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.ย Chicken and goat raiser.
    Lover of Jesus and all things pink and vintage. โ™ฅ

Baby #8 Update

 

 

It is still a surprise and a wonderful delight to be carrying a new baby inside my womb yet again. God is very generous with His blessings with our family and I am so grateful!

A little update about the pregnancy, as I have not written too much this time:

 

We are now 26 weeks along- which is flying by so quickly! Baby is moving lots and has been since week 15 or so. I never had any doubts as to whether baby was growing or moving as there was lots of movement.

 

With much prayer and some research, we have opted to not use ultrasounds or the doppler (which are basically hand-held ultra-sound machines) for this pregnancy, unless an emergency calls for it. Our midwife has used the old fashioned wooden doppler which is completely safe. Why this decision, you may ask?

Well, you can read all about it here, but for us, as well, we know the womb is a scared place where the Lord is knitting together a baby! Amazing!!! We would like to interfere less and allow Him to do His precious handiwork. We are trusting God. It has been a great relief to allow nature take its course in this pregnancy and not worry too much. We have never had major medical problems (other than my first birth, which ended up in a c-section)- and if one did arise, we would certainly accept medical help but for now, God is taking great care of our little unborn baby. 💕

Of course, we are going with a midwife again – the best midwife – ๐Ÿ™‚ – one who has been with me since Leia, who is 5, was born. Our midwife has been the biggest blessing in so many ways. Lord willing, we will also have a home birth. We know things happen and we cannot control our circumstances – we are okay with that. If God decides we need to be at the hospital for a reason, we will go. But altogether a healthy pregnancy may indicate a great chance for another lovely home birth.

 

Someone commented that everything must be fine with this pregnancy as I “breeze through” each pregnancy. Well, that may have been true when I was in my 20s but I am no longer a spring chicken. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will spare you details of complaining, but there is always a cost in personal comfort when it comes to carrying a child. This cost is far outweighed by the blessing of welcoming a new little one into our family.

 

Now, will it be a little brother for Lazarus or another girl to add to our long line of lovely ladies? Either way, we will be delighted!

 

July 11, 2017 - 5:53 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - How wonderful!

July 11, 2017 - 5:20 pm

Gigi - They are writing letters back right now! ๐Ÿ™‚

July 11, 2017 - 4:52 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - We have wrote several times.I wonder if they just are not making it….Hmmm.Well,we can start again!!My girls love getting thereletters! Letter writing seems to of went out with the times but my kiddos love it!

July 11, 2017 - 12:36 pm

Gigi - The girls are still waiting for letters! ๐Ÿ˜‰

July 11, 2017 - 12:36 pm

Gigi - Thank you, Katy!

July 11, 2017 - 8:24 am

Katy~TheCountryBlossom - You look absolutely radiant! What a beautiful photo! I love your view on pregnancy and keeping things as natural as possible! ๐Ÿ™‚

July 11, 2017 - 6:20 am

Gigi - Yes, I have your email!

July 8, 2017 - 6:05 pm

Our Home of Many Blessings - Yes,thank you!Everyone is loving him!I would love to keep in touch with you more!I’m pretty sure were like twins,lol. Just going by your posts we seem soooo alike!Do you still have my email?Maybe we could chat more and if your ever this way, you are more than welcome to come sit on my porch and drink tea while we chat and watch our 16 (combined)children play with each other in the yard!!!

July 5, 2017 - 7:14 pm

Gigi - Bobbie, it would be nice to have a near like-minded friend indeed! I hope things are going smoothly with the transition to your new baby and that everyone is loving their new baby brother. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 5, 2017 - 2:38 pm

Bobbie Hisel - He is doing good!!Thank you for asking..I wish we lived closer, are kids are so close in age.So exciting for you guys that you have a new little one on the way!Congrats! I think my hair is just not cooperating,lol.It has a mind of its own.Have a good day!

July 5, 2017 - 5:35 am

Gigi - How are you doing with your new baby? ๐Ÿ™‚
Oh, that is too funny about the hair! It is so easy for me to do but I’m not sure how to share it. I do tease the top to give some volume and use bobby pins to pin up the sides separate from the “nest” – and then pin up the nest in it’s own little section. I hope that helps in some ways.

July 4, 2017 - 5:43 pm

Our home of many blessings - You have got to show me how you do that birds nest!!!I can’t figure it out for nothing!My hair doesn’t look like that after I’m done,lol.

July 4, 2017 - 5:44 am

Gigi - Thank you, Maike. I got the skirt off ebay but I just looked and it is no longer available.

July 4, 2017 - 3:20 am

Maike - You truly look so beautiful and lovely! I can’t wait for the little one to arrive. ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you remember where you got that skirt from?

July 3, 2017 - 8:44 pm

Gigi - Regina, I completely agree. We have had u/sounds with all our pregnancies but we live and learn, right? I am thankful for pregnancies in my later years as I have learned so much compared to the beginning few pregnancies. It has been so lovely to have midwives, as well, as they allow you to study, learn and choose your path (within reason). My favorite part, however, is simply trusting God and not intervening.

July 3, 2017 - 7:45 pm

Regina Shea - Gigi you look simply lovely! We had ultrasounds with all our babies and now I question the wisdom of it all. Unfortunately we were “Well everyone does it” expectant parents. Thankfully no harm was done but if I could do it all over again I would skip the ultrasound all together. I mean, how would I feel if I was in the womb minding my own business, when I get startled out of my mind by a scary ultrasound machine?

Strawberry Season!

It’s strawberry season around here!
That means, we loaded up the truck/van (I don’t know what to call our large family vehicle?!) and headed off to the local organic strawberry patch. Within 1.5 hours, the girls & I had picked 75 lbs. of fresh, red, delicious strawberries. The girls were excellent pickers!

Despite an early evening piano recital, we still have time to give attention to the fresh berries. The strawberries were promptly washed, hulled over an afternoon and then processed the following day.

I made strawberry pie filling, strawberry jam and rhubarb strawberry pie filling. I also froze quite a few large freezer bags of strawberries for future recipes and delight during the winter season. We have a small strawberry patch that we started this year, but I am sure it will be a few years before we can actually enjoy many berries from the patch.

Strawberry Pie Filling

6 quarts of fresh strawberries
4-6 cups of sugar (taste and decide on the sweetness you prefer)
2 1/4ย  cup of a thickener (I used Therm Flo)
7 cups of cold water
ย  1/2 cup of lemon juice

Here are the directions:

Wash strawberries well and drain fruit. Combine sugar and thickener (do not use cornstarch – you cannot process it) in a large pot. Add water and stir, cooking on medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Mix until it is a smooth consistency. ย Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add in drained berries immediately and fill jars, leaving 1 1/2 inch headspace.ย 
Wipe rims, add hot lids and rings and process in water bath for 30 minutes at a full rolling boil.

It is about time I flipped the one light to my pantry and start organizing what is needed, what was consumed the most, and so forth in our Provision Room. The task feels a bit daunting but once I get going, I know it won’t be so bad. I shall wait for a rainy day to tackle this job. There is still a lot of canning left over from last year, but I do know the tomato products (mainly pre-made tomato sauce and pizza sauce), carrots, soups and green beans were a favorite and will not last much more than a few more weeks.ย  Applesauce is another favorite and will need replenishing.

The vegetable garden is coming along- but slowly. It has been very rainy here and very mild weather. We do need some heat to pump up my tomato growth. There has just been SO much rain this season!ย  (Any tips for growing faster, bigger vegetable plants?) We spread some old, mature chicken manure around the plants about two weeks ago. We replanted some bean seeds, which the hard rain promptly washed away, and then replanted them again. Let’s hope they grow. Beans are a fun vegetable for everyone. So lovely fresh and beautiful canned and decent if frozen.The girls and I had to transplant our little corn plants from one half row to another, as only half a row of corn came up in each row (of which there are three). I replaced the empty row with some more squash plants.

How funny – I never thought I would be writing about a vegetable garden! It has certainly turned into “my life” lately. In fact, if I go to someone’s house, that’s the first place I want to see. You can skip giving me a tour of the inside of the home (although I still find that fascinating) – I would love to see your garden!ย  Even the girls are noticing people’s gardens more, as well. They are noticing plants and vegetables that are familiar to them in other people’s gardens.

And I could talk canning and ‘putting up’ all day with someone. And preserving of all ways … have you tried dehydrating? I was thinking how fun dehydrated strawberries would be for little mouths in the winter months? With so many young babies and children, I can imagine they would love little tidbits of treats such as dehydrated bananas and strawberries when the snow is falling all around us. What are your thoughts on dehydrating? I’m not sure if it is worth the cost for a dehydrator … hmm …

 

 

 

 

 

July 2, 2017 - 5:43 am

Gigi - I love your name, too! It is so feminine and fun! ๐Ÿ™‚

July 2, 2017 - 1:16 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - As far as a girl’s L name.. I love mine.. Lynda Lu.. the Lu came from my mom’s..Lucille.. there are a few L’s!

June 29, 2017 - 10:00 am

Gigi - Maike, no, I did not get an email recently from you …?
Actually, we have four different gardening areas – and only because we keep expanding! One garden has two sections (but we will remove the fence eventually) and the third section is completely separate, which houses garlic and herbs.
There are some veggies that prefer to be planted near to each other but I am not good at remembering those just yet.

June 29, 2017 - 9:33 am

Maike - Hey Gillian, did you get my email – it’s always a mystery if anything reaches you. ^_^ Which plants have you grown there? It looks like you have to garden areas, do you keep fruits and veggies seperated by a fence? And are there some veggies/frutis that don’T like to be next to eachother?

June 29, 2017 - 6:02 am

Gigi - Rebecca, that is good to know about the dehydrator. In oatmeal – yum! That sounds great! I, too, dry herbs but just do it the old fashioned way. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yup, we spread the chicken and goat poop on our plants. I hope things warm up for the garden soon.
Milessa, it’s a great idea to just have the hydrator out for all the extras. Wonderful tips! I have my eye on a cheaper dehydrator (used) but am wondering if I need/should buy a better quality one.
Sarah, well done with your picking! I feel like we need to go back and get more -if it would stop raining!

June 29, 2017 - 4:23 am

Rebecca - I literally dreamed last night that I canned rhubarb pie filling! Haha! And I have a dehydrator and last fall I dehydrated strawberries and they were so tasty but about 6 pounds of strawberries only made one quart of dehydrated strawberries. We saved them to put on our oatmeal (I also did dehydrated blueberries). I use my dehydrator to dry herbs and fruit (last year I dried a bunch of peppermint for our own tea!), to dry sprouted grain for bread, dry soaked nuts, and even make yogurt cause I can set it to the temp I need and it keeps the milk at the proper temperature. I have a big Excalibur one, which aren’t cheap, but I have had it for over 6+ years and I’ve never had a problem with it…

I need to see if our stores are finally gonna sell organic strawberries — I haven’t seen many this year thus far and I too like to make strawberry rhubarb jam (my hubby’s favorite and I’m all out!)

Also: manure will help your plants a lot! We’ve been putting goat poop on all ours since I don’t have to wait for it to mature like I do with the chicken manure. We have also had a really rainy season thus far and so some of my plants have yellowed quite a bit…

June 28, 2017 - 10:01 pm

Milessa - I have dehydrated strawberries before. They are delicious and did not last long in my house. We put them in oatmeal, yogurt, trail mix, and just ate them by the handfuls. As with anything you dehydrate a lot fresh makes a small amount dehydrated. I think it was worth it, however I have a small dehydrator I bought years ago. During the summer months I leave the dehydrator out and when I have small amount of extra fruit and veggies that are not going to be used for eating, or putting up I dehydrate. Good luck.

June 28, 2017 - 9:01 pm

Sarah - Wow! 75 pounds of strawberries is fantastic!: ) My husband, little girl and I picked 8 quarts over the weekend, just enough for jam, shortcake and eating fresh. We too are working on a little strawberry patch of our own. It does take time, and it is harder to keep pests away than other berries than stand up off the ground.

Gathering Strength & Peace

ย For God is not [the author] of confusion,
but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

1 Corinthians 14:33

When times are challenging, do we crumble apart? Are our thoughts anxious and filled with fret? Or are we solidly standing on a firm foundation.

I have a friend from church who was diagnosed with cancer just over a year ago. My friend is a mother of five beautiful young children – their family had their heart set on being missionaries in Africa. They were just set to leave to the country to return to their African mission field when her frightening diagnosis was made early in the year. The whole church family was shocked and we all began to pray for this family. Obviously, they needed to remain in Canada for treatments and medical care. It was heart breaking to watch their family as she became more ill and try to find small ways to bless them through the momma’s treatments.

Just as her treatments ended, her husband began to feel unwell. Shockingly, he too was quickly diagnosed with cancer, as well – we have not seen him at church for many months as he is now too ill to attend. His is in the middle of his treatments, as well. What a hardship for this family! The children are young, but old enough to know that their future is unknown. My heart breaks for them and yet I see the momma, coming strongly to church every Sunday, with her five children, and praising the Lord. When she was too ill to attend, her husband brought the children faithfully every Sunday. We, as a family, pray for them every night – we pray and hope it is the Lord’s will that He will heal both parents.

This friend has been such a testimony to staying strong and faithful to the Lord during the most challenging times. I am sure she has had her moments of emotional weakness and tears shed to the Lord, however, she comes to church with a calm spirit and holds her children’s hands, gathers them around her as she worships the Lord and sets such a strong example for not only her little children, but for those around her. She always has a gentle smile for those asking how she is feeling (something that must be tiring to answer, even if we mean well in our asking) and a sweet response. She is a beautiful example of resting in the Lord and finding strength in Him.

How too often I have crumbled emotionally under silly, trivial circumstances that tried my patience! How selfish I can be when I do not look at the final chapter of the lesson I am being taught from the Lord. Patience, faithfulness, peace, a great comfort from our Heavenly Father – these things we should feel when we are going through an upheaval in our personal lives. We, as daughters of the King, should feel confident that the Lord will take care of us according to His will. We are not to be “stressed out” and worried and walk about in a huff or a gloomy cloud over our heads.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

John 14:27

Do you see as it says “Not as the world gives peace…”

Those in the world should look at us and say “She has incredible peace for what she is going through right now.” It should seem strange to them that we are not under stress or anxious- we should have a godly peace about our lives. Not frazzled or worried. This is what the Lord is teaching me lately.

ย These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

No matter how big or small your tribulation is, God promises to consistently there for you. We are to draw our strength from Him, not from ourselves. We are weak and He is strong, as the song goes.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22

There was a moment in this week where I shed tears – perhaps a pity party, perhaps exhaustion from a workload, weary from caring for the home and my jobs while my husband’s work load seems too heavy. And then I realized, if I cannot handle a small trial without doubting and crumbling, then how would I handle a larger trial in my life? I need to have peace in all situations and rely on the Lord.

[It is] good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
Psalm 119:17

My favorite thing to do when I am discouraged, anxious or not feeling peaceful is to play beautiful old hymns, listen to solid sermons and read encouraging Bible verses. Having your mind filled with Scripture is a beautiful antidote to troubling times. Hearing lovely sweet words of meaningful worship will also encourage your spirit – and it benefits you all day long as you will hear the music in your head for the rest of the day.

That being said, today will be a day filled with hymn singing and prayers. If you are going through a trial – no matter how big or small –ย  I hope you find this little note encouraging.

Blessings to you!

P.S. Another way to find encouragement is to reach out and bless someone. There are always those who are in more need than yourself. If I feel pity towards my own personal situation, my goal is to turn my eyes off myself and find a way to help someone else. It can be one of my own daughters, or perhaps someone from church or a neighbour down the road.

 

July 2, 2017 - 1:06 am

Lynda Lu Gibb - Thank you , thank you, I hope you know the blessing that you are. I am praying for you and your growing family.. God bless You.

June 26, 2017 - 11:21 am

Gigi - Tara, what a small world! Please keep them in their prayers. Their hardships are hardly over.

June 25, 2017 - 10:51 pm

Tara C - I know just the sweet family that you are talking about. <3 They used to attend our church before their move. Such an incredible testimony!

June 24, 2017 - 7:18 am

Gigi - Renee, I think of you often and am going to sit down and pen a letter to you shortly. I hope you are doing well. You are missed greatly! xo

June 23, 2017 - 10:40 pm

Renee - I miss u so much my dear friend!!! So wish I could share a cuppa tea with you, share stories and a hug. This was a beautiful post about a wonderful family. I pray that all who read this lift them up in prayer for a full recovery.

Putting up Soups & Stews

 

 

 

As our sweet baby #8 is due in the fall, I got it into my nesting-inspired brain that perhaps canning some items ahead of time would be prudent.

Our baby is due in the beginning of October, which generally is a busy canning season for me. I know that even in September, it is going to be very full with the harvest of the garden, along with preserving what vegetables we have grown.

 

Therefore, putting up some soup and stews now, even though it may be out of season, might be a responsible idea. I am using up last year’s potatoes and onions, as well. If I can preserve a batch of soup or stew at least once a week or every other week (for sanity’s sake) for a majority of the summer, that would be fantastic. It is a big help to me to have jars of healthy food readily available on a whim’s notice – we use it for lunches, dinners, after church meals … it is just a blessing.

 

 

 

 

Below are the two recipes I have worked on for soups over the past two weeks. I know it is challenging to think ahead for cooler months as we are in the beautiful warmth of June – but when there is a bump growing out your front and your family is soon growing by “two feet”,ย  you realize there is no time like the present to work!

Of course, for my recipes, I double and triple everything. I do not think it would be worth it to go through all that effort of chopping and only end up 8 jars of stew.

Beef Vegetable Stew:

  • 4 to 5 lb beef stew meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 12 cups cubed and peeled potatoes (about 12 medium)
  • 8 cups sliced carrots (about 16 small)
  • 3 cups chopped celery (about 5 stalks)
  • 3 cups chopped onion (about 4 small)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp salt
  • a dash or two of Worchestire sauce
  • a mixture of tomato sauce, added to your liking if so desired
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Water

 

You will need to cook your meat – I had some leftover beef frozen ready for soup so I simply used that and was able to skip the step of cooking the meat.

Next, you will create your broth. We all know how to create broth – or perhaps you have purchased your broth – in any case, add all your ingredients into the broth and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. You do not want to cook your vegetable for too long as they will continue to cook in the pressure canner.

Ladle your hot soup into clean mason jars. I was able to fill 14 one litre jars with this stew. Wipe the rims of your jars with paper towel or a very clean rag. Place new sealing lids on the jars and screw your rings on finger tight.
For my altitude, I pressure canned for 1 hr 30 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure. Make sure you follow the directions for your own pressure canner.

When it is time to serve your soup, simply reheat, add some barley and home baked bread. Yum – a delicious fall meal! You can even thicken your stew once you have warmed it, if you wish. (It is not advised to thicken soups for canning.)

The second soup I processed was Tomato beef Soup. We love this soup – especially with noodles added (only after being canned – never process noodles! But if you are reading this, I am assuming you already have some basic knowledge about pressure canning.)

 

This recipe is more loose – as in, I did not exactly measure. I can tell you I started with a big pot of broth, seasoned with bay leaves, basil, oregano, onions, garlic and parsley. You may adjust to your taste. Add salt and pepper as desired, as well.

The girls help cut up carrots and celery to add to the soup. The meat was already cooked so I simply added the cooked meat to each jar. This time, I did not add potatoes as it was in the previous stew.

Again, similar to the above recipe, simmer lightly on the stove for about 1/2 hour.
Fill your mason jars and wipe the rims clean with paper towel. I processed in the pressure canner for 1 hour 30 minutes at 10 lbs pressure.

A total of 38 jars was canned.

I’m not sure if this will help you if you plan on doing a canning day, but I thought I would share. Make sure you allow two days for something large like soups and stews. When I plan on doing a soup batch, I prep most of the vegetables the previous day and make the broth. The following day, everything is ready to go and I can just process the soups. Or I will cut up all the vegetables and process on batch in one day and will process the second batch the next day. It does take a lot of effort and time to get the work done, but again, it is truly worth it.ย  Of course, if you are home alone without children, you can probably process the entire batch in one day – but I know I am needed and stopped often for meals, etc. while in the middle of canning.

P.S. I have to say, I was tempted a few weeks ago to purchase the next size up pressure canner. I really felt my needs justified the reason to update. Our family has grown in size drastically since I first started pressure canning many years ago and our food needs have also increase. Thus, I was convinced I needed a new, bigger canner. However, my little canner has proven faithful through all these years. It is a much more cost friendly canner compared to the large option. In the end, I decided it was best to “make do with what I have”. I am grateful for this hard working canner! Best money spent ever, I think!

 

 

June 16, 2017 - 4:42 pm

Gigi - Regina, that sounds so wonderful! I would like to pressure can some meat for the fall, as well. Waiting for a sale from the local Mennonite store. ๐Ÿ™‚
No, we are not going to find out the gender of the baby. And we are a little stuck on a girl name – we are still sticking with the “L” theme. I think I may have a boy name but not 100% sure.

June 16, 2017 - 3:38 pm

Regina Shea - Hi Gigi! This sounds and looks so delicious! I just learned how to pressure can a few months ago. I really love it Makes me wonder what took me so long to graduate from water bath to pressure canning! Right now I have pork going in the canner. I also thought about buying a larger canner. My canner wil only hold 4 quarts so I have to can smaller batches. After the pork is done, I have chicken to do. Tomorrow it will be bean soup to have on hand for the fall.
Are you going to find out what the baby is? Do you have names picked out?

Goslings & Ducklings

My apologies for my absence. We have been in the garden, making the most of this June sunshine,ย  working outside and … well, in the garden. With the expansion of our garden, we will be expecting even more produce this fall. What a blessing! We pray over the garden often and give it to God. I can plant and plant and plant but I cannot truly control the outcome. However,ย  I would rather be in the dirt, pulling weeds, than rushing to the grocery store this winter and buying produce from who knows where. {Think about it – it makes sense!}

 

We have many baby bunnies on our property – they are adorable to watch – but they are just like Peter Rabbit in my garden. My husband has been very kind and put up a fence around all the gardens to protect them from the cute little bunny visitors.

 

Our good friends gave us some ducklings when we visited their house last week- what a blessing! The Buff Orpingtons are good layers, but not good for meat. They are growing quickly and quite cute to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

We recently introduced some goslings to the barnyard, as well. Oh my, they are so cute!
They are some Chinese Geese and, I think, there is one Embden goose. We do have a full grown goose and gander already, but I look forward to having more geese for the future.

Who can resist the cuteness of a little duckling?

Or even still – a gosling?

 

 

I’m sitting on the back patio (our summer kitchen) waiting for the pressure canner to finish up over the propane cooker. I have been true to my decision to weekly pressure can some soups and meals for the winter months. Hopefully I can do a post about that lately as I have some good recipes to share …and I should do baby update, for sure … hopefully this week … perhaps if it rains a bit in the afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚