Garden Bounty

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, green beans, gardening, harvest, canningThis year, we have had a lot of veggies to can up for Winter eating.  But, we didn’t grow most of them ourselves.  A few we have purchased, but mostly, as we didn’t have the time needed to have a really successful garden this year, friends have given us their excess garden produce.  We have been very fortunate to have friends who have shared excess banana peppers, squash, zucchini, corn, green beans, basil, rosemary, and literally almost 2 bushels of tomatoes!  We have either eaten fresh or canned for Winter eating from all of these wonderful foods.

We plan to move a lot of our raised garden beds to a different place on our property so that they may get more sunlight than where they are now.  Leafy greens, like basil, do really well in that spot, but tomatoes, hot peppers, and beans just don’t seem to take off like they should.   I think a couple of extra hours per day of sunshine may make a big difference.  Of course, the fact that I spread a very thick layer of “poopy hay” from the riding stables and didn’t leave quite enough time for it to break down, didn’t help my situation a bit.

But, live and learn and I learn a little more of how not to garden every year!  Of course, the best garden I have ever had was in old tires filled with purchased compost and rabbit Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie Hatchettmanure.  Oh, the peppers and tomatoes were stunning and plentiful.  Oh well, I don’t think that the tire garden, no matter how structured and orderly, is going to make it past my parents.  As I am not inclined to put them in an early grave, I tend to abide by most of their aesthetic desires for the yard.  But, that being said, Patrice over at Rural-Revolution has a hugely productive tire garden!

Not to mention that my Mom isn’t really big on canning, but she is always game to help out, snap beans, prepare tomatoes, and just be my buddy in the kitchen.  Canning tasks seem so much easier with an extra set of hands and some good company!

So, have we canned enough that we won’t need to purchase any veggies this Winter?  No, but it ain’t over yet!  There are still collards, kale, cabbage, and others that I may come up with or purchase.  Plus, canning dried beans make fixing a quick meal so easy.   At the end of a long day canning, it is so nice to see rows of jars, cooling on folded dish towels.  No matter what kind of day it was, just that sight can remind me that it was a truly productive day.

Have you preserved much food this Summer?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

It’s Good to Have Like Minded Friends!

Another Hatchett Job, Creative Commons, canning jars, empty jars, canning, preserving the harvestThis week, I am writing a few posts in advance, because my oldest son and I are at the State of Georgia Regents Pediatric Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Augusta, Georgia for a few days.  It’s almost 3 hours from home and I have been so remiss in posting lately, that I didn’t want to drop the blog ball yet again!

So this week, I am feeling really grateful and want to give some credit where it is due and to acknowledge that while I enjoy gardening, canning, cooking, sewing, crafting, and quilting, I don’t do any of them in a vacuum.  I am surrounded by family and friends who offer moral support, free materials they no longer need, and lots of love!

A sweet lady that I have gone to church with, offered me some canning jars that she no longer needed.  I went and picked them up and they were all nice and clean and in great condition!  It wasn’t a huge amount, but I am grateful that she thought of me enough to know that I would put her jars to good use.  Right now, about 9 quarts of green beans have been canned in these gifted jars and they couldn’t have come at a better time.  I am sure it won’t be long before I have filled them all and put them on my canning shelf (which is a good story for another day).

I love receiving gifts like these.  They don’t cost the giver much of anything monetary, but receiving an act of good will and kindness always brightens my day!  I remember her kindness as I work with filling the jars and I am sure that each season as I ready my jars for filling, I will remember this kindness, as well as the kindness of others.

Do you get excited about receiving “new to you” canning jars?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

DIY Saddle Stand

Another Hatchett Job, horseback riding, therapeutic riding, saddle, saddle horse, barrel horse, DIY, crafts, frugal living, make do

Saddle on banister with blanket.

My oldest son used his graduation money to purchase a really nice, red leather saddle that we found at a good price.  He is a big guy at 6″9 and needed more room than the saddles that we were using at the Calvin Center Equestrian Program allowed for.  Since his dream is to work with horses, this was a good investment in his future and, with any luck, he will be using this roping saddle for many years.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a ready place to store this saddle.  So, in true make-do fashion, we looked at what was on sale around town and online, plus we checked out a few that friends had.  Most take up more floor space than we had available, so hubby designed one with materials we could lay our hands on in quick fashion.

Hubby is a chemist and, at work, he has access to blue plastic poly-barrels at a reasonable (for us, definitely not retail priced!) rates.  He brought a clean, dry 35 gallon one home, measured the banister at the landing at the top of our stairs (that are right next to kiddo’s room.  Then, he used a (borrowed) reciprocating saw to cut a notch just wide enough at the top so that it could just fit the handrail.  He did taper inward a bit from the center cut to the edge, so that it would have to be wiggled and eased into place and not too loose on the railing.

After a dry fitting to make sure that the cuts were big enough (they barely were, but better too tight than too loose), we trekked off to the local truck stop (I get crafty stuff everywhere!) and purchased a very inexpensive, woven, wool blanket.  It is a lot like a Mexican serape, though a bit thinner.  The goal here was to cover the bright blue of the barrel with something that would allow the saddle fleece to breathe and help the saddle to grip onto so it wouldn’t slide off the smooth plastic  barrel  It helps that these blankets look a lot like many Western saddle pads, especially is you like old Western movies.

With the blanket pulled back, the barrel of this "barrel horse" can be seen.

With the blanket pulled back, the barrel of this “barrel horse” can be seen.

But, as you probably guessed, the blanket slid off the barrel.  After a bit of thought, we added a piece of left over non-skid shelf lining that we had left over from another project.  Most days, this stays on well, but not always.  So, we are really careful with the saddle being balanced on the barrel while we consider our next steps.  I could attach the non-skid pad to the barrel, so it couldn’t shift.  Or, we could use hot glue to create homemade “grippy strips” that the blanket wouldn’t slide across.  But, perhaps a roll of double sided carpet tape would work.  We will see what we have and what will work.

In the meantime, we have a “barrel horse” that is a bit of a decorating feature in our home.  As we live in a log cabin, it works and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  I would rather pay for a good riding lesson or participation in a fun trail ride than spend money on something we don’t really have room for right now.

Is it fun carrying the saddle up a flight of stairs?  Not really, but at least up there, it is out of sight to the little, leather chewing dog that would feast on it otherwise!

What is your favorite DIY project?

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Considering Homeschool This Year?

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative CommonsAs Back to School sales begin in earnest in the stores, some parents struggle with the decision of whether to send their child to public schools. Private schools are an option for those who are open to them. Homeschooling is another option, but it is often difficult to make the decision to homeschool when faced with little understanding or support from your family and friends.

Even worse, it is hard to consider doing something when you are filled with self-doubt about whether or not you could actually be successful at it.

Let’s face it, every homeschool parent has felt this way at one time or another. I did. And, I have taught both public and private high school classes. And, I worried about teaching my sons at home. Honestly, there are parts that went really well and parts that, in retrospect, I would do differently if I could do them over. But, I am satisfied that for my children, I did as well or better than the schools in our area could have done.

In an effort of full disclosure, I have one gifted student and one special needs (but smart as a whip) child and we didn’t seriously homeschool until the oldest was starting high school and the youngest was in middle school. We had done one year of homeschooling in the elementary years.

My boys both began in a public charter school when I was teaching public school. After a year of homeschooling and being home with them, I was offered a high school teaching position in a local Christian school that was k-12. My kids were right down the hall from me and I could keep track of how they were. For several years, that worked really well for us.

When it didn’t, we began to homeschool again, eventually leading to my running a co-op for a year and teaching high school Science and Literature courses for various homeschoolers.

So, you can see that I have tried all of the alternatives that were local to us and they all have strengths and weaknesses. However, homeschooling is where my children have blossomed.

There are myriad reasons to consider homeschooling in the first place. The following articles are from a series that I wrote outlining the most common reasons that I know of that people choose to homeschool. I hope that they can help you to learn if homeschooling may be of benefit to your family.

Why Homeschool?

Why Homeschool?  Academic Excellence

Why Homeschool?  Appropriate Socialization

Why Homeschool?  Field Trips

Why Homeschool?  Child Led Learning

Why Homeschool?  School Safety

Why Homeschool?  Religion

Why Homeschool?  Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences

Why Homeschool?  Life Long Learners

Do you homeschool?  Are you considering it?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Homemade Salsa

Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie HatchettThere is nothing that my family likes better than homemade salsa throughout the year. It is the one thing that my sons request that I make in large quantities (that includes the many jams and sweet goodies that I also make).

For them, Mama’s homemade salsa is a sure winner!

I wish I could take credit for this amazing salsa making prowess, but, alas, I cannot. I learned to make homemade salsa from my wonderful hubby, who, in turn, had learned from his mother, an excellent cook.

However, she made hers fresh in small batches whenever she needed some and I make mine and can it for year round eating and some gifts. Hubby and I have learned how to expand those same fresh flavors into a safely canned product that we have been making for years.

First off, please consult a good book or website on food preservation and review the section on Water Bath Canning. As salsa is a high acid food, it can be easily canned in glass jars with two part lids.

This year, we have not had luck with growing tomatoes (last year, either), so we are using #10 cans of diced tomatoes that we got from our local grocery store. It is an economical alternative to fresh tomatoes when they aren’t at hand. It also enables me to make a batch on the fly when tomatoes aren’t in season for gift giving or if we run out (hungry hubby and two teen sons and all that).

Now, I would prefer having crushed tomatoes, but those aren’t available locally in the big cans for me, so I use an immersion blender (either when they are in the can or in the pot) to crush them up a bit for better texture. I pulse cilantro, onions, garlic, and peppers in the food processor, but you can put chunks in a good blender with diced tomatoes and let it grind all up together if you prefer. We have done both ways.

Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie Hatchett

Finished jars cool overnight on the counter.

We tend to just add peppers until we like the taste. We do add about 1 tablespoon salt to each big batch, but no other dried spices are needed. So, when it is hot enough to make our eyes water, we heat to boiling and can it according to the latest USDA guidelines.

We will also make a much milder version for most of our friends and other family for gift giving and entertaining. We don’t want to hurt anyone! He he!

Water bath canning is simple and easy to do. Just look up the procedures in a good book or online and follow the steps. You will have a delicious, preservative free, fat free, vegetable salsa in no time. Yum!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett