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Please keep up to date with all think Yankee and gluten-free over at A Yankee in Rebel Clothes.

06 October 2013

This Yankee has migrated ...

After 7 years of being a Blogger, I've made the move to Wordpress. I hope you'll follow me as I move over there and continue to post all about life. I'll be posting a lot of gluten-free recipes, especially now that the fall baking season is upon us!, and you certainly don't want to miss that!

Please check me out here: A Yankee in Rebel Clothes

So, this will be my last Blogger post. You've been a good friend, Blogger. But, as it is with all good things, it must come to an end.


02 October 2013

The Magic of Social Media

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to go to Memphis, Tennessee and present some of the awesome things we do at my school at the Lausanne Learning Institute. It was also a wonderful opportunity to hang out with my maid-of-honor/amazing best friend, LL. It was only a week before the wedding, so no stress there, right?!

The thing I was most excited about was that the hotel we were staying at was the Peabody Hotel. This hotel is world famous for the ducks that spend their days in the lobby fountain. It's a little known fact that I am mildly obsessed with ducks. I'm not sure why, especially given the fact that my husband hunts them for pleasure and meat. And I don't enjoy eating them,  but I do just adore them. So staying in a hotel where they reside was pretty exciting.

When I arrived, everything was ducks. My soap was shaped like a duck. The pillows on my bed were embroidered with ducks. The little hotel shampoos and lotions were in bottles with ducks on them. The butter at our fancy-schmancy dinner was carved to be a duck (which led to a whole different and highly inappropriate conversation that required the assistance of Urban Dictionary). It was fantastic. I immediately started tweeting and Facebooking about how excited I was and how amazing the hotel was. I even sent out pictures, making sure to hashtag appropriately and to mention the hotel.

Peabody Memphis rubber ducky
The most adorable rubber ducky ever. 
My Peabody Memphis duck collage
Peabody Memphis ducks
Ducks in the lobby fountain.
The hotel noticed my tweets and responded that they were happy I was enjoying my stay. I was pleased that they noticed me. A little validation never hurts, right? I continued to tweet and mention them because I was genuinely happy with my stay and my experience. I wasn't expecting anything in return, but I figured that I had used social media in the past to complain about service so now was an opportunity to rave about a wonderful experience. 

On my last night, I left my room around 4pm to hang out with my MOH out and about in town. When I returned to my room several hours later, I found this sitting on my freshly made bed ...

The Duckmaster Rubber Ducky

At first, I was confused, so I read the note. It was from the "Duckmaster" (The guy in the red jacket that leads the ducks to and from their fountain each day), telling me how happy he was that I had genuinely enjoyed my stay and had shared my wonderful experiences. He wanted me to accept this GIANT rubber ducky (dressed as the Duckmaster, of course!) as a gift, a memory of my trip.

Wait. What?!

I of course tweeted out a pic of the gift with a message that contained many exclamation points. I was so thrilled that the Peabody Hotel had noticed my praise and surprised me with such a sweet (and appropriate!) gift. I've always believed in the power of social media, but this experience solidified that. I now keep that rubber ducky on my classroom desk, and my students regularly ask about it. And, of course, I eagerly tell them my awesome story.

My kids are more adorable as cartoons

Ever since the husband and I blended our family last year, we've been talking about getting a portrait done of the kids. They are each very photogenic. Sunny has an adorable little lab smirk that she loves to flash whether in trouble or not. Bailey is regal and stately, although she does hate the camera. And Pickles? Well, he's just Pickles. Completely one of a kind.

The problem with a group portrait of the kids is, well ... the kids. They wiggle. They squirm. They're disobedient. We can't get them all to sit still for any length of time when they are even remotely close to each other. Pickles starts to chew on Sunny's legs or ears and then Sunny tries to step on Pickles. Bailey, not amused with all of the shenanigans, tries to slink away as stealthily as possible. All in all, it's a huge fail each and every time. In fact, the only picture we have of all three of them together is from the back when they were all begging me for a donut. It's an adorable photo, but certainly not wall art level.

With the husband's birthday approaching, I decided that I was going to make a portrait happen one way or another. And that's when the epiphany hit me! I just so happen to have two amazingly talented artist friends in Greensboro who have been experimenting with these absolutely adorable storybook-style children's portraits. I figured that if they could do such amazing work with human children, my four-legged children should be no problem!

I contacted Suzanne and Edgar of An Open Sketchbook and sent them a few (like 12) different photos of the kids.

Sunny smiling. 

Bailey with ball. 
Pickles being Pickles. 

A few short weeks later, this perfect masterpiece arrived in my mailbox.

Amazing custom art by An Open Sketchbook

Seriously? How adorable is that? And it captured our kids more perfectly than any photo we've ever taken. I put it in a frame and wrapped it up all pretty, and, when the husband opened it, he LOVED it. 100% loved it. Even called it the best birthday gift he's ever received. I'd like to take credit for that, but it was all Suzanne and Edgar. Thank you, guys, for making it possible!!

And now ... where to hang it?

01 October 2013

Welcome back to my life, Banana Bread!

One of the things I miss the most about being gluten-free is baking. I'm no master cook, but I do love to bake treats. It's how I show I love people: with food. Given that I was diagnosed right before the wedding and then the school year started up almost instantly after that, I haven't had the time nor the focus to attempt gluten-free baking. I've made some brownies from a gluten-free mix, but that's been the extent of my attempts. Of course, I've continued making non-gluten-free treats for my husband and our friends. One of my favorite things to bake (because it's so simple!!) is banana bread. Plus, it's my husband's favorite treat, so that's always a bonus. Well, finally, this weekend I attempted to make the banana bread gluten-free. 

My favorite banana bread recipe is one that comes from a dear family friend. I remember it tasting so amazing as a kid -- especially with chocolate chips or walnuts in it -- and I love recreating that taste memory for people I love. It's an easy recipe that doesn't require any special shopping (unless you're modifying it for gluten-free or don't regularly keep bananas in your house) and it only requires one bowl. One bowl!!

Family Recipe Gluten-Free Banana Bread!! Finally!!
4 very ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar (can be substituted with Splenda or a sugar substitute, but I prefer plain sugar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups Bisquick Gluten Free baking mix (or regular flour if gluten-free isn't a concern for you)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

Peel your bananas and place in a mixing bowl. I use my KitchenAid mixer (because I simply adore that little machine!), but a medium mixing bowl will work perfectly as well. Add the sugar, softened sugar, eggs, baking mix, baking soda, and baking powder. If using a stand mixer, start the mix on low until batter is evenly wet. Turn it up to medium-high until batter if mixed evenly and has few lumps. Pour into a greased bread pan and bake at 350 for approximately 50-60 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick to ensure that the bread is baked throughout. 

A few notes ... the Bisquick mix is a great option for newbies in the gluten-free baking world. It's a premixed flour that functions equally to standard flour. The texture of the banana bread (and pancakes!) that I've made with it is the same as the non-gluten-free counterparts, and the flavor is not altered. However, as with many gluten-free baked goods, there is a slight aftertaste. It's not unpalatable or harsh; it's just an aftertaste. However, when gluten-free baked goods are scarce, it's quite acceptable. At some point I plan to experiment with making my own flours, but I'm not there yet. I will be someday! 

Bisquick GF mix ... my savior
My novice gluten-free baking best friend


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