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26 June 2008

gluten-free girl recommends

gfg recommends

Little Bean arrives into the world in less than a month. So, what is the best action to take before giving birth?

Start another website!

Actually, I’ve been brewing this new baby for far longer than Little Bean. For over a year, at least, I’ve been saying to friends and family, “I’m working on something called Gluten-Free Girl Recommends.”
“Cool idea,” they all say.
“Yes. As soon as I can make it happen…..”

You see, this has been quite the year. Within the last year, the Chef and I moved house, got married, went on a honeymoon to Italy, launched my first book with trips across the United States, kept working at the restaurant (Chef), kept writing this site and other projects (me), signed a two-book book deal, and became pregnant with our first child. You know, a few things. And that’s just the highlights.

Still, I’ve been dreaming this website, a complement to Gluten-Free Girl, through it all. It has danced in the back of my head, sometimes waltzing, sometimes doing a furious tango.

As I have traveled across the country, and sat here at my desk, so many of you have asked salient questions. What’s your favorite gluten-free flour? How can I eat safely at a restaurant? Do you know any gluten-free lipsticks? Are there any bread mixes worth the money?

We are a community, and I love the conversation. But lately, the emails in my inbox have swelled to voluminous levels. I simply cannot answer most of them. Now, with a baby coming and a book manuscript due in the winter, I’m going to need all the energies I can muster. And since so many of the questions I receive do repeat each other a bit, I have wanted to create a space where everyone can gather, and start another conversation.

Enter Gluten-Free Girl Recommends.

This new site will be updated three times a week (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) with pithy prose, my photographs, and links to places where you might find more of what you like. (For those of you paying attention here — with the ingredients posts on Monday and the recipes/stories posts on Thursday — that means there will be some new gluten-free content every weekday.)

There are already 50 posts up there, culled from the archives of this website — small passages of prose about a place to eat or cookbooks we find useful. There are also a few new posts on there too. I thought about writing for months before letting anyone see it, building new material. But I wanted you to be part of the development instead, adding your own opinions. (And frankly, I’m just running out of energy these days!)

Let me make this clear. This will be a recommendations site. I’m not going to be reviewing restaurants just after they open, or saying nasty comments about gluten-free mixes that turn out to be horrible. I receive so much gluten-free food from producers. Most of it tastes grainy and disappointing to me. You see, I want a truly memorable food experience every time I eat. Most of the time, that means we focus on real food around here, not packaged goods. But when I try a mix that tastes fantastic, that I will buy again for this home, I want to share it with you. I love the family stories that have evolved into thriving businesses. We should all celebrate those.

At the new website, I’m going to be giving you experiences to which I have said yes.

You’ll see, on the sidebar, a list of categories:

Cookbooks and other books.
Cooking utensils.
Gluten-free foods.
Other artists and their work.
Places to eat.
Places to buy food.

These are all experiences that make our lives richer around here. Where would I be without Jamie Oliver books, the peltex spatula that makes cooking easier, sea salt caramels, good olive oil, the necklaces from Superhero Design, Volterra restaurant, or the University District farmers’ market? We want to share our enthusiasms with you.

(Over the next couple of months, there might be some baby stuff in there too.)

And I intend the Places to Eat category to be particularly helpful. Every day, I receive letters asking, “Where can I eat?” If you want a specific city, you can simply search Places to Eat, New York (for example) and find out what I know. (You can also ask the New York bloggers!) So many restaurants in Seattle feed me safely and well. Over time, I’ll be sure to share all of them with you.

There’s something else that’s different about the new website. We will be taking ads on Gluten-Free Girl Recommends. The Chef and I have thought about this for months. It felt important to both of us to keep this site ad-free. But I have written every piece here — and created every recipe — for free. This site has been one of the biggest loves of my life. But with a new baby coming, and our budget always interesting, we decided that ads seem reasonable.

There is another reason for the ads. Rather than going with an established ad network, and thus end up with ads not tailored to the gluten-free community, we have decided to create our own network — the Green Apple ad network. With the help of my fabulous designer friend, Kaytlyn, we will be designing and placing ads from gluten-free foods producers and great food makers. So many of you ask me, “Where can I find teff flour?” Well, we hope that soon there will be ads that make a direct link for you, so you can read the site and simply buy what you need.

(If you are a representative of a foods producer reading this now, please feel free to contact me.)

Speaking of Kaytlyn, I cannot say enough about this woman. Kaytlyn Sanders, who runs the excellent design business Beneficial Design, has shepherded me through this entire process with grace and good humor. And a huge amount of talent. We have become close friends through the past two years of working together, and I cannot imagine my life without her. This website would not exist without her. I mean, look at that new banner up there!

(That is the rooster and hen who live in our neighborhood and come to our front door every morning these days. The Chef is especially fond of them. He took that shot while lying on his stomach on the living room floor, pointing out to our front yard.)

Kaytlyn is a genius, and a kind one at that. So, if you have any design needs, please contact her. Your website and life will be better for it too.

There is more I could say here — everyone has a birth story, right? — but this feels enough. I’ve been dreaming this baby for nearly a year, and now launch day is here. Time to take the stage, little one. Go knock yourself out.


At 9:27 PM, Blogger Busy Mama said...

You are simply amazing!

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, wow wow! Yes. How wonderful and right and good. Bravo! Really looking forward to the new site and watching it grow. What an amazing resource you are.

I made a copper belt buckle this week that says 'yes' and I thought of you and the Chef.

The new header is gorgeous! And I loved hearing from the Chef in person all about those funny, funny chickens when I had dinner there a couple of weeks ago, so now the header is even better.

What a yummy life you lead, my dear. Thanks for sharing with us. I wish you much prosperity with ads on the new site!

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

Just, Wow. And, YES! I am so excited about this!

At 12:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beauty. Total beauty.

And the site's great too.

thanks for all the varied persepctives. It's great to have a holistic look at what is frequently marginalized and made 'other' instead of finding ways to make it ours.

Yay, you, Yay the site. (Phew - one birth over and done with!)

At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Precious, precious picture of you and the Chef (and LB). Thanks so much! Debra

At 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new banner is gorgeous, Shauna. Congrats on the new little one.

At 3:42 AM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Wow, wow, wow! Oh my goodness Shauna, I do not see a maternity leave in your future ? ? ? You have blown me away, again. The new site is beautiful, exciting and another something from you to look forward to evey week!

At 5:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost never comment-
but I couldn't not comment on this brilliand idea and design and - I have so much to say..
I have been wondering between sights for about an hour and I can't get enough...

Simply beautiful!

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, and sounds like a great idea!

Do you have a link for Kaytlyn? I don't see one on the entry. Thanks!

At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I am going there now! Your recommendations have a great impact on all of us. You are like the "Oprah" of the gluten-free world.

Just because you started this new website I am not letting you off the hook! I still expect you to start a magazine for us. What about a monthly mazazine entitled, "Gluten-Free Living!"

I think having the ads is a tremendous idea. You are going to need to hire someone to read and answer your e-mails!

From reading the last paragraph of this post, it sounds like you are in your ninth month, probably even the last two weeks! We have a double-birthday over here exactly one week from today! This is a good time for a new baby!

Geez, I still have to click into your new website. I can't wait.

Take care,


At 9:25 AM, Blogger Vittoria said...

Fantastic! Thank you so much! It's so great to see the community coming together so well. You're an inspiration!

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Tea said...

Congrats, my dear. I'm so delighted for you that this has come to fruition--and it looks so lovely as well. I adore the new banner--luminous!

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this new site! It's just what I've been looking for and I'm so glad it is being brought to me by you.

BTW, I have friends who referred to their little one in utero as "bean." She has recently come into the world and her parents chose Bean as her middle name!

At 11:29 AM, Blogger chris said...

I'm very excited about your new site.

On a completely unrelated note, I looked at the baby registry you mentioned in the comments section of another post, and if you don't mind, a word of advice from an "expert" pumper. Actually, your blog was my favorite blog to read while I pumped for my twins. Don't buy a pump until you know what your needs are. You may be a champion breastfeeder and only need a handpump (at about $45 or free from the hospital) for those times when you're away from the baby. On the other hand, you may have difficulties and need a hospital grade pump for full-time pumping, which will set you back $75 to $100 a month. For normal pumping moms who pump a few times a day, a Medela Pump in Style is probaby the best choice, although I know women who like the basic Ameda model.

I've used the pump you have listed and it only pumps one side and is not any more efficient than a handpump would be, although your hand will obviously get less tired. Many women like the Avent Isis handpump or the Ameda handpump (which frankly, pumped as well as a Pump in Style and was free from my hospital). The tough thing about buying a pump too soon is that most places won't take them back at all (much less after they've been opened) and by the time you figure out what you need, you're already in the hole a small fortune.

Also, the Avent milk storage containers don't fit your Medela pump. I made the same mistake with my first child. Unless you're using Avent bottles (and then you need to make sure you don't get the BPA ones), you will be using an extra step in your pumping and believe me, you don't want to add more work at this point. Frankly, the Avent bottles leak like crazy; I don't know how they sell so many, but they must have great PR people. The medela breastmilk storage bottles are BPA free, indestructable, and can be used as bottles (a set of four comes with nuk-style nipples).

I'm so sorry to hyjack your blog for this, but it was killing me! Hopefully you will have a wonderful breastfeeding experience. I found making "food" to be incredibly empowering. Anyway, I just hate to see you guys waste a ton of money right off the bat on something you might not use when, as most new parents find, you'll really need every extra dollar.

Good luck! You two are going to love parenthood.

At 1:38 PM, Blogger oriordan said...

I love the idea of the new site. However, I do have one suggestion. You say you will only make positive recommendations. That's a very "yes" attitude but it still would be really helpful to know things to avoid.

The problem I have is wondering whether something is not listed because you tried it and didn't like it or you simply haven't tried it. Knowing it got a thumbs down would really help on some of these expensive items.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that you have probably heard this story before but here goes. My huband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about 5 years ago. My brother-in-law was diagnosed shortly after that and his son carries one of the genetic markers for the disease. After struggling for years trying to find good food we finally decided to open a Gluten free store. One where when you walk in the door you know that everything in there is Gluten Free. This was a little over a year and a half ago.
I know what a struggle it is to do this and still have a family. Bravo to you and your family. I hope that you still take the time to have fun with your family, because it is so easy to get wrapped up in this.

Congrats and thank you for all that you have done.

Lindsey Svejkovsky

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Shirley said...

Very cool, Shauna! I love the fact that you will be focusing on the positives and only talking about things you love. The YES aspect once again! You look so beautiful in the picture with Chef and he has that soon-to-be-a-wonderful-parent glow as well!

I've bookmarked the new site and will keep up with them both with delight! I agree with everyone else that you are amazing. I am still trying to take the leap to start my own blog, so I can help spread the gluten-free word and support the local support group I lead that way instead of by the voluminous emails I send them now. :-)

At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the new site, and by the way congratulations on Little Bean!

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was reading the bit about advertising, and I thought, "I wish I had a gluten-free product to advertise... hey wait a minute... I DO!"

I have a just-started business called PeaceMeals where I plan meals for a week and provide the recipes, meal plans, and ingredients for a flat fee. The regular $40 box is not gluten-free, but the $60 premium box is (as well as being higher in protein and fruits/veggies and so on). (And hopefully I'll figure out how to make the $40 box gluten-free soon too.)

So I would love to hear about advertising prices, and start saving up to do that! I also am trying to send foodbloggers little samples of it, but I don't know if that would be a conflict of interest if I were going to advertise. There'd be no "you have to blog about this" or "you have to write a positive review" attached, because that is just skeevy.

At 1:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AWESOME!!! just browsed your new site & as only fitting of you, it looks amazing! i join the chorus admiring your new banner as well, very kewl shot from the is so inspiring and comforting to be a part of your 'Yes' of my favorite things to do is spending time reading your site, and now i have just bookmarked 'recommendations' as another appetizingly healthy indulgence... thanks for sharing this little one's birth and now, looking very forward to Little Bean's imminent arrival!

bravo bravo!! carol

At 6:50 AM, Blogger michelle v said...

Good luck with the new site!

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

This is such a great idea, thanks so much! It's finally got to the point where I'm moving out of my parent's house and into an apartment (and kitchen) all of my own, so this couldn't have come at a better time!
Fab new header too!

At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I like the new "about us" picture. Can I assume from the placement of the chef's hands that this was taken to commemorate little beans impending arrival?

At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am STILL trying to get a good result with gluten-free baking recipes while eliminating tapioca flour and/or any soy products (anti-thyroid ingredients). I have co-workers who are gluten-free although I don't have that problem, so I try to bake gluten-free whenever possible while eliminating ingredients that affect my own health problems (thyroid function). What does gluten-free girl recommend (big grin!!!).

At 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shauna, if you find yourself unable to live up to all the projects you have planned after LB arrives? Don't feel bad about it. There's no way to know ahead of time how things will go. So just relax, enjoy LB and we'll all be here when you get back, whenever that is. Debra

At 3:17 PM, Blogger Terry said...

Oh you tricky girl you! Here we are all waiting for the big arrival and you spring this great surprise. Congratulations! I have needed something like this and appreciate that it will be so readily available and in one of my favorite "Shauna style" formats.

At 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is alot to take on with a sweet baby coming...take care of yourself and prioritize!

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Although I do not have celiac, I enjoy reading this blog immensely because your writing is both poignant and entertaining.

I would like to wish you the best of luck with Little Bean. Considering how compassionate you and the Chef seem, I imagine you will be wonderful parents.

Also, best of luck with the mountains of unsolicited advice that will come raining down upon you during your pregnancy at parenthood--I am sure you will handle it with grace.

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hurray!! Shauna, what a treasure you are.

At 4:17 AM, Blogger Callisto said...

Hi shauna,
I recently stumbled upon your blog whilst doing some research for a friend who was just diagnosed with celiacs, and since then i haven't been able to stop reading your blog!
In fact you have inspired me to start blogging myself - so thank you for the inspiration!
I am currently awaiting being tested for celiacs myself, and have found your blog to be the most informative space on the web by far. I live in Australia and i am finding it terribly hard to get information of naturally gluten-free foods and i think your new blog "GFG Recommends" is a fantastic idea, i am already getting more information from the little peek i took of it earlier, now i just have to find some companies that do international shipping and i will be set.

Thanks for always being so informative and inspiring, and i wish you all best with the new blog and with the impending arrival of Little Bean.

At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shauna, You are are a ray of sunshine and total inspiration. And since having to live wheat-free, you are my guru. When I feel downish about my new lifestyle, I go to your website and find some wonderful new tidbit to lift me up. Your personal and professional life read like a captivating book, and I thank you for all you do. When Little Bean pops, take care and pace yourself, so that we continue to have your gorgeous perspective which influences all of us towards our better selves. Peace, m'dear!

At 5:10 AM, Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

Now you have two babies! What a wonderful idea! Your new website isa new twist on typical pregnancy "nesting" that occurs in these final weeks. At least it is less risky than my insistence on climbing a ladder to stencil my daughter's room before she arrived!

At 1:07 PM, Anonymous Becca said...

I love the new design of the website, but you've lost the content categories that would be so helpful for your recommendations. Any chance that they are coming back? Or did they just slip through the cracks?


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