Quilts for Orlando

Heart Blocks in Multiple SizesBy now, most people are keenly aware that a terrorist brazenly attacked the peaceful and innocent patrons of Pulse, a club in Orlando, Florida last weekend.  I really don’t feel that I have anything unique to add to the conversation that has naturally arisen online and in the media concerning this event.

I do feel that the best course of action is to sit politics aside (we probably should do this more often, but I digress…) and focus, instead, on our shared humanity and whatever compassionate response that each of us can offer.

The moderator of a quilt group that I am involved in, offered a unique way to be of service to others and also show compassion to those affected in a very tangible way.  I have known for many years that quilters and other crafters are some of the most caring and generous people around.  This project is a great way to give a tangible “hug” to those who need it most right now.

The Orlando Modern Quilt Guild is calling for quilt block and finished quilt submissions to be given to the survivors of the Orlando attack, the families of those who perished, and the police, ambulance, and hospital staffs who helped injured survivors.  For the complete blog post and specifics, click here.

As they are requesting both single blocks (10 inch square)  and finished quilts (48 x 60 inches up to twin size) it is possible for most quilters to be able to participate without an undue drain on time or finances.  The requested theme is Rainbow Hearts and they ask that each quilt and/or individual block have at least one heart motif in it.  I’d bet most of us quilters have enough scrap fabrics to applique a quick heart block (or 12) without having to dig through even a fraction of our scraps and stash.  Mix a hodge podge of those blocks together with lots of riotous prints and colors and you will have a rainbow of sorts.  With beauty coming from the combination of many different elements.

Kind of like the good ol’ U.S. of A.

What are YOU quilting lately?

Till next time,

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Kids Learn By Doing

Every child is going to learn differently.  All children use their senses to help them to explore the world and learn many different things, but each child uses this sensory input a bit differently as they process the information.

Most childrAnother Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commonsen rely heavily on visual input.  Some rely heavily on auditory input.  It helps these children to hear about what they are learning as much or possibly more so than just seeing the topic or reading about it.  During the infant and toddler years, children put things into their mouths as part of their explorations.  For some students, adding experience through taste helps them to learn.  Other students need kinesthetic input to enhance their learning.  And to top it all off, most children use all of these sensory inputs to greater or lesser degrees than others.

The schools are supposed to take care of all of this educational stuff, right?  As a former educator, I strongly disagree.  Regardless of whether your child attends a formal school or is homeschooled, the parents lead the way when it comes to education.  Parents who value education and who love to learn will often have children who are more amenable to taking advantage of their education.  Parents who abdicate all responsibility for their child and his or her studies will likely (but not always) raise more lackadaisical students.

Parents need to understand that learning is not limited to a classroom setting.  Learning is just a part of living and exploring as we live our lives.  Learning is an active endeavor.  Some things may be learned passively, but the lessons that tend to stick with us into our adult lives tend to be made more memorable by our active participation in them.

So, how can parents possibly wade through the myriad of possibilities and know how to help their children learn?  It’s actually a bit simpler than you may think.  Another Hatchett Job, adopt, adoptive family, adoptive parents, love, creative commons

All children require some of each of these inputs as they learn, barring a major disability.  The key is to maximize the ones that your student enjoys while making sure they all get a little time at the educational party.

How?  Just follow the five senses for starters.  Here are some examples of things that parents can do with children of all ages to help foster learning by using the senses.

Sight.  This is easy.  Look at what you are learning.  Are there illustrations in a book?  Can you go outside and identify types of leaves or plants?  Can your toddler name the animals in a picture or in a field or petting zoo?

Hearing.  Read to your child.  Read with your child.  Let your child read to you.  Take turns reading.  Even when you are doing the reading, you are hearing your own voice say the words.  For many learners, this stimulates the formation of memory better than other sensory inputs.  Listen to music and learn about composers.  Learn to play an instrument.  Learn how to distinguish bird songs.  Encourage young children to play with the classic See ‘N Say toys to hear sounds and identify what made each sound.

Taste.  There is a great reason that many teachers let students add a cooking component to a lesson, particularly in Geography classes.  Getting the sample the cuisines of another culture is a fantastic way to explore another culture.  When you go on vacation to the coast, does your family try the local ‘catch of the day’?  Do you sample regional dishes and discuss why certain ingredients may be typical of that area’s dishes?  Nothing helps you remember a historic sugar plantation better than the taste from chewing on a piece of sugar cane.

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Home Ec is hard work! Photo by Jan Hatchett

Touch.  Children who rely heavily on touch often use movement (kinesthetics) to learn.  Tap a surface as you count with your child.  Let your child feel items that are related to the location you are visiting or a lesson in school.  Learning about Scotland, feel woolen fabric or even pet a lamb at a petting zoo while talking about where wool comes from and how it is processed.  Use manipulatives with math that the child can touch and handle.  Get outside and dig in the dirt to plant flowers or make rubbings of tree bark or leaves.  It’s okay to get dirty.  In some circles, a little dirt is much appreciated!

Smell.  Even been near a paper mill?  Particularly before the EPA regulated emissions, those were some stinky places!  Once you have experienced that sulphurous smell, you will never forget it.   The olfactory glands in our brains are located very near our memory centers.  This is why certain smells can evoke memories with shocking clarity.  The smell of theater popcorn or cookies baking in Grandma’s kitchen help us to recall information.  Students use this, too.  How many 40-somethings remember the smell of mimeograph fluid on school handouts?

Of course, this is not a definitive listing of methods for enhancing education, but it is a good start to encourage inquisitiveness and observation about the world around us while using the senses.  Learning is an active process, so get away from the television and cell phones and start interacting with the people and places nearby.

How do you use your senses to learn?

Till next time,

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Free Pig Food

One of the best parts of our piggie co-ownership is that our friends have land that the pigs are using to root and forage in.  This clears and fertilizes the land for their garden expansion next year.  This helps to minimize the amount of feed that we need to purchase for the pigs.

But, pigs being omAnother Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, kale, healthy foods, superfood, recipenivores creates a great situation for feedings.  Frugal families can feed many things to their pigs safely, thus reducing the monthly food bill.  The following are just a few ideas of things that pigs can eat and grow on.

  1.  Kitchen and table scraps.  If you are not keeping onion peels, celery tops, and carrot nubs for making stock, they can be tossed into the pig pen.  My friends have advised me that large amounts of fruits at one time (particularly fruits with pits) can be a problem, but if given in modest amounts over time they are fine.
  2. Garden leftovers.  Any produce that you have grown that was damaged beyond the point of human consumption will be great for your pigs!  Even things like corn stalks, shucks, and cobs can be added.
  3. Co-op leftovers.  I have a cousin who gifts me anything in her weekly co-op purchase that she feels can’t be used up quickly enough by her family to prevent spoilage.  Sometimes this isn’t much, but occasionally it can be buckets full of large cucumbers on the verge of spoiling, leaf lettuce that has seen better days, or questionable bags of kale.  She is pleased that these items don’t go to waste and end up in a landfill and I am grateful that it reduces our feed bill.

I am sure that the homesteader that is determined could find all sorts of ways to provide save moneyfree and low cost foods to their pigs to keep the feed bills lower.  As for now, we are finding enough for our growing piglets.  I will likely be exploring more ways in the future as they grow and require more food.

For more of our adventures in raising pigs, click here.

Are you raising livestock this year?  What are your feeding tips?

Till next time,

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Let A Professional Assist Growing Your Blog Outreach

This is another post from LinkedIn.  I’d love to network with my blog readers, so if you are on LinkedIn, reach out to me!

There is something magical about having a blog.  Like the diaries and journals that many of us had in childhood, there is something intensely cathartic about the reflection involved in writing about specific situations and life in general.  Better yet, as we get older, we find that in reaching out online we connect with others.

Then, it hits you…other people (other than your Mom) are reading what you write and are Another Hatchett Job, blog key, blogging, professional blogging, writingconnecting with it.  Your blog grows slowly, but it grows!  Soon, you have people waiting to see what you will share next.

Eventually, life happens and you aren’t able to focus as completely on your blog, you want (need) to take a vacation, you face an emergency or you just get busy.  Your blog suffers and readership growth grinds to a halt.  It happens to the best of us.

Continue here….

Have you ever written guest posts for another blog?

Till next time,

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10 Times You Need a Proofreader

As I am taking on new clients, I finally got some posts finished over at LinkedIn today and I wanted to share them with my blog friends as well.

Anyone can write, but not everyone can write really well.  And far fewer are the ones who book and glasses ccwrite really well and can effectively proofread their own work.  The truth is simple; it is far easier to proofread someone else’s work than to objectively work on your own.

Continue….

Till next time,

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Saving Money on Prom Flowers

Another Hatchett Job, dogwood corsage and buttonaire, diy crafts, frugal prom, photo by Cyndie HogelandOkay, I realize that this post should have been written and posted a couple of months ago in order to be truly helpful for this year’s prom goers.  I apologize for the bad timing.  But, flowers for prom are also a great deal like flowers for weddings, Mother’s Day, wedding and baby showers, and other occasions, so the same information can still be useful for other times of the year.  At least, I truly hope so!

I am quite lucky that my DS18 is dating a wonderful young lady, who happens to be one of my best friends’ daughters.  This proved quite helpful to coordinate efforts and share costs as we both needed to provide flowers for her daughter’s prom night.

I don’t have a full tutorial, as I was not organized enough to take the appropriate photos, but I did consult a few video tutorials ahead of time that were terribly helpful, so I will link to them below in case someone would like to view them before starting their own projects.

As my boys have been homeschooled and weren’t terribly interested in proms and other formal events, I didn’t arrange for them to attend one.  So, this was my first formal dance to get prepared for.

We priced flowers at a few places, but it was apparent that due to a super hectic schedule Another Hatchett Job, dogwood corsage and buttonaire, diy crafts, frugal prom, photo by Cyndie Hogelandthat day, we weren’t going to be able to keep them cool and fresh between the time we would have to pick them up and time to pick up his date.

So, that pretty much helped us to decide on silk flowers, which will also be a lovely momento of the date.  Pricing a simple, white, silk, pretty plain wristlet corsage nearly gave my frugal soul a heart attack!  The mass produced model was nice, but would set us back $40 from a grocery store florist.  If I was going to pay $40 for a corsage, I wanted something more along the line of an orchid than fabric roses.

Our date liked the idea of a largely white and silver corsage to go with her dress (a tasteful navy blue number that was classy and stunning).  When queried, her favorite flower was the dogwood (not a standard floral choice).

So, my friend and I decided to surprise the kids and craft the prom flowers ourselves.  We went to our local Hobby Lobby and found a wristlet, floral tape, floral wire, wide lace ribbon (for the “puff” that the flowers sit on), silver and navy ribbons, pins, pearl sprays, silk fern, and (gasp) a spray of lovely, silk, dogwood flowers.  I didn’t get the receipt, but we split the supplies and spent way less than $40!

Another Hatchett Job, dogwood corsage and buttonaire, diy crafts, frugal prom, photo by Cyndie HogelandOn a night with no kids around, we met and created the corsage and boutonniere to match.  It took a bit of work, but the end results were so impressive and nicer than anything we looked at.  The kids were both thrilled at the results and completely surprised by the dogwood flowers.

In the future, as she goes off to college, if they choose to go to another formal dance together, these can be used again and will still look much more special than the mass produced ones that we originally saw.

I referred to the following videos for ideas and techniques as it had been a few years since I had done any floral crafts.

Till next time,

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How I Became an Accidental Pig Farmer

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Ethan Hatchett, pigs, accidental pig farmer, homesteadingHubby and I have always loved the idea of being more self-sufficient and saving money where we can. We have occasionally considered livestock animals, but only recently have we lived somewhere that it was feasible to have them.

Unfortunately, the land has covenants that prevent having any sort of large livestock animals (other than horses). Chickens and other birds have not been viable options because my father (we live together with my parents) absolutely loathes them.

So, that has pretty much put a damper on our desire to have more control (and better prices) for the meat that we eat. That is, until recently!

Friends of ours live on property that is partially covered by an incredibly thick mass of

Another Hatchett Job, homesteading, pigs, accidental pig farmer, pig shelter, photo by Ethan Hatchett
Setting up the pig shelter.

blackberry canes. Last year, they raised a piglet for the freezer in a movable pen. The pig feasted on blackberry leaves and rooted up the canes, leaving clear, fertilized land that can be utilized for garden space. This year, they sought to double their clearings by raising two piglets.

But, they didn’t really need two sows worth of meat in their freezer, so they were putting the word out that they wanted someone to split the responsibility, the work, the expense, and the meat.

Long story short, we jumped at the chance and became kinda, sorta pig farmers. We have the benefit of someone else’s land and forage for them, as well as expertise in knowing how to successfully raise them. This greatly increases our chances for success by shortening our learning curve!

Another Hatchett Job, pigs, livestock, accidental pig farmer, homesteading, photo by Ethan HatchettWe chip in for food (which can include kitchen scraps as well as commercial feed), help with labor, and watch over them when the other family wants to travel. Plus, we are learning a new skill set that we enjoy dabbling in. It’s completely a win-win for us (we hope it proves worthwhile to the other family as well!).

Have you ever cared for livestock animals?

Till next time,

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Just a’Canning

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, writing, typing, typewriterAnother day of repetition around here.  Today, I began putting up the second large stock pot of turkey bone broth and some leftover turkey meat.  It feels good to put a bit of quality food back in the pantry for use later.  I like that I know what goes into my jars, where I might not be entirely certain when I purchase products.

Today’s tally is 15 quarts (actually 13 quarts and 4 pints, but it all adds up the same) of turkey bone broth and 5 pints of turkey meat that was packed tight with  a bit of bone broth added in to fill the jars.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It turned out to be a lovely day to work on canning chores.  Hubby’s car requires a new fuel pump that has been ordered, so he needed to use my van to go to work today.  Being at home allowed me plenty of time to cook and chop and process with minimal interruptions.

I still have more bone broth to process tomorrow at some point.  Maybe a 7 quart canner canned food on shelvesload, more or less.  But, it will wait on low heat overnight until it is time to get started.

My lovely cousin gifted me with 5 big bags of collard greens from her food co-op this week and I will get those ready for the freezer.  It’s time to get off of my sore, broken feet for tonight and it can wait a few hours more.

All in all, a good productive day that has included this blog post and the start of an article for my magazine editor and a mad search for a previous one I had written (she found it first, thank goodness).

What have YOU been up to today?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Repetition

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Quart jars cooling after coming out of the pressure canner.

In many ways, repetition is the stuff that life is made of.  I wish I could put up another blog post that shares another fabulous idea for the homestead.  Alas, I can’t do that today as what I am doing is a repetition from another day and post.

I tend to worry a bit about not posting frequently enough and sometimes life does get in the way.  Other times, though, I just feel like I have nothing to share because my activities are largely a repetition of previous events that have been previously documented.

For example, today, I am making turkey bone broth…again.  Yes, I did this last week as well (using our frozen carcass from Thanksgiving), but we had another turkey in the freezer that we defrosted, cooked, and are now making bone broth from the remains.  The meat from the bird was divided into enough for one meal for our family of 6 and the remainder is waiting in the refrigerator until I have time to pressure can it for future use.

Some practical tasks can be performed once and do a great job in saving money or helping to get these done around a homestead.  Building a greenhouse to start seeds in is a great example of this.  Perhaps a bit of maintenance will need to occur once in a while, but once the greenhouse is built, it can be used season after season to help grow flowers and/or canned food on shelvesvegetables.

Other tasks are equally useful, but are far more repetitive in nature.  Planting the plants in the greenhouse mentioned above will be done season after season, year after year, in pretty much the same way each time.  Both projects are helpful in getting the job done, but don’t always make for a life changing type of blog post.

Making dinner is the same.  My family tends to enjoy the same or similar foods in repetition.  My father has a short list of dishes that he really would like to see every week.  Hubby, the kids, Mom, and I enjoy a bit more variety than he does and use a longer rotation.  Dad, on the other hand would enjoy meatloaf and mashed potatoes every week, made the exact same way, without fail.  Never trying a new recipe would make writing about food a little dull for both writer and reader.

But, these simple, often repetitive tasks are the heart of keeping house, saving money, living healthier, and being a little bit more self-sufficient.  Repairing a loose button on a favorite shirt will save money over replacing the shirt.  You may repair several buttons on one garment or many buttons on several garments over the course of a lifetime.  Each repair is not necessarily newsworthy, but these little acts add up over time for your household economy.

Another Hatchett Job, cooking, canning, salsa, frugal life, frugal gifts, photo by Eddie Hatchett
Deep, rich chicken bone broth.

So, I can’t promise that all posts will be exciting and full of new ideas.  Much of life revolves around repetition of little tasks and habits that come together to help make life comfortable, and, even meaningful.

And, these extra jars of bone broth will give us cheap, healthy food for many months using only things we would have thrown out anyway.  It’s a totally win-win situation, if not worthy of another post on bone broth today.

What repetitive tasks give you satisfaction?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Easy Chicken Soup

chicken ccOne thing that I don’t have on my little homestead is a chicken coop full of hens and chicks.  We are in an agrarian area, but covenants that came with our property specify no large livestock.  We can have horses, but no cows, pigs, etc.  However, a neighbor once cleared land with goats and nobody batted an eye (so I am assuming that goats aren’t considered large livestock) and a couple of others down the road raise chickens, so I am pretty sure that would be okay here.

But, I have a chicken hating father, who can’t abide the idea of having hens running around.  Even when I have offered to keep them in a fenced enclosure or build a “chicken tractor” to get my eggs, he hasn’t softened one bit. Sigh.

I truly enjoy pastured eggs.  I really do.  And, as much as I would enjoy having my own source of healthy eggs, I don’t want to cause too much consternation for my family members.  So, at least for now, poultry is out of the question.

The next best thing to having my own flock of hens, is a good ol’ bowl of homemade chicken soup!  I bet you wondered what my desire for gateway livestock would have to do with soup.  For one thing, soup is one of the best things to do with a hen that is past her prime laying years.  No, I am not heartless, but I just can’t see having chickens as pets.  I know, I know.  Not everybody is willing to go there and that is okay, too.

But, even without homegrown hens, I can make a mean pot of homemade chicken soup that celebrates the humble chicken.  It’s that good.  And, you can do it, too!

Another Hatchett Job, turkey bone broth, frugal lifeThe secret to a superior chicken soup is really all in the broth.  If you can avoid it, try not to use chicken stock.  Stock is made from the meat and isn’t cooked very long.  Stock will be straw colored and not nearly as rich and tasty as a good bone broth.  Broth is made by cooking bones and some meat with or without veggies and salt.  I always put onion and garlic in mine (you can even put the skins in as it will all be filtered out later), but there is no rule that says you have to.  If I have carrots, a celery heart (or the end pieces that have leaves on them), a piece of cauliflower that has seen better days, broccoli stems, onion peels, etc. then I will throw ’em in.  Basically, it’s a good way to take iffy looking produce and use it rather than throw it out.  I would throw in just about anything except collard (with or without stems) because the only catch is to keep delicate leafy things like herbs out until the last 30 minutes or so, so they don’t get cooked to death!  Oh, and I usually throw about 5 whole peppercorns in at the beginning, too.  To learn more about preparing broths, click here.

I am nuts enough about homemade broths that I will make up large batches and can pints and quarts of the stuff to use later.   It’s totally worth it!

crockpot line art ccBut, back to the soup.  In my large crockpot (I think it is a 6 quart model), I will chop up a fresh onion, add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic (we love garlic, if you don’t then cut it in half), a stem or two of finely chopped celery, and 2-3 peeled carrots cut into small rounds.  I toss in a couple of cups or so of chopped or shredded chicken (can be cooked or uncooked), a Tablespoon of salt, a few grinds of fresh, black pepper, and 2-3 quarts of homemade turkey or chicken bone broth.  If I add 2 quarts of broth, I will add 1 quart of water and two bullion cubes or the equivalent in granules.  You can always add more water or broth if you want a fuller crock of soup, just remember to add 2 bullion cubes for every quart of water you add.

Turn crockpot on high and let it cook for an hour or so and then switch it to low and let it simmer for at least 4 hours.  Add 1 cup of rice for the last hour of cooking time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if you like.  Then serve with a salad and freshly baked rolls.  It’s a delicious meal and perfect for a chilly, winter’s day!

I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for Chicken Soup.  Once you have broth canned and ready to go at a moment’s notice, it’s quite simple to get a delicious dinner started!

What’s your favorite soup recipe?  Share it in the comments below.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett