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

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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

 

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

Great Gift Idea!

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photo by Jan Hatchett

Maybe it’s a Southern thing (I am a Georgia gal), or maybe it is a Yankee thing (I was raised by Yankee parents, living in the Deep South), or maybe it just universal, but sometimes, you just gotta take someone a meal.

Not just the Church potluck kind of meal, but a real, hope you feel better, take care of yourself, kindness kind of meal. The kind of thing that nobody is likely to be allergic to and that even little kids won’t turn up their noses at.

I think that an amazing baby shower for a Mom who is having additional children would be for everyone to bring a freezer meal or two for her family to enjoy while she is recovering and adjusting for her new addition and older children’s new routine. It would also be great for Newlyweds who have already received most of their physical needs and wants. How ’bout a month’s worth of meals with the recipe cards for each one so they can be reproduced by the new bride and groom. Maybe put the cards in a notebook for them.

A grieving family could use some meals that are simple to finish up for their kids or themselves when they feel like eating.

Shut ins could have meals that are pre-portioned to be easy to complete and have no left overs. The possibilities are endless of who you could bless with these meals!

Of course, be mindful of special dietary needs and allergies. You don’t want to accidentally make a bad situation worse.Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, kale, healthy foods, superfood, recipe

And, if you cook from scratch (or close to it) you can save money and be able to do a bit more.

You might even want to put a few meals back for future need for your family or even in case you need one to take in a jiffy.

Check out these links for some fabulous meal ideas (even some breakfasts):
10 Easy Meals to Take to New Moms
This site is a phenomenal resource for “ministry meals.” A group could register a recipient, sign up for different days to deliver meals and even make sure the same recipe isn’t sent multiple times! It also includes Low Sodium and Gluten Free recipe options.Top 13 Meal Ministry Meals  also Recipe Section.

I hope these sites give you some wonderful ideas on helping others through taking a meal!

Have you even gifted a meal to a family before?  What did you send?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

Christmas Ornaments to Make

Okay, I can’t stand it! If I can’t make Christmas gifts and goodies, I can at least look and dream! I will be attempting to make some simple things, but I thought that while I was dreaming over swell new ideas, I would share them with you, too.

So, without further adieu, here are some really cool ornaments that I have found online to craft. If you make any of them, please share a photo with me. I’d love to see what everyone is up to!

This nifty ornament could almost double as a simple science experiment for a youngster:  http://www.marthastewart.com/269342/crystal-snowflake

Another Hatchett Job blog, Crystal Snowflake, Christmas ornament, crafts, ornaments
MarthaStewart.com

This one is a cutie, but I found it on Pinterest with no website information, but it looks pretty simple.

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Pinterest.com

Here is a super sweet set of little snowmen ornaments that I found on Pinterest, but again, no website information, so I can’t give any credit.

They look simple enough, maybe paint pens on ivory ball ornaments with a bit of twine?

Another Hatchett Job blog, snowmen ornaments, ornaments, Christmas ornaments, crafts
Pinterest.com

And a Santa ornament that is cute with the same problem.  I would love to give credit to the original idea, but I don’t know where it came from!  I bet this one could also be done with some black electrical tape and a silver glitter pen on a red ornament.   Personally, I am a sucker for ol’ Saint Nick at Christmastime, so this one really made me smile.

Another Hatchett Job blog, ornaments, Christmas ornaments, crafts,
Pinterest.com

 

I also have noticed that with the advent of some of the paint pens, that more and more ornaments say things like, “believe,”  “faith,” and “Christ” on them.  If you have nice handwriting, those could be lovely with a bow of pretty ribbon or twine attached to the top.  You could also (with a steady hand) paint a large Star of Bethlehem on a blue ball with striking results.  And don’t forget the old rustic stand by of twine, burlap, or muslin covered styrofoam balls.  Unbreakable and easy is a pretty cool combination in my house!  I also am liking some of the simple decoupage ornaments with old  book pages and aged sheet music.

The possibilities really are endless.  So, as I recuperate,

What ornaments are your family making this year?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

 

 

 

 

And Now for Something Really Different….

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, shoulder, shoulders, shoulder pain, rotator cuff strainSometimes, life just throws you a curve ball and apparently, it hit me hard in both shoulders this time.  Fresh off of my stress fracture in my foot, I have managed to come down with dual sports injuries (oh, the irony).  My wonderful doctor tells me that I have bilateral rotator cuff strain and has given me anti-inflammatory medication and pain pills to get me through the holiday and onward toward recovery.  She also gave me what she promised would be a couple of very simple, yet very effective stretches to help to regain my range of motion and begin to ease the pain.

After doing these stretches, I must say that they are very effective…and sadistic!  Oh.  My.  Word!  I could definitely tell that something was happening deep in my shoulder at the origin of my pain, something evil!  But, I must admit that each time I do them (and I am doing them about 3 times per day) they are a little easier to complete, a little better stretch, and maybe a tad less pain overall.

Which brings me to the incredible sport that I injured myself in.  Quilting.  Yes, quilting.  Hand quilting at that.  Doesn’t that just sound like a rugged, outdoorsy thing to do?  Competitively stitching up a storm with total abandon to one’s own safety?  Yeah.  I didn’t think so, either.  But, hand quilting with my Mom at our quilt frame did me in.  I am short and have short arms, so I was constantly reaching and overreaching both over and under that frame to quilt out as far as my Mom did so that we could roll that baby down for another round of Baptist fans.  Little did I know!

So, since both shoulders are injured, I am officially in a sling for the left arm for 10 days to 2 weeks before my re-check with the doctor to make sure all if progressing well.  Then, if it is, we move the sling to the right arm to let it heal for a similar time frame.  Not much of a problem, except that I am right in the middle of Christmas crafting and sewing season!  Ugh!

I like to make my gifts.  I mean that I really don’t feel like it is Christmas without some crafty, quilty, sewing fun.  And, here I sit and type (a no-no, by the way) wondering what to do.

I had some gift ideas in mind, but they require a bit more than I will be able to handle for the next 20-24 days and there isn’t time afterward to do much of anything else.  So, pretty much all of my Christmas ideas are out of the window for now.

Time for some creative brainstorming, I think.  While I ponder, perhaps you could help me out a bit…

What is your favorite easy, budget friendly, gift idea for an injured crafter?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

How Do You Celebrate 50 Years?

I have wanted to share the progress and process of this quilt for so long, but I wasn’t able to because it was to be a surprise and my parents read my blog on occasion.

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150 blocks before borders added.
photo by Eddie Hatchett

To commemorate my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary in 1988, I made them a blue and white, Irish Chain quilt.  I didn’t know how to quilt it, so I tied it like so many of the quilts I grew up with were completed.  They loved it.  I was happy with it and glad that they liked it and for years, it hung on the balcony of the second floor of the family log home for all to see.  And the years marched past.

Now, with 50 years looming, I began wondering what, if anything, I could do that would be worthy of celebrating such an accomplishment as being married for 50 years in a culture that

Quilt top with borders added.  Photo by Eddie Hatchett
Quilt top with borders added. Photo by Eddie Hatchett

tends toward ditching a problem rather than holding firm and fixing it.  After much deliberation and secret plotting with a quilty friends (who is also one of my Mom’s quilty friends) I decided on making a signature quilt to commemorate the event.

I figured that getting 50 names might be do-able; one for each year of marraige.  However, the task became more and more daunting as I tried to track down people who would be significant to my parents.  My Dad’s family resides in New England, while Mom’s family is in the mid-West.  We are in the Deep South, so this wasn’t something where I could meet up with most of the people and get them to sign a block and just slip it in my purse to deal with at home.  We also all live together (which is wonderful in so many ways, but I was in constant fear of being found out).  My super sleuthing involved finding a friend of Mom’s on FB who helped sneak blocks into hers and my Mom’s 50th class reunion for signatures, old friends from when my Dad was in the Navy, and a few former church friends and co-workers that I could track down.

So this little project (it’s a quilt!  I make lots of quilts!  How hard can it be?)  officially became an ordeal!  My Aunt and cousin who live local tracked down family members addresses for me and helped get some of the semi-local signatures of former neighbors, friends that I don’t run into, etc.  My quilty friend let me use her mailbox to receive scads of blocks and let me know whose had arrived.  I could NOT have managed without the help of these friends.

Another Hatchett Job blog, photo by Ethan Hatchett, quilt, quilting, quilts, hand quilting, gifts, frugal gifts, frugal living.
Reading the Quilt Label. Photo by Ethan Hatchett

Many postal workers helped me get postage on return envelopes, outer envelopes and such.  I don’t think they really enjoyed being a part of my little surprise, but they at least didn’t roll their eyes at me while I was still there.  I will take that as support!

All told, the postage for this quilt cost far more than any fabric or supplies used. I utilized scraps wherever possible and even mooched a lovely piece of blue floral from the quilty friend to use as a backing.  Hand quilting didn’t cost a thing as I used thread left over from a larger project and needles that I already had used on other projects.

I am usually not one to make labels for quilts, but this time, I did make one in my own handwriting for posterity.  It reads:  Machine pieced and hand quilted for John and Judy Purdy on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, 11/2/2013, by their daughter, Jan Hatchett with the help of many family and friends.  We love you always.

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Celebrating 50 Years of Marraige. Photo by Ethan Hatchett

I don’t know that I would try to do this kind of surprise gift in about 4 months like I did with this one, but it certainly was worthwhile to see the look in my parent’s eyes when they opened it.  After appliqueing the final blocks on to the borders, we ended up with 158 blocks and one signature in the border.  I can honestly say it was a success!

What gifts have you made lately?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett