Friday, July 18, 2008

Topic of the day: Gardening-Vegetables

I love to garden. I really do. I have fond memories of "helping" in the garden when I was a little girl. It takes a bit of adjustment to garden in North Texas, but I seem to be getting the hang of it this year. So, in addition to blogging, making jewelry, and searching the web for a job I've been spending a lot of time in the garden. I have both flower beds as well as vegetable beds. Because this part of Texas has a lot of clay we decided to make raised beds for vegetables. We built 3 4'x4' beds that are 12" deep. Then we got good quality soil to put in them. I have to admit the first 2 seasons I was somewhat less than successful, but I learned a bit each time. This year has been the best yet. We have harvested Brussels sprouts in the spring, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, peppers,squash and zucchini. We also put in a strawberry bed a last spring and this past spring we harvested TONS of strawberries. You know the container you buy them in at the store? The one that is labeled 1 lb? We filled about 20 of those! (yes, I save containers, plastic bottles, milk jugs,,,, etc) I even save the cell packs that flowers come in at the nursery to use later. A couple of Christmases ago my husband, Anthony, bought me a small greenhouse. It is about 2.5 feet wide and 2 feet deep, and has a plastic cover that fits over it with a zipper door in the front. It is fantastic. I started tomato seeds, pepper seeds, and multiple varieties of perennial flower seeds this spring. They have done really well. I ordered tomato seeds in both regular and cherry types but the variety is specifically designed to be grown in the south, in the heat. They have done really well. Right now they are putting on blooms again for a new round. Anthony and I have indulged in BLTs for the past 3 weeks with all the tomatoes we have picked. BTW,,, its really good to add avocado to your BLT. mmmmmm, yummy! I have yellow bell pepper plants with about 9 peppers on them, okra about to bloom, and squash and zucchini coming. I also planted pole beans and the plants have completely covered the bamboo poles! I have cucumbers coming up as well as cantaloupe and garlic. I just pulled the corn up and tied them into bundles to dry out to use for our fall decorations. The corn we got was good but didn't produce very many ears. I may try a different variety next year and space them out more. I was really pleased with the potatoes. We planted 2 kinds, Reddale, which have red skins, and Russet. I put in 1 lb of seed potatoes and harvested 17 lbs of Reddale and 15 lbs of Russet. The have tasted really good.

All in all the garden is looking much better this year. Tomorrow I will tell you all about the flower beds.

You Tube Montage

Ok, here is something cool. As many of you know while I've been laid off I've been working on my jewelry business, setting up the blog site, my Etsy store etc. I'm also a member of several Yahoo Groups, one of which is eSMArts, etsy Social Marketing Arts Guild. There are so many wonderful, talented and giving people part of that group. Please check out the Montage on You Tube . I don't have any pictures in it as I just ran out of time getting it done, but it is beautifully done and really showcases the artistry of the guild members.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Work, or the lack of it...

I have written a bit about what I have done for a living but today I thought I would write a bit more in detail. I have been a respiratory therapist for 25 years. Healthcare has always been a good industry to be in for job security. Plus it seems to be the type of industry that draws a certain type of people to work hands on. If you ask any healthcare worker, nurse, doctor, therapist, technician, etc why they got into healthcare they will tell you something like "to help people". And that is exactly it!

When I was growing up I wanted to be a scientist. I had a microscope, and a chemistry set when I was probably younger than I should have been. I loved them! I also had a rock testing kit. You had to perform different tests on a rock and then stick pegs in specific holes to indicate an answer to the question about the qualities of the rock. Inside was a stack of cards with holes punched in them and when you were all done with your tests you would pull out a tray and a card or cards would drop down and tell you what kind of rock it was. I really loved that. I think it was that scientific mind that drew me into medicine.

Respiratory Therapy was sort of a fluke as a choice though as I had planned on being a doctor. I had entered a science fair in high school and part of my experiment involved radiation and my teacher would take me to LSU hospital in Shreveport, LA where he had friends in the radiation lab. He was a pre-med student and was substitute teaching at my high school while waiting for a place in med school to open up. My experiment involved exposing fruit fly larvae to different levels of radiation and then when they hatched to inspect the flies for any mutations. It was actually quite a good experiment and got me to the International Science Fair in California that year. So I went to LSU-Shreveport with a specific goal of pre-med. Then I got married, had kids and of course dropped out of school. When I went back to school when my son, Chris, was about 2 I got interested in the Respiratory Therapy certification program offered at the local community college.

And the rest, as they say, is history. I do really love being a respiratory therapist, and the education aspect of it is my favorite. Whether I am educating patients on how to take better care of them selves or other therapists or care givers on how to take care of the patient doesn't matter. I love it all. I've been in clinical management for about the last 10-15 years and was working for a large, national home care company, Rotech Healthcare, when I was laid off.

If any of you are familiar with Medicare's cuts in reimbursement for things like oxygen, nebulizer medications, CPAP etc. you will probably understand this. A home care company doesn't bill Medicare for the visits an RT makes to the patient like home health does for nursing visits. They only bill for the purchase or rental of equipment and supplies. Having RTs to visit your patients is a value added benefit for the referral source like the hospital, or doctor office, and the patient. The RT can spend time with the patient helping them understand what their medication or equipment does to help them and how to make best use of it all. Unfortunately with the recent changes in Medicare reimbursement for medications and the oxygen cap and competitive bidding challenges having the RTs became a burden of cost for the company. So now the patient has less access to care but Medicare "saves" money. In my book its a lose-lose situation.

That is why I have chosen now to start pushing the jewelery making business while I'm looking for a job. I feel I was given an opportunity to put some time into it.

But...... if any of you out there has a job for me, let me know! :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Other things besides jewelry making...

So far I haven't talked really about any of my other hobbies or what's going on in my life. I love doing all sorts of crafts like sewing, quilting, crocheting, knitting as well as the jewelry with metalsmithing, wire wrap and metal clay.

I started knitting about 4 years ago. I had tried as a child when I was crocheting but I could never get the hang of it. For some reason when I tried about 4 years ago it just worked! I made a couple of scarves and then went right into a sweater! It actually came out ok, its quite comfortable even if it is a bit boxy. I also tried socks and that is when I fell in love! I have made many, many pairs of socks, a lot of them were with bulkier yards and we use them for house sox in the winter. All our floors downstairs are hardwood, and you sure can slide in those sox! :) Anyway, the real reason I like making socks is because I'm quite small and I have size 5 (really size 4) feet and most socks are too big for me. I love making them to fit! With all the lovely self patterning yarn now you can really make them special. My newest thing is making 2 at once by using a long cable needle. I got a book on it and its great. You don't have to continuously measure and count rows on the 2nd sock to make them exactly even but you also avoid the dreaded "orphan" sock.

The biggest problem for me with crafts is that I don't like to have a deadline to complete a project. For example, last year I had a Calendar-A-Day for Knitting. I saw a sleeveless sweater that I knew my daughter would love. It is very simple, only stockinette stitch for the front and back, no sleeves. I started it last summer and wanted to give it to her for her birthday this past March. Well,,,, I just finished it this past week.... almost a year and 4 months after her birthday! Of course, I hadn't told her I was making it until her birthday, but still. A friend of mine once asked me to make a baby quilt for her pregnant friend. The baby was 6 months old before she got it! I even have a quilt on my lap frame that I am hand quilting for the past 6 years. Oh well..... I think most crafters are like that. Everyone seems to have an over abundance of WIP or Works In Progress.

So, if you want me to make something other than jewelry for you, be prepared to wait,,,, for a while.

See you tomorrow when I will be talking about work,,, or the lack of it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Uploading Pictures

I've been busy all afternoon uploading pictures of my jewelry items for sale to Etsy. My wonderful husband has created a sort of watermark for my photos with Michele Cook Designs going across the picture. It looks great! Even though I have my Mini Etsy I still want to post some pictures of my designs here for everyone to see. I'm really happy with how the Copper Spiral bracelet has come out. The spirals take a while but are worth the effort I think. Its a way of using heavier beads like the glass ones without the whole bracelet getting too heavy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm Official!!!

I have finally gotten my Etsy shop open, my blog the way I wanted it to look and have made some items to sell. I have uploaded my first item to Etsy and have even posted a "mini" Etsy on my blog. Isn't technology AMAZING!!! My new jewelry business is up and running and I will have lots of beautiful things to show everyone. Come back often, I will have lots of new stuff to show.