I. I Literally. Can’t Even. Keep My Eyes Open.

Okay, I am working on outlining a huge 40 day Lent writing fest….


The problem is, our family’s theme for Lent is “40 Days of Health.”


And that means exercise.

I have done two days in a row, pre-Lent, of ballet Pilates.

Two days.

In a row.

My body is so sore. I am typing this with my eyes closed.

Because Lent is about returning to God, repentance, forgiveness and giving up something you enjoy.

I enjoy not working out. Because working out is hard, painful, tiring and painful.


It is returning to health.

So that’s what we’re doing.

I will write something more substantial tomorrow. Right now I’m going to bed. After I take Motrin.

Getting To Know You, Getting To Know…Some Selected Things About You

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Sometimes on a blog, you can get lost in your writing.

For the most part, the reader can get a good sense of who you are through your writing; yet, there are a lot of little things that make you up, on top of the big ones.

Sure, we homeschool and have a bundle of kids…but we aren’t the only ones who homeschool with a bundle of kids.  Are we doing Waldorf? Classical? Eclectic? Secular? Virtual? Charter?  What do we do and why have we chosen our curriculums, exactly?  I make all of our meals from scratch, but what does that mean in real life?

Am I one of those neurotic women who obsess about food, and use buzzwords like kale, local or organic? Or is it just an interest?

If I do make all our meals from scratch, and we homeschool, and we have a bundle of kids, why aren’t I writing more articles on organization or couponing? (this is not going to happen)  I have been married for over 15 years, and together for over 20…why aren’t I writing about healthy relationships?


I like punk music, so why am I wearing mom jeans? (I’m not really wearing momjeans.  I’m really wearing green plaid pajama pants.)

I drink endless cups of black coffee every day…how is this possible?

I like Science Fiction, and shun the Hunger Games series.  Am I a snob? (yes)

I hate 99% of chick flicks, and I only watch a small handful of musicals.  Am I simply opinionated, or am I a hater? (debatable)


There are so many things that make up a person.

In person, am I really an altogether groovy chick, or are you going to feel incredibly awkward when you meet me?

Who am I, really?

This question plagues me, and it is definitely the fuel that keeps this fire under me going.  I have grown and changed so much in my adult life, that I wonder if I am even the same person I was.  Yet, when I look back…I have kind of painfully been the same person this whole time.  Some little things have changed, but the big ones haven’t.


I thought I’d break format a little today, and answer a few “Getting To Know You” questions from GoodReads.


I know! Me too!!


 What is your favorite subject in school?

English, obviously.  I loved reading literature, analyzing the material and writing amazing essays in the end.  It was like finishing a puzzle for me.  Very satisfying to complete.

 What is your favorite flavor of jelly beans?

I am very particular with jelly beans, actually.  I like the bags of assorted jelly beans, but I eat them two at a time: coconut and lime, popcorn and cinnamon, apple and cherry.  I love mixing the flavors, but it takes forever to eat a bag when you are just eating them two at a time.

Which flavor of ice-cream do you prefer?

I am not an exotic ice-cream aficionado, but I am particular about what I enjoy.  The absolute best ice cream is Ben&Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Fudge Swirl.  It is the perfect balance of creamy vanilla, and the perfect caramel and fudge texture.  This ice cream got me through quite a few pregnancies.

 What do you think is your very best feature or characteristic?

I can adapt to just about anything.  Long term is a little harder, but short term is no big deal.  Snow? Water? Heat? No problem. Need and event organized? Got it.  Need some ideas? I got your back.  However, this makes “settling down” pretty tricky.


 What do you usually do when you have leisure time on your hands?

I know this is going to sound crazy, but if I have free time I am either reading or writing. Or planning homeschool adventures. Right now I have a paper next to me outlining our next adventure into the Medieval times…we’re going to be doing timelines, kings, a little theater the kids are going to perform, illuminated manuscripts, wars (there were so many), what peace means: innovation, 1450-the Gutenberg press, the Great Schism of 1054, Black Death, Magna Carta of 1215, Vikings and how they were not dragon flying peacemakers who played games all day in harmony, I’m looking at you Hiccup, Marco Polo and mapwork. 😀


 What is your favorite home cooked meal?

Probably my rosemary and garlic roast lamb.  It’s pretty phenomenal.  Also my stroganoff.  It’s kind of out of this world. My Old Fashioned is also pretty freaking amazeballs…


 How many siblings do you have?

2, and I’m the oldest.  I have “first child” syndrome in a big way.  Something is happening?  Here, let me take over.  No, I got it…no, no, I got it give it to me, I got it.  I’m learning how to back off.  Sometimes. Not really.


What kind of vehicle do you usually ride in?

I refuse, with all of my being, to buy a minivan.  I just can’t do it.  It feels like giving up something…so we have a Crossover with 3 rows of bench seats, and we can fit everyone in our car.  We just can’t fit anyone else in our car.

 Do you have pets?

I have two dogs: a cocker spaniel, Captain America, and my Pomeranian, St.Sebastian. I also have a lovely gray cat named Esther who is allowed to go outside in the morning and catch forest shrews.

When was the last time you visited a park and what did you do while there?

Y’know, there are far too much forest and beach access out here that we love…to go to the park. Granted, sometimes we do. There is a fantastic park nearby that we hit when it’s sunny, which also means we haven’t been there in a couple months. But I think the point of this question was finding out how often we go outside, and that’s easy: every day. Right now I’m starting to see all the bulbs I planted last fall start to sprout, which is so exciting. I am going to have a ton of daffodils this spring! The kids make forts and hideouts in the woods, and I generally keep the Pom out of the forest because he could walk underneath the ivy and I would never see him again.

What do you usually do when you meet someone for the first time?

I always shake hands, even for rather informal circumstances. It’s just a good ice-breaker. Otherwise, I generally lead the conversation because I have found people will open up when the environment feels familiar, so I just treat people as old friends, and it is better for everyone.  Which is a total INTJ response to conversations.  But it works, and that is what I am going for.

Do you plan to go to college?

I went to college, and our kids are planning on going to college.  Glenn has already told me that when he is in his office, I can call him at lunch, but not before. Because he is working.  #melt

What job do you think you would most enjoy as an adult?

I would love to either be an editor, or go back to teaching in university…actually, I kind of like that idea better.  I love the classroom.  Give me a chalkboard, a projector, and a slew of dusty textbooks and I’m a happy camper.

Or, you know, I could just be a writer in the forest.

What was the last item you cooked and ate?

Baked turkey for dinner guests. Turkey is the greatest thing to make for a lot of people…it goes a long way. I also am the greatest turkey cooker (link).

How many books did you read last year?

I….have no idea.  I have books all over the place. Some of the ones I have read are “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History” and “Patton: Blood, Guts, and Prayer” and “Without: Poems” and “The Selected Poems of Donald Hall” and “The Coral Island” and “Porcelain: A Memoir” and “Bossypants” and “The Royals” and “Fortune Smiles: Stories” and “Dear Mr. You” …

and a few others, but those I had directly in my Kindle library so they were easy to fetch off hand.


How many pairs of shoes do you currently own?

A couple. One pair of boots, one pair of hiking shoes, a few heels (that I don’t fit in anymore) and gold boots. And muck boots.
Which one fashion accessory do you like better than others?

Y’know, I really don’t know. I don’t really use a lot of accessories. They’re distracting.

Have you ever been horseback riding?

Yep. I love horseback riding. However, I don’t do it because it’s expensive and you only get to ride once. Unless you have your own horse…

Have you ever been water skiing?

Yes. I freaking hate water skiing.

What do you most like to do in the snow?

To stay in the car. Or make sculptures. I made a bust last time we were at the snow and I gotta admit, it was pretty stellar.

What is your favorite all-time movie?

The Philadelphia Story, with Kate Hepburn

Can you change a tire?

Yes. But make sure your jack is big enough and can actually lift the car entirely off the ground. Otherwise it WON’T WORK.  #experience

Is your room more clean or more messy?

The house is okay.  My room is okay, besides the laundry. But I just made some good progress on getting 85% of it folded and the kids put theirs away last night. Otherwise, I’d say it isn’t messy.


Do you prefer a bath or a shower?

Shower. You can’t wash this hair in a bath. I also don’t really like getting wet, so showers are just quicker, and we have sucky water pressure (well problems) so it takes for. ev. er. to fill the bathtub anyway.


Do you like drinking from the cup or a straw?

I kind of prefer a straw, because I have less of a chance of spilling anything/everything on myself if I use a straw.  I am a little very clumsy.


Do you like ice in your cold beverages?

Sure, but only a couple.


 What is your favorite sandwich?

Hands down: squaw bread, sprouts, provolone, thinly sliced tomatoes, spicy mustard, sliced turkey and avocado. But: celiac.


Where is the farthest you have ever traveled?

Beijing, China.  I would go back in a heartbeat.


Have you ever won anything? If so, what did you win?

I notoriously win the body lotions at bridal showers or baby showers…and I can’t stand body lotions.  I don’t really like rubbing stuff all over my skin, it just feels gross.  I also have trouble smelling, so they just don’t do much for me.  However, I will win them most of the time. And then give them to someone who really likes them.


Have you ever been in a musical drama or play? If so, what was it?

Baby, I write the plays.


Do you know how to iron your clothes?

Kind of.


Can you sew a button on your clothing?

Buttons are easy. Pants are harder.


Have you ever cut your own hair?

I have been not cutting my own hair successfully for the past million years (as in, I just don’t get it cut. Just let it grow forever. It’s getting pretty long at this point).  I do trim my bangs by myself, against all good advice from serious hairstylists.




You made it!  Cheers!! 

Celiac Discussions: Let’s Talk About Beer.

As a Celiac American, there are many things I cannot eat.

Things which will make me very sick. Can’t breathe. Heart palpitations. Muscle tension. Flush cheeks. For 8 hours…

You know, the basics.

So things I avoid like death are:

Doughnuts. Pizza. Sandwiches. Scones. Crumpets. Eclaires. Toast.

You know, things that taste wonderful.

My journey into Celiac territory has always been interesting. Not only do I get to enjoy foods that are naturally gluten free, such as steak, sushi, ice cream and wine, but I also get to explore new ways of cooking in order to still enjoy recipes that traditionally use flour.

I’m lookin’ at you, gravy.


However, I have always enjoyed beer.

Whaaattt….beer?? But…beer is made from wheat, rye and barley?! You can’t drink beer.

What if I told you I have never had even the smallest reaction to beer.  Ever. Because beer is gluten free.


 mind. blown.



Here’s the deal: there is science to back this up.  I am going to be quoting many (many) places which have the results of what the question is, what it means, how it compares to other products…and then we can all continue to enjoy Irish Death in peaceful harmony.


Thank you.

1) What is gluten, and why do beer companies claim their products are gluten free, if they are using rye, wheat and barley?


Celiac.com: “There have been numerous claims that traditional barley-based beers are gluten free or that all beers are gluten free. Unfortunately, the area is very grey and substantiated on technicalities. The purpose of this post is to eliminate the confusion about gluten as it relates to beer.

Gluten is an umbrella term used to describe a mixture of individual proteins found in many grains. Celiac disease (celiac sprue or gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity) is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the ingestion of some of these glutens.

People with classic celiac disease are intolerant to the gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt and a couple other lesser known grains. All these grains have a relative of the gluten protein.

Interestingly, corn, rice and sorghum also have gluten proteins but are not toxic to celiacs.

Herein lies one of the fundamental problems; the use of the term gluten intolerance to cover only certain gluten containing grains is confusing for consumers and food manufacturers alike. Unfortunately, it seems that the inertia for using celiac disease and gluten intolerance as synonyms is unstoppable. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of both consumers and manufacturers to make sure the terms being discussed are defined and understood.

As this relates to beer, there is a gluten protein found in barley. This protein is known as hordein. Wheat gluten is known as gliadin. Rye gluten is known as secalin. Presently, assay tests (or lab tests) are only commercially available for the testing of gliadin. We are unaware of any tests for hordein or any manufacturer that presently tests for hordein (Note: If you know of anyone that does in fact test specifically for hordein, please let us know). Therefore the idea that a barley based beer can be considered gluten free based upon the lack of testing is very difficult to fathom. It should be understood that a company using an assay test for gliadin to test for hordein will not return accurate results.

There has been widespread speculation that the brewing process eliminates these hordein proteins making all beers gluten-free. Although commercial assay tests for hordein are not available there is conclusive evidence that the brewing process does not degrade hordein to non-toxic levels. A research study in Australia on improving beer haze shows that hordein is still present in beer after the brewing process (http://www.regional.org.au/au/abts/1999/sheehan.htm). Therefore, claims that hordein or gluten is destroyed in the brewing process is unsubstantiated and clearly, based upon the Australian research, is highly questionable.

Based upon the continuous claims by beer companies that beers are gluten free, it is clear that the issue is misunderstood and, as always, it is up to the consumer to educate them on the facts. Hopefully, the information provided here will give consumers and manufacturers alike the ability to discuss these gluten issues intelligently and effectively.”



2) So, why can people with Celiac have 20ppm of gluten, if gluten is technically a toxic entity in their bodies?

Gluten Free Dietician: “In 2007 Catassi and colleagues assessed the effects of consuming capsules containing 0, 10, and 50 milligrams of gluten on the intestinal morphology of persons with celiac disease who reportedly were compliant with a gluten-free diet (Am J Clin Nutr 2007;85:160-166). During the study participants maintained a strict gluten-free diet  and were only allowed to consume specially marked gluten-free cereal foods containing less than 20 parts per million gluten. Gluten intake from the diet was estimated to be less than 5 milligrams. Researchers found a significant decrease in the villous height to crypt depth ratio in the group taking the 50 milligram capsule. No significant change was found in the vh/cd ratio in the group taking the 10 milligram capsule.”

So, we can have up to 20ppm of gluten in one serving of food before there are any adverse affects to our bodies.


3) How much is 20ppm, for those of us who are not science-inclined?

Gluten Free Dietician: “To break it down, 20 parts per million is the equivalent to 20ppm per kilogram of food. An average slice of gluten-free bread containing 20ppm of gluten (which is all of them- link to results) would contain 0.57 milligrams of gluten. Even if you ate ten ounces of foods containing 20ppm gluten, that would be just 5.70 mg of gluten. This level is just over half of the 10mg found by Catassi’s study to be a safe level so you would need to eat a whole lot of 20ppm food each day to surpass the “safe” level.

We must also consider that 20ppm is the highest level of gluten that foods can contain to be considered gluten free so most of the products you are eating will contain less than this amount.”




The Chameleon’s Tongue: “Fasano’s study tells us that 50mg of gluten per day damages the bowel of coeliacs, even though it doesn’t cause symptoms or show up in blood tests. That’s about as much gluten as 1/100th of a slice of standard wheat bread contains. A normal western diet contains 10–20g of gluten each day, which is 200–400 times the minimum amount of gluten that damages the small intestine of a coeliac patient. Fasano’s work also showed that there is a lot of variation between coeliac patients, and some experienced symptoms with as little as 10mg of gluten daily.”

My tolerance to gluten is definitely going down, the older I get and the longer I have been on a gluten free diet.  My tolerance level, at this point, is at about 20ppm, at which time I am in bed in pain.

So it is roughly the equivalent of 1 slice of Udi’s bread.


4) Get On With It!! So, how much gluten is in beer?



“My impression is that many beers (including craft, of course) have pretty darn low levels of gluten, say around 10-15 ppm. Many obviously have a lot more (stronger, fuller-bodied, wheat beer etc.).”


  • 10-15ppm of gluten is 0.01mg of gluten.
  • A 1oz slice of white bread contains about 3.5g of gluten.
  • 10-15ppm of gluten is equal to half of 1/100th of a piece of bread.



“You also have issues with how much a person can tolerate, under 20ppm is typically considered safe for someone with celiacs, however there are people who still react even at those low levels.”


This one was cool, you can actually test for gluten in the beer. Some had more than others, but most had <5ppm.

Then there was this:

Celiac Disease, Beer and Brewing
By Michael J. Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Brewing Science
Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California Davis
“Some celiacs drink modest amounts of some beers without triggering overt symptoms of the disease and some beers do not register, and most barely register, on the scale of analysis currently used to measure gluten (personal communications). There is therefore good reason to examine the proscription of beer from the diet of celiacs. “
“Ordinary processes of beer manufacture completely eliminate native barley proteins from beer; some polypeptides survive the process. However, because prolamin-derived polypeptides (hordeins) cause haze problems in beers, brewers have a direct interest in removing them; processing to achieve a gluten-free status, therefore, is perfectly in line with brewers’ practices used to manufacture a haze-stable product. Celiacs and brewers have common cause.”
Two questions arise: Can brewers make a good argument for beers as being gluten-free? Or, in addition: Can brewers envisage reasonable processing practices that will make some beers (at least) gluten free? The answer to both questions is “Yes!”


“Thus there are many reasons why beer might be considered naturally gluten free and might justify the risk some celiacs take in consuming some beers, especially light beers. Also, as discussed, many strategies suggest themselves by which beer might be rendered gluten free. There is however one consideration, referred to earlier in this paper, that needs to be revisited here: all the arguments of why beer should be considered naturally gluten free or rendered gluten-free by process modification, depend absolutely and ultimately on one thing: brewers must be able to demonstrate without equivocation that they have succeeded in producing a gluten-free product. This can best be done if the nature of the offending peptide is known and reliable methods for measuring it are developed. (Currently an ELISA method linked to wheat gliadin is used (1); beers barely register on the scale of measures by this method). Therefore, the brewing industry might usefully join with the medical community in seeking a more exact definition of the peptide sequence that triggers the celiac reaction and help to develop methods to analyze it. Beyond such analysis is the potential for clinical trials to demonstrate directly whether or not beer can trigger the celiac auto-immune reaction. “

5) Finally, just be careful. No matter what science says.

Food Republic: “If you have a food allergy that isn’t life-threatening, try carefully fiddling with it like one lactard friend of mine does with aged cheese — cream cheese would bring her right down, but a little grated parmesan on her pasta is fine. Another friend who’s allergic to most fish discovered that salmon doesn’t affect him the way shrimp would, due to its lower iodine content. Now his hair is super shiny from all the salmon he’s been eating. You’re stuck this way for life, friends, and allergies have their quirks, so find a silver lining. Or in my case, a silver bullet or six.”


So there you have it folks.

Beer has the same amount of gluten, if not less, as the average gluten free product.

Which is why beer is gluten free, in the same manner that Udi’s Gluten Free Bread is gluten free.


I don’t always spend all day looking up scientific research,

but when I do,

it is so I can drink beer.