Happy Tuesday friends! This post was meant to be a Monday Musings one, but I just got back in town late Sunday night after 10 days away, and my mile-long to-do list took over yesterday. I've still got piles of laundry to do, the fridge is empty, and I'm behind on emails – alas, back to real life!

As promised, I want to announce the 5 winners in our Secrets from the La Varenne Kitchen giveaway! We had so many entries, and I LOVED reading about all the delicious French recipes that you all want to learn how to make. I had no idea I had so many francophile readers! I may have to add a French Classic Recipes series to the blog. Anyway, the winners are: Rebecca Jones, Manda, Carrie Hampton, Katie Summers Crews, and Joann Hicks. Congrats!! Email me at anna@theyellowtable.com with your address. (NOTE: If you're wondering how I choose winners in my giveaways, I use a website called RandomPicker.com. It's a free service and randomly chooses winners using some complicated algorithm.)

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(A quick side note: The photos in today's post are from my recent #FriendsInFood gathering. I know I already blogged about it, but I wanted to share these gorgeous photos by Signe Birck – which are WAY better than my measly iPhone ones! Given that the subject of today's post is on community, I figured today was a good time to share these. It's been nice to start building more relationships in the food and blogging community, and amazingly comforting to swap stories with people who do the same thing I do day in and day out. I've learned so much from my blogger and entrepreneur friends, and find them so incredibly inspiring. I can't wait to host more dinners like this one, and I especially can't wait to collaborate again with my amazing co-hosts Phoebe, Serena, and Amie, and the fabulous Elisa Marshall of Maman – they're the best!)

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I had such a great time last week in Texas, and it really got me thinking about the importance of community. After spending a fun wedding weekend in Waco with some of my best friends from NYC, I had the chance to visit several dear friends in several TX cities the following week. It was nice to have stretches of unplanned time to hang out and just be together, without feeling rushed. It was so fun to reconnect with old friends – some whom I've known since college – and to realize that we can still pick back up right where we left off. It was also refreshing to slow down my pace of life a bit. NYC is such a rush-rush-rush sort of place – I typically don't realize how tired I am until I leave.

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My friends invited me into each of their communities – in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio – and it was so cool to see that they all love to connect around the table, over food and wine and conversation. I went to a dinner party in each city, and after hours of talking and storytelling and laughing and eating, I was reminded of the table's power to connect people – even total strangers! During those meals, I observed something really interesting about my friends' communities: they are small, but deep. Rather than having a really wide network of friends they see occasionally (which I find is often the case in NYC), my friends in Texas tended to have a smaller group of friends they see several times a week. The type of friends who text you when they're on the way to your house with a bottle of wine and a pizza on a random Tuesday night...who you can call to watch your kids in an emergency (and you'd do the same for them)...and who know your favorite flavor of frozen yogurt. The type of friends who see you without makeup on a regular basis. Friends who don't just celebrate the high notes of life, but who walk through the valleys with you.

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Though I feel blessed to have a handful of deep friendships in NYC, everyone is so INSANELY busy that it's hard to have the level of regularity that is required to develop true community. I feel like in NYC, it takes years to develop the level of friendships that in other cities take half the time – simply because you see each other so much more!! I'm sure I'm generalizing somewhat, but it was a challenge to me to be more intentional about my friendships in NYC – to go smaller and deeper, and most of all, to keep gathering people around the table. I feel so passionate about the mission of the yellow table, and I've got an exciting community-building project I'll be announcing soon (that I think you'll want to be a part of!). Stay tuned!

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What about you all? How do you feel like you build community? Do you tend to have a smaller group of deep friendships, or a wider group of friends you see less often? And do you find that sharing meals is a good way to connect? How often do you and your friends gather for a meal? I'd love to know your thoughts!

xo, Anna

Photos: Signe Birck

Space: Maman NYC

Flowers/Styling: Chinae Alexander