National Novel Writing Month

You’ve Another Hatchett Job blog, old books, stack of books, reading, frugal lifegot a book in ya!

That’s the idea behind the website for the National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo.  Every year, in November, people embark on a journey to outline and write a complete draft of a 50,000 word novel in 30 days!

It is an exercise in pure, literary abandon.

And it is an absolutely intriguing idea.  I think this might even be the year that I buckle down and give it a shot.  I am more of an essayist (and poet) than a novelist, but shouldn’t every writer set out at least once to write the “Great American Novel?”  And while I am not planning to come to the level of The Great Gatsby (in my view, the quintessential, Great American Novel), it will be interesting to see if I have it in me to handle plot, characterization, and setting.  There is a reason I gravitated toward poetry and not short stories.  I do strong images.  Nothing very much happens during that strong, captured, moment-in-time, image. Another Hatchett Job blog, books, library, frugal life

Every book I have ever considered working on (and one that was partially written and lost during a horrible computer crash with no back up) was some sort of either non-fiction (big ol’ research paper, if you will) or personal essay piece.  Never once have I (the lover of all things prose) ever undertaken to write fiction.

But, why not?  The worst thing that can happen?  I enjoy writing as a hobby and have a completed (albeit of questionable quality) novel.  I can say I did it.  Maybe, just maybe, it will be editable into something worth sharing.  Maybe not.  It hasn’t cost me a dime and I will have gotten to rise to a new challenge in my writing skills.

I first learned of NaNoWriMo from Patrice Lewis’ blog, Rural Revolution.  She and at least one of her daughters have done it before and found the challenge to be a good one.  I wonder if I could get younger son to do it with me this year.  He might be more apt if it were writing a screenplay rather than a novel.

Another Hatchett Job blog, books, stack of books, cartoon books, frugal lifeI think this is a wonderful idea for homeschool students, creative teens and all those who have a story to tell in their hearts.  If you love to read, then you likely have absorbed enough good writing skills over the years to make this a reality for you.  Write a book that you would like to read.

Check out the website for NaNoWriMo.  They have loads of good stuff there including some good books to get you prepared for your journey.  I bet you could find some of them in your local library to save a little money, too.

So whaddaya say?  Wanna write a novel this November?

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Guest Post at Molly Green Magazine Blog

Another Hatchett Job, Molly Green Magazine blog, salsa, canning, frugal ife, recipe, cookingHello all!  Today, I am over at the Molly Green blog with my new article all about canning fresh tomato salsa (even when you are out of fresh tomatoes).  My family thinks my salsa is the best and I hope your family will enjoy it also.

To read more about this tasty salsa, click here.

If you like this article, you may want to check out a FREE issue of Molly Green Magazine here.  It’s a limited time offer.  This is the magazine all about the home:  HOME Industry, HOMEkeeping, HOMEsteading, HOMEschooling.  Always great articles to be found.  With a paid subscription, you get access to a FREE store to sell your HOMEmade goods.  It’s a great deal!

Have you read Molly Green Magazine before?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Things to Consider When Beginning Your Homeschool Journey

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative CommonsA couple of weeks ago, I received a comment from a reader asking about the “how to’s” of getting started.  Wish I could have gotten this article published a bit sooner, but perhaps it will help someone that is starting out.

To start with, a lot depends on the age(s) of your kiddos.  Younger kids will need different types of materials and parental instruction than older kids will.  Have the children been in school prior to your starting to homeschool?  If so, that will shape both your and your child or children’s expectations going into this new adventure.  Do any of your children have any identified learning deficits or excel in certain areas?  That will help you to gauge how much information will be covered at each lesson.  A child struggling in an area will often move a bit more cautiously through material and may not enjoy it.  A child who has a particular interest in or who excels in a certain subject will consume great amount of information each day with joy.  Neither situation are bad, they just help you to be mindful not to go too fast in some areas or too slow in others.  Let your child guide the way.

Read, read, read!  Read everything you can find at first about homeschooling.  You will want to try different ideas and curriculums.  It can even seem overwhelming.  Just relax and try one new thing per year.  If you purchase a curriculum, use it.  Don’t try it for a week and toss it aside for something else.  Keep it simple on both yourself and your child.  Especially if you are starting with an older child, bear in mind that your new curriculum may have covered information in previous years that your child didn’t cover in school yet.  Be patient with both of you and just go slowly.  Just about anything you need to brush up on can be found by doing a simple Google search.

I am by no means an expert in homeschooling, but my sons (one gifted and one LD) have made it through high school with plans for the future under my guidance.  So, while I can’t tell you exactly what will work in your family with your unique situation and children, I will share a few things that worked well for me and a few things that I wish I had done to improve our homeschooling experience.

 

Things that worked for us:pencil, eraser, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschool, education, writing, creative commons

Read alouds–all kids love to be read to.  Some auditory learners need to hear the material in order to fully comprehend it.  Biographies and stories can make great family time before bedtime.

Talking about real happenings in the world.  Current events can create good discussion topics.  Let your children form their own opinions, even if they are questionable.  Encourage logical thinking and give them ideas to think about.  Before you know it, your child will have strong, reasoned opinions to be proud of.

Field trips, even those through Boy Scouting or church activities aided in my kiddos curiosity and their knowledge of the world around them.

Encouraging time spent outside in both structured and unstructured activities.  We did everything from Boy Scout camping, hiking, and rappelling to berry picking, horseback riding, and assisting at a bird banding station.  In fact, these trips encouraged one son to desire a career with horses and the other son to begin apprenticing for his Federal bird banding license.

Keep it interesting and fun (unit studies are great in middle school).  Read alouds can just happen to cover similar topics as your unit studies.  Field trips can be tailored to the subjects currently taught as well.  Sometimes, current events can spark a little historical or geographical debate.  Learning can’t be in a vacuum.  It must be out in the open so that kids can see that it actually applies to real life.

Letting the kids see that we are lifelong learners.  Hubby and I discussed books and blogs we read in front of the kids and as they got older, shared some with them.  They saw us learn how to do things like build raised garden beds, can food properly, or fix the car.  It takes away a lot of excuses that start with, “but we will never really NEED to know these things.”  Learning is expected as a part of life, not a punishment.

Getting our kids involved at church, through volunteering, and in Scouting to gain social skills, leadership skills and just to make friends.  It’s that socialization thing that people will always ask you about!

 

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons, homeschooling, tutoring, education, Mother and Child,Things I wish I had done better:

Keep to a schedule.  Some days my dislike of early mornings didn’t help my kiddos get up and started as well as I would have liked.  They took their cues from me and I wasn’t consistent.  Pick a starting time and stick with it.  Even if it is noon.  Things just feel less frantic that way.

More field trips.  You just can’t have enough.  They don’t have to be elaborate.

More “homestead” type skills.  Home Economics is a good thing, but I wish I had been a bit less “college minded” and encouraged a bit more building things, making forts, planting things together.  My kids can do laundry and cook, but still need to learn more skills (don’t we all?).

Encouraged my kids to write for fun.  We wrote lots of essays and we read loads, but I actively encouraged reading for fun.  I wish I had heard of  National Novel Writing Month earlier.  That would have been fun to do with my kids.  And now that one of my kids is learning to write screenplays, it would have been helpful.  I strongly encourage everyone to try it with their kids.  Who cares if it doesn’t get published?  Express yourself.  We all have to communicate in life and the more ways you learn to do it, the better.

In the same vein, encourage younger kids to submit essays to various writing contests around your state and the blogosphere.  In Georgia, there is a Fire Safety Essay contest each year that any student can enter.  Sometimes, you get some praise and an award.  Sometimes you don’t.  It can be fun either way.  Make a collection of your kids writings and drawings and publish them up for grandparents for Christmas.  It’s totally good stuff!

I wasn’t great about taking “back to school” pictures and I wish that I had been more consistent.

 

Some tips for every parent:

Another Hatchett Job blog, Jan Hatchett, Home Economics, Home Ec, cooking, breadmaking, messy homeschooler, homeschooling, education, learning, hands on

Home Ec is hard work!
Photo by Jan Hatchett

Don’t ever say, “It’s too hard” that just gives kids a reason not to try.  This is the single biggest mistake that I have heard over and over among homeschoolers who are working with older kids.  It doesn’t matter if you liked the subject in school.  It doesn’t matter if you thought it was too hard as a kid.  What matters is that you give your child every opportunity to master the information and to be good at it.  Don’t put your negative ideas on your child.  He or she may love that subject if you give them a chance!  Hire a tutor to teach it for you or use an online program if you must, but if your children hear you complaining about the subject and about teaching them, don’t be surprised if their overall work ethic may suffer.

Don’t give up!  Every child is different.  Every child will take a slightly (or extremely) different path from others.  That’s okay.  In fact, that is the way this is supposed to work.  Homeschooling (like life) is messy and full of ups and downs, but you keep on going.  It’s a life lesson for your kids as well as a way to show them that they are valuable and loved.  Don’t get mired down in the comparison game.  Celebrate each success.

You can’t give enough hugs, kisses, pats on the shoulder or praise!  Give freely of the happy emotions and let them bubble up through your children.  Put the good grades papers on display in your home.  Frame some drawings and finger paintings.

Let go of anxiety and preconceived notions of how to educate children and enjoy your kids.  Time passes so quickly.  You will never regret spending happy times with your kids.

What is your favorite homeschooling advice?  Please share it in the comments.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

The Problem With Animal Rehabilitation

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation

Cuddling with three sleepy squirrels after feeding time.

It is difficult to be pleased with the state of Animal Rehabilitation in our state these days. Saturday, we came into possession of 3 baby squirrels that had been abandoned by their mother. We contacted every Rehab facility within an hour and a half of our home to find appropriate care for these babies.

Of all of these, only one responded by email. It told us that we were not as able to care for squirrels as a Mama Squirrel (no kidding) and that they were full, so contact the nearest rehab center. Unfortunately, they were the nearest center and that left us with little help. The Georgia DNR website indicated that all facilities were overrun with baby squirrels right now. Great.

Ideally, wildlife doesn’t need human help or intervention. We totally understand that. It was never our intention to do anything other than try to reunite babies with their mama or a trained and appropriate caregiver.

Apparently, in the absence of a trained, qualified Animal Rehabilitation Specialist, one simply should do (per state law) nothing. Just let them die, I suppose. That didn’t feel right to me.Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation

Fortunately, hubby got a call through to a friend at Atlanta Audubon who happens to be a Rehabber. Unfortunately, she was out of town, but she obviously didn’t think that these babies didn’t deserve care and gave us instructions as to exactly what she would do.

And that gave us a great deal of hope for these 3 little squirrels.

We immediately followed her initial instructions and put them in a basket, affixed to a tree at the same level that the original nest was at with high hopes that the mother squirrel would return to care for her young. But, she didn’t return in enough time to keep the babies from being weak and dehydrated.

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitationIn a highly technical sense, this makes us criminals. But, isn’t it more likely that the criminal offense is in not having enough people available to help these little ones when they are in need? Actually, I don’t feel very criminal at all in that our friend told us to feed and care for them. And she is a professional.

Another Hatchett Job, gray squirrels, animal rehabilitation centers

This is what our squirrel babies will look like when they are adults.

So, we have been feeding, keeping warm, and cleaning these poor little critters. Night time feedings were definitely not what I had planned to do with my sleep hours, but tiny tummies need to be kept warm and full of quality food.

The kiddos help out with the warming while we feed and are amazingly gentle and protective over them. It makes me proud that they are kind to even the littlest of creatures. I grow even prouder when they don’t stop being kind when being pooped and peed on. It’s a lot like being a parent, sometimes!

By our best estimate, these squirrels are just between 4 and 5 weeks old. So, in 6 to 7 weeks, they will be released into our back yard, very near to where they were found.

I choose to believe that no act of kindness is ever wasted and this one is worth every moment.  So, we will forever put some squirrel food out and hope to catch a glimpse of our three baby squirrels.

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitationAddendum:  The day after I wrote this post, we did receive a call from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.  They did ultimately take our baby squirrels and are raising them along with several other babies that were orphaned.  Ultimately, they will receive appropriate vet care and be released on their 500+ acre property where hunting is forbidden.  We seriously miss them, but will be able to visit them often in their new home this fall.  While a part of me would like to have raised them myself, I know that they are better cared for by a staff that is trained to get them prepared to be released back into

Another Hatchett Job, wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation

Squirrel wrangling at feeding time.

nature.

What is your favorite encounter with wildlife?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

A Perfect Pear-ing!

Another Hatchett Job, pear blossoms, creative commonsOne of the first things my parents did after we built our log cabin was to plant 2 trees each of pear and apple. Our apple trees never produced well, but most years, the pear has given us (and the deer, squirrels, crows, and even the occasional coyote) more pears than could possibly be consumed.
This year, though, our production is way down and the pears are very small. We are not in a horrible drought, but we didn’t necessarily get rain at the best times for the ripening fruit. But, when we saw a squirrel running across the rail on our back deck with a small pear in it’s mouth, we were pretty sure they were ripe!
I took some to a friend who had been sending over all of her excess produce for me to can up for Winter and then kept a good sized bucket (4 gallon maybe) heaped up for us.

The pears are small and hard with thick skins. Older varieties that were often grown on old farms and homesteads are often hard and grainy. These traits keep the fruit from turning to mush when canned for Winter use.

And canning pears is totally worth the effort! Pear crisps, pies, and other desserts are delicious on a cool day. Pear sauce is tasty and a nice change from apple sauce. We even mix some pear and apple together when we have an abundance.Another Hatchett Job, pears on tree branch, creative commons

But, add a few spices and the pear sauce totally transforms into an absolute country delicacy…pear butter. Mmmmm, mmmmm! Just different enough from apple butter to be a touch exotic, it is the best way to use up small, hard pears.

Here is how I make mine:

Wash the pears in cool, clear water and sit aside.

Rough chop them with a large knife and place in crock pot.  Don’t peel or core them.  Just cut off any obvious bad parts or insect damage (save those for compost).  The smaller the pieces, the faster they cook!

Add about 1 cup of water or fruit juice and a tablespoon or two of lemon juice.  Place lid on crock pot and turn to high.

When the pears are cooked and have released all of their juices, use a slotted spoon to put them in a food mill or sieve to make a pear sauce, while leaving hard bits of core, skins, and seeds behind.

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

Water Bath Canning

Strain liquid through a sieve and store in refrigerator (it is tasty to cook oatmeal in it or just to drink it…or use it for the liquid in your next batch of pears).

Return pear sauce to crock pot (I usually refrigerate mine overnight and deal with it the next day) and add sugar (at least 1 cup, possibly more), cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and ground cloves to taste.  Just remember to use more cinnamon than any other single spice and you will be fine.  If your sauce is runny, let it cook on low all day with the lid a bit ajar so that steam can escape.  If too thick, add some pear liquid, just a bit at a time until it is the consistency you would like.  If it is just right (and Goldilocks would approve) just let it heat on low for a couple of hours so that the flavors come together a bit.

Then, you can freeze it or can it for later use.  I am assuming that there are enough simple water bath canning (and pressure canning) video examples and blog posts to cover the rest of the story.  If not, let me know and I can do a post on how to can the pear butter.

Do you preserve summer fruits for Winter eating?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

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