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. ♥

Gathering Strength & Peace

 For God is not [the author] of confusion,
but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 14:33

When times are challenging, do we crumble apart? Are our thoughts anxious and filled with fret? Or are we solidly standing on a firm foundation.

I have a friend from church who was diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago. My friend is a mother of five beautiful young children – their family had their heart set on being missionaries in Africa. They were just set to leave to the country to return to their African mission field when her frightening diagnosis was made early in the year. The whole church family was shocked and we all began to pray for this family. Obviously, they needed to remain in Canada for treatments and medical care. It was heart breaking to watch their family as she became more ill and try to find small ways to bless them through the momma’s treatments.

Just as her treatments ended, her husband began to feel unwell. Shockingly, he too was quickly diagnosed with cancer, as well – we have not seen him at church for many months as he is now too ill to attend. His is in the middle of his treatments, as well. What a hardship for this family! The children are young, but old enough to know that their future is unknown. My heart breaks for them and yet I see the momma, coming strongly to church every Sunday, with her five children, and praising the Lord. When she was too ill to attend, her husband brought the children faithfully every Sunday. We, as a family, pray for them every night – we pray and hope it is the Lord’s will that He will heal both parents.

This friend has been such a testimony to staying strong and faithful to the Lord during the most challenging times. I am sure she has had her moments of emotional weakness and tears shed to the Lord, however, she comes to church with a calm spirit and holds her children’s hands, gathers them around her as she worships the Lord and sets such a strong example for not only her little children, but for those around her. She always has a gentle smile for those asking how she is feeling (something that must be tiring to answer, even if we mean well in our asking) and a sweet response. She is a beautiful example of resting in the Lord and finding strength in Him.

How too often I have crumbled emotionally under silly, trivial circumstances that tried my patience! How selfish I can be when I do not look at the final chapter of the lesson I am being taught from the Lord. Patience, faithfulness, peace, a great comfort from our Heavenly Father – these things we should feel when we are going through an upheaval in our personal lives. We, as daughters of the King, should feel confident that the Lord will take care of us according to His will. We are not to be “stressed out” and worried and walk about in a huff or a gloomy cloud over our heads.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

John 14:27

Do you see as it says “Not as the world gives peace…”

Those in the world should look at us and say “She has incredible peace for what she is going through right now.” It should seem strange to them that we are not under stress or anxious- we should have a godly peace about our lives. Not frazzled or worried. This is what the Lord is teaching me lately.

 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

No matter how big or small your tribulation is, God promises to consistently there for you. We are to draw our strength from Him, not from ourselves. We are weak and He is strong, as the song goes.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

There was a moment in this week where I shed tears – perhaps a pity party, perhaps exhaustion from a workload, weary from caring for the home and my jobs while my husband’s work load seems too heavy. And then I realized, if I cannot handle a small trial without doubting and crumbling, then how would I handle a larger trial in my life? I need to have peace in all situations and rely on the Lord.

[It is] good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Psalm 119:17

My favorite thing to do when I am discouraged, anxious or not feeling peaceful is to play beautiful old hymns, listen to solid sermons and read encouraging Bible verses. Having your mind filled with Scripture is a beautiful antidote to troubling times. Hearing lovely sweet words of meaningful worship will also encourage your spirit – and it benefits you all day long as you will hear the music in your head for the rest of the day.

That being said, today will be a day filled with hymn singing and prayers. If you are going through a trial – no matter how big or small –  I hope you find this little note encouraging.

Blessings to you!

P.S. Another way to find encouragement is to reach out and bless someone. There are always those who are in more need than yourself. If I feel pity towards my own personal situation, my goal is to turn my eyes off myself and find a way to help someone else. It can be one of my own daughters, or perhaps someone from church or a neighbour down the road.

 

June 26, 2017 - 11:21 am

Gigi - Tara, what a small world! Please keep them in their prayers. Their hardships are hardly over.

June 25, 2017 - 10:51 pm

Tara C - I know just the sweet family that you are talking about. <3 They used to attend our church before their move. Such an incredible testimony!

June 24, 2017 - 7:18 am

Gigi - Renee, I think of you often and am going to sit down and pen a letter to you shortly. I hope you are doing well. You are missed greatly! xo

June 23, 2017 - 10:40 pm

Renee - I miss u so much my dear friend!!! So wish I could share a cuppa tea with you, share stories and a hug. This was a beautiful post about a wonderful family. I pray that all who read this lift them up in prayer for a full recovery.

Putting up Soups & Stews

 

 

 

As our sweet baby #8 is due in the fall, I got it into my nesting-inspired brain that perhaps canning some items ahead of time would be prudent.

Our baby is due in the beginning of October, which generally is a busy canning season for me. I know that even in September, it is going to be very full with the harvest of the garden, along with preserving what vegetables we have grown.

 

Therefore, putting up some soup and stews now, even though it may be out of season, might be a responsible idea. I am using up last year’s potatoes and onions, as well. If I can preserve a batch of soup or stew at least once a week or every other week (for sanity’s sake) for a majority of the summer, that would be fantastic. It is a big help to me to have jars of healthy food readily available on a whim’s notice – we use it for lunches, dinners, after church meals … it is just a blessing.

 

 

 

 

Below are the two recipes I have worked on for soups over the past two weeks. I know it is challenging to think ahead for cooler months as we are in the beautiful warmth of June – but when there is a bump growing out your front and your family is soon growing by “two feet”,  you realize there is no time like the present to work!

Of course, for my recipes, I double and triple everything. I do not think it would be worth it to go through all that effort of chopping and only end up 8 jars of stew.

Beef Vegetable Stew:

  • 4 to 5 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 12 cups cubed and peeled potatoes (about 12 medium)
  • 8 cups sliced carrots (about 16 small)
  • 3 cups chopped celery (about 5 stalks)
  • 3 cups chopped onion (about 4 small)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp salt
  • a dash or two of Worchestire sauce
  • a mixture of tomato sauce, added to your liking if so desired
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Water

 

You will need to cook your meat – I had some leftover beef frozen ready for soup so I simply used that and was able to skip the step of cooking the meat.

Next, you will create your broth. We all know how to create broth – or perhaps you have purchased your broth – in any case, add all your ingredients into the broth and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. You do not want to cook your vegetable for too long as they will continue to cook in the pressure canner.

Ladle your hot soup into clean mason jars. I was able to fill 14 one litre jars with this stew. Wipe the rims of your jars with paper towel or a very clean rag. Place new sealing lids on the jars and screw your rings on finger tight.
For my altitude, I pressure canned for 1 hr 30 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure. Make sure you follow the directions for your own pressure canner.

When it is time to serve your soup, simply reheat, add some barley and home baked bread. Yum – a delicious fall meal! You can even thicken your stew once you have warmed it, if you wish. (It is not advised to thicken soups for canning.)

The second soup I processed was Tomato beef Soup. We love this soup – especially with noodles added (only after being canned – never process noodles! But if you are reading this, I am assuming you already have some basic knowledge about pressure canning.)

 

This recipe is more loose – as in, I did not exactly measure. I can tell you I started with a big pot of broth, seasoned with bay leaves, basil, oregano, onions, garlic and parsley. You may adjust to your taste. Add salt and pepper as desired, as well.

The girls help cut up carrots and celery to add to the soup. The meat was already cooked so I simply added the cooked meat to each jar. This time, I did not add potatoes as it was in the previous stew.

Again, similar to the above recipe, simmer lightly on the stove for about 1/2 hour.
Fill your mason jars and wipe the rims clean with paper towel. I processed in the pressure canner for 1 hour 30 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.

A total of 38 jars was canned.

I’m not sure if this will help you if you plan on doing a canning day, but I thought I would share. Make sure you allow two days for something large like soups and stews. When I plan on doing a soup batch, I prep most of the vegetables the previous day and make the broth. The following day, everything is ready to go and I can just process the soups. Or I will cut up all the vegetables and process on batch in one day and will process the second batch the next day. It does take a lot of effort and time to get the work done, but again, it is truly worth it.  Of course, if you are home alone without children, you can probably process the entire batch in one day – but I know I am needed and stopped often for meals, etc. while in the middle of canning.

P.S. I have to say, I was tempted a few weeks ago to purchase the next size up pressure canner. I really felt my needs justified the reason to update. Our family has grown in size drastically since I first started pressure canning many years ago and our food needs have also increase. Thus, I was convinced I needed a new, bigger canner. However, my little canner has proven faithful through all these years. It is a much more cost friendly canner compared to the large option. In the end, I decided it was best to “make do with what I have”. I am grateful for this hard working canner! Best money spent ever, I think!

 

 

June 16, 2017 - 4:42 pm

Gigi - Regina, that sounds so wonderful! I would like to pressure can some meat for the fall, as well. Waiting for a sale from the local Mennonite store. 🙂
No, we are not going to find out the gender of the baby. And we are a little stuck on a girl name – we are still sticking with the “L” theme. I think I may have a boy name but not 100% sure.

June 16, 2017 - 3:38 pm

Regina Shea - Hi Gigi! This sounds and looks so delicious! I just learned how to pressure can a few months ago. I really love it Makes me wonder what took me so long to graduate from water bath to pressure canning! Right now I have pork going in the canner. I also thought about buying a larger canner. My canner wil only hold 4 quarts so I have to can smaller batches. After the pork is done, I have chicken to do. Tomorrow it will be bean soup to have on hand for the fall.
Are you going to find out what the baby is? Do you have names picked out?

Goslings & Ducklings

My apologies for my absence. We have been in the garden, making the most of this June sunshine,  working outside and … well, in the garden. With the expansion of our garden, we will be expecting even more produce this fall. What a blessing! We pray over the garden often and give it to God. I can plant and plant and plant but I cannot truly control the outcome. However,  I would rather be in the dirt, pulling weeds, than rushing to the grocery store this winter and buying produce from who knows where. {Think about it – it makes sense!}

 

We have many baby bunnies on our property – they are adorable to watch – but they are just like Peter Rabbit in my garden. My husband has been very kind and put up a fence around all the gardens to protect them from the cute little bunny visitors.

 

Our good friends gave us some ducklings when we visited their house last week- what a blessing! The Buff Orpingtons are good layers, but not good for meat. They are growing quickly and quite cute to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

We recently introduced some goslings to the barnyard, as well. Oh my, they are so cute!
They are some Chinese Geese and, I think, there is one Embden goose. We do have a full grown goose and gander already, but I look forward to having more geese for the future.

Who can resist the cuteness of a little duckling?

Or even still – a gosling?

 

 

I’m sitting on the back patio (our summer kitchen) waiting for the pressure canner to finish up over the propane cooker. I have been true to my decision to weekly pressure can some soups and meals for the winter months. Hopefully I can do a post about that lately as I have some good recipes to share …and I should do baby update, for sure … hopefully this week … perhaps if it rains a bit in the afternoon. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Delicious Rhubarb Ketchup

 

If your garden is bursting with those big leafy lovely stalks of rhubarb, here is a way to use one of Spring’s first wonderful vegetables.

 

 

Don’t judge this recipe by the title of it – it is so delicious, so scrumptious, your family will love it! We have used it on steaks and burgers, but it can go over anything in regards to your dinner. Use it as a sidedish for a meat, slather your chicken in it and bbq, use it as a dip with crackers and cream cheese … but, Abby says it is best on a good meaty burger!

 

 

So, here is the lovely Rhubarb Ketchup recipe, given to me by my friend, Jen. (Thank you, Jen! We love it!)
I made two double batches of this ketchup and have canned it for the Provision Room.

~Rhubarb Ketchup~

4 cups of fresh or frozen rhubarb
3 medium onions, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of white vinegar
2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 Tbsp. of pickling spice (drop in in a cheesecloth of some version of a spice bag)

In a large saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients.
Place pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag and drop into the pot.
Cook for one hour or until thickened.
I let mine simmer slowly for quite a few hours on the wood cookstove,
as I did not have a high hot fire going.

Once it is thick enough for your liking, discard spice bag.
Ladle into clean mason jars (size of your choice) and process in the water bath the smaller jars for 15 minutes.
After allowing it to cool on your counter, make sure the lids have sealed.
Tuck away into your Provision Room or canning room for months to come of ways to spice up your dinner dishes.
(It will also make a great Father’s Day gift…)

 

 

 

Enjoy! xo

 

 

 

Shared with Strangers & Pilgrims

June 2, 2017 - 12:37 am

Rebecca - I am going to try this. Thank you for sharing the recipe!

May 31, 2017 - 6:07 am

Gigi - Yum! Yes, that sounds a bit like our rhubarb sauce we make.

May 31, 2017 - 6:06 am

Gigi - Mom, it’s more like a sauce, relish, etc. for a side dip of a meat, etc. Ketchup has such a low quality sound to it but it is good!

May 30, 2017 - 9:16 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Yum!! We don’t eat much ketchup but look forward to having it on a burger at your place!! Love Mom xo

May 30, 2017 - 8:54 pm

Jan - I love relishes etc and am currently enjoying a caramelised onion relish which is wonderful on cold meats. However I would not waste rhubarb unless I had a paddock of it growing, nor would I make a relish from it. I am well aware it is classed as a vegetable but down here it is mostly used as a dessert. Rhubarb crumble, cooked and served hot with custard, or , my favourite, cold with thick cream. Wash well and cut into pieces a couple of centimetres long. Place in saucepan and cook very gently over a low heat. Be carefu;l as it catches easily. When soft , give it a stir and remove from heat. Carefully stir sugar into it, a bit ata time. Too much is as unpleasant as too little. The sugar will easily blend into the hot rhubarb.

Chicks, Rhubarb & Turkeys

 

 

Early this Saturday morning, Abby drove an hour away to pick up our little chicks. They will be raised for meat and eggs – they are a heritage breed, called Chantceler. We have moved away from the “traditional” meat bird for various reasons {mainly, wanting to be even healthier}. This breed, which originated in Canada, seems to fit all our needs – a good meaty bird, larger, can withstand traditional Ontario winters, and even lay eggs in the winter (we are hoping!).

We may eat half and keep half for the winter. We shall see.

 

 

 

 

There will be approximately 40 in total but the original hatch did not go as planned (when talking about animals, gardens, nature – we really need to rely on God – and whatever happens, happens), so we only have 20 chicks right now.

 

We are also raising a dozen turkeys – they are pretty cute as chicks.

Lacey found a favorite turkey and named him Noah. He pops his head up and down and strides along the cage faster and and peeps louder than the others. I asked her why his name is Noah – silly me, it’s because Noah’s ark landed in Turkey…


She asked that he be spared from eating.

 

 

I have two goose eggs under my friend’s broody hen – so I am praying they hatch! Wouldn’t it be fun to have some little goslings?


With perfect timing – or not so perfect timing – we also discovered a family of weasels or minks living in Abby’s work garage. This is bad news for someone raising any kind of small animal, especially chickens, ducks and turkeys. We have put out traps and poison but nothing has caught them yet. We are praying they do not start attacking the hens – it could only be a matter of time. They are vicious little creatures!

On another note, since our sweet baby #8 is due right in the midst of a big canning season, I have decided to plan ahead. All my soups and stews, I will try to can over the summer. I started canning some homemade chili this weekend, along with an Italian tomato chicken soup. If I can one type of soup or stew each week, we will have plenty for the Provision Room. This is a canning item I cannot skip as it makes such a difference in our busy days – just being able to pull out a jar of homemade soup during the cooler months and warm it up for the children for lunch or dinner is an amazing blessing.

Along with the recent batch of chili and soup, rhubarb was on the canning schedule.

Our neighbours down the road have a lovely, huge patch of rhubarb. They offered some to us so of course, I accepted! The girls helped chop up the stalks and we have made rhubarb ketchup, stewed rhubarb and vanilla rhubarb jam so far.

Would you care for the recipe of the Vanilla Rhubarb jam?

The original recipe is found here.

Vanilla Rhubarb Jam

  • 10 cups of chopped rhubarb
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brewed Earl Grey tea
  • 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 packet of pectin
    (If you are unsure of using pectin, as I am, you may simply try a slow boil to reduce the jam further and skip the pectin addition altogether.
    Your jam may be a bit runnier, but that is okay, in my opinion.)

Combine the rhubarb, steeped tea and sugar and cook till boiling on the stovetop. Add the vanilla, lemon and allow it to bubble away gently for a few minutes (judge how long it will take, depending on how much liquid there is in your pot). When it has simmered away for roughly 10-15 minutes, add the pectin. Stir in gently and cook for another 5 or so minutes. Feel free to do a spoon test (pop a spoon in your freezer for a few minutes, remove and drop a bit of jam onto the cold spoon. Run your finger through the jam – if it stays and does not run, it is ready. If it runs back together, it will need a few more minutes to cook away).
Pour into jars of preferred size.
Wipe rims and ensure they are clean before putting on the new seal lids.
Process in the water bath canner for 10 minutes.

We had the stewed rhubarb sauce over pancakes this morning – it was so lovely! My husband was pleasantly surprised. This rhubarb sauce is scrumptious over vanilla ice cream, as well.

Here is the recipe for stewed rhubarb – which is SUPER easy to make:

Stewed Rhubarb Sauce

  • 6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

    To be honest, since this recipe is so simple, I did not even really measure – but I surely doubled the recipe portions to ensure we have enough later in the year. Cook your rhubarb and ingredients over a medium heat until it a stew-like texture. Transfer to canning jars of your choice. I water bathed it for 20 minutes.

Are you interested in the rhubarb ketchup recipe? It is bubbling away on the stove top right now and we will have it over steaks tonight. It smells so lovely … what have you done with your rhubarb?

 

 

 

 

 

May 30, 2017 - 8:46 pm

Gigi - We love rhubarb strawberry crisp! I plan on making rhubarb strawberry pie filling, as well. Love the idea of rhubarb in the water! Great thinking! I was thinking it would be perfect in kefir water.

May 30, 2017 - 5:54 pm

Rebecca - Thanks for all the rhubarb recipes! Since I live a lot further north than you do, my rhubarb plants aren’t quite ready for harvesting, but I will be ready now when they are! I usually make rhubarb strawberry jam and just freeze a bunch for rhubarb water (instead of lemons, just throw diced frozen rhubarb in the water! Makes it tart and pink!) and rhubarb strawberry crisp. Yum!

May 30, 2017 - 2:06 pm

Gigi - Thank you for your encouragement, Stacy! I do love an old fashioned life!

May 30, 2017 - 6:51 am

Stacy - I really enjoy your blog. I love the old fashion lifestyle you bring. Would love to see your home. It looks beautiful in pictures. Have a blessed week

May 29, 2017 - 5:45 pm

Gigi - That is so kind of you, Kim! I will always take rhubarb! 🙂 But I have a good supply down the road so if you need to share with someone else, then please, share the rhubarb love around. 🙂

May 28, 2017 - 8:24 am

Kim Robbins - Gillian, if you need anymore rhubarb, let me know I have tons!! I am trying your rhubarb jam recipe this week!!

May 27, 2017 - 11:45 pm

Tawnia - Perfect timing for these recipes! We just collected a huge batch of rhubarb while cutting back our own enormous patch! Now I just need some jars!

May 27, 2017 - 9:27 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, I can attest to how delicious the vanilla rhubarb jam is!! Thank you for the jar and to confirm, It was DELIOUS! Regina, rhubarb is best gotten free, from nieghbours or friends! It is so epensive in the stores, I could never imagine buying it! Love ruhubarb!!!

May 26, 2017 - 3:22 pm

Gigi - Sure, I’m thinking the favorite turkey can stay for the winter – we shall see. 🙂
Yes, the ketchup is amazing! SO good! My friend shared her recipe and I will share the recipe on the blog. It tastes GREAT on steak or burgers.

May 26, 2017 - 11:55 am

Maike - I love rhubarb but I only know it prepared for deserts. Ketchup does sound quite strange. Have you had it before? What does the rhubarb give the ketchup, does it make it more sour or will the ketchup really taste like rhubarb? I would definately be interested in the recipe. Are you going to let the favorite chick stay alive?

May 26, 2017 - 5:32 am

Gigi - Surely some of your friends will give you some for free – then you can try it. It is so good! Don’t judge it by it’s sour taste because so much can be made from it. I hope to can strawberry rhubarb pie filling today. Yum!

May 25, 2017 - 9:07 pm

Regina Shea - Oh what cute turkey chicks. I’m embarrassed to say but I have never had rhubarb before. I’m 56 years old and never had it. It looks interesting but I worry if I bought some my family might not like it.