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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Mother to six Little Women and Two Little Men. Married to a Happy Mortician. Caretaker to goats, chickens and many, MANY bunnies. Photographer. Homeschooler. Lover of Jesus, coffee & tea and all things pink & vintage.

{Ivy} Love …

This week has been an insanely mad week of (trying to) catch up on all my Gigi work  – editing, proofing, ordering and all the other fun stuff in between … if you’re waiting for a gallery, it will be coming SOON! Promise. I have had 10 cups of cofffee today and will be working till 6 a.m. this morning – yup, pulling an all nighter. Yeeehaw!

Okay, seriously. No,  I haven’t had 10 cups of coffee (although that does sound tempting) but I am working fast and furious to get all your beautiful galleries loaded. 

Meanwhile … can I just add some photos from a scrumptiously-amazing-fun engageent session I shot recently? I loved this couple – so fun! Heather is also a photographer so it’s a real honour to be chosen to document this stage in her and Rudi’s lives!





Absolutely devastating – the next day, the building owners cut down all their lovely ivy. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess? Crazy.

Ohhh, yes, and I now get to announce the winner of the giveaway from Baby Slings & Other Things …!

First off, a BIG thank you to Maple Sansford, the owner and brain behind Baby Slings & Other Things. I love supporting other WAHM and especially those in my area! If you haven’t checked out her slings, go and check them out! They are awesome! “”

So, the lucky winner of this giveaway is #15 – Jen who wrote:  Wow I have always used my heart to heart sling, but these look more comfy…after having four kids, I need something comfy! ;)”

Jen, e-mail me at and I will hook you up with our winnings!

Check back next week for another fun giveaway! 🙂

June 26, 2009 - 1:41 am

Elaine I love the rachel pendant:) gillian, you find the coolest things on etsy!

Roll up your {Sleeve} to help Baby Jack.

So young and such a fighter.



Some of my blog readers have recently asked about Baby Jack … you may remember that I blogged about him earlier this year. Baby Jack, born November 2008, was born beautiful, healthy, the fourth baby of Janet and Nel Pereira. But shortly after his birth, something terrible happened … Baby Jack, just a few months old, faced the uncertainity of death … rushed to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, his parents were devastated to discover that their sweet little baby boy  was unable to produce red blood cells due to a rare condition called Diamond Blackfan Anaemia (DBA), which causes bone marrow failure.



Since then, Baby Jack’s health has been on a roller coaster ride of regular blood transfusions in order to live.  He receives blood every 19 to 30 days and has already needed six transfusions. Some days, while the older two siblings are in school, Baby Jack, his mom and his four year old sister will spend their entire day, waiting at Sick Kids Hospital for Jack’s blood transfusions. Sadly, Jack will continue to rely on blood donors for the rest of his life unless he goes into remission or more likely, doctors decide he is candidate for a stem cell transplant.

In honor of Baby Jack’s fight for health, the Pereira family will be hosting a blood donor drive today in Orangeville at the Best Western Hotel, 7 Buena Vista Drive .

If you can done blood, I urge you to participate! I’m sure Baby Jack might be in attendance to tahnk you with his most adorable smile in the whole wide world! 🙂 

You can read more about Baby Jack on his blog:

June 18, 2009 - 9:21 am

Mich Thanks so much Gillian for the update on Jack. I have been thinking about him often and wondering how he has been doing. I am a regular blood donator and missed my last appointment so this was a perfect opportunity to donate and try and help Jack. I had the pleasure of meeting precious and very handsome Jack last night while donating alongside his courageous MOM. What a beautiful little boy he is and so full of smiles. Just melted my heart! And his mom is such an inspiration of strength and perserverance to give Jack everything possible to sustain his fight. What a true fighter he is!! Jack will remain in my thoughts and prayers always!!

June 17, 2009 - 4:24 pm

admin You’re so right, Esther … thank you for supporting Jack’s story and fight for health!

June 17, 2009 - 4:09 pm

Esther Hey Gillian
Love the pictures of baby Jack and sad to hear his story. On Home Imporovement Sunday night the show featured a 14 yr old with the same thing and talked about her transfusions, etc. I had never heard of it before and now have been reminded twice in one week how important it is to give blood. I’ve been donationg ever since I was old enough to, and I would encourage anyone who can to do so! One donation could save more than one life!

September 3, 2009 - 3:27 pm

{Praying} for Jack. » Gigi Blog […] baby – you may have even ready his story in the local paper just yesterday  … and you have read about him on my blog before … either way, I’m sure your heart has been opened to this little baby’s […]

Pre-Wedded {Bliss} …

Just a little sneak peek for Natalie and Duncan … this weekend, I shot their wedding and just had a blast! I have grown to really love and appreciate the Catania family … and it was an honour to be chosen as their wedding photographer … I almost felt like family! 😉

Here are some sneak peeks of the pre-wedding shots …








sweet little Nora, the prettiest flower girl ever …











More to come later!

June 21, 2009 - 9:31 pm

Natalie OMG OMG OMG! I cannot believe these pictures. Thank you soooooo much Gillian for capturing our day. I was watching you take some of these pictures thinking to myself what a disaster my house is with 16 women filling it and you managed to take magnificant shots in spite of the chaos. You were really the one and only thing I was not worried about knowing that capturing our wedding was in great hands! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!! Can’t wait for more!!!

Natalie and Duncan

June 17, 2009 - 8:04 am

Amy Wow !!! I love the sneak peak and can’t wait to see the rest. Nat and Duncan are away getting some much needed rest but will be so excited to see these. I know that Saturday was hard for you (a bit of a culture shock) after being away…. But my family really appreciated you being there to capture this important day in Natalie’s life. You are officially our family’s one and only photographer!!!

Scrambled {thoughts}.

“Now that I have seen … I am responsible …
faith without deeds is dead.
Now that I have held you
in my own arms
I cannot let go …”

I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that there are more toys in my kids’ bathtub than there are in the entire Haitian village I visited last week.

There is more food in my fridge and cupboards than I need. And there is one bed per child in this house while families of 11 people spend countless nights, cuddled up on a cold, damp cement floor of their Haitian homes. 

This weekend has been a whirlwind weekend – from ballet recitals for my five year old (which is a big deal in this house), grand openings of church projects, shooting a wedding all day Saturday, unpacking from La Tienda, and trying to sort through hundreds of e-mails and facebook messages. 

My brain and mind are on overdrive. And my heart is heavy. I’m trying to sift through all I saw and experienced this past week during the trip to the D.R. to documents the lives of the women of La Tienda. I keep crying when I see the photos. I keep praying that God will use these images for His glory.

I can’t seem to think of anything else right now. Their beautiful faces stay frozen in my memory. My heart is being tugged and I am crying at night when I lay in my comfy bed, with my three little girls tucked safely in their beds across the hallway. The lives here in Canada and North America are such a stark contrast to those in the Haitian village.

The one tiny glimmer of hope that keeps me feeling connected to this project is that my work is not done  with La Tienda. I still have to go through 1,000s of the photos and edit them, organize them, figure out which ones are best for the website, for marketing, for handouts at the Canadian La Tienda parties, figure out when the next big La Tienda party and photography showcase will be … so much still to do … but I am so happy about that. I don’t WANT to be done with this project yet. I have been so happy to be involved with la Tienda and the Haitian women … and I want to do more … but I am not sure where God is leading me.


Still, my heart cannot stop hurting for the people I have meet over the past week …















Tamara took this photo while I was photographing one of the La Tienda ladies … 



I will leave you with this beautiful music video one of my friend sent me … the song is written about Albertine, a little girl the songwriter met while in Africa:

June 24, 2009 - 8:31 am

Rose This is an unbelievable post! It is breath-taking! The message, the happy faces of the children, the colors… everything is overwhelming! Congratulations on making it!

June 23, 2009 - 10:11 pm

Rose:) Very touching photos, I cry each time I see such pictures of children, women, men, that need so much comfort of everyday essentials, not material things, just everyday survival!
Gillian, your journey with this has just begun, I truly believe God is working through you and that He truly will lead you where He wants you to go…..hang in there your work is not finished…it just begun:) I’m rootin behind ya!

June 16, 2009 - 11:08 am

Mom Gillian, I can totally feel your heart… and your heaviness. Please know that the Lord will and can use you, RIGHT from where you are! You can be of great service to La Tienda with your photos and journalism about their lives and their cause. The La Tienda parties will bring income for the ladies and that is very important too. Don’t be … Read Morediscouraged….
I have a great story from the Daisy Dejeuner and how it connects to La Tienda! God is at work!!!
We ARE blessed here in Canada and we can certainly do our part.
Love you xoxo

June 16, 2009 - 10:08 am

lyndsay hyatt-almeida gillian, we are so blessed, aren’t we? wow. you truly captured the suffering these poor people feel on a daily basis. thank you for sharing these images. they remind me (and convict me) of just how much i have to be thankful for.

June 15, 2009 - 11:07 pm

Ange Awww beautiful photos, I’m so excited to see you put brooke’s song on your pages, she is an amazing New Zealander, an inspiration in our country.

June 25, 2009 - 10:16 pm

The work is {not} done … » Gigi Blog […] was going through this wide range of emtions, my heart and mind was quickly transported back to the Haitian village I recently visited. I remember, quite clearly, the sick children, the rotting poverty, the unfair political treatment, […]

Raquel … and her broken {washing} machine.

**This post was written as we left the Dominican Republic, however a huge storm rolled in and cut off the electricy so it is being posted today.**

It is a sad day … Tamara, Rachel and I have just left the village and we said our good-byes to the women of La Tienda …. I was incredibly sad to leave behind the ladies and their sweet children and families …. it’s amazing how you do truly take a piece of your experience in your heart when you leave …. we have had an AMAZING time here in the Haitian village and I am SO excited to see how the photos help out the project long term …. we have all sorts of ideas and plans for these images – they will be going on the website, into coffee table books, newsletters and more … stay tuned for the upcoming La Tienda party Tamara and I will be hosting, that will also double as a photography showcase from our trip.

Part of our experience here has been seeing first hand how a missionary lives … Rachel, a 27 year old Barrie resident, has spent the last five years of her life, helping the Haitian people in a way that I can barely describe … not only did she START La Tienda, but she has done so much more … she is teaching these women a skill in life, a skill that can be passed down to their daughters (who do help hand in hand in the store) … she is  helping them feel dignified, beautiful and full of worth …

What baffles my mind is the fact that she just happened to come to the Dominican for a vacation … but during her visit, her eyes were opened to the turmoil, the hatred for the Haitians and the pressing need for someone to help them – specifically the Haitian women. But not only did she FEEL that need, she immediately acted on that need. She gave up her comfy-North American typical 20-year-old lifestyle and moved into a new country, alone, not knowing any Spanish or how things would turn out.


Five years later, her ministry continues to thrive – she has set up a beautiful store in the Haitian village where she works – the store displays are all created from garbage, junk or tossed away items on the island … it looks fabulous! She has found a unique way to assist this group of Haitian women in bettering their lives, supporting their children and helping them make enough money to buy food for their children. 

Rachel would not receive this verbal pat on her back, however. She is very humble and she is very real. The little luxuries in life that we take for granted – a flushing toilet for example – are what Rachel has had to give up.  She doesn’t have a working shower. Her house floods when it rains. Her electricity only works when half of the time – if that. Her toilet may or may not flush. She can’t wash her clothes as her washing machine is broken and there are no funds to fix it. She can’t even receive mail from her parents.  

You may have noticed that she has worn a Hollister shirt in some her photos … someone actually commented on the fact that these shirts sells for $45 or more and questioned why a missionary would wear something of that price … well, let me tell you that these shirts are made with slave labour on the Dominican island (we drove past where the shirts for the Gap and such clothing companys were made at one point in time) … these shirts are made with cheap labour by the locals and then sold in North America for ridiculous amounts of money.  It’s wrong and it’s outrageous! Let me tell you – Rachel’s one Hollister shirt is a second – the duds of the batch – that was sold for $1 on the side of the street.

So please, do not think that money has been wasted on clothing as that is the FURTHEST thing from Rachel’s mind as she is one of the most self-less people I know.

And Rachel’s past five years of serving in the Haitian village not been an easy road – on various occasions, she has her her life severly threatened – she was even attacked twice – once she was attacked and dragged into the sugar cane fields by a Haitian man …. and another time, she was attacked in the safety of her own home …. but both times, God has protected her and kept her safe …. however, being a single woman, alone in developing country, the fear of being attacked again is a strong feeling for her … please, please pray for her safety.

Somehow on her somewhat meager missionary salary, she has found the means to care two Haitian children, Jonathan, 2, and Rosiara, 13 – these two gorgeous children are well cared for, they are loved by Rachel and she treats them as her own …. she has opened up her heart to them and loves them so much … while others call her children dogs and pigs and yell out slang words as she passes with her Haitian children, she wraps her arms around them and loves on them, keeping them safe and protected from a culture that despises them and a future that threatened their very lives.




Rachel – or Raquel as the Haitians call her –  has developed amazing relationships with the La Tienda women … they have come to trust her and look to her for leadership in the developing of the store.




Every Friday, she pays the women for the work they have done in the art co-op …  the money from our auction that we have been hosting here on the blog have been very helpful in sustaining some of the salaries over the past few months – so THANK YOU!!!!!







When leaving her home for the last time, I really felt that we need to do something to bless Rachel … I believe you need to care for the people who are doing the caring. 

There are a few more auctions lined up and I want to designate this week’s La Tienda auction speicifically to helping Rachel fix her washing machine … what a simple luxury we all take for granted and yet, for weeks, she cannot do laundry or wash her bed sheets, her children’s clothes, her towels without driving into the city with her children to find a laundry mart … what a blessing it would be for her to be able to wake up one Saturday morning and be able to wash her clothes from the privacy of her own home!

All-Kleen Windows has GENEROUSLY donated a $100 voucher towards their window cleaning service … to bid on this week’s auction item, please click HERE.  The work of La Tienda is not over and we need to ensure that the ones caring for the sick and hurting are being cared for themselves ….  

So go place a bid and know that your bidding is making a HUGE difference in the simple life of one beautiful woman of God.

June 16, 2009 - 12:58 pm

Donna Breen Hi Gillian, I thoroughly loved your pics and story of the women of La Tienda and of Rachel. Rachel is the prime example of what the Lord can do if we only answer YES! to His call. I would like to donate toward the washing machine. Please let me know how much is needed and how to send it. thanks and keep on informing us about this wonderful work.
Love, Donna

June 13, 2009 - 9:54 am

Petra Lea What an inspiring story which really highlights the selflessness of a fabulous woman. I’m humbled by Rachel’s story & am so pleased you have told it. All those who come into her life must be graced by a wonderful spirit & hope both her wahing machine get fixed & La Tienda go from strength to strength! Petra x

June 13, 2009 - 12:50 am

Mom Oh, and what beautiful pictures! Especially the close up of Rachel! I know someone who would love that one framed! 😀

June 13, 2009 - 12:49 am

Mom Gillian, thank you for being so out-spoken! For sharing the truth about Holister, The Gap and other name brands that use SLAVE labour – yes, SLAVE LABOUR!! And then sell the clothes for tremendous amounts of money to silly FREE country people! Thank you for sharing the truth about Rachel and for patting her on the back. She totally DESERVES the praise!! She IS selfless and I admire her ability to give and give and give. To love and love and love!! God WILL bless her! And He can do that through us! Let’s get that washing machine fixed!! You go girl, and keep on being passionate!! Share with us and in turn, help us to be God’s hands extended to Rachel and La Tienda! xo

June 12, 2009 - 11:55 pm

raquel GILLIAN! geez you’re waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too kind. Did someone REALLY comment on my T-shirt? how funny.

June 12, 2009 - 11:36 pm

Lita Glad to see you are home safely Gillian! Looking forward to the show! I am speechless with what you have shared on your Blog, thank-you for sharing