Hello, friends! I'm sorry it's been so long since I've done a blog post. Sometimes, life happens and you're busy and you push certain things to the back of your mind. I hope this blog post finds you happy, well-rested and appreciative of the day and what it brings. I felt like this post was fitting for today as Mornings Like These turned two last week and came with lots of happy moments thinking back over the last two years.

In April, I hosted the first Mornings Like These supper on Monnett Farms in Prince Frederick, MD. My grand plans for this dinner were to initially make it big, busy and act as a launch pad to share with people what's new with Mornings Like these. I had planned to round up some partners for the event as to cut costs since I had planned to use the photos from this dinner as a piece for an upcoming magazine "How To." After some reflection, I decided against this. For weeks on end before the dinner, I debated how many people to invite, what the menu should be, what partners to write for sponsorships and so on. The whole process began to get overwhelming and on more than one occasion, I recall telling my husband, "I just don't know if I want to do it anymore." Why did something that initially brought me so much joy turn into an overwhelming task?

I think this is a universal problem. We put so much pressure on ourselves to perform... and not because of how we will view our own accomplishments, but because of what we want other people to think and what we think other people expect. In my head, I began thinking of how grand the dinner needed to be, how I wanted the images to look to other people and I completely lost track of my mission. No wonder I felt so burnt out. 

When I started Mornings Like These, it wasn't with the intention to make lots of money, to accrue followers or even get ahead... it was simply to find a place in my life to ground myself again, to provide myself and many other people a place to find peace. I wanted to bottle up that hopeful, tranquil feeling that we feel some mornings when everything feels new and create a safe place for it on the busy world wide web. I wanted to capture that essence and share it with people who feel the same thing. When people ask where the "idea" came from, I'm honest: it came to me in my darkest time and made things light again. I was unbearably unhappy, the lowest I can recall ever feeling, and then boom: into my head popped MLT. 

I've begun to understand my personality type so well these last few weeks as I began reading The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron. She explains the differences between sensitive people and others - how our emotions are felt on such a deep level that they are as powerful as they are crippling. She goes on to talk about how sensitive people need routine. We need routine because they help ground us when extra stimuli found in day to day life begins to alter our natural state. I had never realized my need for routine was so important and how fitting it is that I created a lifestyle project that celebrates ritual and personal time. Looking at this, and looking both backward and forward, I decided to stop and pause. Put my plans for MLT on hold. Fall in love with it again and the community it brings. Slow down, reel it in, take a breath.  Stop trying to have answers for people. Just be. I got too busy making a business out of my safe place. It's time to slow it down for a few months. Keep doing my freelance jobs but stop worrying about being bigger.

I ended up making the ultimate decision in April to keep the dinner as intimate as possible. I invited only a few people, purchased all of the ingredients myself, cooked the entire meal from scratch with the help of my husband (and of course, my darling Rowan assisted so much!) and brought in the help of my friend Rebecca of A Daily Something to style the table. She's been such an ally throughout this whole growing process that it felt so fitting to have her there. Her styling is so natural and full of organic elements, it only felt right to have her style represented at the farm. Plus she is one of my best friends, so that is a reason, too. :)

My sweet, selfless friend Amanda Marko lives in a property on the farm with her husband and their lively pup, Roo. We spent the entire day together in her kitchen, cooking alongside our loved ones, laughing and catching up. In the spirit of authenticity, I opted to cook some of the dishes my husband and I had been enjoying the most in our own kitchen lately. We prepared:

Pulled pork
Grass-fed beef sirloin 
Traditional slaw
Brussel sprout, almond + raisin slaw
Goat cheese and almond pasta
Green beans and shallots 
Skillet cornbread
Dense vanilla lemon curd cake with powdered sugar and berries 

It felt so good to be cooking with the people who helped MLT grow into what it is today... the people who are most vital to my growth as an individual, as well. Amanda, Rowan and Peter, thank you so much.

The dinner was held in a beautiful, century-old tobacco barn on Monnett Farms. Jamie Tiralla, who runs the farm with her husband and family, was so gracious and provided our little group of attendees their own organic eggs to take home, supplied by the chickens on that very farm. I heard for weeks after the dinner from many different people how beautiful the white, beige, green and brown eggs were and how delicious they tasted in people's breakfasts. We also used the eggs in preparing the dessert at the dinner. Jamie and her husband Benson were also kind enough to provide the pulled pork and the beef sirloin for our dinner, making it particularly special to eat meat from the very farm we were gathering at. I'm so blessed to have met them and been entrusted by them to take good care while on their beautiful piece of land. 

I wish I had taken the time to take photos during the dinner but once the food was brought out, we dug right in. The rain began to fall pretty hard and it made for a beautiful backdrop behind lots of laughter, silliness and chats. The dinner was cut a bit short due to bad weather and time restrictions, but we cleaned up in a hurry and had time to spare, sharing drinks and stories inside Amanda's living room. The sense of community and love was so genuine and so great... my heart felt very full and I knew I made the right choice. Keep the dinner small and simple. It's for us and it was my way of saying thank you.

I am so happy I made the decision to keep this dinner intimate. I am so glad I cooked it myself with the people I love the most. It was delicious and the scenery was idyllic; farm dogs running around the property, cows grazing outside the barn door, lamb crying in the distance and the smiles of friends. The smell of smoke, wet wood and grass. The soft clink of wine glasses as we cheers to friendship. 

Coming full circle, I am hoping to do another intimate dinner with friends come winter. For the next few months, my focus is on relationships, not paychecks. MLT + friends, I love you. I hope to see you in winter when we dine on more yummy things. Happy two years, Mornings Like These!