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. ♥

A Secret in the Kitchen

 

I have a little secret for my kitchen work.

My grandma, whom I love dearly and is a great treasure to me, always told me:

“Never do anything standing you can do while sitting down.”

In many modern kitchens, we find islands to work at, high bars and long counters. This leaves people standing around the island, whether to talk or to work. Sometimes there is not even room for a family dinner table as dinner is served on the island. Yet, I have found in many kitchens from an era gone by, you will find a handy secret in old images or paintings of their kitchen scenes…

And after seven pregnancies (which I find extremely hard on my legs and feet), I snatch the opportunity to sit while I work as frequently as I can. Whether it it as the family table (a great place to roll out large batches of cookie dough, especially with little helpers) or at the hoosier (a perfect location for bread making), I can pull up a chair and sit while I work.


So if I am canning, chopping, mixing or just reading a recipe book, I prefer to sit. Even if I am working outside in my simple outdoor kitchen {basically, our patio area that we convert into an eating area for the warmer months}, there are options to sit while we prepare our vegetables for canning or storing away.

Sitting for little breaks while you work saves your legs and feet.
There is plenty of time for standing and walking in my life (I do know how healthy it is to move about)- so if I can snatch a few minutes of sitting while peeling potatoes, I do.

In front of our kitchen cookstove, you will find a rocking chair ready to be used.

Sometimes when friends visit, they will sit there and talk to me while I prepare dinner or lunch. It feels inviting and comfortable. Many mornings, I can be found having my cup of tea in that rocking chair in front of the warm cookstove.
I also use a tall chair to sit at the counter height when needed to chop and slice food.

So my suggestion for you today:
pull up a chair and rest your tired feet, even if you are still working with your hands.
You can still work just as fast, but your body will have a few moments of rest.

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business,
and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without,
and that ye may have lack of nothing.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

April 7, 2017 - 6:27 am

JES - I just showed pictures of 1920s pictures on my blog and they all had stools. This post now makes a lot more sense. I love these sentiments you shared here today 🙂

April 5, 2017 - 7:01 am

Gigi - Yes, if you can get a stool, it helps at the counter height. 🙂

April 5, 2017 - 2:07 am

Rebecca - I also want to see a house tour! And I thought this post was super interesting! I don’t know why I’ve not thought of this before, but I do find that I stand a lot in the kitchen all day and my back hurts, but I could easily put a chair in there — brilliant! Thanks for the inspiration!

April 4, 2017 - 4:19 am

Gigi - Stacy, you are so sweet! Hmmm, a tour of my home would require it all to be clean at one time… I’m not sure that could happen in this home with so many people living in it. 😉 It would be something to aspire too, though!

April 3, 2017 - 3:31 pm

Stacy - I love this post and I love your blog. Could you post a tour of your home? I would love to see 🙂

Happy Hens & their Healthy Eggs

 

 

 

 

It’s that lovely, lovely time of year again – when our hens, ducks and {two} geese burst outside to their little field and discover growing grass, collections of bugs and sunshine awaiting their feathers.

 

We do not pen our chickens, geese or ducks inside a caged run, so they are certainly quite free range.  They are allowed to roam free in a large area, although they do not even stay in that particular area and walk about over 4 acres, hunting for bugs and new found plant treasures. We really do feel this is healthy for our feathered friends, even if it means ‘shoo-ing’ a chicken off the patio now and then.
It also produces much healthier eggs for us. And you. After a long, cold winter with varied egg production (we do not force the hens to lay with lights), the Gauthier Girls are open for business again.

{Lazarus being fed his hard boiled egg by his big sister for breakfast}

Did you know pastured chicken eggs are …

 *Extremely rich in Vitamin D & E
 *A beautiful source of Vitamin A
 * Rich in  digestive enzymes, essential to digestion and fat metabolism
* A great source of choline, linked with preserving memory
* Protects and strengthens your vision
* Seven times more Beta Carotene than factory-produced eggs

If you are going to eat eggs, why not find eggs from free range hens?

P.S. Orangeville residents can arrange to pick up our eggs at the local funeral home.

April 4, 2017 - 11:37 am

Gigi - I sent you a message! 🙂

April 4, 2017 - 11:06 am

Tiffany Stewart - Ooops sorry pick up in Orangeville.

April 4, 2017 - 11:05 am

Tiffany - Hi Gillian,
How do we arrange for pickup of eggs? We only eat free range so tasty!

April 3, 2017 - 2:05 pm

Gigi - You are always welcome to eggs!

April 3, 2017 - 2:04 pm

Gigi - Jen, for sure! We would love to supply your family with eggs.

April 3, 2017 - 5:54 am

Gigi - Well, in all honesty, we have tried to pen them but it never worked out. They go into the barn at night, of course. And they only lay in the barn so it is not hard to find their eggs. Sometimes they go off to another back barn and lay there, but my girls know to look for the eggs in strange places if it seems there are too few. The ducks and geese are a different story – they lay eggs wherever they want so that is always a bit of a treasure hunt!

April 2, 2017 - 9:40 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - I would love some eggs!! Yummmmmm

April 1, 2017 - 8:08 pm

Jenn - We will be your new customers, in 3 more weeks!

April 1, 2017 - 7:31 pm

Katy - We have chickens as well and love getting their eggs. Our girls are aging though and we need to get more chicks. We always order them and get them when they are a day old. Then we raise them to lay. We only let our girls free range in the later afternoon into the evening and then they go back to the coop on their own for the night. They would lay eggs everywhere if we didn’t and then we wouldn’t know how old the eggs were and would be afraid to use them! 🙂 I think it is fantastic that you guys let your girls free range all the time! They must love that!

The Beauty of Wild Yeast & Sour Dough

“Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy …”
Ecclesiastes 9:7

 

 

 

For the past little week or so, I’ve been doing some researching, trial by error baking and reading up on sour dough bread baking.
I had read that sour dough bread was a healthier alternative a few years back, but hesitated as I just love making bread so much – I did not want to give up my regular loaves. In all honesty, I was skeptical. I had guessed that our bread would no longer taste good and it would be dry and boring.


{milling  the spelt and rye flour at home}

Yet, after a recent conversation with some extended family members, the point that real bread should simply be flour, water and a little salt really made me think. I also watched a documentary on the fermentation of bread making – how it has been the traditional way of making bread for thousands of years – and that, too, got my husband I both looking into the benefits of sour dough bread.  It took me a while, I must admit, to realize that sour dough bread could be really lovely. I am completely hooked now! Bye bye commercial yeast! Hello, wild and free yeast!

My attempts at making a sour dough starter had previously failed, simply because I think I just did not follow the simple directions. Now looking back, I see how silly that was. (It really does pay to just follow directions and be patient, both things I am not very good at.)

 

So I tried again.

After a pain-stainkingly long week of waiting and watching my sour dough starter  {a mix of one cup of spelt flour mixed with one cup of water, added daily, stirred daily, changed the glass jar and washed it down down daily}, it finally began to bubble away on the counter top. Yes, my starter was ready for some baking!  Just to test it out, I started with some sour dough pancakes. They were tasty and the girls ate them up quickly for breakfast (they just love pancakes – it is always a treat to have them for breakfast). Next, I moved on to some loaves. The first few loaves were a little bit flat – but we toasted and ate them anyways. I just kept trying a new recipe or technique every day. At night, I dreamt of bread recipes, of how to make the sour dough work, of trying new ways of forming the loaves … I was am still excited each morning to try something new … some in a bread tin … some free form (the first one went completely flat!) … a rustic loaf … mixed with spelt and rye flour …

My research and baking experiments are also inspired by talks I have heard from Nourishing Traditions and Sally Fallon’s work.  I have always loved baking bread – it feels so lovely and wholesome for my family. However, knowing that sour dough bread takes the nutrition level up several notches makes it all the more wonderful. My mom (an incredible bread baker) is also trying this new venture so it has been fun chatting back and forth about what works and what doesn’t.

 

It is quite different than regular yeast bread … this oldest form of grain fermentation takes a lot more time, a lot more patience and lot more skill, I am finding, than working with regular yeast dough. First of all, the rise time is slower using the natural yeast of the air.  I actually respect that about this bread making process. It does not require much more hands on time – but a slowed down approach to the rising time, prep time, etc. Obviously, I am still new at this and am learning so much.

The health benefits of sour dough bread are quite wonderful!

To begin with, sour dough bread is easier to digest for the body and holds an array of lovely nutrients. According to this article, “Lactic acid bacteria (LAB – including those commonly found in sourdough bread) produce beneficial compounds: antioxidants, the cancer-preventive peptide lunasin, and anti-allergenic substances, some of which may help in the treatment of auto-immune diseases.”

 

“The integrity of sourdough is so complex that it contains a host of goodness in terms of nutrients. In sourdough, you can find vitamins B1-B6, B12, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and potassium in addition to uniquely balanced proteins and fatty acids.”

Doesn’t that just inspire you to learn more about sour dough breads and try it yourself?

Tonight, we are eating beef barley soup {beef courtesy of our friends, who blessed us with a large cut of beef from their cow} with this lovely loaf of sour dough bread.

So nourishing and I am so thankful!

I have much to still learn – would you like to learn with me as I go?

 

P.S. My six year old would not eat any of the sour dough bread because of the name – she thought it would taste awful and “sour”. I suggested we change the name to Wild Yeast Bread or her Particular Special Bread – lo and behold, she had a piece at dinner time and ended up eating six more pieces! Don’t let the “sour” in the name fool you.

 

 

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims

March 23, 2017 - 8:36 pm

Gigi - Sure, Veronica. I am new to it, but I will gladly share what I have learned so far and how the starter was made. Thank you for your encouragement. 🙂

March 23, 2017 - 7:55 pm

Gigi - I love sharing information back and forth! Nice to have a partner in this! xx

March 23, 2017 - 6:36 pm

veronika goisova - wonderful,I so wanna give sourdough a try again,my starter died twice last year…
would you share detailed way of making it ,feeding it etc
Thank you for the post,enjoying your blog always)

March 23, 2017 - 3:19 pm

Gigi - I guess I should clarify – as they have ultra-violet vision, they can discriminate faster movement than we can. So fast movement is easier to spot, slow movement will results in less stings!

March 23, 2017 - 12:46 pm

Maike - I was trying to leave a comment under your bee post quite a while back. I still remember the interesting facts and was telling the girl I’m taking care of about not moving fast and wearing bright colors instead of black. But then I started to wonder…if they only see fast movement, how do they see the flowers, grass, bee hive etc? Or do they see everything but just get more scared by fast movement?

March 23, 2017 - 10:25 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - I am trying this too! So far, not much success but I will not give up!! I have a wonderful starter going though and look forward to accomplishing the first tasty loaf!!

Resurrection Garden

 

It is now Spring! Praise the Lord!

With the arrival of this blessed Spring, it also brings the most sacred celebration for a born again believer – the death and incredible resurrection of Jesus Christ. This year, we are doing things a little different and will not celebrate “Easter”. Instead, will be attempting to hold our own small, intimate Passover celebration, as we learn and follow along with a Family’s Guide to Biblical Holidays.

 

But one thing stays the same – the girls started this new season with a homemade Resurrection Garden.

 

 

We re-used a basket and added some soil, rocks for a pathway, a tomb, a stone to roll across the tomb and some plants as decoration. Lyla made the cross from sticks outside – we had a little crown of thorns from a previous year when their dad made some crosses and thorns as project with the girls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

They added some spelt seeds, which we had soaked over night. The seeds, if watered every day, will sprout and grow “grass” around the garden, adding a special effect. The girls love to spritz the garden with water each morning and already some of the sprouts are popping up.

We look forward to learning more about this special season together as a family in the weeks to come.

 

March 24, 2017 - 6:30 pm

Sarah - This is such a beautiful idea!! I will file this away for the future. I would love to do this with my little one. : )

March 24, 2017 - 9:16 am

Gigi - Amy, that is wonderful! So nice to hear that your children enjoyed it. It is wonderful and very enlightening to learn of the Hebrew traditions of our Saviour. We are so removed from them now. Our church held a Seder meal last year – it was great, but it was busy with the children so I am looking forward to going over more details in our own home.

March 24, 2017 - 8:21 am

amy - We did a Passover/Last supper last year and the kids LOVED it. I picked and choose from a bunch of different sites and we as we ate things, the kids read different scriptures and such talking about the symbolism of things. Having wine glasses with grape juice was fun too.
we have yet to tackle a resurrection garden as I have NO clue where we could leave it as space is limited in our tiny house and we don’t have plants in general. Maybe one day…

March 23, 2017 - 7:56 pm

Gigi - Yes, the seeds are neat to watch grow for the little ones. Glad your family is enjoying your Resurrection Garden!

March 22, 2017 - 9:03 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Oh how lovely…we are also doing the same this year and the girlies love it! Love the idea of growing the seeds with it!!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Well, my vanilla beans arrived from France – and do they ever smell lovely! I ordered them off ebay and shipping did not take long at all.


I know making your own vanilla extract is well heard of in many kitchens – in fact, it is so easy, there’s not much to post about it. It’s barely even a recipe, really …

Simply attain your fresh vanilla beans. Enjoy the beautiful smell of those rich, moist vanilla pods! Slice them down the center of the bean pod and drop 3-5 into a glass jar.

Cover with alcohol  – vodka, rum or brandy – and allow it to steep for up to three months. You can leave the vanilla beans inside your extract when it is finished seeping or you can remove them. I usually just leave them in for extra flavor.

 

 

My mom gifted me with some brandy and vodka (no, she does not drink alcohol but had them for household projects). What a blessing!

I covered one jar with brandy and the other with the vodka.

For many of us, real vanilla extract from the stores is quite expensive. Using the fake version is not an option because of what may be used to make the imitation vanilla. {Also, here is a good article on the comparisons.} Making your homemade vanilla flavoring is a great option for a healthier and cost-effective vanilla extract.

March 17, 2017 - 7:42 am

Gigi - Use the ones listed – I have heard that brandy is great for vanilla, but I think a common one is vodka. I am working on the link (I have forgotten my ebay sign in!).

March 16, 2017 - 4:55 pm

Maike - Does it make a difference which sort of alcohol I use? I don’t drink alcohol, it all smells the same to me, but perhaps there are differences especially in the final vanilla extract taste? I’m also interested in the link to the beans. 🙂

March 16, 2017 - 4:09 pm

Gigi - Looking at the bottle, I think it was a hot sauce bottle…

March 16, 2017 - 4:07 pm

Gigi - I think that bottle is an old condiment bottle- I try to keep all my glass jars/bottles and take off the labels. It helps in these types of projects!

March 16, 2017 - 9:50 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - PS I love that bottle for the beans. Hoping to find one like that. It’s perfect

March 16, 2017 - 9:49 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - I am making my own vanilla too! Thanks to Gillian’s inspiration. I got my beans from ebay, shipped from France but grown in Madagascar. I hear the best beans are from Madagascar 🙂
Thanks for the inspiration, Gillian

March 16, 2017 - 6:37 am

Gigi - I will look for the link! I think I will order more. They are so fresh and lovely.

March 15, 2017 - 6:46 pm

Lauren - Hey Gillian! I sooo want to do this. Vanilla extract is so expensive these days! I heard that there was a worldwide shortage of vanilla beans, hence the rise in cost. Where do you get your vanilla beans?