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. ♥

Using {all} of your Apples

“The cellar began to have its winter smell of apples and preserves.
After all the perfect apples had been picked,  Almanzo and Royal could shake the trees.
They shook the trees with all their might, and the apples came rattling down like hail.
They picked them up and threw them into the wagon. These were cider-apples.”
-Farmer Boy

The Autumn wind is whipping the damp laundry, once hung so neatly on the line, into a messy tangled line. Colored leaves are swirling about the green fields and the smell of fall is in the air.

…. there is the comforting aroma of homemade apple cider, warming on the woodstove … the incredible mixture of cinnamon and apple slices all tucked up gently into a warm pie in the oven … dusted with sprinkles of white sugar … the tucking away of homemade apple cider vinegar in the Provision Room … October is just wonderful. It is one of my favorite months, to be sure.


After all, who does not love apple season?

Every time we drive down our country road, I keep my eyes searching for loaded {free for the picking} apple trees. Many times, we have pulled our big truck over, unloaded the girls and buckets (after asking permission, if a land owner is available) and loaded up on apples. I have used these apples for many things … apple cider vinegar, apple cider, applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling, apple syrup …  and of course,  we are also storing apples to eat whole during the winter.

Having such canned items in the Provision Room is a must for this family. I do not think we could get through winter without having apples  or apple products in the house!


I have just finished making another 2 gallon batch of apple cider, which will turn into apple cider vinegar after some patient-waiting. Have you ever made apple cider vinegar? A dear friend of mine instructed me to use full apples, instead of scraps, to make the vinegar, as the scraps produce a watered-down version of your vinegar, she suggested. So full apples, we used.



To make apple cider vinegar, start off by pressing or juicing your apples. We used a juicer- you can find a similar one here.
Pour your juice into a glass jar, add the ACV mother a a couple tablespoons of organic cider vinegar. Cover  your jar with a cloth secured with rubberband and place in a dark, cool location for approximately six weeks. Check your vinegar periodically. I received a piece of a mother from my friend, but I have read you can take a piece of a “mother” from your organic apple cider vinegar from the store.


You can see the “mother” floating around in the cider.




Apple cider vinegar is amazing and definitely something you should keep in your pantry. It is known to remove toxins from your body,   soothe sore throats, help ease indigestion, clear away acne and blemishes on the skin, keep your animals healthy (we add it to our animals’ water), aid in losing weight, boost energy  {take a sip of it when you feel sluggish}, it can help whiten teeth and get rid of bad breath, fade bruises, and it will help control blood sugar levels.  It is amazing in so many ways! I also use it to make tinctures and fire cider.



With our excess apples, we also made apple cider to drink (which was made the same way – we just skipped adding the mother, as we will not be fermenting our batch of cider). I water bathed the jars to preserve the cider. You can read full directions for canning cider here on this very helpful website.  In some jars, I added a cinnamon stick to spice up the flavor. Just shake the jar before warming to unsettle the thicker bits of the cider.



I look forward to having some buttered popcorn and hot homemade apple cider in the middle of winter, as we gather around the cozy woodstove. It will remind me of the story of Almanzo Wilder in “Farmer Boy”. Doesn’t that just sound deliciously cozy?

 Then your apples all is gathered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and their sauce and sausage, too…”
-James Whitcombe Riley
When the Frost is on the Punkin’

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims


October 22, 2016 - 2:27 pm

jen - mmmm i just made some homemade apple cider yesterday :D

October 20, 2016 - 9:53 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - You my dear ,are a tireless worker! Not to say you aren’t tired..but that you just keep going.. Praise the Lord for your diligence and willingness to persist in your pursuit for a God Filled healthy life for your family.. and thank you for this blog which brings blessings to all who read it. Thank you for encouragement.

October 19, 2016 - 6:43 pm

Liz - Mono Cliffs trails have a lot of ancient apple orchards if you’re still looking. Also pretty in the spring.

Nourishing the Mind

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty,
upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life;
he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”

-Charlotte Mason


The girls were working on a picture study of Monet’s work this week in our one room school house … and new chalk pastels were introduced with a resounding welcome. Little and big hands were kept happy and busy as they quietly created lovely artwork this fall morning. The once-noisy morning slowed, textbooks were put away and classical music was played.







{oops, it looks like Lavender may have eaten some of the art work!}

{inspiration found from a teacup of delicate pansies}

So thankful to have this opportunity to school at home with the children.
I can’t imagine all the time that I would have lost with them if they were in a traditional school setting.
Grateful for blessings such as home education.

“Art is a wonderful way to add variety in your day,
and to nourish your children’s mind and heart with what is good, noble and beautiful.”

-Sonya Shafer

October 16, 2016 - 10:03 pm

Gramma Cardinal - Good work Gramma’s girls xxxxxxx

October 14, 2016 - 7:26 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - They all look very entranced with what they are doing! A nice school day for sure!

Do What You Can.

Lucia, my 8-year-old daughter, read this quote to me this week as it was part of her copywork for school.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Right away, I copied it onto our chalkboard to read daily. What a fabulous piece of advice!

So often we long for something we do not have, we say “When I am ________, I will do _________” (fill in the blank) …. or “When I have ______[more money, more time, less work, more room, etc.], I will then do ________”   But the time-tested message we receive from Teddy Roosevelt is not to wait, but to make do with what we have. You know that saying – bloom where you are planted.

Do what you can with what you have right now!

A great motto to live your life by, don’t you think? I loved it.


{beautiful early morning fall sunbeams,
streaming through the silver maples, greeting me as I went out to hang the laundry}

Recently, we harvested the rest of what was in our garden. While we have been eating from the garden this summer, it is always so satisfying and wonderful to see what you have grown, the fruits of your labour, at the end of the season.

{plums from my parents’ trees}


It is definitely worth all the hard work, hours and hours of weeding, watering and care.



{an enormous turnip}

Now comes the time to store most of the food we have harvested. We had a great crop of cucumbers, green and yellow beans,  potatoes, squash, an amazing, stellar turnout of tomatoes (which have already been harvested and put up), turnips and peppers. The other vegetables will probably be eaten up rather quickly {garlic, onions, etc.} as I should have planted more for our large family. I have not stopped canning since August – this is the most I have ever put up. It is a blessing!

We also have a fair amount of apples from our little orchard that we used in our preserving. But who can resist a beautiful wild tree loaded with free apples? Yes, we have collected some from wild trees around our home, as well, but I still need {want?} to collect more. Tomorrow, we are going to do some more apple picking – I plan to wrap these ones with newspaper and store them in a cool corner of the basement for the winter.

Since my last post, I had a vision in my mind of what I would like our storage {Provision Room} *should* look like … I was suddenly inspired … so this week, I really want to work out sorting out our Provision room to hold our root vegetables properly. Right now, I can store them underground in a stairwell cut out underneath our wrap-around porch. It opens up to the basement so it is actually a great location to store vegetables that need a cool, dark location. [Update - in between writing this post, we discovered, by chance, a skunk in this little cellar area, much to my utter surprise one early morning ... so we do need to critter-proof this section somehow ... but I still hope to store some vegetables there.]


{lots of butternut squash!}

The girls helped dig up potatoes, harvest the squash &  hang up the peppers to dry in a dark corner of our kitchen.. Apple sauce, apple pie filling and apple-plum preserves have also been made and canned this weekend. We have also added 21 litres of homemade apple cider, along with some apple cider vinegar.  {I hope to do a post on that process soon!}


Most of my herbs have been collected and hung to dry in the kitchen, as well. Do you recognize any?


 I’m hoping to save some plants from outdoors as I feel it is so wasteful to spend money year after year, purchasing plants for the planters. If I can keep a few alive, I’ll be happy. I have successfully over-wintered my geraniums and plan to do that again this year. We shall see how these million bells manage for the next half year indoors.

{hydrangeas for drying}

Winter is coming … it will not be long now …

{linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims
and Rosevine Cottage}


October 13, 2016 - 1:48 am

Rebecca - Ahhh! So amazing! I can not believe that lineup of butternut squash! I’ve tried to grow butternut squash here in Alaska two summers in a row but couldn’t get any fruit — our growing season may just be too cold and short here (sadness!).

October 12, 2016 - 10:11 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - You are so inspiring..I for one will be doing a lot more tomorrow because of this writing!

October 12, 2016 - 9:55 pm

admin - Hi Jen, nice to hear from you. Yes, I had planned to pressure can some apple butternut squash soup – it is so tasty! I’ll definitely share the recipe when I process the soup. :)

October 12, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Jennifer Heemskerk - That quote is so perfect!! Thank you for sharing that. And my, look at that bounty of beautiful food! Do you have a butternut squash recipe for soup? That is what I make using butternut squash…it’s so scrumptious and I think with your canning talents you could store some all winter!

To Bring Some Joy

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11


Most every morning, when my feet hit the cool floor of our bedroom and I slip quietly downstairs for that lovely first cup of coffee, my heart is full of gladness.

There is joy in the everyday routine, the comfort of home, the knowledge that my family is here together under one roof. I feel very blessed to be a mother to my children … and I’m not just writing that out to sound all “sunshine and roses” for a blog post. There is a joy that comes in serving your family – your children and husband – that can be attained if we look at our work as mothers and wives through Biblical views. Jesus was the greatest servant of all – His example to love others before His own was incredible. As a mother, I am constantly offered an opportunity to be a servant, have a giving heart and learn to put a smile on my face and joy in my heart, even when the task at hand is unpleasant. It does not come naturally to die to self, as we all know to well, I am sure.

For me, it is an attitude that must be embraced daily. Some days, yes, it is harder to find that joy – and sometimes that joy can be lost briefly by my own selfishness. But turning to God, loving the little things, seeing delight in the routine of the every day, it is all working its way into my heart and there is true joy abounding there when I look about my family and home. There is an enjoyment that envelopes me as I think about the tasks at hand, the schooling, the life that needs living day by day.

I am never bored at home! There is always something to do – to clean, to organize, to create, to cook, to help, to learn. Those things all bring happiness to my soul. Yes, even cleaning.:)
If you are not finding that joy and gladness that can come from being a mother, a wife, tending to the home, may I encourage you to find something in your daily life that *does* bring a spark of happiness to your day…


Do you love to paint and create art?  Pull out paints and spend some time creating some unique, personal pieces of art work – even with your children sloppily  painting beside you. If you love to cook, dust off all those amazing recipes you have always wanted to try and attempt some new dishes or baked goods that have tempted your palate. There are so many ways to assist you in bring a ray of sunshine into your day … take a soothing tea break in the afternoon, sipping your favorite tea and indulging in a treat or two. Read that book you have always wanted to read but never made the time in your schedule to crack the spine. Put on glorious music and allow your cleaning time to be saturated in the sounds that you love. {Give me big band music any day – classical music is also a beautiful option.}


Light a soothing candle at the dinner table to bring warmth and light. Hang bright cheery curtains in a room that needs sprucing up … better yet, refresh the room with a clean, crisp paint makeover to a color that brings joy whenever you see it. 

In a discreet fashion, I have a little goal of doing one thing per day that brings joy – whether it is baking a treat, simply having quiet tea time, planting a flower or two, changing furniture around … today, it was making plum-apple preserves with my soon-to-be-six-year-old. {My, time flies…} We had a few plums left over from a harvest at my parent’s home and I did not want these precious purple plums to go to waste. With the abundance of fall apples, the thought struck me that I could stretch the plum preserves a little if I added the apples … and it work – just splendidly.

We cut up the apples and plums, pitted the plums, and added them together with a big squeeze of lemon juice in a pot to simmer. Slowly, over the course of the day, the fruit broke down and cooked so pleasantly in the natural juices. I did not had to add any pectin – but I did add about just less than 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar. Not too sweet as we do not like our preserves to be overly sweetened. Using the spoon-in-the-freezer method of testing the jam, we ensured it was ready for the clean mason jars. It did not take long for us to make this jam – Lovelyn was a great helper, ladling the lovely preserves into the jars.

The plum-apple jam was processed in a hot water bath for 25 minutes. It set nicely and looks so pretty put up. God has the most loveliest of colors in His food, doesn’t He?

Now, go light a candle, make some jam, pour some tea, plan to do something that makes your heart sing today.




[Linked up with Strangers & pilgrims]

October 5, 2016 - 8:25 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - Gillian, this is so uplifting and refreshing.. Bless you for your insights..I think you will touch many overburdened wives/mothers and friends with this post.

Tomato Vegetable Beef Soup {Pressure Canned}

I love to get up early before the household wakes.

Mornings are busy, there is always something that needs to be tended, laundry to hang on the line, breakfast to serve and clean up, and schooling to begin. In order to start the day properly, I have been waking up before everyone to have some quiet down downstairs alone. My body is now trained and it is easy to wake up at 5 a.m. or a smidge earlier. My incredible mother gets up every day at 3:30 a.m. She is crazy –;)but dedicated to her schedule. She has set a great example … I truly think getting up before your children is a great way to start your day. Yes, you need to go to bed earlier, if you can, in order to manage enough sleep, however, I do think we expect more sleep than we really need for our body.

However, that is another post for another time …. right now,  I’m sitting in a quiet, oil-lamp-lit living room – the sun is just beginning to peek over the horizon. I have a hot cup of coffee to drink and a sermon to listen too. All is quiet except the hissing sound of the kettle on the warm wood stove and the gentle ticking of the cuckoo clock on the kitchen wall. I have started a batch of bread and it is raising in the warming drawer of the oven. Abby has just left to take our meat birds to the butcher (I always feel a little guilty when this day comes …. I still feel badly for the chickens!). Soon our freezer will be filled with 47 home-raised, organic chickens. What a wonderful addition to our food supply! I am so grateful.

In the kitchen, the canning has not stopped. There are jars and jars of canned foods ready to be stored in our Provision Room [which is a simple room in our 120 year old 'basement' where I have  a dedicated space to store our canning and goods - I wish it was nice enough to take a picture to show you all the canning, but the room is, sadly, an ugly room. I have dreams of making it look nice as well as functional in the years to come].


{the traffic jam of freshly canned goods ready to go to the Provision Room}

Pressure canning soups is a fantastic way to preserve fresh vegetables that are in season, as well as to make your life easier in the long run. It may be time consuming to cut up all the vegetables and prepare the items for the soup-making, but it is truly worth it. Put on your favorite music, ask your children to help you if you wish, listen to a sermon or podcast and the time will go swiftly.

Here is another recipe I pressure canned this week. I am recording the recipes on the blog for my own personal use in the future, as well as to share to my lovely readers.

Homemade Beef, Vegetable & Tomato Soup

1 roast, cooked & chopped
roughly 10 diced potatoes
6 sticks of celery, diced
6-8 raw tomatoes, diced
6 raw onions, diced
peas (optional)
4 cups of beans
6 cups of  corn
4 cups of green beans, optional
3 cups of carrots, diced
roughly one litre of tomato juice
3-4 litres of beef broth
salt to taste (I always find recipes are too salty)
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons of parsley
2 tsp. pepper

Pre-cook your roast and have it ready and chopped.

You will only need to partially cook your vegetables.
Mix all your soup ingredients together, warm thoroughly. Prepare your canning jars and lade in your soup.

Pressure can for 60 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.
This recipe will make approximately 21 litres of delicious soup.

These types of soups are great for after church -
with little time to heat and serve a hot meal for your family. Simply add in a loaf of delicious bread or buttered biscuits
with some cheese and there you have it – a lovely meal for your family!
They also work well on homeschool busy days or when you have company over last minute.
[When pressure canning, be sure not to add your rice or pasta noodles.]
When you are ready to serve the soup, simply add it in then.

Do you have any {pressure canned} recipes to share?

P.S. I am sharing this sweet photo of the children on the first week of school … Lovelyn (5) is showing off her new smile, after losing her first tooth that week. The dresses are English school dresses – a gift from our dear friends in England. We love these dresses! They wear so well and look tidy if we need to go out on a “field trip” or such.

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims

October 3, 2016 - 2:15 pm

kimberly - I love reading your wonderful blog, thank you.

October 3, 2016 - 3:08 am

Rebecca - Oh it’s so encouraging to hear you are a night owl too! I stay up till 12am too on most days — I need to stop that, ugh! Thanks so much for responding to my comment — and your nightly routine sounds so great too — ours is always so chaotic, its one of the things I want to work on…

October 2, 2016 - 4:05 pm

admin - and a dirt floor, at that!

October 2, 2016 - 4:04 pm

admin - Lindy, that sounds a bit like my Provision Room, that is for sure! Glad to hear I am not the only one with a damp floor! :S

October 2, 2016 - 4:03 pm

admin - Rebecca, I understand! By nature, I am a night owl. I love my quiet nights, peaceful evenings alone (sort of alone?) to get stuff done or sit and relax and read a book, etc., But I just find being a mother, with household chores, I need to be alert and ready to face the day instead of groggy and un-prepared so I am trying to switch to being a morning person vs. a night person. It is about training your body to sleep, I suppose. I go to bed around 10/10:30. I used to go to bed at 12 a.m. or later! Not anymore – I found, being pregnant so often, I was aching for sleep and bed so maybe my body trained itself to go to bed early instead of staying up late.
Re: time with husband – he often works late in the evening. On the nights that he is home, he is just as tired as I am so we both go to bed at the same time. :)
Nightly routine would be barn chores with big girls, then washing up (bathing the little ones, etc.) washing kitchen floor, ensuring the house is tidy (never go to bed with a dirty house!), reading stories (one little girl story, one big girl chapter book and the Bible) and then lights off for the little ones around 8. The older girls can read till 9 p.m. as long as they are quiet in their beds.
I’ll work on the ugly photo of the ugly provision room! ;)
Thank you for your encouraging words. :)

October 1, 2016 - 7:22 pm

Rebecca - Oh gosh, I wont tell you what time I get up in the mornings! I keep wanting to be a morning person but I’ve always been such a night owl! What time do you go to bed at night? Do you have a nightly routine? And if you go to bed early, when do you spend time with your husband? I would love to hear more about how you do all of this.

Also, your canning photos and posts are making me all jealous! Love them! I would love to see your ugly pantry — i have an ugly one too I’m hoping to spruce up in the near future.

I so enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for sharing!

September 30, 2016 - 11:48 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - Don’t feel so badly about your provision room. When I was a girl our family home had a dedicated basement room for preserves too. It was a dirt floor, usually with water on the ground.I walked on planks to stay above that. There were salamanders to watch out for and a bulb with a chain for light, halfway along the plank.. so.. I don’t think pictures would be a shock!! LOL..

September 28, 2016 - 5:50 pm

Sarah - We enjoyed using the canned turnips in stews. They seemed to retain there flavor quite well. It was a great way to take advantage of an abundant turnip harvest. : ) Thank you for your sweet comments on my blog.

September 28, 2016 - 12:36 pm

admin - Thank you, Sarah! Tell me – did you like canned turnips? I have quite a few from the garden. Wondering if I should can them or not?
I love your sewing – your aprons are divine! And I adore your shawls!

September 28, 2016 - 10:59 am

Sarah - Thank you for sharing your soup recipe! When my sisters and I were all single and living at home we used our pressure canner a lot. We canned chicken, roasts, meatballs, turnips etc. My mom and I are planning to make chicken soup to can and hopefully a couple other recipes (maybe your recipe!). When winter colds come it is so nice to have homemade soup on hand. I would be interested to see what you do with your provision room. We too have an old basement, our house was built in the early 1850′s. Currently I am storing my jars in our laundry room. I so enjoy your blog! Thank you for all of your wonderful advice and tips.