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. ♥

Winter Kidding

 

 

 

 

With excitement in our eyes and hope in our hearts, we watched the miracle of birth in the cozy quarters of our homemade barn yesterday afternoon.

The warm winter sun was melting away the snow and the sky was a crisp blue as cornflowers – it was a perfect day for a goat birth. No chilling winds, no freezing temperatures – just a perfect balmy winter day.

Born with very little trouble yesterday {unlike a previous breech and footling birth}, the girls and I were delighted to be witnessing our main goat, Marigold, kid not one, but triplets! Such an exciting day indeed!

 

{mildly graphic photo below!}

 

 

 

 

 

Mid-labour – nearly ready to push …

 

{I did not get very many photos as I was holding Lazarus … perhaps our goat is happy to not have her photos taken while in labour…?}

 

 

[While winter may not seem an ideal time to have baby goats, it has been suggested that there is less bacteria at this time, with the germs not able to survive the cold temperatures. That is a blessing. ]

With awe and excitement, we stroked our sweet momma goat’s Roman nose as she laboured, Lacey cleaned up the stall and gave fresh stray, water and feed … we had a towel ready in case the baby goat was chilled … from 1 p.m. until 4:30, we stayed outside in the barn while our nanny goat laboured. The girls helped, some watched over Lazarus, who after a while wanted to return to the warm house … other girls pulled the little ones around on a sled while Lacey and I stayed in the barn.

It is in these moments when I see my little family united and working together that brings me {great} joy. It is in these moments, when work is required, schedules are released and all else stops as we tend to what is most important in that moment, that I realize we could never live this lifestyle with a regular school day, a regular “normal” family. It has been a sweet blessing to build a lifestyle and a home life that revolves around …. well, it revolves around our own family. And, yes, sometimes our animals.

 

Speaking of which …. these sweet triplet goats – all females! – are just adorable.

{Miracle, Meadow & Mageesa}

One baby goat, which the girls named Miracle (in memory of another female kid who died shortly after birth), has weak hind legs. We are watching her closely and attempting to help her and keep her healthy in any way. She is getting milk, which is good, but we will go out every few hours today and tend to her legs, encouraging her to stand, to use her hind legs instead of splaying them out spread eagle and to ensure she is getting milk from her momma. Marigold, our Nubian goat, has her own private stall where she can tend to her babies in comfort.  We have a heat lamp set up for the baby goats and a little box where they can lay together and keep warm.  With a few kiddings under our belts, it has been a less stressful experience, yet no less exciting and wonderful.

 

It is encouraging to see the girls work, to love their animals, to help out and do chores that they would have never done a few years ago. Without older brothers, the girls have had to do all sorts of chores and work around the home – it would be challenging to shy away from such work as it would simply just be lazy. We encourage our girls to be feminine, to “be ladies” but there is a time when work is needed and skirt or nor skirt, they need to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.
From stacking cords of firewood, mucking stalls, to assisting in kidding time, we encourage our girls to not shy away from {real life} work.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to experience such sweet little daily miracles.

January 4, 2017 - 4:50 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - AMAZING!!! Love seeing the miracle of birth!! Will be praying for the baby goats and Momma Marigold. Give my congratulations to the girls!!

Making Winter Cozy & Warm

 

 

Bone-chilling temperatures, frosty windows, ice-covered roads, biting winds and whirling snow flurries …  it is mid-winter here in Southern Ontario.

For many of you in the warmer areas, you do not experience a harsh winter like ours. But if you visit Ontario in mid January, you will feel an immediate chill to your bones. This is a time of year that can be frigid and cold, not to mention dark as early as 4:45 p.m. … it is truly a season of hibernating.

 

However, winter in Ontario (or anywhere, for that matter) it does not have to be a dreary, dark time in one’s home or life.

Honestly, this is one of my favorite seasons, as it is just incredibly cozy, a perfect time for reading that book you have been wanting to read for some time, planning for the year to come, knitting, crocheting, doing home projects or just being still.

 

To make one’s home cozy and snug, warm and comfortable … we have some suggestions.

… Search your home library and find many good books for reading. Winter is the perfect season, I find, for catching up on all the reading I was hoping to do earlier in the year.

…. twinkle lights (my personal favorite, even if they are not old fashioned, as we try to maintain a vintage feel to our lifestyle and home) … they just add such charm and coziness to a darkened winter room ….

warm fires in the woodstove or fireplace …

lighting a homemade scented candle {the girls & I made cinnamon bun scented candles last week – they are making the house smell delicious} and drinking a cuppa tea …

 

 

 

Once darkness falls, we also use oil lanterns for that gentle glowing ambiance. There’s also always a basket of warm, snuggly blankets nearby a cozy chair … inviting a reader, knitter, thinker to sit and be still and cozy … preferably by a warm fire …

 

cozy movie nights with homemade popcorn {Here is a recent movie we watched – truly fascinating!} or games night with the children …

 

baking a selection of goods for a dessert bar on a special evening or for blessing a friend or neighbour …

reading many books by the fire …

… homemade soup simmering on the stove …

fresh cinnamon buns on a Sunday morning, just waiting to be eaten …

building snowmen  with the packing snow … ice slides in the backyard and toboganning …

Those are just a few ideas as January approaches. I hope you enjoy this lovely season and find ways to make your home cozy.

 

 

 

January 9, 2017 - 2:05 pm

Sarah - This is such a lovely and comforting post! Your house is gorgeous! What a beautiful picture it makes amid the snow. We too are enjoying a warm fire, good books and tea with honey. : ) It does help to keep busy during these cold winter days.

January 3, 2017 - 6:52 am

admin - I can post a recipe later, if that is helpful. I am looking to make some again for our Tea at Two on Tuesdays today. 🙂

December 31, 2016 - 5:23 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - How do you make those tarts???They look perfect for our tea!

December 30, 2016 - 5:42 am

admin - Yes, strange about the field. The grass is longer so perhaps it is poking through and appearing like there is no snow. Knitting is hard, yes! I crochet (and not very well) and prefer it right now. I would love to make some socks. That has been on my must-try list …
I hope you had a good holiday. No, we do not teach our children about Santa. In the past we exchanged presents, but this year we did not.

December 29, 2016 - 7:08 pm

Maike - In the first picture when you look to the very left the trees and field do not seem to have any snow. It looks as if it only snowed for your house of love and coziness. It looks wonderful and it really does seem as if everything slowes down in your house. I like the blanket idea as I am always freezing and couches do not look inviting for me. But your place sounds wonderfully inviting. I could almost smell the candles and I feel like trying cinnamon buns now myself. I got some needles and yarn for knitting some socks (or handwarmers) for christmas. I have never knitted before, only sewing and weaving. It’S very difficult to find a good tutorial for beginners showing how to do the first loop to the very last, but I really want to try. I hope your family had a nice christmas. Do your children believe in Santa and do you give eachother any presents?

December 29, 2016 - 4:43 pm

admin - Lucia and Lovelyn made these tarts -a first time for us – so I cannot take credit. They used maple syrup instead of corn syrup. It turned well and we were all pleased! Nothing can beat your tarts, though!

December 29, 2016 - 2:06 pm

Brenda (Gigi's Mom) - Great winter ideas, Gillian! I see that you make amazing tarts, so I will not need to bring you any. 😛 You have certainly become a wonderful amazing homesteader!! Love you, from warm Hawaii … no snow here. 🙂 xoxo

December 29, 2016 - 12:22 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Your home is beautiful and oh so inviting!I love the vintage feel myself and try to set my home that way.There’s something so wonderful about it.

December 29, 2016 - 10:24 am

Nicole - So beautiful. Exactly what I want for my kids!

A new Grandfather {Clock}

In a dusty, dark corner of a very old house,
sits the tall, wooden worn out clock.
It has seen its share of memories and pain,
keeping perfect time with a tick and a tock.
-The Grandfather Clock

 

 

When it comes to making a home, creating an environment that is memorable, filled with happiness, I have always felt that enchanting sights, fascinating sounds and delicious aromas will bring fond memories as children grow older … do we not all have a favorite aroma that brings back childhood memories? The smell of gingersnap cookies baking in your mother’s oven … the aroma of fresh bread, golden brown and ready to melt in your mouth, cooling on the kitchen counter …  the sounds of your family’s favorite music being played on the piano … the whispering wind in the trees outside your bedroom window …memories of watching flickering fireflies while sitting on the cool front porch in the summer …
When we found our sweet cuckoo clock a few years ago in a thrift store, we were fascinated with the darling song it sung, the enchanting way it kept time for us. It brought a new sound – one that will be remembered as part of our family and the passing of time in our own day- to our noisy life.

Since then, old clocks have been something of interest to us.

Browsing through kijiji recently, I came across a lovely old Grandfather clock, up for sale for a very low price, near my husband’s workplace. With just one visit to look at the discarded grandfather clock and a handshake later, we found a new {old} family member being moved into our dining room.

 

It was an exciting night as Abby and I carried in the big, heavy clock, wrapped in a large quilt, as a surprise for the family. Everything was in working condition – except the chimes. We called the local clock maker (who was extremely fascinating and friendly) who came to our home, dismantled our grandfather clock one snowy winter evening, wrapped it back up in a large quilt for protection and whisked it away for a cleanup and repair.

Two weeks later, our new friend, the clock maker returned  on yet another windy-snow-filled evening with the repaired-cleaned-up body of our old grandfather clock.

And with much excitement and anticipation, we heard it chiming for the first time in our home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It chimes every 15 minutes – which is lovely! You surely realize how much time you sadly waste or make good use of during the day as you listen to the music played every quarter.

Welcome to the family, Grandfather Clock.

 

 

 

It’s a Marshmallow World 💕

 

“It’s a marshmallow world in the winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground
It’s the time for play, it’s a whipped cream day
I wait for it the whole year round.

It’s a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts
Take a walk with your favorite girl
It’s a sugar date, what if spring is late
In winter it’s a marshmallow world…”
 

I have to admit – I still love marshmallows in my hot chocolate. Adult or child alike – who doesn’t?

So, Leia and I decided it was time to make some homemade ones. {This 4-year-old thrives on one on one attention … she is a handful most days – but sit her on you lap, read her a story or let her help in the kitchen with momma and she is lovely!}

The recipe is from Strangers & Pilgrims, which originally inspired us to make these fun treats.

 

 

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe
{We doubled the recipe as I knew they would be eaten within a few days of making them.}

1 tbsp. gelatin
1/4 cup of cold water

Dissolve the gelatin in the water and set aside.

Next, mix 1 cup of sugar into 1/2 cup of hot water and start boiling on the stove.
We were able to make this on the cookstove with no problem.
Watch for it to reach a soft ball stage, which is achieved by reaching temperatures of 235° F–240° F . You can test this by dropping a bit of your sugar syrup into a cold bowl of water.
If the syrup forms a small ball that does not flatten, it is ready. You can read more about it here.
We do not have a candy thermometer so we only used the cold-water method of testing the syrup.

Once your syrup has reached the soft ball stage, remove it from the heat source and add 1 tsp. of vanilla and a sprinkle of salt, if you please, along with the gelatin mixture.

Pour into your mixer and turn on medium speed for 10-15 minutes. You will see your marshmallows fluff begin to form after quite a few minutes. Be patient. 🙂

Once the fluff is made, pour it immediately into a baking dish to let it sit overnight or a few days,
if you can wait that long.

After sitting overnight, you may cut out your marshmallows and roll them in a mixture of powdered sugar and cornstarch {approximately 1/8 cup of each ingredient). You may eat them immediately or store them in a container or the freezer.

 

 

 

It was hard to photograph the mixing process because six little girls were intermittently gathered around the mixer, oohhhing and ahhing over the wonders to behold of creamy marshmallows forming magically in front of their very eyes.

Once it was ready, the marshmallow fluff was setting very fast so daddy assisted with the step of spreading it into the pan.

 

After waiting nearly all day for the marshmallows to chill in the fridge, we could resist no longer. We pulled out the pan and attempted to cut the fluffy, little treats for our hot chocolate. They ended up being very sticky to cut but dried out nicely one they were shaped – and now reading other recipes, I probably should have been more patient and waited a few days to cut them. It was nearly impossible to cut them with a knife, much less a cookie cutter (I had grand intentions of having heart shaped marshmallows) – but in the end, it did not matter … they still tasted supreme.

 

{not so photo-worthy but still wonderfully tasty!}

They still tasted scrumptious! Everyone was pleased as they watched their homemade marshmallows bob along in their steamy hot chocolate.

Have you made homemade marshmallows? I think we will try them again and see if leaving them longer to set for a few days would help with the cutting stage. It would be cute to have little shapes {hearts!} or even decent shaped squares.

 

If you do not want to make your own, take a look at this sweet business that does the job for you. The flavor ideas are wonderful!

December 20, 2016 - 4:12 am

Rebecca - Yes! I’ve made them before and I’m planning to again this year. To help with cutting, oil your knife with coconut oil or some other cooking oil after each slice and they will cut a lot smoother. I’ve given them as gifts too — put them in a cute little treat bag and voila! People are so impressed with homemade marshmallows! 🙂

December 20, 2016 - 12:03 am

amy - I have found Mama Reiners recipe for Fudge Covered Marshmallows works great. You could just do the marshmallow step and skip the fudge dipping part. Her recipe is NOT sticky that I have found. I have been making them for years. Once you eat home made marshmallows, store bought is just not as good.

http://www.marthastewart.com/316904/momma-reiners-chocolate-covered-marshmal

December 19, 2016 - 8:21 pm

Tawnia - My husbands Nan makes them and hers are perfect squares. I will have to ask what her secret is! They look delicious if not symmetrical!

December 19, 2016 - 8:15 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - I too have made *real* marshmallows.. for coating them I used toasted coconut! My favorites.. and you are right patience is required to cut them and a hot, warmed in hot water, knife. And you can use the mixture to make rice crispy squares if short on patience .. those can be cut into sweet little hearts!?!

Winter Inspired {Gifts} to Make at Home

“It was so wonderful to be there, safe at home, sheltered from the winds and the cold.
Laura thought that this must be a little like heaven, where the weary are at rest.”

-Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

Freshly fallen snow has finally arrived {yet again} and our little world is pretty and bright, sparkling and clean. It is easy to to list the negatives in our minds about a chilly winter season or focus on the woes of the colder months, but I take joy in this delightful new season! There are so many blessings to winter … have you seen them yet? Look. You will…

 

 

One thing that I love is the added time to work on some homemade projects that time does not allow during the busier summer and autumn season. This weekend, I put together a stove top pot pourri for a friend. It was simple and easy to make and, as you will often find it simmering on the back of our cookstove, I can speak from experience that it will make your home smell cozy and delightful.

 

 

 

As the children eat fresh oranges for their snacks during the day, I save the peels and dehydrate them in the warming drawer of my cookstove. There are so many uses for orange peels – please do not throw them away! 🙂

With a nice collection of dried fruit {apples, cranberries, oranges and orange peels}, you can make a lovely potpourri.

Combine your dried {or fresh, if you prefer} ingredients – such as oranges, apples, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, cloves – in a glass jar. If preferred, drop in 5-10 drops of cinnamon or clove essential oil. This is a very flexible recipe and can be adapted to your personal preference.

 

To use, add your ingredients to a small saucepan filled with 2-3 cups of water. Place at the back of your stove a low heat setting and allow your potpourri to simmer throughout the day, filling your home with a delicious aroma. This potpourri works particularly well on woodstoves, as you will not be wasting any electricity or money to heat up the mixture. Add more water over time and enjoy your homemade pot pourri for as long as you wish.  This also makes a great gift for others.

 

Another simple project, that will just require a few minutes of your time, is mixing together an essential oil blend that will assist your family in staying healthy.

 

 

{Immune Booster} Essential Oil mixture:

2 drops of oregano [antiviral, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory]
2 drops of tea tree oil  [anti-bacterial, anti-septic, aids in ridding one of a cough]
2 drops of lemon oil [calming, anti-infection, detoxifying, disinfectant]
2 drops of frankincense [anti-septic, astringinent, disinfectant, calming]
2 drops of cinnamon [anti-bacterial, help treat coughs, sore throats, decreases inflammation]

Fill to the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil. Shake gently and apply to the bottom of your children’s feet in the evening before you tuck them into bed. This also works great on adults, as well. 🙂

If you have an old essential oil bottle, you could re-use your bottle after giving it a good rinse. Another great option is using a roller ball bottle.

 

 

 

I hope today you can find time to enjoy this wintery day with a cup of soothing tea and perhaps a small homemade project to try …

December 19, 2016 - 7:37 pm

Roseann Hampton - I’ve always loved the beauty of fresh fallen snow! Unfortunately I don’t get to see much of it in Houston! Thanks for sharing!