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

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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. 
    Lover of life, coffee and all things pink and vintage. ♥

End of Summer {Love}

“Have you quit photography?”

I get that question a lot. I never know what to say. I have not quit – how can one quit something that is a passion and continues to be used every day? But I have felt, for some time, that it was time to stop focusing on my own personal success in business and turn my sights on an eternal goal. My family.

While it has been humbling many ways to step back from busy-ness of running my photography business, I have known all along, in my heart, that it was what God wanted for our little {big} family. Being a mother and a wife is a high calling – and living and breathing and being this momma to six, wonderful gifts we call our children, well, it was time to take that seriously.
I love photography.
I love my family.
I love God.

He required me to put it all in order – loving Him, loving my family, and letting my own goals take a back seat for a season. It doesn’t mean I cannot book a session or two but it means I need to keep my life open and available to my husband and children first.

 

It was a hard decision.

But I don’t regret it.
I see the rewards of turning my focus on my family and being an intentional parent – with God’s grace – so thankful for the sprinkling of grace every moment!

 

I am grateful. And humbled to be given this calling as a mother.

 

___________

Tonight, before bed, Lovelyn was all wiggles and giggles and couldn’t stay still.  I asked her if she wanted to go for a quick walk … she obliged.  {Lovelyn – 3}

 

 

Blueberries for Sal {BFIAR}

Although we haven’t officially ‘started school’, we started up our {Before} Five in a Row for the younger girls.
As a mom, I love this very-flexible, loving-environment, creative way to preschool through FIAR and include all the girls in the learning experience (although poor Leia did nap during this experience today)…

We skipped ahead (one of the best things about this schedule – decide what works best for your family and children) as blueberries were on sale locally – therefore …

 

 

 

 


Blueberries for Sal was the book of choice.

 

Oh, how I adore this sweet storybook – from the simple, yet eye catching illustration, to the plink-plank-plunk sounds to the adorable, cozy scene of mom and daughter canning in the old-fashioned kitchen …

 

So today, with great gramma visiting and the late summer sun keeping us warm, we canned blueberries to go along with the story.

We’ve made blueberry jam in the past, but never just canned blueberries… Lovelyn was a great helper filling the jars – although, as the picture proves, she certainly ate her fair share …

 

We listened to the audio version of the book while we filled the jars while another sister read through the book …

To can blueberries, simply wash the berries, fill the jars, and pour in a syrup mix to cover the berries (1:2 ratio of water and syrup, boiled on the stove). Wipe the rims clean, place a new canning lid on top and pop them in the water bath …

 

 

We water bathed for 15 minutes …

 

They came out looking very juicy and lovely – inviting for a cold winter day when we decide to make blueberry pie or blueberry bundt cake …

 

I’m so grateful for these little hours, moments of time, with the girls in each of their different stages of growing and learning …

If you have a preschooler or kindergarten child at home, I encourage you to check out the Five in a Row option. You will be pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it can be to teach your own young child with beautiful classic storybooks and endearing activities to go along…

As for Lovelyn, she fell asleep with the Bluberries for Sal book in her arms tonight –:)

 

August 31, 2014 - 12:28 am

Mama H - Well the birds nest is sweet!Thanks for the berry info,we are newbie canners!Wish we could sit down and chit chat some time!I think we would get along famously.:)…..Sincerly,Bobbie

August 29, 2014 - 7:47 am

Gillian - p.s. Oh, my hair is commonly referred to as the bird’s nest! loosely pulled up with lots of bobby pins!

August 29, 2014 - 7:46 am

admin - Hey Mamma H (ok, you have to tell me your real name so I can call you that!) – we hot water bathed them – cold packed the berries (just dropped them in) and the hot syrup was just ladled in to leave the regular headspace on top – water bathed for 15 minutes. I can’t wait to try them although I tend to wait till cooler weather to open the preserves. I have seen where you can add lavender or vanilla to the process – yummmm!

August 28, 2014 - 11:59 pm

Mama H. - I luv luv luv five in a row!!!We have a house full of kiddos also!What kind of syrup is it?And you just sit them in a tub of water?hot or cold matter?You should do a post about how you fix your hair like that!Seriously!It’s super sweet and delicate.I love it!

Putting Up.

Everyone in the house is already asleep and I’m sitting here, waiting for the last batch of pressure canned soups to finish up … I’ve just filled out a huge stack of fall fair entry forms for the girls. Do you attend your local fall fair? We have a blast with it every year and enjoy seeing old friends at the fairgrounds year after year. However, I almost skipped the fair this year – it just felt like too much on the to-d0-list but the girls asked and here we are, filling out the forms again.

If you go to the Orangeville fall fair – we’ll be the ones with ducks, chickens and rabbits following behind us …:)

Ahhh, yes, the fall fair.
The beginning of the change of seasons.

The glorious summer sun is quickly fading into an Autumn haze … our inky nights arrive earlier and with that, a more regular bedtime for our family. I adore summer – what a beautiful season to relax (?), enjoy nature and family, quiet times and busy times, but I {very much} welcome the almost-here Autumn season – it is my favorite. Snuggly days by the woodstove, warm bread baking in the oven, hot apple pies, Thanksgiving, cool mornings and sun-dappled afternoons – and yummy, creamy healthy soups simmering on the stove.

 

Let me introduce you to my latest batch of Pressure Canned Soups – the creamy, dreamy delectable fill-your-tummy Cauliflower Soup.

This soup is Lyla’s favorite – she asked for it to be her birthday lunch – in July – in the middle of a heatwave. That’s how much she loves it.

Did anyone see that cauliflower is really cheap right now in the grocery stores? After a good friend told me about these good sale prices, I zipped out and bought quite a few heads of cauliflower to make and can soup for the winter.

Nearly a dozen jars of creamy soup later, I think we are set for the fall and winter months.


{Can you believe I found these beautiful bowls in the barn out back, stuck inside a milk crate, long forgotten? I think they are so pretty!}

 

Doubling, or even tripling a soup recipe, is just so simple. And this recipe was so wonderfully easy to start with, it really made this task quite enjoyable.

Don’t forget, if you are pressure canning, you cannot add  the milk products to soup – when it comes time to serve the soup, *THEN* you may add the milk, cream or cheese to the soup while it is warming in the pot.  I’m not an expert by any means – but this is what is working for me:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

{I’m not a big person on measuring so use your judgement}

two heads of cauliflower, choppedpot full of water to boil
chicken stock added into the water
two or three potatoes, peeled and chopped
one stalk of celery, chopped
three onions, chopped
carrot, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
garlic cloves to taste
Herbs de provence, to taste

{Add cream or sour cream to soup to thicken, but only if you are not canning.}

–You will add all cream products only once you are ready to serve your soup, so please omit them from any cream soup recipe you may find online.–

Add all ingredients to the water, bring to a boil, continue to simmer until the vegetables are soft. Puree soup with an immersion blender.
Ladle into warm, clean canning jars, leaving a headspace of about an inch.
Wipe rims off jars and place new canning lids on.Place gently into pressure canner (canner is filled with water up to your knuckle).
Lock pressure canner and process at 10 lbs for 60-09 minutes (I could not find information on how long to process, so I am going with the longest time).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

See you at the fair!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs.

So many of my blog posts are about my children and yet there is a very important person in my life that is not often talked about …

…maybe because we’re still learning at this marriage thing … probably because I feel like we still struggle with a lot of regular-every-day marital issues … perhaps it’s because I know I still have so much to learn at this whole wife-role … but I must say, I have such a good husband – he puts up with a lot, especially since he has a house {literally} full of girls. From learning to brush fine hair into lop-sided piggy tails to reading princess-bedtime stories over and over and having to be the muscles for everything around here, as well as the one and only man who will remove the dead mice from the mouse traps … he certainly has a big role to fill.

He must go from seeing the worst situations of death and dreadful disaster to coming home, slipping off his suit jacket and dress shoes to replace them with muddy gum boots and donning his country-clothes, stained with grass and grease.
Last week, when I texted him to let him know two of our ducks are actually drakes, he said, ” Finally!  Some guys in the family!”

But God knew what He was doing when he gave Abby six daughters to raise.
That was no accident. He’s the right man for the job.

And tonight, when I said “Hmmm …..let’s do a photo of the family!” he didn’t complain or say no as most men probably would on a verrrrrrry hot, muggy summer day, especially with a chore list so long it never seems to end…  I promised it would only take a few minutes … (I was pretty close) and that we would only steal him from his (humungous) task of building his extra-large wood shed for a bit … and he obliged.

Yes, indeed. I’m very thankful for this man in my life.


If anyone has ever read Created to be His Help Meet  (a good book all wives should read!), you’ll know what I mean when I say this guy is my Mr. Steady.
Reliable.
Safe.
Selfless.
Slow and steady.
Would help a complete stranger just because.
He makes a fabulous father for all girls … I’m pretty sure most men are not this patient.
He’s loving and kind and willing to give up so much for his family.

This whole parenting and marriage thing – it’s such a learning process. We may have been raised in Christian homes but that doesn’t mean an exact blueprint is laid out in front for us in every situation. Spiritual leadership, growth … it’s all different when you’re the parent and little eyes are watching you. When we first were married, I remember going to church alone with my baby because of Abby’s work schedule. Only in this past year has it changed because of my husband’s intentional decision -he can now join us for family worship – that has made such a huge difference in our lives.

But this journey means we’re learning. Yes, we have baggage. We still fight and argue, as we are humans. We struggle with selfishness and pride. But we have a wonderful God who will sustain us and give us answers when we do not know what to do or say.

We’re growing together. And with God’s grace, in time, I pray we leave a legacy for our daughters how a marriage may be blessed by God.

August 25, 2014 - 10:57 pm

Heather - Love the blue. It’s sweet and calming :)
What a great tribute to your husband. I love your honesty and humility about how real your marriage is and how you’re still learning. We all are and will continue to until death do us part, I believe! Thankfully, the Lord guides us or where would we be? Beautiful post.

Under Pressure

Right now, there is a sweet, dark haired baby girl resting on my chest after a busy morning bustling about with kitchen chores … the sky outside is grey with the promise of little sunshine … the big, steel pressure canner is simmering on the stove, filled with anticipation of autumn soups that will sustain us during the upcoming {home}school months …

 

 

We all could use a little needy baby on our chest to make us slow the day right now.
Amen and amen.

{I always notice how humankind tends to smile and melt a little when a baby comes into the room. I love that God makes babies and children NEED their mothers. I‘m positive I’d just work all the time and not realize it if the Good Father had not have made a family operate in such a manner that children need their parents and parents need to slow down for their children.}

 

 

 

 

My mind is busily trying to put some order into our lives as we switch into the new school year {our fifth year schooling at home – praise the Lord!} … in between a trillion potty accidents, hanging laundry on the line, tending to cleanups of glitter and glue and unexpected completion of fall fair projects, ordering last minute school books on ebay, wondering whether or not we are doing enough for the Kingdom and if I set the timer for the next batch of peanut butter cookies … my heart is also heavy with several prayer requests …

You, I’m sure, can relate – yes? It may not be the same daily schedule or goals or worries but I bet your mind and heart – and plates – are full, as well.

 

 

 

 

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Somehow, in between naps and such, Lavender and I have managed to ‘put up’ some soups for the fall.
I know it gets very busy in my personal life once school life starts up … my mother, my sweet mom, inspired me to pressure can soups. So, I think in an effort to procrastinate cleaning out the school supply closet, I decided to pressure can this week.

Yes, pressure can soups.
I’ve *never* pressure canned meat  or soups before – but my mom has,  soooooo ….. thank God Above for Mothers! I texted her a lot and asked for her ‘virtual’ help during this process.

 

 

 

It actually was not as bad as I thought it would be… truly!

This is not a post about how to pressure can because I am, by no means, an expert – but there are a lot of helpful websites out there that can basically walk you through the experience. or you can text my mom for help (just kidding – I’m not sure she’d appreciate that).

Here’s a few sites to help you get started:

Simply Canning
Pick Your Own
Presto Pressure Canning

 

The first soup to go into the pressure canner, which was doubled, was Italian Chicken & Tomato soup… the recipe is found here.

 

I posted a sign on the kitchen door …

 

“If the canner weight’s a rockin’
Don’t come a-knockin.”

 

Then, feeling guilty it was inappropriate for the girls, I promptly ripped it down. Hah.
No need for a sign anyways – the crazy stream of steam escaping and the noise of the weight rocking held the children at bay. Funny enough, I remember, as a little girl,  being afraid of that weird and noisy pressure canner when my mom used to lock herself in the kitchen and whip up a summer’s season full of home canned goodies … now, it’s my turn to try it out…

 

 

 

Pressure canning requires patience – I know you want to slide open that big ol’ lid and admire your precious preserves, but you must wait … wait, wait wait until the safety lock comes off and all the steam has escaped. I usually wait 1/2 an hour – there’s plenty to do in between to keep the time from dragging. Like hold snuggly babies, push the toddler on the swing, watch the big girls swim, feed the ducks, etc. etc.

 

 

And when it’s safe to open ….. ahhhhh, it’s like Christmas morning!
Well, for me, an overly energetic housewife/wanna-be-pioneer/homesteader. It’s like Christmas for people like me. {I only wish I had made a bigger batch – however I need a bigger stew pot for that task.}

 

 

 


Once the first batch came out, I was hooked and on to the second type of soup (Hamburger  Soup – recipe here) …

I was able to pressure can two lots of soup and went to bed dazy, tired but happy, and dreaming about which soups to can next …

In the morning, I arose before the sun (well, not without Lavender’s gentle help) and found my groggy way to the kitchen. While the girls ate their breakfast and chit chattered about their day, I peeled loads and loads of carrots, chopped piles of celery and cried over the onions [definitely my least favorite part].

By lunch time, I had my third batch of soups  all finished – this time,  Honey-Ginger Carrot soup was ‘put up’ for the winter.  {I added honey to this recipe- it tastes so lovely!}

{Just a note – you cannot use milk products – cream, milk, etc. – when pressure canning. So watch your recipes – for this soup, I omitted the cream and will just add it when I go to serve the soup from the jar. It’s still very thick, however, even without the cream added.}

 

Oh, I am so in looooooove …. all that’s needed is a loaf of homemade bread from the oven or warm biscuits and you’re meal is set! Wouldn’t this also make a lovely gift for a new mother or perhaps a friend who is under the weather?

 

If I can pressure can soups, so can you!

 

 

It certainly makes my heart go flip-flop when I open the pantry and see home-canned soups ready for the cold winter months ahead, almost like seeing massive stacks of firewood piled neatly outside for the upcoming winter months …. joy in knowing there will be cozy warmth and good, healthy food for the family …

Okay, I know, we all find joy in different ways…

Mine new found joy?

 

The scary, slightly-less intimidating sound of that pressure canner weight rocking away on stove …

August 24, 2014 - 1:28 am

Lauren - This is something I really, really want to tackle early this spring, before the baby comes. Thanks for the helpful links :)