habits for a productive day

Healthy Habits | Top 7 Habits for a Productive Day

I am a creature of habit. Some might say I thrive on it, but this has not always been the case. As I read and learned how to manage my Type 1 Diabetes with diet, the topic of healthy habits, routines, and sleep kept popping up. A skeptic ’til the end, I did not believe the research I was reading until I tried it for myself. Life changing, folks! Having a morning routine not only helps manage my blood glucose levels (priority #1 for me when I first set my morning routine) but it sets me up for a productive day. Let me share with you my Top 7 Habits for a Productive Day that I hope will change your life like it did mine!

habits for a productive day

Go to Bed on Time

Did you know a productive day actually starts the night before? In order for you to be alert and energized, you need to be getting enough sleep. Determine what time you need to be up in the morning to get everything accomplished, then back up 8 hours. That is your new bed time.

The recommended amount of sleep is usually a range from 7 to 9 hours. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? You wake up before your alarm goes off. That’s right, don’t be angry that you woke up just three minutes before that pesky alarm. This is a sign you got enough sleep! Resist the temptation to roll over and just get up!

Set Clothes Out the Night Before

If your brain has a hard time getting in gear in the morning, set your clothes out the night before. It will save many precious minutes if everything from your socks to your jewelry is laid out ready for you to put on.

I set out two piles of clothes each morning. The pile closest to my bed is my work-out clothes. I swing my legs over the side of the bed each morning and put my work-out clothes on first thing. The pile next to that is what I plan to wear that day. I take these clothes down with me to the basement where I work-out then shower and get ready for the day.

habits for a productive day

Get Up When the Alarm Goes Off

Oh my, stepping on so many toes today, including my own! I am guilty of hitting the snooze too! However, every morning I do, I regret the decision later that morning. When every minute of the morning is planned, loosing 10 minutes off the bat is hard to make up. You’ll be cutting corners somewhere in your routine to make up for that snooze.

Your body will wake up easier over time if you just get up when that alarm goes off. Not everyone springs out of bed each morning naturally, but you can make that happen by just getting up, right away, every day. You can do it!

Jesus and a Hot Drink

On to my favorite time of the day: time with Jesus and a hot drink. I believe a hot drink (tea or coffee for me!) is necessary for a good prayer and Bible reading time! I joke…sort of. Part of me enjoying the quiet and God’s word is my hot cup of tea.

habits for a productive day

Make a Prioritized To-Do List

Take 5 minutes to look at your calendar for the day and jot down what you need to accomplish. Then, and this is the key, re-write it prioritizing the important items at the top of the list and least important at the bottom.

The morning routine is not quite finished, but once it is, the tasks for the day are already laid out and ready to be accomplished.

Exercise

Now that you’ve had time to put your mind in the right spot by spending time in God’s word and getting your day organized, get your body moving! Working out in the morning will get your metabolism rolling and boost your energy for the entire day. Go for a walk, do a work-out video, ride a bike, whatever movement speaks to you do it! Just get up and get moving!

For me, I love doing a 30 minute Fitness Blender work-out in my basement. I keep my weights and mat down there so I’m ready to go every morning. When I finish my workout…

Shower and Get Dressed

A productive day does not happen in your pajamas! I know you are thinking, “I can clean the house in any outfit” or ” Shopping is most comfortable in yoga pants.” I’m not knocking comfortable clothes, but I do believe there is a change in self-confidence and productivity when you get dressed for the day. If yoga pants are on the docket, so be it, but coordinate it with shirt/shoes/outerwear that you love and loves you. If you love how you look, you will get more done that day, I guarantee it!

A great day doesn’t happen by accident, it happens with planning and habit. The more ingrained your morning (and evening) routine become, the less energy it will take to complete it. You won’t be exhausted when the alarm goes off. You will be rested and ready to start your day. No fumbling around, no wasted time in the morning, you know what you are wearing and doing first, so you can just get to it!

As always, I am not suggesting difficult habits that I myself am not working on. I began my quest for a consistent morning routine shortly after my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis, and it became habitual about 8 months later. You will likely fail the first few times you try to establish a morning routine, I did! Don’t give up! Tweak the order, things you do, time you get up, etc. until you find the winning combination for you.

The first habits for a productive day start the night before with setting out your clothes and going to bed on time. If you don’t get enough sleep, your morning is going to be so much more difficult. Getting up when the alarm goes off, quality time with Jesus, planning your day, exercise, and getting dressed for the day are all very difficult to do when you are tired. Take back your day by establishing good evening and morning habits for a productive day!


What does your morning routine look like? Have you tried creating a routine? Or are you a bit more free-spirited when it comes to routines and habits?

habits for a productive day

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Fun and Meaningful Art in the Bathroom

Years ago when I was working and an avid Young House Love reader, I was always a bit befuddled by their art posts. They were big believers in making art out of things that are meaningful to you. I loved how their art turned out, but I didn’t know how to do it in my own life. Bit by bit as I work to decorate my home, I am learning what meaningful art means to me. Today, I added some meaningful art to our guest bathroom.

meaningful art in bathroom

The guest bathroom has a large open wall above the toilet and between the toilet and vanity. This space looks even larger and more awkward because the toilet is off-center. I wanted to add some art to distract from the ill-placed toilet and liven up the room. For the longest time, the only decor in the bathroom was a little faux succulent planter I picked up at Target.

Doesn’t he look lonely with that large empty wall above him?

meaningful art in bathroom

Now, that space is filled with pieces that are fun and meaningful to me!

meaningful art in bathroom

It all began with the painting in the middle that I painted with a group of dear mom friends. Have you ever done those guided painting sessions? SO FUN! Before I even started the painting, I knew where it was going to go. The colors were perfect for our guest bathroom!

Shortly after painting that canvas, long-time friends of ours gave us the reclaimed wood Africa. They live in South Africa, hence, the heart! Again, the color scheme is perfect for our guest bathroom!

Cool story behind the Africa art. It was made by the company Busetsa, which means “reclaimed”, who helps disadvantaged people learn wood working to earn a living. Reclaimed wood is used to make all of their pieces. Even cooler yet, the man that made this particular piece used to be part of the foster care home our friends run! How awesome is that?! 

meaningful art in bathroom

The last pieces are totally jumping on the letterboard bandwagon! Since this is primarily a guest bathroom, I thought it would be fun to have a letterboard to leave sweet, or snarky, messages for our guests. I’d love it if they’d return the favor. 🙂 To keep the extra letters handy for such shenanigans, I mounted a mason jar to a scrap board and hung it under the letter board.

meaningful art in bathroom

The guest bathroom is mainly for friends, so I thought it appropriate to use art work that reminds me of or is directly from friends. Even if no one else knows the significance of these pieces, they are significant to me! I am content knowing that.

Working this quick, little gallery wall made me realize a few things about decorating my home.

Take Your Time

Blogs have a way of making a project look effortless and done in a flash. Even when writers try to explain the process, it still feels easy when I read how someone else did it. The truth is this: making a house a home is a process not a one-time event. My tastes will change, and my abilities to create will improve over time. Relax, take your time, and enjoy the process.

Start with One Meaningful Piece

If you’re stuck with what to put on a wall, select one meaningful piece and put it in the room. Not necessarily on the wall, maybe on a dresser or ledge, just somewhere visible. Then let it ruminate in your mind. Do you have other things that go with that theme, color, vibe? Start to pull things from other rooms as they come to mind. I find that things suddenly click for me, and I can go put it all together in a way that I like.

It’s Your Home, No One Else’s

Everything in your home should bring you joy, not your friends, not your extended family. If you like it, have the confidence to display the things you love. I was at a friend’s house last night that had a circus themed room. From awesome original clown paintings to grand-kid’s art work to throw pillows with subtle circus animal embroidery. The theme of circus was subtly or overtly shown in everything she chose to put into the room. How fun is that?! Incorporate the things that speak to you and bring you joy into your home. It’s your home and no one else’s.

How do you incorporate meaningful art into your home? Have you ever been stalled, like me, by other’s apparent ease at decorating? Or is it easy for you to decide what to hang on the walls? Do share!

meaningful art in bathroom

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How to Make Eating Vegetables Normal for Your Kids

If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time, you’ll know that I am kind of a huge believer in vegetables. Controlling my Type 1 Diabetes through the diet and healthy lifestyle habits is possible only by fully embracing vegetables in all their varied glory. In addition to that, I am a big believer in families all eating the same food. Camaraderie and compassion for each other’s health are good things to teach your kids. But…what if they don’t like vegetables? What if they are picky eaters? Even though I don’t consider myself an expert in this area, I’d like to share 6 ways that I make eating vegetables normal for my kids.

make eating vegetables normal

Ok, maybe I should start out with this isn’t going to be easy. I think you already knew that, right? If you haven’t been eating vegetables regularly as a family, this will take work. I’ve been there too! When I began my journey toward eating a lot of vegetables, I was trying to count onions and garlic in my vegetable intake! I’ve come a long way, and you can too! 

Grocery Shop with Your Kids

First up, take your kids to the grocery store with you. Yes, it will take longer and you will likely be sweaty by the time you are finished, but the grocery store is where the education about vegetables and involving your kids in the food you eat begins.

Take the time to tell your kids which vegetables you are picking out, how to tell what’s ripe, and how you plan to prepare them. Whet their appetite from the time you pick it up off the shelf!

Guess what I’m going to make from these beautiful sweet potatoes??? Your favorite: sweet potato fries! Should we have them tonight for dinner??

Say YES if They Want to Try a New Vegetable

Because my kids shop with me every two weeks, they are familiar with the process of picking out produce. Lately, my oldest has gotten in the habit of picking out a vegetable he doesn’t recognize and asking if we could buy it.

SAY YES EVERY TIME!!!

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what it is or how to prepare it (I’m stumped too sometimes!). The world wide internet can help you out with that later. Buy it, cook it, and then talk it up like crazy when you serve it.

This is the Chayote squash that Jackson picked out for us! It’s a tart, crunchy squash that is going to go perfectly with our Mexican carnitas. Thank you for picking this out for dinner, Jackson!!

make eating vegetables normal

Let Them Help Prepare Meals

Again, I didn’t say this was going to be an easy process. Little hands helping in the kitchen make for longer cook times and more clean-up. BUT how will our children know how to cook real food unless we take the time to teach them? I strongly, strongly believe children need to be in the kitchen. Their future health depends on it!

To make this easier, find a job that is appropriate for their age level. Here are some ideas and tips to make kids in the kitchen more pleasant:

  • Stirring the pot while the adult adds vegetables
  • Chopping soft vegetables or fruit with a butter knife or kid-safe knife
  • Playing with the scrap vegetable pieces (Awesome for very young kids! It makes a huge mess sometimes, but they will LOVE a big bowl filled with onion papers, potato skin, apple cores, etc. to get their hands in and “cook”!)
  • Sitting on the counter/stool and talking to you (Don’t underestimate the power of just watching you cook, welcome them into the kitchen!)
  • Have a stool in the kitchen at all times so they can get quickly and safely to counter level

make eating vegetables normal

Set Expectations High

What you say and how you say it when presenting kids with new food makes all the difference in the world. From the moment they begin eating table food (Remember, they understand WAY sooner than you think!), present new food (actually, all food!) positively.

Never say, “She won’t eat this. You won’t like this. This feels funny in your mouth.” Words like that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you tell them they won’t eat it, guess what happens? They won’t eat it, even young kids. They are always listening to what you say!

Try something like this instead:

Today we’ve got stuffed acorn squash for dinner! It has your favorite meat inside, sausage! You know what’s great about this meal? You can eat the bowl!

For breakfast today we’re having mommy’s favorite vegetables, roasted sweet potatoes and kale chips! Guess what I love about it? It’s crunchy AND soft. Aren’t those fun textures together?

Time for your favorite, Judah, carrot fries! When you’ve finished what’s in your bowl, you may have more, as much as you like. Mommy made lots for you!

Positivity is so important! Tell them truthful things about the vegetable, if you feel the need to prepare them for texture or flavor but pair them with positive statements. Assume they will like it and that they will want more. Eat yours happily and comment on how good it is.

make eating vegetables normal

Tell Them It Is Good

Because it is! God made our world full of a great variety of vegetables, and they are good! They do not taste like cupcakes, but that does not mean they are not good. Tell you children how wonderfully diverse this world is and the greatness of God’s creativity in providing all these wonderful vegetables for us to eat. Teach them to appreciate all the goodness we have to eat.

Fruit is Dessert

A major part of getting kids to enjoy vegetables is to rid their palette of sugar and processed food. The ability to taste the sweetness in vegetables (yes, many are sweet!) is not over saturating our tongues with sugar constantly.

Part of this involves our fruit consumption. Fruit is full of good nutrients, but it is also full of sugar. Sugar is harmful to the brain no matter the source of the sugar. Don’t overdo the fruit.

Try serving fruit as dessert, once the kids have eaten their vegetables and meat. It will be doubly sweet to them after the vegetables and just might provide a good incentive to finish up a less than desirable dinner.

If you want your kids to eat more vegetables without fuss, it all starts at the grocery store and hinges on your positivity about the vegetables as you prepare, cook, and serve them. This is not an overnight process, and there will be days your kids refuse to eat what you make. You are not alone; I’ve been there too! Raising your kids to be vegetable eaters is just a piece of the parenting pie! Just keep working at it! Start with these six strategies to make eating vegetables normal for your kids, and see what works for your family. 

 

make eating vegetables normal

pan-fried sage pork chops
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Pan-Fried Sage Pork Chops | AIP Paleo Recipe

You know those flavors that just stick with you from your childhood? There are certain dishes that just hit me as the ultimate in flavor and comfort food. My mom’s broiled pork chops are one of them, and it’s the sage in the dredge that just gets me. I haven’t attempted this recipe in a LONG time because it calls for cornmeal and flour. Well, I put my big girl pants on and figured out how to make this breaded pork chop AIP and Paleo friendly. These revamped pan-fried sage pork chops turned out fantastic!

pan-fried sage pork chops

The original recipe called for a dredge mixture of spices, cornmeal, and flour. I couldn’t think of an ingredient that would create the texture of cornmeal, but using coconut flour in place of wheat flour worked just fine.

pan-fried sage pork chops

Fry the pork chops in a hot pan with melted coconut oil. The meat does not need to be submerged in oil. This is not deep frying. I put about 1/2 cup of coconut oil in the pan, and it worked just fine. Only turn the pork chops once so that beautiful crust has time to form.

pan-fried sage pork chops

To complete this meal, add a starchy and low-starch vegetable. I chose roasted broccoli and sweet potatoes (my go to). Enjoy your delicious, healthy meal!

pan-fried sage pork chops

What is your favorite recipe from your childhood? Do you have certain flavors that you just love to this day?

Pan-Fried Sage Pork Chops

AIP, Paleo comfort food at its best! Quick to cook and delicious, the whole family will enjoy this entrée!

Course Dinner
Cuisine AIP, Low-Carb, Paleo
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 185 kcal
Author Emily Stauch

Ingredients

  • 4 center cut pork chops
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk full fat
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil for frying, maybe more

Instructions

  1. Pour the coconut milk in a shallow bowl. Be sure to shake/stir it first to incorporate the fat back in.

  2. In another shallow bowl, mix the coconut flour, sea salt, sage, onion powder, and black pepper to make the dredge.

  3. Heat the coconut oil in a cast iron or heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat.

  4. Dip the pork chop in the coconut milk, on both sides. Then dip in dredge, covering all sides. Place in hot pan. Repeat for the rest of the pork chops.

  5. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes then flip over when bottom is browned nicely. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Do not flip multiple times so that the crust has time to form on the pork chop.

Recipe Notes

This recipe has 3g of carbohydrates per serving.

pan-fried sage pork chops

Healthy Habits | Six Strategies to Make Reading a Habit

Part of me managing my health and living a fulfilled life for me is enjoyable hobbies or pastimes. One of those for me is reading. If you remember back to my goals for 2018, I had a reading goal of 15 books. Growing up, I was an avid reader, and that goal would be laughably low. Now as an adult, married with two children, finding time to read is not effortless. On the contrary, I have had to work hard to make reading a habit again. Would you like encouragement for finding time to read? Read on!

make reading a habit

Read Early in the Morning

Getting up early was once a habit I struggled with, and now is my favorite, most cherished time of the day. My regular morning routine for Monday through Sunday has time to read the Bible worked in but not extra reading time.  So the early morning reading time comes on Sunday because the routine is different. I do not work-out on Sundays, so I use this “extra” 30 minutes in my day to do pleasure reading.

Read While a Meal Bakes

This is my favorite way to squeeze in extra reading. Once I’ve popped my dinner in the oven (and set a timer! Don’t forget this! You will become engrossed in your book!), I open my reading app or book and read as long as I’m able. Depending on the dinner (and my children’s behavior!), I can get 30-45 minutes of reading completed!

This time is best maximized if my book is on my phone. I regularly have my phone out for the recipe I am baking, so it is quickest (and least likely for me to get distracted by going to find my book!) for me to switch to my reading app and begin reading while standing right by the stove. Maybe this is odd, but I’m usually standing in the kitchen reading this entire time. If I had a bar stool nearby, I might sit, but usually I’m just reading standing up at the stove so I can keep an eye on dinner.

Reading Time on the Couch

I heard this idea recommended at a parenting talk, and I love the idea. Full disclosure: I haven’t worked this one into our routine yet, but I plan to!

Sit on the couch with your kids and each of you has your own book to read. Mommy is not reading to the kids, rather everyone has their own book to read or pretend read. This might not be a large chunk of time at the beginning, but what a way to teach your kids to read and love reading!

Read at a Coffee Shop

Anyone else need Sanity Saturdays or is it just me? My husband sends me take off to a coffee shop on Saturday mornings when I need a break from the kiddos. These chunks of time are much longer, 4 hours or so! So I usually finish an entire book or at least put a really good dent in one.

While I’d love regular time with hours and hours to read, that just isn’t feaisble in my life right now. I imagine it isn’t possible in yours either, but if you can schedule one larger chunk of time per month, your reading list will disappear so much faster!

Read at the End of the Day

When my husband has evening commitments, I take full advantage of the time after the kids go to bed until I go to bed to get as much reading done as possible.

My end-of-day reading is usually when I like to make it picture perfect. I brew a cup of tea, turn on the fireplace, grab a blanket, and snuggle in to enjoy my reading time. Any other time of the day I am snatching minutes here and there to read, but this one, I aim to make as enjoyable as possible.

Plan Reading into Your Day

My last recommendation is to plan time to read. Even if you are only going to get 10 minutes (or 5!) put it on your schedule for the day and get it done! You will be surprised how quickly that time adds up. Books will be finished before you know it!

Try these six strategies to make reading a habit in your life then come back and share how it’s working!


What is your favorite time to read? Do you make it an all morning/afternoon/evening event? Or are you stealing precious minutes of time to dive into your book?

make reading a habit

stage 2 reintroduction raw almonds
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AIP Reintroduction Phase | Stage 2: Almonds

I am an adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetic using diet and healthy lifestyle habits to manage my blood sugar levels (no insulin!). My diet consists of the Autoimmune Protocol plus a few spices/oils, green beans, and wine in small quantities. The reintroduction phase is slow, very very slow, because I make sure I have stable blood sugars, my normal, before I attempt a new food. The food up for challenge today is a stage 2 reintroduction of raw almonds.

stage 2 reintroduction of raw almonds

For reference, below are the four stages of reintroduction. While it is not necessary to follow the stages precisely, they are ordered from foods most likely for the body to handle (stage 1) to least likely to handle (stage 4).

Autoimmune protocol reintroduction phaseAs a Type 1 Diabetic, my benchmark for success or failure is based on my blood sugar levels after I eat the new food, particularly my fasting blood sugar the following morning. If my gut is irritated by food, my morning blood sugar will be higher than 150 which is my primary indicator that something is going wrong. My blood glucose goals for reintroductions are as follows:

Starting/Fasting Blood Glucose Before Eating: <130

Two-Three Hour Post Eating Blood Glucose: <150

Fasting Blood Glucose the next morning: <150

Raw, Whole Almonds

Homemade trail mix is a go-to snack in our house. I keep all the components in separate containers, and I mix up a bowl of it for my kids every day, sometimes more than once a day! The usual selections are almonds, cashews, pecans, raisins, and chocolate chips. Other possibilities are banana chips, dates, and dried apricots but we don’t always have these on hand.

Since this is a daily snack for us, I was so disappointed to give up nuts to start the Autoimmune Protocol (that and homemade larabars!), and I was SO excited to give raw almonds a try again!

Meal: Snack before dinner

Lunch Blood Glucose: 127

Two-Three Hour Post Blood Glucose: 102

Fasting Blood Glucose the Next Morning: 143

Excellent results! My normal fasting blood sugar is in the 140’s so as long as my fasting number remains below 150, I consider the reintroduction a success. I have actually tried raw, whole almonds on three occasions, and my blood sugar responds superbly. Score!

stage 2 reintroduction raw almonds

Raw nuts are packed full of good fiber, protein, and fat without a lot of carbohydrates. They are a great snack choice for anyone on the AIP diet, diabetic, or none of the above! Being able to eat almonds again opens my diet up even more which makes me ecstatic! Stage 2 reintroduction of raw almonds is a success!


What are your go-to healthy snacks? I had to learn to like nuts as I grew up in a non-nut eating family. Nuts are my favorite now!

stage 2 reintroduction raw almonds

 

staple shade to board
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Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shade Tutorial

Do you have an area in your home that needs some functional and pretty window treatments? I’d like to offer an outside mount, flat Roman shade for your consideration. Our living room and dining room were in bad need of some protection from the evening sun (see my planning and thoughts on why I made these in this post and the before and after here). Today I thought I’d share how I made these flat Roman shades. Warning: this is a long step-by-step post! If you’d like to make a fully functional, flat Roman shade, read on!


DIY Flat Roman Shade Tutorial

Measure the Window

The first step is always to measure the window accurately. You need to know two things before you measure: (1) inside or outside mount and (2) style of Roman shade desired. This tutorial is for an outside mount, flat Roman shade.

Measure the width of the window, from outside trim to side outside trim, at the top, middle, and bottom of the window. Take the widest measurement and add 1/4″. This is the finished width.

Example: The widest measurement was 39 3/4″ for my window so my finished width was 39 3/4″ + 1/4″ = 40″. I chose to make my shade just as wide as the window casing. Feel free to add more width if you want the casing covered more.

Measure the height of the window, from the top outside trim to the sill, at the far left, middle, and far right of the window. Take the longest measurement and add any additional height to mount above the window. This is the finished height.

Example: The longest measurement for my window was 65 1/2″ and I wanted the shade mounted 6 1/2″ above the window so my finished length was 65 1/2″ + 6 1/2″ = 72″.

Calculate Cut Lengths

The cut length and width for the face fabric and the lining will be different. I recommend drawing each out on a piece of paper to avoid confusion.

Face Fabric

Cut length: Finished length + 4″ for hem + 3″ for mounting room

Example: My window is 65 1/2″ high, and I’m mounting it 6 1/2″ above the window. So for my shade I cut the face fabric 65 1/2″ + 6 1/2″ + 4″ + 3″ = 79″

Cut width: Finished width + 6″ for side hems

Example: My window is 40″ wide. So I cut my face fabric 40″ + 6″ = 46″ wide.

Lining

Cut length: Finished length + 3″ for mounting room

Example: My window is 65 1/2″ high, and I’m mounting it 6 1/2″ above the window. So for my shade I cut the lining fabric 65 1/2″ + 6 1/2″ + 3″ = 75″

Cut width:  Finished width

Example: My window is 40″ wide, so I cut the lining 40″ wide.

Iron Fabric and Lining

The fabric and lining should be as flat and smooth as possible before cutting. If possible, wash, dry, and iron the fabric to eliminate any shrinkage. The fabric I chose is dry clean only, so I ironed it and the lining then proceeded to cutting.

Roman Shade_Tutorial_Iron

Cut Fabric and Lining

After ironing, lay the fabric out on a flat work surface. For me, that was my living room floor. My fabric had an obvious pattern repeat so I chose to center the roman shade on the pattern. This decision made cutting my fabric much harder, but I think the final result is more professional this way.

Quick side note: When making multiple shades for side-by-side windows, make sure to match the patterns. I laid the fabric for the second shade on the floor, right side down then laid my finished shade on top, right side down.

Matching Patterns

Then I carefully tweaked the position of the finished shade to match the pattern with the uncut fabric then I marked the top line of the shade. The sides and bottom will still need to be measured to allow for seam and hem allowance, but you can use the top line from the finished shade as your starting point.

Matching Patterns

Now back to measuring and drawing the rectangle for your shade!

Draw a Straight Line Parallel to the Salvage

Calculate how much excess to trim from the edges of the face fabric by subtracting the cut width from the width of the fabric. (Example: 54″ – 46″ = 8″) Divide the answer by two to get the amount of excess to trim off each side (Example: 8″ ÷ 2 = 4″). For my shade, I wanted to draw two lines 4″ from the salvage (the finished edge of the fabric).

Measure 4″ from the salvage and make a dot. Move down the fabric about 3 feet and make another dot 4″ from the salvage. Using a long straightedge or level, connect the dots to draw a straight line.

Move down the fabric another 3 feet or so, make another dot 4″ from the salvage. Using the second dot and this new, third dot, draw a straight line. Continue until you’ve made a line the cut length of your shade.

Repeat on the other side of the fabric.

Draw a Straight Line Perpendicular to the Salvage

Now you need to make the top and bottom lines to complete the rectangle shape of your shade. Begin with the top of the shade.

Using a T-square, line up one edge with the drawn line on one side of the fabric. Be very precise, make sure the entire edge of the T-square lines up with your drawn line. Make a hash mark/dot along the perpendicular side.

Repeat on the other side of the fabric.

Using the long straightedge/level, draw a straight line between the hash marks, making the top edge of the rectangle.

Draw a Straight Line for the Cut Length

With a straight top line, creating the bottom line for the final cut length should be fairly simple. Using a tape measure, measure the final cut length from the top line and make a dot. Move to the other side of the fabric, measure the final cut length and make another dot. Use the long straightedge/level to connect the dots, making a straight line to complete the rectangle.

Re-Measure the Length and Width Before Cutting

Have you heard the phrase, “measure twice, cut once?” Take it to heart when sewing! Double and triple check your measurements before cutting the shade out.

I usually check the width and length the same way I measured the window in the first step. Measure the width at the top, middle, and bottom. Then I measure the length at the left, middle, and right. If everything is the width and length you were aiming for, cut away! If not, go back to each of your drawn lines to look for the discrepancy.

Repeat for the lining fabric according to the cut length and widths already measured. **Be very careful when switching to the lining. Double check your measurements to make sure you don’t cut out the lining the same size as the face fabric!**

Sew the Side Seams

With the face fabric lying right side up, line up the lining with right side down along the left side of the shade. The lining should be 6″ narrower and 4″ shorter than the face fabric. Leave the 4″ gap at the bottom of the shade (this room is for the hem), line up the tops and the left side (Note in my picture below the tops do not line up. I cut this lining too long. Too long is better than too short! I just trimmed the extra length after sewing the sides).

Roman Shade_Tutorial_SewLeftSide

Roman Shade_Tutorial_HemLength

Pin and sew a 1.5″ seam along the left side.

Lay the shade back on the ground and line up the right sides and top. Since the lining is narrower than the face fabric, the fabric will bunch up. Don’t worry. It will all work out in the next step. Make sure there is a 4″ gap for the hem at the bottom of the shade.

Roman Shade Sew Right Side

Pin and sew a 1.5″ seam along the right side.

Turn the shade inside out so the right side of the lining and the face fabric are facing out. Lay the shade on the floor, smoothing out the seams and iron.

Roman Shade

Hem the Shade

With the shade face fabric down, turn up the face fabric 1/2″ and press. Then turn up 3.5″ and press. Pin and sew the hem using a blind hem stitch.

Roman Shade Hem

Roman Shade Hem

I’ve heard that the method to do a blind hem stitch varies by sewing machine. I recommend looking up a video of your specific machine on YouTube.

The basics are this: put on the blind hem stitch pressure foot and select the appropriate blind hem stitch. Fold the hem under so that about 1/4″ of the face fabric is showing next to the lining. Then carefully sew along the folded edge.

Blind Hem Stitch

The finished hem on the wrong side looks like this:

Blind Hem Stitch_Back

The finished hem on the right side of the shade should look like this:

Blind Hem Stitch_Front

Measure and Sew on Rings

Before making the grid to sew on the rings, calculate the spacing of your rings. I wanted my horizontal folds to be fairly thin, so I chose 6″ vertical spacing of my rows (6″-12″ is standard). I also didn’t want any sagging in between the rings, so I chose 9″ horizontal spacing (8″-10″ is standard).

Based on those measurements, I took the time to draw it all out to figure out how many rows of rings I would need. For this shade, I needed 10 rows with 5 rings each row for a total of 50 rings per shade. The measurements of my shade are charted out for reference in the figure below. Make sure to chart out yours with your specific measurements.

Roman Shade Ring Guide

Lay the shade out on a flat work surface with the lining up.

Beginning at the edge of the hem, mark the position of the rings along the row. I placed the first and last rings 2″ from the edge of the fabric.

mark ring placement

Then mark the placement of the remaining middle rings, spacing them evenly across the shade. The space between my middle three rings was just over 9″.

mark ring placement

Next mark the rows for the remaining rings. My rows were 6″ apart. To do this, measure 6″ above the hem on the left and right side of the shade then use a straightedge or long level to draw a straight line between those marks. Add dots where each ring should go on each line.

roman shade ring rows

Before sewing the rings on, I pinned one pin above each ring dot. I wanted to avoid any shifting of the fabric as I moved it to the sewing machine.

roman shade rings

Then I used my sewing machine to tack each ring in place. This can be done by hand, but it is quick and easy with a sewing machine. Set the stitch to zigzag with the stitch length at 0 and stitch width wide enough to pass over the ring without nicking it.

roman shade sew rings

The result is a clean, neat tack.

roman shade rings tacked

Repeat to attach all of the rings to the shade.

Insert Dowel Rod

Cut a 1/4″ dowel rod to the finished width of the shade minus 1/2″. The finished width of my shade was 40″ so I cut my dowel rod to 39 1/2″. Insert the rod into the pocket of the hem and sew the sides shut using a slip stitch.

Roman Shade_Tutorial_Dowel Rod

Mark Finish Length and Finish Top Edge

Next lay the shade out, right side down. Measure from the bottom hem and mark the finished length across the top. Mark another line 2-3″ above the finished length line.

roman shade finish top edge

Trim the remaining fabric at the top line. Finish the top edge with a zigzag stitch.

roman shade finish top edge

Cut and Cover Mounting Board

Cut a 1″x3″ board to the finished width of the shade. Cover the board in matching fabric, being careful to match patterns so the edges look seamless.

For a flat mount, add screw eyes along the narrow edge of the board, lining up with each cord/vertical ring column. Mount the cord lock on the right side of the board with the brass roller to the outside edge (you can install it the other way, but you’ll be confused each time you try to lock/unlock the shade…ask me how I know…).

roman shade cordlock

Be sure to have a screw eye for the cord closest to the cord lock. Do not just thread the cord into the cord lock. It will fray quickly with the friction caused by the weight of the shade (again, ask me how I know…).

roman shade screw eye cord lock

roman shade mounting board

Pre-Mount the Board

Hang the board with two long screws and drywall anchors. To accomplish this, drill the two screws into the board so they protrude 1/2″ or so out the back of the board. The screws were placed approximately 8″ from each end.

roman shade mounting screw

Mark the bottom line of the mounting board on the wall and use a level to line up the mounting board. Use the bottom of the mounting board because you likely won’t be able to see the stop of the board! Once the board is level and flush with the sides of the window trim, push the board into the wall a bit to mark where the drywall anchors should go.

roman shade level

Insert drywall anchors at the marked spots.

Attach Shade and Cords

Next staple the shade to the mounting board.

staple shade to board

Now thread the cording through the shade. I somehow missed pictures of this step, but hopefully you can figure it out! There should be one cord for each vertical column of rings. Tie the cord securely to the bottom ring and feed the rest of the cord up through the rest of the rings, over through the screw eyes and through the cord lock.

Hang the Shade

The last step is to screw the shade into the drywall anchors.

mounting roman shade

Admire Your Finished Flat Roman Shade

You did it! Step back and admire your handiwork!

flat roman shade

There are many steps to sewing a flat Roman shade, but none of them are terribly difficult. Take it one step at a time. You can do it!


DIY Flat Roman Shade Tutorial

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Bratwurst & Roasted Veggies | Paleo, One Pan Recipe

Even though I love to cook, I am following one of the strictest diets out there, and I need an easy dinner every now and then! This one pan dinner includes all the meat and veggies you’ll need for a meal. I serve it just like this or, if I have time, chop up some fresh fruit while the meal bakes. It’s super simple and tasty. Try this bratwurst and roasted veggies dinner today!

Meat is a staple in my diet, and I especially love sausages. However, the Autoimmune Protocol is very particular about which spices can be eaten. Some spices, like the nightshade family (i.e. paprika, chili powder, cayenne pepper), are inflammatory. The whole point of the Autoimmune Protocol is to reduce the inflammation in the body and allow it to heal. So these spices are not allowed.

When purchasing flavored meat at the store, it is hard to tell what spices are used because often the last ingredient on a sausage package is “spices.” Well that tells me a whole lot!

To keep my body as clean as possible, my husband and I have started grinding and making our own sausages so we have complete control over the spices in our meat. For this recipe, I used our own homemade bratwurst which is a traditional German spice blend. The bratwurst is not Autoimmune Protocol approved; it has mace and mustard seed in it. I have successfully reintroduced these seed and fruit based spices into my diet though. Woohoo!

If you are looking to make this meal Autoimmune Protocol approved, replace the bratwurst with kielbasa.

Now let’s look at how to make this meal!

Chop Vegetables and Toss with Oil and Spices

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into 1″ chunks. Rinse the Brussel sprouts, peel off any wilting/brown leaves, trim the stem, and slice in half. Chop an onion into large pieces. Place all vegetables in mixing bowl and stir in oil and spices until even coated.

Vegetables with Spice and Oil

Spread in Single Layer on Pan and Bake

Bake only the vegetables for 20 minutes or so to get the cooking process started. The bratwurst will cook faster than these hearty vegetables, so adding the bratwurst later will avoid overcooking and drying out the meat.

roasted vegetables

Add Bratwurst and Bake Until Fully Cooked

Lay the bratwurst in any open space in the pan. If your pan is very full, the brats can go right on top the vegetables, they won’t hurt anything! Return the pan to the oven for another 20-25 minutes.

bratwurst one pan dinner

Test Bratwurst for Doneness

After about 40 minutes of total baking, use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the bratwurst. They should be 165° before removing from the oven. Poke the sweet potatoes with a fork too. They should be soft when fully cooked.

one pan bratwurst veggie bake

Enjoy your Simple, healthy dinner!

brat veggie bakeOptions

If your brats are looking a little pale, put them under the broiler or sear on a pan on the stove to add color. Remember that temperature, not color, is an indicator of fully cooked meat. Trust your thermometer!

Use pre-cooked brats if pale meat bothers you! The color will be more brown as you’d expect, but be sure to adjust the cook time if you don’t use fresh bratwurst. Pre-cooked brats only need to be warmed in the oven. Bake the vegetables for 30-35 minutes then add the pre-cooked brats for the last 10-15 minutes.

Think outside the recipe for vegetables. Butternut squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus are all great alternatives!

For faster prep time, use pre-cut broccoli florets or even frozen cubed butternut squash. The texture might be a little off on the squash, but it will make getting the meal in the oven so much quicker!


Quick prep and minimal dishes make this meal a winner for me. Oh and it’s delicious; that’s a win too! What other one pan meals do you make for dinner?

Bratwurst with Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Brussel Sprouts

Paleo, one-pan dinner! This simple, healthy meal is a simple as chopping, tossing in oil and seasoning and baking! Perfect for a busy weeknight!

Course Dinner
Cuisine Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Paleo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 430 kcal
Author Emily Stauch

Ingredients

  • 4 large bratwurst links fresh
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, about 4 cups chopped peeled and large cubed
  • 1 lb. Brussel sprouts cleaned, trimmed, halved
  • 1 large onion large chop
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • fresh black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Peel the sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler. Chop into 1" cubes. Place in large mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. Rinse Brussel sprouts under cold water. Peel off any brown or wilted outer leaves. Trim the stem and cut sprout in half. Add to mixing bowl with sweet potatoes.

  4. Add olive oil, sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper to mixing bowl. Stir to evenly coat. Add more oil as necessary. The vegetables should look shiny but not so much oil that it pools at the bottom of the bowl.

  5. Spread vegetables in single layer on parchment lined pan. Bake for 20 minutes.

  6. Remove pan from oven and place bratwurst on pan. Return to oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are soft and bratwurst reaches an internal temperature of 165°.

  7. Serve warm and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • 27g carbohydrates per serving
  • If using pre-cooked bratwurst, roast vegetables until almost done, about 30-35 minutes then add bratwurst to the pan for 10-15 minutes to warm and finish the vegetables.

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Insulin-Free Type 1 Diabetes | 1 Year Review

I was diagnosed with adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetes in April 2017. Since that time, I have made radical changes to my diet and lifestyle. First I removed gluten from my diet, then added WAY more vegetables. When that diet needed some tweaking, I dabbled in my first elimination diet and eliminated dairy and all grains. Currently, I am following the Autoimmune Protocol for my diet and slowly reintroducing foods. I recently had my annual endocrinologist appointment, so let’s review how my labs look, my diet, what my doctor thinks of my management, and plans for the future!

insulin free diabetes 1 year review

Lab Results

My annual check-up involves some lab work. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and if you have one autoimmune disease, it is likely you’ll contract another. I believe this only occurs if you have not found the trigger of the autoimmune response. Once you find the trigger (gluten for me and likely for most others) and remove it from your body and environment, the autoimmune response stops. In the chart below, you’ll find the major areas I and my doctor team are tracking. Some are looking for other autoimmune conditions and others just overall health and monitoring the long term effect of diabetes on the body.

type 1 diabetes health markersThyroid

My thyroid levels have lowered and are now in the normal range. This is comforting to me because thyroid disorders are linked to some autoimmune diseases, which I am susceptible to since I have an autoimmune disease. Also, I have a family history of thyroid disorders.

Cholesterol

While my current cholesterol levels are perfect, I wish I had a comparison from my time of diagnosis. I suspect my cholesterol (HDL specifically) has improved because I have not rated in the past at the top tier for life insurance because my HDL was too low. I need to quote it again! I think I’d rate better now!

Vitamin D

My vitamin D is below normal range. I started taking a vitamin D supplement about two months ago (2000 IUs per day), but per my doctor’s recommendation, I will be doubling that for the next year (4000 IUs per day) to bring that level up into normal range.

GAD65

I requested my GAD65 levels (presence of elevated levels of this antibody diagnoses Type 1 diabetes) to be checked again merely out of curiosity. I believe I have stopped the autoimmune response in my body, and I wondered if that meant my antibody levels would decrease or if they are still there, just dormant. It looks like I still have a might force of GAD65 in my system! I will continue to request this test though as long as I am insulin-free simply because I’m curious. I’ve seen that the gut takes a long time to heal, so maybe antibody levels change slowly too. I don’t know. Time will tell!

A1c

Fantastic improvement in A1c (average blood sugar for the past 2-3 months)! This look is year over year, and you may remember I had significant improvement in A1c immediately with my diet changes (3 month, 6 month, 9 month).

Weight

Dramatic weight loss is one of the markers for diagnosing Type 1 Diabetes. Weight loss is common before diagnosis, or even after as carbs are limited, because the body is not using the nutrition it is being fed.

I lost a few pounds prior to diagnosis about 2-4. The dramatic weight loss came after diagnosis. Within 6 weeks, I had dropped 13 pounds. The rapid loss shocked me, and I wondered at first if my diet was sufficient or would I continue to loose weight. Two months after diagnosis, my weight stopped dropping and it has remained the same ±1lb for the rest of the year. That’s incredibly stable for me! I don’t know of a period in my life that I could eat, be full and literally not gain weight. Amazing what real food does for you!

Diet Review

I am following the Autoimmune Protocol for my daily diet. The strict elimination phase began in February 2018, and the reintroduction phase in April 2018. As you can see by my lab results, the diet is working wonderfully to manage my Type 1 diabetes without insulin.

Diet is a huge piece of my management plan, but healthy habits and lifestyle choices are a big factor too. These habits/choices are basic things we all know we should do: get enough sleep, move your body, and manage stress.

Doctor’s Recommendations

So what does my doctor think? They have no idea what to do with me. They are thrilled and yet skeptical. Overjoyed with my numbers and wishing they could have all their patients take control of their health the same way. I’ve had 6 office visits in the last year, and my doctor has had zero recommendations for me. They do their blood work, nerve tests, blood pressure, pulse, etc. and send me on my way. These visits are quick and easy.

Plan for the Future

In the following months/year, I plan to continue working through food reintroductions. One of my goals for this year was to figure out exactly what I can eat. I think it will take the remainder of the year or longer to figure this out. Food reintroductions are slow!

After working so hard this year to figure out my health, the wheels in my head are spinning to think of a way to help others take control of their health. Could I offer classes at my endocrinologist’s office? Online video or ebook courses here on the blog? One-on-one coaching? Become more of a “food blogger.” I don’t have any answers right now, just ideas floating around. Helping other improve their health sounds like a good goal for me down the road.

My insulin free diabetes 1 year review was a smashing success. The doctors and even myself to a certain extent are amazed at my blood sugar control and overall health. There were many points in the last year that I would doubt this insulin free road would continue for very long, but I have been proven wrong over and over again. Food is powerful medicine! Pair it with healthy habits and who knows what you could cure next??


If you are having health issues, where would you look for help? Would you trust a blogger? Would you only seek out medical advice? Do you have an idea for how I could help people??

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Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shades Before & After

Things have been a little chaotic at my house with the big computer crash. I am still scrambling to catch up, but in the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a sweet little before and after. The shades in my living room and dining room are completely finished! The whole family is really enjoying dinner time without the baking sun in our faces! Today I’d like to showcase my new flat Roman shades before & after!

roman shade before after

Living room and dining room windows before, all naked and bare…

Roman shades before

And after!

So much more polished, don’t you think? I just love the instant face-lift that window treatments give to a space. The room goes from “we-just-moved-in” to “finished and homey.” Don’t tell anyone that we’ve actually been in the house for five years! Shhhh!

Now that the project is finished, I’ve learned a couple bits of random wisdom I’d like to pass along.

Do not thread the cord directly into the cord lock

Without a screw eye to defray the weight and friction of raising and lowering the shade, the cord will fray quickly. As in, the first or second time raising the shade will fray the cord! Don’t be like me, use screw eyes for each cord on the mounting board.

If this makes no sense to you, a tutorial is coming…

 

Sewing takes time

I always over-estimate the amount of work I can do on projects around the house, but I have other priorities than just making my house look pretty. Take the time to give each step the attention it needs. The finished product will be worth it!

Drawing a straight line on fabric is tough!

Going right along with sewing takes time…take the time to get the lines straight before cutting! The end result will be so much better if the edges are straight! The best way I found is to use a long level, 4′, and use the salvage as the guide. I’m working on a tutorial for flat Roman shades, and I’ll share my tips for drawing straight lines in that post.


Another project complete! Window treatments make our first floor look more finished and homey, not to mention the perk of their function: blocking the blazing sun! Have you noticed the instant bump that dressing the windows can do for a room? What is the latest thing you’ve added to your home?