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Flower girls for a shabby chic outdoor wedding

A Little Girl’s Tutu and Top for a Shabby Chic Summer Wedding – Tutorial

Happy 1st anniversary to Jennifer and Riley. They were married one year ago today in a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I made tutu’s and tops for two adorable little flower girls and was challenged to make something special. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ and I’m reposting my original tutorial here.

My niece got married today. I was challenged to make tutu’s and tops for two adorable young ladies who were asked to be flower girls. I’m going to share this project in a tutorial, in case you want to make something similar. Let’s get started.

Each tutu has a 7 yard underskirt with an elastic waistband.
To make the underskirt: I knew the young ladies waist measurements were between 18 and 20 inches. I cut soft-to-the-touch 1 1/4″ elastic at 18″ and sewed it together with a 1″ overlap. Then I marked it in four equal places.

Elastic sewn into a circle and then marked into four.

Elastic sewn into a circle and then marked into four equal places.

Tule is sold on the bolt at 57″ wide. I had the clerk at the fabric cutting counter cut the tule in seven yard lengths and loosely rolled it up. At home I am fortunate to have a seven foot picnic table in my dining room. (It was given to my family when I was 12 by some great friends. It’s an heirloom of sorts, but that’s a different story.) I unrolled the tule onto the length of the table and brought each cut end and the factory fold together. I used my serger to sew the tule into a huge circle. (This seam became the middle of the back of the skirt – from the waistline to the hem.) Then I folded the fabric in half lengthwise, and brought each cut end and the new fold together. I serged the raw edges around the length of the skirt, cutting off about 1 1/2″ with the serger knife as I sewed. Now all raw edges were contained at the waist and at one seam down the back of the soon-to-be skirt.  I took a large sewing needle and a length of quilting weight thread (30 inches doubled and knotted) and basted a running stitch at the serged line. This became the gathering line. Seven yards of four layer tule with a folded over hemline was gathered into about a 25″ area and divided into four parts. Attach elastic waistband and gathered tule.The elastic waistband was divided into four parts and the gathered tule and waistband were pinned, then sewn together; pulling the elastic to fit. The overlap of the elastic waistband and the seam from waist to hem in the tule became the back of the skirt. The underskirt is complete. Set it aside.

Tule underskirt

Tule underskirt with no hem. The fabric is folded in half and loose ends are brought up and hidden by elastic at the waist.

Let’s make the apron-style skirt: The bride requested the tule be cut into strips and attached to create a very full skirt. What I made was an apron to wrap around the underskirt. I crocheted a band using white cotton yarn – the same yarn I use to make some great washcloths. The band finished at 18″ and was 4″ tall. (Ch 33 with size H hook. Hdc in second ch from the hook. Sc in each chain stitch in that row. Turn. Dc in every other sc from the previous row. Repeat row 4 times turning after each row. Sc in final row across and hide the cut end of the yarn.)

Apron wrap tutu

Crochet a band to wrap around the waist. Secure with a plastic tie.

I needed a dress form for a five year old and my husband came up with a piece of post (18″ diameter) nailed to a plywood floor for stability. We covered it with a black plastic garbage bag and it worked great!

Child's dress form with 18" circumference.

My version of a child’s dress form. The circumference is 18″.

I put the underskirt on the model and the crocheted band on over that, securing it with a plastic twist tie. Then I cut about 10 yards of 57″ wide tule into 4″ lengths, leaving the fabric folded as it came off the bolt. I didn’t cut them all at once. I used a pair of scissors, cutting a few at a time. Then taking each one, I cut the factory folded end in half. Each time I ended up with two strips in my hands that I folded in half. Using a large G or H crochet hook, stick the hook through the hole in the crochet, hook the loop created by folding the tule in half, and pull it through a few inches.

Child's tutu apron tutorial

Use a crochet hook to bring the tule through the hole in the waistband.

Use the crochet hook to grab the length of tule and pull it through the hole just created.

Child's tutu tutorial

Loop tule through the crocheted band.

Set the crochet hook down. Use one hand to stabilize the crocheted band while using the other to pull and tighten the looped tule. Use one 4″ wide strip of tule cut at the factory foldline for each spot around.

Child's tutu tutorial

Pull cut ends of tule through the loop.

The bottom two rows were folded in half at 28 1/2″ in length. The tule strips on the third row up were cut at about 24″ in length. The tule strips on the top row were cut in thirds at 19″ each. (Recap: Bottom two rows are same length. Third row up is 4″ shorter. Top row is approximately 8 – 10″ shorter. I made the back of the top row a bit longer than the front of the top row. It was ok to have it full and poofy in the back. The front needed to be a bit more subdued.)

Child's tutu apron taking shape over the underskirt.

The tutu apron is taking shape over the underskirt.

Take your time and enjoy the creative process. It’s a bit time consuming but worth it.

Child's finished tutu.

Finished tutu.

The t-shirt was purchased and put on the model backwards creating a higher neckline in the front. The back was cut out, rolled over and hemmed with a straight stitch at stitch size 3 on my sewing machine.

Modified a purchased child's t-shirt.

A child’s t-shirt with the back and shoulder seams cut out.

I cut out the original shoulder seam out and attached lace making a new shoulder seam. One purchased fabric flower was hand sewn at the shoulder over each seam.

Child's tutu tutorial

Purchased fabric flowers were added at each shoulder.

The lace crossed over in the back and was tacked on each side to the t-shirt.

Another option for the back of the top.

This is another option for the back of the dress. It was scrapped for a cleaner look.

The t-shirt was tacked to the underskirt at the front and both sides to keep it tucked in. (The t-shirt was about 5″ longer than it needed to be. All that length was tucked into the waist of the underskirt before tacking.)  Add a pair of pink cowboy boots and a pink cowboy hat full of rose petals and the girls were ready to.

Shabby chic wedding

Child’s tutu and top complete.


A Lifestyle Review: Type 2 Diabetes Reversed_ HbA1c – 5.3

I thought it time to review a few facts that help support Mike’s mission to reverse his type 2 diabetes.

Mike is maintaining an A1c in the low 5’s. At diagnosis his HbA1c was 10.2. That was in July 2014. By changing his diet and within three months of diagnosis, Mike had dropped his HbA1c to 5.0. Today his HbA1c is 5.3. That’s really awesome!

How did he do it?

He started watching the carbs in everything he ate. He ate a healthy fat, very low carb diet. When he does eat carbs, they are low glycemic index carbs. He also takes supplements to support a healthy liver and immune system. He tries to exercise daily. He tries to walk and/or ride a stationary bike; but truthfully he isn’t exercising often enough.

Glucose, carbs, and sugar are like poison for his system. He has a metabolic condition. He can’t metabolize all the forms of sugar that are in so much of the foods he used to eat.

Mike and I did a lot of research about type 2 diabetes and realized we had to approach what we both eat in a new way if he was to have a chance at diabetes reversal. We cleaned out the refrigerator and the pantry and got rid of most everything in it. We got rid of bread, pasta, rice, all grains, potatoes, canned foods like beans and corn, frozen pizza, spagetti sauce, and fruit juice. We also got rid of all cooking oils and margarine. And we did this together as a family.

Today we eat a low carb diet full of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. We use only coconut oil, lard, avocado oil, olive oil and butter. Most of our breakfasts include eggs and sometimes turkey sausage. Lunches and dinners are salads or vegetables and a meat. We eat turkey bacon, turkey sausage, ground turkey, bison, beef, chicken, fish, oysters, and clams. We’ve recently added pork loin and bacon to the menu on occasion. (Two years ago, when Mike was first diagnosed, pork products would spike his blood sugar and we stayed away from them.)

A typical days meals might look like this:
Breakfast: 2 eggs sunny side up, 3 strips turkey bacon, 2 cups black decaf coffee (The coffee is first thing in the early morning. The food is at about 10:30 a.m.)
Lunch:  Leftovers from the evening meal the night before at about 2:30. This might be Eggplant Parmesan, or a hamburger patty and a handful of mixed salted nuts.
Dinner: A bowl of homemade chili or soup, a lettuce wrap burger, stir fry strips of steak and vegetables, or steak and raw broccoli with ranch dip. He also takes supplements with dinner.
Dessert: Lately Mike’s been treating himself to a ‘Stabilyze‘ bar for low glycemic nutrition we found at Costco in the diabetic section of the pharmacy. His favorite is the Dark Chocolate Thin Mint Cookie. (Usually eaten about 8 p.m. but he stays up till nearly midnight every night.)

History: Early on, Mike tracked his blood sugar readings morning, noon, and night. He got a good idea of how his body was reacting to the carbs he was eating. He found a happy balance and maintained his HbA1c for 15 months at 5.2. He quit taking his blood sugar readings December of 2015 and now monitors it with HbA1c tests every three months. He knows what foods he can eat, and those that he can’t eat.

The information we’ve gleaned from various sources on the web tell us that type 2 diabetes is reversible and we’ve linked to many of those sources in past posts on this blog. We are trying to allow Mike’s liver and pancreas time to heal. We don’t anticipate ever returning to the carb-laden lifestyle we were living before his diagnosis. Along the way, we’ve both found that we don’t get hungry as quickly. When we do get hungry it’s always more gradual. We can go 6 or even 7 hours without food, even though we do try to maintain three meals and a snack each day.

Mike takes nothing for his diabetes. He is totally controlling his condition with the foods he eats.

Mike’s doctor doesn’t understand the normal HbA1c scores Mike’s been receiving. He thought that he would be on diabetes medications by now.

We provide this information to the new diabetic in the hope that some of what we’ve learned and gleaned from others, can be of help and encouragement to you or someone you know.


Singer 115 Tiffany Treadle Sewing Machine

Meet my Singer 115 Tiffany Treadle

I love to sew and I love the history of useful things. In fact, I’ve researched family history for years and find it fascinating. I’ve been watching Craigslist for some time now. Looking at all the treadle and hand crank sewing machines as they become available and I found this one in my local area. Isn’t she beautiful!

Singer 115 Treadle Sewing Machine with Tiffany Decals

Singer 115 Treadle Sewing Machine with Tiffany Decals

I paid $100 and took her home. She had been a TV stand for 20 years. I bought a belt, oiled her up, and gave the wooden table a treatment with Watco Danish Oil. Then I adjusted the top and bottom tension and took ‘Tiffany’ for a test drive.

I’ve been practicing to get the rhythm of sewing off the grid. One foot sets forward of my other foot and I alternate pushing my right heel and left toes on the pedal in a rocking motion. It’s a bit tricky. If I mess up the rhythm of my feet I can quickly flip the wheel and be sewing backwards.

Singer 115 Tiffany Treadle Sewing Machine

Singer 115 Tiffany   – I took this picture before putting the belt on the machine.

My Singer 115 has Tiffany decals and an early version circular bobbin that replaced the old bullet-shaped shuttle-type bobbin. She was built in 1917 according to serial number research.

Other interesting facts about 1917:
April 1, 1917 – President Woodrow Wilson called us into war and our military was sent to fight with the allied countries in Europe. US military swelled from 370,000 to 4.8 million. For a time, 10,000 troops per day were landing on French soils. On the home front, women took assembly line factory jobs producing trucks and munitions. By the time the World War I ended in November 1918, 48,000 Americans had been lost in battle. My grandpa was trained as a machine gunner for the US Army, but the war ended before he was shipped overseas.

It’s interesting to look at the average price of commodities in 1917. A pound of butter cost $.526, cheese $.350, sugar $.096, bread $.102, steak $.329, rice $.120, a package of potatoes $.453, a quart of milk $.126, a dozen eggs $.475. One yard calico fabric 24 – 25″ wide cost $.10, gingham 32″ wide cost $.23 for one yard, while one yard of outing flannel cost $.16 and the price of one yard of bleached muslin was $.41.  Average income of the period were about $800 per year.

I wonder how much my Singer Tiffany was originally sold for?



Oregon Coastline - Pacific Ocean

Mike’s HbA1c Results 5.3!

Hello everyone!

So here we are just over two years since Mike was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He hasn’t been testing his blood for over a year. He thinks it’s a waste of time as long as he eats the things he knows he can have, so why go through that torture. Instead he opts for three month tests at the doctor’s office.

He had his blood drawn for an HbA1c and Lipid panel tests on Friday, July 15. The results came to us by email late Friday afternoon and we’re happy to say his A1c is 5.3!

A photo for you from the Pacific Northwest Coast. Have a great summer!

A photo for you from the Pacific Northwest Coast. Have a great summer!

Mike started off at 10.2 in late June 2014. He changed his diet immediately and within three months dropped his reading to 5.0. Read about it here.

Tests every three months from then produced 5.2 results with his April 2016 test showing us a 5.4, which concerned us. I have to admit we had become a bit lax. Having chocolate pudding (our version) a little too often. So we adjusted and only have that for really special occasions.

Mike’s lipid panel is coming down as well. Things are looking good and he’s still on his road to recovery.

Mike hopes to reverse his type 2 diabetes and so far he has. He’ll probably never be able to eat the way he used to eat, but that’s ok. He’s growing fond of some of the foods he is allowed to eat and rarely misses the junk anymore.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic syndrome. We found a report on the American Diabetic Association website that says type 2 diabetes is reversible in the recently diagnosed diabetic. We’re giving Mike’s liver and pancreas time to heal, and we’re doing that with diet alone. No metformin or other insulin suppressing diabetes drugs for Mike.

Statins - A dangerous health risk.

Cholesterol and Statins

Mike’s most recent lipid panel showed his LDL is elevated at 295 mg/dL. The standard range is <=239 mg/dL. He got a call from his doctor’s nurse wanting him to come in because he “needs to be put on statins immediately”. To cut to the chase, Mike is not on statins and will not be put on statins. We no longer think his high (LDL 217 mg/dL) is cause for concern at this time. Here is some of what we learned about cholesterol and statins. Links are included so you can read more.

Cholesterol is not a bad thing. The body needs cholesterol. It even makes it! That’s right, the liver manufactures a full 75% of the cholesterol in our bodies. Cholesterol is found in every cell and helps make cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and bile acids. Cholesterol is vital for neurological function and brain health.

Conventional medicine says there are good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL) but we’ve read and agree that cholesterol is neither good or bad. It is, however, essential for life. Cholesterol is needed by the body to help it heal and repair.  No cell can form, stay healthy, or grow without cholesterol.

All cholesterol are lipoproteins – fats combined with proteins to be carried throughout the bloodstream. Cholesterol from our body’s tissues and arteries, cycles back to the liver, where most cholesterol is produced. The liver reuses and recycles cholesterol sending it throughout the body to places where it is needed.

Cholesterol is important for digestion, making hormones, synthesizing vitamin D, maintaining cell membranes, learning, memory and sleep. If your levels are too low, you can’t maintain some of your bodies most critical functions. Plus, studies have shown your risk of cancer and chronic disease dramatically increases.

Statins, on the other hand, tell the liver to quit producing cholesterol, leading the person who takes statins down a road of pain from severe muscle cramping and weakness, reduced neurological function, increased risk of developing diabetes, impaired thinking and more. Statins poison the human biochemistry. There is also apparently a link between statins and alzheimers disease!

Lowering cholesterol is not lowering the rate or risk of heart disease. 50% of patients who suffer a heart attack have normal cholesterol levels. We’re learning that inflamation is the real culprit causing this health issue.

Mike already has diabetes and he’s on the road to recovery. Why on earth would he take statins and damage his liver and pancreas further?

Mike has increased levels of cholesterol and it’s at least in part because of increased inflamation in his body. The cholesterol is there to do a job. It’s there to help his body heal and repair. We are not convinced that removing cholesterol – a vital component of whole body health – is how to proceed, so for now we’re staying the course.

Click here for an earlier article on cholesterol.



Blue Basin Overlook

Guest Post: Fossils in Fossil, Oregon and a Hike

This being my first contribution to my sister, Cindy’s blog, I would like to introduce myself. I am Cheryl (Morris) and third in line of seven Swanson children, Cindy being the eldest. Our childhood was idyllic, growing up on an 80 acre farm in Clark County, Washington, adventures galore, and always a buddy to pal around with. I am blessed to have Cindy as my sister, the one who is not afraid to try new things, is a fine example of a mother and grandmother, and taught me (among a lot of other things) that fresh asparagus is far better than canned.

She asked me to contribute to her blog about our summer trip to central Oregon, and more specifically, fossil hunting in Fossil, Oregon.

A summer wedding for our niece (August 2014) brought my husband and I to Bend, Oregon. When the festivities came to an end, we headed north to Prineville, where we hopped onto Highway 26 / Ochoco Highway eastbound and landed in Dayville, Oregon. There, we found a real ‘gem’ of an RV Park called The Fish House Inn and RV. For our purposes, the location was central to the sights and activities that we were about. The park was quiet and immaculate and turned out to be a ‘hub’ for firefighters battling a growing blaze to the southwest.Wildfires near Fossil, Oregon 2014
We realized that fossils would satisfy our rock hounding desires, but soon discovered that we were in the middle of the Painted Hills Region of central Oregon; a real bonus. Turns out, there are several information centers and interpretive sites for fossils, and the road from Dayville to Fossil is a part of Journey Through Time Oregon Scenic Byway. (A couple of places to research are National Park Service John Day Fossil Beds and the Oregon Paleo Lands Institute.)

Our few days were for sightseeing and a visit to dig real fossils from a site behind Wheeler High School in Fossil, Oregon. The location of the fossil ‘dig’ is easy to find, and we found we were the only ones present on this mid-morning trek. You enter beside the football field, where a small building provides instructions and tools to borrow and the metal box on a nearby post is the collection spot for the fee (honor system) which helps support Fossil Schools. (A quick search and you should find a couple of travel websites which provide maps and reader pics of the fossil beds.) A take-along flyer explains the history of the Bridge Creek Flora fossil site discovery and drawings of the types of leaves, flowers, and seeds to be found. I believe it to be one of the only places where you can take home fossils that you’ve found (two handfuls).

We spent a couple of hours on the hillside, digging and finding a plant fossil in almost every swipe. Several larger rocks produced easily identifiable leaves and flowers. Only when we headed for a picnic lunch in the parking lot did the fossil beds begin to fill up with more visitors, families, couples, and kids anxious to try their hand at discovering a treasure.
Sightseeing was beautiful in spite of the haze caused by the lightening-started wildfires being fought to the southeast of Dayville.

The greens and reds of the Painted Hills were evident along our drives, as we spotted deer, wild turkey and geese enjoying the lush, irrigated alfalfa fields along the forks of the John Day River.

Painted Hills Hike

Painted Hills Hike

With the temperature in the nineties, it was impossible to resist a swim in the gentle flowing John Day.

Returning to the RV Park found an influx of workers and coordinators from the nearby wildfires, setting up tents on the lawns, stopping to shower up from a long grueling day on the front lines, or bringing in communication systems to help organize the monumental task. A small fire in a couple of places which began with lightening strikes had combined and quickly grown to 17,000 acres, becoming what is called a ‘complex’ fire, and changing the rules on who and how to fight it.

Cell phone coverage is spotty at best in the area, but the RV park had WiFi, if we wanted it. It was a good time for a DVD in the evening.

We planned to go on a hike while we were in the Sheep Rock Unit, so we picked Blue Basin, which is a few miles north of the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center. We arrived early in the morning, where we found the only others in the parking lot were about 15 young people from the NW Youth Corps, getting ready for a day of trail maintenance. The 3.25 mile long trail brought us up in elevation 760 feet.

Hiking in the Painted Hills near Blue Basin Overlook in Oregon

Author hiking in the Painted Hills near John Day. Oregon

The vistas of the John Day River valley were ever changing as we rounded the hill to the Blue Basin overlook, and the trails were easy enough with plenty of picture taking opportunity.

John Day River Valley

John Day River Valley

We ended up in the badlands of Blue Basin, called Island In Time Trail.

Islands of Time Blue Basin Badlands

Islands of Time
Blue Basin Badlands

Here, we found castings of a prehistoric tortoise and large cat, a depiction of previous discoveries in the area.

Fossils - Islands of Time Blue Basin Hike

Fossils – Islands of Time
Blue Basin Overlook hike near John Day, Oregon

Blue Basin Overlook

Blue Basin Overlook

Blue Basin

Blue Basin

Blue Basin Badlands

Blue Basin Badlands

We finished our trip with drives around the John Day River valley, into the town of John Day itself, which was setting up for Fair Days. I highly recommend this little getaway from anywhere in Oregon or Washington ( or parts beyond ). Such beautiful country and not that far away!

Note from author:
We had so much fun on that trip that we returned last summer (2015) with our 13 year old granddaughter. The fossils were still easy to find and there was the same beauty all around… and wildfires too. Our hike to Blue Basin was just to the lower Island In Time Trail, as the upper trail fell victim to a recent fire, and was a bit charred. We look forward to returning again soon, as the grasslands and hillside will have certainly recovered quickly, and there are more places in the area that we have yet to poke around.


Healthful, diabetic friendly Snickerdoodles

Yummy Snickerdoodles

Mike’s diabetes diagnoses and his intent to treat (and reverse) his condition with food has brought many challenges. We don’t eat wheat flour or sugar so traditional cookies are not on the ‘can have’ list. But I’ve learned a few tricks along the way to a healthier lifestyle and below is a recipe I hope you’ll enjoy.

1 3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup coconut meal
1/4 cup Truvia
1 tbsp cinnaman
1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup melted or very soft butter
1 tbsp vanilla (I used homemade vanilla. Yum!)
1 egg
2 tbsp Chia seeds

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes. Place equal amounts onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Press and shape each cookie to be uniform in size. Place them close together, almost touching. They won’t spread in the pan. Bake 350 degree oven for 11 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Remove cookies to cool on a plate or cooling rack.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Simple as that.

Sorry I don't have any after shots of the cookies... we ate them!

Snickerdoodle batter – Sorry I don’t have any after shots of the cookies… we ate them!

Almond flour costs close to $10 for a 4 cup bag. I can get bulk almonds for $6.50 a pound. I’m experimenting with grinding my own almond flour. My flour wasn’t uniform in size. I had some bits that were larger, but that was ok for this recipe.

I ground the almond flour.

I ground the almond flour.

This recipe has healthy fat and nut protein in it, in addition to the protein from the egg. The Chia seeds are considered a super food. When chia gets wet it becomes gelatinous. This recipe without the chia would tend to be dry and each cookie would break up easily. The chia helps hold each cookie together, replacing the gluten in wheat flour in regular cookies. This recipe is gluten free.


Upcycling a sugar bowl into a pincushion.

Upcycle a Sugar Bowl into a Pincushion for Someone Who Sews

My sister-in-law celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago. I wanted to give her something unique and original. She loves to sew, loves shabby chic and vintage. I saw something similar on Pinterest using a teapot. I found a sugar bowl at the Goodwill that I thought would work nicely.

A sugar bowl pincushion

Find a fabric that coordinates with the sugar bowl you’ve chosen.

Then I dug through my scraps to come up with a coordinating fabric for the pincushion. I cut the circle about 2 inches larger than the inside of the lid and used a running stitch to pull all the edges together. I filled it up with a mixture of rice, dried lavender buds, and lavender essential oil. I finished pulling the threads together and tied them off.

A teapot pincushion

Cut the fabric about 2″ larger than the lid.

A mixture of rice, lavendar buds, and lavendar essential oil fills the pincushion.

A mixture of rice, lavendar buds, and lavendar essential oil fills the pincushion.

Hand sew a running stitch all the way around the fabric edge and pull the threads to create a pocket for the rice mixture.

Hand sew a running stitch all the way around the fabric edge and pull the threads to create a pocket for the rice mixture.

Tie several knots with the thread to secure the rice mixture inside the pincushion.

Tie several knots with the thread to secure the rice mixture inside the pincushion.

Then I put some hot glue around the rim of the ceramic lid and added the pincushion.

I put some clips, a tape measure, a plastic pin case, and a couple of crocheted buttons inside the sugar bowl.

I put some clips, a tape measure, a plastic pin case, and a couple of crocheted buttons inside the sugar bowl.

Next I put a few sewing essentials into the belly of the sugar bowl. Pins and a tape measure worked nicely. I wanted to put in a seam ripper, but there wasn’t enough height to allow that.

I'll bet you give ceramics a second look when you see them at tag sales or the Goodwill. I do.

I’ll bet you give ceramics a second look when you see them at tag sales or the Goodwill. I do.

Now she has something shabby chic and unexpected for her sewing room. P.S. She loved it!


Cholesterol is Not a Bad Thing

If you’ve followed my blog posts about Mike’s diabetes and our mission to heal him naturally from this disease, you’ll know that he is living a high fat low carb lifestyle, in an effort to heal his liver and pancreas, and reverse his diabetes. And we think it’s working. He found out he was diabetic in July 2014. His HbA1c was 10.2. He has monitored his HbA1c every three months since then. He got his HbA1c down to 5.0 in just three months (Oct 2014) and has kept the subsequent HbA1c tests at 5.2 with one reading dipping to 5.1 _ essentially a healthy person’s blood sugar reading!

Mike’s most recent lipid panel (blood test that records cholesterol and trigycerides) showed his LDL was elevated and cause for concern. He got a call from his doctor’s nurse wanting him to come in because he “needs to be put on statins immediately”. To cut to the chase, Mike is not on statins, will not be put on statins, (statins will be a future post here) and no longer thinks his high LDL is cause for concern. Here is some of what we learned and links to where you can read it yourself.

Cholesterol is not a bad thing. Your body needs cholesterol. It even makes it! That’s right, your own liver manufactures a full 75% of the cholesterol in your body.

In the United States, the idea that cholesterol is evil is very much engrained in most people’s minds. But this is a very harmful myth that needs to be put to rest right now. Cholesterol is a vital component of every cell membrane. There is no life on earth that can live without cholesterol.

Consider the roll of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Essentially, HDL takes cholesterol from your body’s tissues and arteries, and brings it back to your liver, where most of your cholesterol is produced. If the purpose of this was to eliminate cholesterol from your body, it would make sense that the cholesterol would be shuttled back to your kidneys or intestines so your body could remove it. Instead, it goes back to your liver. Why? Because your liver is going to reuse it.

Cholesterol is important for digestion, making hormones, synthesizing vitamin D, maintaining cell membranes, learning, memory and sleep. If your levels are too low, you can’t maintain some of the most critical functions. Plus, studies have shown your risk of cancer and chronic disease dramatically increases.

Low cholesterol in the brain has been linked to alzheimers and dimentia.

HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad cholesterol. But we found out there are two types of LDL cholesterol. Large buoyant LDL (is not bad) and small LDL cholesterol (is bad).

But for crying out loud, if you’re going to get your lipids tested at least pay attention to the right numbers. And the most important number on a conventional lipid panel is the relationship between triglycerides and HDL. (Divide triglyercides by HDL to get it.) If that number is less than 2, this suggests you have mostly large, buoyant LDL – which is not a risk factor for heart disease. If that number is higher than 3, it suggests you have mostly small, dense LDL – which most certainly is a risk factor for heart disease.

Mike’s low trigycerides (61) divided by his HDL (48) equals (1.27) suggesting he has mostly large buoyant LDL, most likely being produced by his defatted liver in an effort to heal his body.

A quote from Chris Kresser – Medicine for the 21st Century
Finally, I often get emails from people who’ve switched to a high-fat / Paleo-type diet expressing concern that their LDL and total cholesterol levels have gone up. My response usually has three parts: 1) don’t worry about it, because high total and LDL cholesterol do not cause heart disease; 2) the increase is usually temporary, and may be the result of the body curing itself of fatty liver (a good thing!); 3) don’t worry about it. Doesn’t hurt to remind them.

We figure Mike’s newly defatted liver is curing itself and also sending cholesterol to other areas of his body that have been affected by diabetes including the neuropathy he experiences in his feet. In fact, he has said for sometime that his feet are feeling different; better.



My Homemade Vanilla Extract Recipe and A Collection of Free Printable Gift Tags I found for Christmas Giving!

This year I gave homemade vanilla extract for Christmas. I found these cute little bottles to put the vanilla in. Now to dress the bottles up with nice gift tags.  This gift is simple and I think makes a great, useful gift for family and friends. This year I am filling 50 bottles and I’m making some extra to keep on hand for my baking.

Recipe for homemade vanilla

The ‘blue label’ vanilla was homemade last year – to illustrate vanilla gets darker and better with age.

Here’s my easy recipe for Homemade Vanilla Extract:

Buy one big bottle Vodka and five Vanilla Beans. Split the vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise on a cutting board. Add the vanilla beans to the vodka. Replace the lid. Set on the kitchen counter. Twice a day – morning and night, jostle the liquid back and forth a couple of times. In 6 weeks, pour into clean bottles (I bought mine at Craft Warehouse for $1.00 each), add a small amount of the vodka soaked vanilla bean to each jar and seal. Decorate with a tag for gift giving. Store on a pantry or cupboard shelf. Or the vanilla can be stored in the vodka bottle in the pantry. When you’ve used all the vanilla in the bottle, scrape the inside of the vanilla bean and put the small amount of paste into a batch of cookies or homemade vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Homemade Vanilla Extract!

That’s a lot of vanilla!

I used free downloadable tags from YellowBlissRoad, and these at Belvedere Designs, and these at Skip to My Lou.

Merry Christmas!
I hope you had a great holiday season with family and friends.


HbA1c Test Results Show NO Diabetes!

Mike had his blood drawn for an HbA1c test that measures his average blood sugar level over the last three months. His result was 5.2.  Normal range is less than or equal to 5.6%

This is his 5th test in 15 months where his HbA1c results have been between 5.0 and 5.2 as you will see in the table below. When we found out he was diabetic is HbA1c was 10.2.HbA1c_11.10.15

He also had a Fasting Lipid Panel done at the same time. This test measures the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) types of cholesterol in the blood to help determine risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Some of these results were high. Is Mike concerned? Not at this point. We’ve watched some interesting Youtube videos from doctors that say the body needs cholesterol to function properly. Cholesterol is used in tissue repair and is vital to neurologic function to name a few.

Component       Mike’s Value     Standard Range
Cholesterol        261 mg/dl      <=239 mg/dl
Fasting Trig          61 mg/dl      <=199 mg/dl
HDL Chol              48 mg/dl        >=40 mg/dl
LDL Chol             201 mg/dl      <=159 mg/dl
Lipid Panel Interpretation

We are hopeful that Mike is healing from diabetes. We believe that given the food and supplements he needs, the body will do it’s best to heal. We also believe that most medical doctors treat the symptoms of diabetes, not the cause. Treating the symptoms does not heal the body. Diabetes is a metabolism disorder. The body can no longer metabolize the glucose that is being eaten. We believe the first order of business is to reduce the carbohydrates (glucose) that we eat, and when we do eat carbs, make them low glycemic index carbs.

We are researching more on cholesterol so we can understand the high numbers Mike has received in these test results, and we will share some of those links with you here. So far, we’ve found that cholesterol is used in tissue repair, is a precursor to vitamin D, and is vital to neurologic function.