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  • Welcome to the Gigi Blog!

    Blessed to be a mother to half a dozen girls & one boy. Wife of an undertaker.
    Photographer. Homeschooler. Daughter of the King. Chicken and goat raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. ♥

The Provision Room {an Update} – Part I

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell

 

As it is now in the dead of winter, so they say, I thought it would be a good time to update how the Provision Room is holding up.

For those who may have missed the post, our Provision Room is an extension of our regular pantry – it is much more. With the goal in mind to be as self sufficient as possible on our little bit of land,  it holds hundreds of jars of home-canned goods – from spaghetti sauce and diced tomatoes to carrots, green beans, apple sauce, pie fillings, jams and jellies, canned fruit and applesauce. There are rows of homemade soups and chunky stews and homemade chili, preserved and put up. Onions are strung from the ceiling, dusty potatoes are stored in the makeshift cold room attached to it and cabbages and squash line the shelves while sweet potatoes are nestled in a bin of wood shaves.


Dry goods are also stored in our Provision Room. Bulk wheat berries for our flour grinder, bulk flour (as our grinder is electric, I like to have both on hand in case of a power outage or for when the grinder is not able to be used), coconut oil, barley, different kinds of pasta, rice and dried beans of many kinds are stores in large totes.

 

Upstairs in the kitchen, there is the regular pantry (more to come on that later), which holds more of the everyday necessities. Between the two rooms, I am finding it an incredible blessing! It is helping me be more prepared at home, it means there has been a definite decrease in the need to visit a grocery store. Fewer trips to town saves time and money – and random purchases that are not needed. It means I need to think more about the meals I am preparing, use what is on hand and be a little resourceful and creative. It means I can come up with meals in a pinch, even if I have not planned out a week of meals. [This still takes creativity but at least I know the ingredients are available.]

Keeping cabbages in their whole state has proved to be just fine. They are now just beginning to wither and therefore, I will either make sauerkraut with them or spend a day and can the rest of cabbages.

Potatoes are doing splendidly – in past winters, they froze in our cold room, but my husband insulated the room this fall and they are not freezing.
The apples, which we picked from a local orchard and from our own little source of apple trees, are storing well – we wrapped each apple individually in paper and that has stopped some of the rotting if one apple goes bad.  I would like to have more fruit in the Provision Room next year.

I try not to freeze our vegetables because for one, our freezers (we have three) are full of meat {turkey, chicken and beef} and various items {cheese, butter, locally grown corn, etc.}, and two, vegetables in the freezer do not last as long. I also find it challenging to keep the freezer organized and tidy. I would rather line jars up and have them ready in a moment’s notice. [Does anyone have tips on keeping a chest freezer organized?]

From our labour in the late summer and fall season, we have enough canned goods to definitely get us through the winter and spring, when the canning sessions will begin again. I truly feel as if all the hard work paid off. It was worth every morning of sowing seeds, early evenings of weeding and more weeding, afternoons of canning and more canning.

I will be encouraged to plant even more varieties of vegetables this year, as I can see how it truly has benefited us – not just providing us vegetables for a few meals, but literally providing a winter supply of food.

 

Our weekly vegetables rotate with a cycle of cabbage, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans and sweet potatoes. All of those vegetables are in the Provision Room, ready for the dinner plate. What a blessing! There are no trips to the store to purchase vegetables when they are high priced over the winter.

 

For side dishes, we have rice, pasta or potatoes and beans. There are lots of variations to be made from those options.

Dried beans, which are a fabulous source of fiber and protein, are often utilized as they are just so healthy and cost-effective – and my family loves them! They can be added to  soups and stews to make them more hearty and “stick to your ribs”, they can be a side dish or a full meal, depending on how you prepare them.

Nearly every lunch is a serving of homemade soup {either canned or made fresh with the ingredients that are in the fridge} with homemade bread. Often we will buy bagels at the store as a treat I have not mastered the art of bagel making.  I love to serve soup at lunch time as they are loaded with vegetables and nutrients for all those little children who need it ever so much.

We choose to not buy fruit other than oranges and bananas in the winter. Our whole fruit supply consists of the locally grown apples stored in the basement, along with canned peaches, apples, blueberries and even some apple cider to drink on chilly days.

Having the Provision Room stocked has proven that yes, indeed, our trips to the store are fewer and further between over the long winter months. Having bulk baking goods, such as baking soda, has helped, as well. Late last year, a friend organized a bulk buying program which I then purchased many goods through her (such as chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, along with pasta noodles etc.).

If any one has thought about having a Provision Room or a deep pantry, I would encourage you with great enthusiasm to plan for one this upcoming year. There are so many ways it will bless your family.

How can you start this journey? Does the task seem unattainable?
Perhaps you feel you do not have room in your house or enough storage in your basement. Or you do not know how or where to start …

This Provision Room journey has been an ongoing journey for a few years for our family. It all started with a little canning with my mom and my grandma quite a few years ago in our home in town. After a lot of hard work and effort, it has shaped a lifestyle and a work ethic that I cannot shirk. I would love to encourage any mother or wife out there to look into ways of preparing and preserving their food for future times. Not only will it bless your family, it will bless you in return and create a healthy lifestyle.
If you are interested, Lord willing, I hope to do a series of posts to help you on your Provisional Way.

Stay tuned …

{Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 2, 2017 - 7:31 am

The Provision Room – Putting Up Jams & Jellies {part VI} » Gigi Blog - […] Part I – The Provision Room Update Part II – The Pantry Part III – Make Your Own Mixes Part IV- Buying in Bulk Part V – Growing your Own […]

January 31, 2017 - 5:59 am

Growing your Own {Provision Room series – Part V} » Gigi Blog - […] Part I – The Provision Room Update Part II – The Pantry Part III – Make Your Own Mixes Part IV- Buying in Bulk […]

January 27, 2017 - 2:09 pm

admin - Jes, I have and that book is one of our favourites! We call our littlest girl, Lavender, “Phronsie” as she just reminds of her so.

January 27, 2017 - 12:22 pm

Sherry - Wow! Your provision room is beautiful!

January 27, 2017 - 7:58 am

JES - P.S. I am hoping you read the FIVE LITTLE PEPPERS? If so, Mamsie would be amazed at your provisions! 🙂 Such a sweet book!

January 27, 2017 - 7:56 am

JES - To have such a room!! I always love peaking into your home! I will be featuring this next week. Thank you for linking up with us! 🙂

January 26, 2017 - 8:22 am

admin - That is so true, Leigh! It does make it easier to help others with meals without a trip to the store. Good point.

January 24, 2017 - 12:00 pm

Amanda - Omgosh! This is a dream! I wish we had a garden or enough space for this! Currently, (today actually) I’m trying to figure out how to best maximize space in our one room cabin’s pantry! How I wish I could sit and watch how you do it! I love your site, and your photography and will be sure to stick around!

January 24, 2017 - 11:53 am

Leigh - I think there is just something about a provision room (I call it my deep pantry) that speaks to a mother’s heart. How comforting it is to see the shelves lined with jars of home canning (or economical bulk purchases) and bins or buckets of dry goods. It also makes charity easier because it’s not necessary to run to the store in order to provide a meal for someone in need.
Blessings, Leigh

January 24, 2017 - 8:22 am

Annabel Smith - Just wonderful! I found you through the link up at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth. Your provision room is amazing! I am striving to have something half as good! Love Annabel.xxx

January 23, 2017 - 12:54 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - You are a true inspiration!What a peaceful wholesome provision room you have created..

January 22, 2017 - 8:08 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, such an encouraging post! I canned alot too but certainly nothing like you have done …. and I LOVE the provision room. Saving trips to the stores and also not paying high prices for fruit and veggies, is a wonderful economical idea .. think of all the impulse shopping you are NOT doing!!
Everything looks great … thanks for inspiring other moms and women to have a PROVISION ROOM. xoxo
PS, I too used boxes with cut off lids, for separation in the freezer. Or milk crates are good ideas too. xoxo

January 21, 2017 - 10:36 pm

Tara - Amazing!! Love it! As for organizing the freezer, that was one thing that bothered me about stocking up. I used old boxes and cut the top flaps off. I put them in the freezer and separated things into categories in the boxes. I love it! So much more organized!

Bath Time in the Kitchen

When a chilly winter night causes your upstairs to be so chilly that no one wants to take their baths, what does a momma do?
Drag a tub inside and fill it with hot, soapy water and set it by the wood cookstove.

Yes, another reason I love the cookstove. It keeps hot water in the reservoir on the side  (or you can actually hook it up to heat your water for your household need’s but we have not gone that far yet) that is ready anytime. And I can tend to dinner and watch the baby in a bath, all while staying warm and cozy.

 

 

January 20, 2017 - 10:10 pm

Heidi - He’s such a cutie pie!!!

January 20, 2017 - 8:31 am

Sarah - Absolutely adorable!!! : )

January 19, 2017 - 10:23 am

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - WOW! I think Lazer is starting to look like Abby!! Love the bath in the kitchen idea 🙂 xoxo

Embracing a Life of {Do-Overs}

 

 

The hot tea was poured and the strawberry apple pie was cooling on the counter,  warm from the oven.

My dear friend-in-motherhood sipped her tea and sighed. She began to tell me that she finds her days of being a mother, wife, homemaker and homeschooler tedious, frustrating and full of do-overs. You know those days, those long ardorous days of cleaning, feeding, making meals, rearing children, disciplining, teaching, correcting, cleaning … I certainly know those days. All the tasks involved with a stay at home mother, yes, they can feel rather challenging as it is a on a repeat cycle for most days.

 

 

“I feel like my days are just do-overs … every day, just doing the same thing over and over and not getting anywhere,” she had said.
Her words sank into my heart. And while I understood and completely felt her pain, the statement of “just do-overs” weighed heavy on my mind and heart. Over the next few weeks, I could not shake those words – “just do-overs” – from my memory day after day, weeks after our little visit.

 

When it came time for me to sweep the dusty kitchen floor for the 4th time since breakfast one morning, that little phrase of “I’m just doing do-overs all the time!” popped into my head.

 

Humph. I felt grumpy. Just another do-over. I sighed.

And when I cleaned the back school room, picking up crayons and cut up scraps of paper, knowing I still had two loads of laundry (daily!) to tackle before naps and dinner preparation, I heard those words again.

“Just doing do-overs.”

It was not long before I began to feel a bad attitude, a self pitying mentality, creep into my head.

Yes, every day I sweep. I clean, I tidy, prepare breakfast, change diapers, do math, make lunch and dinner, clean up breakfast, lunch and dinner, wash floors, organize cupboards, plan homeschooling days … the list goes on. I’m sure you know all the tasks that are repeated in your own life. Whether you are a stay at home mom, a homeschooling mom or an older mom, we have repeat work cycles set on auto pilot most days.

 

But these words, this self-pitying attitude  … it was dragging me down. I suddenly felt easily discouraged and started to feel a bit of sorrowful attitude over all the tasks that loomed ahead of me day after day.

Was this attitude of self-pity godly and uplifting? No, it was wrong, my friends. I quickly realized I needed to go to Scripture to change my outlook. We need to look at our tasks that are involved in motherhood as a blessing, not a do-over. Yes, we must repeat the same daily chores multiple times, but what job does not require such actions? Even when I worked outside the home, my day was filled with do -overs. It does not matter what your job or employment is, it would seem that your day would be filled with do-overs. With prayer, I gave this phrase up and cleared it from my memory and mind, thanking God outloud, verbally, when I was faced with another daily task that had already been accomplished that day or that week.

I will tell myself … it is a JOY to serve my little child, my family, my husband …  when it is time to clean up the dinner mess and lead the little ones into a lovely warm bath before bedtime stories, I will chose to do it without grumbling or complaining. I will chose to make it my joy make dinner each and every day for my family – or fold their freshly washed laundry, wipe smudgy hand prints off the kitchen glass door and read stories in the twilight of a January evening.

Yes, these are do-overs.

But aren’t you so glad you are blessed with such an opportunity to do-over every day? I surely am, as I know some days, even yes, today, I am short with my patience and need to learn to show love and grace more freely.

 

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance:
for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23

Dear friends, I am not writing this as a judgement, but writing this as an encouragement.

Let us set our eyes on Heavenly purposes, let us take our weary souls to Him to find rest. Let us see the joy in the every day messes of meal clean up and bed making, the servanthood of being a mother and wife to a husband God has given you and children He has blessed you with, embrace the frustrating messes and dirty back door rugs that need cleaning 40 times a time during the fall muddy season, and let us see the bigger picture in the everyday “do-overs”.

Another verse that I have pinned on my mirrors and fridge (which you can download free here) …

On this note of do-overs, please, let us remind ourselves that our husbands have do-over days as well. While perhaps a few husbands may have rather-exciting jobs, most men go to work daily to provide a roof over their family’s head, to provide financially and their day, too, is filled with do-overs. Rarely do I hear my husband complain of such tasks at hand.

 

P.S. Would you like a great way to have pies anytime you wish? Here is a great recipe for bulk pie dough that will freeze well and make pies easily with little time.

Recipe for a bulk pie dough:

18-20 cups of all purpose flour
3 1/4 lbs. of butter (or shortening, if you wish)
4 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons vinegar
4 eggs
2 cups water

Using your largest mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in  your butter/shortening using a pastry cutter or two knives.
Cut together until your flour mixture appears crumbly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together {cold} water, eggs & vinegar.
Slowly add the liquid mixture to the flour.
Be careful not to overwork your dough.
Once the dough is formed, rolled into a large dough ball (still inside the bowl) and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle your work surface with a smidge of flour. Divide your dough into 5 parts and then into 20 somewhat equal dough balls. Cover each dough ball with plastic wrap and place in a ziploc baggies. Your pie dough can freeze for quite a few months.
Once you are ready to make a pie, simply allow your pie dough to thaw overnight in the fridge.

Easy as pie! 🙂

 

 

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims
January 19, 2017 - 2:19 pm

Tawnia - I needed this today! Thank you.

January 19, 2017 - 7:41 am

admin - We’d love that! But we do not have to wait till spring – anytime is good. 🙂

January 16, 2017 - 11:44 pm

Melissa Aberdeen - Perhaps with spring on its way, we could meet up!! My guys would LOVE to see all of your furry friends!!

January 16, 2017 - 9:05 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Gillian, Thank you for the reminder and encouragement, because no matter what stage of life we are in, there are always times of “mudane do-overs”. God requires that we continue doing right and He will bless us. Love you, xoxo
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

January 16, 2017 - 6:41 am

admin - Miss Lindy, you are so sweet. Thank you for your encouragement. I think of you so often, especially when the girls wear their beautiful nightgowns handmade by your loving hands! I hope you have a good day. Thank you for blessing our family!

January 16, 2017 - 6:40 am

admin - Melissa, oh so good to hear from you. Still waiting on that cuppa tea together!

January 16, 2017 - 5:44 am

Melissa Aberdeen - It’s 4:40 am on Monday morning. I can’t sleep for this same reason. Came into the kitchen to make a tea and write out everything I am thankful for in each member of my family. It’s so easy to fall into this cycle and point out the negatives. I am going to write out all of the blessings. Thank you for this very timely post. 🙂

January 16, 2017 - 1:55 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - A good word of encouragement Gillian.. and grateful for this blog.. In your wisdom you knew to go the the word of God, praise the Lord for for His mighty word!

Baby Goats {update}

Nearly a week has passed since our sweet triplet kids goats were born. We ended up bringing the two weakest goats inside to monitor them closely, warm them up during the first 48 hours and feed them some medicine that we hoped would help them become stronger.

 

Of course, a few hugs and warm cuddles from the resident toddler was also on the medicine list.

Sadly, however, one of the babies died during the night. We were heart broken, but we also know that this is part of farm life. We have been through this before and learn something new each time.

 

Thankfully, the other two goats are doing very well. After the first little one died, we were nervous that the second weak goat would also give up. My eldest daughter took the responsibility of caring for the little spotted kid inside, feeding the kid goat milk from a bottle, giving her electrolytes and keeping her warm at night. Once, I woke up in the middle of the night to check on the baby goat, hoping she was doing okay, but I could not find her anywhere. We had a box set up close to the woodstove to keep her warm, but her box was missing and so was the little one. In the dark of the night, I whispered to my husband “Did the little goat die? Where is it?!” But he had no idea where the little goat was …

 

In the morning, I went upstairs to wake up the girls and asked them if they had seen the little goat. Lacey pulled back the covers of her bed and there, indeed, was the goat, snuggled up and warm in the crook of her arm. She had been feeding her goat it’s bottle during the night and making sure it was doing okay. Lacey was tired that day but her night shift worked – the little goat became stronger and is doing so well. She has transitioned back into the barn with her momma and, while smaller than her sister, is doing just fine being cared for her momma, even in the winter weather.

 

There is always something new to learn with each season. We are grateful that two of the kids have survived and are doing well.

 

 

January 11, 2017 - 3:06 pm

Maike - Oh what a sweet lovely memory to keep of them sleeping together in the cozy bed! ^_^ It’s so sad that one kid didn’t make it, but I’m very glad for the ones surviving. You seem to have such a caring loving family!

January 11, 2017 - 7:20 am

admin - Thank you for the tip on the selenium. I was just reading about selenium and was researching it. I heard TSC sells it. I shall investigate!

January 11, 2017 - 5:10 am

Rebecca - Congrats on the baby goats! I’m so sorry one of them died — have you given them a selenium shot? At least in our part of Alaska, our soil is low in selenium and it’s an important part of a goats nutritional needs. I bought selenium shots from a local vet and gave our days old baby goats a shot to make sure they didn’t have any problems (I guess leg problems are common with selenium deficiency).

January 10, 2017 - 11:05 pm

Rachel - I’ve been wondering how they were doing. Yay Lacey! What a wonderful thing to do and a beautiful memory she’ll have forever. So sweet!

All Creatures {Great & Small}

“All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all….”

(This was our morning song a few months ago – how applicable it was to sing it today.)

 

Still basking in the joy of another lovely goat birthing, we were saddened to find two of the three goats not doing as well as they should be doing by morning. While the third kid was born with weak hind legs, she has actually turned into the stronger goat thus far. The remaining two just seeminly were failing to thrive. They lay limp, they did not wag their tails like cute little kids always do, they would not nurse when brought to their mother … although it is not very cold outside, we decided, with grim faces, that perhaps one of the weaker goats should come inside and warm up.

 

Not knowing what was specifically wrong, I searched our goat books and the internet for some help. We had a previous baby goat die within a day of birth last year – we think she had Floppy Goat syndrome. We treated her, but it was too late. We did not want to lose these two little goats, as well.

 

While they were a bit lifeless, these newborn goats did not have the exact same symptoms of a Floppy Goat – they were indeed weak. One of the kids’ eyes were rolling back into her head by the time we brought her  in – looking at her, limp in our arms and appearing so lifeless, I was sure she would not make it past the morning.
The second weak goat was seemingly following the same pattern.
Not knowing exactly what was wrong, I mixed up a homemade electrolyte mixture, which I will record here for future reference.

Homemade Goat Electrolyte:

1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of sea salt
8 tablespoons of molasses or honey
3 litres of warm water
Mix together and feed gently to the weak goat.

 

 

 

Using a syringe, we also fed the babies 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a little warm water, which is recommended for floppy goats, although again, we were pretty sure this was not the same sickness. It was suggested that feeding them the baking soda mixture would not hurt them if it was not needed.

 

We wrapped them up and placed them gently underneath the stove to warm up.

 

 

 

They slept for a few hours and then one of the goats started crying, bleating – we scooped her up and rushed her back to her momma to see what would happen. Thankfully, she nursed just fine and seemed to be on the mend. Her little tail was wagging again, she was standing on her own and was welcomed back into the barn by the momma goat.

 

Was this success? We are hoping.


The second and weakest goat was fed some milk from a syringe again and given some more electroyltes. It took a few more hours {and a little snuggle on the couch with me} but she perked up around 4 p.m., after being in the house all day.
The girls returned her to momma for an hour before dinner to see what would happen. She, too, began drinking milk from her momma and was accepted back into the stall just fine.

We are hoping they will continue to stay strong and thrive. We learned a beautiful principle today – God cares for His creatures –  great and small.

 

 

January 9, 2017 - 6:29 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - The care and concern on the children’s faces is heartwarming.. they know all about nurturing, learned from God loving parents.

January 7, 2017 - 7:11 pm

Jennifer Heemskerk - anxiously awaiting to hear if these beauties made it through. Wow!! What an experience for your girls.

January 4, 2017 - 9:51 pm

Nic - Love. Glad they improved.