Good morning, friends! Who wants to join me for some waffles and coffee? I know, it's a Tuesday. And I know, most of you have already eaten breakfast. But it's my birthday so I'm going to pretend it's a lazy weekend morning, and that we're all sitting around in PJ's talking about life.

So if everything had gone perfectly according to plan (ha!), today would have been Day 100 of The Cookbook Diaries. My original goal was to have all 100 recipes tested, shot, and 100 blog posts under my belt by today. (And ideally a cookbook deal in hand!) Welp, that goal was a *tad* ambitious – especially given that during those 20 weeks we've had everything from holidays to major life events to major health issues to contend with. And a few unexpected trips. So I'm a week biggie!

This whole process has been an amazing learning experience for me. I've had to learn to let go of control, and to realize that staying flexible is sometimes better than perfectly meeting a goal. I've had to learn to balance discipline with creativity – how do I stay focused enough to actually make the project happen, without allowing it to suck the joy from my life? So thanks for being patient with me and my not-always-perfect execution of things! You all have been so affirming and amazing - it's always a joy writing and feeling like I'm talking to a group of friends (case in point: it's the first thing I wanted to do this morning!).


I get really contemplative on birthdays, and 33 was a particularly transformative year for me, so I wanted to just share a few things I've learned since my last birthday...

-That perfect is boring (and impossible to achieve). Being the best version of me is the greatest gift I can give the world.

-That I'm never happier than when surrounded by food and friends.

-The importance of rest.

-Creative collaborations (like this dinner party in Nashville) are life-giving and essential for me.

-Dreaming's the easy part. But putting that dream into action is where the magic happens...

-Everyone needs a place of solace...a place of inspiration...and a home. (I'm fortunate to have found all three!)

-Life is short, and every day is a gift. Celebrate the small victories (preferably with bubbly).

-Don't be afraid to do something that scares you.

-That creativity takes courage. So does vulnerability.

-Sometimes you just need to sing at the dinner table.

-That I must give myself the freedom to fail.

-I'm all for blogging, but seeing myself in print is pretty cool!

That most of life's joys happen in the ordinary moments; don't miss out on them while searching for the extraordinary.

-Anxiety is a killer, and it will take over your life if you let it.

-Sometimes you just gotta say no.

-Gratitude is the gateway to joy...but it takes practice.


-Pursuing a dream takes a LOT of work (but totally worth it).

-That girly brunches are the best.

-You can't be anybody: you can just be YOU. Live your story.

-Embrace real life, messes and all.

-Dreams aren't made in a day.

-Sometimes the most courageous thing is just taking the next step.

-Social media only tells part of the story...face-to-face conversation tells a lot more.

-I feel a lot better when I eat a lot of veggies. (But with a daily dose of chocolate.)

-The only certain thing is uncertainty. Might as well get comfortable with it.

-Dinner parties don't need to be fancy. In fact, the best ones are often mid-week.

-That when I create space for God to act, incredible things can happen.

-That mornings are sacred and must be cherished.

-Don't be afraid to ASK.

-That parkway gardens are awesome.

-That tables are a place of healing.

-That God is good, He is faithful, and none of this would be possible without Him.

-That I have the best husband in the world. (P.S. He cooked me dinner last night, and even made me a birthday cake. From scratch. And he doesn't even cook!!) I am blessed.

Wow...that's a lot to learn in a year. Bring on 34!!

xo, Anna

(Photos by Signe Birck; props by ABC Home. Waffle recipe is here.)