Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Your Story to Gluten Free–Thierry Mabry

We support each other.

For me, writing a blog gives me the unique opportunity to create a safe space on the World Wide Web where people can come together. It gives us the ability to relate to one another, share recipes, and hopefully make new friends.

This past Saturday I was finally able to meet some blog friends in real life:

Pam from I’m a Celiac and Jenni from Spoonful at a Time and Me!

These two lovely ladies just happened to be eating at Bella Monica the same night Thierry and I were there, and so after my meal I hopped over to their table.

Of course we started out our conversation with the usual, “So…I feel like we’re friends already …even though we’ve never met….I mean, I know what you ate for dinner all last week!”

But just like when I met Courtney from Gluten Free Jesus Freak,

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I was giddy with excitement the entire time! Talking to blog friends in person just does something for your soul.

It fills me up to be around someone who knows exactly what I’m talking about when I say :

  • Ugh, my kitchen is always a mess. How can I have so many dirty dishes all the time?!
  • Why do people think there is gluten in potatoes?!
  • And then the waitress looked at me like I was crazy….
  • I couldn’t find a single restaurant to eat at and of course I was starving!!

And what always amazes me is when the conversation turns to when we were all diagnosed with Celiac Disease, everyone ALWAYS thought they had something else. Everyone I’ve ever spoken to had a misdiagnosis!

My doctor thought I was lactose intolerant – you can read more about that debacle HERE.

Others have told me that their doctor thought it was acid reflux, IBS, peanut allergy, and so many others.

These are the stories that are important to share. Out there, in this big, big world, there could be someone else who has been sick for years. Someone else who has no idea what’s wrong with them; all they know is that eating makes them sick.

That is why I was so happy when Thierry decided to share her story with me and all of you! So take it away Thierry!

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My name is Thierry Mabry, I am nineteen years old. I’ve been gluten free for 4 years now and I wanted to share my gluten story. 

People have always asked me why I don’t like to eat. I guess the real reason is because ever since I can remember, I get sick when I eat. I had all the digestive symptoms – I won’t go into the gory details. ;) It never failed, every time I ate something someone would look at me and say, “Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” People always told me I turned white after I ate. 

I was diagnosed with Acid Reflux Disease by age eight. I hated eating breakfast, because I always felt sick after breakfast. But the doctors insisted saying, “You will feel better if you eat breakfast. Even if it’s not a big breakfast, at least have some *toast*” – (Toast? Really?)

By age thirteen, I decided I was going to start eating healthier so I would feel good and have energy to run and play. I started reading about nutrition and exercise.  I ate my daily veggies and fruits – always being sure I got my proper amount of grains (sigh). And still, every day, I was sick.

I felt like a medical fluke, but I didn’t tell anyone. I started listening to Biggest Loser’s personal trainer Jillian Michaels on the radio. The very first episode I listened to Jillian had a segment called “Gluten Hell” – I had all the symptoms. I was ecstatic as I told my mum “I finally found out what’s wrong with me!” Little did I know, that was where my journey began.

Sometimes I felt as though things only became more difficult once I discovered what was making me sick. Mum would come home from work to find me crying on the kitchen floor because I did not know what I could eat without getting sick, as I also have sensitivity to bananas (and occasionally honey) due to a gluten similar enzyme they contain. It seemed like all my favorite foods were gone. This was especially hard because I come from a large family that connects through food – mainly pasta and my grandma’s homemade sourdough bread.

I started the journey through all the gummy rice breads and gritty cookie recipes as my mum and I slowly learned how to cook gluten free. Your blog has helped so much - from the recipes to just knowing someone else has been through the same things.

GLUTEN AND SKIN

I also wanted to share a story with you about how your blog has directly helped me.

All my life I’ve never had any problems with my skin, for the most part it was always clear and healthy. But when I decided to switch my cleanser I was hit hard with acne. Bad acne. I was going to the dermatologists, but still nothing seemed to help.

I began searching the Internet for any cure I could find, that was when I found a link to your blog about Cetaphil. Before I read your blog it had never occurred to me that gluten could be in my cleansers, I immediately checked my cleansers – Yep, there it was. I called my dermatologist and the topical they had been using on my face also contained wheat, they were literally pumping my skin full of gluten (I still cringe at the thought). I immediately changed my treatments and cleansers (Well, pretty much everything I use) to gluten free. It has taken over a year, but my skin is almost back to normal, I still believe your blog is what made that possible.

It may not sound like a huge deal, but the acne that I suffered from severely affected my confidence and self-esteem. If I had not found your blog, there is a good chance I would still be suffering from the acne, as well as the painful feelings of isolation and rejection.

Before I found your blog, I often felt alone and isolated about having celiac. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to you or tell you how much I appreciate your blog. It gives me support on the days when I feel like no one understands. Being gluten free is part of who I am, but it’s not all of who I am and you have helped me to realize that.

***

Thank you Thierry for sharing your story!!

Do you have a story to share? Email me – I would love to read it and if you would like, share it! Smile

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Color Me Rad 5K–Raleigh NC 2012

Honestly, this past Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. In addition to that awesome meal at Bella Monica Saturday night, I also the MOST FUN 5k ever!

Yes. You read right. A FUN 5K! Not the hardest, fastest, easiest…the most FUN:

I ran the Color Me Rad 5K in Raleigh, NC and I got absolutely filthy…

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with color!

So let’s start at the beginning. First off, our team name:

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Your Pace or Mine?

Second, our town chose the Special Olympics as the beneficiary, so proceeds went to that non-profit. Each Color Me Rad race is different, so check out one near you!

When we went to pick up our race packet a few days before, we were given not only our bibs but also a SUPER SOFT race tee, rad sunglasses, and a SWEET RAD temporary tattoo:

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We were advised to wear white so that the color would show up on our clothing and to wear our new sunglasses for the race so that the color wouldn’t get in our eyes. What color you may ask…

WELL, all along the race, you run through color stations. At each color station you are sprinkled with colored (gluten free) corn starch powder.

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OR if you’re like Team Your Pace or Mine? then you slowly walk/dance through each color station and get thoroughly SOAKED with color!

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We were so impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of not just the race organizers but of the participants too!

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As corny as it sounds…we were all having a RAD time.

The race isn’t timed, so we felt no desire to try to “win”. Instead, we enjoyed each others company and chatted the entire way. It was such a low stress – no pressure race. PLUS each time you ran through a color station you got to add a new color to your outfit!

By the end of the race – at the FINISH LINE, we were all a plethora of colors:

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After the race is over, the organizers have what is called a Color Bomb. Basically, all the participants gather in the same space and everyone releases a color bomb into the air. It was pretty amazing…

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and breathtaking…

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and totally fun!

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Even Parrish who couldn’t run the race because of his recent ACL surgery joined in on the Color Bomb.

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WHY YOU SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN COLOR ME RAD:

  1. It supports a good cause!
  2. When else are you going to be able to get doused in color?
  3. It’s a great group bonding activity.
  4. Run or walk or dance – it’s up to you! All levels are welcome.
  5. It’s not timed = NO PRESSURE
  6. The BEST race swag ever.
  7. Seriously, did you check out our RAD tattoos?!
  8. All ages are welcome! I saw so many kids at our local race and they were having a great time!

TIPS FOR FUTURE COLOR ME RADDERS

  1. Bring some spare sheets and towels for your car ride home.
  2. If you race with a team use costumes or labeled t-shirts to distinguish you from the rest of the crowd. When you’re in a color cloud this is super helpful.
  3. Make a day of it! Afterwards plan an outdoor party or cook out so you can hang out in your color longer!
  4. When washing up afterwards, use a loofah!
  5. Be prepared to be awesome.

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Check out the Color Me Rad website here for Race Locations and register early because most events sell out!

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And getting ready to make some RAD memories!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The BEST Gluten Free Meal–and a Surprise!

This past Saturday I had the absolute pleasure of helping quite possibly the sweetest Mom and Dad surprise their equally sweet daughter, Thierry, for her birthday.

Thierry and her Mom read the blog and so her Mom asked if I could join them for supper in Raleigh as a surprise to Thierry. I said absolutely and that I knew EXACTLY where we should go!

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Bella Monica Cucina Vino in Raleigh

You may recognize Bella Monica from their yummy Gluten Free Frozen Pizzas, but you may not have realized that they actually have a restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I hadn’t had the pleasure of eating there yet, but I knew a few other bloggers who had dined there and loved it. I thought it would be the perfect spot for a fellow gluten free-er to celebrate her birthday.

So Thierry’s Mom Bonnie and her Dad Thom:

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photo credit: Bonnie Mabry

and Thierry and I:

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photo credit: Bonnie Mabry

let our extremely knowledgeable server guide us through the BEST dining experience I have had – EVER – hands down.

They started by differentiating the gluten free diners, Bonnie, Thierry, and me, with different colored appetizer plates. Thom had white but the three ladies had salmon plates, making it very easy for any server who came to our table to know that we were gluten free.

The table ordered a few appetizers and we started with a fresh bruschetta:

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Amazing. Perfectly ripened tomatoes with fresh seasonings served on hearty gluten free focaccia that would knock your pants off.

Speaking of that focaccia…

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it WILL knock your pants off. Remember Pizza Hut deep dish pizza? This has that same flavor BUT ten times better. It’s baked fresh, so it’s warm and soft but the edges are crisp and buttery.

Seriously. I could have eaten all four of those slabs BUT by the time I made it halfway through, our next appetizer arrived!

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Eggplant Rollitini

This could have been my meal. Thinly sliced eggplant in an eggwash and light batter baked crisp and stuffed with an assortment of Italian cheeses. Topped with fresh mozzarella and the Bella Monica “gravy” (which is the most amazing tomato sauce ever!!) served with fresh basil.

Ummm…

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words fail me. The eggplant was so thin and crispy, you would have had no idea it was eggplant and the cheese inside was salty, creamy, and CHEEEESY. And the “gravy”…yeah, you’re going to want to lick the plate. And honestly, if you do, I won’t judge you. Promise.

After the parade of delicious appetizers I was stuffed. Which is ironic because so was my entrée:

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you like what I did there? Stuffed and Stuffed?! Food puns Winking smile

Back to the pasta.

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Like every other dish we enjoyed, we all agreed that you would NEVER know that these shells were gluten free!! And that gravy. Again, I wouldn’t judge you if you licked your plate.

I had plenty left over for lunch on Sunday and it was even better the next day. I LOVE good left overs.

In addition to the food, I was so impressed by how attentive and kind the wait staff were. At most restaurants I feel like a bother. At Bella Monica, I felt like one of the family.

Best. Restaurant. Ever.

I had such a great time getting to know Thierry and her family.

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I love getting to make new gluten free friends!! Especially when they’re quite possibly the sweetest family in the world!

Thank you Mabrys for letting me share in your Birthday Supper

and

Thank you SO MUCH to Bella Monica for such an incredible dining experience. I can’t wait to dine there again soon! Seriously. I’m already planning my next meal there…I’ll start with a few pieces of the focaccia.

Friday, October 26, 2012

FAIL but I Ate It Anyway

Happy Friday!!

I spent the morning working on a new recipe. I’m attempting some sort of Caramelized Apple Coffee Cake – but it’s not quite there yet. I say “some sort” because I have no recipe I’m following and no previous experience making coffee cakes…

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but I really want one!

The edges turned out perfectly. But the texture of the center was a bit par cooked and dry. I’m not sure what that means, but I’m thinking it means add more butter?

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Luckily the rejects were still pretty tasty. More like an under cooked pancake – so I drizzled some syrup and ate it up!

Parrish and I are heading to his PT appointment in a bit, he has a TWO hour session today!! So I’m going to get plenty of trail time.

And tomorrow I’ll be running the Color Med Rad 5K!

Our team name is either: Your Pace or Mine? or My Pace or Yours? I can never remember; MOH has to correct me every time!

Our mission: to have a blast!

We’re a pretty large team with a big range of running experience, so I don’t think we’ll be winning or anything like that. BUT we will have a ton of fun together and take loads of pictures getting completely filthy with pretty colors.

And honestly, that sounds way better than winning anyway! Hopefully Hurricane Sandy stays out of the way until later in the day.

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I hope you guys have a great weekend! Anyone else with any Color Me Rad or Color Run experience?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The BEST Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

You guys are the best blog readers a girl could ask for!! Thank you so much for your sweet comments and emails yesterday.

The main reason I started this blog was because when I first went gluten free I used blogs for support. (and I still do!!) I was the only one in my group of friends that was gluten free and it was really isolating at first. Not surprisingly, that is also how I feel about PTSD.

PTSD is so isolating, especially as someone who developed it outside of the military. But I try to be open and honest about what I’ve been through in the last six years and if you ever need anyone to talk to (commiserate with), you can always email me!

NOW – back to the food!

Have you guys tried these:

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Schar Ciabatta Parbaked Rolls?

Umm. They are amazing. Remember those parbaked Baguettes from Schar (and the cutest dress that Lil’ Gluten Loves Me has ever worn!!) that were so good that I thought there was no way they were gluten free?!

Same deal with these rolls. When you bake them, they come out of the oven so fresh. So warm. So FLUFFY.

That’s right. FLUFFY. They’re amazing. I will definitely be bringing these for Thanksgiving supper at bestie’s house.

This past weekend I used them as a base for sandwiches:

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that you bake in the oven. Essentially you make a butter sauce out of butter, mustard, worcestershire sauce, red onion, and poppy seeds.

I followed this recipe.

Then you spread the sauce on the bread:

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Stuff the bread with ham and swiss:

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And then pour the remaining sauce on top:

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Bake in the oven until the cheese is melty and serve!

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Parrish and I both agreed that they were good, but that the sauce was a little too buttery for our taste. I’m experimenting with recipes for “After Thanksgiving”, like my Turkey, Brie, and Cranberry bites:

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But I’m going to have to keep experimenting with ham. I might try a creamier mustard sauce? I’m not sure. Anyone have any ideas?

I saw some versions of this recipe where they spread mayo or miracle whip on the inside instead of the sauce and just poured the sauce over the top. I’m not a huge mayo fan unless it’s freshly made, so I didn’t go that route.

Either way – those Schar rolls are AMAZING!!!

*****

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Five Things I’m Loving–The No Tears Edition

Happy Tuesday!!

Man. Yesterday was a real bear.

I had my reading in my Memoir class and I couldn’t even get through two sentences without welling up and by the end I was near sobbing.

What’s more embarrassing than crying in front of your peers in college classroom?

No really. I’m asking you because it was awful!! Everyone was sweet of course and given my topic I think everyone understood. BUT it was terrible. I felt silly all afternoon and I am dreading returning to class on Wednesday.

I nearly didn’t write about how I’ve suffered with PTSD, just because I knew I would have to read in class and essentially face all the demons I struggle with just in writing the darn thing. But I decided that not writing about it is hiding from it and that’s the last thing I want to do. I’ve grown so much in the past 6 years since the shooting. I just wish my reading had gone better.

SO instead of talking about how negative I am feeling this morning, lets talk about FIVE things I am loving today!

1. Nature’s Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise

I LOVE this cereal! It’s super crunchy. The right amount of sweet and it’s just healthy enough that I don’t feel guilty about the carbo-loading.

2. Cheryl Strayed – Wild

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild is amazing! I’m only on Chapter 5 but I literally can’t put it down. We’re reading it in one of my classes and I’m so glad! She’s funny – which doesn’t always happen in the Memoir Genre. And there are so many surprises! Definitely recommend!

3. Lululemon No Limits Tank

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This top is the best! It’s forgiving in all the right places. Comfortable. And it stays in place not only for yoga but also for when I wear it while cleaning the house. LOVE it. I have it in black with black and white stripes and I’m dying to get the color combo above!!

4. Bananas

No picture needed! I used to hate bananas. But as I slowly made myself eat them because they are awesome fuel for workouts (seriously) I have slowly grown to love them. Plus they’re so dang easy to take on the go.

And naturally gluten free! Way to go nature!

5. Kleen Kanteen Insulated Water Bottle

This water bottle is AMAZING. It keeps your water cold for…days! Mine keeps ice cubes for nearly 12 hours and the next morning the water is still pretty chilly. This water bottle has been the best impulse buy ever.

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What about you!? Share your five things in the comments section or just share ONE thing you currently can’t live without! I love discovering new things!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gluten Free Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake

Cheesecake.

It’s the one “baked sweet” that I’m actually pretty good at making. Cookies from scratch, layer cakes…not so much. Plus I’m a pretty lazy baker, so I don’t even attempt baking all that much. I love to cook: sauté, roast, chop. Baking – I could take it or leave it.

But cheesecake.

There’s just something about cheesecake that gets me every time.

Crunchy buttery crust – Creamy cake. Done and Done.

So when I was perusing Pinterest and saw a recipe for a Pumpkin Cheesecake I was inspired!

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Mini Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust and Fresh Whipped Crème

It’s a mouthful to say but each layer is so important to the next! The gingersnap crust is sweet with a little spice. The pumpkin cheesecake is warm and creamy, and the whipped crème topping is just the right amount of fluffy sweet.

Even better, they’re SUPER easy to make!

I made mini size and bite size cheesecakes:

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I’m going to give you instructions for mini size (cupcake) but if you want directions for the bite size just email me!

Mini Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecakes with a Gingersnap Crust and Fresh Whipped Crème

adapted from Life Made Simple

You’ll need:

For the CRUST

22-25 Midel Gluten Free Gingersnap Cookies

2 tsp. brown sugar

2 tbsp. melted butter

cupcake liners and a cupcake/muffin pan**

For the CHEESECAKE

1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese; room temperature (I use Organic Valley)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. heavy whipping crème

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract (be sure gluten free)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg

For the WHIPPED CRÈME

1 cup heavy whipping crème

1 tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

**If you have a mini cheesecake pan then use that! Otherwise, cupcake liners will be needed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start with the crust. Using a food processor: process the gingersnap cookies and the brown sugar together until it is the consistency of sand. In a large bowl, combine the gingersnap sand and the melted butter. Stir until it is completely combined.

Line a muffin/cupcake pan with liners. Spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Each cup needs around 1/2 inch of a crust once you pat it down. So scoop the crust mixture into a cup (try two spoonfuls) then press down with your finger to pack it down and create a crust. Add more crust and pack it down until you get half an inch.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

While your crust is baking, in a mixer: whip together the cream cheese, pumpkin puree, and sugar. Scrape the sides and whip again until fully combined. Then add in the rest of the cheesecake ingredients: egg, heavy whipping crème, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whip on medium until fully combined.

Once your crust is out of the oven, spoon the cheesecake mixture onto the crust. You want to fill the liners to the top without overflowing. Using your spoon, smooth over the tops to get the cheesecake filling as even as possible.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Once finished, allow to cool for 30 minutes on the counter and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

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When you’re ready to serve, carefully peel the cupcake liners from the cheesecakes and make your fresh whipped crème!

In a mixer with the whisk attachment: whisk on medium-high 1 cup heavy whipping crème and 1 tbsp. sugar with 1 tsp. vanilla. Whisk until stiff peaks form. (You’ll know when the mixture has gone from liquid to whipped crème)

From there you can either dollop the whipped crème on with a spoon or spoon the whipped crème into a plastic storage bag. Cut off one tip from the bag and then use to pipe onto the cheesecakes. Refrigerate any leftover whipped crème.

Don’t have time? The spray can whipped crème will work too!

Sprinkle the top with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice!

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I really can’t say enough about these cheesecakes. The warmth from the gingersnaps with the creaminess of the cheesecake – so good!!

If you’re making these for kids, you might want to add in a few gluten free graham crackers in substitute for the gingersnap cookies. I love the spice that fresh ginger gives to this recipe BUT some kids may not!

AND be sure to taste test one before you serve them…

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pumpkin 067You want to be sure they’re good Winking smile

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Happy Monday!

I’m off to Wilmington in a few hours. I have a reading in my Memoirs class from my own Memoir that I’m working on. I’m SO NERVOUS!! I hate doing public readings in general but especially on the topic I’ve chosen for my memoir.

Fingers crossed!!