It’s Official!!!

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons, alphabet, homeschoolThe contract has been mailed back to the home office and it is all a done deal.

The good people at the soon to be relaunched (in August) Molly Green Magazine has asked yours truly to be a regular contributor.  My work can show up in their blog, newsletter, or magazine issues throughout the year.
Molly Green is a magazine with articles all about HOME, homeschooling, home living, homesteading, and life at home. I am really excited to work with such a great organization and to be included along with some super-exciting colleagues as we work on articles for each issue.

I learned about this from Patrice Lewis’ blog. Patrice is the author of The Simplicity Primer and is a wonderful example of living a thoughtful, self-sufficient life. It’s an honor to be able to work with a magazine that features Patrice’s work as well.  I would never have dreamed that Patrice and I would be colleagues.  Wow!

I hope that this blog can grow from my connection with Molly Green Magazine and that my readers will be interested in learning more about this quality magazine as it re-launches.

Stay tuned, and I’ll be sharing more about my endeavors with Molly Green, and hopefully others (soon).

Have YOU ever subscribed to an online magazine?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett



pencil, eraser, Another Hatchett Job blog, homeschool, education, writing, creative commonsI have written for years. The college I attended even published a poem that I wrote.

But, other than in my blog, I don’t even really write. Well, I write, but I don’t share my work with others and I certainly have never submitted my work for publication.

Today, I submitted an article to a magazine that is re-launching itself in August. I have no idea if they will like it or accept it, but I went out on a limb and wrote up something simple and sent in some photos to go with it.

I also listed several other ideas that I was ready to write about. So, we will see where this all leads, but I do find myself feeling rather brave at this moment.

Who knows where this adventure will end up? I hope you will keep reading and come along for the ride!

Have YOU ever written for publication?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

2014 Youth Birding Competition

Another Hatchett Job, baby birds, creative commons attributionGeorgia has a competition each year for kiddos from 5 to 18 that encourages them to get out into nature and learn about birds. That competition is the annual Youth Birding Competition where kids from all over Georgia will race to find the most unique species of birds within Georgia state lines in a 24 hour period of time.

From what I understand, this is the first state-wide competition of its kind.  The original concept premiered in Cape May, NJ as a spin off to go alongside an adult competition.  A biologist with Georgia DNR in the Non-game Division, named Tim Keyes, brought this concept to a larger scale in Georgia.

My son, Ethan, with Eddie as his team mentor, has participated since he was in Elementary school.  Every year, his birding identification skills have increased, as have his awareness of the ecosystems that the birds live in.  He has traveled to Maine to study Puffins with the National Audubon Society.  He answers questions for many local people who have seen birds and want to know what kind of bird they saw.  He even volunteers as “Chippy” the Chipping Sparrow who answers identification questions online for Atlanta Audubon Society.  He assists local biologist, Charlie Muise with bird banding as schedules permit and he travels to Jekyll Island, Georgia in October to assist with the migratory birding station there.

Much of this interest has been fostered by the people he has met and the experiences that he has had during these competitions.  Ethan always liked birds and tried to name them.  Eddie realized that this could be a fun way for Ethan (and himself) to learn more and meet more like minded people.  And they truly have succeeded on both counts!

Team members have changed over the years, but the Chaotic Kestrels birding team has solidified around some really interesting and talented teenagers.  Outside of birding, they play sports, make videos, shoot rifles competitively, sing rap music in a Scottish brogue, ride horses, and just are plain ol’ good kids.  There is not a single one of these kids that you wouldn’t enjoy spending time with.  They are personable, intelligent, and funny.  They make up a great team!

Another Hatchett Job, Youth Birding Competition, Georgia YBC, Youth, Teamwork
2014 Chaotic Kestrels Birding Team with Mentor, Eddie Hatchett


These kids worked together to plan a route, identify birds, and record them accurately during a single 24 hour period of time during migration.  They identified 156 unique species, including one rare dove and broke the previous YBC Georgia All-Time Record!  They came in 2nd place overall in the State of Georgia and I couldn’t be more proud of them!

Next year will be the final year for this incarnation of the Kestrels team as two members will graduate and be ineligible for the program after the 2015 season.  One of them has already begun mentoring another young group of Elementary School birders who competed for the first time this year.  Did I mention that these are some awesome kids?

This program is also free for participants.  Many wonderful sponsors (Atlanta Audubon, Albany Audubon, Georgia Ornithological Society, T.E.R.N. just to name a few) donate time, funds, and prizes for the kids.  But, the payoff for this program is far more than just a free t-shirt and prizes!  These kids are spending time with a mentor and/or a parent, out of doors and enjoying nature.  They are developing observational skills and coming up with questions about things they want to know more about.  They are learning research skills to answer those questions and seeing the information with an eye toward application of that knowledge.  No classroom experience can compare with the skills and experiences that happen with hands on learning.  Many of these kids will go on to support Conservation efforts, become Biologists and other scientists and teach others to love the world that is around them.

That ain’t gonna happen tethered to a video game, folks!  In life, you’ve gotta get dirty to get the payoff.  These kids are the payoff for the next generation and, with luck, generations to come.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

And That Is How I Learned to Ride Horses

Another Hatchett Job blog, horses, therapeutic riding, Creative Commons attributionI have always been drawn to animals, mostly the furry, mammalian kind.  Fish are cool and all, but what I really love is a critter that I can pet and cuddle with.  That has pretty much left me happy at petting zoos and with the traditional puppies, kitties, guinea pig, bunny kind of pets.

So, almost two years ago, when my oldest son with Asperger’s had the opportunity to receive 10 weeks of therapeutic riding instruction at a barn not too far away, we jumped at the chance!  While he rode and learned, I met other moms and made friends and fed the occasional treat to the horses that were around.  Eventually, I would also pet them and notice their individual personalities.  We laughed and called them the “Big Dogs” because they really did seem kind of similar to what I had seen with pet dogs and puppies.

I learned all their names from reading the tags on the stalls.  Let me rephrase, I learned all of their names WRONG because the horses in the stalls don’t always correspond with the signs on the front of the stalls.  I re-learned names through trial and error.  I asked a lot of stupid questions.  Once I saw an article on the 10 stupid questions everyone asks horse people.  I had asked 8 of them.  But, the instructors seemed glad that I was asking questions and interested in the horses that they loved so much.  It didn’t seem to bother them that I walked out to watch the lessons and help where untrained labor was needed, while some of the other Moms were happy in the car with the A/C on.  I slowly learned the terminology and eventually could tie a Western Saddle Knot like nobody’s business because I was helping my kiddo.

And over the months I began to deliberately bring snacks to the horses because it was fun to be with them.  I told other Moms how much my son’s balance, confidence, and social skills had improved since he had been riding and I invited them along to take a look.  I taught the other Moms what the horses names were.

One day, someone said that the Moms should get to ride and learn some of what their kids were doing.  Next thing you know, we had a Mom’s once a month riding group and I was in!

Then, we had to actually ride the horses and not kill ourselves.  Most of us had no experience and I enjoyed learning about the tack to use and grooming the horse that I was assigned, a big, white (poor guy got older and his spots faded grey!), Paint named Rocket.  But, eventually, we had to get on our horses and at that I was (all of a sudden) really scared!  I must have been on pure adrenalin and anticipation up to that point.

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Ethan Hatchett, Baron the Shire Horse, Calvin Center Equestrian Program, therapeutic riding, hippotherapy
The Author with Baron

But, once I got on and didn’t die, the lesson went really well as I learned how to hold the reins, use the stirrups, and generally stay upright on the horse.  I went back again…and again.  I eventually asked if I could take lessons also.   I keep progressing at my own pace (I think it’s been maybe 5 months now since my first ride) and I am a trotting fool.  No cantering yet, but I am getting there.

During these months, we received a donation to the program of a beautiful 20 year old Shire gelding named Baron.  He is furry and friendly and big enough to make you feel like he could never let you fall off.  He had  been used primarily for driving and not for riding, so he is building some top line muscles and building up endurance before being in the program.  He is an absolute gentleman and everybody that sees him is instantly smitten.

I am certainly no exception!  I love him and I always save some of the best treats for him each time I see him.  Lately, I have had the opportunity to ride him just a tiny bit at a walk to aid in his training.  I can honestly say that he rides like a dream and that I now have fantasies of running off with him (or walking off until he muscles up a bit).  Of course, my instructor would kill me if I tried and I am sure that at least 30 others are having the same fantasies, but a girl can dream, right?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Another Hatchett Job blog, old books, stack of books, reading, frugal lifeI simply adore books.  Good books, bad books, trashy books, classic books, novels, novellas–all of them!

It is a love affair of mine that has been growing steadily since my childhood.  With library card in hand, I departed for worlds both known and unknown, real and imaginary for hours on end.  My imagination soared and I lived vicariously through so many writers and times.  It has given my life a sense of context as I have moved through other academic subjects, allowing me to see things from multiple perspectives and potential realities.  Reading, and the rich materials that I had at my disposal during my childhood, offered me an amazing, real life training in thinking, “outside the box.”

“My” books allowed me to glimpse at, and even experience, a world far beyond the boundaries of my suburban upbringing.  The characters I discovered often felt like friends to me as I experienced life alongside them.

But, in a very few books, the characters became so real, so vital and vibrant, to me that I mourned them when the last page was turned.  I love my literary characters, but the book I have recently finished gave me characters of such depth and realism that I actually wasn’t ready to part with them at the end of the novel.  While the ending was lovely and appropriate, I ache from the loss of seeing what is next in their lives.  I have only experienced this one other time.  When I completed, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I was bewildered, never having felt so strongly for a certain set of characters.  My friend, Margaret, who recommended and loaned me the book, summed it up perfectly when she said that she was, “just not ready to let them go.”Another Hatchett Job blog, books, book reviews, novel, frugal life

At our regular Quilt/Sewing Group meetings, one of the ladies suggested we read some novels to have more to talk about when we get together.  She selected the book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  I will admit that I haven’t seen many epistilary novels in recent years, but I didn’t find it off putting.  It almost felt like you were getting to see some priviledged information, like a biographer who discovered some packet of hidden letters that allows him or her to be “in the moment” with the writer as events unfolded.

It is also a reminder that our modern affection for tweets at 120 characters and Facebook blurbs are a weak substitution for letters, handwritten, carefully thought out and composed, elevating a moment into words and emotions.  It took me back to my school days when receiving a letter from a pen pal was worth celebrating (Hi Karen!) and when writing one was important enough to set aside time for.

I have only just realized how much I miss receiving those letters in the mail, the anticipation running wild to see what my friend would tell me next of her life and adventures.  Those memories gave me a feeling of kinship with Juliet, the main character of the novel.  Her exuberance over finding her new pen pals on Guernsey is contagious and she writes to her friends Sophie and Sidney to express the emotion that is bubbling inside her over this new source of discovery.

Perhaps I find a sense of connection in that my parents met via letter writing, when he was in the Navy and she in High School.  Who knew that a chance introduction (from my Mother’s childhood friend and neighborhood paper boy, no less) by letter would start a chain of events that have lead to over 50 years of wedded life?

This story also weaves a very balanced tale of what life would have been like under German occupation during World War II.  Refreshingly, the Germans, while the enemy, are viewed in the story as individuals, with some being horrid and others full of kindness and mercy.  It doesn’t shy away from the pain and suffering that was endured, but showed that the suffering in Guernsey would have been of a different sort than of Londoners during and after the Blitz.  Lack of communication and the inability to know news of family or the fate of mainland England and the rest of the world added a dimension of suffering that may be beyond that which hunger alone could have ever supplied.

The communication and letters that the Guernsey families so craves pours forth with raw emotion throughout the tale.

This is one that is most definitely worth reading and passing along.

What have YOU been reading lately? Would you recommend it?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Project 333 Is a Go!

project 333I know that I am a little bit late on the New Year’s post, but I have had a bit of a chest cold and am moving kind of slowly. But, that being said, just because I was moving slowly, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t still moving forward! A couple of days after my previous post, I made a final decision to give Project 333 a go.

After ridding myself of closet clutter and clothes that should be donated, I selected my 33 pieces (I went a tad over, but that is my option and it’s okay for a trial run), packed the rest up and put them in hiding.

Unlike some who start this Project, I don’t have an unlimited shopping budget to fill in the holes of my wardrobe to make the items I selected work together and play nice. While there are a couple of items that I would like, unless I find them at a super sale or at a thrift shop (or make them myself, which is only partially an option as I am not a great seamstress), they won’t be joining my selections.

So, I am making do with what I have already and I think I can do it.

I am starting out with (in no particular order):

1 dark denim dress
1 purple vest
1 brown heavy coat
1 denim jacket
4 pair of jeans (2 are really only for muck work and horse riding, so I may move them to workout clothing)
1 pair dark dressy jeans
1 pair gray trousers
1 gray ballet cardigan
2 long sleeve black shirts
1 purple short sleeve shirt
1 aqua short sleeve shirt
1 burgundy long sleeve shirt
1 aqua long sleeve shirt
1 purple print tunic
1 aqua short sleeve sweater
1 charcoal waffle weave long sleeve shirt
1 white button up dress shirt/tunic length
1 green short sleeve camp shirt
1 purple long sleeve shirt
1 black skirt
1 brown skirt
1 black jersey short sleeve dressAnother Hatchett Job blog, quotes, Da Vinci, Simplicity, Creative Commons attribution

That is only 25 items (not counting the horse riding jeans). That leaves me 8 items to spare for shoes and accessories. I am cutting myself some slack in that department as my shoes are all utilitarian and orthopedic (doctor’s orders) and not fun. I have brown and black boots, black and brown flats, tennis shoes, and horse stall cleaning, brown tie granny boots. I only own 3 scarves and only wear 1 necklace and a choice of 2 pairs of earrings.  I don’t consider this an ideal wardrobe by any mans, but this is what I have to work with.  I can honestly say that after looking for ideas about capsule wardrobes, etc., I will be far more picky about what I obtain in the future.  So, to that end, I feel that my wardrobe will be slowly becoming more ideal for me and my lifestyle over time.

So, there it is in it’s ugly truth. My bad denim habit! LOL! Okay, I am a mostly stay at home Mama who writes, takes horseback riding lessons and who volunteers to help take care of the horses with her oldest son. So, I guess that the denim isn’t too bad, considering.

I think that many people want to clear out their wardrobes so that they can focus on a few things instead of being overwhelmed by too many choices. I am using Project 333 to create a better looking wardrobe and not spend my life in either pajamas or ratty t-shirts and jeans (the homeschool mom wardrobe). This is forcing me to look a little closer at making an effort when leaving the house (and even when staying at home most days). I think that my family is worth looking human for.

My outfits aren’t terribly exciting, but I have enough pieces for layering for warmth. It will be interesting as the weather warms up early here in Georgia to see how I do before April 1st, when I will be transitioning over to warm weather clothing. I do reserve the right to trade out some items for warm weather gear, but if something comes in to the closet, something else must leave. For example, I may end up trading a pair of capri pants for the purple down vest if it gets really warm in March. We’ll see. I won’t do any swapping unless it is necessary.

Ditto to new (to me) items. If I come across a great dress pant in brown or black, they will have to swap for something like a pair of jeans (I can spare some–ha!). I will end this with the same number of items (or fewer) in my closet as what I started with on January 1st. And my current wardobe fits just perfectly in my side of the tiny closet that hubby and I share. That alone is good incentive!

Are you paring down your wardrobe in 2014?
Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


What if Christmas Meant Something…Less?

I know that some people don’t celebrate Christmas and if that is what works for their value system, it’s okay with me.  Others celebrate the season as the birth of Jesus Christ.  Others believe that it isn’t a true religous holiday (like Easter where we know exactly when it is) but is a nice time to remember the birth of Jesus.

Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons attribution, stress, overstressed, modern life, overworkedActually, I am not terribly concerned with how anyone else views Christmas.  My concern is that in this country (and possibly in all of Western culture, I fear) we are living our lives in a completely overstressed, emotionally bankrupt way to try and impress people with cheaply made material goods so that they will feel “loved.”  I see parents giving presents and electronics and “stuff” to kids in lieu of spending time with them.  I see families who are overwhelmed with debt clamoring to give more and more presents, even if the presents will be flimsy and break in a day or two.  Nobody wants to be the parent whose kid didn’t get as much as the next kid.

And we do this ostensibly to celebrate the Savior’s birth?

How, exactly, does out of control materialism in any way help someone to focus on the miracle of deity being born in human flesh as a perfect atonement for all of our sins?  I fail to see the connection.

I have heard arguments that it is because the wise men brought gifts to the baby in a manger.  Okay, then 3 valuable gifts could make sense.  But, how do we justify all of the candy and filler and just foreign made junk under our trees and in our stockings?

I have heard it is because with Savior’s birth brings with it the “Good News” of salvation and therefore we want to make our children smile.  Methinks that might be reaching a bit in the gift excuses category.

However, it is pretty clear that is the retail establishment that is pushing this ol’ purchasing train round the tracks each year.  Advertising (that we watch when we could be doing productive things or spending time with our kids) invoke feelings of guilt and desire.  We all want that perfect Norman Rockwell scene, but when we people it with our own personal foibles and quirks along with those of our friends, families, and communities leave us feeling like Clark Griswold having a bad year!  Why is that?  Why can’t we find a level of togetherness and family that is comfortable and attainable for us and make our own traditions without the pushy influence of those who would all to happily part us from our money without a thought to providing a useful product in return?

When did Consumerism trump Christ in becoming the driving factor in this holiday that bears His name?

Better yet, why don’t we care?Another Hatchett Job blog, Creative Commons attribution, calendar, schedule, overscheduled, stressed, modern life, overworked

The truth is we’ve all been a little bit brainwashed.  We want to believe that in the midst of the late fall doldrums that there can be a touch of magic, a reason to smile and to be happy and together as the days get shorter.  Frankly, our quest for “stuff” and our inability to distinguish “wants” from “needs” leaves us overscheduled, overstressed, up to our eyeballs in debt (because we are so stinking tired.  Too tired to cook.  Gotta hire a housekeeper, a babysitter, a yard man….) and unable to see real enjoyment in our lives.  No matter how much time we spend with our kiddos, we always wonder if what we are doing is good enough.  Hey, I am a stay home Mama and I wonder if I do enough for my kids.  When I was working full time, I still had those thoughts.  It has taken me a lot of time to understand that those thoughts are just my being a tad anxious about being a Mama and not some real nagging to do more.

And certainly, not to buy more.  Every year, after we purchase Christmas gifts, I wonder, did we do enough?  Enough for what?  According to who?  Hubby reminds me that we aren’t getting in debt and paid cash.  It is plenty.

And it always turns out to be just that.  Plenty.

I want to do for my kids, but I don’t want to forego having a good future by racking up debt.  I don’t want them to be spoiled and unable to feel or express gratitude.  Yet, I always wonder….    And, I bet you do to, sometimes!

To that end, as Christmas 2013 begins to grind toward a halt in the next few days, I have been trying to look forward a bit to try and have a plan for the upcoming year.  Maybe not so much of a plan but a nice, general guideline to help me through the year.  Maybe you would like to create one of your own.

One year, several bloggers I knew chose words that would provide some structure to their year.  They used that single word as a motto to drive their lives forward a bit.  It was a great idea.  But, I think that I will require more than a word this year.  I need a concept that encompasses more than a word.  I need a word and then a general way to keep that work working for me.

And I think I have it.  My word for 2014 will be (drumroll, please…….)  LESS.

Think of it….  Less Stress, Less Materialism, Less Clutter, Less Stress, Less Distractions, Less Fabric (gulp, there, I have said it…gotta use up what I have first), Less Meaningless Crap filling up the moments of my life.

simplicity creative commonsLess can definitely be MORE in 2014.

Clutter and organization is going to be an ongoing challenge since we moved 18 months ago in to much smaller surroundings.  Sometimes, it isn’t as though you have too much stuff as it is that it just can’t be all in the middle of the room and on display all of the time.

I am also seriously considering something called Project 333.   The goal of Project 333 is simple.  Live with 33 items of clothing for 3 months.  This includes shoes, clothes, accessories, and jewelry.  It excludes any sentimental jewelry you never take off (wedding ring?), sleepwear, workout wear (but only wear it to work out), underwear, and in home only lounge wear.

I even found this wonderful plan for making 56 outfits out of 10 key pieces from GoodWill.  Even if you don’t want to purchase your pieces from GoodWill or another thrift shop, you can still use the plan to fill in among your current favorite pieces to make a great wardrobe for yourself with just those 10 pieces!  That leaves you 23 pieces for shoes, accessories, jewelry, or just an extra dress or shirt or something fun.  The more I think about it, I have clothing that doesn’t go together or that doesn’t really fit well or make me feel great, so I don’t wear them.  I probably wear the same few things over and over and over.  Why keep the rest in the way so it is hard to find my favorites?

I also hope that by having fewer key pieces, as they wear out or need to be replaced, I can find nicer pieces (preferably made in the USA or somewhere without sweat shops) to replace them with.  Less stuff, more versatility, more wearability, less junky stuff that will just be thrown out.  I am definitely working toward more Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in my life.

Also, I am definitely working toward more healthy eating and less junky filler in my diet over the next year.  But, that is a post for another day.

So, what is your plan for 2014?  Will you join me in wanting LESS this year?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett