Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

Gigi Blog bio picture
  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls & one boy. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. Chicken and goat raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

Lemon Infused Vinegar

These yellow and orange vibrant colored jars, filled to the top with white vinegar and peels of freshly-eaten citrus fruits, have been sitting on my windowsill for a few weeks now.

Making vinegar infused with citrus is nothing new – it is something that is so simple to make and is so beneficial in one’s home.

I typically use the orange-infused vinegar as our main cleaning product in the house. Lemons were something I thought I would just try – after all, we had lemons being used and it was a shame to waste those pretty fruit pieces.


All you have to do is fill your jar with white vinegar and add in your orange or lemon peels. Let the vinegar sit a few weeks, allowing the citrus properties to infuse the vinegar.






This weekend, I had an inspired thought. I needed to make a laundry stain remover  to get some stains off a pretty pillowcase-  a typical recipes would call for 1/2 cup of white vinegar and a few drops of lemon essential oil.

However, checking my oil cupboard brought me to realize I was all out of lemon oil. And when I run out of things in my home, it could be weeks before I can get to a store to buy the replacement.


My eyes turned to the vinegar sitting prettily on my kitchen windowsill. Surely, it would work just as well, I thought.

Indeed, it did! I only diluted the vinegar a little bit – and then sprayed it directly onto the stain. After washing and hanging on the laundry line (despite the cold conditions this weekend), I was happily pleased to find the stain had vanished and the pillow case good as new.


This will be my new stain remover from now on – and it is even more cost effective than a homemade version using the essential oil. It is amazing that two simple ingredients can do so many wonderful chores in one’s home – from cleaning sinks and bathrooms to removing laundry stains.

Lemons are a natural disinfectant … and because of their acidity, they are a great stain remover. The next time you have lemons (or oranges – as they are amazing, as well), do not throw out the peels or extra fruit. Save them, immerse them in white vinegar, let it sit for a few weeks and you will have a lovely natural cleaner for your home. Not to mention a great stain remover …




Home Library Additions {& Why You Should Read To your Children}

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away.
And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
— Roald Dahl


As I have posted in the past about building up a home library for you and your children, I thought perhaps I should add a few books that we have read lately.


When we read out loud together as a family, we are covering a broad age range – from 13 down to 2 years old (although I am sure Lazarus, being the youngest at 14 months, often listens as well!). I generally choose a book for the older children, but keep in mind that the young ones are listening, as well. Our goal is to read living books or books with proper, solid language and engaging stories. Often times, the books are from a generation gone by. I personally love to find the challenge in reading older books that use words and phrases that stretch our brains and minds.


Even as your children grow older and can handle reading beautiful, engaging books by themselves, it is connecting and bonding to read it together as a family.


The curriculum company, Sonlight, suggests that reading out loud will help increase your child’s vocabulary, develop your child’s brain, learn about the world, grow their listening skills, encourage your children to focus and, most importantly, foster a healthy relationship between parent and child.

Here is another good article stating the reasons you should indeed read outloud to your children.


I tend to purchase the books for our home library, as I am finding our local library to have less and less quality books. It is rather sad that my children will not grow up with a fond experience of visiting a small town library, but instead, we will balance that with a memory of having a house strewn with books and bookshelves laden with adventures just waiting to be read and re-read. We will build our own library at home. When the children are grown and have families of their own, perhaps they will enjoy going through our home library and choosing books to start their own personal collection of well-treasured books.

All that being said, we love to read out loud together! Do you?

“I feel the need of reading.
It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books.”
Abraham Lincoln

Here is what we have read lately:

A Bear Called Paddington:

Oh, Paddington Bear is such a cute, little fellow from the Deep Darkest Peru. It was great fun to learn of all his adventures as he arrived in England for the first time. Paddington, with his sticky marmalade-covered paws and his big floppy hat, surely made his way into our hearts during this cozy, read aloud. We look forward to reading more of his adventures in the future as we find his books in thrifts store or online.


Ben & Me:

A great tale of Benjamin Franklin, mixed in with a fictional, curious character of a mouse friend. We had a great read, learning about Franklin’s inventions, his hard times and the good times. Definitely a great book for the children. It is always so engaging to discover the lives of historical characters – even if the tale is told by a little grey mouse.


A Penny’s Worth of Character:

Such a sweet story, set in the good ol’ days in the small town tucked in the mountains. With attention to nature and appreciation of the great beautiful world around him, a country boy learns the valuable lesson of honesty and the consequences of telling a lie – even a little, tiny lie the size of a pinhole in his paper sack. Chocolate bars and soda pops do not taste as sweet as learning and living a honest a life, even if you are only 8 years old.


Billy Whiskers Out West

This series is one of a silly, mischievous billy goat, who very much reminds us of our own goat, Walter. We love to read of his adventures, his troubles and this time, a little bit of mystery. We have collected a few of his tales and look forward to reading more of this trouble-finding goat, Billy and his wife, Nanny. The girls always say “I can see Walter doing that …” as we read each chapter… this book is great for a goat-loving-child.


On the Banks of Plum Creek:

Naturally, the girls & I simply delighted in this lovely Laura Ingalls book – but what Little House book could disappoint? Truly, this series is beloved in homes and libraries worldwide. We love this series so much and find such fantastic inspiration in it. The girls particularly liked “meeting Nellie” for the first time, as she adds such a different element to the stories. We are currently reading this book for our read aloud time.


Nate Saint: On a Wing and  Prayer

A riveting true story of a brave missionary, Nate Saint, and his friends, including Jim Elliot, as they ministered to the Auca Indians. Tragically, their lives were taken on the mission field in a heart-breaking ending. While it is still appropriate to read to children, it caused one to stop and reflect on the cost of taking up one’s cross. This story definitely brought many tears to our eyes. I could not get through certain chapters without crying and showing emotion. As a child, I had learned of Jim Elliot but did not recall Nate Saint’s part in the missionary story – I am so glad to have read the true, beautiful story of this godly young man and his friends. It was very thought provoking indeed.



Reading chapter books out loud is by far one of my favorite “tasks” of being a mother and a homeschooler (but please note, you do not need to be a homeschooling mom to take up reading chapter books outloud to your children). Not only are the children learning and developing their minds, but I am personally also invited into these intriguing imaginative, historical, lovely beautiful worlds inside the pages of these delightful books.

You are never too old to learn – and to enjoy the benefits of chapter books being read outloud.


P.S. And to update the first mentioned quote in this post, I would say, please oh please, throw your digital screens away and replace it with a book!

February 24, 2017 - 4:19 pm

Gigi - Katy, I understand! We read once during the day together (as part of a school routine) but then again at bedtime for a more light-hearted book. We are reading Dr. Doolittle right now (LOVE that story). It is challenging at night but we just try to make time each night for it.

February 24, 2017 - 4:01 pm

Katy - I have enjoyed reading to my children as well. 🙂 Unfortunately, we usually do it before bed…and it often gets pushed aside because of how tired I am! It is definitely something I must pick up again! 🙂

February 24, 2017 - 1:00 pm

Gigi - The girls take Math and French courses online, which requires typing and basic computer skills. But that is as far as we go with technology for now. I know of other homeschoolers who have sons who are interested in more computer/technology skills and they have assigned certain courses for them that will build their digital/computer skills. As our girls grow, we shall see where their interest lie, whether or not it will require more computer skills. I was raised in a very low-tech school but continued on to college for journalism, which required photoshop, computer skills, etc. It does not take one long to figure out some computer skills, strangely enough. Just give a child an ipad or computer and you will see how quickly they catch on! Even babies know how to “swipe” a screen.

February 24, 2017 - 10:59 am

Samantha - I love reading and it will definitely be an important past time for our kids too! Out of curiosity, do you also teach the children computer skills and other technological skills, should they decide to pursue a job in typing, programming, blogging, photography, design, secretary, etc.? Would love to hear your thoughts on how to balance the role of technology with good old fashioned entertainment like reading, especially for the sake of educational skills.

February 24, 2017 - 6:42 am

Gigi - I think I have, Jennifer, although I have not seen them to purchase. I shall look for them! They sound great. 🙂

February 23, 2017 - 7:24 pm

Jennifer Heemskerk - As an educator, I see how wonderful it is when I read a book aloud to both my biological children as well as my children at school.

Have you ever heard of the Uncle Arthur Bedtime stories? I acquired them when I married my husband- they are amazing volumes that have short stories that contain morals and values. I think you would love them as they are more vintage as well!

Introducing Mervin…

For over  a year, our eldest daughter has been raising and caring for a few Polish hens. They are a funny looking chickens – well, that is an understatement. They are very funky looking! She first saw one a few years ago and noted how strange and cute they were all at the same time. We found a few chicks for her at the local chicken swap (yes, can you believe there is such a thing?), but sadly, they died within a few weeks. We found out they are not a hearty chicken, do not like the cold and are not very intelligent. Perhaps it is all those feathers in the way of their eyes? In any case, we waited till the spring and found two more chicks for her.


With great care, she has successfully brought them through the spring, summer, fall and hopefully they make it through this last leg of winter. They are her pride and joy.

We recently found them a rooster – hooray! Polish chicks coming soon?! If only they would start laying, we would have the cutest, funniest looking baby chicks for spring.

She introduced Mervin, her new Polish rooster, to her two-hen flock this week. So far, he is a very friendly rooster, allows Lacey to hold him and catch him easily and he does not seem to be too bothered by the other three roosters we have already with the other hens. And what hen – er, Polish hen – could resist that handsome face and incredible hair style?





Welcome to the barnyard, Mervin. Now it’s time to make some Polish baby chicks.

February 17, 2017 - 6:27 am

Gigi - Regina & Chipmunk, yes, I think he is pretty cute in a strange way.
Sarah, what great memories of your childhood. I’m sure you will have fun adding those specialty chickens to your henhouse this spring. 🙂

February 16, 2017 - 3:14 pm

Regina Shea - Mervin is such a cute rooster! I think it would be fun to raise chickens!

February 16, 2017 - 11:20 am

Chipmunk - I **LOVE** polish chickens. They are so funny looking with the big pouf on their heads! Mervin is quite the stylish fellow!

February 16, 2017 - 11:17 am

Sarah - Mervin is a very handsome rooster. When my sisters and I were teenagers we had four Polish chickens. Two Silver Polish, named Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and two golden Polish, Heathcliff and Cathy. : ) They were adorable, but as I recall the roosters were quite often picked on my our stronger roosters (we had quite a few chickens at that time). Mr.Darcy ended up loosing an eye. I am hoping to add some novelty chickens to our flock come spring. We discovered a Mennonite farm selling specialty chickens last fall. I have been excited to return all winter!

Fresh Air: It’s for Your Health

“Every hour spent in the open is a clear gain,
tending to the increase of brain power and bodily vigour,
and to the lengthening of life itself.
They who know what it is to have fevered skin and throbbing brain deliciously soothed by the cool touch of the air
are inclined to make a new rule of life:
Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.”

– Charlotte Mason, Home Education

Winter is only half over here in Ontario. The snow still flies … the winds still blow … our wood pile is quickly shrinking … and temperatures remain frozen. And yet, every day, after lunch, my children are bundled up and encouraged to go outside and play for a few hours – yes, even in the winter. And yes, even the two year old.

I’ll never forget the day I saw my friend’s Dutch grandmother bundle up her infant grandson and place him in a snuggled-up 1950s buggy and roll his little stroller outside to their covered porch. I cannot remember just exactly how cold it was at that time, but it was definitely the middle of a chilly Ontario winter. I questioned the wise and confident Oma as to why she left her grandson out in the cold, albeit tucked in warm blankets with his head and body covered. Her simple answer:

“It’s good for him. Babies sleep better with fresh air.”

As a first time young mom, I was shocked to hear such advice, but she was right! Until then, I had never heard of allowing a baby to sleep outside in the chilly air before. But now, after years of being a parent myself and seeing the benefits of fresh air, I believe – I know –  her view was correct.

Recently, as I was watching my energetic children play outside on their snow hill, I realized one thing: all seven children have remained fairly healthy for the winter thus far, with only a few sniffles for the little ones. Part of this plays into the fact that , yes, they are homeschooled and therefore not around as many germs. However, I do credit most of their health to a very important factor: good old fashioned, crisp, fresh winter air.

I’m sure we all remember our parents or grandparents telling us to go outside and play because “It’s good for you.” Well, I believe that! While quite common in North American houses to have a “play room”, I have always felt that was an unnecessary room for a family’s home and have avoided having such a designated spot in our home. The play room, indeed, should be outdoors, amongst the whispering pines, the lush greens of the grasses, the rustling wind, the chilly Artic winter air and the balmy summer sun.

While I have not put my baby to sleep or nap outside in the winter yet, I do throw open the windows quite often in this old house of ours. Fresh air is vital, especially in the winter time when we breathe the same air constantly cooped up in our homes. You will will also find our children outside for many hours a day in the winter, finding things to do and adventures to create.

According to the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit advocacy group, “Compared to the 1970s, children now spend 50 percent less time in unstructured outdoor activities. Children ages 10 to 16 now spend, on average, only 12.6 minutes per day in vigorous physical activity. Yet they spend an average of 10.4 waking hours each day relatively motionless.”

How can that be good for these growing children? It is not. Let’s claim back the beautiful freedom of outdoor play for our children.

Before the little ones’ nap time, I have taken up the habit of going for a walk through our property with the baby, as well, to ensure the baby & I also receive enough fresh air. It is invigorating.

During the winter, the girls play outside for about roughly 4-5 hours a day in the winter {broken up in about 1 hr in the morning, as they do their morning animal chores, 1 hr. in the evening as they put the animals away and 2 hours or more of play after lunch}. The little ones are a bit less, but they are still right there, playing beside the big girls for a good hour or two each afternoon.

Lately, the older girls have been running through the back fields just at dusk, following animals tracks, pretending they are horses, running free as the wind … in the dim twilight one evening, they sat still in the dead, dried grasses and watched some deer grazing nearby.  The girls ran to the house, faces flushed with excitement and chill, and excitedly told me how surprised they were to see how large and tall the deer were and how high their white tales stood as they bounded away. My eldest daughter reported she found coyote tracks and followed them for a while.
Last night, they watched 14 more deer in the field within 20 feet of them.  Not only have they seen deer, they have seen turkey vultures, bald headed eagles, red-tailed hawks, Blue Herons, wild turkeys, weasels, raccoons, skunks and many types of smaller birds.

Every time the girls open the back door to burst outside, there is little Lazarus, pushing the screen door open, just trying to get out the door to play with them. He wants to be outside, despite his tender age of 14 months.

The benefits of playing and being outside are invaluable. Your grandparents were right – it is healthy!

Outside air and play time will give your child a steady supply of Vitamin D which will helps strengthen the bones as well as decreases the risk of cancers.

Children who breathe fresh air in large amounts will find it easier to concentrate, mainly with their school work, as it sharpens their attention span.

Children who spend hours of play outside in the fresh air have a lower need for medication for depression, anxiety and hyper-activity.

Time outdoors also lowers the chance for childhood obesity (that is an obvious bonus) as well as lowers the chance for childhood diabetes.

It is also great for their eyesight!
Not to mention, I have never reached bedtime where the girls were not tired and ready to crawl into their beds. Fresh air truly does make you sleep better.


And when they all tromp back inside, with cheeks flushed as rosy as red apples and noses tipped with pink, I know they have had their daily dose of God’s beautiful natural medicine: fresh air.


Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims


February 16, 2017 - 7:47 am

Katy - Fresh air is indeed a beautiful thing and much needed! We homeschool as well and I love that my children can spend time outside playing during the day! 🙂

February 14, 2017 - 4:32 pm

Gigi - Julie … 🙂

February 14, 2017 - 4:31 pm

Gigi - Laura, thank you for your visit … love your blog and your family’s history (OF COURSE! We love LHOTP!)….

February 14, 2017 - 3:37 pm

Julie - I would tell my neighbors to mind their own and not worry about mine.

February 14, 2017 - 3:23 pm

Laura Ingalls Gunn - I lived in Germany for a few years and often saw the buggy’s out on the front porch. Probably for the same reason. Such lovely children. The red coats against the white snow are gorgeous.

February 13, 2017 - 1:25 pm

Mrs.O - Dear Gigi– so sweet of you to take time with such a thoughtful response. No, never had previous trouble, I just tend to worry about that. You have stated it so matter-of-factly, it has actually eased my mind a bit today!
I couldn’t agree more with you on children needing to play outside. What a lovely post.
Good, old fashioned childhood.
God bless you!

February 13, 2017 - 12:44 pm

Gigi - Well, I would say that unless you have had problems in the past with people opposed to your children out during the daytime, I would think that would not be a problem. We have neighbours nearby but I would never think that children playing outside in the afternoon (or any time of day) would be an issue of concern. In the winter, we do our schooling in the morning and have free time in the afternoon. In the spring, we do our school work outside. Even better. 🙂
I would hope you would not have to concern yourself too much with what the neighbours would think – perhaps they would not even notice. 7 acres is a good spread of land.

February 13, 2017 - 10:58 am

Mrs.O - Oh! As overly cautious folks are now a days, I will say both!!
Thanks for a quick response!

February 13, 2017 - 9:45 am

Gigi - Are you concerned that people will wonder why your children are outside playing in winter? Or playing during the day time during school hours?

February 13, 2017 - 8:09 am

Mrs. O - Oh! How I love this post. I am always concerned about critical neighbors. We do live in the country on 7 acres. We still can be seen though. Anyone else have those concerns? We are in the USA
Thank you

February 12, 2017 - 8:12 pm

Gigi - Paula, thank you for your encouragement. I’m thrilled and humbled to have lifted your spirits!
Maike, you are so sweet. Maybe one day you will visit Canada and breathe our great fresh air!
Mom, I learned from the best. 😉 I have loads of memories of playing outdoors, more than playing indoors, as a child. You set the standard well.

February 12, 2017 - 6:36 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Beautiful pictures!! And so TRUE!! Fresh air and sunshine is very healthy for all of us!! Good for you, Gillian … it’s great that you are raising these precious little ones to appreciate the outdoors and God’s creation!! xoxo

February 12, 2017 - 4:10 pm

Maike - Oh I love you so much Gillian! What you write always makes me feel so much better. I often feel frustrated, thinking I’m the only one who believes in the oldschool lifestyle, simpleness, natural medicine, spending each day outside instead of cooped up inside day after day, imagine and playing without electronic and plastic toys,…and then I go to your blog, read a post, or even sometimes contact you, and I feel so much better…sure that even though I might be an alien, my thinking is good and I’m not alone. Sometimes I’m so thankful, I would just like to hug you.

February 12, 2017 - 2:43 pm

Paula - Your blog is my fresh air. Your words and photographs lift my spirit. Thank you for sharing your life.

Provision Room Part VII: Putting up Stews, Soups & Sauces

“The person who decides what shall be the food and drink of a family,
and the modes of preparation, is the one who decides, to a greater or lesser extent,
what shall be the health of the family.”

-America Woman’s Home, Catherine Beecher, 1869



In nearing the end of the Provision Room series, I think it would be a great time to talk about canning stews, soups and sauces.

  There are so many different foods to be canned – from applesauce to pickles, relishes to apple pie filling, the possibilities are endless. To fill up those lovely Provision Room shelves, you definitely need to embrace the love of canning.

But let’s chat a bit about pressure canning.

If you have never pressure canned before, do not fear. It is not as hard as it may appear – it just requires a little hard work, some time and a big apron to cover your outfit. Again, I personally love to involve the children as it trains them and teaches them the ways of canning and also, they are great helpers!

The big girls can chop vegetables …

… help cook the food (during canning season, we have moved most of our kitchen outdoors) …


wipe the rims …

… while the little ones can pop the vegetables into the jars.

It is not a hard task if you line up the jars and create an assembly line in some ways – play a little fun music or audio stories for the children (here is our favorite to listen to while doing such tasks) and it will be a great mother-child project.



All soups, stews and most sauces need to be pressure canned. This will require a pressure canner (not a pressure cooker). You can find many of them on Amazon or at your local hardware store.

This is the style that I currently use, although I would prefer a larger one now that our family has grown in size. We make do with what we have! It has worked successfully for me for nearly 10 years or so. 

To begin, you will need your pressure canner, jars and lids. And of course, the ingredients and recipe for the soup, stews or sauce you are about to put up. And you will need to read a little bit about how to pressure can. Here is a good link to begin your journey.

Here are a few other sites to help you:

Simply Canning
Pick Your Own
Presto Pressure Canning

Many soup recipes may be adapted for the pressure canner. You will need to omit any milk, noodles, rice or butter as they are unsafe for canning.  Simply add those items after it has been pressure canned and when you are ready to serve the soup.

Here are a few recipes I have gathered:

Tomato Beef Vegetable Soup

Hamburger Soup

Honey Ginger Carrot Soup

Homemade Hot Sauce

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Canned Chili (one of our favorite meals in a jar!)

Hearty Chicken Soup

And here is a collection of pressure canned soups for you to browse through to find something that peaks your interest.

Taking time to put up soups, stews and some sauces in the fall will be such a blessing to you and your family in the fall, winter and even spring months. On busy days, all you need to do is choose which meal you will feed your family, perhaps add some rice or pasta to bulk up the soup – serve with fresh bread and cheese and your family will be warm, happy and well fed. The girls’ favorite would be when I put in letter noodles – and suddenly, you have alphabet soup. 🙂 Egg noodles are another favorite.


These canned soups are especially handy for working moms, who have not had time to prepare a meal for the day. Homeschooling moms who need to make lunch, all while teaching at the same time in the morning, will find their canned soups and stews such a benefit on busy mornings. Your children will be eating healthier and they will stomachs will thank you, as they will be less hungry between meals if you feed them proper, filling soups and stews at the lunch hour.

Let’s just say, having a Provision Room filled with such meals will help any mom – if she is pregnant and tired, these meals will ease her work load. If there is a new baby in the house, home canned goods to the rescue! If you need to bring a meal to a friend in need, again, these lovely jars of home canned goodness will certainly fill a gift basket and will bless another family.


Home canned food is a huge blessing indeed! All your hard work and effort will feel so worth it as you open jar after jar of lovely, healthy, nutritious food to feed you and your family.

I would love to hear from you – what is your favorite meal to pressure can?


P.S. My aunt used to pressure can fresh salmon that she caught off the shores of British Columbia. Wouldn’t that be lovely?


If you have missed the other posts in regards to building up your Provision Room, here are some suggested links:

The Original Provision Room post

Part I – The Provision Room Update
Part II – The Pantry
Part III – Make Your Own Mixes
Part IV- Buying in Bulk
Part V – Growing your Own
Part VI: Putting up Jams & Jellies


Linked up with Pilgrims & Strangers
February 20, 2017 - 7:37 am

Gigi - That sounds wonderful, Rebecca! Pressure canning – and providing great food for your family – is very rewarding! And yes, I agree about the pickling. 🙂

February 19, 2017 - 2:48 pm

Rebecca - I love pressure canning! I only just started doing it (I had to get over my fear of exploding canners) but now it’s so great! We haven’t done any soups yet, but I’ve pressure canned veggies from the garden in water (because there are only so many jars of pickled veggies you can eat – ha!), dried beans (soak the dried beans overnight, then bring them to a boil and can them for the proper time — and they taste AMAZING!!!) and we have canned smoked red salmon (we are blessed in Alaska to be able to fish for salmon!) I can’t wait to do more pressure canning (I want to do chilli and other stews — yum!)

February 7, 2017 - 5:52 pm

admin - Yes, beans – so wonderful and thrifty! 😉 Funny, I have not canned just broth, but have always made it into soup.

February 7, 2017 - 6:55 am

JES - My favorite food to pressure can would be beans! You can make so many easy and quick meals with a quart of pinto beans! Bean soup, beans over rice, taco salad, bean dip, etc.! You have me inspired to try out some soups! Though I can broth, I haven’t taken it to that next step. Thanks for sharing this beautiful series. It is right up my alley 🙂