a spiffy-do look, with thanks.

pizza at our house

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine said, “Shauna, I was reading your blog from this time last year. Do you realize that your site is completely different now?”

Yes. Yes I do.

This time last year, I was still rising at 6 am, dreading the darkness and pushing myself onto a bus. Piles of papers came home with me every afternoon — WWII exams; poems written by 17-year-olds; journalism articles — and, most of the time, they stayed in my bag. Much as I loved teaching, this time last year I knew I needed to leave it. I just didn’t know how. I was finishing up a proposal for a book I sensed might work. The jocular woman at the post office was just about to hold that package in her hands. And this time last year, I was sick, googling Ricola at 3:30 in the morning to see if I could have some cough drops (nope). No one was around to take care of me.

This year, I rise with the light, with the Chef by my side. We meander through the mornings, reading the newspaper and dreaming up meals. My computer bag comes with me as I drive the Chef to the restaurant, and then I sit in coffee shops or libraries, writing all afternoon. I come home with nothing dragging down my shoulders. I never want this life to stop. The book proposal turned into a book deal, which turned into a first draft, which became a final draft. I finished the final draft just less than a year after I had put the proposal in the post office woman’s hands. Another one sits in the back of my brain, waiting to be written. And this year, when I was sick with the flu, the Chef stayed up in the middle of the night, soothing me with his hands far better than any cough drop ever could.

In the first year after I went gluten-free, I stepped into the world of food as a beginner, eager but new. Now, I feel more seasoned, and solid. The Chef has taught me that nothing is beyond my capabilities. Duck confit? Cranberry-orange shiso leaf sorbet? Albacore tuna with Meyer lemons, sunchokes, and Nicoise olives? Bah. I can do that. Let’s try.

When I began this website, I felt on the edge of a new existence. I was a self I had never known before. I needed a year alone to know myself.

Now, I feel this self, familiar. And I no longer live alone. In less than six months (gasp!), I will be a married woman, perhaps the happiest one in the land.

My friend Pete is right — this is no longer the same website.

Time for a redesign.

For the past couple of months, I have had the pleasure of working with Kaytlyn Sanders, who runs Beneficial Design. We met after I put up a little ad on Craigslist, asking for help. There were numbers of offers. When I met her at my local organic coffee house, I knew within two minutes that she was the right one. That’s how the best people seem to enter my life — immediately and deeply. Her open eyes, gentle laughter, and keen design sense made me feel comfortable. This website is my baby. I knew I could hand it over to her without fear that she would drop it.

We have been conferring over emails and cups of coffee, laughing at life and becoming friends, in the process. She’s lovely. She understood that I wanted a clean, clear look, with plenty of white space, and a readable font. (finally!) I had taken this website as far as I could, alone. But now, I know: there’s no need to go it alone anymore.

Kaytlyn designed the new header you see (the photo is by my dear friend, Monica Frisell, who will also be taking the photographs for the big wedding; the pizza is by the Chef). Kaytlyn also helped to make the entire site wider, clearing the way for the Amazon links to the right. So many people have written to me, asking where they can buy teff or sorghum, that I wanted to make it easy. I am also going to be starting a series on some of my favorite cookbooks, and those links should make it easy for people to purchase those too. Besides that, with a wider space within the site, I can have huge horizontal photographs! Ah, release.

There will plenty of changes around here soon. Certainly, more posts, on a regular basis. (Wait until you hear about the meatloaf. Ay god.) Product reviews, restaurant glimpses, recipes from my favorite cookbooks, and a new column, called Ask the Chef. Now that the book is done, I can’t wait to return to this sanctuary.

So, those of you who only read this website on RSS feeds, come on by for a look at the new place. We’re pretty proud of the way we have spiffed it up.

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Kaytlyn. You have made this space feel like my home.

39 comments on “a spiffy-do look, with thanks.

  1. Anonymous

    Looks great…

    I am a recent reader, and just got diagnosed…today.

    So, thanks to you…for instilling the positive side of this.

    I need that today.

  2. mare

    …soothing me with his hands far better than any cough drop ever could…

    for the love of gluten free, we are all very happy you said yes to everything.

  3. Elatia Harris

    This is a beautiful re-design, Shauna. Congrats! I liked it fine the other way, but this is much better optical seduction, giving a fantastic resource a gorgeous presence. Thanks for all you do.

  4. Tea

    Lovely, lovely design, my dear. The wide open white is wonderful.

    Can’t wait to see what you decide to put on your new canvas…

  5. Trig

    A few weeks ago a PR guy posted a comment on my site, asking “Are *you* all you claim to be? Hand on heart, who helps you?”

    I was a bit upset by this because I’d never denied having family help with the blog. I got the impression that there was a bit of snobbery going on about “doing it on your own” and felt uncomfortable about my situation, although I was also at a loss to understand how some individuals produced such fantastic websites.

    I decided that humour was the best form of defence, and replied facetiously: “My front-line team comprises a production manager, a project director, an artistic director, a film director, a Director of IT, two photographers and a creative team of fifteen or so. And, of course, in the background there’s the PR firm supporting me with advertising and promotion.”

    Today, Shauna, you’ve made me feel very happy. It’s obvious to a blind bat that you write your stuff and I hope it’s equally obvious that I write mine. But it’s nice to know that someone else out there is prepared to admit helping hands with their site.

    Btw… your new design is great.

  6. Pille

    Amazing how much can change in a year, isn’t it:) I like the new and fresher look. Enjoy life, Shauna!

  7. Anita (different from the above anita)

    Hi Shauna, I’ve been reading your blog for months now, and it’s great. I read it at work and look forward to going home and trying out the new recipes I find. I recently got engaged too and I’m wondering what to do about the cake. Do you have an good recipes for a gluten free wedding fruit cake?

  8. madre-terra

    The “beautiful” you on the web just got more beautiful. More better baby!
    I loved your last post.
    “bullseye” is going to be my favorite expression this week.
    And “yes” right back at ya.

  9. ElwoodCity

    Looks great. It does make me want to get a bigger monitor, though.

    I’m so glad that everything is falling into place for you two. Have you started the sequel yet?

  10. ByTheBay

    Looks great, Shauna! Nice and simple, clean, uncluttered – Just as a blog should be. NIce job.

  11. Genevieve

    I like it and it looks very nice – however the links on the left seem very large and distracting to me – it almost pushes your text (the centerpiece) off the right side of the screen and I feel myself wanting to scroll over but I can’t. I would nicely suggest making the side bar smaller and/or moving it to the right side like you used to have it…but that is just me. Your site has always looked good to me – especially with all your beautiful pictures! Keep up the beautiful writing – maybe some fiction after you write a couple more cookbooks? 🙂 Cheers!

  12. Johnnie Ruth Hamill

    I have dermatitis herpetiformis which is part of the celiac disease. I have been gluten-free for the past 14 years. Wow — I can’t believe it has been that long!

    I just want you to know that I love the new look of your blog and can hardly wait until your book comes out.

    I broke down recently (in October) and had gluten and boy, I’m feeling the effects now… I wish I hadn’t fallen off the horse as I’m itching all over the place…

    Thanks again for raising the awareness of celiac disease and knowing that there is life after gluten.

  13. Genevieve

    Actually I now see I can scroll over but then the left side bar is half gone – I didn’t even know what you were talking about re the cookbooks as one can’t see them without scrolling over – just my 2 cents though so don;t take wrong – I adore your site – I visit everyday! Do you have a visit counter? I wonder how many visits you get in a day?

  14. Lea

    I love the new look. I am an avid reader. You are always so positive about being Gluten Free and I have trouble with it most of the time. So thank you for the inspiration.

  15. Learay

    I love the new look. Your sight is such an inspiration when I am feeling so non-gluten free. Thank you. Keep it up.

  16. kitchenMage

    Sweet new look! Goes with all the other sweet new things in your life. (btw, the goddess of synchronicity is still around, my half-redesign went up night before last.)

    And you know what else? It is a glorious spring day out there! I know it’s still winter, but OMG have you looked outside? Glorious!

    Go out and enjoy it, then get back here and write. We miss you!

  17. Gluten Free Momma

    Wonderful new look and such incredible optimism. I am thankful that when I started to look at GF blogs your rose cream like to the top. I treasure your assurance and your wonderful evocative writing. I can’t wait for your book.
    Love the new look too.

  18. celticjig

    I think the new look is fabulous. Being still new (under a year) to Celiac, I wouldn’t have thought about whether my cough drops were GF. I too google Ricola (my drop of choice) as I was curious and this is what the site says in FAQ:

    Do Ricola products contain gluten?

    All Ricola herbal specialities are rated gluten-free under the Codex Alimentarius Standard.

    I don’t know if they changed their recipe since last year, but at least we can now have them!

  19. Mike Eberhart

    Shauna, love that picture. Certainly looks 100% professional, as does the entire new look. Very well done. Crisp and clean.

    Now, the down side… you are making me feel the need to work on spiffing up my own GF-blog site! Your new look is sorta like comparing Windows Vista to WinXP, and the timing of your upgrade is in sync with the Vista release. Coicidence? You do live near Microsoft. Hmmmm.

  20. Rachael

    So what did this post on Craigslist say, exactly? I can always use a great new friend…and heaven knows my blog could use a facelift!

    The site looks terrific.


  21. Margie

    Love your blog, Shauna! The design is really inviting. And, as a fellow “gluten-free girl”, it’s fun to read.

    Have you ever tried PatsyPie brownies? Even my boyfriend loves them and he usually hates anything that’s gluten-free. You can check them out at http://www.patsypie.com.

    Their cookies and biscotti are pretty good too, but the brownies are to die for.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work. Thanks for doing this.

  22. shuna fish lydon

    I like that there’s more space, and that the words are larger.

    {But why Amazon and not Powell’s for books, pray tell?}

    congratulations on the re-design, of your life and the site!

  23. Anonymous

    Congratulations on your book and coming marriage and the update of your site.

    I just have a few observations, which I hope will be taken in the spirit of helping to make your site better.

    I can’t see any book list and the site seems to be going off the screen on my right. Also it’s hard to see the larger pictures on my screen; they don’t comfortably fit on my monitor without scrolling up and down, same with the stories. While the white space looks good, my viewing experience is not as pleasurable, because I am straining to see the articles. By the way, I am viewing with Firefox on a 30.5 x 23 cm screen monitor in case that helps the designer.

    Best of luck with everything!

  24. Kristel

    Hi Shauna,

    Long-time lurker here. I *love* your writing, your food, and the stories about your love.

    I am allergic to milk and understand much of your trials and tribulations with cooking and buying food. Though avoiding dairy seems to be easier than avoiding gluten, I understand what it is like to endure reading the ingredients of everything you eat, quizzing all waiters, and bringing a “safe” dish to every dinner party you attend.

    You are an inspiration to everyone with any food restrictions.

    I finally decided to come out of the proverbial lurker closet today because I adore the new format. It looks wonderful.

    Keep being fantastic!



  25. Marsha

    Gorgeous, and I love the recipe index! Can’t tell you how many times I have sifted threw the archives looking for this recipe or that recipe. Glad you are so happy, makes me believe in karma.

  26. Emily

    Thanks for mentioning your helpers by name. I’ve been reading your site for two years now and the changes have been beautiful and amazing. I’m now in the process of designing my own food site and wondering how I’m going to get from where I am to where you are! Thanks for everything you bring here.

  27. heather

    I have read your blog for a while, and always enjoy it. This comment I am placing here as you needed to shut down comments on the other post. Just wanted to say…write on! And thank you for such a wonderful place to visit.

  28. Caroline

    I’m responding to your most recent entry since I missed the boat on commenting. If possible, can you still post this over there? I’m not surprised by the hostile reactions, since your shopping cart game does smack of superiority. But I doubt that anyone who reads this blog can honestly say that they don’t play that game in one form or another themselves.

    Let’s face it, it’s hard NOT to be judgemental when evaluating what other people choose to put in their bodies. Like you, I grew up eating a diet that primarily consisted of processed foods. Having discovered, over the years, that a whole foods diet is better in every single way, it’s frustrating to see how others are still being deluded by the processed foods industry. We all feel sorry for the girl with the low-fat cookies and diet soda– she is resigning herself to a diet of terrible-tasting things that offer little satisfaction, all under the false premise that these “foods” are better for her. The people who buy the bottled spaghetti sauce are appartently unaware that it is just as quick (and cheaper, tastier, healthier) to open a can of crushed tomatoes and throw in some spices. You want to approach these people and give them a lecture, but out of politeness and not wanting to look like a lunatic you have to stay silent.

    My girlfriend caught on to my secret thoughts pretty quickly (apparently I was unable to hide my reaction the first time she heated up a TV dinner), and she sometimes admits she feels nervous eating processed foods around me because she knows I’m disgusted by them. I apologize and try to be more accepting of it because I love her and hate myself for judging what she eats. I even let her buy me a microwave. But I admit, it’s hard not to throw out or hide the Kraft singles she puts in my fridge. Very hard. When I open my fridge, I want to see luscious red apples and bunches of leafy greens, not loud packaging housing something my body barely identifies as food. But it’s hard explaining this to someone who doesn’t think the way we do about eating.

    Now, I’m very accepting of a person’s clothes, job, lifestyle, and other personal habits besides diet (even religion and politics!). I believe I’m normally not a judgemental person, but when it comes to other people’s food choices I can’t help it, despite my guiltiness for doing so. Yet I do understand where these poor choices are coming from and I hope that writers like Michael Pollan can educate people to make better choices.

  29. Sarah


    I just wanted to write and thank you for your wonderful blog. My daughter is allergic to dairy, and I am finding this newly-discovered world of food blogs very inspiring.

    I am posting this comment here because of your recent troubles. Another (crafty) blog I just discovered is dealing with plagiarism issues. I hope I’m not some sort of carrier! 😉

    Anyway, thank you again.

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