Hi friends! Sorry I'm a bit behind on the blog. I just got back from 5 busy days in Nashville, catching up with friends and family. I got a chance to visit Brienne - who's doing amazingly well! – in the hospital, and to catch up with some other good high school friends. And my dear friend Chrissy flew down from NYC to have a girls' weekend with me and my good friend Katie. I showed Chrissy around Nashville, hitting some of my favorite spots: a taco lunch outside at Mas Tacos, brunch at Margot, dinner at Rolf & Daughters, a hike at Percy Warner Park, ice cream at Jeni's, an afternoon driving through the countryside out to Leiper's Fork, with lunch at Puckett's and a stroll into the shops and art galleries.

We also checked out some newer spots: Lockeland Table, in East Nashville (warm, cozy vibe and great food) and Pinewood Social (think: Ace Hotel lobby in NYC + bowling alley), which seems equally great for a morning coffee, late-night drinks, or a mid-afternoon meeting. Next time I'm in town, I'm dying to check out Epice, a new Lebanese restaurant in 12South, and Two Ten Jack, a new Japanese izakaya restaurant in East Nashville. (I seriously can't keep up with Nashville's restaurant openings...the town is booming!) It was great to have some much-needed girlfriend time this weekend!!


My gorgeous friends Katie and Chrissy, at Rolf & Daughters.

But mostly it was just nice to be at my parents' house for a few days, and to spend some quality time in my mom's beautiful kitchen. She had it totally remodeled it a few years ago and designed it all herself. It's amazing. (There will be a future blog post on her kitchen...stay tuned!) We had long, leisurely breakfasts sitting on stools at the kitchen island, drinking coffee and eating blueberry pancakes, and talking about life. I spent Saturday making more granola and our next door neighbors came by to sit and talk while I baked, everyone eating handfuls of warm granola as it came out of the oven. I dream of having a big kitchen one day that's always open to neighbors and friends...

One of the things that was so refreshing about being back in Nashville was that it was actually SPRING there! In NYC, it's been so chilly the past few weeks and the trees haven't even started budding. In Nashville, the trees were already in their full glory: brilliant white and pale rose, all the way to flamingo hot pink. I must have exclaimed over the colors about a thousand times. It was just so startlingly beautiful and such a brilliant reminder of the new life that comes after a long, bleak winter. It's felt at times this winter that the cold and the darkness would never end...and yet, it's happening. Spring is here. The whites, the pinks, and the greens are just a foreshadowing of the warmth and beauty and hope to come.


Loved seeing Brienne - she managed to make me laugh, even while in the hospital; flowering trees everywhere.

So now that I'm back in NYC, I've got my work cut out for me with the cookbook. I've got a pretty clear vision of the timeline for the next few months, and yet (truthfully) I'm terrified by all the things I need to do that take me waaaaay outside my comfort zone. Like reaching out to brands and bloggers that are completely out of my league and asking if they'll collaborate with me. (Pretty please!!) Like inviting NYC food media to a dinner I'm hosting. (What if nobody comes?!) Like launching a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sale books this summer, and hoping I can actually meet my goal. Like choosing just one book designer, even though there were so, so many talented people that submitted proposals.

But ultimately, I've come this far and there's no way I'm turning back. This project has already stretched me beyond what I thought possible, and I wouldn't trade the past six months for anything. But I can't look at the top of the mountain looming ahead and try to figure out how to scale the whole thing by myself. Because I can't do it alone. I need to get comfortable asking for help, and I have to keep walking by faith. Because this book is more than just a book to me – it's a mission. A mission to inspire others to gain confidence in the kitchen, to cook simple, healthy meals, and most of all, to create community around the table. When I remember that calling, I can get outside of my fears and step out in faith. Because hey, I'm going to fail, it might as well be for a good cause!


The beautiful countryside surrounding Leiper's Fork, Tennessee.

I think that's why seeing those flowering trees was so encouraging this weekend. They were a symbol to me of what God can do. He can take what looks like a dead tree and make it spring into life. He can make the ugly beautiful. He can do the impossible. All I have to do is believe. And just keep walking, one step at a time.