Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

Google What? Year Two

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21st, 2011 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Occasionally I like to see what Google searches bring people to Gluten Freedom.  Last year I posted here what people were searching to get to Gluten Freedom.

Here are a few of my recent faves from 2011:

  • I would hug the Barefoot Contessa and never let go
  • Japanese superhero made of bread
  • Ashley bachelorette cry
  • Ashley bachelorette age
  • Ashley bachelorette dot dot dot
  • How to cook for a celiac
  • Bentley dumped Ashley
  • Gluten free breakfast Jackson Hole
  • Do you have to disinfect to make gluten free bread
  • Where can I find bachelorette ashley’s jeans?
  • Why I love the eastern shore
  • Teton thai, travel and leisure magazine
  • Drew Brees gluten free diet
  • Wanted Iberian pigs
  • Japan Tokyo celiac
  • Gluten free competitive eating
  • Celiac trendy
  • Googlewhat is glutten free
  • Let them eat cake

So apparently I write about Japan, Bachelorette, Barefoot Contessa, travel and gluten-free food.  Pretty accurate!

3 Months Ago…

Posted in travel, Uncategorized, Washington DC on June 14th, 2011 by Betsy – 2 Comments

It’s hard to believe that three months ago today I left Japan.  In some ways, it seems like ages since I left, and in others, it feels like just days ago.  On March 14th, I left Japan in a whirlwind, after an emotionally wearing four days.  As my plane lifted off the ground at Narita, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, but I didn’t regret being in Japan for a minute, and I still don’t.  I’m thankful for that time with my family and getting the rare opportunity to get to know my nephews.


As I look back on Gluten Freedom during that time, it’s particularly eerie that I published this post 45 minutes before the earthquake hit.  Clearly, I had no idea what was coming.

In those three months, I haven’t seen my brother, sister-in-law and the boys in person. Shortly after I left Japan, Alden, Pete and Chip were able to ultimately get stateside (after many, many flights), thankfully. Rob is still in Japan and his ship actually left Yokusuku yesterday to embark on another tour. He’ll be reunited with his family later this summer.  I’m going to see Alden and the boys this weekend and I can’t wait to be with them.  Chip turned two yesterday and he continues to be a sweet and wonderful child, full of personality.  Pete’s growing and I’m sure has changed so much since we parted ways in March.  Alden remains my hero and has been an amazing mother throughout all of this.  Can you tell I’m excited to see them??

Chip and me on a morning walk in Japan

Chip and me on a morning walk in Japan

From March to June, I finished up a successful lacrosse season, got through exams with my students, and am now enjoying a more leisurely pace of summer.  I’ve had two articles published in Living Without Magazine, on Washington, D.C. and Montana/Wyoming and tried to keep up with Gluten Freedom when I have a spare moment. This May, former students and advisees of mine graduated from college.  (I’m old!)  More former students then graduated from high school in June.  I have a new niece, Anna Lohne Metcalf, born in May.  David and I’ve been to four weddings, in Atlanta, Richmond, New York and DC, with a fifth on the way this weekend on the Eastern Shore.

So many things to celebrate!  Life is good.

Google What?

Posted in Atlanta on August 20th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment


It’s hard to believe that just ten years ago no one really knew what Google was.  Now it’s our ‘go to’ tool when searching the world wide web.  In fact, much of my blog traffic comes from Google searches.  Thanks to my ‘Blog Management’ program, I can see how many people have visited my blog and how they got to Gluten Freedom.  If they found me via a google search, I can see what they searched to get to me.  I’ve been keeping a running list of some of those searches.  I thought you might enjoy seeing some of the funny ones, some that make sense and some that don’t make sense.  Everything from “CDC” to “Bachelor Final Rose” to “Local Food” to “gluten free.”  I guess this blog serves more audiences than I thought it would.

How did you get here? Favorite Google Searches:

How to host a bachelorette tv shoow party

Drew brees and celiac

Glutten free

Gluten free Atlanta

Awesome koozies


Top Chef

Lost Finale why know reunion between Claire and Aaron

Science Fair Projects and celiac disease

breaking the curse – say yes to the dress: atlanta itunes

Ode to my Lunch Box

Heidi Swanson

Barefoot Contessa

How much is quiche at Whole Foods?

Gluten free college

Eating swiss chard causes gas

Graeter’s ice cream gluten

What happens to contestants on Top Chef when they get kicked off?

Make and freeze summer squash casserole

Southern living Serenbe farms


Celiac trendy

Hmm.  Do these google searches represent me?

Moving Day

Posted in Atlanta, local food, meals, Restaurants on August 18th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments

Our bags are packed and we’re ready to go…

You might have noticed that there hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking in my home recently.  I’ve cooked on the Eastern Shore, in Richmond, in Alexandria, but not in our little Atlanta apartment.  That’s because our apartment looks like this:


Yup, we’re moving.  We only have two bowls, two spoons, and two glasses that haven’t yet been packed.  We initially moved to Atlanta for just one year, but we’ve decided to make Atlanta our permanent home and we couldn’t be more excited.

In the last few weeks, however, we’ve been dining out a lot more than normal since our kitchen and entire apartment are in a state of chaos.  Boxes are everywhere, we’ve been in and out of town, and well, it’s just been easier to go out to dinner.


Check out some of the meals I’ve enjoyed while my apartment is full of boxes:

Miller Union


Veggie Plate

Remnants of Feta Snack

Remnants of Feta Snack

Urban Pl8


Yeah! Burger


Taqueria del Sol


So today we move into our new home.  So long, one bedroom apartment.  You’ve been a great home for the last year but I must admit, I’m excited to have a little more space…a bigger kitchen, a dining room table that we don’t have to pull out from the wallwhen we have guests over, a fireplace, a fenced in backyard.

Our life has had a lot of transition in the last few years so I’m excited to be here, in our new space, cooking away, and enjoying our life in Atlanta.

As my grandmother says, “Home again, home again, quick as a jig.”

Summer Reads on the Shore

Posted in reading, travel on August 6th, 2010 by Betsy – 8 Comments

I’m back in Atlanta after a wonderful week on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with my parents.  Sure, it was no Rhinebeck, New York, but I’ll take Finney Creek any day over the wedding of the century.  The Shore is one of my favorite places, as it’s one of the spots where I feel most relaxed.  No sight seeing, very little social activity, just hanging out.  Fortunately, we had a spell of cooler weather so reading on the dock didn’t involve heat stroke.

shore 9 Most of our time on the shore consisted of boat rides, naps, reading, eating and watching Pardon the Interruption.  During the fall, winter and spring we also watch a lot of football and basketball, but we have trouble getting excited about baseball, so there wasn’t nearly as much ESPN.  While I missed having sports to watch, I found that I had much more time to read without the NCAA tournament or bowl season to distract me.

I read three great books while on the Shore and I would highly recommend all three.  Each was very different but I devoured them.  Nothing could stand in my way of finishing them.


Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee: Charles J. Shields

Having reread To Kill a Mockingbird this year with my 8th graders, I loved learning more about the life of Harper Lee, especially her friendship with Truman Capote.  Lee was his research assistant for In Cold Blood, another story that fascinates me.  A large chunk of the book is about their time in Kansas researching the murder and getting to know the people involved in the case.  As a wanna-be writer myself, it was also refreshing to learn that words didn’t always flow easily for Ms. Lee.  She struggled with her first book (TKAM was initially a group of short stories that her publisher made her tie together) and she never even published a second book, despite tirelessly working on one.  Affirming to know that I don’t suffer from writer’s block alone.


Little Bee: Chris Cleave

‘Absolutely riveting’ is the only way I can describe this book.  On the back cover of Little Bee it actually says, “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.  It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it.”  That’s how I feel about it.  A powerful, creative story, with great characters, I can’t do it justice by summarizing.  It’s beautifully written but I found myself reading it too fast to even appreciate the writing style because I was so eager to find out what happens and how everyone is connected.


The Piano Teacher: Janice Y.K. Lee

This story takes place in Hong Kong, during and after World War II.  A history teacher, I love books about a small moment in history in an unusual place.  I had never really thought much about what Hong Kong was like during World War II, but the story is captivating.  The combination of a large European population from colonialism, the Japanese takeover, and the Chinese made for an interesting social tension at the time.


Now I’m reading Hellhound on His Trail, (Hampton Sides) a book David recommended, about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the search for his assassin.  The history nerd in me loves this stuff.  Written with a journalistic style, the author tells a great story about the man that killed King, our nation’s political state at the time, and the workings of the FBI.  I’m really enjoying it, but it will take me ten times longer to finish it than if I were still reading on the dock.

Do you have any reading recommendations?  We’ll be in Connecticut with David’s family in September so I’ll be looking for some good reads on the trip.

Processing ‘The Wire’

Posted in TV on July 27th, 2010 by Betsy – 3 Comments


Sometimes I don’t talk about food and gluten on this blog.  Today is going to be one of those days.

Earlier this spring, my friend, Jen, encouraged (ok, forced) David and me to watch ‘The Wire.’ A year or two earlier we attempted tackling this show via our Netflix queue and I couldn’t get through the first two episodes.  I wrote ‘The Wire’ off as too violent, too many F-bombs and too confusing.  Jen doesn’t like a quitter so she made us give it another try.

Five months later, we’ve watched all five seasons of this HBO drama based on the city of Baltimore, where David and I lived during our first two years of marriage.  (The suburb of Lutherville that we called home was drastically different than the corners where the show takes place.)

I have to admit, during the first few episodes, I had no idea what was going on and I hated it.  I hated the show; I hated its violence; I detested the cursing; I couldn’t figure out who the characters were and what was happening with the story line.  It made me feel stupid and wimpy.

That being said, on Sunday night David and I stayed up until midnight (that’s about two hours later than I normally go to bed), watching the final episode.  I’m relieved it’s over so I can move on with my life.

There’s no way that I can adequately describe ‘The Wire’ in a post and do it justice.  I very much have a love/hate relationship with this show and the characters that consumed my waking and sleeping for the last five months.  Gritty and brutal,‘The Wire’ traces the intertwined lives of fictional Baltimore city cops, drug dealers, addicts, politicians and even children.



Each season has a different theme: drugs, the docks, politics, journalism.  Of course my favorite theme was education, during the fourth season.  The brokenness of the public school systems as well as the inability for children to break out of the world they’re born into was absolutely heartbreaking.  I felt utterly hopeless as I watched.  I think this season particularly affected me because I taught in Baltimore, but in a very different setting.  I worked in a private school for affluent families and students who had infinitely more opportunities than Randy, Dukie, Namon and Michael on ‘The Wire,’ despite living only 15 minutes apart.



I neglected to mention when I wrote about our anniversary, that just before dinner, we watched the final two episodes of the fourth season and I hysterically cried only thirty minutes before our fancy evening out.  Yes, I know these people aren’t real, but it’s all too real nonetheless.  The Towers and the corners are such a foreign, yet close, world, and the people and children unwillingly affected by it are hauntingly real.  For the bulk of our ‘Wire viewing,’ Jen has been in Europe, living the life of an ex-pat, reading, journaling and sight seeing.  Meanwhile, I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, literally weeping while watching this show.  Thanks, Jen.

I’m not quite sure who I would recommend ‘The Wire’ to.  In the last five months, I’ve always been excited to find someone else that watched the show.  (Before we got hooked, people who watched ‘The Wire’ annoyed me.)  The other night, we discovered that our friend, Amy Julia and her husband watched ‘The Wire,’ and I felt an immediate bond because we’d shared five seasons of murder, drugs, fraud, hope and hopelessness through the lives of Daniels, Omar, Bubbles, McNulty, and Presbo.  I feel smart and accomplished for making it through the series (Is that bad?) and I don’t regret watching it.  I will never watch the show again, however, and I even vowed on four different occasions while watching the show that I would never watch another episode.

The final episode was bittersweet but it was time.  Time to say goodbye to the Corners, to the Greek, to the completely flawed police officers I’d come to know for the previous 57 episodes.  It would have been nice, however, to have a little more closure in the final episode.  Of course I was still left with many questions.  Why did we barely see Presbo in the last season?  What happened to Randy?  Does Kema spend more time with her son?  Does McNulty get clean?  What happens to Cutty?

Do you watch ‘The Wire?’ Favorite characters?  Is it hopeful or hopeless?  Do you get annoyed with people who are obsessed with talking about ‘The Wire?’ Thoughts?

Phantom of the Opera & Taqueria del Sol

Posted in Atlanta, Mexican Restaurants, Restaurants on July 20th, 2010 by Betsy – 7 Comments


On Gluten Freedom, I’ve shared with you many things about me.  Many nerdy and quirky things about me.

You know that I love ‘The Bachelorette.’  Did you see last night’s episode??  Frank is pitiful.  I once again vowed that I’m never going to watch another episode of the show.

You know that I love famous chefs and folk music.  Um, Indigo Girls are playing in Atlanta on October 15th.  Mark your calendars!

You know that I dream of someday being a farmer.  Now that I’ve spent some time working at Serenbe Farm this summer, I’m not sure I have the stamina for that career.  (Bugs like me too much…I’m covered in chigger bites as I write.)

One of the other things that I love which I haven’t really shared with you is musicals.  To quote Tobias Funke from ‘Arrested Development,’ (a great show, by the way…much better than ‘Bachelorette’) I love the “theeeater.”  As a child, my favorite family trip was to New York City where we saw three musicals in 48 hours.  This trip would be my husband’s worst nightmare, but he politely puts up with my love of musicals, nonetheless.


Tobias Funke from 'Arrested Development'

Can I sing?  Nope.  Did I ever act?  Not once.  Do I still love shows?  Heck yes.  Why, I’m not quite sure.  Maybe it’s because that’s what we listened to in the car when I was little.  (I had no idea how racy “Les Mis” is until around age 18.  The song, ‘Lovely Ladies’…Wow.)

So last week, when our friends, Peyten and Stan, asked if we would like to see ‘Phantom of the Opera’ at the Fox Theater with them, I quickly accepted before asking David what he thought about the idea.  I hadn’t seen ‘Phantom’ in 12 years, and they’re claiming this is the last national tour of the show.  (Probably just a marketing ploy, but I fell for it nonetheless.)


After accepting Peyten’s offer, then came the question of where to go for dinner before the show.  An 8:00 start time limits one’s options, especially for me, who always worries about being on time.  (I don’t want to risk missing the overture.)

IMG_0023 Peyten suggested Taqueria del Sol as it’s apparently a quick stop for a meal, despite the long line that’s always stretching out the door.  I had never been to this beloved Atlanta spot, as I’m weary about places that serve food quickly and en masse.  Thanks to blogger, Celiac Eats, who loves Taqueria del Sol, I was willing to give it a try.  As the time for dinner got closer, I became more anxious about the impending meal.  (I know that’s weird for you non-celiacs, but going out to dinner can be very scary, especially when you’ll be confined to a theater seat for the next three hours.)  I texted my friend, Anne, (also celiac) and asked her opinion.  She was lukewarm on Taqueria so I began to plan on eating dinner prior to the Taqueria stop.

David encouraged me to call ahead, just in case, and I did.  He’s full of great ideas.  The manager, with whom I spoke, has a gluten allergy herself.  She knew everything I could eat and was very specific, which I love.  She even told me that I can have chips if I come for lunch, but not for dinner because at that point the fryer is contaminated.  Such helpful information!

Most of the enchiladas are totally gluten free and the corn tortillas can be substituted for the tacos.  They were some of the best corn tortillas I’ve ever eaten.  For dinner, I ordered one Memphis taco and one Veggie taco, with a side of the Charros beans.  I also got some guacamole because I can never resist guac.  The brisket taco is also gluten-free so I’ll try that one next time.  Both of my tacos were delicious.  The Memphis comes with smoked pork, jalapenos, bbq sauce and cole slaw.  A perfect combination.  Sweet, salty and crunchy.  (I love weird combos and combining textures.)  The veggie taco was delish as well!  I enjoyed my meal while sipping on a tequila and tonic.  Yes, a tequila and tonic.  Don’t knock it ‘till you try it.  I promise, you’ll love it.  Just think margarita, without the too tart, too sweet grime that stays on your teeth.


As I mentioned, Taqueria has an intimidating line out front, but it’s worth it.  You can walk to the bar and order a drink to enjoy while you wait in line.  The line moves fairly quickly so it looks worse than it is.  I’m so glad to discover another spot in Atlanta where I can grab a quick, and relatively cheap meal, that’s gluten-free friendly.


And of course, we made it to the Fox in plenty of time and I thoroughly enjoyed the show, trying not to sing along.  Afterwards, I did have trouble explaining to David why I think ‘Phantom of the Opera’ is so good.  It just is.

June = Reality TV at its best

Posted in TV on June 16th, 2010 by Betsy – 7 Comments

David and I love watching sports.  All kinds of sports.  A good weekend involves some type of athletic competition and at least one “S.I.N.” (a “sports induced nap”).  I prefer college basketball; David would probably say his favorite is college football.  We have an ongoing debate in our family as to what the greatest month of sports is.  You know, the best combination of athletic events found in a one month period.  David’s favorite month of sports is April because you have the NCAA Final Four Tournament, the Masters, NBA playoffs, and the start of baseball.  I tend to go with January because you gt the tail end of the college bowl games, NFL playoffs, and you can find college basketball on your TV almost every night.  (And really, I just want lots of college basketball…March is a close 2nd for me.)

strasburg The summer months tend to be a bit of a drag for me in the wide world of sports.  I really could care less about the NHL and baseball is such a long season.  Fortunately, Strasburg is now pitching for the Nationals and the World Cup will make this summer much more exciting.  In fact last Sunday I felt like it was football season again as I watched Germany handed it to Australia on my friend Chris’s flat screen, while David took a “S.I.N.” on the couch.  (Remember, we don’t have a TV this year so we mooch off of our friends.)  Weekends revolving around sports are the best.


Since Wilbon and Tony don’t have a ton to talk about on “PTI” in June, besides the ever-changing Big 10, my media focus moves to the reality TV genre.  I’ve decided that while January is the best sports month, June wins the award for the best month of reality TV in 2010.  Why?  Good question.

The Bachelorette” is in full swing and Ali is finally down to just 10 men so I can actually tell the difference between each of them.  There’s not a whole lot of diversity in the group on first glance so you have to get to know them.  I now have my favorites and my least favorites.  I’ve chosen my predictions for Final 3: Chris L., Roberto and Frank.  You clearly know at this point who is crazy (can we say Kasey with a “K”?) but it’s not too far into the season that Ali has finally convinced the producers to get rid of the whackos.  (Well, the weatherman did leave this week.  It was time.)

I Heart Roberto.

I Heart Roberto.

“The Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Fresh Meat II” aired its final episodes this month.  For those of you that didn’t watch (and I’m sure that includes most of you), the exiles were insane and the final challenge involved climbing a mountain with ice picks.  Lots of whining and F-bombs were also present in the final episode.  Not as much drama as usual though.


The final reason why June marks the greatest month for reality TV this year is the premier of “Top Chef: DC.”  Premiering tonight, I’m eager to see where they filmed, what they’re doing, and who are the next big stars in the culinary world.


What are your thoughts on the reality TV world?  Is it a dying genre or do people like me keep it in business?  Am I the only one still watching?

Books are Gluten-Free!

Posted in advice on May 10th, 2010 by Betsy – 1 Comment

It always makes me chuckle when people ask for gluten-free gift suggestions.  Sure, they probably mean something involving gluten-free food, but there are many gift items that fall under the ‘gluten-free’ label.  Books are gluten-free but I wouldn’t suggest eating them.  I love reading just as much as I love cooking and I spend a good deal of time thinking about what I want to read next.  While I tend to be over eager, I’m hopeful nonetheless that I will read everything on my list.  I was inspired by Moxie’s post, “I Heart Books” so I thought I’d tell you what’s on my bedside table right now.

Some of these are just finished, others I’m halfway through, and a few are waiting to be opened.  I tend to read multiple books at once, so it’s no surprise that my list is lengthy, yet hopeful.  Have you read any on my list?  Thoughts?  What are you reading?  What’s on your reading list?

The Righteous Porkchop, Nicolette Niman: Niman addresses the history of the farming industry in America and the ethical (or lack thereof) practices in agriculture.


A Place of my Own: The Architecture of Daydreams, Michael Pollan: One of the earlier books by the author of Omnivore’s Dilemma.


Beatrice & Virgil, Yann Martel: The newest novel by the author of Life of Pi.  Finished it last week.  Completely fascinating yet quite disturbing.  Please let me know if you’ve read it because I’m yet to find someone to ‘debrief’ this book.


Terra Madre, Carlo Petrini: Founder of Slow Food, Petrini discusses global solutions to the food crises.


Local Flavors, Deborah Madison: I’m always reading cookbooks and this is my most recent love.  Great photos and beautiful stories.


Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott: I genuinely don’t want this book to end so I’m slowly making my way through it.  If you like writing, this is a must-read.


A Soft Place to Land, Susan Rebecca White: Young, local Atlanta author.  I’m reading this book with my summer book club.


The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith: I’m reading this with my 8th graders that I tutor and really enjoying it.  A great summer read!


Food Rules, Michael Pollan: Can you tell I love Michael Pollan? A great gift and easy read, this book offers simple tips regarding our relationship with and attitude towards food.


A Year Without ‘Made in China,’ Sara Bongiorni: The author documents the year her family spent challenging themselves not to buy products made in China.


I’m in Print!

Posted in advice, local food, Restaurants on May 5th, 2010 by Betsy – 7 Comments

I love writing.  Each day I try to write something, not just emails or incessant lists, but something with more substance.  It’s never brilliant or earth shattering, but each day I return to my computer, ready to write something new, not always sure in which direction I’m going.  Even when I fear I have nothing to say, I hold myself accountable to write.


Occasionally I think to myself, “What am I doing?”  Why am I writing each day?  The answer is, I’m not totally sure what or why.  I will never pay the bills by doing this, but in my writing, I’ve discovered that I love creating, exploring and putting thoughts into words.  Two years ago, I would never have told you I love to write or even imagine that I would have a blog that receives a significant amount of my time.  This blog and my discovery of writing have been unexpected blessings of my celiac diagnosis.  Who knew that a disease would result in good things?  It does and it has.



I’m particularly excited about my writing today because this week, my first magazine article is “hot off the presses.”  (Yes, I can be a cheesy writer too.)  My article, “Atlanta Restaurants Offer Many Options for Gluten-Free Diners” can now be found around town in Atlanta’s Finest Dining Magazine and for those of you non-Atlantans, you can check it out at this link.

I’m thrilled.  It makes me smile to see it.  It makes me want to write more.

E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘Writing is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

- from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life