Day 100: Celebration Time (+ Banana Cupcakes)!!
Wow. I'm kind of speechless right now. It felt so crazy to write Day 100 in the title of this post. The day that felt so endlessly far away is finally here. And I feel a mixture of elation and sadness...I kind of don't want it to end! Since Day 100 was originally supposed to be on my birthday, I think we should all celebrate with my favorite banana cupcakes, even though it's a week late (recipe coming soon).
First off: I cannot even tell you how many AMAZING designers I heard from after yesterday's post. Holy moly, you people are insanely talented!! I thought I might get a handful of responses and I've gotten more than I've even had a chance to read. So, please forgive me if it takes me a few days to sift through all the emails and websites and links. I'm trying to send a note to everyone in the next day or two – just know that I'm looking through everything and I am so, so thrilled to connect with and every one of you, whether we work together on this cookbook or not.
Secondly: I woke up this morning and Brandon said: "This is going to sound strange, but was last night Christmas Eve?" "What??" I mumbled in confusion. (Mind you, this was pre-coffee, so I was in a bit of a fog anyway.) He said, "I think last night must have been Christmas Eve, because there's a present on your computer."
Brandon's beautiful collection of notes from Yellow Table readers!! I'm blown away.
I laughed and went to look: sure enough, sitting on my keyboard was a stack of pages (which he assures me he's planning to make into a book) full of notes from dear friends, family, and YOU all: my faithful Yellow Table readers. I was blown away – not only by this incredible gift – but by your heartfelt words. Some of you said you've read every single post (really?!), some of you said you've been inspired to cook more, to spend more time with your family around the table (yay!), and to have friends over more often. One friend said she actually bought a dining room table after reading the blog. And several of you said that you've been inspired to take the first step towards pursuing your own dreams through following this project. Again, wow. It's beyond humbling to think that me pursuing my dream has made an impact on even one person's life, and I cannot tell you how much your stories and encouraging words mean. Thank you!!! (And thank you to my sweet husband for doing this!!)
So what now?? Before I look ahead, I want to take a moment and look back over all that's happened in the past 5 months, and share a few highlights.
Signe and I working together on set - styling, shooting, and discussing very serious matters ;)
Signe in her element (notice how we've rearragned the whole apartment!).
First off, I've loved working with Signe – she's such an incredible photographer and I could never have done the project without her talent, support, and enthusiasm! Looking through these photos and knowing all the work that went into each one (shopping, hauling food and props up all the stairs, prepping, cooking, dishes, moving furniture, styling, and more dishes) makes me so proud of what we've been able to accomplish with limited resoures and limited space.
At the end of every photo shoot, after we've put the apartment back in order (more or less) and safely hidden away the props where the cats can't get to them, we go up on the roof for a glass of bubbly. It's our little ritual to celebrate how far we've come, and to talk and dream about all we want to do in the future. I'm hoping this is just the first of many books for Signe and me...
Secondly, it's been a blast working with Elise, my wonderful intern. I interviewed exactly one candidate (her) and knew immediately she was the one. I truly couldn't have done this project without her incredible energy and enthusiasm, her hard work, and her endless supply of great ideas. I am so thankful not only that she's been a part of The Cookbook Diaries, but that she's become a good friend in the process. She just graduated from college, and I'm excited to see what her future holds!!
Just wanted to share a few of my favorite behind-the-scenes moments on set. Note-to-self: cookbook-making is anything but glamorous. In fact, it's largely consisted of hauling stuff up and down stairs and doing mountains of dishes. (Kidding...sort of!) It's both exhilerating and exhausting, and maintaining a sense of humor is key.
Never a dull moment on set...
The kitchen post-shoot...dishes upon dishes!
A typical prep day: me + board + groceries + props; Cuddle time with kitties is a crucial part of our process.
Thirdly, I'm super greatful to my other incredible collaborators in this project: ABC Carpet & Home, for providing us gorgeous props for each shoot, PID Floors, for lending us (and ultimately giving us!) beautiful floor samples to use for each shoot, Jean-Luc Le Du, of Le Du's Wines, who is creating wine pairings for the book, Dana Tanamachi for creating the amazing logos (both The Yellow Table and The Cookbook Diaries) and Eric Ryan Anderson for shooting this lovely video. And most of all, to my incredible husband Brandon, without whom, I'd probably never have taken this leap of faith.
And lastly, it's been such a privilege and honor to get to meet so many inspiring new friends through this project!! I've loved everyone's emails and comments, and it's been fun to start following many of your blogs and Instagram/FB/Twitter feeds as well. As much as I can get burnt out on social media, it is pretty incredible how it can connect us to people from around the world.
So what next?! The 100 days may be over, but the fun is just beginning...
First up: finish the shooting! We've got another 25 recipes to shoot, then we need to shoot actual pictures of me cooking (yikes!), dinner party scenes, and some neighborhood pics. Recipe-testers are getting their recipes SOON and I'll be continuing to tweak recipes as well in the coming weeks.
I've got the actual book text to write: head notes, intro, menus, etc. Given that I've decided to self-publish, I'll need to find a good editor (know of anyone?!) to help me edit the material.
I've found a great printing house who prints in the US (and does beautiful cookbooks), so it's looking like the Fall 2014 goal is do-able. Pre-orders will begin this summer! Woo hoo!!
I'm also in the process of planning a very exciting cross-country road trip in June...I can't say too much right now, but let's just say it's going to involve some very fun collaborations centered around food, conversation, and the table. I cannot wait to share more!!
I asked myself the other day, why am I doing this? If it were just to build some sort of empire or gain recognition, I would have burnt out ages ago. It goes a lot deeper than that. I'm driven by a desire to help people develop deep, true connections with each other. To get off our iPhones and to gather around the table. To spend time in the kitchen cooking real food, and to share that food with family and friends. To hit pause on life and to remember the things – and the people – that really matter. I have a hunger for authenticity – both in ingredients and people. I want to inspire people to live intentionally, to celebrate each day, and to really notice each other. I love feeding people – I suppose literally and figuratively – and this cookbook project has given me the privilege of doing just that. I feel so grateful to be able to follow this calling, and I am blessed that you decided to join me on the journey. Thank you.
But this isn't a goodbye – you can still find me right here!! Moving forward, I'll be posting 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri), which seems much more sustainable for me. Have a great week, and see you Monday!
P.S. A lot of people have asked me "What did you learn in this process?" I wrote a few highlights on Day 93.
(Food photos by Signe Birck; cake stand from ABC Home.)