As we gear up for the 4th of July this weekend, I’ve been thinking about my summer bucket list. It’s usually full of travel plans and weekend getaways, but with this year all about being closer to home I’ve been thinking about all of the special things we can do right in our own backyard. I expanded our garden and love checking in daily on how our green beans are climbing. We’ve already had a lobster bake (get the recipe in my cookbook!), made popsicles, rode bikes to the ice cream shop, and eaten tons of al fresco dinners. The bucket list looks different this year, but it’s making me truly appreciate how lucky we are to love where we live and have this time at home together. I think it’s going to be a summer to remember! Sharing more of what I’ve been to, new recipes, reading recommendations and more below:Fun for the Fourth. We’re staying local and celebrating on a much smaller scale this year, but with more intimate celebrations comes the opportunity to make things feel really special. Setting a beautiful table with details that might not be scalable at a larger gathering is one perk! Monogram Mary shared these adorable stars and stripes napkins with me for our table. I rolled the napkins and tied up each end with  pretty gingham to make them look like firecrackers for that 4th of July vibe.

Outdoor Games. With all of this time in the backyard we have been stretching our imagination for creative things to play with Jane. My husband built her a little farm stand out of scrap wood and she’s been serving us up refreshing lemonade. We’ve also had fun with a stomp rocket (adults have really enjoyed this too!) and splashing around in our blow up kiddie pool. I’ve been eyeing some of the very cute oversized lawn games at Target (this giant Connect 4 is on sale!) to keep the fun going this summer.

Reading List. I am working my way through my summer reading list now and have some new recommendations. If you’re looking for a page-turning thriller I just read The Last Flight, and my heart was pounding up to the very last few pages!  Emma Straub is one of my favorite writers and her new book We’re All Adults Here was perfection – it was sort of about nothing and about everything at the same time, an enjoyable little slice of a complicated family’s history and relationships. Before that I read Beach Read and the title is a little bit misleading, it’s not as light and fluffy as you might imagine, but it was one of my favorites I’ve opened this year. I loved the slightly messy and imperfect approach to a boy meets girl and falls in love story. I just cracked open The Second Home, which is already feeling like a cozy summer read with the Cape Cod setting.

Clean Beauty. A few weeks ago I shared a big post all about how I got interested in clean beauty, and ultimately joined Beautycounter as a consultant. It was something that was way outside my comfort zone, but I’m so happy by the positive response I got after sharing the news in that post. I’ve learned so much more about cleaner, safer beauty and care products in the past few months and really enjoy sharing it, so except to see a little bit more about that on the blog in the future (and read the clean beauty post if you haven’t yet!). Linked a few of my favorite summer products I’ve been using below:

New Recipes. There have been lots of new summery recipes on the blog recently! Check out this easy peach burrata caprese salad full of seasonal flavors, a grilled tomato and sausage pasta dish that’s perfect for quick weeknight dinners, and a strawberry peach cobbler that I promise will knock your socks off! I also shared a fun collaboration I did with EatingWell magazine, featuring several recipes for the summer table (including the most delightful olive oil blondies to use in ice cream sundaes!).