Hi, friends. How are you? I’ve been off the grid for a while (I’ll explain more below), which is why there has been a short break from recipes. But I have been anxious to check in with a Friday Thoughts post! I LOVE connecting with you in the comment threads of these posts, and with so, so much going on right now for all of us, it’s time to have a friend therapy session together, wouldn’t you say?

Today, for this Friday Thoughts post, I’m sharing what I’m up to currently (both physically and mentally). And then it’s your turn to tell me what your “current” status is!

peanut butter sugar cookie with chocolate frosting

1) Currently eating all the things.

It took a good six weeks but I finally fully healed from the gum graft surgery that kind of rocked my world. Because the surgery involved slicing the roof of my mouth to extract the tissue used for the gum graft on my front lower teeth, the healing process took a bit longer, and I was only tentatively eating soft foods at week four (I also had a few issues with parts of the graft slipping so I was on extra strict orders).

However by week six, everything had healed, and I’ve been well on my way to making up for all the lost eating time since then.

Mostly, chips.

I pray mightily I never, ever have to have that surgery again. So much compassion and respect for those of you that have had it multiple times! It was not a pleasant experience for me. Now I’m prepping to get a crown redone as a result of the domino effect that is dental work.

sandwich with chips stuffed inside

2) Currently listening to a lot of audiobooks.

Right now, I’m halfway through The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden; the storytelling is captivating. I just finished Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and have enjoyed talking about it and processing it with Brian and my kids who also read it (we’re watching the movie this weekend), and The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is next.

Any favorite audiobooks to share?

audiobook covers

3) Currently spending a lot of time with our quarantine-acquired, new-ish kunekune pigs.

I share more details about them on my @melsfauxfarm account, but they have been a fun addition to whatever you call the random hybrid lifestyle of country and suburbia we have going on.

four kunekune pigs

Also, I’ve never scratched so many piggy bellies in my life. If you can’t find me, I am 100% most likely out in the pig pasture, which has become my favorite, peaceful place in all the world (except if the pigs are hungry, and then watch out) and best way to detox from the day (and chaos of the world as of late). Highly recommend kunekune pigs to all the world.

As a sidenote: we have four purebred, registered kunes. Two girls/gilts: Olivia and EmmyLou. Two boys/boars: Benny and Eddie. Three of my kids invested money from their savings in these pigs as breeding pairs. So, next year some time, we will probably be swimming in adorable piglets for sale. (Kunes are raised for breeding and meat.) They are friendly, gentle, *mostly* non-rooting and non-wallowing pigs that eat our pasture grass and make us very happy.

two kunekune pigs by fence

4) Currently hoarding all the huckleberries while enjoying short hair again.

I dragged the kids up to pick our annual supply of huckleberries (the last few years we’ve picked near McCall, Idaho, but don’t ask me where we go specifically, because if you huckleberry regularly, you know revealing your secret spot is an unpardonable sin). We pick them solely to make huckleberry milkshakes all year long.

picking huckleberries in idaho

Huckleberries are the best, and I missed them every single day of every single year we lived in the midwest. Also, I got eight inches cut off of all of my hairs, and I feel like a new woman (especially now that it has grown a few weeks and is *just* long enough to fit in a ponytail again).

4) Currently gathering books to donate to our middle school and elementary school libraries.

In a small effort to involve my kids in affecting change for racial equality and justice in our own community, we decided to research, gather, and donate 40-50 books to both the middle school and elementary school libraries.

Books that promote, champion, and highlight diversity, black lives, and racial issues and equality. We’ve been working with both school librarians to figure out what books they already have in their libraries. Thanks to a well-stocked middle school library, we’ve expanded the middle school list to include a few other books that champion diversity in other marginalized groups as well.

stack of books
Photo credit: Jane Mount

If you’re interested in the full list of books, here you go. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read every single book on this list; use your own discretion if checking these out for you or your child.)

We are trying to source and purchase most of the books from independent and/or black-owned book sellers across the country, and hopefully, we’ll be able to get them to the school libraries ASAP. It has been a fun and rewarding project to work on together.

My secondary goal is to also get these books circulated among individual classrooms and also volunteer in the elementary school to highlight and read these books in the library and classrooms so these books don’t get forgotten on the shelves – all of this is dependent on how school will look this year due to covid, but we’ll take it one step at a time.

5) Currently learning that my anxiety is at an all-time high.

It’s been a weird, hard, rough, enlightening, chaotic, frustrating, stressful six months for me. The uncertainty of everything has me feeling stretched very thin, and I’ve had to dig deep for coping skills that I haven’t had to use in a while. I wish I had the answers and all the solutions and, mostly, A Detailed Future Plan to Write Firmly in a Spreadsheet and Follow Daily.

I don’t have any of that, dang it. But I just want to say that if you are feeling like some days you are drowning in all of the noise and chaos and uncertainty and hypocrisy (on every side) and fear and stress and judgment, you aren’t alone.

i am fine meme

As someone who has googled “am I having a panic attack?” more than once in the last few months, I can also personally attest that there’s a lot of peace and happiness out there, too. It actually hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just been pushed and nudged aside by the louder, dominating, noisy voices.

I’m learning that for me, one of the keys to finding my inner peace and resilience again is to disconnect. From social media, the internet, and technology in general. (And even from real life people who tend to bring me down.) It’s an almost instantaneous, shoulder-relaxing effect when I log off everything. And I’ve learned that, guess what, I actually don’t miss that much when I’m not checking Instagram daily.

And then once I disconnect, I try to simultaneously connect with what I already intrinsically know brings a longer-lasting peace: God, my family (like, really connecting with them one on one), the outdoors, and sometime just being alone if I can manage it.

As a verified introvert, I’ve been challenged big time since March. Listen, I love my kids and husband. They’re great. I want to live with them forever. And I genuinely would choose family time over just about anything else (as in, family night out over girls’ night out any day of the week). But all disclaimers aside, I am mentally rejuvenated when I have a degree of quiet alone time. And that has been noticeably absent the last little while especially since I’m in the parenting phase of early rising kids (who are too old to take naps) and late bedtime teenagers. {Admittedly, the aforementioned quiet pig pasture has helped with this introvert initiative a bit even if a kid, or two, tags along sometimes.}

petting kunekune pigs in pasture

It’s a process and a cycle – this disconnecting and connecting thing – and definitely not a one time thing. It’d probably be better if I could just learn to balance it all on the daily, but I don’t do that very well, so when I reach my peak, I just disconnect, restabilize, and move on. It’s meant I’ve been a little hit and miss here on the blog and on social media this year. Quality over quantity, right? 🙂

What coping skills are working for you right now?

Edited to ask: if you have kids at home, what are your school plans for fall?? The school year here was slated to start this coming Monday but it has been delayed until September 8. At this point I’m planning to send my kids back to school (although it’s doubtful they’ll be *at* school very often, if at all, based on our #’s and the district’s plan to keep them home if we are in the yellow or red zone). 

6) Currently traveling across the wilds of Northern Idaho and Montana in Thor, the behemoth RV we rented on rvshare.com (not sponsored).

It was a whim of an idea. With so many of our other plans canceled this spring and summer, the normally unimpulsive Brian-Mel pair looked at each other a couple weeks ago and decided on the spot to rent an RV and drive around with the family, self-contained and fancy free.

rv motorhome parked under trees

It has been dreamy so far (except for when the concentrated family time has proven a bit too much – and also, I’ve learned which of my children have a serious stinky feet problem).

Most of the time we’ve been without cell service in places where beauty and hygiene standards are wonderfully, acceptably low. And we’ve done a mix of dry camping (no hook ups) and RV park glamping (full hook ups). Hi, lukewarm shower, I’ve missed you.

mom and son standing in water at redfish lake

We left with a general idea of where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do with all the flexibility of changing those plans at any minute thanks to driving a creaky house on wheels.

So far we’ve been up by Redfish Lake near Stanley, Idaho (which now ranks as one of our favorite places in Idaho), Cour d’ Alene (the most gorgeous place on earth), and we rode the Hiawatha Trail yesterday on our bikes (a bucket list item we have now checked off and hope to do many times in the future – AMAZING).

family on bikes on Hiawatha Trail

We’ll have to get back to real life eventually, but I highly recommend the RV adventure-on-a-whim experience for regenerating good family vibes, forcing a break from technology and the chaos of the world right now, and showing your kids, especially The Teenagers you are still grand master of all.the.card.games and corn hole.


Ok, this was a long one. I have a lot more to say, but I’ll let you get on with your life. Ha. Remind me to tell you about our dusty living room/kitchen remodel, my new favorite pants (and the shoes I’ve been living in all summer), a cookbook idea and question, and a few other things! 

Love your guts. Thanks for being here. And don’t leave me alone in the comments! I want to hear about YOU and how you are doing.