Hey friends!

First up, I LOVED everything you said on the last Friday Thoughts post (seriously, the comment threads are proving to be the real treasure in these posts). I have totally revamped the way I’m doing piano lessons with my kids thanks to so many of your comments, and my kids will never know how fortunate they are to have you in their virtual lives. I’ve also been jean shopping (online, of course) like crazy. 🙂

I only have a couple Friday Thoughts today. I mean, I have lots and lots of thoughts to share, but I’m 100% certain if I really downloaded everything in my brain, you would be very frightened and run far, far away. So we’ll work in small doses.

1) Cookbook Thoughts: Hmmm. Cookbooks. Do you buy them? Do you cook from them? Do you think they are an archaic form of recipe research? Or are you a cookbook lover?

I get asked quite a bit if/when I am going to “do” a cookbook. It’s a really great question, and one that I don’t have a serious answer to right now. My heart says: a cookbook would be fun and amazing. My head says: what the heck are you thinking you barely have time to shower some days and your kids are already going to need therapy for having a food blogger for a mom during their formative years so what time and mental space do you plan on using to for a cookbook? #truth

The more regulated part of me acknowledges I would love the project (especially as I have talked with several publishers over the years) but that it may not be the right phase of life for me, especially because it would come at a cost to my blog (if I didn’t want it to come at a cost to my family – I can’t keep all the balls in the air no matter how hard I want to or try). And this blog, this space, is what I value most. I don’t think I could keep up posting recipes here and developing recipes for a cookbook. Ultimately, a cookbook would only be a possibility, also, if I felt I had something to offer the cookbook world that is unique and practical and hasn’t already been done a million times.

{Here’s my 10-year old, with future donut shop owner aspirations, making homemade donuts from a hardcopy cookbook that we bought after a MKC reader, Liz, sent us the kindle version – in this case, we were very grateful for a real, live cookbook, because the donuts were AMAZING!}

And actually, thanks to this brain dump, I feel like I DO have a cookbook. An online treasure trove of my favorites. It’s called Mel’s Kitchen Cafe Dot Com. Have you heard of it? 🙂 Anyway, you’d didn’t need or want to hear all that, but hey, Friday Thoughts. I tell it as it comes out of my brain.

Personally, right now, I mostly cook from the internet, my faithful recipe binders, the weird food ideas that come to me at night, and my blog. So although I am by no means a cookbook collector, I do have a few tried-and-true cookbooks that I love and turn to frequently enough that I thought I’d share a couple favorites, old and new (affiliate links for some of the cookbooks below).

The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: This is a great Instant Pot/pressure cooker cookbook; I’ve been so pleased! I’ve made the creamy chicken and rice with broccoli, pork tacos, several of the pasta dishes, and the apple cinnamon oats. All super yummy.

America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook: I can’t begin to list the recipes I’ve made from here over the years. So, so many. Recently the sheet pan chicken cordon bleu (called Unstuffed Chicken something or other in the book) won our hearts and I posted my version here. The dessert section is kind of a bomb, but the quick dinners are fabulous.

Foster’s Market Favorites: This is my go-to cookbook (along with consulting some of the salads in Chrissy Tiegen’s cookbook) when I want a dish or salad or recipe to really impress for entertaining or company. I love that the recipes appear to be well-tested, photographs are lovely, and most importantly, the dishes I’ve made have been stellar. I recently made the spring harvest salad, and it was so incredibly light and flavorful and tasty, and the tres leches cake recipe is fantastic.

2) Social Media Thoughts: Have you seen the firestorm buzz surrounding the info Collin Kartchner is talking about on Instagram about kids of all ages, what they are doing on social media that we (as parents and adults) may not know, and his activist call to #savethechildren and #bringbacktheflipphone? It has been fascinating, more than a little shocking, and definitely eye opening for me. If you haven’t watched it, go to his Insta stories and watch the one titled #savethekids first.

I have a lot of strong feelings on the matter (haha, shocker, I know). But I want to know from YOU how you manage phones + social media access with your kids (of all ages!). I hope it is already well-established this is a judgment-free zone, so please comment and respond honestly knowing that this is a safe place.

This is how we roll at home: currently, my kids (ages 14, 12, 10, 9, 5) don’t have their own phone(s). They have access to two “kid phones” that took the place of our landline years ago, and with prior permission they can take one with them to school or activities if they need to get a hold of me. Their friends can text them on it, if needed, but the phone and texting always stays in a public place at home. It’s also the phone they use to make phone calls for church, scouts, making plans with friends, etc. But it’s a “dumb phone” – no access to the internet, no camera, no apps.

They watch and record Marco Polo messages on my phone for friends and family (same with FaceTime), and occasionally they’ll want to look up a funny video or something on Facebook or YouTube to show everyone, and they’ll ask to use my phone or Brian’s (sidenote: the two middle schoolers have school-issued laptops for homework/internet research for school).

I definitely think my kids are on the underexposed end of the phone + social media spectrum, and I’m not convinced it is the best thing. There’s a line of moderation somewhere – and I’m guessing it is very individual to each family and kid.

Brian and I feel like we want to prepare our kids to know how to navigate the online world so they aren’t totally naive (or so they don’t sneak around and do it on the down low) without giving them full, unfiltered access at a young age and without allowing them to let a misguided interpretation of social media BECOME their identity. So we are constantly discussing ways (and praying for guidance) to know how to gradually give our teen and tween growing privileges for texting and phone usage within a set of boundaries and guidelines.

One thought I’ve had lately is that just like any behavior, my kids are observing me and Brian day in and day out as they form subconscious parameters about using a phone responsibly (i.e. is there a purpose behind mom or dad picking up their phone – checking a text message or answering a phone call – or are they mindlessly surfing the internet or checking social media for no apparent reason or out of boredom?). I have no doubt they will model the same behavior, for better or for worse.

It’s been a good wake-up call and reminder that I can stand to put my phone down a little more (or lock it in a cupboard for the afternoon and evening) so that my kids see a mom who is engaged and present and industrious instead of a mom who is aimlessly scrolling through Instagram.

I’d love to hear what you think about all of this! Please share!

3) Random Note: I bought these sunglasses from Amazon {aff. link} after I saw all the amazing 5-star reviews, SURE that they would be amazing on my face. Hahahahahaha. Cam’s reaction from the back seat sums up both of our feelings. I learned that a) I’m not young enough, secure enough, trendy enough to wear sunglasses like this and b) I guess I’m still on the search for the perfect pair.

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