Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Funky Finds Spring Fling!

I've just signed up for a new craft show. Its sponsored by Funky Finds and will be in Ft. Worth at the Will Rogers Memorial Center on April 25th. I'm really excited about this show as it will be well advertised and should draw a big crowd. Of course I will be expecting my local friends and family to come and see me! I will have a booth to myself this time and will have lots of beautiful things to see. Also you will see some other familiar faces from the Jingle Bash show as I expect several EtsyDallas members to attend this show. Check out the Funky Finds site and see who else will be there, and mark your calendars! See you there!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Well, I did not get lots of new things listed or made but I am getting organized for a big 2009. 2008 didn't seem to be that good but when looking back the events of 2008 led me to where I am now and for that I am very happy. I'll leave you with a picture of our lovely Christmas Tree. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Monday Sales

I've begun something new. Etsy Texas Crafters (http://etsytx.ning.com/events) sponsors a Monday event every week. The event for the First Monday of the month is a special sale. It only lasts from 12:01 Monday am to 12:00 Monday night so be sure to check it out. Everyone signed up has sales on their site. I am offering 25% off everything in my shop plus if you spend $50 or more (after discount) I am offering free shipping. This is a standing sale for every First Monday of the month so be sure to check back. I'm getting busy in the design studio and will be posting new items daily from now on. Since this is Cyber Monday I thought it was a good idea to start this month. Hurry up and do your Christmas shopping on Etsy. You can't go wrong. There will be something for everyone on your list. Don't forget to treat yourself also! You can do that at Michele Cook Designs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Jingle Bash Success!!

My first venture into art/craft shows was a smashing success! We had a great show with non stop crowds the first 2 hours. It was great. I sold quite a few pieces, completely sold out of my Christmas Tree earrings. Will have to make some more for my Etsy site. So its back to the work table, nose to the grindstone and all that. Here are a couple of pictures of my display set up both at home with the full table and at the show where I was sharing the space with another vendor.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Review of two artists

My Etsy site received some new reviews on LinkReferral and I wanted to share two of the artists with you.

The first artist is KuteKlipboardsbyAmy who happens to live near me in Flower Mound. Amy is also a member of EtsyDallas Team as well as EtsyTexasCrafters. As her shop name implies she makes and sells decorated clipboards. But wait, these are no ordinary clipboards. Here is a sample of my favorites from her shop. Not only does she do the clipboard but she also decorates binder clips to be used as gift card holders, photo holders and could also be used as place card holders at a dinner party. Contact her for your special requirements.

The second artist I found is someone I reviewed on LinkReferral and she returned the favor. RioRita is from Haifa, Israel and does some of the most beautiful silver and gold work I have seen. I can't really pick a favorite piece as every one I look at becomes my favorite. Please check out her shop and her alternate sites she has listed in her Etsy announcement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preparing for Jingle Bash

I've decided not to list any of the new jewelry I am making since it will all be going to the Jingle Bash next month. It seemed silly to list the stuff and then have to de-list what ever doesn't sell before the show. So,,,, all my new stuff will be only seen at the Jingle Bash in Dallas. Then I will have to start making stuff all over again for Etsy cause I'm sure I am going to sell out!! I may not blog much between now and then since not only am I making jewelry but also helping hubby with a couple of his clients. For those of you who are in the area don't forget to come and for the rest of you, if there is something on Etsy you are interested in you better snatch it up now before it goes to the Jingle Bash.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Whew! I finally got some pictures done and more jewelry listed on Michele Cook Designs. Go and check it out. I'm still working on a lovely PMC pendant that is made in a similar way to the Wizard's Eye pendant I listed today. It has a beautiful green dichroic glass cab with vines and leaves. The Wizard's Eye pendant is also done with Silver clay and a dichroic glass cab with a textured background and hand formed bezel for the cab. It was finished off with a free form squiggle design that seemed to add energy to the piece. Now it's back to work for me, so much jewelry, so little time...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Texas Treasury!

Hey everyone, check out the latest treasury from my team Etsy Dallas! There are some lovely items there with a pink and black theme. I love the idea of the Strawberry Pomegranate body scrub from Pretty In Green. See the treasury here. You have to hurry though, the treasury is only available for a short time! While you are on Etsy, make sure you check out my stuff! :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vintage Jewelry

I never thought I would be interested in vintage jewelry but my Mother-in-law came to visit us from England and brought me several bags of beads and jewelery from England. There are some great beads in the collection as well as several really nice pieces to make molds from for Silver jewelry. I will be posting some really exciting stuff to my Etsy store in the next couple of weeks. I'm also nearly finished with my tables and displays and will post pictures of them soon. Stay tuned everyone.

Also, I had my 2nd sale last week!!!! Yeah!! I sold my As Blue as the Ocean bracelet and earrings. I'm so excited! On my way, watch out!

Here is a little preview of the next few things I will be listing on Michele Cook Designs.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Check out my Treasury!!!

Hey everyone, I got chosen for a Treasury on Etsy by Etsy Texas Crafters of which I am a member! Thanks Liz... I really love the color green. You can see my work as well as 11 of the best that Texas has to offer at http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=10193.

New stock coming up, stay posted!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grand Opening-Michele Cook Designs

Ok, everyone has to check it out! I bit the bullet and opened a new Etsy store with the name Michele Cook Designs. The link is http://michelecookdesigns.etsy.com. I've got some new stuff listed and lots of pics in the camera waiting for treatment so they can be listed. I'm getting geared up for the Christmas season and a show in Dallas at Hermann Hall on November 22nd. I have added a place on the left margin to list shows I am attending so everyone will know when I will be where. I've been working hard on my display tables and will have pictures to post in a week or so.

I am also signed up with the Indie Collective which is a collection of independent artists. I'll be listed there as a seller also so check it out at Indie Collective.

I am also signed up with ProPay to accept credit cards so if anyone wants to buy something but not use PayPal I can process your credit card with ProPay.

I did actually close the michele38 Etsy store because it was getting confusing so if you have that address bookmarked or had given it out please give out my new store. If you go to Etsy.com just type michelecookdesigns in the search for user names. Be sure to type it as all one word, no spaces. I feel as though I am really officially a full time jewelry seller. Help me spread the word!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Check out my fellow eSMArts team members

Check out this luscious collection of jewelry from my talented fellow jewelry designers in our eSMArts Team!

Etsy eSMArts Team Treasury

Getting Ready for My First Show!!

Ok, I've been reading all the posts about booth and table displays with great interest and I saw these in a catalog today and they seem like a good idea for some decorative accents on my table. I can't decide if I should use the white ones, the colored ones or a mixture. They are very inexpensive.

I also realized that I would be able to change the votive cup for the holidays. The same catalog had some cups shaped like jingle bells in red and white that would be cute. So, I'm taking a vote and I will post a poll on my blog. Everyone needs to vote for white, colored or combination. By the way, the colored ones change colors automatically. The description says they fade in and out of 7 different color combination of red, green and blue. I like the votive cup they show in the picture but I'm not sure if I can buy them also or not. WalMart will have some cheap. JoAnn's will also, and probably many in holiday themes and on sale! My first show isn't until November but I want to be prepared! Ok, don't forget to vote!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Too Much Computer Time

I've been spending so much time on my computer trying to learn the business of running a business I haven't been paying much attention to my business! I have been accepted to the EtsyDallas show Jingle Bash which will be my first show. I will have to get busy making lots and lots of jewelry to take with me. Plus figure out how to take credit cards, get packaging supplies.... on and on. I hope I make enough money in the show just to pay for getting there! Whew! But I have some great ideas for new pieces and I have also been working on getting better pictures of my jewelry. I have a new display thanks to my daughter. As soon as I finish painting it I'll dress it up and show it off!

I will be blogging more regularly now and I'll give everyone sneak peaks of my new creations. I have some great new cabs to wrap and a couple of new wrapping techniques so stay tuned!

My daughter and grandsons were here for Labor Day weekend. We had lovely weather and my daughter and I did some shopping. We checked out a really great shop in Dallas called The Rock Barrel. They have great stuff. A really good place for tools also. If you are like me I prefer to see the tools and hold them in my hand before making a decision. This place was great and the people running it are very helpful. The do have online ordering if you are not in the Dallas area.

Well, back to the workbench to create some more spectacular jewelry items!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Ok, I signed up for Twitter. Not sure exactly what I am supposed to do but I've done it. Lets see now how it works. I'm not sure how to search for people if I don't have an email address. But I did send invitations to people in my address book. So far so good. If anyone wants to invite me to follow them please do so. I'm so connected now with LinkReferral, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Etsy, etc I can't imagine how I could ever feel alone again. LOL.

New Pendant

I haven't listed this yet in Etsy as I have just a touch more to do with taking better photographs. As a matter of fact, my hubby has been working on a light box for me and I'm trying to figure out the best background for my pictures. Once I'm done with that I'll be posting more to Etsy as well as redoing the existing photos.

The light box is very simple. It is a cardboard box about 18" square. He cut out a square on each side leaving about 1.5" border. The bottom is solid and the top has a square hole about 6" square cut for the camera to look through. This allows me to take pictures from the top looking down on the jewelry. Then I took white tissue paper and covered the cutouts on 2 opposite sides leaving the other 2 opposite sides open. If I want to take a picture straight on I can set up the camera outside the box by one of the open sides. I can use this outside as well as indoors. When using it outside I place one of the covered sides facing the sun. Inside I have 2 lamps with 60 watt bulbs that I place about 4" from the paper. Both ways work well. I also have lined the top with aluminum foil and will probably do the other parts as well to reflect more light. I have taken some pictures to show you what I'm talking about.

The last two pictures are using the light box. The one with the PCM pendant is at night with the 2 lights outside the tissue paper and the bracelet is outside with the sun shining in through the tissue paper. Believe it or not the backgrounds in the two pictures are the same. See what a difference light makes?

I have put together all the advice I've read from the eSMArts Team as well as other groups about photographing jewelry, my hubby made me a light box. Now its just up to taking new pictures. Keep checking my Etsy store for new pictures.

Friday, August 22, 2008

I've been busy!

I have been a busy girl the past few days. I have learned how to do Bubble Share, you can see it above the post, signed up for LinkReferral, got advice on my blog from there, and signed up for Blogflux where I can get stats on how many people visit my site, where they are, what my ranking on Google is and lots of other stuff that I can't quite figure out yet!

I'm also designing a line for Christmas. I'm thinking of doing a show in Dallas called Jingle Bash. I'm a member of the Etsy Dallas team and they are doing it.
Isn't that the cutest picture? I love it.It is an indoor show and I will have lots of people to help me with the set up. I'm really looking forward to it and am working like a mad woman to get enough stock made up. Wish me luck and for those of you who are in this area, come by and see me!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Up and Running Again!

WooHoo! My hubby worked his magic again today and got my blog set up to use my domain name. So now you can go to Michele Cook Designs and you get my blog. You have to create a CNAME with your domain registrar (what ever that is) and then go into the settings for your blog, click on publishing and choose custom domain. It takes a bit for all the servers to update and for it to work right, but I think it should work fine for mine now. He also created an email for me at michelecookdesigns.com and set it to forward to my regular email so now I also have michele@michelecookdesigns as an email. I can use that on my business cards and will have some continuity.

I've also been working on the pricing for my new jewelry and will get it listed on Etsy tomorrow, I hope. Whew! Its been a busy day but I'm glad to be back on track. I even ordered some wire from Lois at ABeadedAffair. She has this great copper wire in square and half round. You should check out her Etsy store here and see her great stuff. She has the most beautiful wire wrap jewelry, chainmaile, beads, etc. Her blog is great and she has a wonderful triple strand of pearls with blue sapphire beads shown there. They are also in her Etsy shop. Check her out, you won't be sorry!

Once I get that wire from her I will be a wrapping fool! I have a beautiful Black Onyx cab that I want to wrap. I saw one that Lois did in her store that she did in copper wire and it is beautiful. I'm going to try that. I may try wrapping it sideways this time and see how it comes out.

New Blog Address

If you try to get to my blog you may find you get redirected to Google. Never fear, my blog is still there. I have decided to change my blog address to michelecookdesigns.com instead of the blogspot address. I used Blogger's redirection feature but I have to wait until the DNS servers update. It may take a day or so. Since there is always a delay in the updates I decided to do this at this time while traffic is a bit slow. I'm being optimistic that my jewelry sales are going to take off and I'll get lots of traffic on my blog as well as Etsy store. The old blogspot address will redirect you to the blog but if anyone has my blog bookmarked you can update it to michelecookdesigns.com. One day I may have a regular website but for now I would like everything to be as consistent as possible. My email address will stay michele@michelecook.com for now. One thing at a time.

I also want to work on a video for my blog. I'll let you know when I have that done. I know you can use One True Media which is connected with You Tube.

So stay tuned and if you get Google, keep trying. My blog will be back up in no time.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Its been a while I know.....

Ok, sorry I've been gone so long. I really didn't mean to but this past couple of weeks have been pretty hard. Anyway, I'm back on track. I've been working on the pictures of the new jewelry I have been making. I have been having trouble with lighting and have been working on several options. I finally have some decent pictures so I'll be listing them this week on Etsy. I've also been doing some research on local shows and what I would need to have to get started but I really think it will have to wait until spring. There are 2 or 3 good shows I could do locally this fall but I need a tent, tables, banner, stock...... And I don't have those things yet. I think I'm going to concentrate on just making as much stock as I can and get ready for the new season next spring. There are several shows in the Dallas/Ft Worth area so hopefully I can get a good start then. When ever I am getting ready to design new pieces I try to look at as much jewelry as possible in the Yahoo Groups both Wire Wrap and Metal Clay and magazines. When ever I do I can go back to my stock and see more possible ideas. Here are a few of the things I have been working on this week. I already showed you my copper and green disk earrings. I also have a necklace with a hand formed S clasp. It turned out really nice. I had the idea of making a zig zag of sorts with the copper wire over the round beads. I really enjoyed making this set. Another set I made recently is a beading set with these lovely blue and white swirl glass beads. I grouped them with some lovely blue seed beads in a larger size and some irridecent purple, blue small seed beads. I made coordinating earrings also. That's it for the preview. If you want to see more you will have to go to my Etsy store at Michele Cook Designs.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I've been tagged!!! Twice!

Wow, this has been fun looking at everyone who have been tagged and visiting the blogs or sites. Then there is that slow scroll down to see if you are a victim... :) Well, its my turn now. I've been tagged twice by Wezz and Jill.

Here are the rules:

1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six Random Things about Me…..

1) I am very small. I am 4'7" tall and wear a size 4 shoe. Actually, I wear a size 5 cause I can't find 4s.

2) My mom spelled my name with one L (Michele). This has always been an issue as I can't get anything already personalized.

3) I named my daughter after my sister who died as an infant. My mom named my sister. Katheryn. Now my daughter can't get anything already personalized.

4) My daughter goes by Katie.

5) I have 4 grandchildren, 3 boys and 1 girl.

6) My husband is English and we met on the internet 10 years ago.

Now I’m tagging….

Dee of Reflections in Glass

Kaytee of Simplexities

Robin of Canyon Fire Creations

Tonya of Soscentsible

Kim of Creative Eye Studio

Julie of Angelamps

You have been tagged!!!!


Monday, August 4, 2008

IT'S HOT!!!!

Ok, I know that North Texas isn't the hottest place on earth, but its darn close! Here in the DFW (Dallas/Ft Worth) area we have been above 100° (106° predicted today) for about 2 weeks. Now, this isn't that unusual for here this time of year. The part that is new and unusual is how I cope with it. Even though I was born in the north (Indiana) I moved with my family to the south (Louisiana) when I was 16. Now at 48 I have lived in the south much longer than I lived in the north but I still think of myself as a Yankee! I've been told I sound like a combination of both and since my husband is English and we have been married for 10 years my accent is even more muddled. Anyway, back to my point. I've been here for a long time but its in the past few years I have noticed that the heat of summer is harder to take. So, for the past week or so I have been feeling very tired, sluggish and having trouble sleeping. Although we have central air we are watching the electric bill so we are keeping the thermostat between 78° and 80°. Even the pool is HOT! Its like bathwater! I'm really feeling the heat so to speak this past week. That is my excuse for not blogging every day or two as I intended.

I have been working on some new jewelry and hope to get some pictures uploaded and items added to my Etsy shop. I've been struggling with the lighting, sunlight too much or not enough and flash not right either, so before I post more pictures I want to work on it. I plan to get that done today. Again, its back to the heat thing. Its supposed to be below 100° the middle of the week so we are putting off mowing the yard until then. Hopefully I can get my craft work caught up.

This probably sounds like a bunch of whining but it makes me feel better to whine online for a bit! LOL....

Stay tuned for the next blog which will be what I have found out about local craft venues.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Check out my new creations!

My daughter sent me some beads the other day to make a necklace for her. She included some other beads that she saw and thought I would like. Since I have been working with copper wire lately I was working with the other beads she sent me. They are flat lentil shaped beads about the size of a nickle as well as some small oval flat beads. I had been looking at some wire wrapped beads the other day and the next thing I knew this idea popped into my head.
After some experimentation I came up with 2 pair of earrings and a necklace and earrings set.

I even had to make a clasp for the necklace as I don't have any findings in copper.

As I have said in previous posts, I have never thought of myself as "creative" just talented. I can't draw but I have always been able to work from a pattern and make clothes, quilts, knitted products etc. But when it comes to working with wire or metal clay these ideas pop into my head. I try to sketch a quick picture of what I am thinking of and I also cut out pictures from magazines to remind me. The pictures are usually better as I come back to my sketch book and sometimes can't figure out what I was trying to draw! :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Subscribe to me!

OK, I consider myself a bit more computer literate that the average user. I have taken some Microsoft courses and am an MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional). Plus I am something of a technogeek so I like playing with new things in technology. I understand basic HTML, how to use MS Office products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access. I can actually build my own web page if I chose to do so with Dreamweaver. I can help people with settings and such on their computer. Most of all this I learned from my husband who is King Geek in our house.

However, there is so much stuff going on now that I'm having trouble getting my head around all this. The newest thing I have played with today is Feedburner. I'm not sure I really understand what feeds are exactly. I just hope that I have done things right! LOL!!

I think I set up a way for people to subscribe to feeds of my blog. At least that is what I was trying to do. I hope so anyway. So if I did it right, please subscribe to me. Tell all your friends. Let everyone know about my blog, my Etsy store and my jewelry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Let me start by saying that I am an obsessively organized person. A place for everything, and everything in its place. I'm not sure exactly how it got started but my mother was a neat freak, very organized and a bookkeeper/accountant. I've always loved the office supply store. I could spend hours looking at the files, binders, folders, dividers etc. Unlike some craft people, I do not organize my supplies by color groups. I can't even get the hang of using colored file folders or paper for specific groups either. My fabric stash is organized by project, such as the plaids I am collecting for a log cabin quilt, or by type of print such as floral, or also by amount of fabric. All my fat quarters are together, all the 1/2 yard cuts, all the multiple yard cuts, etc. I even have strips organized by width (1", 1.5", 2") in bins. The 1/5" strips are actually sorted into 3 bins, one for red, one for lights and one for darks. Again a collection for a log cabin quilt. I've been working on organizing my jewelry supplies and tools. I asked my husband to make me something to put my tools on that would be on the workbench but easy to reach. I am a very small person, I'm 4'8" tall so what would be an easy reach for most people is too far for me. My workbench is a good 3 or 4 inches lower than desk height, but that way I can put my feet on the floor. He went out in his workshop and came up with this.

It is on a lazy susan and turns very smoothly. The upright boards have small holes drilled in them at an angle so I can put my dremel bits, small files, etc in them. The top has a hole in the middle that he put a glass in to hold pencils, brushes, emery boards, and the like and around the edge of the top are holds for the handle of my pliers to fit into. It is absolutely fantastic. It works great and I have some space around the bottom to place small objects. I"m also including a picture of my worktable. As you can see, its a bit cluttered. And its not as dark as the picture makes it look, I just didn't force the flash on the camera and it was fooled by the light over my desk.

Tonight I also took some advice I read about in the Wire Wrap Jewelry group about storing your wire. I had all my wire in separate bags all in the same drawer. I was always searching for the gauge or type I wanted. I was reading about using a 3 ring binder so I did that and I had some plastic dividers with places for labels. These went in the binder but also have pockets on the front and back of them. So I put my wire in separate divider page pockets and then printed labels with my label maker for the tabs. I have them labeled by type of metal (copper, SS) then by gauge (18G, 22G), hardness (HH or DS) and then type of wire (round, 1/2 round, square). It all fits nicely in the binder and will be easy to find. Now, you don't really think I will be geeky enough to post pictures of the binder too do you? Well, of course I am. And here it is! :) Just so that you are perfectly clear on how my wire is now organized. Is there such as thing as a professional organizer? That would be a perfect job for me!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Flower Gardening

I love all flowers and if you asked me what my favorite one is I would have a hard time making up my mind. The first flower that comes to mind when I think of a favorite is the simple old fashioned violet. I loved searching our yard for them when I was a little girl. That translated into a love of violet dishes. My grandmother collected them and I inherited her collection after she passed away. I have since added to them. So the violet will always remain my "first" favorite. However, I really can't think of a flower that I don't love. I don't always like all the colors that breeders come up with, I tend to be a more traditional person. When we moved into our house almost 3 years ago I started working on flower beds. I really haven't done anything in the front yard as I want to do all of it at once since it is in the public eye. The back yard though is a different subject. Over the past 3 years I have put in 2 beds, one is along the back fence and one is a kidney shaped bed in the middle of the yard. I love the unstructured English Cottage Garden style. Here in Texas I have to make some adjustments as anything that I plant here needs to be FULL sun only. I have very, very minimal shade in the back yard and it faces south. I learned early on to use perennials as annuals really have a short life here. Since we have flower beds now and we have put up bird feeders and a hummingbird feeder we have lots of wildlife. We added a whiskey barrel fountain for water and I used a big saucer for a plant pot with rocks in it to make a small water feature for butterflies, and a "fishing spot" for our Gnome we brought back from England. Its a really cool lime green ceramic saucer I found at Ikea. Because we have birds and squirrels who scatter seed about in the yard we now have some volunteer sunflowers coming up. No one can be sad when they look at sunflowers! They always look so happy and cheerful.

I find a lot of peace when looking at the garden, and even the simple act of pulling weeds, deadheading spent flowers or harvesting vegetables from the garden brings a sense of contentment that is hard to find anywhere else. Everyone should try to find their own little piece of contentment whether it is a flower garden, vegetable garden, container garden or just sitting down in the grass and looking up through the trees. It will bring you peace and contentment, even if just for a bit, in the midst of our hectic, chaotic, and frankly sometimes disappointing life. Look for it, you will be glad you did.

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 http://www.youtube.com/ChezChani . 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.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My first post.

I'm just getting started with my jewelry making business. Welcome to the first post for Michele Cook Designs. I will be posting pictures of my jewelry projects as well as my knitting, quilting and gardening projects. I hope you enjoy it.