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 & 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. ♥

{Home Canned} Tomato Hamburger Soup

The geese have already started heading south.

I can hear them honk and take flight- it is the grandest sight to see them fly right by my little balcony, eye level with me. I love to see them in flight and, although some people think geese are a nuisance, I think they are beautiful! It seems that every night, during reading before bed, we hear the geese honking and we all run to the little balcony that adjoins the little girls’ room and watch the geese fly away from our second story view point. In some ways, it is bittersweet knowing the winter months are coming – but in other ways, it is okay. I love the snuggly-months – with warm fires blazing, snow falling freshly all around and of course, a delicious aroma of the daily soup simmering away on the woodstove … Mmmmm … homemade soup …

With  the geese showing us that the cold winds are coming sooner rather than later, it means we all must take note. Winter is fast approaching. It is time to squirrel away all our goods from the garden – or local produce if you have not had a chance to grown your own – and prepare for the colder months that are inevitable.

This is one of my favorite aspects of homemaking!
[Well, I must sound like Dorcas of Larkrise to Candleford when she says "This is my one weakness" - as she says that about nearly everything in the series!] But this truly – canning and putting up food for winter – is one of my favorites of homemaking. It is a beautiful privilege to source out healthy foods, preserve it and provide it for your loved ones during times when nothing is growing locally, when leaving the comforts of your cozy home are daunting knowing the streets and roads are covered with ice and snow.

 

One of my favorite things to can is soup. It is just so incredibly comforting, handy and easy for quick, healthy meals. Soups and stews stretch a long way and can feed many on a little budget. Couple it with a lovely homemade loaf or two of bread and the meal is satisfying. Simmering it all day at the back of my cookstove, letting the delicious smell waft through the home … it is all signs of fall and winter months to come.

 

I am hoping to share a few of my favorite soup recipes with you over the month of September.
First off, in light of my tomato bumper crop, I will begin with a Hamburger Tomato Soup, compliments of my cute helpers …

Do not be fooled into thinking you need a small pot like the one in the photo- that was just for a “few” of the chopped vegetables. I used my big stock pot. The recipe made about 13 litres.

 

Here is the recipe:

 Tomato Hamburger Soup

6-8 lbs of ground beef

8 chopped onions
8 minced garlic cloves
7 litres of  tomato juice
2 tsp pepper
6-8 diced carrots
12 or so diced potatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Brown all of your ground beef, onions and garlic. Cook carrots & potatoes in your tomato juice. Add all ingredients together and simmer away for about 10 minutes. Ladle into clean mason jars, using new canning sealing lids. Process your soup in your pressure canner for 60 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure. (Always use a pressure canner for soups! If you do not have one, it is a great investment!)

 

When it is time to serve your soup, you may mix up a 1/4 cup or so of flour to about two cups of milk. Stir your mixture into your soup as it is heating up (you do not need to boil or cook your soup – just reheat). Feel free to add personal seasonings to your soup as well.

In the middle of winter, you will truly enjoy this lovely homemade meal, without stress or fuss.

September 13, 2016 - 9:59 pm

Jennifer A - Pinned! That looks so delicious. (Your photos are fabulous too!)Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop!

September 9, 2016 - 5:05 am

admin - Auntie Kate, we miss you! Yes, they are standing on one stool together. Lovelyn would like you to know she has her first wiggly tooth. She is delighted and wants me to pull it out. I said no! Ugh, blood!

September 8, 2016 - 9:07 pm

Kate - Your helpers are very cute indeed! Are they standing on one chair?! xoxo

September 8, 2016 - 9:23 am

admin - Yes, it will cook it.

September 8, 2016 - 7:05 am

Kyla - where you are only browning the meat, does it get fully cooked when you have it in the pressure canner?

Education {at home}

“Thank goodness I was never sent to schools … it would have rubbed off some of the originality.”
-Beatrix Potter

 

 

September, with its fresh crisp mornings and warm afternoons, cool evenings and painted leaf-tips, is here.

And so it begins … another chapter in our homeschooling journey … the pencils are freshly sharpened, the work books not yet creased and worn, excitement brimming as we all anticipate another lovely {and sometimes, challenging} year filled with learning new and wonderful things about this world God has created …

 

The girls have been asking to start our school year for a few weeks now, but I was not ready – there were still things to organize, lists to create (I’m not sure I ever did create those lists, except for in my head), books to arrange and supplies to be refreshed. And yet, here we are again, ready to begin. I think it is safe to say that we all love home educating here at the Gauthier home. We have never regretted the choice to school the girls (and soon, boy!) at home. That is to say it is not always easy – but it is a choice and a lifestyle we have embraced.

A few weeks ago, the girls, Abby & I worked on installing some new bookshelves and organizing the home library for our school room. Thus, the school room received a bit of a makeover. I still need to freshen up the (painted) floor (I find I have to paint it every six months or so from all the wear) but other than that, it is pretty much ready.

I located a cozy braided rug off Kijiji for the room and it just helps make everything feel more at home. We love the addition of the woodstove since we moved in nearly four years ago. It has made a world of difference in our very-chilly-old-farmhouse. My plans were to make this room as cozy and inviting as possible for little ones (and big ones), especially during the winter months when we are indoors more than the summer months.  We may not always “do school” in this room, but it is a room where we can sit and read our books, work on nature journals, listen to audio stories and just have life happen. School, that is to say, the book work and such, happen anywhere in our home – but this room does give us a designated location for our general home education.

 

Here is the room view when I last updated it

 

 

I may remove the little couch later and put a table there for the big girls for school work, crafts, etc. but we will see.
our lovely new bookshelves …. where in the world did I put all these books before? We still have at least two (large-ish) bookshelves in nearly every room of the house. We LOVE books.:)I working on making our home library as self sufficient as possible.

 

 

the morning together-time basket …

… little bits of nature …

… a chalkboard I made to remind us of the character trait of the month (I hope to write a post on that later)….
… the little girls’ writing/work space … and a handy book ledge that Abby made from a recycled pallet …
It holds our library books so they do not get confused or mixed up with our regular reading material (oh, you homeschoolers know what I am talking about …)

 

little Laz checking out the lower shelves…

 

 

our nature section (one of my favorite sections in our library)…

 

 

 

of course, a basket of books and some rocking chairs by the fair is a must …

 

a selection of our audio library for cold, chilly winter afternoons of listening …

and a basket of toys and puzzles for all the little ones to play with …

 

So grateful for yet another year of homeschooling about to begin!

 

(Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth)

 

September 12, 2016 - 6:10 pm

Mia White - Wow, SO lovely! I want to learn there! I have a skosh of homeschool room envy now ;)

September 7, 2016 - 5:58 am

admin - Maike, yes, definitely a lot of work (I consider it a full time job in some ways) but so, so, rewarding! I was never sent to a traditional school (except for one year while my family transitioned from across the country) and I, like you, was afraid of a “public school” in many ways.
I am grateful for a smaller school setting that I was raised in (started with homeschooling and then moved into a church with other families until it grew to about 80 children or so). Home education is definitely a great option for a parent that wants to be active and involved with their child’s education or one that is concerned about what the government is teaching in the government-funded schools (here in Ontario, this is something to consider for sure!) – it does take up a lot of your time and energy but again, the benefits are wonderful. We are blessed to have this option!

September 7, 2016 - 3:21 am

Maike - This looks so cozy and the little men who sneeked into almost every picture made me giggle. It must be wonderful to be homeschooled in your home…or perhaps even in general. I wished I was homeschooled – I always was afraid of going to school and it didn’t do anything good for me. With only your children or even meeting with other homeschooled natural children everyone seems to be accepted and let be the way they are and work in their speed. And when they do need help they can still ask you at a later time in the day too. It must be a lot of effort for the parent but worth it. :-)

September 6, 2016 - 7:09 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, these pictures make me want to go to back to school. Looks so inviting and pleasant. The girlies will enjoy the upgraded school rooms. Good renovating job!!!

September 6, 2016 - 12:39 pm

Mary Stephens - Well, that is a delightful school room! :-) It looks like a very pleasant place to study.

September 5, 2016 - 7:21 pm

Liz - Your “classroom” reminds me a bit of the “Reggio Emilia” approach. I like your natural items. I try and model my classroom after it, it just seems so natural, calm and happy.

Fall Fair 2016 {and a lot of animals}

“The crickets sang in the grasses.
They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song.
“Summer is over and gone, over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”
A little maple tree heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.” 
― E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

That time has come yet again.
The annual fall fair.

The girls just love it – I cringe a little every year because it always feels like such effort to get six children’s multiple entries – crafts, baking, sewn items, portraits, and other items – into the fair … not to mention the traveling with eight or so animals in our back trunk to show at the fair, as well. But really, when it is all said and done, the girls have such a great time and they so enjoy showing off their animals, entires, baked goods and so forth.

{our truck loaded up with all the animals in their cages}

Here they are with their animals and ribbons.

Lucia, proudly displaying Barrett, her Japanese Phoenix rooster (he won 2nd place). Does he not have a fine tail?

Lacey and her Polish chickens, which she has fussed and worried and cared for like a proper mother hen since she purchased them as chicks (they are very fragile chickens and do not do well with cold weather):

and Lacey’s very fuzzy angora bunny … I just had to get a close up. This is one she has raised from beginning, as well  …

Lovelyn and her hen, Dottie … (which she obviously adores) …

Leia and her spunky mini {Bantam} rooster, Rocky …

Lyla and her third-year-in-a-row-first-prize winning big ol’ rooster, Samson, a French Raverolle …
(every year, Lyla faithfully puts sparkles on her rooster – it is her trademark. Not sure if the rooster appreciates it, but he did not seem too bothered):

and Lovelyn, again, with her new bunny, Jack (named after Jack of When Calls the Heart):

 

 

 

 

What fun we had!
Now … it is time to move to FALL and school and new routines and fresh beginnings! I’m ready …:)

September 9, 2016 - 5:03 am

admin - Mrs. B, thank you for your kind words! We love to find vintage dresses, anything that is not too modern, really. We search thrift stores for such dresses which is where we have found them. Yes, they are homemade, but not by me. Shamefully, I am not the best at sewing – I am just learning, really. The best I have done is make a skirt! My daughter loves to sew and we are trying very hard to help her learn to sew an entire dress {We need help on the bodice part} so she can start making her own over time.

September 8, 2016 - 9:52 pm

Mrs. B - Congratulations on your girls’ ribbons and hard work! Where do you find the adorable dresses your girls wear? When my girls were little I made them several dresses like your girls wear, so just out of curiosity I was wondering if you sewed them? :) You have such a beautiful blog, and beautiful family.

The Best Infant Swing

 

“The BEST infant seat is mother’s arms,
The BEST baby swing is mother’s lap in a rocking chair,
The BEST stroller is mother’s body,
The BEST nursery record is mother’s own heart beat,
The BEST lullaby record is mother’s singing, and of course,
The BEST food, pacifier, electric warmer, and tranquilizer can be found at the mother’s breast.”

~ Above Rubies, Sally Simmons, Nebraska

 

I read the above quotation in a Bible study book I was studying a few years ago on mothering … it struck a chord with me.  I never forgot it.

 

 

Maybe because I remember shortly after having our second baby, I was suddenly convinced that our society carries our babies around in “items” far too often. There are swings, baby car seats, bouncy chairs, seats, musical toys, all of these gadgets for babies. I have even seen a stroller and a car seat with a specific holder for an i-pad so the baby can watch a movie while they are driving or strolling.

I suddenly felt, as a new young mom, that we had missed the point.  I also recalled seeing beautiful African mothers, during my month stay in Zambia with my husband two years earlier …. they carried their babies everywhere. Tied to their backs, babies on hips, toddlers holding on to their momma’s skirts … the mothers always seemed to know where their little ones were and their babies were always snuggled warmly against their mother’s bodies. It seemed so lovely, so natural.

 

But not in North America.

For example, does a baby need to be in a car seat beyond the car, I questioned? …. so,  I began to carry my two week old infant around, in public areas, in my arms instead of in a car seat or in a stroller. I would just carry her – to church, to the store, to wherever I was going. It was simple, it worked and it was healthy for her, I believe.
I realized how silly it was to walk around with a baby strapped in a plastic bucket car seat when this wee, cozy baby could have been snuggled in my arms while I walked about doing errands. Hadn’t I waited 9 long months to hold my baby in my arms? Why then would I quickly find a store bought object – a swing, a bouncy chair, etc. – to hold my baby when my arms were ready and waiting?

Parked in the doctor’s office parking lot, I unbuckled my little baby from her car seat. I remember leaving the infant carrier in the vehicle and tucking my baby in my arms, wrapped in a pretty pink blanket. I walked in to the the doctor’s office, a little pink bundle in my arms, for her two week checkup, and my toddler holding my other hand. It felt odd to the be the only mother in the waiting room without an infant strapped into a car seat.  I do remember some stares and I actually felt like someone would ask me why I was not putting my infant in a carrier.

Fast forward ten years …

The personal idea of avoiding store bought items to help hold my babies continued with each child I birthed. Slowly and eventually, we got rid of the swing, the bouncy chair, the bumbo seat and the likes and replaced all these items with our arms, our laps and our attention. And siblings.:)Siblings definitely help when it comes to playing with the baby and entertaining the littlest one of the family.

Since that day 10 years ago, I have always left the baby car seat in the vehicle {once the vehicle is parked} and carried our babies about – either in a sling or simply in my arms. We actually rarely even use a stroller as it is easier to use a sling or wrap or carry the baby in your arms (in case of long outings, we will indeed bring a stroller to carry all the food and goodies, etc. as a stroller is very handy for such items!). With our seventh baby now in our home, it has meant an intentional slower pace, a longer time rocking him in the evening & singing his favorite lullaby to him as he falls asleep. I can use this time to pray over him, to think about my day, to be quiet, to be un-hurried.

 

And personally, I wouldn’t trade it for the fanciest baby swing or newest trendiest stroller in all the world.

 

P.S. A really great article about this is posted here, entitled “In Africa, We Carry our Children so They Feel Loved.” I found it very fascinating.

 

 {Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims}

September 9, 2016 - 1:27 am

Liz bronsveld - Love this. I wear the baby(well she isn1 now!) and my almost 3 year old everywhere! I think we’ve used the stroller once while I was in recovery this spring! But ever then, Mike wears Alice as that is her safe place and in such times, she needed that.
I completely believe hold and having contact, breastfeeding until they’re ready to wean(L is still nursing and shows no interest in stopping, so tandem we continue) and all the wondering attachment bonding we can give as mothers. It’s a beautiful roll we are here to fulfill and raise our kids secure and loved

September 6, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Rachel - I don’t understand car carriers for carrying babies. They weigh more than the baby does and seem so cumbersome! Poor baby gets bounced and jolted around in there.

I’m wondering though if you have any good DIY tips and tricks for an inexpensive sling? Something to strap baby close to your body when you need your hands free. I’ve found some online but they are so expensive!! I’m not sure a good piece of fabric and some ingenuity couldn’t make something much better (and prettier). Any ideas?

September 4, 2016 - 4:03 pm

Tawnia - You so often speak what is in my own heart! With our fourth and final baby girl I am finding she is in my arms more than any of the others. She does have a bouncer she adores but most of her day is cuddled against mommy or one of her sisters. It seems like a much more natural place for her to be.

September 3, 2016 - 8:30 pm

admin - No, my arms never really hurt! Isn’t that strange? I think I have just become accustomed to carrying someone a lot.
Yes, I need to go through his photos. I had camera troubles (a corrupt card – boo hoo! Lost a LOT of images) that night and have had to send the card away. Praying it gets fixed.

September 3, 2016 - 3:42 pm

Maike - It is indeed thought provoking and I like your way. I think you are very glad to have all the other little ones to help you out. Doesn’t your shoulder/arm fall asleep and hurt badly after a few minutes? Btw you never showed the other pictures of the little man that you wanted to show ^_^

September 2, 2016 - 11:57 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - BEAUTIFUL … and thought provoking! What a great post, Gillian! I love this xoxo

Homemade Hot Sauce {Canned}

The canning pots have not taken a break over the past week or so, nor has the pressure canner …

I had hoped to start school early (as the girls keep requested to crack open our books – Praise the Lord!) but these tomatoes keep ripening:)and they must not go to waste … so, we spend our morning, chopping, dicing and prepping for the next recipe. We are starting to mix school in with our canning – because one can work that way while homeschooling! I either read aloud to them while they cut up the tomatoes or we listen to an audiobook relating to the science topic we are starting to study.  Piano is getting practiced, books are being scheduled formally as “reading material” and even the math program had a workout today. I’m call this a soft launch to school.:)
Sadly, I fear the rest of my home is feeling neglected – but canning season will only last for so long. I will have all fall to clean up the inside – at least, that is what I keep telling myself…
As requested … I am going to post another recipe I have used this year in canning. We are loaded – and overloaded!- with an abundance of beautiful tomatoes! I have never had quite the bountiful harvest before and while it is daunting, it is also exciting to try out new recipes or ideas to use with tomatoes, instead of just canning diced, whole or sauce.

My husband LOVES hot sauce. I must admit, in the past, I considered it an insult when he would glance around the dinner table, fill his plate with the food I prepared and then pour hot sauce ALL.OVER.IT.

But I have learned a few things …

1) Hot sauce is actually very good for you!

2) It doesn’t really matter. If it makes him happy and helps his meal taste better, I will choose to not take it as an insult.

So this year, I enlisted the girls help and we made daddy his own hot sauce with our abundant tomato crop and our fabulously growing hot peppers.

 

Abby now has a year’s supply of it, canned away. We will also give a few jars out for Christmas (his dad is also a lover of hot sauce).

 

It was fairly simply to make – not much more work than creating salsa. Of course, we wore gloves while chopping up the peppers because those little hot peppers are awful if you touch your eyes or mouth by accident!

Hot Sauce Recipe

(adapted from www.pickyourown.org)

      • 8 cups (64 ounces) diced tomatoes  (we made the recipe x4)
      • hot peppers – enough to yield about 1½ cups seeded, chopped (we used banana peppers)
      • 4 cups distilled white vinegar
      • 2 teaspoons canning salt
      • 2 tablespoons whole mixed pickling spices

Cheesecloth (6″ by 6″) or a spice bag

 

Prepare your tomatoes by dicing them and putting them into a pot. No need to skin them -just cut them up and place them in a large pot. Next, prepare your lovely hot peppers. Careful – do wear gloves as they will burn your skin. Take out as many seeds as possible. Chop and place into the same pot as your tomatoes.

Now it is time to mix in your vinegar, canning salt and pickling spices.  Scoop out your spices and place them in a cheesecloth bag in the sauce. Mix together and simmer to a boil for 1/2 hour or so. I added some hot pepper flakes to the pickling spices, as well. Simmer long enough to ensure your tomatoes and peppers are soft.

After it has cooked long enough, it is time use your tomato press – or you may possibly use a stick blender or a food mill. I think it would work just the same and be less messy – but I have this lovely tomato press that I used for this recipe.
Ladle your sauce mixture through the press and it will squeeze out all the tomato juice, taking out the seeds and skins. This will also remove the seeds from the peppers, leaving you with a tomato-pepper sauce.

 

It is a messy job!

 

Return the strained sauce into the pot to simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

Now it is time to fill your clean mason jars with your hot sauce.

Fill your jars leaving a 1/4″ space from the top. {Do not overfill your jars or they will not seal.}
Wipe rims, place new canning lids on top and place into water bath. Process for 20 minutes.

 

Remove from water bath and allow to sit on the counter or table untouched overnight. Check the seals in the morning {if you are new to canning, email me and I can explain this more or you can just google this} and store away for future use.

Making your own food at home is so much more resourceful and satisfying than simply purchasing as a store.  Not only do you know what is exactly in your product, but you can make your hot sauce as hot or mild as you need it to be.

Who says being a “housewife” is dull? There is so much to do and learn – every day is a new adventure!

 

 

 

 

September 1, 2016 - 11:31 am

Brenda (Gig's Mom) - WOW! Those Gauthier guys will be so blessed! Abby is a lucky man to have such caring women looking after him. Gillian, you are setting a good example of how to love your man!! The hot sauce looks great! Good work, Gauthier Girls!!!
PS: I love the way that Lovelyn has her little toes wrapped about the bench, balancing herself while she uses the press! So cute and adorable.