I have been amazed by this girl ever since I stumbled upon her site months ago.
I mean, first of all she’s a TEENAGER! And second of all, she’s a smart, creative and talented teenager.
She’s the first teenager I’ve come across in the blogging world, and she blogs about living gluten-free. And she develops her own recipes!
I can’t help but wonder this: if this girl is doing such amazing things right now, what is she going to be doing when she’s my age in a couple of years? Okay, longer than that.
Recently, Lauren created an ebook as a fundraiser for Haiti (I know, I told you she was amazing) and when she reached out to me and other bloggers to help, I couldn’t help but join in. To date, Lauren’s ebook has raised 5,000 dollars for the Red Cross.
As a high school teacher (currently on hiatus with my babes) I can’t help but try to imagine what it would be like if Lauren was in my class. Would she be getting her homework done AND blogging? Would she be bringing baked goods in to class to test on us (hopefully)?
I wonder what her school life is like every time I read one of her posts.
I know I find blogging and baking a little crazy at times and that’s with two babes. What must it be like to be blogging and going to school, and being a teenager (let’s be honest, not the easiest time in a girl’s life). So I asked her, and here’s what Lauren had to say about it all.
Maggie: Tell us a little bit about how you were diagnosed with celiac disease and what led to it?
Lauren: I had been quite sick for about a year. Extremely lightheaded, overtired, and a range of other symptoms that would come and go. Then, one day my Dad was fed up with the pain I was having so he took me to the local children’s hospital. Once there (It wasn’t too busy at 8:30 on Friday morning!), they checked me out and took me to the acute side, where they did tests and asked questions all day. By some luck, the ER doctor got my antibodies checked which got me an appointment with a GI because they were off the charts. Soon after that, I had that appointment and she scheduled an endoscopy to confirm, but it was pretty clear that I had celiac from my antibodies.
M: Why did you start a blog?
L: I started it actually to write down recipes. When I was first diagnosed, Mom and I were making lots of random recipes, so I asked her if I could make one as I was in awe of the gluten free blogs I had found. They were like mini, often updated cookbooks and I loved the idea. Of course for the first year or so, it was mostly about my struggles with health, but recipes have always played an important role.
M: What have you learned over the last 2 years from writing a blog?
L: You have to be doing it for you. People will come back if you are genuine. Also that most bloggers are really nice people, even if you think that they are “big” they may not, so say hello!
M: What’s your favourite part about writing your blog?
L: Seeing the response of readers and watching an idea in the back of my head go from my plate to those of people I’ve never met.
M: What’s the hardest part about writing a blog?
L: Being regular in posting. It’s essential to the life of a blog, but I find that sometimes I could write a post a day, then a week later I have nothing to post. Spreading the posts out (but not too much!) and making sure that there is always something in the works is how I avoid a lull.
M: How do you develop a recipe?
L: It’s not an exact formula by any means! I get an idea of what I want to make, maybe I was looking at a website or a cookbook, and sometimes the idea is something new. Then, I just start to play. Sometimes I roughly base them off a specific recipe or I’ll mesh a big group of them together. I have a rough idea of what each flour does to the end product, but mostly I just go with my gut. Some weeks I really love a certain combination and another week I want to only use another group.
For me, it’s all about the process. Writing down numbers on a scrap piece of paper, crossing them out, changing things. Watching a fictional recipe become a new favourite. Sometimes it only takes one try, other times I’ll be dealing with a recipe for quite some time!
M: Where do you see yourself in 1 year; 5 years; and 10 years?
L: A year from now I’ll be just starting my last semester of high school. I’m terrible at making predictions, but I’m sure that I will still be blogging and baking – I love both too much to give them up. Who knows, but I hope that by ten years from now I’ve written a cookbook, or some sort of book. That would definitely be cool =D. Right now I’m at that crossroads of trying to figure out (or get some vague idea) of what I will take in university, where I will go, and how food and blogging will fit into all of that. I’m hoping that I can swing it so I get a kitchen to cook in, especially considering I have food restrictions!
M: How do you balance school, your social life, baking, and your blog?
L: School comes first. It always has and my parents would surely not let the blog take up as much time as it does if my grades took a dive. Social life makes it sound all glamourous! I have great relationships with friends and we love to laugh! For baking, I just do it. I don’t make excuses (why would I want to?!) and have fun. Sometimes on weeknights and otherwise on weekends I bake. It just all fits in.
M: What do you like about Twitter (and why did you join it since not many teenagers seem to be using it yet)?
L: The only reason I got Twitter was for my blog. I wanted to be able to connect with readers and other bloggers in a different venue than just blogs. I like that it is instant and you are in control of what you say and see, but it makes me procrastinate so much! None of my friends (at school) have it, and I doubt that they will, as Facebook is much better for teenage community than Twitter is.
M: How do you feel blogging and tweeting in a world full of adults?
L: I guess I never really thought about it. Occasionally I feel out of place when certain discussions are going on, but usually I can relate. My mom said that although we’re all at different places in our entire lives, we’re all at the same stage in our blogging lives so it works wonderfully.
M: Who have you learned the most from since your diagnosis and entrance into the blogging world?
L: I find I learn in spurts. One week, I’ll realize something from one person, the next week, someone else will make something make much more sense!
For celiac-related news, I’ve learned a lot from the Canadian Celiac Association. They have a lot of good info, especially for the newly diagnosed. When it comes to blogging, I’ve learned from doing. Trying new things and following countless other blogs, then asking questions when I can’t figure something out!
M: If you were giving advice to a friend (someone your age) what would you tell them is the most important thing about a) living gluten-free and b) starting a blog.
L: When it comes to living gluten-free, it doesn’t have to be hard. You can make just about anything as good or better than the wheat equivalent. Just don’t cheat. If you cheat, you’re hurting yourself, not just now but for years to come.
For starting a blog, make sure it’s about something you love and are really interested in. Let it grow naturally and keep at it!
M: What do your parents think about your blog?
L: “Its very cool. It never ceases to amaze me how well you do it. And I’m very proud of what you’ve done with it because it’s current and it’s obvious you have a passion for it.” That’s what my Dad said when I asked.
My Mom said that she’s proud of how I’ve turned what could be seen as a burden of celiac into a new passion and new opportunity.
M: How do you find time to be a teenager?
L: I’m always a teenager, and will be for approximately 3 more years and a bit =D. In terms of doing typical teen things, in a way, all of this blogging and social media are much more about us than any other generation as it has been a part of our lives for as long as we can remember.
M: Tell us about your Haiti project and your experiences creating it.
L: I was completely overwhelmed by the earthquake. I saw all of these bloggers donating money for comments and I knew I wanted to do something to help, even if it wasn’t as direct as that. I was typing up a blog post and tweeting some people when I thought of an ebook. My friend Amy (of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free) had recently made an ebook for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, so it came to mind easily.
Putting it together was an adventure, but a welcome one. It took many hours of sitting down and formatting each recipe, rewording certain things, making sure the photos fit, and making it cohesive. It wasn’t easy and took a lot of time, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Essentially, the ebook is a collection of the blogosphere’s favourite recipes. The recipes that make them think of home. It is entitled “A Hand for Haiti” and all proceeds will be donated (some have been already!) to the Canadian Red Cross. They have been in Haiti for years, so I felt that they would have a better idea of what to do with the money. The ebook has a fixed minimum of $10, but after that you can donate as much as you wish! So far, over 100 have been sold and over $5000 has been raised.
M: What’s next for you and Celiac Teen?
L: The ultimate question! Of course I have recipes and recipe ideas I’m working out, but other than that, I don’t really know. Celiac Teen is turning 2 fairly soon though, so I’m excited for that!
What a girl!
I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did.
You should check out Lauren’s blog and her amazingly delicious recipes. Her most recent post is for gluten-free tiramisu. The girl stops at nothing! Gluten-free lady fingers. Yum!
I want to thank Lauren so much for letting me interview her and for taking some time out of her crazy schedule to answer my questions.