Friday, February 24, 2023

Calling all book lovers!

Do you love books? Do you love to read books FOR FREE?! If so, then have I got a site for you to explore!

If you go to this site and register for a free account, and then click on "books" (at the top left) and then "open library" you can find almost ANYTHING you care to read for FREE! There's a "borrow for one hour" button at the top that you can click to renew as often as you like. It's the easiest thing ever. 

The only books I've had trouble finding are those that have been very recently published. Anything back before 2019 or so, though, should be there. And the (almost) best part is that old books that are long out of print are there, too. The selection is vast. If you love to read and have a limited budget for buying books, this site is a game changer! I've been burning through books at an almost unheard of rate since discovering this treasure trove!

Check it out. You can thank me later!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Warm temperatures, early spring, garden work

The temperatures today and tomorrow will almost hit record highs: 80 and 85 degrees! Unbelievable weather for February, even around here. And we're known for getting freezes as late as the end of March (and mid-April one memorable year) so that's going to pose a real danger to all the blooming fruit trees for the next few weeks. Everything is early, as I mentioned yesterday. I sure hope the state's peach crop doesn't suffer a late freeze! I love and look forward to fresh peaches in the summer.

Anyway, as odd as it is to wear shorts at this time of year, I won't deny I'm really enjoying myself. The dogs are, too, judging by how much time they're spending either on the screened porch or out in the backyard. I took them both for a good walk this morning, and we all enjoyed that. 

"Just take the damn picture already!"

On Monday I called a local greenhouse/plant nursery and asked about blueberry bushes. More specifically, another rabbiteye variety that I can plant for cross pollination with the three I planted last year. The woman I spoke with said she'd have the fruit tree expert call me back, and this morning he did. A nice guy named Ryan who seems to know a lot about blueberries, and it so happened he had the very variety I was looking for in stock! He told me he'd put the two best ones on hold for me, since I didn't plan to go out there today.

A couple of hours later I got a call from a sweet lady who works in records at the district office, asking me for a favor. She needed a student's birth certificate scanned and emailed to her, and the student goes to our school. I really like this lady (she's been very kind and helpful to me this school year) so I agreed to go up to my school and take care of it. It only took a minute, and since I was out and about anyway, I decided to go pick up my blueberries before coming back home. Now I have a total of five blueberry bushes! Two Premier, two Climax, and one Pink Lemonade. I'm looking forward to lots of blueberries in the next year or two once they gain some real size.

Yesterday I fertilized all of our fruit trees, the three original blueberries, the fig, the crabapple, and the pomegranate. With these warm temperatures I don't think it's too early. Later this afternoon I'm going to plant the new blueberries and then sow some lettuce in the raised bed. Maybe some carrots and radishes, too. Early spring salads will be nice.

I also started a few more tomato and pepper seeds yesterday since they've been so slow to germinate. Now that I've got extra seeds started they'll probably all pop up at once and leave me with too many extras (like last year). I can always find someone to give seedlings away to, though. In fact, I had a great conversation with Ryan about heirloom tomatos, so I may take him a plant or two in a few weeks as a "thank you" for the fruit tree advice he gave me. 

I'm lucky to have had such nice weather during my time off for garden work. Alas, the daffodils I planted didn't come back this year. I'm pretty convinced the deer ate them, which reminds me of something: I've got to get to work building a wire cage to go around the tiny crabapple tree. Once it starts growing leaves the deer will have a feast if I don't do something! So there's my next garden project for this upcoming weekend, a deer-proof cage. If only I could completely forget about doing housework and concentrate on the garden! I'd much rather work outside than in.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Getting my hands dirty

We haven't had much of a winter in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina this year. Except for a cold snap in late October (I think), and one bitterly cold week over Christmas, it's been very mild and wet. Everything seems to be blooming extra early. 

I couldn't resist sharing another picture of Luella's tree with you. I took this yesterday while out walking the dogs.

I'm itching to get to work in the garden, and in fact I started yesterday. First, I picked the small baby collard greens I'd planted back in October. They never got very big, and most of the seed I sowed didn't come up. So this bundle was my first and only harvest of collards this year:

I trimmed and washed them and put them in the refrigerator. I'm planning to cook them tonight; we'll see how they taste. After pulling up the collards, I got to work with my hoe and tackled the weeds that had sprung up in the bed. After they were uprooted and tossed aside, I turned over the top layer of soil, breaking up any dense areas. Last of all I smoothed everything out with a rake. Now the bed is clean and ready to go for the new year!

I went to Lowe's midafternoon yesterday and purchased several large bags of compost.  I spread a layer of it a couple of inches deep over the top of the bed to hopefully enrich the soil. 

Speaking of compost! I have a compost bin! With Gregg's help I built it yesterday. It was the simplest design ever: three pallets at right angles to each other, secured with heavy duty zip ties. I had a roll of chicken wire that we stapled all around the inside to help hold everything in, and except for a top, it's done.

As you can see, it's not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it will be functional. That's the important thing, right? And if, for some reason, it doesn't work out, it will be very easy to take apart. The best part is that it cost me less than $20 to build. I only had to buy zip ties to hold it together and a strong staple gun for the wire. 

The tomato and pepper seeds I started a week ago are slow in germinating. So far, I have only three tomato sprouts and zero peppers. I've added a heating pad underneath the tray they're in to hopefully help things along, but I think today I'm going to start some extra seeds just in case. I'm not used to such slow germination and I don't want to be planting out late. 

Saturday, February 18, 2023

A sweet kind of day

Happy Saturday everyone! I woke up in a great mood this morning because it's a bright sunny day and the beginning of a week off! Now I can sit down and enjoy my blog and catch up with all my blogger buddies.

Last week I put up a post, complaining about work, but then after a wise word of advice from Joanne I unpublished it. The last thing I need is to have someone I work with stumble upon my blog and take offense at something I've been venting about! In fact, I went back and unpublished some other recent posts. Better safe than sorry, and all my regular readers know about the issues I've had this year anyway. Suffice to say that things haven't gotten much better, and I'm still looking for a promotion elsewhere. No one can argue with a person wanting to better themselves, right? *

I started my tomato and pepper seeds on Sunday afternoon! I want them to be a good planting-out size by mid-April. Next week while I'm off I plan to sow lettuce and spinach in part of the raised bed, fertilize the fig tree and blueberry bushes, and attempt to build a compost bin out of wooden pallets. Gregg's been bringing them (the pallets) home from the pet store for me. Even someone of my limited (nonexistent, really) building skills should be able to attach hinges, hammer in nails, and screw in screws. Directions for simple bins are all over the internet, and I need a good, free source of compost! So we'll see what I can throw together. Of course I'll share pictures of the finished project if I manage to build something use-able.

I've been on a bit of a reading spree lately. I haven't posted a book review in a long time, but I'd like to write one or two next week if time allows. My book club met last week, but unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this month's selection enough to even finish it. I mainly went to see everyone and to partake (sparingly) of the treats. I'm still plugging along with my efforts to lose weight and get healthier, and it's working! Since the beginning of January, I've lost 15 pounds! And less exciting (but just as important) the last time I had my blood pressure checked it was the best it had been in over a year. I've just been eating very sensibly, walking more, and avoiding alcohol, and it's working without too much angst on my part. I've just got to keep sticking with it, and hopefully this will be a very good year for my health. 

I'll end on some photos I've taken recently with my phone. Have a great day, everyone!

Luella's glorious tree is in full bloom next door. We sure miss her.

When a small budding branch hanging over the road got knocked down by a car, I brought in a small bit to see if the flowers would open in water. As you can see, they did!

Our neighborhood turkey, Theodora, paid our yard a visit last week. Yes, she's still around.

Flowers I got for Valentine's Day, and also a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts I picked up this morning. Marla and her little girl Carsen are coming over this afternoon to share the sweet treats with me! (We had gotten a K.K. gift card at Christmas, and I've been saving it for a special occasion since I'm on a diet. Whatever we don't eat this afternoon will go home with Marla and Carsen}.

*On Wednesday an open position was posted on the district website that I'm interested in. It would be at another school, and would also be a promotion for me. Please wish me luck! I had to submit three references, and the three people I asked were all very encouraging. One of them was the principal who first hired me. After she left our school, she got promoted to one of the top positions in the district. When I called her and asked to use her as a reference, she said she would be "delighted" to do that for me. Then she said, "You would do a great job at that school!". That made me feel so good! Even if this particular job doesn't work out, with so many good references and people looking out for me, sooner or later something will. 

Friday, February 17, 2023


Hooray! It's my last day of work before winter intercession--I have next week off. I love the frequent breaks we get as part of our "modified year round" school schedule.

The break is sorely needed. I look forward to catching up with my blog reading here, and having the time to sit down and write some blog posts of my own. It's been a while, hasn't it? 

So I'm wishing everyone a good day, and I'll be back tomorrow to start catching up.


Saturday, February 4, 2023

Seed order

Oh, how I love a seed catalog in the depths of winter! This year I got two paper catalogs in the mail to pore over and plan my 2023 garden with: Seed Savers Exchange Heirloom Seeds and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Today I finalized my plans and placed orders with both companies. It's hard to believe, but in a couple of weeks it will be time to start tomato and pepper seeds. I want them to reach a good size for planting out around mid-April. Things that can be started earlier will be sown directly in the soil (like lettuce, spinach, and radishes) and cucumbers can be started later in the spring. This year I'm planning to start cucumber seeds twice, ripping out the first plants when they're done producing and then replacing them with new seedlings. I want a large crop of cucumbers so I can try my hand at making pickles--I love pickles, both dill and sweet. And of course I'm dreaming of salsas and sauces with my peppers and tomatoes!

Here are the tomatoes I've decided on for this year:

Nebraska Wedding

Eva Purple Ball

Rosso Sicilian

Berkeley Tie Dye

Hillbilly Potato Leaf

Ingleheart Yellow Cherry

Mexico Midget Cherry

As for peppers, I ordered three kinds:

Zapotec Jalapeno

Datil Hot Pepper

Sheepnose Pimento

I also reordered the wonderful "Marvel of the Four Seasons" lettuce that I enjoyed so much last year, and for cucumbers I decided to get the "Boston Pickling" variety which have always grown well for me. 

Here's hoping for a great 2023 growing season!