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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Mother to six Little Women and Two Little Men. Married to a Happy Mortician. Caretaker to goats, chickens and many, MANY bunnies. Photographer. Homeschooler. Lover of Jesus, coffee & tea and all things pink & vintage.

A Home of the Angels

“Ask the little child what is home?
You will find that to him it is the world — he knows no other.
The father’s love, the mother’s smile, the sister’s embrace, the brother’s welcome,
throw about his home a heavenly halo, and make it as attractive to him as the home of the angels.

Home is the spot where the child pours out all its complaints, and it is the grave of all its sorrows.
Childhood has its sorrows and grievances,
but home is the place where these are soothed and banished by the sweet lullaby of a fond mother’s voice.

‘A home, that paradise below
Of sunshine, and of flowers,
Where hallowed joys perennial flow
By calm sequester’d bowers.’

 

 

Life is good here in our little home. Summer is in full swing, the gardens are bursting and growing and so beautiful. We have had a true Ontario heat wave, with a slight break in temperatures as the warm air will once again heat up by the end of the week. This means a lot of side porch bathing, playing in the water and attempting to stay in the shade. We have had a few children and one adult fall ill to heat stroke – so with this additional heat wave threatning to end off the week, we are promising to take it a bit easier.

 

Happy, but hot, little ones just need a nice washbucket to play in and all will be right with their world.

 

Give them a few kitchen utensils that can hold water and they are over the moon delighted.

“Mommy, I’m making jam,” the little sun-tanned boy said, while pouring water through the funnel.

Summer, for us, is a time of sweat, hard work, happy afternoons and ready-for-bed evenings. We enjoy our home and our garden, our moments outdoors and the freedom from the regular schedule of school. Chores still abound and work still calls our name, but it is a lovely season indeed. I hope my children look back with fond memories of their humble, imperfect chilhood home – especially in the summer months when everything is green and fresh and the flowers are vibrant and happy, bobbing in the summer breeze around the porch.

… There childhood nestles like a bird which has built its abode among the roses;
there the cares and the coldness of earth are, as long as possible, averted.
Flowers there bloom, or fruits invite on every side, and there paradise would indeed be restored,
could mortal power ward off the consequences of sin. This new garden of the Lord would then abound in beauty unsullied, and trees of the Lord’s planting, bearing fruit to his glory,
would be found in plenty there – it would be reality, and not mere poetry to speak of:

 

 

[Big tractor, big boy, little tractor, little boy:
the boys preferred ‘farm vehicle’ of choice … the boys are all about tractors … big or small…]

 

 

{the girls’ preferred ‘farm’ vehicle of choice – this dingy, bent out of shape, well worn golf cart is used for carting around water for all our plants and gardens  and for a fun cruise with everyone on board … or even a wicked ride to see how well a newcomer can hold on to the sides as Lyla whips them around the property for a “tour”- I’m interested to see in how well this helps the girls when it is time to learn to drive a real car … perhaps with a few less passengers on board?}

 

[A new addition to the flowers – Helpful Husband dug out a new spot for me and the girls helped me put together a new rose garden for the front year, complete with three different type of roses, Baby’s Breath (oh so lovely!), a Bleeding Heart and Rose of Sharon. I am delighted!]

 

 

How is your summer coming along? I hope you are finding time to make good memories and smelling beautiful sweet-scented roses.

 

‘My own dear quiet home,
The Eden of my heart.
Home of my childhood!”
-The Royal Path of Life

A Cheerful Heart

“God bless the cheerful person – man, woman or child, old or young, illiterate or educated, handsome or homely. Over and above every other social trait stands cheerfulness. What the sun is to nature, what the stars are to night, what God is to the stricken heart which knows how to lean upon Him, are cheerful persons in the house and by the wayside. Man recognizes the magic of a cheerful influence in woman more quickly and more willingly than the potency of dazzling genius, of commanding worth, or even of enslaving beauty.”
-The Royal Path of Life, 1882

 

I’m a firm believer in making your days interesting, productive and cheerful. Yes, I know not all days go that way, but it’s my goal when I wake up to find happiness, make our day interesting and be productive.

I suppose what is interesting to me is not interesting to others. What makes me happy does not make others glad. My productivity may not be the same as others, but it is nice to cross something off a list.

It brings great joy to learn something new, create or bake, grow or even just find some time to watch nature around me. [When is the last time you watched an ant carry a pine needle across your grassy yard? They are such funny little insects.]

I often tell the girls they cannot come to the breakfast table with a sour face. Everyone must be cheerful, or at least, gracious and polite if not feeling overly joyful that moment. Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would be if six daughters -and a grumpy wife/mother – showed up at the breakfast table in a cloudy disposition? Last week, we struggled with some unhappy moments (including my own) so this week, I am focusing on having a sunnier disposition despite the circumstances.

 

“We always know the cheerful man by his hearty ‘good morning.’  Don’t forget to say it … say it to your parents, your brothers and sisters, your schoolmates, your teachers – and say it cheerfully and with a smile; it will do you good and do your friends good. There’s a kind of inspiration in ever ‘good morning’, heartily and smilingly spoken, that helps to make hope fresher and work lighter. It seems really to make the morning good, and a prophecy of a good day to come after it.”

Well, on this particular day, I woke the children up and told them, “Good morning!” and announced we were going berry picking. This was, in fact, our third time to go berry picking – no one grumbled. In fact, they were all excited to go berry picking again –  that made us all happy. While we picked, little ones feasted on berries to their delight and enjoyed a healthy breakfast of fresh strawberries straight from the patch. We were done picking within an hour (so great to have big helpers!) and then headed home so the little one could nap and we could begin our regular day chores.

 

I suppose this is our productive and happy part of the day …

Our third visit to the local and family friendly strawberry patch …we just love it there … many of these strawberries will go into the freezer, but some will also be put into jars and turned into ruby red preserves …

 

It’s so wonderful having daughters willing to help me along the way!

 

 

… while they were helping hull the juicy berries, I organized the chest freezer [one of three freezers] to make sure there was a space for the new berries and I made up dinner – Shepherd’s Pie. It was nice and cool in our old basement, a blessed relief from the July humidity. One could complain as the basement is dark and dingy and not quite the nicest place in the world to spend an hour – but, again, we can choose to be cheerful about such things, can’t we?

Earlier that morning, during breakfast, I had peeled the potatoes and put them into the crockpot. They cooked while we were gone to the strawberry patch. This made things simple when it came time to make up the dinner. The meat mixture (ground beef, carrots, corn, spices) was already made from the day before. Thinking ahead makes meal making easier for me – and makes it easier for me to be cheerful!  I am always delighted when I can stretch our meat, as well. This 2 lb. of ground beef served us for dinner two nights in a row, simply by adding in extra vegetables and a loaf of homemade bread.

While I was prepping the dinner, I also mixed up the bread dough for dinner. This is my regular recipe but I added a bit of olive oil and made sure there was steam inside the oven when the loaf was baking (the steam creates a crustier outside: simply pour a cup of water onto a baking sheet in your already hot oven). One loaf will be for dinner and one for breakfast of lunch.

[Regular Bread Recipe]

~ which can be used for so many bread products!~

Six cups of flour of your choice
4 teaspoons of yeast
2 cups of warm water
*I added a dollup of olive oil, just for fun*

A dash of salt to flavor

Let the yeast rise in the warm water until bubbly and frothy. Add to flours and knead until the dough is stretchy. Oil the dough so it does not dry out and let it rise in a warm spot until it is doubled in size. Form into loaves. Let it rise to shape. Bake at 350 until it sounds hollow when you tap it. I brushed butter over the top of the sandwich loaf when they is was finished.  I did not do this to the French Loaf as I wanted a crustier outside and it was dusted with flour before baking.

 

 

The smell of homemade bread is the best smell ever for a home!
It will always lift my spirits!

Now, the creative part of the day …

My comfrey patch is huge – so I picked a large collection of leaves for comfrey oil. This will do well for salves and any injuries at any point in the year. The oil is now sitting on the hutch in the kitchen – it will steep for a few weeks. Having herbal remedies in my Medicinal Cupboard is not only a blessing, but I love to learn about the healing properties of these herbs. God is so creative and wonderful! His plants can teach us so much!

 

 

Walking around the property to check on our flowers is always a joyful activity. The girls & I are delighted when we see a new flower bloom in our garden, especially one that has taken a while or grown from seed. Here, this lovely, vibrant foxglove steals the attention of us all when we pass by. We have three of them in our garden and we just love them. Isn’t it beautiful? The best thing is this is a perennial. We worked on planting mostly perennials this year as they return and bring more joy in future summers.

 

 

A good portion of my morning is spent in the vegetable garden, which is growing and coming along nicely now, after a wet and cold spring which left gardeners everywhere a bit anxious and worried.

I always have cute, little helpers following me around.

“The cheerful are the busy; when trouble knows at your door or rings the bell, he will generally retire if you send him word ‘engaged.’ And a busy life cannot well be otherwise than cheerful.
Frogs do not croak in running water.
And active minds are seldom troubled with gloomy forebodings.
They come up only from the stagnat depths of a spirit unstirred by generous impusles or the blessed necessities of honest toil.”
-The Royal Path of Life

While working in the garden is productive, I believe it also provides peace and serenity in a busy, noisy world. I love to get into the garden and just weed or hoe. I’m hot and sweaty afterwards and will need a shower, but it is good healthy work and it gives me plenty of time to pray and think (if my garden helpers find their way to the sandbox and leave a few minutes of silence in their wake).  I can be cheerful about that, can’t I? Weeding is no longer a “chore” to me.

 

 

Now, there is a side porch that I call my Peaceful Porch. I love it there – it is perfect for an afternoon rest or read, tea or chat with a friend. [I shall do a little post on it soon… I hope]. A few years ago, my brother in law gave us this screen door as it did not suit his house. Oh, I was delighted! Wooden screen doors are so dreamy and old fashioned. It needed painting but I just left it … I’m not sure why. Well, sitting on my Peaceful Porch, staring at this could-be-nice-wooden-screen door finally motivated me enough to just paint it. [I absolutely love having a can of fresh paint around at all times. You never know what could be freshened up with just a quick coat of paint?! And you will feel so great afterwards, looking at that newly-painted item!]

So, on a quiet afternoon last week, I got out the paint brush and paint can and painted that beautiful screen door. I listened to an audio book while painting and before dinner, it was finished.

 

Here is the before …

And here is the after. I have since painted the little step that needed a freshening up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little things can make your day cheery. Perhaps we just have to look for them and make the effort to find that ray of sunshine in our path. Maybe we need to step out of the way of the shadows and find that golden patch of joy and cheeriness – but it certainly can be found, even in every day life.

“Look at the bright side. Keep the sunshine of a living faith in your heart. Do not let the shadow of discouragement and despondency fall on your path. However weary you may be, the promises of God will never cease to shine, like the stars at night, to cheer and strengthen. Learn to wait as well as labor. The best harvests are the longest in ripening. It is not pleasant to work in the earth plucking the ugly tares and weeds, but it is a necessary as sowing the seed. The harder the task, the more need of singing. A hopeful spirit will discern the silver lining of the darkest cloud, for back of all planning and doubt, with its attendant discouragements and hindrances, shines the light of Divine promise and help.
Be cheerful, for it is the only happy life. The times may be hard, but it will make them no easier to wear a gloomy and sad countenance.”
-The Royal Path of Life

 

July 20, 2019 - 11:42 am

Sue This is a great post Gigi, i always enjoy your gentle reminders towards gratefulness. And, i also have one of those screen doors that’s been needing painting for years! Thanks for the encouragement

July 20, 2019 - 8:02 am

Brenda Clair (Gigi’s Mom) Gillian, you have always had a cheerful heart. As a child, you were always happy and bouncing around, enjoying life. In grade 1, you won the most bounciest award! 🙂 Love your attitude and so proud of the Momma you are. xoxo

July 19, 2019 - 9:43 pm

Monica Lovely, Lovely, ALL of it! Loyal is SOOO cute and your foxgloves are gorgeous!! I will add that to my list of flowers to try for next year. Yes, always working to be cheerful. God is so good and has blessed us so much, when we aren’t cheerful I’m afraid it reflects our selfish hearts. May I work and pray to be cheerful in my day-to-day mundane (wonderful!) activities.

PS. You are lovely in your dress and bonnet!

Monica

When a Normal Day is a Gift

“The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right.
Next to faith this is the highest art –
to be content with the calling in which God has placed you.”
– Martin Luther

 

The wind ruffled the lace curtains that covered a somewhat dusty window… I walked my little ones upstairs for their afternoon rests after a long day in the sun so far. Summer days are delightful,warm, wonderful and full of memories, but they are tiring on little bodies who need more rest than older children …

Armed with a washcloth, I wiped off the remnants of a cookie and sandbox play on the little ones faces and tiny hands and promised them they would see their daddy when they woke up after their naps … tired and happy from play, it was not long before the boys were sleeping; the little girl simply played quietly with some tiny toys on her bed, enjoying the break from the noise of large family living. With three little ones resting, I proceeded to make my way downstairs to finish canning another batch of rhubarb ketchup.

 

Just a regular day. Eight children around me, dirt between toes, laundry folded and being put away … dinner in the crockpot and a canning project on the outdoor kitchen stove …

 

 

Nearly done, I thought, as I ladled the last of the sauce into some jars. A new and dear friend at church had given me two large batches of rhubarb and for this, I was extremely grateful. Among other treats, it makes a wonderful ketchup and will fill a pantry shelf quite nicely. I have already given away quite a few jars as presents to neighbours and friends.

 

A fresh batch of homemade bread was cooling on the table … quiet music played in the background as I wiped up the last of the canning mess and placed the jars into their water bath.

 

 

 

These days at home – working on projects at home, gardening, weeding, watering the vegetable garden, baking and preparing meals … it may seem monotonous to others, but it is truly something I enjoy. Perhaps I have trained myself to enjoy it. Sure, other adventures might seem tempting and alluring, but keeping my eyes homeward bound is my focus.

I enjoy being at home, I enjoy keeping a home, I enjoy being with my children and I enjoy being a mother and a wife. I feel very blessed to have this calling in my life. Seeing my older girls grow so quickly makes me realize motherhood years are so short and full – I don’t want to waste any of my days blinded in thinking this ‘motherhood journey’ is too much work or too much stress … this calling of motherhood is wonderful and amazing, tiring and so rich.

The afternoon passed quickly. When my little ones woke up, Lavender helped me plant some more rose bushes around the porch – flowers for mommy, she said, as her little shovel tried to help me dig some holes.

“This one is my favorite,” she said, her little girl voice warming up my heart. Of course, we planted lavender in between the rose bushes … for her … we shall see how well they all grow together … in time …

 

 

As I watched my five year old freckled girl study the rose bushes, I caught myself wondering how  motherhood can be considered boring to some people? If your day is not going well, stop and pray and start again. But you are in charge of your day – mostly – and you can find ways to enjoy it. The girls have been helping me plants all sorts of flowers around the home … blue lupines (which will not bloom until next year, but we are still hopeful for things to come!), deep pink foxgloves,  sweet-smelling roses, lavender bushes, cheerful Morning Glory, richly-scented lilac shrubs, stunning Rose of Sharon plants and of course, the ever happy and delightful sunflowers.

The fields around us also bring flowers our way – for free … we love collecting flowers from the roadside …

 

 

 

 

Perhaps to some, staying at home, working on household chores would seem dull and un-eventful, perhaps not even challenging … but all in a day’s work, we baked bread and three meals from scratch, cooked up the big batch of rhubarb preserves and canned it for the winter months, found and buried a dead bat (much to the children’s horror and tiny delight), collected wildflowers, planted flowers for our perennial gardens, washed, dried and folded loads of laundry, spread some loads of mulch, weeded the vegetable garden and still managed to have free time for reading and play in the afternoon …

 

A normal day around here truly is a gift.

 

July 8, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Gigi Rachel, oh, two years olds are great, yes? They keep life so exciting! I love it. 🙂 Yes, homemade meals and clean laundry are such bliss!

July 8, 2019 - 6:28 am

Rachel Beautiful!! I so agree with you! I do work part-time but my time at home with my 2-yr-Old is my favourite (even though we’re going through a rough patch with strong opinions, ha!!). It’s such a blessing and I am grateful that I also do enjoy my time at home doing what many consider “mundane”. I get such satisfaction out of folded laundry and home-cooked meals!
I love your blog – thank you for writing 🙂

July 3, 2019 - 5:43 am

Gigi Linda, I am sure it was encouraging to find other women at home when you were younger. And now, what a blessing you are to your daughter, helping her out in this way! That seems like the best way to spend the grandmothering years. You are wisely investing in the next generation and building up the Kingdom of God!

July 3, 2019 - 5:10 am

Linda Your normal day sounded beautiful, busy and simple 🙂 I fondly remember when my children were young and my days were all about ‘HOME’, preparing meals, laundry, etc. I too loved it and yes at times I did get overwhelmed, but it was still wonderful and fulfilling. Nearly everyone else I knew worked outside the home until I became a christian in my early 20’s. Then I met a lot of other woman who also loved being a wife, mother and homemaker. I felt like I had come home, He led me to my greatest joy. Yes these years are extraordinary in their ‘ordinariness’. These days I help my daughter two full days a week while she homeschools her children, our grandchildren. I’m thankful she has such fond memories of her childhood and is creating new ‘simple memories of joyful homemaking/mothering’ with her own children. You are a wise woman. Thank for this inspiring writing 🙂 ~ Linda

Sonny

 
“Everyday a child should have something to do,
something to think about
and something to love.” 
The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
It’s been a long wait (this is something we thought would be wonderful for our girls when we moved from town to country) … but with much patience and tender care …  our eldest daughter’s little foal is finally here …
and now, she definitely has something to do (care and animal chores) …
… something to think about (training)…
and something to love (how can you resist his pretty, blue eyes?) …
She has given him the name of Sundance, but his barn name will be Sunny. If she registers him, his registered name will be Little Is as Much as When God Is In It.

We all love him already.

June 16, 2019 - 5:59 am

Gigi Kristal, yes, he’s a miniature horse.

June 16, 2019 - 5:58 am

Gigi Debby, yes, his eyelashes are fantastic!

June 16, 2019 - 5:58 am

Gigi Patricia, thank you. I think it would be a fun experience, as well. 🙂

June 15, 2019 - 7:54 pm

Patricia Jackson Awww He is absolutely adorable, what a blessing. How wonderful to grow up with a new pony ❤️ Love his name too!

June 14, 2019 - 4:21 pm

Debby in Kansas, USA He’s just precious! I love his eyelashes! Enjoy that sweet baby!

June 14, 2019 - 11:33 am

Kristal Cute! Will he be a miniature? His name is perfect as well.

June 13, 2019 - 10:13 pm

Regina Shea He’s so cute! I love his coloring. I know you all are going to give him lots of love. I know I would!

Dandy Jelly

 

 

It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren, stony street,
to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion,
shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.

~ Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)

With our very cool, wet and late spring, we have been blessed (in my opinion) with a later bountiful crop of those lovely, smiling yellow dandelions. I was surprised to hear from my friend in Alabama that they do not have dandelions growing in their grass. Perhaps we take them for granted! And while my husband does not find them appealing scattered throughout our yard, they are a fantastic and useful plant to have around the home.

 

This spring, we were able to harvest some dandelions and make a few fun items with them – a dandelion salve and dandelion jelly. I thought it would be nice to share the recipe of the “Dandy Jelly”, which tastes just like honey and so pretty to give as gifts or line up in your pantry.

 

After you have gathered your blossoms, the first step in making your dandelion jelly is to make dandelion tea.  Fill a mason jar with freshly washed dandelion heads and cover with boiling water. Let it sit overnight.

 

In the morning, we strained the tea and put the soggy dandelion flowers into the compost. The tea will now be used for our Dandy Jelly! You will need about four cups of the dandelion tea for this recipe. [You can add a little bit of water to the tea if it does not reach four cups.]

 

You will now need the following:

* 8 cups of sugar (I reduced it the first time and it did not set  -so, if you feel like there is too much sugar, go ahead and reduce, but do so with caution! It may be very runny or too liquid.)

* Place sugar and dandelion liquid into a big pot. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice and stir well.

Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for a few minutes.

Add two packages of liquid certo and boil for another few minutes.

Ladle into clean mason jars (small ones make prettier gifts) and seal. I water bathed for 20 minutes.

The recipe is from The Blessed Hearth.

 

 

It is such a pretty jelly and makes a pleasant and surprising gift … it is such a cheerful, happy colour and tastes delicious on a warm biscuit, straight from the oven. Smothered on breakfast toasts is just as scrumptious!

 

June 13, 2019 - 7:15 pm

Gigi It is a pretty colour, isn’t it? 🙂

June 11, 2019 - 11:18 am

Monica It turned out just lovely!!! A beautiful gold color. And so healthy for you!!!

June 10, 2019 - 4:22 pm

Gigi Oh, Emma, you are so sweet! I will go check out the link. ((hugs))

June 10, 2019 - 4:21 pm

Gigi Melissa, I am so glad to hear your children loved the jelly! How fun! Thank you for leaving a comment. 🙂

June 10, 2019 - 2:27 pm

Melissa I was so intrigued by this so, after collecting dandelions this weekend, I made a batch this morning. Two thumbs up from all three kids! Thanks, what a great way to use up our hosts and hosts of dandelions.

June 10, 2019 - 1:30 pm

Emma Good afternoon, Gigi!
Just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Liebster Award… You’re welcome to take a look at my post here: https://myredemptionforhisglory.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/liebster-award-nomination/ to view more information on it.
May you have hope/joy-filled day in Christ! 🙂