The Company We Keep: In search of like minds…

We’re all Late Bloomer’s at heart aren’t we? I needed to make sure I was keeping good company – not just good. AMAZING. Yes, AMAZING company.

Here’s who I found – if you can think of anyone else and want to share, leave a note in the comments! 

 

1. Stan Lee was in his early 40s when he created Spider-Man  – and artist Jack Kirby, Lee’s partner, started drawing The Fantastic Four when he was 44

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2. Rodney Dangerfield didn’t get his first “big” break until he was 42.

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3. Julia Child published “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” when she was 49. She was on TV by her early 50s.

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4. Charles Bukowski was 49 when his first book was published.

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5. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s first book – “Little House in the Big Woods” – came out when she was 65.

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Have You??

I mean, really. Have you?

Oh, you need to know what! I’m checking in to see if you’ve entered the contest yet!

To celebrate my first full length novel, RUM PUNCH REGRETS, and the launch of my new jewelry line inspired by the series, I’m giving away the most beautiful bracelet ever. It’s a replica of one featured in the book – it retails for $585.

Handcrafted by Sevan Avakian, the amazing talent I collaborated on the Abby George Charm Series with, the ABBY GEORGE CHARM BRACELET is a Sterling Silver , one-of-a-kind, link bracelet with two charms: one is the two-bunch palm attached at the root (cool, right?) set with a Tsavorite and the other is a dainty heart set with a Ruby.

I love this bracelet and I love that I get to give one away!

Best part? This is seriously going to be the easiest contest you’ve ever entered!! Now, how to do it:

1. Buy a copy of  RUM PUNCH REGRETS which is now on sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble  – it’s available as an eBook or print!

2. Answer the questions below – the answers are found in RUM PUNCH REGRETS

3. Email your answer to contest@annekemp.com to be entered

It’s that easy!

Want a bonus entry? Buy the book AND subscribe to my blog and I’ll enter you again! See how I did that? (Trust me, you will WANT to get my updates for giveaways and fun contests!)

Want a bonus, bonus entry? Then please “LIKE” my page on FACEBOOK!

Want another bonus entry? Follow me on TWITTER!

The more you enter, the better your chances – GOOD LUCK!!

(Multiple entries into contest are only valid barring that contestant answers the question found in the novel, as the initial entry)

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:

1. At the beginning of Chapter Nine, what items does Abby pack for her trip to Nevis?

2. What is the “bit of island wisdom”  on Ziggy’s taxi cab that’s mentioned in Chapter One?

3. In Chapter Seven, Abby places a bet at the roulette table on what number?

4. Abby inspects Ben’s fridge in Chapter Four. Name at least three items listed that she sees.

5. At the end of Chapter Five, Ben gives Abby money to help her take a cab home. How much is it and what is the currency he uses?

And there it is! The winner will be announced on July 4th – so make sure to check back.

GOOD LUCK!

Girl Scout Cookie Season..It’s on!

A little over a year ago, I was prepping for my second favorite time of year – and it’s only second because first place is a tie between Thanksgiving and Memorial Day .

GIRL SCOUT COOKIE SEASON!!!

My mouth waters at the mere thought. Oh, what bad day wouldn’t just go away with the gentle love of a Thin Mint? “What, CEO-Bossman Guy, you’re mad at me – I screwed up? Let me pop a Samoa in my mouth and think about this…”

I would search out those little cookie-entrepreneurs each season. I would pray, usually starting said prayer vigil, around the beginning of March. I would watch for them outside my grocery store, or on the weekends I knew to keep an eye out. There they were, those future leaders of America, setting up their little both with their wares. It was the one time I wanted someone to stop me as I was going into the grocery store. “Four dollars a box? Awesome! I’ll take three of these and two of these. Oh, and let’s get one of those for goof measure.”

Yes, Girl Scout Cookie Season was a favorite. Then I was told I couldn’t have gluten.

First of all, there are a lot of folks out there that attempt the recreation of a Girl Scout Thin Mint (hereafter known as GSTM). It’s nearly impossible! A local bakery here in LA has come very close, but when you are paying two dollars a cookie, it’s just not the same.

There was a ritual with these cookies. When I bought the GSTM’s, I’d immediately put them in the freezer. Nothing tastes as good as one of these babies straight from the freezer. It was a habit, something I looked forward to every Cookie Season.

I’m on a quest now. I want to see if I can find a recipe that comes close to one of these cookies I loved so dearly so I, too, can smile again and laugh when folks are talking about their Girls Scout Cookie purchases. I want to have a Samoa! I want them at my fingertips!

Apparently, someone else wanted the same thing. Why? Because I found a recipe online for gluten free (and casein free) Samoa Cookies. It looks like when you start making them that you are in for quite the commitment, but you know what?

I’m down for it.

Lights, Camera…Action! A tour of LA for Oscar season

I love awards shows! I really do, so when the Frederick News-Post asked me to write a travel article that worked in the theme of Oscar season, I gladly took the challenge!

Please, jump to the story here and have a read. I even took the picture of the Kodak which is featured 😉

I love getting to write love letters (or articles as some say), and this is one that I penned to MY city . . . Los Angeles!

 

Living Gluten Free (or why it ain’t easy…)

It happened. I got glutened.

For those of you that are intolerant to gluten, you know this is not a pretty sight to begin with, but when it actually hits you like a runaway truck, it can be downright frightening.

I’m always prepared. Really. I’m better than a Boy Scout. When dining out, I try to do my own due diligence to make sure I can eat something on the menu provided or see if I need to “load” up before I go because there are not a lot of options at said restaurant.

I was excited when I was getting a cup of soup at Le Pain Quotidien here in LA and was told by the server that there was the option of gluten free bread when I was ordering my usual gluten free tomato soup.

“Really?” I could not contain my excitement. I wanted to kiss him.

“Oh yes! It’s completely gluten free. I’ll give you some, ok?”

I was still not convinced. “Are you positive?”

“Yes! I’ll even give you extra…” His nod was so sincere and his smile so heartfelt, I was lured in, no more questions asked.

Here is where I made my mistake folks. I can’t blame him entirely because as a former server, I usually ask many more questions. This day I was so tired, hungry -and excited – that I got greedy. I watched him load my small take-out bag with my soup and gluten-free bread, took it and skipped out the door.

I enjoyed that bread. I did. It was crusty and fresh and I dipped it in my soup and used it with some dips and spreads at home. Now, as I was eating it I did notice my tummy wasn’t feeling well and I was itching some, but honestly, I brushed it to the side. The guy at Le Pain insisted it was gluten free and he wouldn’t lie to me.

Would he?

As the day progressed, I noticed other little side effects begin to present themselves…my lips hurt, my mouth felt like it had cuts inside it and the topper was when I felt my throat closing. I was having more trouble swallowing than anything, but it was enough of a shock to send me running to the closest Rite-Aid to ask the pharmacist what to do.

Luckily, the Benadryl they recommended worked immediately and I didn’t have to go to the hospital, which was our initial first thought. I pride myself on knowing how my body reacts to things, and once again I listened and caught myself before a mini-disaster occurred.

Did the counter guy at Le Pain lie? The answer to this is no – he didn’t lie. I just think he was ill informed. I found out later he took it that the spelt bread he gave me was gluten free and didn’t think to ask anyone if he was correct.

And again, I take my share of responsibility here because I knew to ask more questions. It’s not like people know about this everywhere, but I wish they did. I wish that most restaurants offered more gluten-free items or trained their servers so they were more educated on this allergy. Kind of like when I was serving and we had to learn all about peanuts and what can happen if someone ingests them.

Hopefully my mistake will help someone else out there to remember to ASK QUESTIONS. Tons. Screw it if they think we’re nuts, I don’t want to spend another Saturday night wondering if my throat is going to close.

I’ve decided that this Saturday I’m going to make some chocolate pots for my neighbors and myself – we love our sweets here and I need to be happy about something delectable again!

So, here’s a recipe I found online at Real Simple that I’m testing out  – let me know if you do, too and we can compare our desserts!

Have a wonderful weekend – and remember: No question is stupid!!!

 

 

The 15 Most Romantic Movie Moments

While researching content for this month’s Anne In Progress column, I found this article on the15 Most Romantic Movie Moments.

I was transported back to fond memories by the simple act of clicking through these pages. I hope it makes you as happy as I was when I stumbled upon this.

It really doesn’t matter whether your jaded or in love, a believer in Valentine’s Day or a cynic that thinks it all a crock…take a few moments to flip through and enjoy!

Breads and Desserts: A Gluten-Free Gal’s Guide to Keeping the Faith!

The conversation with my doctor the day I was told “No More Gluten” went like this:

Awesome Doc: “We have to stop your body from throwing itself into Celiac’s.”

Me: “Ok…What does that mean? Do I get a pill?”

Awesome Doc: “No, not really. You just have to stop eating gluten.”

Me: “That’s all? Ok. How hard can that be?”

About ten minutes later I found out gluten was in pizza and beer – two “comfort” foods that have made me a happy girl for years.  I’m still positive my cry of “Noooooooo!!!” was heard ‘round the world.

Anyway, you move on and you figure it out, right? I immediately turned to friends, nutritionists, amateur cooks and professional chefs who I know for advice. I rolled up my sleeves and started to do my own research on the internet. There was good news in the midst of my break up with gluten, as there seemed to be a fair amount of “gluten-free” items popping up in grocery stores already and all over online retail stores as well.

Insert sigh of relief here.

At this point, I began to approach shopping with a new excitement, almost an unsettled fervor and with such confidence! I would head to my local grocery stores and farmer’s markets armed with a list of “must have’s” for my pantry. I’d allow myself extra time to peruse the aisles in search of items I could add to my repertoire. I managed to find most things I needed and some I didn’t. Then, the taste-tests began.

And the taste tests sometimes just…sucked.

I can’t to lie to you – I love my carbs. While I do believe watching carbs is good for the waistline, I also believe hell hath no fury like that of a girl who loves bread and sweets and is told it they have to go away.

I’ve taste-tested my fair share of bread options. While some are …well, chewable, I’m still on the hunt for bread that will be soft on the roof of my mouth again or that will not be as thick as a brick. I’m sure they are out there, but this girl is still in search. Bread bowls at dinners out are sadly off my radar now, and one of my favorite items was gone forever. Focaccia bread.

Or, so I thought.

For anyone else out there that loves bread and would like to be able to break off a piece of focaccia and run it through some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, I have the best news ever.

You can! Best part? My taste testers didn’t know this recipe was gluten free when I had them sample it.

Along with the help of my good friend Mimi Germaine, and based on a recipe from the cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, I’ve found a focaccia recipe that will make folks at your Thanksgiving table come back for thirds and fourths!

Ingredients:

2 tsp active dry yeast

½ tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil

2 ½ -3 cups of Gluten Free Flour  (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt

  1. In ¼ warm water, dissolve yeast and sugar. Set this mixture aside for up to 20 minutes. Some recipes suggest 10, BUT Mimi (aka my “Kitchen Guru”) suggested I let it dissolve longer to “add air” since my issue with most bread was the denseness.
  2. Prep a mixing bowl for the dough by oiling it thoroughly.
  3. Using a separate mixing bowl, mix together 1-cup warm water, salt, oil and flour. Add yeast mixture to this concoction and lightly knead. After flour ingredients are all mixed together, turn out ingredients on to a floured surface to lightly knead, no longer than 2 minutes or 3.
  4. Place the dough inside the oiled bowl, covering top with a damp cloth. Place bowl in a warm spot for dough to rise for the next hour. Again, as with the yeast, some recipes suggest letting the dough rise for 45 minutes. Go longer, add air. It’s the Germaine way!
  5. After the dough has risen, you can put it in a bread pan or shape it into a circle and use a pizza stone for baking or do what I did: I spilt the dough in half, dividing it into two different sized Le Creuset bakeware dishes.  This way I could also make one loaf of plain focaccia loaf and one loaf with some pizzazz!
  6. After the dough has been placed in the bakeware, pinch it or poke small holes in the top with fingertips to make a decorative top to the bread.  Cover again and let rise in a warm place for the next 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Top with anything from Rosemary to pre-roasted garlic or you can even add some onions (I used fried onions leftover from making the Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole). Bake for 30 minutes.

While it’s cooling off, get a plate and pour some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it for your dipping pleasure.

Trust me – this bread is going to be a hit on your Thanksgiving table!

Besides bread, there is always the small issue of ….do I dare say it?

Desserts. Delicious, sweet, gooey, yummy, decadent desserts!

Cookies, cakes, pies…you name it. Most of the baked goods we gluten-free-peeps have loved or indulged in for past holidays are now off limits.

Well, kind of.

Thankfully companies like Betty Crocker have stepped up to the plate. I’ve mentioned my love of Betty’s gluten-free cookies in the past – I make them for almost every dinner party I’m invited to or any BBQ I’m attending. You know what’s funny? No one can ever tell the difference between my cookies and “normal” ones. In fact, at most parties? My cookies – well, Betty’s – are the first to go! Her cakes are just as amazing and can be topped with almost any icing in the Betty Crocker line as well, just read the labels.

Besides Betty, there are so many other options out there. You just have to hit the internet and do some research.

So here you are – thank me later: I’ve found some naturally gluten-free desserts (these I found in the Huffington Post) and a Pumpkin Pie recipe from the Gluten-Free Goddess. If you have time, take a look at the Betty Crocker website. They’ve created a ton of amazing desserts that can be made from their mixes. Trust me, my Christmas baking is going to include some of my own recipes mixed with a few of Betty’s suggestions!

Eat, enjoy and love…and don’t forget to get outside and move to work off your holiday meal! I know I’ll be stealing some time for myself this holiday weekend to fit in a run or some kind of pilates workout.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Anyone else want to go to Italy? Costa Rica? BALI???

Free things are awesome.

I can’t always say no, so when someone offers me something free I tend to say yes then figure out if I can make it work or trash it. From clothes to pillows, I’m the “one man” they speak of  in “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…” Replace man with Anne, and well….you get it.

Come on! I love free stuff, don’t you?

When people are giving away free things – I’m sorry “gratis” if you want to be classy – most of the time we hem and haw and don’t want to sign up for something like a “sweepstakes” or a giveaway.

Not this time, my friends. Not this time.

I’ve been turned on to a sweepstakes that can benefit you AND your friends! Seriously – what else could be more fun than winning a trip to a vacation home in Bali, Costa Rica or Italy? As much as I’m dying to go to Italy, I’m now daydreaming about Bali!

FlipKey, a blog associated with TripAdvisor.com, is sponsoring their “FlipKey’s Flippin’ Awesome Vacation Giveaway” which can be entered either using the link I’ve provided or through their Facebook page.

FlipKey even has a bonus for signing up via Facebook: Get your friends on Facebook to sign up and you get an extra chance to enter for each person who also signs up! Get a group of people and invite each other and enter – the more chances the better, I say!

It’s easy, quick and what is the worst that could happen?

You could win a trip for you and up to 10 of your friends to an amazing destination… That’s terrible, right?

Yep. Terrible. So, go ahead and enter and get your friends to enter, too!!

What’s stopping you?

***Contest is running until January 10, 2012!!***

Gluten Free Thanksgiving? You Betcha!

It’s been a productive few weeks as I’ve been prepping a gluten-free menu to follow through the holidays. I’ve been posting my recipes on the Frederick News-Post website, but wanted to share the goodies here with you as well!

I got started on my plan the end of October – being gluten-free, this is the best course for action. Sometimes you can’t always find what you need in the “regular” grocery store, and no one wants to be on a mad hunt for a needed ingredient a few days before the holiday, right?

So get to stepping and let’s start preppin’!

(Yes, I went there…)

Going gluten-free was not a choice for me, but we’ll get into that later 😉 Right now I want to share with you the best Thanksgiving menu that will knock out taste-buds and excite family members, just like mine were as I ran these test on them – yes, family makes the best taste-testers! Especially the hungry college-types that HAVE to eat. They are a captive audience…

The main dish, the turkey, is a naturally gluten-free guy. Yet sometimes companies will sneak in an ingredient or two that might borderline gluten. Always check HERE to see if you’re turkey is a-ok.

Gravy: This recipe will insure a gluten-free sauce for all of your pouring needs this season!

Mashed Potatoes: These guys are always gluten-free when you make them! Add a little milk and butter (if you are not dairy-free) and throw in some roasted garlic and cheese (my mouth. it’s watering!) and you have the best side dish ever! Well, besides my next recipe…

This dish is my masterpiece this year: The Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole. There were three of us here when it was made and it was devoured in less than 15 minutes. You heard me. Try this dish and tell me your thoughts. It is bound to be a favorite at your T-Day meal!

Start here with your basics, then check back Friday for these last few recipes:

  • Homemade applesauce in less than ten minutes – YOU HEARD ME!!!
  • Foccacia Bread – Yes, GLUTEN FREE AND AMAZING!!
  • My surprise dessert suggestion – It’s a surprise cause I’m still deciding what to make
As always, please send any questions in and I’ll be glad to help out…Now, go get some shopping done!

How You Can Optimize Your Online Shopping Experience

I know I spend a lot of time online – you, too, right? And I have finally managed to get addictions like Facebook and Twitter under control by making myself set up times to go online and play with those sites, then log back off ASAP (they can be such time sucks, but fun time sucks!!) Things are good as far as internet land goes…

I found a cool website recently called  Swagbucks (www.swagbucks.com). Have you heard of this? It’s a site that you sign up for (yes, another email to hit the inbox…but wait. There’s more!!) which will you, the user, earn virtual currency and real-life rewards while you are performing everyday actions online from playing games to searching the web or maybe even taking a survey. By going here and messing around for a few minutes everyday, there is an opportunity to get for-REALS prizes and rewards!

The time it takes to fill out the form is minimal, and the information you provide helps them to lump you into groups for taking survey or signing up for polls. You have to go on and check it out, maybe play a bit. I was impressed with the ease of the site and how little time it took for me to get registered…I did peek at a few of the survey times and noted it would take about 15-30 minutes to take a survey. Not sure if I’m ready to give up that much time.

They have daily deals where they highlight specials in your area. I recognized some of them from Tippr and Groupon, sites that I already subscribe to, but Swagbucks has this information all compiled on one page, which does have the possibility of making my inbox that less full (OCD Anne likey!!).

There is a page devoted to “SwagTV) with hints for style, weddings, decorating…You name it! I only had a few minutes to really look this over, but I’ve bookmarked this site and will be focusing on using it a little more often. In my opinion it’s a good one-stop-shop for online purchases, lifestyle information and current trends  – All while having the added bonus of giving you a chance to earn REWARDS!!! Who doesn’t love that?

Have tried it? What do you think of Swagbucks?

Have a good weekend XOXOXO