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. ♥

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 :)

Rainbow-Sprinkle {kinda day}

“Rainbow sprinkles.
They are what make the world go ’round. Literally …
A world without rainbow sprinkles is a world without happiness.”

L.M. Augustine

Unlike most women, I hate shopping.
I can’t stand the malls. In fact, I honestly couldn’t even tell you when the last time I ever graced the doors of a mall …  it’s been years.

I’m a true homebody. A whole week can go by without feeling the urge to leave the comfort of my home.
But when my husband is home and there’s a few minutes to spare of quiet time, I often jump in to the big black suburban and head to one of four places …

1. the Mennonite store for supplies
2. the thrift store for books and little treasures
3. the dollar store for much needed school, craft and life supplies
4. the Bulk Barn

This week, a few girls and I made the Bulk Barn our destination of choice … to purchase a fun, colorful variety of rainbow sprinkles for our donut making spree.

You see, nearly every morning, I hear:

“Can we make donuts, mommy?”

Can I just pause right here and say, truthfully, I don’t always want to bake with children. It’s hard, it’s messy, it’s tedious and it certainly does require patience.
But sometimes, okay – 99% of the time …. I hear a little voice saying “Take the time, take the time, take the time …” even when I don’t want to be making another huge mess in the kitchen – after I just cleaned it from the early morning breakfast spree – even when I know I could make the same dessert in a fraction of the time, clean up and sit down and have a cuppa tea all before my three year old measured out the flour …

But hey, this is what being a momma is all about.
Right?

And while we certainly do not bake them every day, we have been having fun in the kitchen, trying out different {baked} donut recipes.

My almost-four year old loves to bake with me.
It is messy and takes twice as long as it should – but it’s works out as our unofficial time together – usually …

… until an older sister wants to come help … but that’s okay …

… who can blame them … when it involves the possibilities of fresh-from-the-oven donuts and multitudes of sprinkles of their choice?

ohhhhh …. soooooo good … and definitely something you eat straight from the oven! The fresher, the better!

They certainly make the day more cheery and bright …

I think it’s worth the big massive, sweep and clean up in the kitchen afterwards … because, you know, baking with a three year old is, well, messy.:)
Especially when sprinkles are involved.

 

We tried this recipe and definitely approved.:)

Of course, we had to DOUBLE it … in fact, we eventually trippled it!

{Rainbow Sprinkle Donuts}

2 cups of flour
2 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
2/3 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of yogurt
2 eggs
4 tablespoons of melted butter
3 tsp. of vanilla
rainbow sprinkles for the batter

The glaze was just icing sugar & milk – melted together in a frying pan on the stove.

1/4 cup of milk
2 cups of icing sugar
a dash of vanilla

some sprinkles of choice for decorating

Mix all the dry ingredients and then the wet. Fold in together gently. Add the sprinkles to the batter, stirring gently.
Use an icing bag, if possible, to pipe the donut batter into the donut mold.
Bake for 9-10 minutes at 350.

Let the donuts cool, then dip in the glaze followed by a generous dunking in the sprinkles.

Now, I challenge you -
Go, bake with your toddler.
Cook with your teenager.
Enjoy being a mom – even if it’s messy.

August 26, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Deedy - oh mercy! Thank you, and the too-sweet girls for the glimpse into mother/daughter baking loveliness…cherished times,
I agree. May have to bake those ‘donuts’ in little muffin pans for now. YUMMY…D.

The Day She Caught a Weasel {and lived to tell about it}

It was a balmy, warm August morning … my sweet niece and nephew were visiting from Alberta for their annual summer vacation … laughter could be heard as the children were all playing happily, riding the golf cart, climbing trees … and just being free to enjoy the lazy hazy day … the sun was gently blowing through the tall maple tree, the feisty toddler tormenting the ducks … a perfect summer day …

 

Then.

It all changed.

 

“Umm … I hate to tell you, auntie, but you got a dead chicken over there,” my 14 year old nephew reported.

 

Oh dear.

{sigh}
Well, I knew this day would come – having animals mean eventually we will have to face animal deaths …. so I sauntered over … acting all farm-like, and surveyed the poor, dead chicken. I was a bit worried perhaps it was a sickness that took the bird’s life, which would mean vet bills (?) or medicine … gosh, I don’t even know yet … but as I bent down and slipped my sunglasses onto the top of head, I squinted to see closer.  No, indeed, this chicken was not killed by a sickness.

This chicken was killed by … something.
Something that beheaded it.

Oh yes, ladies and gents — a headless chicken at my feet. No, I did not take a picture of it.

“Is that chicken missing her head?!?!” I asked, coaxing my teenage nephew to inspect the dead bird. Yup. Dead bird. No head. No major sign of struggle. We both cringed and looked at each other.

We weren’t really sure what killed the poor, sweet chicken, but we knew we had to remove the deceased hen. So {ick}, remove and dispose of it – we did.
Hands washed, shovel washed, life returned to normal.

Or so I thought.

A few hours later … shrieking …. screaming … six panicking little girls frantically ran to the house, hollering for me …..  calming them in vain, I tried to understand what the girls were saying …. What?! Something was attacking the chickens?!?!

“A weasel!?!?!?! Mommmyeeeeeeeeeee – a weasel is eating a chicken!
AND LYLA GRABBED IT by tail!!!”

 

What?! Lyla? Tail? Chicken being attacked?!!?! RUNNNNN, girls, runnnn! (In hindsight, I probably should not have told them to run to the chickens …. in case, you know, this *thing* attacked the girls but I was in a panic. It was our first chicken attack. and I had six girls screaming at the top of their lungs. I didn’t think straight.}

We all ran frantically to the coop – six , now seven (myself included) girls still screaming and yelling, arms flailing and tears flowing …. grappling for something, anything to scare the evil, black weasel away… the little vicious, disgusting creature scrambled quickly from the chickens and ran in into the long weeds along the coop … gone … out of sight ….

Sweating and panting, we all stood there, wondering what to do next.

“Okay, pauuuusee – Lyla, you grabbed the weasel?!?!?! What?!”


I shook my head – seriously – she could have been badly hurt by the blood-thirsty weasel ….
Turns out, Lyla, our brave 8 year old, thought it was her cat attacking the chickens so she ran to the victimized hen and instinctly grabbed the attacker by the tail – only to realize it was definitely not her little precious kitten! Yikes.

 

I quickly thanked the Good Father Above for protecting our daughter, then patted her head her for her bravery. Well done. She had saved the chicken.

The rest of the day was spent, watching, waiting, wondering if the wicked weasel would strike again.
It was torture. Every time I chicken clucked or a duck quacked, we’d all go running in a panic to protect the flock.
By dinner time, my mother in law stopped by – we quickly told her what was happening. She suggested perhaps it was not weasels, but rats attacking.

No, it was definitely a weasel, we reassured her.

 

This is what it looked like:

 

Yuck.

They are known for killing every chicken in the coop – just to drink their blood. They are serious predators to chickens. They can fit through tiny holes and surprise the flock quickly and quietly. They come back again and again to kill every.single.chicken.
Not good.
Suddenly, again, while we were sitting to eat dinner, the hens flew up in a panic and began squawking and running ….

“There it is again!” I yelled! Running, now eight girls with gramma to help, we scrambled to the horrified hens to find not only one but two weasels, boldly attacking our chickens and ducks! Sadly, we did not make it there in time and the awful, awful weasel killed our baby duck, Cinnamon {very sad}…

No time to mourn the loss, we grabbed at whatever we could find and started swinging at the weasels, trying to scare the biggest one from the coop … it scrambled up and down the coop walls, quickly averting our attempts to hit it with a fence post … (yes, that’s all I had and all I could think of t hit it with) ……. the two weasels ran around and around the coop, darting in and out of the long grass, not running away from us at all, but rather just skirting around, still attacking the chickens …

That’s it! I ran to the house and sent a S.O.S. text to my father in law to bring his gun and shoot the varmints!!!!! Two dead birds in a matter of hours … and everyone knows a weasel will continue killing until all the chickens are dead – not for food but just for sport.

Thankfully, my father in law showed up quickly. He shooed us all safely away, pulled up a chair, placed his shotgun on his lap and waited.

Within half an hour …

 

Bang!

Dead weasel #1.

 

Minutes later ….
More shots!
Dead weasel #2.

 

 

We all sighed, then cheered and applauded!!

I’ve never been more proud to call this man my father in law! He saved the day – and the rest of the chickens!  [I was tempted to take a picture of the dead weasel but I will spare you the gory details.]

But we knew two things still had to happen.

 

#1 – A new {more} secure chicken run needed to be built. And soon.

Enter Awesome Pioneer Friend, who volunteered to help me build a new run – complete with all her {pink} tools, fantastic knowledge and four beautiful little boys to help us out. In a matter of a day, with 12 children, one big pot of chili and the help of a fabulous gramma, we managed to construct the new chicken run.

 

And #2 – momma’s gotta get a gun.
You know … just in case … we do have a lot of little, tasty animals here – it’s basically a coyote-buffet this winter …

Now, don’t freak out. I’ll be getting my P.A.L and training next month. And I will be smart about it … I’m a mom … I certainly don’t want anything to foolish or dangerous to happen around the home  with all these precious little ones…. but, this will be interesting, to say the least.

A different kind of shooting for me, that’s for sure.

Maybe a new blog series … ?

Hah.
Stay tuned.

And in the meantime, I really pray nothing attacks our lovely ladies.

{the thankful hen that Lyla saved …}

 

 

 

 

 

August 25, 2014 - 4:32 pm

melissa - well i can tell you i found this story hilarious in the most terrifying way!! when we first moved to our farm we had a problem with “voles”. nasty!! i was leaving the barn one night and i turned around to say something to our oldest and there was a vole hissing away at me. so i did what all brave mama’s do while leading their charges! i started screaming “vole”. my oldest comes marching out of the barn with hoe in hand and proceeds to kill the vole while i am still screaming, looking the other way and
being a complete wimp!! i was so proud and mortified of my country girl all at the same time. great mama moment for me too!

ps she also cleaned up the nasty animal.

August 20, 2014 - 9:45 pm

admin - Hey Mamma H! Thanks for the comment! Sounds like we could get along all right! ;)
I could post our ‘loosely followed’ schedule but I bet it’s very similar to yours! Schools starting up soon here so things will be a bit more routine, which I do graciously welcome…

August 18, 2014 - 5:22 pm

Mama H - I always love reading your posts!Do you have a daily schedule you and your girls follow that you would be willing to share?We homeschool as well and have 6 kiddos with a little one due soon!…I wish we could hang out!!!…We are alot alike!Well,from what i can tell from your posts anyway!!Have a good day!And good luck trying to keep those yucky creatures away from your chickens!