At Last, I Shall Say Fair Well

Its no secret that my posts have become null and void in the last year or more. I’ve thought often of writing, but have realized in recent months that the life of this blog has well served its purpose and therefore reached its max potential right now.

I do love to post the fun stuff going on in our crazy country life, but like to keep it short and sweet. Instagram has become my favorite way to share. If you’d still like to see what we’re up to come join me on Instagram @alishagibb. I’ve decided to leave the site active since I’ve shared so many recipes over the years and would hate to take those down. …and who knows, maybe someday down the road, I’ll decide to write again.

Until then… Thank you for being such wonderful readers. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you and hope to continue in a condensed version.

Peace, love and sweet good-byes!!

Just The Beginning

Thanksgiving 2015 was a “messy” one for much of the state of Kansas.  Rain, turned sleet, turned ice.

Ice EditedWe were fortunate to be able to travel for one of our Thanksgiving feasts before the weather turned bad.  But, by Friday morning… It. Was. Nasty!!!!

Freezing rain, icy roads and cold animals that needed fed.  Ranchers and farmers don’t get bad weather days.  That’s when they’re needed the most.  The animals rely on us to take care of them when Mother Nature gets ugly.

The weather kept unloading through the weekend.  By Saturday, cabin fever had set in our house. I was going to lose my mind if the kids and I didn’t bust out.

We all bundled up and climbed in the feed truck to help Daddy feed the cows.

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Some of us were still a little sour because it was too slick to be able to get out of the truck.

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While we’re not normally feeding hay this early in the winter months, when the ice sets on like this the cows need the hay since they can’t feed on the ice covered grass.  These girls eat a LOT of hay.  This bale would be gone by morning.

Ice 1  They were so happy to see us.

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Ice Cow

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Happy, happy girls.

Hopefully, storms like this are seldom this winter.  But…. on the chance that we ARE blasted again, our girls will be well taken care of!!!

 

 

Peace, love and ICE cream!!!!

Critters…

I’m no stranger to country critters.  Raccoons.  Possums.  Coyotes.  Hoot Owls.  Buzzards.  Snakes.  Spiders.  Mice.  You name it, I’ve encountered it.  (…probably.)  Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve necessarily ENJOYED my encounters.

If you know me well at all you know that among all of the above listed creatures, mice rank at the top of my list for giving me the heebie-jeebies.  That’s a very technical term… heebie-jeebies, you know.  It’s that feeling you get when something creeps you out to the Nth degree. It’s become a comical thing in our household… me and my heebie-jeebies.  There’s even a dance that goes along with a heebie-jeebie attack.  It’s quite comical, as well.

After moving further south I have a NEW “top of the list”.

Friends, meet the Kansas rattlesnake.

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Insert screams, shudders, tingling sensations in the spine, any sort of heebie-jeebie type dance movement that your body may involuntarily convulse in.  These dudes are BAD to the bone.  …and they like to lurk in all the wrong places.

This guy was happily minding his own business in the tall grass next to the hay barn at our house.  Grady happened to be weed eating on this particular day and “got him”.  This is just a little too close for comfort.

As I said before, I’m no stranger to rattlesnakes.  They frequented the yard I grew up in as a child on our family ranch not far from where we are now.  But… that was a REALLY long time ago, back when dirt was being invented, as my kids like to say.  So, it had, OBVIOUSLY, been “a while” since I ran into one.

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This was the very first one we came across since the move.

**Sorry for the gore, but I don’t like to take pictures until they’re good and DEAD.  …and “chopping” them is the only effective form of extermination.**

This guy was under that big rock in a pasture where we have a set of pens for shipping out cattle.  Tucker actually found him, which frightens the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks out of us.  He had been playing out there while he wasn’t needed.  After we were done loading cattle and sent the cattle pots (rancher’s term for a semi hauling cattle) on their way he told Grady that he “thought” there was a rattlesnake under a rock, but wasn’t sure.  Lo and behold he was right!  Mr. Rattles was just chillin’ out under that rock.  We made sure to educate Tucker on what they look like and sound like.

Throughout the summer Grady has come across many more.  It’s routine for him to carry his pistol in the truck for easier extermination.  He tries to bring home the rattles for Tucker, who is fascinated with them.

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I’m really hoping that this collection stays small!!!!

 

Peace, love and NASTY rattles.

Not Sure I’m Cut Out For This

When Grady and I decided that we would go great guns and accept this job opportunity  I knew there would be BIG changes in store for me.  We knew we were moving to a REALLY rural and REALLY small community, even more so than the already small hometown we were leaving.

When crunching numbers, in the beginning, we were trying to decide if a job outside of the home would be feasible for me or not.  We were faced with a greater commute and finding daycare for Ella.  After more talks with the ranch management, I was given the option to work on the ranch, as well.  This was PERFECT!  We wouldn’t need to find daycare for Monkey.  She could go with us!  I wouldn’t have to commute!  I could work part-time as needed and still take care of things at home.

So, how does someone who has ALWAYS held a full-time job and a busy schedule transition to being a stay at home mom/ranch hand?  I could lie to you and tell you that it was easy and wonderful, but that just isn’t the case.  I was so accustomed to a set schedule, and a really FULL one, at that.  Get up, get kids ready and delivered to their destinations (school or daycare), go to work 8 to 5, come home, fix dinner and take care of the usual home stuff, cleaning, laundry, homework, bathes and on and on and on.

When we moved I wasn’t really sure what my daily schedule would look like.  I was now in charge of all the mowing/weed eating upkeep on the ranch along with other maintenance type jobs, i.e. fence painting.  …and there’s a TON of both!!!!  I would also be needed for any gathering/working of cattle.  I was SO excited for this!  I love outdoor work.

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I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ranch work.  So, what was I going to do with the rest of my time?

Tucker goes to school Monday through Thursday and Ella doesn’t have the preschool opportunity right now.  I love my children beyond any amount of measure imaginable.  My family is my EVERYTHING, but I have always known felt that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) was not something I was cut out to do.  I’ve always enjoyed working outside of the home.  It’s the only thing I’ve ever really known.  So, how was I going to successfully transition to this new role?  How were we (Monkey and I) going to fill our time together without boredom, frustration and disaster?  I was, honestly, worried.

The truth is that the first month and a half weren’t easy.  Monkey DID get bored.  She was SO used to playing with her friends at daycare.  Now it was just us and this wide open space.  I felt frustrated with what I thought was all this “extra” time on my hands.  I felt guilty.  Guilty that she didn’t have friends close to play with.  She would ask daily when we were going back to our old house.  I felt guilty for not having something to fill 100% of my time while my husband was working all day, every day.

As the days, weeks and eventually, months passed I realized that the house and Monkey were my new job.  I was able to figure out that keeping my house in order, maintaining the kids on a regular schedule, helping Grady with new ranch record keeping, staying up on our own personal books and maintaining my responsibilities at the ranch were enough to fill my days.

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Some days certainly wear her out!!!

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So, what made me realize these things?  I finally figured out that I didn’t need to have that constant chaotic stressed out feeling to know that my day had been productive or full.  I CAN feel relaxed, calm and at ease AND be highly productive.  Actually…. I’m MORE productive in this new environment.  My home is the way I like it.  I’m able to stay on top of things that I was struggling with before.  I look forward to my time working each day.  Monkey is content and HAPPY with her new lifestyle.  Tucker is excelling at school.  …and my marriage has benefited greatly!!!  All because I’ve figured out balance.

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We definitely have tough days.  There are certainly days that I just want to throw in the towel.  But on average, MOST days are full of laughter, adventure and goodness.

Life is good.

And I’ve realized that I AM cut out for this stay at home mom thing.  It’s a pretty alright job.

Peace, love and HAPPINESS!!!!!

I Don’t Even Know What to Say

Truthfully….  this is exactly how I feel.  I. Don’t. Know. What. To. Say.

A part of me feels as though I need to explain away the past 10 months and why I’ve been absent.  Another part of me feels that its not important.  Life happened, is happening and that’s the long and short of it.

A part of me has greatly enjoyed this long break from my daily sharing and yet, another part has greatly missed it.

Regardless of how I’ve felt, the truth boils down to time.  I haven’t had it, not have I felt that I could squeeze it in.  I don’t want to apologize for my absence because that would be false.  I’m sure all of you can relate to the need for a change.

Change…. THAT is the reason that I’m able to come back to you at this point in time.  My, how things have changed.

Three and a half months ago we made a HUGE life decision.  We took on a new adventure that would change our lives.  We were scared.  We were nervous.  Most of all, we were EXCITED.  We uprooted out kids, left my husband’s hometown of 38 years and moved an hour away for an incredible ranch job in the heart of Kansas.  Due to the nature of the calling we felt very strongly that this was a blessing from God.  It has always been our dream to manage a ranch and raise our children the way we were raised.  After years of prayers, trials and tribulations we were given this amazing opportunity.

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Now, I’m a stay at home mom/ranch hand.

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Grady is learning the ropes under the current ranch manager with the title being passed on to him within a year.

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Tucker is in an amazing school district full of country kids just like him.  He goes to school four days a week, which means he gets to work alongside his parents every Friday.

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We have been blessed with AMAZING friends in such a short period of time.  Arms have been open, welcoming us to this community.

Don’t get me wrong.  There have been adjustments.  Being a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) was never something I desired.  I love working.  Being at home with Monkey has proven to be a challenge for both of us at times.  I think we’ve finally fallen into a good routine.  Mornings are spent at home and afternoons are spent on the ranch working, unless, of course, we’re needed for the whole day.

The best part…. my EXTREMELY happy cowboy!  He is on cloud nine.  This has been his calling.  He was born to do this.  Seeing him (US) get to do exactly what he (WE) loves/(LOVE), day in and day out, brings great joy to me.  …and we get to work as a team.  I know… this isn’t every couple’s desire, but we do a pretty great job.

So, there you have it.  Our current life in a nutshell.  I hope to be able to keep you updated with fun stories of life on the ranch.

Peace, love and country living.

#HealthyNewYear

Happy New Year!!!

Did you survive the holiday frenzy?  I will admit that for the first time in a number of years we had a very calm and relaxed holiday season.  Celebrations were spread out enough to not cause a raucous.  The new year was rung in quietly with friends, kiddos and an entertaining evening of cards.

…and the best news…  my pants still fit!!!!!!!

I did it.  I managed to get through the months of November and December, into January WITHOUT gaining any unnecessary weight.  I will admit there were a few pound of water weight gained, but it was somewhat unavoidable with some of the dinners attended.  The water weight is much easier to get back in control of than actual FAT weight gain.

How did you do with #55milesinDecember?  Did you hit the goal?  Were you able to get outside and move that body?  I came close to thinking I wasn’t going to make the mark.  A few unavoidable obstacles, engagements and errands kept me from my treks, but I slid in with just over 60 miles for the month.  PHEW!!!  I’d love to hear how you did.

Remember when I told you about one of my new adventures with the Kansas Health Foundation as a #SpokesMom?  I’m still at it and really enjoy sharing my personal health journey, tips and recipes with other Kansas parents.

Our assignment for the month of January is to share how we’ll be making 2015 a #HealthyNewYear.  What will we do to change or implement new healthy habits into our lifestyles?  What can we recommend to other parents?

Well, I just happen to be long winded enough that our Kansas Health Foundation liaison asked if I would write a blog post about my recommendations and ideas.  LOL!  I was happy to oblige.  So, for those of you who may be new to my page…  WELCOME!!!

Soooo…. What am I going to do to make 2015 healthier for my family….????

Honestly, I’m going to keep doing more of the same things I’ve already been doing, but MORE.

Last month I told you about Barilla’s Veggie pastas.

veggie pastaI’ve been buying these and using them in my own dishes and in just a few family dishes.  A friend just found the spaghetti at one of our local stores and picked up a box for me.  My goal is to completely replace standard pasta with these.  My kids don’t have to know that they’re full of veggies.  All they’ll know is that they’re fun colors.  I LOVE a good fake-out!!!

Speaking of fake-outs… My other tidbit of advice for incorporating more veggies into our diet is by “sneaking” them into meals where they’ll never be detected.  Whenever I make my homemade pasta sauce I always grate a carrot or two and at least a half of a zucchini.  I saute them while I brown my hamburger.  They cook down just enough and blend in well enough to almost be hidden by the red tomato sauce.  My kids never know the difference.  Another great place to add these shredded wonders in in meatloaf, meatballs and any handful of casseroles or soups.  Chopped mushrooms can be disguised in any number of creamy sauces/casseroles.

Salt intake is a constant battle for me personally.  My body can’t process it and in turn holds onto any and all water if I consume too much of it.  I take medication to help control it, but that’s not enough.  I have to be vigilant in monitoring my intake.  In learning about my own challenge with the salty wonder I’ve come to the realization that salt is in EVERYTHING and the amount we consume on a daily basis is ABSURD.  I’m working on converting my family to a lower sodium diet.  This hasn’t been the easiest of tasks because, let’s face it, salt tastes GOOD!

Here are a few places that I’ve started.

salt freeI’ve been using Lite Salt for years.  We’re so used to it that using regular salt is overwhelming.  After doing a little label reading I found that the FIRST ingredient in most seasoning blends is salt.  Not good.  I recently discovered McCormick’s Pinch Perfect Salt Free seasoning blends.  I REALLY like these.  The Garlic & Herb is pretty stellar.  Another place that’s EASY to cut back on salt is with canned goods.  Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand has started making salt free versions of most of the their canned beans, veggies and tomatoes.  “But they don’t TASTE as good…”, you say.  Okay…when was the last time you cracked open a can of beans and just started eating straight out of the can????  I didn’t think you could recall it.  If you’re adding these things to recipes you’ll NEVER miss the salt that they don’t have.  You can more reasonable salt your dishes this way.  By using these instead, I can control the amount of salt myself, in turn, not overdoing it.

Okay, I have the diet part down, so what about fitness???

If you’re new to my blog I’ll tell you about my movement challenges.  Back in September I decided to exercise more regularly.  I needed to bee more accountable for what I was trying to teach others.  I started going on daily walks.  I discovered a monthly mile challenge through an Instagram feed I follow.  I walked over 40 miles in October starting late in the month and completed November with 64.59 miles!!!  I wanted to do a challenge in December, but got impatient waiting for my IG friend to post one so I made up my own and spread the word to my own followers asking and encouraging anyone and everyone to join me.  I challenged myself and everyone else who wanted to join to #55milesinDecember.  December was a tough month.  Lots of hustle and bustle, engagements, parties, errands and a few days of bad weather kept me from my daily treks.

I want to tell you that when I started these challenges I was simply a walker.  I would walk 2.8 miles on my home route.  When I couldn’t fit a walk in at home I would walk on my lunch hour through the neighborhood my office sits in.  I made it a habit of walking AT LEAST 6 days a week, trying for all 7.

I have ALWAYS dreamed of being a runner, but I never felt that it was something my body could do.  I live in the country which means gravel roads for my walks.  I’ve always been preached to that running on gravel is a huge no-no.  …and I never felt like I could get the breathing right.  My lungs always felt on fire and that horrible “irony” taste was always in my mouth.  BLECK!!!  By November I wasn’t just walking, I was POWERWALKING.  I could walk my 2.8 miles in an average of 33 minutes.  That’s right at 5mph!!!  I was doing well.  Randomly, I’d run a small portion of my route, no more than a half mile at a time and certainly not every day.

Then, about two weeks ago I decided to change my route.  It’s a smoother road and more level, no hills.  One evening I just started running.  It felt amazing!!!  I wasn’t stumbling over the gravel.  I wasn’t twisting my ankles on loose rock.  I was OWNING the road.  I broke up the running throughout the trek and when I added it all up I had gone just over a MILE!  A few nights of that and I pushed myself further and ran a SOLID mile, uninterrupted!!!  I couldn’t believe it.  I’m now up to a mile and a half of my 2.8!!!!

I. AM. A. RUNNER!!!!!!

30milesinjanuaryI NEVER thought I’d say that.  If you would have told me in September that I’d run a mile and a half non-stop WITHOUT the awful burning lungs and iron mouth I’d have laughed hysterically!!  I can say without the shadow of a doubt that I have NEVER felt this good!!!  I can’t believe how much these challenges have changed my life.  Setting small monthly goals like these makes getting to your ULTIMATE goal seem more attainable.

MY goal for 2015 is to RUN an entire 5K!!!!  I’m halfway there.  I have a race I’m working toward in May.  It’s MINE!

BECAUSE of how awesome I have felt by doing these, I’m starting my own challenges on my Instagram feed.  ANYONE is welcome to follow me @alishagibb and share in their own journey.  This month I decided to keep it simple for anyone who might be getting started on their own health journey.  You don’t have to run.  You can walk, bike, hop on the treadmill, ellypitcal or any other machine you’d like.  Just MOVE that body. I encourage anyone that wants to join to post their progress using #30milesinJanuary on Instagram or Facebook.  I LOVE to cheer everyone on and encourage changing lives for the better!!!

So there’s my #HealthyNewYear advice for 2015.  Try sneaking those veggies in and I challenge you to cut back on your salt, as well.  I REALLY hope you join me for my movement challenges.

May your new year be blessed with good health and fitness!!!!

 

Peace, love and NEW journeys!!!!

 

***Disclaimer: Barilla, McCormick, Morton and Wal-Mart have NO clue who I am.  I am not paid to endorse their products.  …I just really like them.  I’m sure there are many other brands/options out there offering the same healthy benefits.

Too Good, But Its TRUE, Spinach Artichoke Dip

How are you guys doing with your #55milesindecember?  Have you gotten outside and enjoyed some fresh, crisp air and exercise?

I had to take yesterday off.

Boo-hoo!

A.) It was raining most of the day, which meant a noon hour trek was out of the question.  Coming back to the office looking like a frizzy, soggy rat just wasn’t in the cards.

B.) I bruised/”injured” my Achilles tendon a few months ago and, while it randomly bothers me and I usually just power through it, this week I noticed that it’s rather swollen.  So, with the impending weather yesterday, I thought it’d be a good idea to give the tendon a little rest.

No, worries, I’ll back out this afternoon.

Don’t forget to follow me on instragram @alishagibb to see how I’m doing.  Tag me in your IG posts so I can see how you’re doing, too and and use the #55milesindecember to share with everyone else.  Everything is better together with a great support system!!!

In my time away from you I discovered a few recipes that are not only GOOD for you, but absolutely DELICIOUS!!!!

I don’t know about you, but all the holiday gatherings can be extremely overwhelming when it comes to trying to make the right choices on what we should and shouldn’t put in our mouths.  For those of us trying to be extremely vigilant with our calorie intake and/or salt intake this season is a real pain in the TUSH!  Last year I GAINED over 8 pounds just in the holiday season because I wasn’t paying enough attention to how much and EXACTLY what I was eating.  Too many calories and WAY too much salt and ZERO exercise.  By the time Christmas rolled around and I had indulged in MULTIPLE party foods I (HONESTLY) couldn’t fit into my jeans.  I was ANGRY with myself for letting this happen.  I had completely blown the good things I had done for my body and had to undo the damage.

This year I have vowed that I am NOT going to let that happen.  I WILL continue to COMFORTABLY fit into my clothes AND learn now to enjoy the parties/gatherings eating in moderation and bringing HEALTHY foods/snacks for everyone to enjoy, all the while FOOLING the party-goers into thinking my good-for-you contributions are really NAUGHTY indulgences.  (Envision me throwing my head back and cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West. “AH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!”)

Today I’m going to share with you my first (and so far, FAVORITE) not-so-naughty treat.  One of my co-workers makes a RIDICULOUS crock pot Artichoke Spinach Dip that she just throws together with some store bought Alfredo sauce, cheese, artichokes and frozen spinach.  It’s ALWAYS one of the first things to disappear on our foods days.  As much as I LOVE it I know that I can only have one or two chips worth because of the salt levels in the jarred sauce and the fat content.  I mean…it’s Alfredo sauce…rich, creamy, decadent NAUGHTINESS!!!

Remember the skinny alfredo recipe that I shared with you?  We’re going to kick it up a notch and make a SKINNY, HEALTHY and DELICIOUS version of my girlfriend’s dip.  Trust me, this has been rough and tumble, burly cowboy APPROVED.  I served it at a card party a few weeks ago and one of the pickiest dudes at the gathering bellied up to the crock pot.  SCORE!!!!

I apologize for the crappy picture, but in my haste of getting this made for the party I ran out of time (and good light) to take a pretty picture of it.  But this what it looks like.

Artichoke Spinach DipReady?

Too Good But It’s TRUE, Skinny Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 tbsp olive oil
4 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 bag baby spinach chopped
1 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1 jar artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In a small mixing bowl combine cornstarch and chicken broth, whisking until any lumps are gone. Set aside.

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken broth and cornstarch mixture. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking every few minutes. Allow to thicken slightly. Reduce heat slightly and add in Parmesan cheese and continue whisking until the cheese is completely melted. After the cheese has melted add the chopped spinach and artichoke hearts and stir until the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the Greek yogurt. Mix until well blended and smooth. Add the mozzarella cheese and stir until melted. Salt and pepper to taste.

This can be transferred to a small crock pot to keep warm for serving. Serve with tortilla chips or pita chips. Reheats VERY well!!

The skinny: 1/15th of recipe = 1 serving
113 calories, 4g carbs, 6g fat, 10g protein, 413mg sodium and 1g sugar.

Of course you can substitute the fresh spinach with frozen if you have to, but I really prefer to use fresh everything when I can.  Look at all the protein in that one serving!!!

The leftovers are EXTREMELY versatile!  I doubled the batch when I made it not really knowing how much it would yield or how much would get eaten.  I certainly couldn’t let it go to waste.  I put two servings worth on top of a plain baked potato and added a 1/2 cup of fresh steamed broccoli and a few bacon bits.

Let’s just say the heavens opened up and the angels started singing.  I was rendered speechless while I ate.

Don’t want to eat a potato?  Barilla Pastas come in VEGGIE pastas now!!! APPLAUSE!!!

Barilla pasta(Again angels singing!!!)  As I like to say…. This pasta is just STUPID good!!!  Grady tried it just plain (not knowing what it was) and thought it was ALREADY “dressed” with something.  He loved it.  It’s VERY flavorful and packs the same health punch as it’s whole wheat cousin WITH the added bonus of giving you a full serving of veggies!!!  (Yes, I’ve already faked my kids out with it and they didn’t know a thing.)  I topped some of this goodness with the leftover dip, added a few ounces of chicken breast and had an extremely filling meal.

So, there you go, a great dish you can take to any one of your holiday parties that you can feel GOOD about sharing and eating.  I PROMISE you won’t be sorry.

 

Peace, love and dip de-LIGHT!!!!