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. ♥

Slow Down & Listen Up.


Have you ever seen an image of the Waltons gathered around their radio, together, at the end of a busy day? I’ve always loved that scene in my head. If our own living room can be such a picture of coziness and warmth, it would make my heart happy.




It’s nap time. And tea time. And right now, there are four giddy girls outside skating on the world’s longest “puddle-rink” that happened to freeze in a valley-area of our yard. They are delighted. [I had dreamy plans of making them a proper rink but that was pushed to the back seat by .... well, having a baby last month ...]


But right before the girls laced up their skates, this was the scene in the living room…







… sitting around our radio, listening to the most fabulous audio stories…. I knew I just had to share these audio stories with you. If you homeschool, if you don’t, if you have children or if you do not, these historical audio stories are wonderful and engaging.


You see, when I was young, my parents ditched the t.v. and opened up a world of no-screens for their family. It did wonders, in my opinion. We read more. We sat on the living room carpet and listened to audio stories. We skipped most of the garbage that was on the t.v. and only watched (parental approved) movies. [Thank you, mom & dad!]
We also lived a slower paced life, compared to other families. We went to church on Sunday and Wednesday nights and piano on Mondays. In the summer, we all joined a baseball team. Perhaps life became busier as we grew older, but from what I recall, our life was not overly-rushed.

Well, we live a lot like that now in this home, as well. We go to church on Sundays, but not Wednesdays. We have piano once a week and fiddle lessons when their teacher is not touring. We don’t rush about too much. We don’t have a t.v. in the living room (it is stored in a closet until it is movie night).

However, the difference is there are more screens to avoid in this day and age. More to distract a young family. Ipods. Laptops. Ipads. Screens are a very big annoyance to me. And more often than not, such devices can discourage social time together. While we do not have a t.v. set out, I don’t want my children to spend their childhood with most of it in front of most screens. And even though it’s fantastic that you can save all your music collection to one device, you must have access to that device – and well, we have one very old ipod and one ancient ipad (given to us from family members). They do not hold very much music, they are usually not charged (an easy fix but still …) and I personally don’t like the girls to be carrying about an electronic device all day.

[This is just my opinion and what does or does not work in our home - I know that in many homes, ipods and such work great for gathering a family together to listen to music, etc.]

So, we do it old-school. We use … gasp … cd players! And time-tested CDs. No access to the internet. No cords or charging needed. Just a plain cd player. Recently, the cd player in the kitchen died and we had saved up for a replacement. Today was the day we first used our new radio in the living room.

The girls were delighted {and so was momma!} … We could finally listen to all our cds again!


Again, my parents gave these CDs to our family a few years ago as  Christmas present. They are, however, the same ones that I listened to growing up.  One set is the Bible completely dramatized {wonderful!}. And the second set gathers together fabulous historical stories and varied character-building tales. Both are so valuable! In fact, most of the history and facts that I remember from my school years involve these stories that I listened to in the living room of our home as a little girl.

Stories like Alexander Graham Bell and the “dead man’s ear” … Clara Barton … George Mueller … Christopher Columbus … Joan of Arc … the Wright Brothers … so many wonderful stories from the past!






And this reminded me that I truly needed to share with you these gems of audio learning that will truly benefit your own home.


It really does not matter if you listen from your ipod or cd player – these are wonderful stories that should be in every home’s collection.


There is something so pleasant to listen to audio tales … especially when the stories are gently teaching …

Here is another collection that we adore in this house: Your Story Hour.

Again, you will find these collections peppered with fantastic historical tales of great men and women … Louise May Alcott, George Washington, Sojourner Truth, Henry Ford, Sacagawea, and LOADS more.




They are fantastic CDs to listen to while folding laundry, preparing dinner, driving in the car, weeding the garden {pop in your car and open the trunk for outdoor stereo!}, down time in the evening … or  quiet winter afternoons together in the living room …





For information to purchase the Dramatized Bible and Character Building Series, you must use the old fashioned phone.:)No website, no email … just a phone number and here it is:  813-986-3464. I just called them this morning to replace some scratched CDs and they are still shipping out CDs, so don’t miss out.


For the Story House cds, they are available at – you can view them here.


Do let me know if you use audio stories in your home. I hope to share a few more audio gems in the future.

{:linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims}

January 26, 2016 - 9:01 pm

Heather - I wholeheartedly agree with all of this. Life is definitely becoming faster paced in our home and screen time is more often as the kids get older and have different needs. Still, we try to slow things down and do the CDs and stories, read-alouds and quiet, personal reading time. It has to be intentional because it slips away SO easily!
Love your CD player :)

January 25, 2016 - 3:08 pm

Lauren - We’ve listened to your story hour… Our favourite, from what we’ve listened to is John Newton.. What an amazing story! Some of them sound graphic though.. Like when the slaves got whipped in Sojourner Truth. It sounded really realistic

January 23, 2016 - 10:52 pm

Ashley - Thank you for sharing these Audio Dramas. I would love to know where you got that radio. It’s beautiful!

January 23, 2016 - 2:00 am

Rebecca - Oh i am so excited to check these out! We grew up listening to Adventures in Odyssey and I love them! I have all the ones from when i was a little girl, but they are on cassette! Haha! I also have a very similar radio/cd/record player like yours and it also plays cassettes so we still get to listen to them! I cant wait to call about those cds! Thank you!

January 22, 2016 - 8:18 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - I have seen those CDs and wondered about them.I love your little reading nook there and the radio! I swear me and you think soooo much alike!:)

January 21, 2016 - 5:35 pm

Music to the Ears » Gigi Blog - [...] with the last post, touching on learning while listening to audio stories … today I’d like to feature some [...]

January 21, 2016 - 11:42 am

Liz bronsveld - We have those same story’s from my childhood! They are amazing! Lillia is starting to listen to them now actually, and in turn Alice too! Lol

The Beginnings of Goat Milk {Finally}

Outside the living room window, a snow storm is just finished.  Dreary January rain has magically turned into swirling white snowflakes. Right now, with a barnyard full of mud and a soggy dirty driveway, I think my entire family has welcomed this fresh snow with joy and glee.

{Leia, with her bantam/mini rooster, Rocky}


As the goat kids are older, we have begun milking Marigold, who freshened a few weeks ago. This is a first for me and a first for our goat. So let’s just say, it’s rather humorous out in the dark, chilly goat barn around our place lately. If you see milk buckets go flying and see my running after our goat in my p.j.s and snow gear, you’ll know another milking session has begun.

But, seriously … it has been more difficult than I expected. Certainly not “like the movies.” First, we had to train Marigold to just allow us to touch her udder. Then we had to train her to stay still without squashing me against the barn wall {amazing how strong she is!} … then we had to train her to get on the milk stand. Then we had to train her to stop freaking out while on the milk stand. And to please to stop kicking me!

But this morning, we finally saw progress. We entered the barn with her grain and Marigold jumped up onto the milk stand like a pro. Fabulous. So rewarding! I milked her (but not full out, as I am still learning, she’s still learning and, truth be told, I’m not that fast at milking her yet and she’s done eating her grain before I am finished) and then rewarded her with plenty of goat-hugs. It will be WONDERFUL if we could accomplish our goal of providing milk for our own family – over time.

We’re looking for a second milk goat, as well (at least, I am looking – not sure if hubby knows my plans!) … and will be selling (most likely) our male kid in the spring.

In the meantime, I will keep practicing my milking (lack-of) skills and continue to dream and chase after mason jars brimming with fresh, beautiful goat milk.

January 23, 2016 - 11:35 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - Soon you will be a milking couple, Marigold will be cooperative and you will be rewarded with a quick milking session and lots of yummy milk.

January 19, 2016 - 9:37 am

Heather - This is adorable and funny. I can just picture the milking process :) My sister has goats and hens, a horse, a pony, and one crazy bull. It’s a super special way for kids to grow up, that’s for sure!

January 19, 2016 - 8:42 am

Gillian - Thanks, Rebecca,very much appreciate your suggestions! I am so excited for lots of wonderful milk! Lavender has been the lucky one – she has had bottles of the goat milk and is loving it. We are adjusting our milk stand so that our goat cannot move around so much, as well.

January 18, 2016 - 11:21 pm

Rebecca - Ah! I think my comment got ate! So, I just wanted to share what helped me when I got my goats this summer — I gave my milker some brome pellets on top of her grain so that she would have enough to eat and stay still while I milked her out. It really helped and the brome pellets aren’t adding grain to her diet so you don’t have to worry about her rations being messed up. Also you could tie her back legs to the sides of the stand so she learns to stand still and not kick. That’s what I’m gonna do with my first time freshener this spring. And once you start getting lots of wonderful milk — oh man! It’s great! I made tons of chèvre and put it in my freezer so we’ve been eating cheese all winter!

January 18, 2016 - 10:54 pm

Tara C - You amaze me!!

January 16, 2016 - 5:45 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Good for you, Gillian! You go, girl!!! Soon you will be a full fledged farmer’s wife!!!! xoxo

Cook with Wood {update}


“If you’re going to do things the homesteading way, everything takes a little bit longer and so you plan.
You have to plan to be there, to feed the fire, to keep it going.
It’s another of those things -
we’re so far removed from homesteading {life}, you just have to bite your lip and do it.”
- on cooking with wood, 21st Century Homemaker

It’s been about a month since we switched stoves sand moved to cooking only with wood.
When we purchased the wood cookstove off kijiji, I had a tiny thought in the back of my head that perhaps,
perhaps with a newborn coming, with many children already,
that perhaps learning to cook with wood should have waited for another season.
You know, when things would be more calm, perhaps, even easier.
But then I quickly squashed that thought and pushed it aside.
And I am so glad that little doubt did not take over my mind!

Cooking on our cookstove has been *fantastic* so far!

We – both Abby and I – are loving it. It brings such heat to this part of the house. It cooks wonderfully well. It is a joy to start it up in the morning – there’s something about waking up to a dark, quiet house, before everyone is stirring, and tiptoeing downstairs to start up the embers and coals leftover from the night’s fire. It does not take long to heat up the kitchen, waking up the household to a much cozier, warmer environment, with the smell of breakfast cooking (or burning, as we burned our stovetop granola the other day). Cleaning and maintaining is not much more work than a regular woodstove (same cleaning applies with ashes, chimney, etc.)

Right now, there’s curry beef stewing on the stovetop for dinner and soon, rice will be steaming away.
{Recipe posted at the end of the blog post}

I do think one of my favorite perks is having boiled water ready for tea all the time! The pot is always hot.

We are burning kiln dried wood, which we store beside the back door and near the stove, from a local source in the cookstove – it’s a great option as it’s smaller pieces compared to regular firewood – perfect size for our stove. Easy to manage and build a fire quickly. Every morning, Abby wakes up and brings a tractor bucket full  of wood to the backdoor for me. [Perhaps next year, we will stack the wood closer to the kitchen door, but we were not aware we would be using a cookstove this year when we organized the wood last fall.]

We do not have a lot of cast iron pots but that will take time to build our collection. Cast iron can be expensive! We have one small frying pan (found at a thrift store) and a HUGE frying pan (found on kijij). This frying pan is massive – it stays on the stovetop most days and cooks nearly all three meals for me. A great find!
(Who needs the gym when you have a frying pan that weighs 25 lbs. without food in it!?)

I truly have not found it too hard adjusting to cooking with wood.
We have burned one batch of muffins and once, our baked potatoes took a few hours too long to bake -but other than that, it has been fine. If I can get the oven to be sitting at 300 degrees F even, it is pretty good to bake or cook with. Since the woodbox is on the left side of the stove, making one side of the stove hotter, rotating the pans or dishes is sometimes a good idea to ensure even cooking.

Here is a great website entirely on wood stove cooking. I think I’ve ready every blog post.

The best part is the company that will often come to sit by the warm stove, waiting for dinner as it simmers and cooks away …
… little hands helping hold the baby or,
if a grown man, strong hands bringing in more wood, checking the firebox and ensuring the fire is blazing.
There’s just something about the warmth of a woodstove – people are drawn to its cozy, body-warming heat.

P.S. I saw this quote and it made me grin:

“The nation needs to return to the colonial way of life,
when a wife was judged by the amount of wood she could split.”
W.C. Fields

I do not split our wood (yet?) but you never know .. there may come a day …

P.P.S. As Erin requested, here is the simple recipe we put together for the curried beef pictured above:

Simple Coconut Curried Beef with Steamed Rice

-drop a generous dollop of coconut oil to  melt on your skillet or frying pan -once coconut oil is melted,  brown some onions and then brown some beef cubes
– add in a dash of paprika, lemon juice, curry, cumin, a tiny bit of salt (optional) and beef broth
– you can be creative … we even added small diced up potatoes as the girls love potatoes,
along with various other vegetables, such as carrots and corn
– stir in a jar of stewed canned tomatoes
(ours were home canned but I’m sure any diced tomato, fresh tomato, anything would work)
-let all ingredients come to simmer together

- Steam up some rice
-serve together with warm naan bread and you are set for a lovely winter dinner!
My husband likes his dishes hot, but he’s the minority in the family so he is served his dish with a jar of hot sauce on the side.

January 18, 2016 - 7:19 am

Gillian - Keeper @ the Homestead – for now, we plan on using it still in the summer months. We shall see how that goes. We live mostly outside in the summer anyways, so maybe it will not be so bad to heat up the kitchen for cooking and baking. I am looking forward to doing some canning on the stove, though! I usually can outside, but we will see if I can do all the prep work, cutting, packing, etc. outside and then pop the jars inside for the processing.
Jim, I would be honored to be featured – thank you! I love your site- so much great information for woodstove cooking!

January 17, 2016 - 11:29 pm

Jim - Gillian,

Thanks so much for your kind words and link to my blog. I would love to feature your Oval in a “Reader’s Cookstove” post if you would be interested.

BTW, your photography is beautiful! Wish I had that kind of talent with a camera.


January 17, 2016 - 11:33 am

Keeper At The Homestead - Love this post!!! This makes me long for the day when we’ll have our own wood cook stove. I adore your mitten and the quotes. So you use this one for heating and cooking? Will you continue in the summer or switch to electric or another alternative?

January 15, 2016 - 6:41 pm

JES - Your stove is beautiful! We have been wanting one too but are waiting for a local auction to provide… After reading this, I am even more inspired! Thank you for sharing with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :)

January 14, 2016 - 12:05 am

Kate - Love this post and I miss the ever-boiling pot of water! I was surprised that it was so easy to adjust to the woodstove for cooking, it just takes more attention and a but more. Thanks for a fun adventure! xoxo

January 13, 2016 - 11:31 pm

Rebecca - It looks fantastic in your kitchen! I love seeing little glimpse of your home ❤️

January 13, 2016 - 10:33 pm

Heather - Amazing post! Love that last photo :)
Also love that the kettle is always hot for tea!

January 13, 2016 - 5:07 pm

admin - Hi Erin! Sure thing! I posted the recipe … it’s one we have modified so hopefully it suits your taste! :)

January 13, 2016 - 2:57 pm

Erin - That stew looks amazing! Post up the recipe or email it if you get time, I’d love to try it!

January 13, 2016 - 11:20 am

Lauren - Gillian, I so enjoy reading your posts here, always. I feel so cozy just hearing about your cook stove cooking adventures.

One Month Old





Today, Lazarus turns one month old!
It has been absolutely DELIGHTFUL and joyous having him in our lives for the one month he has been here in our arms.


He’s the gruntiest baby we have had so I cannot say his ‘coos’, but his “grunts” are so cute … his little stretching and his blue eyes searching the room for sounds and lights … his whispy brown hair and his warm body pressed against mine while we sleep …  having a baby is a blessing I truly cherish!






P.S. I cannot understand why some people think babies are not fantastic! When leaving church last week, one elderly lady  jokingly commented to her grown-up, married daughter, “Oh, don’t get too close to her baby! We don’t want you to get any ideas!”  They laughed and did not seem to grasp the context of their own words.

Both Abby and I looked at each other – and when we were in the car later, we wondered out loud … why would having a baby be a bad idea?

Now, not knowing this mother’s circumstance, I am not quick to judge – I do not know her life’s story. However, it did have me wondering why would her mother, the Christian grandmother, imply that to have a baby would be a mistake or a bad idea? The Bible clearly says, oh so many wonderful times, that children are a BLESSING from Heaven! Horray! I completely agree with this. We have heard this before from others – this was not the first time. It saddens me to think the Christian church, in general, has become so fooled into thinking that children – or multiple children – are not a “good idea.”

On the contrary, we had some little girls over to visit today and they quickly scooped up baby Lazarus, oohing and ahhing over the bundle. One of the girls, who is 11 years old, cradled him in her arms, looked up and said, ” I just want to take him home with me!” How precious – and what a difference in words and attitude shared from the latter mature Christian mentioned.

Dear mother, if you are feeling like your calling as a mother and wife is not a blessing,
perhaps it is time to find a refreshing, godly mentor in your life,
friends that encourage you with your children and in your journey as a mother. This world is very self-centered and will tell you that you deserve to always be happy and satisfied, that you can do it all.
But – you can’t.
You cannot do everything that everyone else does.  Taking care of a family means, in multiple ways, one must deny such fanciful whims.

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.
“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;…”

And that can be a a daily challenge.
Don’t we all want to sit down and the table and simply eat, without having to get up and pour milk for six thirsty children … or cut up meat into tiny pieces instead of digging into your own meal? Maybe you are even required to give up a job you love to stay home and raise your children. Or change your lifestyle to benefit your family. Yes, it may be hard to do so. We are all selfish. It goes against our nature to be servants. We are naturally selfish, sinful and self-rewarding. But dying to ourselves and living out servanthood IN THE HOME is a great responsibility for parents.


Having a family  is rewarding, joyful, exciting, wonderful, humorous, delightful and fantastic -
but it is also one of the best places to exercise servanthood.
I pray that you see your calling as a mother to be one that is precious -
a mission field all in its own.
A chance to show Jesus to little ones through daily, sometimes-fun-sometimes-mundane tasks.
And I pray that our Christian brothers and sisters in the church see this calling through God’s eyes and once again turns their heart towards the blessing of children – whether we are blessed with one, two or five or 15 children.

“And He {Jesus} called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said,
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven …”

Matthew 18:3



January 12, 2016 - 4:10 pm

sara - aw, I don’t think when people make that type of comment about babies that they necessarily mean children aren’t a blessing. Many just might not have the resources, health, money, or family support to grow a big family. I know God gives us all what he has ordained us to have, and I am so thankful he has hand chosen our families to be perfect for each of us! I so agree! Children are such an amazing blessing! Whether 1 child or 10, a mother’s love is strong and true :)

January 12, 2016 - 12:49 pm

kimberly - Children are definitely a blessing. wonderfully written post.

January 12, 2016 - 2:06 am

Rebecca Kurber - I totally agree! I once thought like the elderly lady in your story — that children are a burden and why on earth would anyone want any or more then a few? But slowly (over 5 years?!) God changed my heart! Being a stay at home mom has been hard (I had to give up my sucessful wedding photography business to stay at home with them) but its been so good for me and them. Now when I hear comments like you mentioned, I feel so sad! Children are a blessing and the greatest job I will ever have! Oh man, I could talk about this subject all night, but I will spare you, haha! Thank you for sharing — I look forward to your posts so much! ❤️

January 12, 2016 - 12:51 am

Maike - I don’t know the women you met at the church today, but not everyone will be such a good loving and patient mum like you are dear Gillian. There are women that care and love so much for their baby whether christian or not, and then there are some that are already so overwhelmed with themselves, wouldn’t be able to bear the cries and react aggressive, or might not be able to afford them or are in the middle of college, or about to leave for a long travel and should finish that first before thinking of having babies. I think it is a good thing to just stop and not rush into it and think if you are responsible enough and think you can give your baby all it will need. It would be worse getting one or many without thinking and then giving them away or killing them or “forgetting” about them or hitting them.

January 11, 2016 - 11:43 pm

Heather - I wholeheartedly agree! Great post!

January 11, 2016 - 10:14 pm

Karen - Just reading through your blog and YOU HAD A BOY!!!!! Yay! Congratulations and man I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see your expressions when they said the baby was a boy! I am so happy for you guys!