease into our school year.

But, with fall, comes more obligations and activities, and trying to fit those into a good rhythm is challenging.

No year seems to be the same, but this year seems to be a lot different for me than it normally is.  Perhaps it is because I am doing real school with two kids instead of just one, perhaps it is because Lucy is showing me all of her crazy sides at the ripe old age of almost 3.  Perhaps it is because we haven’t had a proper vacation in too long, and my husband is home for a lot of long weekends – definitely a different way of easing into the fall rhythm.

So what is a mama to do?

I have always loved routines and schedules.  I love time management, and making sure that I can get the most done in the least amount of time – so that I am able to use free time to pursue my passions.  In college I was able to arrange my schedule to only have classes a couple times each week, giving me the rest of the week to work and study.  Most of my friends didn’t understand how it was even possible that I only had classes in a certain block of time, rather than all over the place.  It is what worked for me; I wanted my schedule to work for me.

After I had kids, I essentially threw the schedule right out the window.  No matter how many baby books I read about how every baby is on a schedule, mine refused to comply.  Instead of feeding every two hours, she would go 2 hours, then 3 hours, then 45 minutes.  Instead of being a slave to my clock, I had to move towards a more relaxed rhythm.  The stress that I felt when my baby wasn’t following the schedule immediately lessened (although it has never really gone away, it is just hidden now!).

From that point forward, rhythm was the new buzz word.

The problem with rhythm, however, is that it changes frequently, at least by season if not more often.

We started school in earnest at the beginning of August, and it hasn’t been working.

I’m not enjoying it as much as I typically do, and I think part of that is because I needed some perspective on how much we should accomplish in a day.  I was doing too much, and rearranging the schedule of the day, but not the priorities of the day.

I love this quote by Albert Einstein –

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Now, I didn’t think I was doing that, and perhaps you don’t either.  But, doing the same things day after day, and trying to put them in a different order to maximize your time, or to encourage your kids to complete specific tasks, it doesn’t work, something needs to change.

While I concentrated on all the subjects I thought my kids should do in a day, I was forgetting my primary purpose in homeschooling – to raise lifelong learners, kids that turn into adults who will fearlessly pursue their passions.

Obviously my kids still need to learn, so do yours.  However, I don’t need to force so much information down their throats at one sitting, and I need to learn to follow their interests more.

Homeschooling is wonderful because there is so much information available to learn, but it is also so complicated because there is so.much.information.  Deciding which subjects to study, which interests to follow, it is constantly moving – which is why your rhythm changes so often.

I recently read a book called Minimalist Homeschooling.  The premise is not about a certain type of homeschooling (I thought minimalist homeschooling = unschooling), but instead figuring out your priorities and fully engaging with those priorities. 

You cannot teach your child everything, you cannot do every activity that you want; you need to make choices based on your values.

Every season is new, every year is new, your schedule and routine and rhythm is going to change.  Accepting that it is going to change is the first step to finding your rhythm.

Don’t try to squeeze everything in.

This can be a slippery slope.  We want the best for our kids, so we try to give them all the experiences, but that ends up backfiring.  Either the child is not into the activity/subject/sport and it is like pulling teeth to get there, or you are run so ragged that you spiral into a ball of stress. 

One way to help you figure out what is important is to have a conversation with your child – an honest one.

Do they really love all the sports they are playing, or do they play them because you have always signed them up, or perhaps they enjoy going to see their friends?  Do they want to try something different?  Is your child really excelling in music, or do they hate to practice?

As homeschoolers we can often try to overcompensate with activities because even though we know deep down that our kids are not missing out we still have that fear.

It is hard to rank activities and subjects and sports, but that is exactly what you must do if you are going to find a rhythm that will work for you and your family in this season and every season going forward.

In the fall we start to slowly ease back into activities and subjects after a pretty lazy summer where we mainly work only on science and spend as much time outside as possible.  But, the weather is beautiful in New England in the fall, so we are still spending a lot of time outside doing nature walks, studying leaves, reading outside on a blanket.  It isn’t necessarily the time to be sitting down to a lot of seat work.

Once the snow comes, because it always does, and it is bitterly cold outside, we spend more time inside, plowing through books, doing a lot of seat work, and generally enjoying a bit of hibernation.

Settling into a rhythm is challenging when your day is not dictated for you.

Start with your most important items, and then fit in what you can around those most important items.  This works for homeschool, it works for public school, it works for any type of situation.  Start with what is most important, and then try to fit in what you can around those different areas.

The goal of creating a rhythm is so that you are mindful of your days.

It is easy to watch the days turn into weeks turn into months, and not quite know what happened during that time.  You can go on autopilot, and not fully experience any of it because you are constantly moving to the next thing.  If you love a full schedule, that is amazing, but make sure that you are fully in each task and activity, experiencing every bit of it.  If you struggle with a full schedule, that is OK too.

You should lean into your rhythm, and fully experience life through those choices.  Not all are fun, some are necessary and can be less than exciting, but they all give some opportunity for growth, for challenge, for change.

It is OK if your rhythm doesn’t work out on the first try – that is why I am here, right now, writing to you.  Our rhythm hasn’t been the best this fall, but last week we were able to change a few things around, and I lightened up on what we needed to do in a day.

One thing that has helped us is to go for a walk first thing in the morning. 

Townsend House

We typically spend a lot of time outside playing in the yard, but we usually do our walks in the evening when dad gets home from work.  But, last week we started our day with a walk, and that little change in our rhythm seemed to improve my kids’ attitudes, and they were more diligent in the seat work that I do have them do every day (math, reading, writing).  We also spent more time reading out loud as a family.

The school part of our days last week went from an all day event back to school being done by lunch time.  Everyone’s attitudes improved, and we were still accomplishing almost everything that I wanted to in the week.  Instead of trying to do every subject and activity every single day, we concentrated on a few things each day, and were able to accomplish more in the same amount of time.

What is one change you can make to your rhythm to make your day run better?

Perspective for when you Fear you aren't Doing Enough

Jack: “Dad!  I finished 11 subjects today in school!”
Matt: “11 subjects?!”
Me: “Yes, Jack did a great job today, he finished everything on his list, but we ran out of time for a few of the subjects on Emma’s list, so that is a bummer.”
Matt: “Heather, we took like 4 subjects a day in school, don’t you think you are trying to do too much.”
Heather: “That was high school! The subjects were an hour and a half long!”

This is a common conversation in our household, one that actually just happened this week.  I knew that we had a great school day, the kids were attentive, they did everything that I asked them to do, they had positive attitudes, but when dinnertime rolled around, we had not finished everything that I wanted to do for the day, and I was disappointed.

Have you felt like that before?  That you aren’t doing enough?

Perspective for When you Fear you aren't Doing Enough in your Homeschool

It seems to be a common thread with homeschoolers (and really all moms I believe), to think that we are not doing enough with our kids. 

When you think about educating your child, you want to fit in every subject.  You are concerned when you don’t hit on everything every day, or you are worried that they aren’t keeping up with their peers in public school.  The comparison begins to seep in, and you wonder if you are doing enough.

You don’t want your child to have gaps in their education.

The funny thing is that all kids are going to have gaps.  There is no possible way that you can teach your child every.single.thing.  Yet, time and time again, you feel disappointed when you don’t get to every single science experiment, or the math lesson was only half done, or perhaps the reading has slowed down.  Or maybe that one project your child started is incredibly slow moving, and you have a new theme you want to start. Or perhaps it is another interruptions with a younger child or a pet?  Don't ask me how I know about that last one...

It is easy to fall into this trap.  To think that there are gaps which should be filled in by you the parent and teacher of your child.

I’m here to tell you that it is just not the case (and perhaps I am also telling myself!).

The amount of second guessing that homeschool moms do can be a bit overwhelming.  I am a member of several homeschool support groups and there is a lot of conversation about not getting to do all.the.things. 

However, when you sit down and look back at your day, what have you been able to accomplish?  More often than not it is a very long list of items, not only “school subjects” but also life skills that you are teaching your kids.  You are giving them a frame of reference when it comes to learning – that it is all encompassing.  That it concerns every part of life, not just the subjects of traditional school.

There will be gaps in your child’s education.

And it won’t only be your child, every child will have gaps in their education.  There isn’t a public school, private school, or homeschool that will be able to teach every bit of everything to your child.  You know what?  That is OK!  It is OK for your child to have gaps.  Do you know why?

It causes the student to seek out the information that she needs when she needs it.

One of the main reasons that we homeschool is to give our children a love of learning; a desire to seek out the knowledge that they need in all the different areas of their life.  You want your child to learn everything that they need to learn.  They need to learn how to discover, investigate, and research so that when they are older and find something that interests them, they have the tools to learn more.

When you give your student the tools they need to pursue the information they need and want for their life stage then you are doing a service for them.  You are giving them the tools they need to make decisions for themselves in the future – decisions about what is important in their own lives, and what they need to know for their specific situation.

Join the Townsend House community in order to help you find peace in your homeschool!

Now, of course we want our children to learn a great many things, and there are so many wonderful experiences that we can share with our kids. Don’t get into the habit of thinking that because you missed that one item, or several items, that it isn’t enough.  That is self-defeating, and does no good for anyone involved.

If you think you are not doing enough, you will tend to become more stressed while you are teaching your kids.  Every interruption, instead of being taken with grace, will become a huge sore spot on your day.  When you get stressed out, your kids will get stressed out, and even less work will be finished.

It may be difficult to deviate from your plans – it certainly is for me.  I like to check off boxes, and perhaps you do as well.  But, instead of being discouraged when all the boxes are not checked off for the day, perhaps just start there the next morning, continue working through what you planned to work through, but the next morning.  Eventually you will come to a place when you plan out your week that you will not have quite so many boxes to check off daily.

This is a lesson that I tend to relearn every fall when we start our homeschooling in full force. 

Do you struggle with feeling as though you aren’t doing enough in your homeschool?  How do you let go of those comparisons and move forward in your day?

Top Apps to Foster Academic Success

This post is in partnership with U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

Back to school has changed a lot since I was in school.  Now, a lot of kids are getting their first cell phone at the beginning of the school year.  And with that first cell phone – or any type of device – comes a lot of responsibility for the child.  U.S. Cellular makes it easy to start the conversation with their Parent-Child Agreement.

When we give our children this type of technology we want to make sure that there are rules in place.  Making sure that those rules are clearly laid out and agreed upon is important.  Technology is most definitely a privilege and should be treated that way by everyone involved.

A recent U.S. Cellular survey found that 58% of parents have children with a cell phone, and the average age children are getting their own cell phone is 11.1

The opportunity to use technology to do research in the classroom, as well as collaborate with other students on projects, is an amazing advance that I wish I had had growing up.  Allowing our children to help the process of education evolve with the use of technology is important for their future, and for ours as well.

According to a recent report by Common Sense Media, 94% of parents agreed that technology positively supports their children with schoolwork and education.2

Giving your child the latest technology, can be an amazing help when it comes to learning for the new year.  I know as a parent I want to give my children all the tools they need to be successful, and technology is a bit part of that equation.

These are some amazing apps available to help your kids’ foster academic success for this coming school year.

Wolfram|Alpha ($2.99) – a useful app for homework of any kind.  With U.S. Cellular’s fast, high-quality network and nationwide coverage, it can be easily accessed from anywhere, anytime.  Use it to gather in-depth information on grammar concepts, historical figures, and math equations.

Photomath – a free camera calculator that is designed to virtually show your student the step-by-step process of working out difficult math problems.  This will be amazingly helpful for my kids who are not as excited about showing their work as I am.  The app will scan a picture of the question, detail each step to solve the equation and then provide the answer so the student can check their work.

Ready4ACT – if you have a student looking for test prep, this app is great.  It is a study app that prepares students in their final years of high school for the ACT test.  It has practice problems and mock exams that you can do right on your iPhone 7.

And finally one for the teachers – ClassDojo – This is a classroom manager that is used in 90% of K-8 classrooms in the United States.  It helps to connect students, teachers, and parents in a classroom community.3  It manages participation and rewards and even allows teachers to share community moments with the parents.

Do you have a favorite app that your child uses to foster academic success?

¹ Between Nov. 10-17, 2016, a total of 701 online interviews were conducted among a nationally representative sample by Consumer Insights, in partnership with Maritz CX.
2 The Common Sense Media Report is based on a nationally representative survey of 1,786 parents of children age 8 to 18 living in the United States that was conducted from July 8, 2016, to July 25, 2016 by GfK.
3 According to

How to Create Consistency in Your Homeschool Day

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you click on one of these links and then make a purchase, I may receive a small commission.

When I ask other homeschool moms what their biggest struggle is with homeschooling, they often say consistency.  I have to be honest and say that it is one of my biggest struggles as well.  By consistency we mean - getting into a regular routine where you are able to cover all the subjects necessary.

Why is it so difficult for you to find consistency in your homeschool day?

The biggest reason is because you are including too much in your day.  How can that possibly be the case, you ask yourself.

When I started “officially” homeschooling Emma in Kindergarten I tried to do all the things.  There are so many amazing subjects to explore, and I wanted her to have the opportunity to do all of them.  This was in addition to the normal reading, writing, arithmetic type classes.  Here I was, knowing that I needed to complete 175 days of every.single.subject.  I was boxing myself into a corner before I even started homeschooling.  I finally realized that I did not, in fact, need to complete 175 days of every subject, and to think that I needed to in the first place was completely misguided.

How to Create Consistency in Your Homeschool Day

You want to give your child the best education that they possibly can have.  You want to read all the amazing literature, go on all the field trips, give them the life skills they need to live an amazing and productive life.  You want to give them the best math curriculum so they learn to love math (even if you hated math when you were in school), you want to include nature walks and let them explore their interests.  Honestly, the entire homeschool journey can make your head spin!

When you look at all the different activities and subjects you want to explore with your child throughout the year, it can be extremely daunting.  You end up giving up before you even start.

Let me tell you a little secret – you cannot teach them everything.

This is an incredibly hard lesson to learn, because there are so many wonderful subjects and ways to teach, but it is also incredibly freeing.  Once you accept this, you will be able to move forward with some winning strategies on consistency in your day.

Part of the reason we decided to homeschool was to give our kids the opportunity to learn about and explore those out of the box ideas that they have.  If my kids want to learn how to sew costumes and make their own movie, I want to include that in our curriculum.  But, they also still need to continue on with all of the other schooling they need to do.

How do you manage to find consistency with all the noise?

The best way that you can find consistency is to start removing items from your to-do list.  Yes, you heard me correctly, you need to do less in order to do more.

When you plan our your homeschool days, do you fill them up with all of your subjects, planned all out nicely in your Erin Condren Teacher Planner just to end the day with a quarter of them checked off?

How to Create Consistency in Your Homeschool Day

Let me take you through our days – I want to wake up earlier than my kids and have time to center myself and prepare for the day, but in reality my oldest is up at 6am and starving.  Followed shortly by my 2 year old who wants to play with her brother who is sleeping in.  The dog decides that she needs to go for a walk right.this.second even though I have already taken her for one this morning.  We start school, but the 2 year old decides she needs to be the center of attention and screams at the top of her lungs.  And this is all before 9:30 in the morning.  Finally everyone settles down to do school, but the book Emma is reading is boring, and takes her forever to read her two chapters.  They want to play outside, and then it is lunch time and we have completed 2 subjects.  Then it is time for the baby to take a nap, and I am already starting to think about dinner.  Where did the day go?  Did we even do any school?

Now, that is not every day of course, but it easily can happen if I let it get that way.

How to Create Consistency in Your Homeschool Day

The first step to finding consistency is to really look at your schedule for the day.  Are you putting too many things on the list? 

We use a wonderful curriculum that includes an instructor’s guide.  But, if I follow that instructor’s guide, for two different levels, we are doing school for over 8 hours a day.  While I believe that homeschooling is a job, it doesn’t have to be that intense.  So, we pick and choose and move things around to make it a better fit for our family.

One of the strategies we are incorporating this year is to do heavy school for 4 days and then do fun school on Fridays.  This allows us to explore our interests, get to the library, or plan for field trips.

How to Create Consistency in Your Homeschool Day
Working on their current film - Elsa and Mario team up against Evil Anna

There are other strategies as well.  You can work on a loop schedule for certain subjects. 

A loop schedule is really easy to start.  First you make a list of subjects you want on your loop schedule – this can be all the subjects, it can be the fun subjects, it can be any different combination that you would like to use.  Once you have that list you set your time for the day to work on these subjects and start moving through the list, starting at the top.  When you finish the first subject, move to the next, and the next, until your time is over.  Once your time is over, you stop wherever you are on your list of subjects.  The next day, during your loop schedule time, you start with the subject that you left off at, and continue moving through the list. 

A great resource on using loop scheduling can be found in the book Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie.

Another helpful tip is to stop multi-tasking. 

I know, who would think multi-tasking would be bad?  I will let you in on a little secret though, it is bad.  It makes us think that we are accomplishing so many things, when in reality we are not.  Or if we are, it isn’t to the best of our ability.

Try to block off specific time for school, and while you are doing school – just do school.  Don’t get up to do laundry, or check your e-mail, or work on cleaning the kitchen, sit with your kids and do school.  Obviously if your kids are able to be more independent on specific subjects, you don’t need to sit with them constantly.  But, I have found that when I am sitting with my kids while they do their different school tasks, they move faster.  Emma reads faster when I am sitting with her, Jack is able to complete math faster if I am coaching him along the way.  Otherwise, kids are easily distracted, and can start doodling and day dreaming about other activities they would rather be doing.

Sign up to receive your guide to my easy way to organize homeschool curriculum.

The biggest hurdle you need to cross, however, is the power to let go.  You think you need to do all the things, but you really do not.  You need to give yourself some slack when it comes to “getting school done” during the day.

I am a firm believer in life as school.  Every different situation in our lives is a learning opportunity for our children.  Math can be done in the grocery store, science on nature walks, and history on field trips to the museum.  If you allow yourself to let go of some of the pressure, some of the concern that your child is missing out – that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) – you will find more consistency in your days.  And not only will you find consistency, but you will find peace.

How to Create Consistency in Your Homeschool Day

Look at what you are accomplishing every day.  Look for ways to be more realistic with your scheduling.  Will reading really only take 20 minutes, or is it more likely to take 30-40 minutes?  Make sure you include time for mothering as well as teaching.  Put recess into your day, so when you complete a subject or two, you can then send the kids outside to run off some steam.

Do you struggle with consistency in your homeschool day?  What are you able to let go of in order to create more peace in your home?

Back to School $250 Giveaway!

Back to School $250 Giveaway!

Can you believe that it is time to be thinking about getting back to school?  We actually started back up a couple weeks ago, and are quite happy to be back into more of a normal routine around here!  

I know that back to school means a lot of shopping, for new clothes, new school supplies, homeschool curriculum, or supplies that are needed for our amazing public school teachers to be able to teach our children with the tools they need.

That is why I am excited to be partnering with some wonderful bloggers and authors to once again be offering a Back to School $250 Giveaway!

My hope is that one of my wonderful readers will win this giveaway!  It has happened in the past!  You will find all the details below, and good luck!  Also, please let me know if you do win!

Back to School $250 Giveaway
August 17th to September 7th

Thanks to this fabulous group of bloggers and authors for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Heather @ Townsend House I Am A Reader Geybie's Book Blog S.T. Bende Lori's Reading Corner Laurisa White Reyes Every Free Chance Books The Editing Hall Simple Wyrdings Author Al Stone D.S. Venetta ~ Organic Gardening for Kids! Anna del C. Dye My Life. One Story at a Time. Heather Boyd Regency Romance Author Author Mary Ting Author Inger Iversen Krysten Lindsay Hager author Kindle and Me Erin Richards Glistering: B's Blog Helen Smith Donna K. Weaver Carrie @ Reading Is My SuperPower Bookhounds Alexandrea Weis Caroline Clemmons Author D.E. Haggerty Diana's Book Reviews Bound 4 Escape More Than a Review Spirit Filled eBooks The Serious Reader Author Felicia Starr The Page Unbound CoolCatMysteries Heather Gray, Christian Romance Mary from YourDesignerDog Karmack by JC Whyte Kasey's Book Reviews

Enter for your chance to win $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon Gift Card.

Giveaway Details

$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 eGift Card Ends 9/7/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  

 Rafflecopter giveaway

Garden Tour - Week 8

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I always find it interesting to observe my garden – and others’ as well.  There are weeks where there doesn’t seem to be much growth at all, and then other weeks where it seems like there is a ton of growth.

This past week the weeds seemed to take off – and my cucumbers also doubled in size.

The tomatoes are all going strong, yet I still have not put stakes or cages in to hold them up.  I am a little concerned that I won’t be able to safely get a cage around the plants at this point.  In the past I have just let the tomatoes go wild, and they always seem to continue to produce well…it might be the varieties that I grow.  I do have one tomato cage, but this week I really should get out and get the rest at least staked to something so they aren’t completely falling over.

The newest addition to the garden are these little baby green beans growing.  I think they are just adorable when the fruit first appears.

Apparently the Japanese Beetles are happy that my green beans are starting to grow as well, because they are happily eating the leaves.  Not just eating the leaves, but actually decimating them.  I ought to get one of those Japanese Beetle traps and put that in the yard.  I remember my mom catching hundreds of those little bugs in those traps – so gross.

I am still picking lettuce and radishes pretty much daily.  I will hopefully be adding cherry tomatoes soon!

I have been buying local zucchini and summer squash to make one of my favorite summer meals.

It really is super easy.  Sauté an onion, a zucchini and a summer squash together with some garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes, add a bunch of fresh tomatoes, and you have a delicious sauce for pasta.  I made it with some local sausage this past weekend for dinner, and everyone loved it. 

What is a favorite local meal you have enjoyed lately?