Gigi's Blog » Tales of the Mortician's Wife

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  • 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. ♥

The {La Tienda} Experience …

So we are HERE! We are in the village of  Montellano…. in Dominican Republic, for {Project} La Tienda. I’m sorry I couldn’t blog earlier, as you can imagine, internet is hard to find in the village where we are staying. I’m very excited to find a source of internet (and power!!!!!) to update the blog!!!!! 

Tamara and I prayed long and hard that none of our suitcases would be confiscated while traveling through Cuba and into the Dominican … and so far, everything – even from the wonderful-Dominican-transportation that we had the lovely privilege of experiencing (I think the Dominican men want to marry and whisk Tamara away – she was getting a lot of offers …. !) has gone very smoothly and according to plan.

First off, can I just say this is a very hard post to blog about … I don’t even know WHERE to start …I didn’t think it would be this challenging to write and explain what we’re doing but I’m going to try. Please be patient with me as I fumble through this post.

On the first day, we were able to hand out the items you all donated for the women at La Tienda – it was so exciting to be able to hand out all the goodies for the women. They were so incredibly blessed by all the donated gifts you guys sent with Tamara and I. As soon as we arrived, Rachel, Tamara and I went through all the donated medicine, tylenol, vitamins, toothbrushes, toothpaste and MORE and divided all the goods up into 27 different bags for each La Tienda women. 

Here’s Rachel, the 27 year old art co-op genius :), in her Dominican home, reading through the notes and packages that we delivered. Rachel has been here five years, raising two orphans and caring for all of La Tienda – she cannot receive mail or packages unless someone hand delivers them to her … her mom can’t even send her a care package.  We made sure there were some goodies in the suitcases that would cheer her up (like peanut butter) …


getting the goods unpacked to take to the village ….


All the goods, getting organized to deliver to the ladies (Thank you to Annette and Soyna for lending such BIG suitcases for our trip!) …



So we jumped into Rachel’s truck, along with her two year old adopted son, Jonathan, and her 13-year-old adopted daughter, Rosairi and drove into the village where the art-cop of La Tienda is located. Right away, we were able to meet the 27 women who make all the lovely jewelry of La Tienda and were able to hand out the bags of items to each women. They were very shy, very modest in their thanks, but you could tell that they were extremely grateful and happy to receive such presents  … one women left the store very quietly with her bag of shampoo, deodorant, a toy for her children, a comb, some pads, and three head scarves … within minutes she returned to the store, sat down at one of the art-cop tables with her beautiful head scarf tied carefully around her black hair. It was precious … 


This is Livi …mother to eight children … she makes the coconut candles and bottle-cap earrings …



Here is Marianna – she makes the necklaces out of seeds and found objects …



Here are some of the women at work in La Tienda … they received their paycheck and just turned right back around and went back to work making more jewelry …



They are so beautiful … these women were so excited to have Tamara and I there – at first, they were unsure but then when Rachel explained what we were doing, they were very excited to have their photo taken …



inside the store … 



Tamara and one her new friends … 


These are the home surrounding the village where La Tienda is located … there truly are nothing more than a shack … the floors are covered in garbage and dirt … 

This is Francia …



absolutely heart-breaking … I don’t even have the words to describe this image …



some of the children …



such gorgeous souls ….




yes, playing in the garbage dump …



Tomorrow is Sunday … so we are going to the church in the village and then we will spend the day photographing the store and the jewelry that they have made. By Monday, we hope to be photographing each women in their homes and spend more time meeting their children and getting to know everyone on a personal level. 

Not sure when I will be able to blog again but hopefully within a few days, I will find internet access yet again … the electricity is inconsistent so we’ll see where the next few days take us.

October 4, 2009 - 12:12 am

Help. » Gigi Blog - […] you have just started following this blog, you should read a bit about La Tienda here and […]

June 9, 2009 - 10:18 pm

Jeanne Harper - I feel like this blog has become my latest addiction. Just like a good book you start to feel like one of the characters and that is how change slowly happens, when people are faced with realities they never imagined then they wake up one morning and realize they can identify or even better that they want to be a part of the larger picture. Some may think that this is on the other side of the world and forget about it while they order a large latte and flip thru a magazine waiting for their hair appointment but I think your living proof there are people who care and I think this is just the beginning.:)

June 9, 2009 - 8:08 am

Heather - wow. as allways your photos are amazing. you have such a gift for capturing amazingly soulful shots. btw… about your computer… high temps and humidity can cause stuff like that… give it a few days to acclimate and then see! Im having a blast here in Mozambique. There is a professional photographer visiting the mission for a week and he is giving me free lessons! A dream come true for me!! wooohoo.

June 9, 2009 - 7:41 am

Tine - what a beautiful thing to do…God bless you! these shots are absolutely STUNNING!!

June 9, 2009 - 2:40 am

lovelyn - oh the tears. i don’t have words right now…i just can’t. thank you for serving.

June 8, 2009 - 5:24 pm

Sarah @ - These photographs left me breathless. Wow…

June 8, 2009 - 5:10 pm

Rose - No words have to explain these pictures Gillian, they are stories within themselves. I am sitting here listening to my daughter screaming with glee in the comfort of her home and then I see the pictures of the children there…tears fill my eyes and heart…if only we can take those children and give them a fraction of what we have here. We need to count our blessings!
Thank you for sharing their stories by pictures, very powerful.

June 8, 2009 - 9:33 am

Carry Aultman - Teary eyed and speechless. As always stunning pictures Gillian.

June 7, 2009 - 1:40 pm

Chantelle - As my two little boys are snuggled up in their cozy beds having a nap, I am brought to tears by the pictures you have posted. You, Tamara and Rachel are absolute angels, making us aware of what adversity others face elsewhere. I have no words to express what I am feeling…

June 7, 2009 - 10:13 am

Evelyn - Thank you Gillian, Tamara & Rachael for your hearts of compassion on the women & children of La Tienda…these pic’s have given me more insight on the adversity they must face and that I need to get on my knees and pray for these precious people. It breaks my heart to see such poverty when in other parts of the world we live in such abundance…help us Lord to have hearts of compassion! Praying for strength & protection for you girls…may God order your steps! BE BLESSED 🙂

June 7, 2009 - 9:27 am

Brenda (Gillian's mom) - What can I say, after seeing those pictures, especially the little child sleeping on a mat! Gillian, I am so proud of you and Tamara and the “small” sacrifice which you are making. I know that your lives and hearts will be changed forever. Rachel is such an inspiration and I admire her tenacity and willingness to be God’s hands, feet, mouth and heart EXTENDED! Bless all of you and may the Kingdom grow because of your upcoming project from La Tienda! Love you xoxo

June 7, 2009 - 8:43 am

Catherine - You are doing such important work. I too am haunted by the photo of the boy sleeping outside on the mat. Tears came to my eyes as I think of my own boys….

June 7, 2009 - 5:41 am

Lisa Piellusch - Such a great thing you’re doing. Fabulous photos! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next post.

June 7, 2009 - 1:44 am

Mich - Gillian & Tamara, this journey you are on is so incredible and I feel so glad that I am able to be on it with you from a far, learning about these special women and all the wonderful work that La Tienda is doing to make their lives better. I too, feel so blessed for what I have and for my family. Thank you for reminding me of that. Your photos are so powerful and yet so heartbreaking. I wish you both continued safety and blessings on your journey.

June 6, 2009 - 11:37 pm

Jeanne Harper - I am so grateful that you are there Gillian, I am haunted by the image of that little baby boy and I think how my sisters in motherhood across the miles and miles that separate us are doing such a wonderful and amazing job, they truly are inspiring and examples of all that is strength and beauty and most important love and faith.

June 6, 2009 - 11:31 pm

Melissa - You are truly doing a wonderful thing. That picture of the little boy laying on the mat breaks my heart

June 6, 2009 - 11:19 pm

Melanie - WOW, Gillian, those pictures are breathtaking. The image of the little baby just melted me to tears.

June 6, 2009 - 11:16 pm

Lita - Gillian wow, what an experience..Thanks for sharing this, it really makes one feel fortunate for what we have. Glad to see you are safe – continued safe travels to you both!

Light …

‘The eye is the lamp of the body …

if therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.”

Matthew 6:22


Tomorrow is the BIG day! Tamara and I will be heading off to work with La Tienda – a day we have waited for and worked towards for months now, but amazingly enough, I can’t believe this day is here already! Both Tamara and I were quite weepy tonight, as we tucked our little kids into bed for the last time over the next seven days I know we will both be missing our kids VERY much … but we’re also hoping that even through our experiences with Project La Tienda, our children and family will also learn a bit about paying it forward, helping others and doing the deeds you are called to do.

I’m still proofing like a mad woman (I rented Gone with the Wind and so Scarlett O’Hara is keeping me company tonight while I work – yeehaw!), working hard to get a majority of my galleries up before I leave. Here’s one little cutie pie that I couldn’t resist sharing … happy six months, Jett! Love ya!





LOVE your blue eyes, Jett!


Stacey, your online gallery will be up tonight! 

June 6, 2009 - 6:52 am

Brenda (Gillian's mom) - Wow! His ARE really blue!! Such a sweetie! xo

June 6, 2009 - 6:52 am

Brenda (Gillian's mom) - WOW! His eyes are really blue!!! What a sweetie. xo

June 5, 2009 - 7:24 pm

Sarah @ - Wow! Look at those eyes! =)

June 4, 2009 - 8:11 pm

Stacey - Hi Gillian,
Thanks so much.. if you can believe it.. I just realized this was here! lol..
You did a great job as always!

June 4, 2009 - 11:34 am

Amy - Jett is gorgeous. He has grown so much!! Such beautiful eyes.

{Little} Nicholas!

The countdown is on! 24 hours and Tamara and I will be heading off on a plane to the Dominican Republic, our suitcases stuffed full of medicine, bandaids, vitamins, and all sorts of goodies for the La Tienda ladies … I’m SO excited! I have been on missions trips before (I spent almost four weeks in Zambia, Africa a few years ago with the Salvation Army, also doing aid work, and have gone on several missions trips as a youth with my church) … but this time, it feels a bit different. It’s also very exciting and humbling to be asked to use the talents that God has given you in this way ….


Please pray for Tamara and I – for safety as we travel, for clearance of all the items we are bringing over, for our health (we are going to a high-risk malaria area) and that we will make a difference in the lives of the women of La Tienda. 

Last night, I received an e-card from my client, Lita, wishing me safe journeys and thanking me for going over to La Tienda … how sweet! I was very encouraged! You guys are awesome!
Lita, you are AMAZING! I had so much fun shooting your session … 🙂 


Enjoy the images! 






I loooooove this one!





I’m sure there will be lots of posts still before I go as I’m a the Proofing Queen right now, trying to get some galleries up for my clients before I jett off tomorrow. I am wanting to watch Gone with the Wind while I proof tonight, but do you think I can find it in town anywhere?


P.S. Don’t forget about the giveaway posted below! 😀

June 3, 2009 - 3:16 pm

Tine - oh my your colours are FAB! what a gorgeous shoot!

June 3, 2009 - 10:36 am

Lita - I am in photograph heaven right now with new gallery (amazing work by you of course with lots of happy tears 🙂 and this blog post too! Any of your clients would understand many thanks again! Have an amazing trip and safe travels to you both!

{Cute} as a button …

Sweet little Isabelle came to visit me today … only days old and just precious!



She was such a great sleeper …


and never fussed one bit.


Look at that hair!






What a pleasure meeting such a great family! 🙂 You guys were troopers!!! Amy, I hope you get some well deserved rest over the next few days. 

And now because it’s Monday, I also have the pleasure of doing a giveaway! Yeahhh!

This giveaway is from an awesome, awesome client and friend of mine who recently started her business, Baby Slings & Other Things.



This fantastic online store offers a variety of homemade, original baby products – from adorable hair barrettes and sassy soother clips to ultra-comfy and hip baby slings …



I love the fabrics you can choose for your slings – you can check them out HERE!

This week, Baby Slings & Other Things is giving away one pita pocket sling – with the fabric colour of your choice – to a lucky blog reader! If you don’t have a baby or your child has outgrown the sling, you can still enter the giveaway and use the sling as a gift for a baby shower for your friend! 🙂 

To enter the draw, click on Baby Slings & Other Things and browse around and then come back and leave a comment here on the blog … leave some lovin’, girlfriends! You know I LOOOOVE to hear from you all  …. 😉

Happy shopping!

June 18, 2009 - 9:57 pm

Keri Kitto - Hey Gillian, love these slings, they are totally cute!! Baby Emmie and I could really use one 😉

Thanks for a great session today, and for all your patience with our wee peanut! She is of course fast asleep right now!

xoSLINGox lol

June 18, 2009 - 11:00 am

Tracy - Just wanted to say how much I love your work. I am a commercial product photographer currently on mat leave and I think your portraiture work is some of the best I’ve ever seen! Great slings on the linked site, babywearing is a lifesaver!

June 18, 2009 - 10:54 am

Tamara Perreira - Love Baby Slings and Other things!!! I have a sling, hair clips and a soother clip from Maple. Great products and great quality. The Pita pocket sling would make a great gift for any new mom!

June 8, 2009 - 8:55 am

Kim - Loving the blue flowered pouches. Babywearing certainly is a life saver, and I am sure that my beloved slings will get tons of use once my twins arrive.

June 5, 2009 - 9:48 pm

Rebecca McLaren - I always love your newborn shots, they are my favorite. Great job. I also love baby slings, great website to check out! This will come in handy.

June 5, 2009 - 7:22 pm

Sarah @ - Wow, the pita pocket pouch sling and the wraps she makes all look so comfy. And those fabrics are cool. I like that she uses some stripe fabrics that aren’t as super-girly =)

Also, BEAUTIFUL newborn photos. That first one is amazing!

June 3, 2009 - 12:46 pm

Amy - Maple does amazing work. I love her hair clips and slings.

June 3, 2009 - 12:22 pm

Kari - It’s so hard looking at your blogs sometimes! it makes me want another baby! My son will be 6 in 6 more days, and it makes me want to burst into tears! where did my little boy go!!! and my daughter.. 3.. will be 4. But you know me.. I can’t “not” look at your pics they are too beautiful!

June 2, 2009 - 9:26 pm

Kristi - Gillian, AWESOME shots!! I am so happy you guys connected….Amy and Isabelle I love you guys! {cannot decide which one to order!}

June 2, 2009 - 9:21 pm

Justine VanKesteren - Isabella is an absolutely gorgeous baby! You’ve captured this precious age perfectly! As for the slings…I absolutely wish that I would have had one for my three. It would have saved me the sore arms and wrists…now I know what to buy for all those baby showers!

June 2, 2009 - 9:17 pm

Jen - Wow I have always used my heart to heart sling, but these look more comfy…after having four kids, I need something comfy! 😉

June 2, 2009 - 8:23 pm

Erika - The second picture with the pink hat is my fave! So cute!! Love this weeks giveaway. It’s great to see new local businesses online.

June 2, 2009 - 8:22 pm

Carry Aultman - I love the slings, they are beautiful and uber useful too. Beautiful photos as always Gillian. Great find too!

June 2, 2009 - 7:04 pm

Catherine - I can’t believe Isabelle has so much hair! Mine are 14 months old, and don’t have that much hair combined! I love the slings too!

June 2, 2009 - 4:21 pm

Monica - I love these pics of baby Isabelle, the full head of dark hair is just too cute.

I am excited about this online store, I have it bookmarked already!! The hair clips are perfect, so many colors to choose from…. YIPPEE!!

June 2, 2009 - 2:04 pm

Maple - Gillian, baby Isabella is beautiful, I just love your work!! I just wanted to thank you for having me on your blog for the give away this week……I also wanted to let everyone know that I have a few new fabrics for summer, I hope to have them on the web site before the give away ends! Thanks again!

June 2, 2009 - 12:56 pm

Kim - Love the baby slings. They look so comfortable and cute!

June 2, 2009 - 11:08 am

Rose:) - LUV the products on the site….I like the hair clips too…beautiful baby Isabella would need some soon, such gorgeous dark hair and ALOT of it:) Way toooo cute!
Such peaceful pictures of her, she is so delicate and tiny and just brand new…..wants to make me have another one:) just to hold forever and cuddle!

June 2, 2009 - 10:13 am

lyndsay hyatt-almeida - these shots are so yummy!!! i can’t even pick a favorite. okay, the last one is probably my fav. btw, i think you and i could be bff…just sayin’. 🙂

June 2, 2009 - 8:09 am

Rebecca - Love the newborn pics – they are always so precious. Checked out the website – very cool stuff (soother clips are adorable!). A sling would definitly come in handy – love the black snake skin fabric…

June 1, 2009 - 11:22 pm

Mich - Gillian, I love these pics of baby Isabelle and the full head of dark hair is just so adorable. The first picture is my fav with her face all snuggled on daddy’s shoulder. Too cute!! I also love the soother clips on Baby Slings & Other Things. Maybe these eye catching and colorful clips would have been the key to getting my girls to take a soother vs. my struggles with now trying to get them to stop sucking their thumb and finger 🙂

June 1, 2009 - 10:21 pm

Michelle - I’d love to give the sling to my cousin who just had a baby

June 1, 2009 - 10:04 pm

Shannon - I love all the pics, but the one on the blanket with her bum up in the air….priceless!!! A sling sure would come in handy with a almost 4 yr old, 2 yr old and a new baby coming…ahhh!

June 1, 2009 - 10:04 pm

Melissa - Gillan I am addicted to your blog!

June 1, 2009 - 9:58 pm

sharon - the first picture is PRECIOUS!