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. Chicken raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

{Brewing} Kefir Water

So recently, shuffling babies on our hips and trying to keep an eye on our wandering toddlers while at a family party, my friend casually asked me if I wanted to have some of her kefir grains.

My answer was a resounding yes!

For those who do not know what kefir water is … it is a naturally fermented, fizzy drink that is wonderfully full of probiotics, vitamin B, amino acids, minerals and enzymes. It is fairly simple to brew at home, does not require fancy equipment and can be modified to taste once it is finished and ready to drink.

And it taste great! Truly!

There are tons of tutorials online, many websites with fabulous information so I’m not going to dish out the same details. But if you are interested, kefir water is something you definitely need to add to your kitchen! I’m by no means an expert at this yet, but am happy to be learning and adding kefir water to our fridge/pantry.

Here are a few links for more information:


Kefir Water FAQ

More helpful information



My grains have already multiplied and I will be giving some to  my mom soon so she can start her own brew.

If you have access to the water grains, all you need is a mason jar, water, cane sugar (or I have read you may use coconut sugar) and your grains {which are not grains at all -but simply referred to as grains because of their appearance. Kefir grains are actually a relationship formed between bacteria and yeast. Sounds scary but it’s not!}.


Measure out a litre of room temperature water and dissolve a 1/4 cup of organic sugar in water.


Add 1/4 cup of your kefir grains.


Drop in a slice of lemon and/or a piece of ginger (I made a few batches with ginger, a few without.)

My friend recommended dropping in a clean egg shell during the process, as well.

Place cheesecloth of fabric between lid and kefir water and screw lid loosely onto jar. Let your jar(s) sit on the counter out of direct light for 48 hours.
After the 48 hours, remove the grains using a plastic spoon or strainer. If you wish, let your brew sit for one more day to create the fizzy taste we all love. You will need to have room in your jar and the lid to allow for the ‘fizzy’ to happen (no one wants an exploding jar!).

At this time, you may also flavor your kefir water – we added homemade strawberry syrup to our first brew. It was delicious!


Once it is finished fermenting, it will need to be refrigerated. Don’t let it sit too long in the fridge … but trust me, it won’t … if you and your children enjoy it as we do!

The girls call our water ‘homemade pop’ … it taste so good! We don’t typically purchase soda or pop so this is a great treat for the girls. You can even add the kefir water to homemade popsicles! What a healthy treat! Lyla has requested a ‘root beer’ version … any recipes?





I will be looking up lots of great ideas for this to modify each batch to taste.

Have you tried kefir water? What are your thoughts? I always find it so encouraging to make something simply at home and yet still gain from the nutritional benefits!





July 2, 2015 - 6:36 pm

admin - Jen, we used fresh strawberries from our picking last week – warm up water and berries in pot, crush up the berries (similar to making jam) and add in some honey or you may add sugar of your choice. Cook to create it a syrup. Add water if it is too thick. It turned out delicious. I shall have to go return to original recipe for exact measurements but it was pretty easy … yummy … we have made apple syrup (from apple peels) and blueberry syrup, as well.

July 2, 2015 - 6:18 pm

Jen Heemskerk - How did you make your strawberry syrup?


Hard to believe … how can it be?!… but it is July already. Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends. We are celebrating by staying home and having a regular day. How about you?

Our mornings around here are so noisy – is your home noisy in the morning, too? We have a friend coming to stay with us in July and I wonder how she’ll ever make it through the morning chaos.
Lavender, after having her breakfast because that is definitely first on her list to do, scoots about with the help of a handy chair. Devotions are read. Piano is practiced. Dishes are washed. Floors swept and chores are started. Everyone is talking about the day, the night, the dreams they had, who sat on whose chair for breakfast and so forth. It’s noisy, it really is.




I guess that is all part of a having a large family – because, I suppose that is what we are now – a large family. Funny how that just happened …


The girls and I spent the morning weeding a majority of our flower gardens yesterday. We have been having large amounts of rain so everything has just grown … well, like a weed. We try to weed once a week or more, but with the rain, it had been about a week and half and boy, those weeds were huge. While we were weeding, getting our fingers dirty, discovering bugs under rocks and roots that must be part of the carrot family, I was thinking about work – and hard work. Weeding is not something children love – but the girls have come to realize it just has to be done. Like putting away laundry every night and cleaning the chicken coop. My parents were great teachers when it came to work ethics – we all had chores and lots of them (or so it felt like that to me when I was younger). I honestly believe the majority of children in today’s society do not have enough chores.

Working together and taking care of your home and property is, although frustrating and exhausting at times, very rewarding.

I know of a family who has hired a gardener to weed their gardens – they have children the same ages as mine … as we were tugging at our big, nasty weeds yesterday, I couldn’t help but wonder if this family was robbing their children (and parents) of a very important life skill – learning to work together. Also, could it not possibly save money by having the children and mom and dad outside together, pulling weeds on a weekly basis. Or, if that seemed like too big of a task, could they ‘pay’ their older children to weed instead of paying an outsider? Often times, we have hire cleaners, gardeners, buy easy-to-make meals, have everything done and ready for our lifestyles and homes … so we can rush home, eat, and then turn around and drive our older children to town to their summer job … or take our younger children to summer camps and vbs  because they are “bored” and need something to do. I wonder, if instead, we should work to build a family economy at home that keeps everyone busy, helps provide a small income (if possible) and gives the children a fantastic work ethic and experience. Not to mention, spending time together builds precious memories.

We went strawberry picking last week. The girls helped and it did not take long to have all the strawberries we needed for canning. But while we were picking, we could hear other children grumbling and complaining while picking strawberries in a field with their families. “It’s too hot, it’s soooo hard, I’m bored …” Do you think, perhaps, these children are not doing chores at home, or maybe this is the first or only time they are experiencing “hard work”? And halfway across the field, you can see a Mennonite family, all the moms and daughters, quietly picking a truckload (literally) of strawberries together. I heard no complaints from their row. I only heard some laughter and quiet singing.



How can we expect our children to grow up and have a solid work ethic if they are not being taught the basics of work at home? What if they want to go on the mission field, only to discover it’s incredibly hot and uncomfortable, they need to dig a 40 foot ditch with only a shovel and … surprise, surprise … they just cannot handle it because they were not challenged enough to truly work their whole life?



Work also gives  children a sense of worth. It’s encouraging to a little one to know they can help out and make a difference. Don’t rob your child by pampering them so much that they do not learn the value of true, hard work. The next generation is already pampered so much.

If we’re not working together and raising our children to work, we are doing the next generation a terrible injustice.


P.S. Have you heard of Ants’hillvania? It is a great story for children to learn about how great work actually is for you! I listened to it when I was a young girl and now my girls are listening to it. Great Biblical story with fun songs about the ant and their work ethic.

July 2, 2015 - 10:53 am

Kate - The pictures of Lavender’s chair shuffle are adorable! Can’t wait to experience your ‘morning chaos’ in a couple of weeks. It will be a welcome change from my own version of morning chaos, with overlapping conference calls from 7am today. I’m coming ready to work, although I’m not the best at weeding – maybe one of the Ls can supervise me to make sure I’m not pulling out the non-weeds…..

July 2, 2015 - 10:25 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, you know that I LOVE this! Hard work never killed anyone LOL You have hit the nail on the head, as far as children learning to do chores and the FAMILY ECONOMICS! Great points! Your children are in a heritage of hard workers, both on Abby’s and your side of the family so it only makes sense that your children will learn the ethic of working hard! This blog makes me happy :) Love Mom xo
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread Proverbs 12:11
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. Ecclesiastes 2:24

July 2, 2015 - 9:58 am

Samantha Erin - Sooooo true and well said. I was talking about this very topic last night with my friends on the car ride home from Canada Day celebrations. We also discussed how giving children allowances they didn’t earn is also a disservice to them. I had chores that I didn’t get paid for simply b/c they were a part of family life. I knew if I wanted to buy something I had to earn the money to do so…and had to find creative ways to make money. It was evident at a young age that I was an entrepreneur and that’s thanks to my parents NOT buying me stuff just because I wanted stuff. I knew if I wanted something I had to work for it.

July 2, 2015 - 2:40 am

Mara - Trying to implement this right now with my children. So much truth here!

July 2, 2015 - 12:53 am

Helen - I couldn’t agree with u more!! I stumbled across your blog a week ago and it’s absolutely lovely. I think it struck a chord with me because we share similar values in our families. I hope this is ok but I just wanted to ask you why you prefer a church with no Sunday school (as mentioned in a previous post). I only ask because I’m torn on this subject and haven’t really read anyone post on this before.
Thanks, Helen

July 1, 2015 - 11:31 pm

Renee - Hear! Hear!
Well said Gillian! I love watching how my young boys are becoming so competent and the joy they feel learning new skills working along side their parents. I believe that I am raising four future fathers/husbands…. Not just little children. It’s imperative to look to your childrens futures not just who they are at present. My boys are excited to become men one day…Im excited to help them get there !

July 1, 2015 - 9:13 pm

Jen Heemskerk - I cannot thank you enough for this post!!! As a teacher, I see this all the time! Every time I give my students work, they groan and complain with “it’s so much work”…I usually respond with “really, I’m asking you to write 3 paragraphs- in grade 6! That’s not hard work!” Oh! do I pray for the next generation, that as you say, do not have a good sense of work! They want easy and comfortable and honestly think they are owed everything. So, thank you for teaching your girls that hard work is important!

Oscar II

After reading that Lucia’s pet bunny, Calico, died a few weeks ago, a very kind blog reader choose to bless Lucia last week.

She emailed and told Lucia she could have her pick of their bunny litter as a gift. It was a very exciting day for my little, shy girl to travel to the farm and choose her new bunny from their newest litter.

When we pulled into the farm’s driveway, Lucia giggled and said, “I feel like I’m famous….”


Then her shyness took over and she did not say much but quietly choose which bunny she would be taking home.

Welcome to the family, Oscar II. {Her rabbit looks identical to the bunny I owned when Abby & I were married … his name was Oscar, hence, now we have Oscar II.)

You will be well loved!

{And a big thank you to Janelle, who so kindly blessed our little girl with her act of kindness in offering Lucia a bunny of her own … what a sweet heart you have!}



P.S. Yesterday afternoon, Lacey started noting changes in her goat’s behaviour and we *think* she might be at the beginning of labour. Eeeek! So exciting! We actually did not even know her goat was pregnant, so this is a very new thing. If it is indeed true, this will be our first kidding together. I got up a few times in the night to check on momma goat, Mercy, but there is no sign of active labour yet, just signs of something starting. I hope I am not wrong – guess, time will tell!

July 1, 2015 - 8:45 pm

Gillian - She keeps her bunny outside during the day and brings him inside at night (just too many predators out there in the country!). I believe the bunny is a rex…

June 30, 2015 - 9:39 am

Our Home Of Many Blessings - Awwww,how sweet! I have a sweet shy girl myself and she is such a blessing to us! The bunny is so beautiful,what kind of bunny is it?Does your daughter keep it inside or outside?

{Seventh} Heaven

God is good and faithful!


There are nine heartbeats in this photo.


It still feels very surreal to Abby and I, but it’s true (confirmed by hearing the heart beat with the midwife)! By God’s grace, we will be having another precious bundle to hold by the end of the year (or shortly thereafter)!:)

Grateful to God as the first trimester was very smooth with little sickness – the only thing I suffered from was exhaustion (which is quite normal for me anyways – we all fall into bed tired!).  I never dreamed we would have this many children  in our family – but it is so wonderful, so much fun and such an incredible blessing!

God is good and we are excited to grow our family again!

P.S. And no, we are not “trying” for a boy …. we will be happy with a girl or boy!


June 28, 2015 - 11:52 pm

Audrey - Sweet congratulations Gillian! So thrilled for you and your inspiring family <3

June 28, 2015 - 10:38 pm

Dana - Congratulations to you and your family :)

June 27, 2015 - 9:47 pm

Kristina - Oh, praise God! What a beautiful blessing. I am so happy for you and your husband and your girls! Praise God and congratulations to all of you!

June 23, 2015 - 4:18 pm

Samantha Erin - Congrats Gillian! I am so enamored with your family and lifestyle. You are a huge inspiration to me and I frequent your blog so often to continue to follow along. To think – I’ve been following along since the time when you only had three littles and was following strictly b/c of the photography connection! Thank you for sharing your family and your farm life. I LOVE your recipes and love that you have discovered EO’s too. You are an incredible mom and the blogger I hold in the highest regard (b/c I have no idea how you find time to blog but am so thankful you do!) Much love! xoxo


June 23, 2015 - 4:17 pm

miranda - You popped into mind today and I thought I’d look up your blog…… WOW! Am I ever glad I did!!! Huge congratulations to you and Abby and your L’s!!! XOXO

June 23, 2015 - 5:44 am

Maike - Oh what a sweet surprise. Didn’t thought you would add another one, but this will be so exciting and the girls seem like they enjoy every addition to the family too. And oh my are the girls grown. Not too long ago, there were 2 tiny toddlers and the chubby baby. Now it’s one baby toddler and two other girls. ^_^

June 22, 2015 - 11:07 pm

Isela - Congratulations my friend!! One more sweet heavenly blessing! Happy for all of you :) Love from us :)

June 22, 2015 - 10:36 pm

Isela - Congratulations my frien! One more heavenly blessing! Love from us :)

June 22, 2015 - 6:28 pm

Sarah Washburn - Wow … what a tremendous blessing! I am one of 7 children … 5 girls and 2 boys! I love that family picture … it is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing, ~Sarah (visiting from Radical Femininity)

June 22, 2015 - 1:35 pm


June 22, 2015 - 1:19 pm

Lauren - AAAAAAAaAAaAhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! GILLIAN!!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!! I’m so very excited for you!! What a. Lessing from the Lord!!!!! I’M ESTATIC!!!!!!

June 22, 2015 - 9:17 am

Patty Patterson - Congratulations! I was once told that seven was God’s favorite number and would have loved to have had seven children myself. We were blessed with four – and I am grateful for each of them. And even more grateful for the grandchildren they are blessing me with! :-) Children are one of God’s greatest gifts!

June 22, 2015 - 8:57 am

Teresa - so excited for you! I love the anticipation of seeing what the next little person into the world will look like and act like–each baby is so unique and precious! Congratulations!

June 22, 2015 - 8:51 am

Melissa Mullinax - Awwww!!! How wonderful! Congratulations to you all!

June 21, 2015 - 10:44 pm

Our Home Of Many Blessings - Omgoodness!!! I’m so excited for you! Congratulations!!!:) We have 7 children also and would love more if God saw fit!

June 21, 2015 - 9:42 pm

Tara - Congratulations!!! Miss Leia looks just a wee bit excited about this :)

June 21, 2015 - 6:41 pm

Erin Lynn - Congratulations! So exciting!!!! Love that you don’t care about whether baby is boy/girl. We have five sweet girls and one small son and if God gives us another, would love to have another daughter!

June 21, 2015 - 5:31 pm

Betty Gauthier - Congrats on the news of the newest Gauthier baby to be. I hope you have a wonderful pregnancy and look forward to hearing the blessed news of a healthy baby.
Love Aunt Betty

June 21, 2015 - 4:45 pm

Kim Robbins - congratulations Gillain, Abby and the “L”s we are so happy for you!!! God is great!

June 21, 2015 - 3:55 pm

Jen Heemskerk - EEEEK!!! So exciting for all of you!! Congratulations! =)

June 21, 2015 - 3:37 pm

Monica - So exciting! Congratulations

June 21, 2015 - 3:35 pm

Gill Eardley - Wow! Congratulations! You are a baby making machine! Will you ever stop?! Lots of love to you all Xxx

June 21, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Kristine - What an amazing blessing! Congratulations and wishing you all the best for a healthy pregnancy!

June 21, 2015 - 11:02 am

Courtney - Wonderful news! Congratulations to you and yours!

June 21, 2015 - 10:35 am

Janelle - What a blessing!!!! Congratulations to you all!

Building a {Home} Library

“I can never get a cup of tea large enough
or a book long enough to suit me.”
-C.S. Lewis

We LOOOOOOOOOVE books here at our house.

I mean … love!

When a used book sale is on the calender, we’re all counting down the days with high anticipation!

After hitting two homeschooling book sales in the past few weeks, the bookshelves in our home were overflowing.
A beautiful sight – but also really annoying and messy. I literally had books doubled up row by row on one bookshelf.

Now, we have this little room attached to the girls’ room (which they all share) that has been labelled a “playroom” (I have always disliked this name – and I do not like the idea that a whole room would be devoted to toys?! Insanity! We also don’t like that overloading feel of so many toys …. yuck) and a “nursery” but it really was neither. Just an extra room that we used for the girls. We’ve always talked about having our own library room but the thought of building built-in bookshelves was utterly daunting.

So while staring at the cluttered bookshelves in three different rooms, I decided to bring a majority of the books into this extra room to create a home library.
Dragging up two completely ugly laminate bookshelves from the basement was no easy task, but I was hoping with a little elbow grease, we could add the bookshelves to our upstairs library room.

This is what the bookshelves looked like when I started:

Ugly, drab and boring!
They were an eye sore and I have always disliked them. So, like everything that is not my style, it was time for a spray paint redo!
{I tried priming it but the primer would not stick on the laminate at all….}
After a few coats of white regular spray paint, I began painting over it with regular white paint. It took many coats and it was not perfectly done but it looks a lot better than when we started!
{I  bought a piece of crown molding at the hardware store and Abby added it to the top of the shelves.

He added trim down the middle to connect the two bookshelves together.}

And with these shelves, we have the making of our own home library.
The girls love it and have been re-discovering books they completely forgot about!


Not all the books are in the room yet, but this is far as I was able to get organized.

{This was taken with a wide angle lens so the room appears bigger than it really is but this was the only way to fit the room in my lens.}


{I’d like to put up feature books every now and then…}


I still have four more bookshelves on the main floor but this is what I manage to do so far.
My plan will be to swap out last year’s homeschool books and
put them in the library as I am ready to put out the next school year’s books.


Here is a {free} bookshelf I dragged in from an old barn and painted. It’s solid wood and perfect height for little ones’ book collection.

A darling, pretty piece of fabric was found at a local thrift store – I was thinking it would make a cute cushion cover for the rocking chairs in the Library.

I’m pleased to see extra room on the shelves – which means, more books may be added!

It is nice to have a majority of the girls’ books in one area as it helps me feel a bit more organized for school and less scattered.
We have also arranged them on the shelf according to subject, etc. I know that won’t last long but it was fun seeing how many books were in the science section, the animal and wildlife, history area and so forth.

We have so many wonderful classics that I could never bear to give away or toss away such great books, even if we have already read them.

How do you manage all your books? If you homeschool, do you keep your books or give away when your children are finished reading them?

June 23, 2015 - 2:04 pm

Rachel - I have that same princess-piggy piggy bank! I turned mine into a Prayer Pig. I write little prayers of request or gratitude on little pieces of paper, fold them up, close my eyes, feel the prayer (as Anne Shirley might, hehe!) and pop them into the pig. Mine’s full now and this post has reminded me I have to empty her out and start over! :)

June 20, 2015 - 5:44 am

admin - Heather, wow, that sounds amazing! Thanks for thinking of us! Wish I could pop by and pick it up today!
Maike, thank you!
Melissa, I want to sit in there all day too! Looking forward to a rainy day of reading!

June 19, 2015 - 11:21 pm

Heather - Love the little glimpse into your sweet room for the girls. Wish you lived closer because I have a century-old white painted cradle that needs TLC. It was my grandma’s and I no longer have room for it. Perhaps you have a space for it? If you’re ever in the Oakville/Burlington area, leave a comment on my blog and it’s yours :)

June 19, 2015 - 2:44 pm

Maike - Wow, your house looks so very pretty, whimsy, and full of love. I adore your simpel handmade famr life so much. If you ever need a helping hand there, I would be there right away. It’s the life I have always dreamed of and I love reading your blog. <3

June 19, 2015 - 9:09 am

melissa - it looks so dreamy!! i could sit in here and read ALL DAY LONG!

June 19, 2015 - 8:20 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, that looks so AMAZING!! What a great job … you are very resourceful and creative!! Way to go, ….. xoxo

June 19, 2015 - 5:46 am

Gillian - Thanks, ladies!
Yes, a vintage section of fabrics would be *AMAZING*!

Jen, the chandelier was here in the house when we bought the home … however, I have found many at garage sales or online on kijiji – sometimes they need cleaning up and painting, but it’s not a hard project.

June 18, 2015 - 5:58 pm

Erin Lynn - I love their beautiful room! Great job on the bookshelves, and I think that creating an environment that is conducive to reading and learning is key to homeschooling. Such a fun post, love to see how you decorate your “nest.”

June 18, 2015 - 10:21 am

Our Home Of Many Blessings - I have a really hard time giving books away.I will always share them and give one to a friend when they would like one but just our old books that we school with or have had for years I just can’t bring myself to get rid of have a huge love for books as well and have 7 children,so our books have really stacked up through the years.I love your house!!So sweet and lovely!!!We have a similar set up of books galore and redone shelves including a little place for tea!;) I am always looking out for shelves that need a little touch up!…I think that fabric is beautiful!We have this sweet little fabric shop that’s a few hours down from us that is just simply wonderful!A sweet older couple have owned and ran it together for almost 40 years…..they try modern but have that wonderful old fashioned vintage line of fabric that I am madly in love with.I always stock up with yards of it when we pass through!

June 18, 2015 - 9:30 am

Jen Heemskerk - what a great book display! Your home looks so lovely and dreamy! I love the pink with the wainscotting and the most perfect chandelier! Where do you find them all?