Hi, friends! It’s April! I’m very proud of myself for making it through winter, and I am soaking up every second of this incredible spring weather.

I’m glad you’re here! Heck, I’m glad I’m here. πŸ˜‚ (Winter was ROUGH.)

{If you’re new to Friday Thoughts posts and wondering what the heck is going on, occasionally I pop in with a real life update on all the things – today is that day!}

Family/Kid Update: Speed Style

  • We currently have one high school tennis player and one middle school tennis player – it is so fun watching them both work hard at this newer sport for them! And it’s a lot less stressful than watching wrestling matches. 😬
  • Speaking of wrestling, my 16-year old fractured his jaw at the high school district wrestling tournament (some of you probably saw my updates on Instagram about this). It was a season-ending injury, and he had emergency surgery to fix the traumatic injury. He just got cleared to resume normal activities and eat all.the.things after six LONG weeks eating a soft/liquid diet. He was such a trooper (and had so many teammates, coaches, friends, and family members support and love him through the recovery). #milkshakesforever
Boy with golden retriever
  • Brian bought a small business and is finally fulfilling a lifelong dream of being his own boss. He is working hard to build and grow this print shop (which has been in business for several decades!) – it has given me a new appreciation for supporting local businesses!
  • My second oldest (who doesn’t like me sharing photos of him, but he did give me permission to share this bit of info) recently received an LDS church mission call to serve for two years in the Philippines (Manila mission). He leaves July 1. πŸ₯Ί We’ve been immersed in researching proper footwear, applying for visas, and of course…trying our hand at some Filipino recipes. Making lumpia and chicken adobo this coming Sunday! Any experience in the Philippines?? We’d love to hear it.

Kitchen remodel

Last Friday Thoughts post I talked about the kitchen remodel we were currently undergoing. It’s finished! And ooof, I hope I never have to live through that again. πŸ€ͺ We survived on Costco meals, a hot plate for warming things up, and a lot of cold cereal.

Here’s the before:

Brown and gray kitchen.

Here’s the after:

White kitchen.

We knocked out the back wall of the kitchen and used the home office space to expand the kitchen. After 22 years of waiting and wishing, I finally have double wall ovens, and I love them just as much as I hoped I would.

Two other favorite parts of the new kitchen:

  • the new big kitchen window (that window used to be in my office, and it is amazing to have the wall gone and to get all that natural light in the kitchen – also, now I can see how fast my teenagers are driving down the driveway πŸ€¨πŸ‘€)
  • the induction stove – I took a risk on this since I had never used induction and I love it so much! All of my pots and pans except for one skillet were already induction-compliant, so that was a huge plus in favor of going induction. I have no regrets! I cannot believe how quickly water boils on the stove (we’re talking two minutes or less even for a huge pot) and how much more evenly and accurately things cook. And the stovetop is so much easier to clean than gas or flat top electric because nothing burns on it! The one I have is Electrolux brand, and so far, I highly recommend it!

If you want to see more in-depth videos of the kitchen, tap through this Instagram highlight – toward the end of the highlight, I share a kitchen update.

We are currently building on a small addition to reclaim the lost office space, and it should be done next week! The most exciting part of the new addition is this wallpaper that’s going up in the laundry room. πŸ˜‰πŸ“

(Pray for me, as I haven’t touched wallpaper since the mid-80’s when I had to painstakingly peel off some very stubborn and very paisley-patterned wallpaper from a room in our house, and I still haven’t gotten over that traumatic – and endless – experience.)

Cookbook Update

BIG NEWS!! The cookbooks HAVE ARRIVED and will ship out very soon!

If you pre-ordered a book, you’ll receive a confirmation (via email or text, depending on how you signed up to receive updates) when your order ships.

I cannot wait for you to finally get this cookbook in your hands and in your kitchen!

The book is over 300 pages with a photo for EVERY single one of the 140+ recipes. The quality is outstanding and has exceeded everything I hoped for! I hope you love it. πŸ’—

If you haven’t ordered yet, there’s still time to get in on this first print run. Cookbooks can be ordered here.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Cookbook

Weather blanket

After a friend sent me this reel, I decided a weather blanket needed to be in my 2024 plans.

What is a weather blanket, you ask? (It’s a great question! I had no idea until a few months ago!) It’s a simple single-crochet blanket where each row represents the high temperature each day of the year.

I immediately ordered yarn from my local JoAnn’s store, picked it up the next day, and started crocheting! So far, it has been super fun and not overwhelming (except for one little add-on project I decided to do with it that I’ll report on later…just in case I give up πŸ˜‚).

One row takes me about 11 1/2 minutes to crochet. I’m hoping to get a little faster (there are 230 single crochets in each row). I’m not working on it every day, but a couple of times a week, I’ll sit down and catch up.

It’s actually helped me slow down in the evenings a little bit while I sit and dutifully check my weather app, make notations on my spreadsheet πŸ€“, and chat with my teenagers while I crochet. Everyone in my family is surprisingly invested in the weather blanket. 🀣

Things I’m Loving

  • Mantis: this was the winning game at Christmas. So, so fun (and incredibly easy to learn). Also, the included booklet on Mantis shrimp is 🀯
  • Wear When Bracelets: loving these bracelets – and so are my kids! I bought the bracelets for them for Easter, and the scripture messages and reminders are so amazing and uplifting (where when you need courage, where when you need to make a decision, where when you need someone). πŸ’—
  • Sherpa-Lined Hoodies: love, love, love these hoodies. They fit true to size (unisex sizing) or maybe slightly small, so size up if you are in between sizes. I know hoodie season is coming to a close, but these are worth the buy any time of the year!
  • Cargo Pants: my teenage boys have several pairs of these (black, gray and brown), and wear them constantly. They have held up super well, wash and dry perfectly, and have gotten the boys to break out of their Nike sweat pants regime (no judgment there, they have a mom who wears joggers pretty much every day of her life 🀣). They are casual enough that they don’t feel dressed up, but classy enough to wear to family pictures or the like.
  • Nutri-Blender: my boys make protein smoothies daily when they come home from sports practices or gym workouts. Or just for an after dinner snack BECAUSE THEY CONSUME CALORIES CONSTANTLY. My 15-year old was gifted this blender for Christmas, and it quickly became a hot commodity and is now used by everyone. I’m surprised at how well it works, and I love that it can make single servings, because just between you and me, no one around here was doing a very good job at washing out the full-size blender. πŸ‘€
  • Skin Serum: have you heard of this serum? It is amazing! Like, wow-level amazing. And very inexpensive for something that has over 75,000 five-star reviews. I put it on at night underneath my regular moisturizer. My skin feels incredibly soft and much more hydrated than before. Highly recommend! UPDATE: Looks like it isn’t on Amazon anymore, but it is called COSRX Snail mucin 96% power repairing essence (don’t let the “snail mucin” freak you out – it’s amazing stuff).
  • Footrest pillow: my 16-year old gave me this footrest pillow for my birthday a few months ago, and honestly, it was the most clever, most useful gift ever. I am always asking the kids to run and find me a small stool from some corner of the house when I sit on the couches so I can elevate my feet just a little. I guess you could say this gift was partly for me and partly for him. πŸ˜‚ I use it when I work at my desk, also. LOVE IT.

Protein ⬆️

I am NOT the gal to give anyone advice about tracking food, counting calories or figuring out macros. Over the last eight years, I’ve tried really hard to focus on intuitive eating (I read the book, and it changed my thinking on so many aspects of eating and health) because I found that when I tried to track my calories or macros, it became an obsessive mental game that was not good for my mental health or how I felt about my body.

As I repeat to my kids on the daily: your body is an instrument, not an ornament (credit to Beauty Redefined for that mantra).

ANYWAY, this isn’t advice or a lecture on any of that, because every person has their system and way of doing things.

But, I just wanted to mention that earlier this year, I decided to be more intentional about making sure I was getting enough protein so I could build lean muscle as I’ve been lifting weights more the last year or so (with the Sadie Active app).

So I downloaded the ProteinPal app (it only tracks protein), and I found that even though I thought I was getting enough protein, I was falling far short of my goal (goal being: 110-115 grams per day). As I’ve made a more focused effort to eat lean protein in my meals, I have noticed changes in my appetite (I’m hardly ever hungry between meals), in my workouts (I have more energy), and how I feel overall (πŸ’ͺ🏼).

This has been a great change for me! (P.S. I’m still eating cookies and bread and vegetables and fruit and all the other things, too. πŸ˜‰)

Now it’s your turn! I’d love to hear all of YOUR thoughts in the comments below. Anything related to the above post or just generally what’s happening in your world!

I love connecting with each of you, and I appreciate every time you take a minute to share a piece of your life with me. πŸ’—