Oh New York City, I've missed you!! This summer has been a blur of travels – some for work, some to see family, some just purely for fun. As much as I love traveling, it's always good to come home. Back to our cozy apartment, back to our sweet kitties, and back to the gorgeous view of Nolita from our rooftop (pictured above). But even more so, it's nice to feel a sense of belonging. It's been great this past week to reconnect with dear friends and jump back into work that I love.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of being rooted. I was on a run a couple of weeks ago near my in-laws' house in Michigan and marveled at the majestic trees lining the route. Their trunks were far too wide to wrap my arms around, and their leafy branches made a canopy over the road. As I ran, I suddenly had a vision of the vast network of roots extending far beneath the earth's surface. The roots went deep, anchoring the trees and soaking in nutrients and moisture from the soil. The trees had been growing – and flourishing – for years and years in their exact spots.

In that moment, I was given a glimpse into a deep truth: in order to build anything of consequence (be it relationships or a home or a business), you have to stop moving long enough to build roots. Roots give stability, strength, and sustenance. And I felt like this message was aimed directly at me: "Anna, it's time to stop escaping and to stay put. You've had years of travel and adventure. Now's the time to grow roots, build community, and launch the project that you've been dreaming about for years." Call me crazy, but I'm planning to follow the tree's advice.

So here I am, back in NYC and I'm committed to staying (more or less) put this fall. Given that travel writing is a part of my job description, it's a tad scary to say no to travel opportunities, but it's exciting to have a chance to focus on projects closer to home. I'll be revealing more details on the blog soon (cannot wait to share what I'm up to!!) but in the meantime, I've been cooking up a storm. Here are a few highlights from the past week via my Instagram feed:


Last Friday night, I cooked for one of Megan Gilger's A Simple Evening gatherings at our favorite farmhouse near Northport, Michigan. Megan and Cammie Buehler (of Epicure Catering) styled the table (cheers to Cammie for the gorgeous flowers and to Megan for chalk-lettering the menu!) Stay tuned for a post coming soon!


Tuesday was a big day of shopping, as I prepped for a dinner party at our place (Wed) as well as an HGTV shoot (Thurs). Grocery-shopping in NYC is a particularly big adventure that involves hand-carrying multiple bags on foot and carting them home via cab - or for the really brave - subway. Then there are 76 stairs to climb up to my apartment. Four bags down, then out to two more stores... (P.S. Thanks, Amanda, for the very cute apron!)


We had a fun dinner party here Wednesday for 10 friends, celebrating our good friend Nate Poekert's 30th birthday. It's always fun to have a reason to set the table and throw a proper dinner party. Becky and Victor definitely got the best-dressed award. (And the best appetizer award - that cheese was insane!!)


I went all out on the cake: bittersweet chocolate cake layers filled and topped with Grand Marnier-spiked whipped cream and fresh raspberries. This is Nate singing his heart out to Katy Perry (or was it Kelly Clarkson?). Let's just say that this was the first (but not last!) yellow table singalong, and it was epic. Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men...the gang was all here.


My rockstar friend Hannah Villio (check out her awesome blog Hannah Kate Flora) was the featured designer on HGTV's Celebrity Holiday Home show and asked me to do the food (and food-styling). I created a menu of vegetarian holiday hors d'oeuvres, plus a festive holiday cocktail that I can't wait to share with you all! It was a blast working with Hannah, and I truly hope we can collaborate more in the future.


Last but not least, I have a confession: I can't stop listening to Katy Perry's new song "Roar." And (even bigger confession) today I actually cried while listening to it! Yes, I know that's weird. It's not because I'm sad - it's just because I totally identify with her words: "I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, Scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I sat quietly, agreed politely, I guess that I forgot I had a choice..."

That pretty much sums up a lot of my life. Afraid to be heard, afraid of conflict. Afraid of messing up, and of others' disapproval. But the chorus is amazing: "I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire, cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar. Louder, louder than a lion..."

It made me teary I guess because I'm just now - slowly but surely - discovering my voice. Figuring out what I'm made for. Understanding my purpose. And realizing that I can make some noise, I can fight to achieve my dreams, and I don't have to play by everyone else's rules. And that I don't have to be perfect - I can just be me. It's really inspiring.

So there you have it. NYC, I'm glad to be home. And I'm ready to make some noise. Get ready.