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

Gigi's 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. ♥

School Begins and Other Happenings

 

{This may be a rambling post as I have not had as much time to post lately…I do hope that is okay!}

 

 

 

And so it is September – one of the most beautiful months of the year, I believe.

The days are still so lovely and filled with the warmth of the sun and yet the evenings are cooler and require a toasty warm sweater and some wooly socks. I’m almost tempted to start up my cozy cookstove in the mornings, but we have to do a proper chimney clean and a stove clean out the opening of the stove will wait until such a chore happens. We have been busy around our little home, as well, working on small and big projects, getting things ready for the cooler months, working on the last of the garden and yes, beginning “formal” school (although I do like to think we school all the time in life, but the math books and grammar books were officially opened as of today).

 


{This is not a formal back to school shot – but an end of evening,
everyone-is-sun-kissed-tired-and-ready for the bath shot! Sometimes those are my favorites. Look at those happy faces!
So blessed!}

The girls have helped me gather some of the herbs left in the garden – we tied them in bunches and dry them in a dark corner of the kitchen. These happy, bright calendula flowers were grown from seeds collected from Lacey’s 14 year old friend. Dried, they will make a lovely healing salve for many uses on the skin.

Her friend collected the seeds last fall and gifted some to Lacey in a simple white envelope. In the spring, Lacey sowed the seeds – we were delighted to receive such a beautiful, useful gift! Lacey, in turn, will collect the seeds from some of the flowers as they die off and replant next year, as well as save some for gifting to other young girls wishing to start their own herb garden.


{one of my favorite herbal books – it is not so New Age filled as other books,
but contains simple straight forward facts about hundreds of various herbs}

Just yesterday, Lazarus and I sat in the herb garden, warmed by the afternoon sun, and watched the pretty honey bees dance from vibrant, purple hyssop flower to another hyssop flower. He watched with delight and awe – I warned him not to touch the bees, as I could see his little fingers wanting to reach out and explore, but he listened, thankfully. Bumblebees were everywhere, as well, gathering nectar for one of the last few weeks of the year. The wind was blowing through the pine trees and the fluffy clouds were briskly moving across the September sky. It is in those moments that my heart truly thank God for a chance to live in this tiny piece of land. It feels so right to have the children grow up this way – I know this is not the only way to raise a child, but in a busy world with many alternatives to raising a family,  this country life feels so comfortable, home-like, for which I am so grateful.

{gathering hyssop}

 

Our tomatoes are, thankfully, still ripening, although very slowly – and although it is not the same amount as last year all at once, it is still a good number of tomatoes to work through. Today, after we finished our morning school routine, I managed to cut up a bushel of ripe Roma tomatoes and nearly a half bushel of peppers [purchased from a local store, as our garden did not produce many peppers for the size of our family] for another batch of tomato sauce. A hearty, healthy tomato sauce is something you just cannot have enough of – you can use it for everything – even to make a yummy soup, if you so desire in the winter months! Another important tomato resource would be simply chopped or diced tomatoes, canned as they are. Nothing fancy but they are very handy when creating your own sauce, dishes and such in the middle of a long winter. Surely you can taste the difference between home canned tomatoes and store bought when you are served a dish!

 

 

Yesterday, I was able to make a batch of ketchup for winter, as the girls do enjoy it. Last year’s batch did not turn out as thick as I would have wanted so I turned it into a tomato soup. However, this year, it turned out much thicker and tastes more like the real deal.

Here is the recipe, gathered from Home Joys:

 

Homemade Ketchup

1/2 bushel of tomatoes (I used Roma)
2 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 large onions, chopped
1 T mixed pickling spice
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 T. salt

Add tomato juice and vinegar together in large pot and cook, reducing your tomatoes as much as required for your taste. Place pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag and place in juice. Boil for one hour. Stir often to avoid burning!
Saute onions in a little tomato juice, then add to your big pot of tomato sauce/juice.
I used an immersion blender to puree the ketchup and onions.
Add sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and salt. Boil for fifteen more minutes.
Remove cheesecloth bag.
If your sauce is not smooth enough, puree longer or run through a food mill.
Wipe rims and place in clean, warm jars.
Water bath can for ten minutes.

Lovelyn has patiently waited all summer for her sunflowers to bloom – she was rightly pleased this week when their happy faces burst forth to the sunshine.

I never appreciated sunflowers until lately. Now, I would love to plant a whole section of happy, go-lucky-sunflowers for September enjoyment. They are so lively and joyful!

 

It will soon be time to harvest our honey from our precious honey bees. Contrary to last year, we had minimal bee stings this year (I think I can, thankfully, recall only five stings) – last year was much worse. Perhaps we are remembering to watch the ground more closely as we walk barefoot or perhaps the bees found their way around the fields about us. We are certainly grateful for fewer stings!

 

 

 

September 8, 2017 - 3:17 pm

Gigi - Lauren, how funny – I have a subscription to that magazine. It is my FAVORITE! I borrowed some back copies from some Mennonite friends and tried to write down as many recipes as I could before returning them. I am still trying to find a way to purchase back copies but shipping is very expensive to Canada. So glad you love the magazine too! It is the best I have ever read!

September 8, 2017 - 1:22 pm

Lauren - I read home joys too! Gina writes quite often in a magazine called Keepers at Home, and it is a lovely, most encouraging magazine! I actually wanted to send you an extra copy of one… I’m sure you would appreciate and enjoy it
Your sunflowers are huge! They are so beautiful

September 8, 2017 - 10:23 am

Katy - Such a lovely post! My sister makes homemade ketchup as well (she has a child with food allergies so likes to make things from scratch as much as possible to make sure it is safe). Your ketchup looks wonderful! I must admit, I have never tried to make homemade ketchup before but I should! 🙂

Your sunflowers look fantastic! I planted some this year…but unfortuanately they didn’t take off…at all! 🙁 BUT my pumpkins are doing wonderful! I have a total of 5. A couple of which are quite large! 🙂 I am loving seeing them grow!

Have a lovely weekend!

September 8, 2017 - 6:04 am

maike - How tall the sunflowers are! The sunflowers growing on the farmer’s fields here are only about an adult’s size. What are you going to use the hyssop flowers for? Aren’t older books the better ones? I really put more trust into the vintage books, because I’m afraid that the helpful ones are on purpose getting erased from books.

Cobs of Corn, an Unexpected Flood and Beautiful Tomato Sauce

 

Wow, well, it feels like we have had quite a week. Every day held new adventures, chaos, challenges and blessings.

I am glad tomorrow is Sunday so we can all breathe and rest a little. Sadly, the Happy Mortician (as we call Abby, husband and father of this large family) has to work so he does not get a day of rest, although I am sure he needs it.

Earlier this week, we purchased 220 corn cobs from a local organic farm – we picked up the corn early in the morning and by 9:30 a.m., all were gathered together, sitting on benches, shucking the corn. My mother in law came to help cut the corn off the cob, which was a great help. Lacey’s best friend had come for a visit that day so her mom (thank you, Laura) stayed to help shuck the corn. Before 11 a.m., all the corn was cut off the cob and ready for canning. Everyone proved to be fast workers and it is true, as they say – many hands truly do make light work!

{My husband blessed me with a new canner, which holds 14 jars instead of the usual 7!
It is a beauty and well worth the investment for our large family! I am very grateful!}

Soon, the jars were filled and the first batch was in the pressure canner. I ran both pressure canners all day long to finish up the corn. Many hours later, the last jar was finished. All together, we processed 40 jars and froze 12 bags of corn. My mother in law was calculating the cost – for all that corn, we only paid $60 for this organic corn. To purchase all that corn in the store over the winter months, it would certainly cost us over $400. This corn was locally grown and organic, and it supported another family who grew the corn. It is ready for adding to our family meals at any time and is very convenient. I would say it was certainly worth the morning of work, the cost of the corn and the cost of propane needed to run the canners.


[Yes, even the corn silk is useful! I saved some corn silk for medicinal purpose.
I will share about this in another post, as well!]

By the way, in case you are like me, you may wonder if corn is nutritious and worth eating. Corn often is disregarded as a nutritional benefit to one’s diet, however, we must know that God would not create the delicious well-loved vegetable without a purpose – qualities such as containing vitamins A, B, E, minerals and has a high fibre content. This humble folate-rich vegetable also is noted to control diabetes, prevent heart troubles and even prevent Alzheimer’s disease.  There’s more – make sure to read about it!

 

 

The following day after our corn adventure, I sat outside in the morning – the girls were working on their morning chores and getting ready to play outside for the day. I had my tea, the laundry was hung and Lazarus was toddling about while I wiped down the canned corn jars, checking the seals before putting them into the Provision Room. Yes, it looked to be a relaxing morning after a busy day working.  Perhaps, I thought, today would be a good day to scrub the tile grout in the kitchen, as it was a chore I knew needed to be done.

Suddenly, one of my girls ran outside and informed me the toilet was “flooding” our upstairs bathroom. Hmmm, I thought, “Okay, I will handle this calmly, sip my tea and tell them to just place a few towels down on the floor, I will compose myself and not be stressed and go upstairs and asses the damage.”  Well, it was not long before EVERYONE came running and yelling as the flooding started to seep through the floor (oh boy!) and pour into the downstairs kitchen …

Yes, well, my forced calm nature was replaced with panic as I instructed all the bigger girls to lay down every towel we own to start sopping up the water while I attempted to turn off the running toilet. It felt like ages before it finally shut off – in the meantime, I frantically called my husband and told him we were flooded.

{I wish I could insert the photo I took of the mess but it is on a handheld device and I have no idea how to get it onto my old, aged computer from which I do my writing. Just imagine wet, stinky towels everywhere, water dripping from the ceiling and a flooded bathroom and kitchen …}

Of course, there’s nothing my husband could do while at work, but he called his parents, who live nearby to come help. In the meantime, picture four little children running through soggy puddles, giggling, screaming, going up and down the stairs to both rooms that continued to be soaked … while the big girls & I were throwing towels down in the fastest fashion trying to soak up the water. We quickly ran out of towels and I swiftly banned anyone under the age of 7 to be in the house- there was still water everywhere. Now, picture a very pregnant momma needing to carry those heavy, HEAVY towels downstairs to the washing machine. I have to say, I just could not do it. We ended up separating the towels into garbage bags and then we could carry them drag them downstairs without it being too heavy.

 

My mother in law (God bless her!) showed up and dragged the big braided rugs outside to the fence to wash and dry. She helped scrub down the kitchen floor while I tackled the upstairs.

 

Funny how God works. So grateful that I had not scrubbed the kitchen floor yet! It ended up getting cleaned but in a much more detailed process with all the furniture removed to the outside for washing, as well.

We also had to call the septic people to empty the tank. Ahem – yes, a country-home chore that is just something that needs attention and often, with so many people (and girls!) in our home.

It was an exciting, exhausting day indeed (shall I mention, this was a busy week at the funeral home for Abby, so many nights he was not home, this being one of them). BUT we got through the day! Phew!

 

The next day it was a catch up-cleaning day on the rest of the house, putting away all the laundry, along with canning some tomatoes for sauce. We also were able to make a meal for our new neighbours who are just in the process of moving in. Four loaves of homemade bread and some chocolate zuchinni muffins later, it felt like another productive and yet happy day.

 

After the previous day, sitting and slicing tomatoes – even baking bread –  was much more relaxing than washing floors, dealing with gross flooding and septic issues.

 

At least, in my outdoor kitchen, I can sit and listen to the birds, the sounds of nature outdoors and children can come and go, play or help … it is a lovely way to do my kitchen work.

It did not take long to have 30 jars of sauce done. I am just finishing up water bathing the last few jars this morning. You can find the recipe for the sauce here. Having this sauce ready for meals is a must for my Provision Room.

 

 

 

Filling up the canning pot with water … the redneck way …

And now, it is the night before Sunday! The week flew by. I wanted to make some pizza sauce for canning, but I decided against it to rest this Sunday. I will start up the canning again on Monday.  Plus, I really should put all the jars properly away in the Provision Room and that has not yet been done.
I do hope you have a restful Sunday, no matter where you.

September 7, 2017 - 11:22 pm

Gigi - Yes, grateful for the parents’ help!
I hope you a blessed week, as well.

September 5, 2017 - 9:46 am

Katy - Wow! What a time you had! I hope you were able to get some good rest that Sunday! Such busyness…with all the corn and canning and then the toilet mishap! EEk! Glad you were able to get it all cleaned up and having your husbands parents to help! 🙂

Hope you and yours have a lovely week ahead!
Warmly,
Katy 🙂

August 30, 2017 - 7:47 am

Gigi - Barb, thank you. What kind words! I’m not sure about paid photography. I am not against the idea, but would need to balance it properly with the family. It is still a love for me, ❤️

August 30, 2017 - 7:38 am

Barb Mason - Gillian, I just love the way you continue to capture your beautiful family’s adventures; your photos are stunning. Are you planning on doing any paid photography again in the future?

August 28, 2017 - 6:40 pm

Lauren - Shucking corn takes a long time and is hard work!!! Wonderful you all had it done so soon! The ladies here usually just freeze the corn but i actually like canned corn! Saves room in the freezer! 😀
Septic issues… yuck! We need ours pumped once a year or so… this year we’re going to try 2 years. Hope we don’t have poopoo flooding!!!!! Grossssss.

August 28, 2017 - 1:29 pm

Gigi - Bobbie, I bought my pressure canner from Walmart online. Do your u need a pressure canner or water bath canner?
Jars are from anywhere- always looking for sales on them!
I do have three freezers and yes, I stock up that way on some items – cheese, butter, meats…

August 28, 2017 - 7:49 am

Our Home of Many Blessings - What a busy week you have had!Hopefully you get to simple times soon! Do you suggest a canner?Also where do you purchase your jars?How far along are you now and I’m excited about the silk medicine!!!I never even knew!I know your into canning but do you have a freezer stock up as well?

Gardening as a Family

 

 

 

{Lacey with some garlic ready for replanting and for eating}

 

Our summer has been full. Full of hot sunshine and refreshing rain, early morning sunsets and late nights around campfires. We have not gone many places nor visited a long list of attractions. We have stayed home, mainly, and found our own summer fun within the limits of our property. Once in July, my husband bought firecrackers for Canada’s birthday- the girls just loved that experience as we stayed up late to watch the “big show.” There have been long hot days of bouncing on the trampoline and cooling off in the (cheap) above-ground pool. There’s church on Sunday and chores to catch up on Monday. There have been weeds to pull and gardens to tend, chicks to hatch and  predators to catch (still it evades us!). Sleeping outside on the trampoline and driving the rickety golf cart around the property have been pretty fun, too.

Is this the summer of excitement and wonder? Well, it is and was a pretty simple one. Nothing fancy. I don’t recall doing high end vacations as a child… randomly, we might go to Wonderland but that was only a few times. I didn’t expect more as a young girl. I was happy with playing in our backyard, roaming the country fields, exploring the woods with my siblings and visiting with my one best friend.

 

It seems, like with everything, the expectations of what your child should experience in summer is high. Exciting -and sometimes, costly- day trips, fancy foods and wonder-filled activities… the pressure is definitely there for the parent to deliver a jam-packed summer filled to the brim with incredible happenings. Don’t even bother looking at others facebooks posts or Pinterest tags … it seems we just cannot keep up. When did the idea of a simple summer of just living and enjoying the new season get pushed to the side?

 

My family spent some time harvesting from the garden this weekend.  We waited until the evening when things were cooler as it has been warm lately. Potatoes were dug up and spread out to cure in the back barn under a tarp. Lazarus just loved helping out and tossing the potatoes into the wheelbarrow.

We all sat on the grass and cut off the tops of the garlic, brushed the dirt gently from the skins and told garlic themed jokes.

 

{Did you hear about the dog that couldn’t stop eating garlic? His bark was worse than his bite.}

 

We decided against braiding the garlic, just for time’s sake, and will store in bushel baskets instead. The girls picked some onions and tomatoes, although our tomatoes are JUST ripening now.

 

I sat near the action and cut up tomatoes and peppers to freeze until I have enough to make sauce, salsa, etc. Looking at the Provision Room, I am grateful last year produced a bumper crop of tomatoes. Things are just different this year – we are doing okay with the garden, but I really feel as if last year was better. Perhaps there was too much rain this year – I’m not sure. I know I will only have a fraction of the squash and peppers compared to last year – which is disappointing. {The girls are happy about this as they are not keen on squash!} It is all a learning curve and a guessing game as to how things will go when they are planted in the spring.

I am grateful for the tomatoes that are ripening (it’ll probably be full swing next week or so), the peppers that we did get, the potatoes, garlic, onions, peas and beans, lettuce among other things –  and the carrots (which are still growing). The beets look okay but they are not ready yet. I better get prepared for tomato season as I think it will dual with my energy levels at the tail end of this pregnancy.

My herb garden produce lovely amounts and I am loving the opportunities to dry herbs, make tinctures and be creative with God’s gift of herbs. And not only that, but they are beautiful.  I hope to do a post on some of the little projects I have worked on over the past week. The herb garden is probably my favorite garden to be in, by far.

With summer winding down  – and wait a minute, even the girls say “How is this possible!?” It feels like we JUST planted the garden! The summer is rushing by! – I think we are all happy to not have to weed as much. Dare I say it, it is not our favorite task.

 

 

 

Tomorrow, we have a big day planned out to can 200 cobs of corn, which we will pick up around the corner at a local organic farm at 8:30 a.m.
Perhaps I will end up freezing half – I’m not sure, but I do want to can most of it. It will depend on how long the process takes us. My mother in law has offered to come help cut the corn off the cobs. Last year, my husband was able to help – since it involves a sharp knife cutting all those kernels off – but this year he is not able to be home. I thought it would be wise to have another adult help me instead of having the children work with sharp knives. They can handle all the shucking of the corn and then go play until we need their help.

The girls have been a great help to me and naturally ask “How can I help?” when they see the canning jars being washed and set out on the table. I am grateful for them! Once, I said, while canning, “What would I do without your help, girls?” And Lacey, my eldest piped up, “Well, you would not be needing to DO all this canning if we weren’t here.” And she was so right and so practical in her view point! I’m glad she was not complaining about the labour involved.

 

 

 

 

September 1, 2017 - 3:36 pm

Gigi - Well done, that is a lot of herbs! How lovely!

September 1, 2017 - 6:37 am

maike - I collected mostly yallow, nettles, stinging nettles, st. peter’s wort, blackberry and raspberry leaves, clover, wild carrots, plantain, golden rod, mugwort, I think wormwood but I have to check again, golden buttons, and another very sweet smelling flower which I combined with nettles because I didn’t had enough of the sweet flower. Oh and then elderberries and in the next weeks perhaps rosehips. But I need to check first what to keep in mind when picking rosehips and how to prepare them. By now I can take a walk here and can tell what most of the “weeds” here are used for which is feeling great. It somehow opens your eyes and makes you appreciate and enjoy nature more and more. ^_^

August 28, 2017 - 6:37 am

Gigi - Maike, sadly, I do not know of any families in the U.K. As such described.
What herbs/flowers did you pick to dry? How lovely!
Yes, Lacey out the flowers in her horse’s mane. So pretty!

August 27, 2017 - 8:27 am

maike - Those flowers in the mane of the pony are just beautiful. Did the girls do it? 🙂 I really need to find a family on a little farm who cares about herbs, planting, canning, making own medicine, and having such a loving integrating bond with the children. I was going to ask you about it, but then thought I might have asked you a long time back before and you didn’T really know another such family in the UK. But I would love to learn more about it by not only reading but actually seeing how it’s all done. I collected and dried a lot of herbs this summer to make teas out of them. And it gives me so much inner peace and calm satisfied feeling. No wonder people back in time seemed to feel better than people now with not doing anything on their own anymore. ^_^

August 26, 2017 - 4:03 pm

Gigi - Amy, we had that tool last year , ordered off amazon and it broke within 25 minutes or so of using it! Too bad!

August 25, 2017 - 12:03 pm

Katy - A lovely post! Your summer sounds similar to ours! 🙂 We keep busy with things around home. I didn’t vacation as a child…and we don’t vacation. It’s usually just too expensive and more work than actually relaxation! I enjoy time at home for rest…with those I love most and in my familiar surroundings!

Have a lovely weekend!

Kindly,
Katy

August 24, 2017 - 9:36 pm

Amy - check out this tool that she uses to get the corn off the cobs! no knives…just a bucket and this tool!
http://www.simplycanning.com/canning-corn.html

August 24, 2017 - 11:02 am

Renee - Good morning my dear friend! Love all the updates this summer! Your garden, though not as bountiful in your eyes, looks soooo lovely and lush in mine! Lol we have had an unending drought here and really nothing grew well. On a wonderful note i purchased my first pressure canner and have been making lots of soups!! Give all ur kiddos a big hug from all of us! Xo miss all of you

Making Soup {but not excuses}


{Happy campers: group shot of our children at our recent family camp}

In my family, the term making soup means you’re making excuses and procrastinating on a job that needs to be done. For example, imagine a challenging, annoying chore needs to be done around the house. If I say, “Well, I’m not ready for tackling that chore” or “I’m doing something else first”, you will hear the reply, “Well, you’re just making soup.”

If there is any conversation and my dad asks why this job is not done around the house (because dad’s are dads and still notice when things need to be fixed or repaired), for example, and I give a lame excuse… he’ll say, “You’re just making soup.”

{Edited to add: here is the original “Making Soup” story, kindly sent to me by my mom:}

The story is told of a man whose neighbour had a habit of borrowing tools and not returning them.
One day the neighbour stopped by the man’s house and asked whether he could borrow his axe.
“No, you can’t,” replied the man.

“Why not?” the neighbour asked.

“I’m making soup,” the man replied.
Puzzled, the neighbour said, “I don’t see what making soup has to do with borrowing your axe.”
“That’s true,” said the man. “But when a fellow’s decided he’s not going to do something, one excuse is as good as the next.”

 

As you can see, there is no getting around it. Procrastination is just not acceptable in my family. 😉

Or  … stop putting off your work or chore and just get it done. [Do you see a theme lately? Getting things done? I come from a long line of get-it-done-family members so I suppose it has truly rubbed off on me.]

Take it as you please … but this week, we made a batch of tomato beef soup to can for winter. And by that, I mean, we actually made soup for canning. No excuses. I’ve mentioned it before but having canned soup or stews on hand is a HUGE blessing to me in the fall and winter. It’s an immediate healthy meal that can serve loads of people – just add rice or pasta and a nice loaf of homemade bread or buns. Top the soup with shredded cheese and serve dill pickles and grilled cheese on the side. It’s an excellent meal that is easy to use and pleasing to most.

 

 

{Don’t you love this big soup pot? I knew I needed a bigger pot but they are priced at about $40 at the local store.
I found this one last week at a thrift store for $4. It’s the little things that make me happy!}

Speaking of easy meals, my loving and great-chef mother brought over a trunk load of freezer meals for the family this weekend. These meals will be a true blessing after the baby is born and even the weeks leading up to the birth! I would say they are the best gift to give a mom of a new baby.  As my mother was putting the meals into my freezer, a pained look spread across her face. Yes, sadly, I must admit, my freezer is/was not very organized. And for my very organized, clean and tidy mother, well, I’m sure it was an eye sore (sorry, mom!). Hence, she has offered to come clean out my three freezers tomorrow and I am beyond excited. She is the MOST organized person in the world – I cannot wait to see her work her magic on my unorganized freezer space. I have a lot to learn from her! And quite frankly, I cannot even bend to get into the freezer right now – this is a chore that perhaps I made soup of …

But one thing – knowing that my mom spending a morning in my basement, cleaning out the freezers, meant that my basement needed cleaning! And quickly! Yes, it was another thing on the to-do list before baby arrives!

So after my mom left our home, I promptly waddled to the basement with my girls in tow and started throwing out junk – why do basements collect so much junk? Even when you clean them, in a few months, the junk re-appears.  Within a few hours, we had the back of Abby’s truck filled, a trip to the dump later and the basement appeared much tidier. This also led to organizing the Provision Room and collecting empty canning jars that will be needed as the tomatoes start ripening full time. So with that, I was able to scratch two more items off on my life – clean basement and organize Provision Room. With the cleaning of the freezers, that will be another huge blessing and a big check on the do list, as well. [However, this all comes with a price tag of terrible (Braxton Hicks) contractions and discomfort on my pregnant body. I definitely need to rest for a while after such big chores.]

Things are getting done around here and for that I am grateful. The closet in the nursery was cleaned and organized this week with the help of my gracious mother in law. She offered and I promised myself I would take up offers of help this time during pregnancy. It has proven to be more difficult to be pregnant this time around – I’m not sure if it is because I have a bigger workload or because this is the 8th baby or perhaps it was like this last time and I just forgot…? I am keeping my outside engagements minimized and have had to cancel some social calls just to have enough energy to tend to the household chores. I’m attempting to drink more water, raspberry leaf tea and double up on my iron pills for the remainder of the pregnancy.



Recently, more canning has happened (BBQ sauce and zuchinni), along with the soup batch. I was also able to get to the store early this week and purchase some lovely school supplies.  I worked on organized my herbal cupboard and preparing some tinctures for winter medicines (I shall save for another post). This coming week will hold more school planning, tomato canning as they ripen as well as canning 200 cobs of corn (or more?). Once glance at the calendar and I realize not much time before school begins, baby arrives and fall and winter set in!  Another load of wood was dropped off so there will be cleaning out freezers, braiding garlic, and stacking wood happening in any spare time this weekend.

 

 

Who says the days of summer are lazy? I think it must be the busiest season. In many way, I am looking forward to Autumn, a slower pace, cuddling a newborn and toddler and all the other children in front of a cozy fire and reading all those read-aloud books I had hoped we would get to during the summer. I am grateful for the change of seasons for this reason.

Even with discomforts and the ailments of being pregnant, I am SO grateful for this blessing to carry another baby. People ask all the time if we are “done” having children … that is another blog post, too … however, let me just say that each pregnancy, each chance to bring a new life into the world and to raise up a little one for God is an immense joy and responsibility. Children are truly blessings from God – the world does not see it this way, but our mindset is not to be of this world. We are to look at situations and life journeys with a Biblical mindset. That, my friends, changes everything. 

 

P.S. Here is the recipe for the yummy soup we canned. It is adapted from Canning Granny.
It is so lovely- you can thicken it into stew, if you wish, when it is time to serve.

Beef Vegetable Stew

6 pounds of stew meat
(truly, you can use what you have – if there is less meat, then add more vegetables –
just make sure each jar receives some meat or else your husband will not be happy)
1 cup of carrots per jar
1 cup of cubed potatoes per jar
1/2 cup of chopped celery

1/4 cup of onions in each jar

1 tsp minced garlic in each quart 

 1/2 tsp of canning salt to each jar
1/2 tsp per jar of Worcestershire Sauce
three or four jars of crushed or stewed tomatoes (home canned or store bought is just fine)
two litres of beef or vegetable broth (I mixed both – use what you have on hand, add more broth if you feel you need to stretch your soup)
Cook your meat and prep your vegetables. Boil your broth in a large pot. Once the broth is ready, add your beef chunks. You do not need to cook the vegetables – I scoop out each vegetable into the litre jars, all lined up, and ensure each jar receives the same amount of filling. Then I pour the broth and beef mixture overtop. 
Process in a pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure. 

 

 

 

 

 

August 21, 2017 - 3:34 pm

Gigi - I was going to but I can’t figure out how to resize it.

August 21, 2017 - 3:07 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, You should have posted a picture of Abby’s truckload 🙂
You are very industrious and I have yet to see you “make soup” xoxo

August 20, 2017 - 9:30 pm

Gigi - Regina, that sounds like a productive week!

August 20, 2017 - 9:29 pm

Gigi - Jen, thank you for your sweet words of encouragement No matter how big or small our families are, each child is a special gift from God!

August 20, 2017 - 9:28 pm

Gigi - Tara, good question. Let me see if she will post some answers!

August 20, 2017 - 9:00 pm

Tara C - Does your mom have a special system for organizing the freezer? Freezers drive me nuts because it just ends up being piles. lol! I would love to see pictures of how she organized it!

August 20, 2017 - 6:31 pm

Jen Heemskerk - I love that you keep having children! Even though my heart longed for more children in our family,I am incredibly grateful for the ones we do have! I always look forward to your pregnancy announcements, and then of course the birth announcements along with fabulous new born photos! Your way of living is a testimony of your faith in Jesus! And it’s nice to see ‘stable’ Godly families see children as a blessing and continue to lead/raise their children in the Lord. Can’t wait to see what gift the Lord will be giving you soon!!

August 20, 2017 - 3:29 pm

Regina Shea - You soup looks delicious! We canned a few quarts of ham and 13 bean soup last week but I want to can a few more jars. If I can get to the market I want to get some blueberries or strawberries to make jam. I haven’t done that in a few years.

Green Beans for Winter {plus some tips for surviving canning season}

Green and yellow beans. Are they not a staple in most canning pantries?

I have fond childhood memories of snapping beans with my brother and sister while watching old black and white movies in the our cool basement … then hearing the noise of the pressure canner in our blue and white kitchen the following day as my mom canned up beans for winter.

 

Two bushels later, the girls and I are finished the green and yellow beans for winters. What a great feeling to wipe down the jars and know you have fully stocked your Provision Room with fresh organic vegetables. We work in the morning and try to finish the messy work by lunch time, giving the afternoon time to run the canner and allow the children to play outside and have a summer day of pressing flowers, jumping on the trampoline and riding their bikes. Often times, I find canning stretches two days, so be prepared when you are going to can something to give yourself some room for prep, the actual canning and cleanup.

 

I thought I would add a few tips to help you out during your busy canning season:

  1. Have quick easy meals ready to serve your family at meal times. I find on days I need to can all day long that having a quick lunch or dinner to serve your hungry and ever-needy family is helpful. This would be a great time to pull out a freezer meal you have prepared, or even a store bought meal (at least with some of it from the store) to help you out. Your time will be limited and you will not be able to devote all your time to cooking meals for the day. A crockpot is your best friend during the canning season.

2 . Prep your fruit or veggies ahead of time. If you can prepare your vegetables or fruit the day before or even the night before, it will also help your workload for your canning day. Not all fruits and vegetables are able to be prepped ahead of time, but things like carrots, zuchinni, even applesauce can all be made the day before, then warmed up before canning.

 

3. Have your children help. To some, this may not seem like a good idea, but many hands make light work. Children love to snap beans or cut up apples for applesauce, chop zuchinni (nice and soft for them to cut) or help lid the jars. There are lots of ways for them to help. Yes, it may take a bit longer and you may need more patience but you are also teaching them a skill. Think of it as home economics. Yesterday I had to leave to pick up a daughter at a friend’s house. I was able to leave my older girls in charge of filling the jars with our vegetable and lidding the jars to prep for the canner. It was a great help, even if I was only gone for 45 minutes.

4. Have all your supplies ready. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of canning peaches to find out you have run out of lids or sugar. Do a tally or a checklist and ensure you have all your goods ahead of time. Buy extra lids to have on hand. Our local dollar store sells the smaller lids for $2. I constantly buy those lids and have a drawer full. Also, lemon juice, salt and vinegar are a must for canning. Have lots in stock.

 

5. Start early and finish in time for dinner. If you can manage, start your canning work early in the morning, try to finish up the messy part by lunch and hten you will just have your canning to do in the afternoon. It makes it much more manageable. And when I say early, I just mean by 8 or 9 a.m.

6. If you are able, can outdoors! My grandmother Ann always canned outside, so I have been told, and I follow in that fashion. I rarely can inside, unless it is winter. Even in our last house, where we did not have an outdoor setup for cooking, I still prepped all the vegetables and fruit outside. This allowed the little beans ends to fall in the grass or the peach juice to trickle to the ground that can easily be hosed off. Imagine the mess in your kitchen! Ugh! It is not pleasant. Save your kitchen from being completely messy and move the process outdoors. I definitely love to can outside – and the benefit is you are still spending time with your little ones, seeing them play and enjoying summer. Find a table, set it up outside and peel those apples, dice tomatoes, or snap beans in the summer fresh air. In tomato season, you can set up a propane burner outdoors to help cook the sauces and such.

Now, for canning green beans, it is very simple and a great way to introduce yourself to pressure canning. (Green beans MUST be pressure canned.)

After you have prepared your jars and have everything ready, cleaned and lids in hot water, wash and snap your beans. (Or, rather, snap them the night before and save yourself loads of time.) Place them into your mason jars, packing them tightly. Fill with hot water and a bit of salt per jar. Use a knife to get all the air bubbles out of your jar. Wipe the rims, lid and seal.

 

As many of you do not live near my area, check your local altitude for your processing time for your particular pressure canner. 

Follow this link for detailed instructions if you are new to canning.

 

Now, how do we manage our regular chores along with a busy canning schedule? That is another topic for another day!

 

August 18, 2017 - 4:56 pm

Gigi - I agree with you on the freezing – which is why I prefer to can. I understand your concern re: mushy vegetables. I don’t think the beans and carrots are too mushy if they are not over processed. Perhaps you just tried a bad batch? Steamed veggies are so lovely though! I find even frozen veggies soggy. I am looking forward to doing the corn soon! Sounds like you should do it too with such great options of yummy corn nearby! 🙂

August 16, 2017 - 7:29 pm

Amy - Pretty much my whole life would only eat vegetables steamed. I have never been able to accept mushy vegetables much to my mother’s dismay…until she obtained a steamer.
I don’t serve my kids beans as a side vegetable other than in season. In season we eat them like crazy. In the winter they get them pickled (but I don’t think that counts as a vegetable any more). Winter we mostly do root vegetables and frozen peas or corn.
I was thinking of canning corn this year since our local farmer (Welsh Bros.) produce the BEST corn ever! They cold water plunge it as soon as it is picked and it stays the perfect sweetness.
I am hesitant to freeze much as one year I lost the contents of my chest freezer and it was a terrible loss…especially the blueberries.

August 14, 2017 - 6:05 am

Gigi - Thanks, mom!

August 14, 2017 - 6:04 am

Gigi - Amy, yes a side dish for dinners. You can also use them for a yummy bean salad. They are cooked so they only need warming. I find that in winter, we have to adjust our tastes to the season. You could always freeze them if you did not want to can them.

August 13, 2017 - 9:01 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - WOW! That’s a lot of beans but certainly nice to have them all done!! They look like very nice beans too. Love the BIG canner … 14 quarts at once … that will be a great time saver. And I LOVE that you have an outdoor kitchen! What a great space to have, especially when it’s hot out AND like you said, it keeps the mess outdoors 🙂 xox-

August 13, 2017 - 8:42 pm

Amy - do you use the canned beans as a side vegetable during the winter? or just in soups and stews?
I canned some last year and my kids like crunchy vegetables so they only really worked for us as an addition to soups