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Orange flowers.

After a relatively mild summer, heat and humidity have arrived in full force in Mississippi. Going outside during the afternoon is miserable these days! If you’re like me, I try to get all my outdoor activities wrapped up in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Be sure you can recognize the signs of heat-related illness, and remember to drink plenty of water anytime you’re outside! Hydration is important!


Green Frog.

Toads vs. Frogs

July 27, 2021

Is it a frog or a toad? If you stumbled on this amphibian, would you be able to call it by its correct name? Many people believe that frogs and toads are two different types of amphibians. Technically, a toad is a type of frog! At first glance, they may appear very similar but there are a few differences that will help distinguish one from the other. 

A dog lies on the grass in the shade.

How to Protect Your Dogs from Warm Weather Risks

July 23, 2021

Heat stress in dogs is just as serious and life-threatening as it is for humans. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), high temperatures can be dangerous for your dogs, even when it doesn’t seem that hot to you. So, I take steps to help make sure my dogs can stay cool when they are outdoors.

A plate of sweet potoato fries

The Food Factor: Air Fryer Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

July 20, 2021

Video by Jonathan Parrish

Cooking food in an air fryer gives you that crunchy texture you love without the added calories of deep frying. This recipe for Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potato Fries features Mississippi-grown sweet potatoes, olive oil, and spices—that’s it!

Whether you serve these as a side dish or a fun snack, you’ll enjoy the health benefits of sweet potatoes, including fiber, beta carotene, and vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that has antioxidant properties that can help protect cells from damage. For savory sweet potato fries, use garlic powder,...

Stinkbug.

Five Common Garden Insect Pests

July 16, 2021

If you have a home garden, you know the headache of dealing with garden pests. Insects can damage the produce, both directly and indirectly. There are a multitude of different insects that can wreak havoc on your vegetables. We asked MSU Extension Entomology Specialist Blake Layton what are the five most common insects he sees in gardens. Here’s his list: 

A child smiles at the dining table.

School’s Out: 3 Easy Summer Snack Ideas

July 13, 2021

With my kids out of school for the summer, snacks are an important part of our routine. Check out three of my family's favorite nutritious and filling snacks.

Blue Jay with nut in mouth.

Tips for Identifying Backyard Birds

July 8, 2021

Birdwatching is a favorite pastime of many Mississippians. My grandmother had a bird book she wore out over the years. I fondly remember sitting on the porch swing with her as a child trying to identify the different birds that frequented her house. Sometimes we were successful in finding the bird, other times not so much. 

Bald Eagle flying.

Critter of the Month: Bald Eagle

July 2, 2021

There's nothing more majestic than the bald eagle. As many know, the bald eagle is the United States' national bird and is exclusively found in North America. Spotting one in the wild is a moment many will never forget!

A lady in a kitchen holds a smoothie and gives a thumbs up.

The Food Factor: Strawberry Swirl

July 6, 2021

As the days heat up, I’m looking for ways to cool off! This recipe for a Strawberry Swirl gives me all the health benefits of whole fruit with the refreshing coolness of a frozen drink.

Pink rose bush.

July Garden Checklist

June 25, 2021

It’s been an overall mild and rainy summer so far. If you’re like me, there no complaints with the mild weather. Mississippi is notorious for hot, humid summers so I’ll take slightly cooler temps any day of the week! July is a busy month in your yard and garden. Here are a few things to accomplish this month:

  1. July is a great time to take root cuttings from a variety of different plants around your home. Plants like azaleas, boxwoods, camellias, and gardenias can be planted in a fine sand mix to encourage new growths. Our blog post on 
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Fire ants around rocks

How to Get Fire Ants Out of the Vegetable Garden

June 29, 2021

Do you have fire ants in your vegetable garden? Me too. Good news for all of us! There are some fire ant baits that are safe to use around food plants.

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About Extension for Real Life

Extension for Real Life is a product of the MSU Extension Service’s Office of Agricultural Communications.

That’s a long way of saying we are professional communicators who get to talk about food, families, 4-H, flowers, and farming for a living.

Blog content is created by a core team of communicators, including Susan Collins-Smith, Ellen Graves, Natasha Haynes, Keri Lewis, Michaela Parker, and Jonathan Parrish. But we get by with a lot of help from our friends in Ag Comm and Extension!

You can reach us at 662-325-2262 or extreallife@msstate.edu