Hi friends! Well...back by popular demand, we're kicking off this week with a Monday Musings post! You guys are seriously amazing for sending me so much great blog feedback. I went through and tallied up the results and the most popular categories were (in order): Healthy 30-Minute Weeknight Meals, Everyday Gatherings, and Monday Musings, followed by How-To's and Travel Guides. So my plan is to do Monday Musings and 30-Minute Weeknight Meals every week, and then on Fridays alternate between Everyday Gatherings, How-To's, and Travel Guides, and sprinkle in some other fun surprise posts (like Book/Product Reviews, Inspiring Interviews, and Link Love Round-Ups) from time to time. How does that sound?

I wanted to share with you guys some photos from a couple of shoots I did recently with my good friend Nate Poekert for Proper Assembly, his amazingly cool line of bags. He and my good friend Becky Paguia, launched their brand last October after a year of intense behind-the-scenes work: sourcing materials, designing, setting up production and distribution channels, creating a website and branding, handling PR and marketing. Their bags – from funky backpacks and casual drawstring bags to everyday totes and chic travel bags – are stylish and practical, and really affordable. I use my Collapsible Tote all the time for grocery shopping – since it folds into its own little pouch I can just tuck it into my purse when I'm out on the go. I'm insanely proud of Becky and Nate, and all they've accomplished. Having friends like them pushes me to be better at what I do.


It's so great to be back in NYC (despite the cold!). I feel so inspired living here, seeing friends hustle for their dreams, and make sacrifices to live here. So many people I love have launched their own businesses in the past year or two, and it's fun to celebrate the victories together, and provide a support network when things don't go the way we hoped. It's not all glamorous, this dream-pursuing thing. In NYC, especially, it's a high-risk gamble, since the cost of living is so high and margin (both time and money) is so slim. You feel kind of like if you make one wrong step, you'll be booted off the island and sent packing back to your hometown. I often have conversations with friends, who – on paper – look like they're absolutely killing it, but in reality are wondering if they can make rent next month. As I've discussed in previous posts, it's easy to burn out here, and to start contemplating living a quieter, less expensive, less stressful lifestyle elsewhere. And as much as I hate to see friends leave, I get it.


NYC is a place that pushes you to your limits, and then some. There are definitely moments when I think it would be nice to live in an apartment that didn't require a 76-stair climb. There are days when I'm carrying home groceries in sub-20 degree-temperatures, with numb hands and feet, and I think how nice it would be to have a car. There are many times when I want to quit knocking on doors when so many keep slamming shut. (And trust me, for every one door that opens, about 10 close first!) But I suppose that's where faith comes in. Faith is believing, even when you can't see the outcome. It's calling and emailing, and emailing and calling some more, even when you've given up hope of getting a response. It's trusting that everything happens for a reason – even closed doors and heartache and failure – and that everything can be worked together for good.


After a year of incredible momentum, now that the book is sold out, I'm in a bit of a lull. (This could be viewed as exciting or frightening, depending on your perspective. I typically veer towards "frightening!") Right now I'm in the pitching process: pitching to publishers and agents, and to buyers at some of the big chain stores, hoping that someone will want to help me bring this book back to life. And I'm trying to learn not to take it personally when I hear: "Your book is great, but not for us." Or: "It's missing a unique hook."

And yet, I'm getting requests daily from people wanting to order the book, and a steady stream of emails and messages from people telling me how much they love the one they have. I absolutely want to reprint the book, but it's a huge financial risk to do so without any orders from large stores (yet). My goal was to have distribution totally in place before we pulled the plug on reprinting. But I believe in this book, and I believe in the importance of homemade meals and community around the table. And I believe that we haven't come this far by accident. I believe that there's a bigger story being told.


Sometimes, you have to take a leap of faith – even when there's no guarantee that you'll make it to the other side. When I announced last year that I was going to write a cookbook, I had NO IDEA how or if this was even possible. But it wasn't until I committed to the vision that doors started opening. So perhaps I've just answered my own question...

I want to encourage any of you who are pursuing a dream, if you've reached a place where things don't look exactly how you thought they would. Maybe you've come upon obstacles that you didn't forsee, or maybe it all just feels totally impossible. Keep going. Keep believing. Keep dreaming. And find yourself a community to see you through the tough times. It's important to surround yourself with friends who have faith even when yours runs out.

I'll keep sharing my story, if you'll keep sharing yours! Feel free to comment if this speaks to you – would love to hear your stories. (Just make sure to click on the title of the post and scroll to the bottom of the post to get into the commenting screen!)

See you Wednesday, with a fun Valentine's Day menu and recipes!

xo, Anna

(All photos by Nate Poekert)