Gigi Blog » The life and loveliness of Gigi's World

Gigi 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. ♥

Lovelyn & Jack ❤

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers…”
-Anne Shirley



October is one of my favorite months for so many reasons … and it is also Lovelyn Angelica Joy’s birthday month! This year, we celebrated her sixth birthday. How she became a little six year old is beyond me – I need to remember to treasure and slow down every day and cherish each of my sweet young ones. They grow so fast right in front of our eyes. She is such a blessing to our family – a true servant’s heart, gentle, peaceful and very caring. She truly lives up to her name.

A few months ago, she adopted a floppy eared bunny that we found for free. She named her new bunny-friend Jack – and they are such a cute little pair. Jack is the boss of the barnyard, believe it or not, beating up the other male bunnies. He is a bit of a bully but so loving and affectionate to his owner.
We love you, Lovie! xo








October 29, 2016 - 6:43 pm

Rachel Joy - I remember when Lovelyn was born! We made aaaall those mini bath fizzies. Haha! I cannot believe it’s been 6 years since then! Happy, happy birthday little Lovelyn Angelica Joy! We share a middle name and our birth month. 🙂 <3

Preparing for Winter: {Canning} Carrots

Almanzo ate four large helpings of apples ’n’ onions fried together.
He ate roast beef and brown gravy,
and mashed potatoes and creamed carrots and boiled turnips,
and countless slices of buttered bread with crab-apple jelly.
‘It takes a great deal to feed a growing boy,’ Mother said.
-Farmer Boy





What’s this?

Another canning post?

It may return to life as normal (or is this the new normal?) someday but for now, it’s still time to be busy in the kitchen, prepping for winter, filling up the pantry and preparing to put away food.

I actually woke up in the middle of the night last night, sat up and calculated how many weeks of winter there are for our family. Yes, I know.

If we have approximately six months of cooler/cold weather here in the north when vegetables are  not able to grow, that makes 24 weeks of needing a supply of food. Even in my groggy sleep, I calculated how I could feed our family without using the grocery store, unless completely necessary. Why, do you ask, do I care so much? Well, have you look at where your food is coming from in your local grocery store? Have you noticed that our garlic is shipped from China and sold in our local grocery stores, even though garlic is easily grown here in our area? Have you seen that even the baby cookies {President’s Choice} are also made in China? If you start reading labels on your food products, you will find out that most of the food – especially during the off-growing season, are not produced locally at all, even the items that are easily grown in our area during the summer. [Here is another article to read.]We have known this for a while – of course, that goes hand in hand with growing our own vegetables and raising our own meat (only chicken and ducks, so far – however, we have not purchased meat from the store in years as we purchase our beef from a local farmer).

The more you can produce for yourself and your family, the better off you will be.

So, with my estimate, we would need 24 weeks of hearty vegetable servings to feed the family, with a little extra for days we need to double recipes, etc.
I counted the butternut squash that had been harvested from the garden – and can you believe it, there are 24. God is good! One squash a week will certainly be a blessing!

Our corn that we shucked and cut off the cob, grown from a local organic farmer around the corner, has been bagged and frozen. Guess how many bags? 24 bags of sweet corn.

Praise the Lord!


Now it was time to fill the Provision Room with those lovely, beautiful vegetables that we all love and adore – carrots.


While we did not grow enough in our garden to sustain us for the winter months, we did grow some for eating during the summer. They are all gone now, sadly, however I know how many beds of carrots I will need to plant next season. In the meantime, there was a lovely sale of local carrots  sold in bulk recently, something I had been waiting for patiently.

I was able to purchase 50 lbs. of carrots with intentions of canning them for the winter. I knew I would need approximately 24 jars of carrots, with 10 extra jars for those additional meals or perhaps even for baking.

I have tried to store carrots in my basement but they mold too quickly. I would prefer to keep them whole but I knew that I would not be able to do that – at least, not this year. So canning was the other option.


For canning carrots, you will need a pressure canner.


First, simply wash and chop the carrots up. If they are organic, you do not even need to peel them. There are loads of nutrients packed in the skin and just below so resist the urge to peel!



I prefer to use a cold pack method – which means the carrots were not cooked before canning.









Fill your jars to the elbow of the jar (leaving a 1″ headspace) and pour boiling water over your carrots.




It is always more fun to have your little helpers join you in the kitchen. It actually did speed up my work as I just kept on chopping while she gathered the pieces and placed them in the jars. Thank you, Lovelyn, for your help!

Process your jars in your pressure canner for 25 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure (for my altitude, this is what is required – check your altitude for the required weights for your area). Every pressure canner is different so make sure to read the directions for your own particular machine.

I took a picture of my “rustic” redneck setup of the propane burner outside so you could see how I do it. I have set up the wood pieces to block the wind from blowing out the flame (which can happen if it is windy). I would love to purchase a larger canner now that our family has grown in size but this is what God has blessed me with and I am using it to it’s full capabilities. 🙂




Once processed, allow the  pressure to naturally decrease in your canner.




When it is safe to open the lid, place your jars on your counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Check for the seals the next day.

{This is not all the jars – there were still more in the canner!}

Place in your pantry, cold room storage or Provision Room and enjoy the fruits of your labour!



{linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims}


November 2, 2016 - 6:44 am

admin - Jen, yes, just open a jar, warm on the stove (they are already cooked – no need to boil), add some butter and maybe brown sugar and you are ready to serve for dinner. 🙂

November 1, 2016 - 8:39 pm

Jennifer Heemskerk - Hey there Gillian, I’m so enjoying your canning posts! I was wondering what you would use these carrots for? For example, do you just open a can of carrots and then cook them? Or would you add them to a stew? Or make carrot soup. I’m still wondering about how to use all of these canned veggies in a practical way. Thanks

October 26, 2016 - 1:32 pm

Tana Mason - God is good!! It’s such a blessing to be able to can and preserve what we grow in our own backyard. Please come share this at the Homesteader Hop

October 26, 2016 - 5:26 am

admin - Maike, surprisingly – with 7 girls in the house! – we have not had lice yet! I’m sure we will one day. It just is a part of childhood, it seems. Try a combination of tea tree and eucalyptus oil. You can mix it in the shampoo rinse. Add 5-20 drops to your shampoo and wash daily or even twice a day. Or create the same mixture of oils with coconut oil and massage it into the hair and roots. Another option is to mix a few drops of tea tree oil into 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub it into the hair and let it sit for an hour or so. Rinse and comb out. Hopefully that helps. They are a problem for most families at some point in our lives, unfortunately. Hoping your problem is solved quickly for your sake! {hugs}

October 26, 2016 - 5:21 am

admin - Yes, you got it, Tara- do what you can with what you have! If you are unable to grow your own food, you can source out good local produce (we are at the tail end of it this year) to can and pressure can for your family. There are great deals to be found right now. In the fall, you can drive down country roads and find free apples. Farmer’s markets will sell vegetables in bulk. Yes, homemade goodness is wonderful! Your children are blessed.

October 26, 2016 - 4:17 am

Maike - I’m having a question to a different topic. Do your children ever get lice (those little animal habitants that like to live on your head and make it very itchy)? If so have you found something natural that works well in the war against them?

October 25, 2016 - 9:29 pm

Tara C - I LOVE seeing all of your posts about canning! One day, I hope to have the ability to do this – grow our own produce, can and store it. One day 🙂 For now, I do what I can with what I have and bake my kiddos school snacks. There are SO many yummy treats that can be made and frozen so that they have a little homemade goodness.

October 25, 2016 - 1:05 pm

Gramma Cardinal - yum, carrot cake and muffins! xxxxxxxxx

Using {all} of your Apples

“The cellar began to have its winter smell of apples and preserves.
After all the perfect apples had been picked,  Almanzo and Royal could shake the trees.
They shook the trees with all their might, and the apples came rattling down like hail.
They picked them up and threw them into the wagon. These were cider-apples.”
-Farmer Boy

The Autumn wind is whipping the damp laundry, once hung so neatly on the line, into a messy tangled line. Colored leaves are swirling about the green fields and the smell of fall is in the air.

…. there is the comforting aroma of homemade apple cider, warming on the woodstove … the incredible mixture of cinnamon and apple slices all tucked up gently into a warm pie in the oven … dusted with sprinkles of white sugar … the tucking away of homemade apple cider vinegar in the Provision Room … October is just wonderful. It is one of my favorite months, to be sure.


After all, who does not love apple season?

Every time we drive down our country road, I keep my eyes searching for loaded {free for the picking} apple trees. Many times, we have pulled our big truck over, unloaded the girls and buckets (after asking permission, if a land owner is available) and loaded up on apples. I have used these apples for many things … apple cider vinegar, apple cider, applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling, apple syrup …  and of course,  we are also storing apples to eat whole during the winter.

Having such canned items in the Provision Room is a must for this family. I do not think we could get through winter without having apples  or apple products in the house!


I have just finished making another 2 gallon batch of apple cider, which will turn into apple cider vinegar after some patient-waiting. Have you ever made apple cider vinegar? A dear friend of mine instructed me to use full apples, instead of scraps, to make the vinegar, as the scraps produce a watered-down version of your vinegar, she suggested. So full apples, we used.



To make apple cider vinegar, start off by pressing or juicing your apples. We used a juicer- you can find a similar one here.
Pour your juice into a glass jar, add the ACV mother a a couple tablespoons of organic cider vinegar. Cover  your jar with a cloth secured with rubberband and place in a dark, cool location for approximately six weeks. Check your vinegar periodically. I received a piece of a mother from my friend, but I have read you can take a piece of a “mother” from your organic apple cider vinegar from the store.


You can see the “mother” floating around in the cider.




Apple cider vinegar is amazing and definitely something you should keep in your pantry. It is known to remove toxins from your body,   soothe sore throats, help ease indigestion, clear away acne and blemishes on the skin, keep your animals healthy (we add it to our animals’ water), aid in losing weight, boost energy  {take a sip of it when you feel sluggish}, it can help whiten teeth and get rid of bad breath, fade bruises, and it will help control blood sugar levels.  It is amazing in so many ways! I also use it to make tinctures and fire cider.



With our excess apples, we also made apple cider to drink (which was made the same way – we just skipped adding the mother, as we will not be fermenting our batch of cider). I water bathed the jars to preserve the cider. You can read full directions for canning cider here on this very helpful website.  In some jars, I added a cinnamon stick to spice up the flavor. Just shake the jar before warming to unsettle the thicker bits of the cider.



I look forward to having some buttered popcorn and hot homemade apple cider in the middle of winter, as we gather around the cozy woodstove. It will remind me of the story of Almanzo Wilder in “Farmer Boy”. Doesn’t that just sound deliciously cozy?

 Then your apples all is gathered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and their sauce and sausage, too…”
-James Whitcombe Riley
When the Frost is on the Punkin’

Linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims


October 25, 2016 - 11:11 am

admin - Thanks, Liz.
Lyndy, thank *you* for your encouragement!

October 22, 2016 - 2:27 pm

jen - mmmm i just made some homemade apple cider yesterday 😀

October 20, 2016 - 9:53 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - You my dear ,are a tireless worker! Not to say you aren’t tired..but that you just keep going.. Praise the Lord for your diligence and willingness to persist in your pursuit for a God Filled healthy life for your family.. and thank you for this blog which brings blessings to all who read it. Thank you for encouragement.

October 19, 2016 - 6:43 pm

Liz - Mono Cliffs trails have a lot of ancient apple orchards if you’re still looking. Also pretty in the spring.

Nourishing the Mind

“We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty,
upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life;
he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture.”

-Charlotte Mason


The girls were working on a picture study of Monet’s work this week in our one room school house … and new chalk pastels were introduced with a resounding welcome. Little and big hands were kept happy and busy as they quietly created lovely artwork this fall morning. The once-noisy morning slowed, textbooks were put away and classical music was played.







{oops, it looks like Lavender may have eaten some of the art work!}

{inspiration found from a teacup of delicate pansies}

So thankful to have this opportunity to school at home with the children.
I can’t imagine all the time that I would have lost with them if they were in a traditional school setting.
Grateful for blessings such as home education.

“Art is a wonderful way to add variety in your day,
and to nourish your children’s mind and heart with what is good, noble and beautiful.”

-Sonya Shafer

October 16, 2016 - 10:03 pm

Gramma Cardinal - Good work Gramma’s girls xxxxxxx

October 14, 2016 - 7:26 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - They all look very entranced with what they are doing! A nice school day for sure!

Do What You Can.

Lucia, my 8-year-old daughter, read this quote to me this week as it was part of her copywork for school.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Right away, I copied it onto our chalkboard to read daily. What a fabulous piece of advice!

So often we long for something we do not have, we say “When I am ________, I will do _________” (fill in the blank) …. or “When I have ______[more money, more time, less work, more room, etc.], I will then do ________”   But the time-tested message we receive from Teddy Roosevelt is not to wait, but to make do with what we have. You know that saying – bloom where you are planted.

Do what you can with what you have right now!

A great motto to live your life by, don’t you think? I loved it.


{beautiful early morning fall sunbeams,
streaming through the silver maples, greeting me as I went out to hang the laundry}

Recently, we harvested the rest of what was in our garden. While we have been eating from the garden this summer, it is always so satisfying and wonderful to see what you have grown, the fruits of your labour, at the end of the season.

{plums from my parents’ trees}


It is definitely worth all the hard work, hours and hours of weeding, watering and care.



{an enormous turnip}

Now comes the time to store most of the food we have harvested. We had a great crop of cucumbers, green and yellow beans,  potatoes, squash, an amazing, stellar turnout of tomatoes (which have already been harvested and put up), turnips and peppers. The other vegetables will probably be eaten up rather quickly {garlic, onions, etc.} as I should have planted more for our large family. I have not stopped canning since August – this is the most I have ever put up. It is a blessing!

We also have a fair amount of apples from our little orchard that we used in our preserving. But who can resist a beautiful wild tree loaded with free apples? Yes, we have collected some from wild trees around our home, as well, but I still need {want?} to collect more. Tomorrow, we are going to do some more apple picking – I plan to wrap these ones with newspaper and store them in a cool corner of the basement for the winter.

Since my last post, I had a vision in my mind of what I would like our storage {Provision Room} *should* look like … I was suddenly inspired … so this week, I really want to work out sorting out our Provision room to hold our root vegetables properly. Right now, I can store them underground in a stairwell cut out underneath our wrap-around porch. It opens up to the basement so it is actually a great location to store vegetables that need a cool, dark location. [Update – in between writing this post, we discovered, by chance, a skunk in this little cellar area, much to my utter surprise one early morning … so we do need to critter-proof this section somehow … but I still hope to store some vegetables there.]


{lots of butternut squash!}

The girls helped dig up potatoes, harvest the squash &  hang up the peppers to dry in a dark corner of our kitchen.. Apple sauce, apple pie filling and apple-plum preserves have also been made and canned this weekend. We have also added 21 litres of homemade apple cider, along with some apple cider vinegar.  {I hope to do a post on that process soon!}


Most of my herbs have been collected and hung to dry in the kitchen, as well. Do you recognize any?


 I’m hoping to save some plants from outdoors as I feel it is so wasteful to spend money year after year, purchasing plants for the planters. If I can keep a few alive, I’ll be happy. I have successfully over-wintered my geraniums and plan to do that again this year. We shall see how these million bells manage for the next half year indoors.

{hydrangeas for drying}

Winter is coming … it will not be long now …

{linked up with Strangers & Pilgrims
and Rosevine Cottage}


October 24, 2016 - 4:50 pm

{Canning} Carrots » Gigi Blog - […] I took a picture of my “rustic” redneck setup of the propane burner outside so you could see how I do it. I have set up the wood pieces to block the wind from blowing out the flame (which can happen if it is windy). I would love to purchase a larger canner now that our family has grown in size but this is what God has blessed me with and I am using it to it’s full capabilities. […]

October 13, 2016 - 1:48 am

Rebecca - Ahhh! So amazing! I can not believe that lineup of butternut squash! I’ve tried to grow butternut squash here in Alaska two summers in a row but couldn’t get any fruit — our growing season may just be too cold and short here (sadness!).

October 12, 2016 - 10:11 pm

Lynda Lu Gibb - You are so inspiring..I for one will be doing a lot more tomorrow because of this writing!

October 12, 2016 - 9:55 pm

admin - Hi Jen, nice to hear from you. Yes, I had planned to pressure can some apple butternut squash soup – it is so tasty! I’ll definitely share the recipe when I process the soup. 🙂

October 12, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Jennifer Heemskerk - That quote is so perfect!! Thank you for sharing that. And my, look at that bounty of beautiful food! Do you have a butternut squash recipe for soup? That is what I make using butternut squash…it’s so scrumptious and I think with your canning talents you could store some all winter!