Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Friday!

I listen to a lot of music! In the car, at work, working out, cooking dinner. And my choice stations are about 99.9% country. It's not surprising when it's what you grew up on.

I enjoy listening to the older country I grew up on but occasionally a song or two comes out in new country that I find myself loving. 

So here are my two favorite songs below that I can't stop listening to right now! They make me happy!

Speaking of country I'm heading home to Athens after work today to spend tonight with the mom and then set out early in the morning to head to the farm to see my Daddy. I honestly feel giddy with excitement to get out of this town and see the ones I love. Daniel has to stay in Dallas to study for a test. I'd say I wouldn't rub it in that I get to enjoy a little farm & family time but that's just silly. ;)
 Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

One Month Clean.

Today I have gone one month (sort of) without refined sugar. I say sort of because I'm always going to  have my Saturday cheat day where I want a big glass of sweet tea (or 2) and a bowl of ice cream or a cupcake. 

I know this seems like something small. Giving up sugar. I mean people have real problems that don't involve over indulging in something that is meant to be a treat. But I am proud to say that it is no longer my problem. 

I think my favorite find throughout my no sugar journey has been the LARABAR when I really feel like I want something sweet. They are so delicious and sweetened with dates instead of sugar. Not to mention, they have only a few ingredients in them. I can also pronounce and know all the ingredients that they contain. My next mission is to find a good recipe for them.

All in all, I rarely crave sugar anymore. Except on Saturdays, but I'm sure that's just because I know it's ok to have it then. 

So one month down.. a lifetime to go. ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Home Search

Please excuse how all over the place I'm sure this post will be. I've had a lot to think about and I'm pretty sure it won't make it out looking all pretty. ;)

As our lease comes to an end here in Dallas in June, we've had lots to discuss in the O'Neal house.

We are not 'city' people. We weren't raised 'city' and we have come to be completely ok with that. We'd like to have it noted that we did give it a go though.

We love spending our extra time outside. The type of outside where you don't have to see tall buildings and traffic.  Where you can build things, help with gardens, let your dog run wild and have 'neighbors' that you can't even see. Maybe that's why we feel more at home when we are in Athens visiting Daniel's family and my mom or in Newton visiting my Dad. It just feels right. There's no house in Dallas that could make us feel 'at home'.

When we visit our families we always feel much more appreciative of the people and things around us. We enjoy life a little slower and we like it that way. 

I think the idea of a city seems great. Having everything at your fingertips. And I understand that for a lot of people it does feel like home to them. And I think that's great too! But it's just not us.

When we moved to Dallas we thought it would be awesome to be so close to everything. You could easily go out for nice dinners at great restaurants each week. We have gone to some great places but the truth is we enjoy cooking at home on a Friday night much more. Going out to a nice restaurant should be a treat not something you do all the time and we would gladly move further away and have it be just that.

I thought about all the great shopping in Dallas. There is every store you could ever imagine. I remember when I was in junior high and high school my mom and I would drive to Dallas early on a Saturday morning once every month or two and spend the whole day shopping at fun places we didn't have back home. I've decided I liked it much better like that. It was seen as something special and those trips will always be great memories of my mom and I getting to spend the day doing nothing but having mother-daughter time. Since I'm someone who feels like spending lots of money on clothes is kind of silly unless its a staple piece, Dallas shopping doesn't do much for me. Honestly, my favorite place to shop in Dallas are the fun thrift stores, especially  Genesis Benefit Thrift Store. I love knowing that the money I spend is going to help others who need it. That's something I hope never changes. I hope I always see that while style might be important, price is not.

People. We have met some great people here and are very thankful for that. But all in all we aren't too happy with how Dallas seems to be a town of how big your house is, what kind of car you drive or what you are wearing. Please let me say that this is in EVERY town in America! It just seems like it's multiplied by a million in this town. All of these things are so extremely unimportant in my eyes. For the obvious reason, these are just things. Living in a city where people seem to work all the time just to keep up seems like more trouble than it's worth. I don't want to ever forget how those are wants and not needs. I may want a lot of things, but I don't need them. I hope I always find myself needing more time with the ones I love and never needing more money for things I want.

With the above said, I want to make it known that we don't think everyone in Dallas is like this and that we've had the opportunity of getting to know really great people. :)

Traffic. How could traffic not make the list of our reasons to move. I'm blessed enough to not have to deal with traffic throughout the week since my husband made the unselfish decision to put us close to my job and not to his. I have to say though, I don't like him driving in it either. Who does? I know that you do what you have to for your family and that is why most people travel more than a few miles to their job. We both just see it as our time together that's being taken away to sit in a car. Honestly, I'd give up a substantial amount of money for us to know we'd be home by 5 everyday. Since Daniel is in traffic everyday during the week, it leaves him not wanting to get out much on the weekend because there's always traffic on the weekends too. I can't blame him, who wants to be in traffic on their days off?

Unfortunately, for job and school reasons we need to stay in the area we are in for a few more years. Even though we feel like we might go crazy staying here for that long. To make it a little better we've been searching for places north of Dallas where there are still school options and good jobs but you can drive a few miles and feel like you're in the country. Also, places where we don't feel so crowded where there is a little more open space. Our search has been narrowed down quite a bit in the past week or so and I think we feel like we're getting closer to making a decision. Please say a little prayer for us that we find a place that feels like a home and not just a place to stay.

As I was typing this for some reason I kept singing this Alabama song in my head. I loved listening to it as a kid and love it even more today when I think of how it makes me think about the simplicity of where we came from. ;)

Well, that's all I've got for today... updates to come.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sugarless Cookies

Photo & Recipe from LuxHippie

So I'm almost a month into my sugarless lifestyle change and for the most part I have been able to control my cravings and they've happened less and less as the month has gone by. (I do still have one cheat day a week though, I'm positive I will never give this up.)

Anyway, last night Daniel and I were sitting on the couch and I though I might go crazy if I didn't get sugar in my body ASAP! So I began to think of ways to 'sneak' it in. Daniel finally remembered me raving about finding a recipe on Pinterest last week that didn't us any sugar in the cookie recipe.

I jumped on the computer and as fast as I could (during The Biggest Loser commercials) I found the recipe and made them. They literally took one commercial break to make. These cookies are just that easy.

Now I do have to say that if you are wanting a sticky sweet cookie, these aren't for you. But if you need just a little sweet to get your through and you don't want to feel bad for eating say, 5 of them in a row, then give this recipe a try.
Of course I changed a few things since I hate leaving recipes alone.
1. I added two teaspoons of vanilla instead of one.
2. I made sure to use all natural peanut butter without any added sugar.
3. I used honey instead of syrup
4. I used all purpose flour. I already gave up sugar. I'm not giving up tasty carbs.
5. NO CHOCOLATE CHIPS! Not because I didn't want them but, they'd undo the sugarless thing. 
6. I added pecans (about 1/2 cup) next time I think I will add some unsweetened coconut too! 
7. Super important!!! Only cook them for 10 to 12 minutes. :)
Original recipe below....

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2-1 cup natural chunky peanut butter (depending on how much peanut buttery goodness you want)
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
In a large bowl, mix bananas, vanilla, peanut butter and maple syrup into a creamy consistency (best to do with a hand mixer).
In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder and salt
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until they are well combined, the batter should be slightly sticky. Fold in the chocolate chips. The batter will be somewhat runny, this is ok.
Place heaping tablespoon-sized balls of the batter onto a ‘greased’ baking sheet (can also place on wax paper) and cook for 15 minutes.
Makes around 2 dozen cookies

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Crafts? Yeh, I still do those from time to time ;)

Crafts have been put on the back burner lately and I'm not liking it at all. Since Daniel and I moved to Dallas I haven't had as much free time and have just been letting projects pile up.

Well there are still many that are on my to-do list but recently two of them got to be crossed off.

Over a month ago Daniel and I were visiting our families in Athens when my mother in law asked me if I'd take a few extra lamps off her hands. She'd been to some garage sales and found many of them for a dollar. Yep just one buck.

I don't have any before pictures of my actual lamp. Let's just say it looked something like this...
Not so hot. But my mother in law is a crafting genius and said that brass can easily be painted.

With that in mind, I new what I wanted the lamp to look like. I'd been looking at one in Ballard Designs but at $179 I think I'd have to be crazy to buy it. I refuse to spend a considerable amount of money on something that can be made. So below is the lamp I was wanting except I was wanting it in their rubbed black color but still with the sea grass shade.

Below is the shade I had to work with

Lucky for me, Daniel had just been complaining about our place mats that looked like sea grass so I had bought some new ones. They looked like this. I had got them at a Goodwill in Denton a year or two ago (4 for $1).

I took the fabric off of the lamp shade and even though some of the plastic bad ripped off with it, it seemed usable. 

Then I just got to unrolling the place mats and gluing them to the shade. It took a little while but I think my $5 lamp (including spray paint) will do since I saved about $174. ;)

The next project I conquered was our need for two more dining room chairs. Daniel and I have lived here about 9 months with only two chairs at the dinner table. Not that it really matters, no one eats dinner here but us. But we were on the lookout if we found a good deal. We met some of my family in Canton for First Monday in February and couldn't turn down these $5 chairs. They were hideous (you should have seen the original cushions on them, total '80's) but they had a nice shape and were sturdy so we bought them.

After a few coats of paint, a trip to Hobby Lobby for some fabric for the cushions, and lots of cushion/foam donated by my mother in law I busted out the staple gun and went to work. The end result... we can now seat a table of four. 

We bought the chairs 2 for $10, I spent about $5 on the fabric. I had everything else already or it was given to me. Two chairs, $15? Sounds good to me!

Here's to getting more projects out of the way!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Yep. Those are big cups of SUGAR! And after lots of comments about my sugar intake from my husband and much denial on my part I've finally come to the realization that I have a very unhealthy relationship with the sweet white stuff above.

What a bummer. I liked denial much better.

How did I know I was addicted to sugar? Well, just take a look at my excuses for finding a way to make sure I have it..

- Making sure there is always some kind of candy in my bag at all times.
- Eating all my veggies so I can have a sweet treat after pretty much every meal. (Yep, I know how childish that sounds.)
- Saying that sugar in coffee doesn't count.
- Picking restaurants that are known for good desserts or ones that are close to an ice cream place so I can go after.
- Pouting about not getting something sweet after dinner. (Yep. I'm five.)
- Putting sugar packets in my purse just in case we go somewhere and I need them. (What the what?! How can that ever be ok?)

The light bulb moment...

I've been running/working out now for a while and I've seen small results but nothing major and although I'm not trying to lose any weight, I am trying to tone what I've got. And that just wasn't happening as quick as I wanted.  Even when I put on a little weight, I've always been able to drop it really fast. Although the fact that I'm heading toward the late twenties may have something to do with it. Anyway, I decided to find a good food journal to see what I was doing wrong. In the back of my mind I knew it was my sugar intake but I would never admit to it. I'd rather cut out veggies and fruits than my sugar. I was convinced there had to be another way. ADDICT.

But as I typed in all my food and workout information so it could tell me how many calories I needed to eat a day to lose a small amount of weight and tone and the results were depressing. They weren't depressing because they said I needed to eat like 1000 calories a day or work out excessively. They were depressing because they pretty much said the amount of calories I needed to give up was almost exactly my daily intake of sugar. I just thought, that's impossible.. I can't! I need it!. ADDICT.

The break up...

Yesterday I woke up and decided to come clean and quit making excuses and for the first time in many many days, months, years I did not have any sugar! A lot of my break up had to do with these articles... here and here. Yeah, these sites are total bummers but the truth stinks.

So I made it through yesterday feeling just fine and even some of this morning I felt fine. It's safe to say that my back-up or overload of sugar is now gone though since I've had a massive headache and been extremely tired since about 10 a.m.

I am allowing Saturday sweets because I think it's just silly to never eat cupcakes, chocolate and ice cream. So I guess I'm not giving them up entirely but I am anxious to see how much better I feel after a week or so.

Wish me luck! It's not easy being healthy. ;)