Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spring Gardening

It's Spring in my garden again and everything is starting to grow and bloom!
The crab apple tree has lovely pink and white blossoms.
The honey crisp apple tree when it was getting ready to bloom.
Here's what appeared afterwards!  A future apple!
The blueberry bush has lovely green and pink honeysuckle-like flowers.
Pretty white and yellow strawberry flowers.
Even the brussel sprout plants left over from last year are blooming!  As a side note, I recently discovered that you can eat brussel sprout leaves, not just the brussel sprouts.  These leaves are actually quite tasty, so what a plus that you can basically eat that plant all year long!
Here's a Kale plant that is still growing from last year. 
This a a parsley plant that also survived Winter. 
Pretty purple chive blooms (you can eat those!). 
This is some strange leafy prickly plant that my mom calls "Gao Choi" in Chinese.  She picks the leaves off and makes a soup filled with it.  It doesn't taste half bad, but I have no idea what it's called in English. 
My sister's in-laws gave us two persimmon trees that they grew from seeds.  They are still small as bushes, but the leaves look pretty. 
The raspberry bushes are starting to fill out.  I can hardly wait for when they start to produce fruit. 
The oregano and thyme plants from last year are multiplying. 
Some kind of kale-like plant that grew last year from seeds.  I cannot be sure that it is Kale since it seems much shorter than the other kale plants we have, but it tastes good.  It might be the mustard plants we planted last year?  Anyways, it's not just a weed and we have been eating it all Spring. 
There's a whole plot of them growing among the English mint and Lemon Balm. 
The seed potatoes on the shelves outside got raided by the local rodents, but it looks like some seed potatoes got left behind in the plot since some healthy potato plants are growing out of the soil already.
Here are some pansies that look quite pretty.  I guess we must have had a very mild Winter since almost everything survived this year.  I'm excitedly waiting for other good stuff to pop out of the ground.  
So far I have planted different kinds of peas and beans, beets (first time!), and kale.  We put crushed egg shell around the sprouts to deter snails and slugs.
There are some store-bought tomato plants that need to be put in the ground too.
Happy Gardening!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Biodegradable Toilet Paper Roll Seedling Planters Tutorial

It's Spring and time to plant seeds!  Here's a nifty idea on how to recycle toilet paper rolls and get free seed planters at the same time.  Best part, it's biodegradable!
You will need:
Toilet paper rolls
First step!  Flatten the toilet paper roll.  You can use the back of a spoon to make the edges well creased for each step.
Step two!  Match up the two first creases in the middle and flatten the roll again.
If you open up the roll, it should now have 4 straight edges like a box.
Note:  If you want shorter boxes, cut the toilet paper roll in half and make two.  You can also control the height of a box this way if you plan to use the whole roll to make one box.
Now take a sharp scissor and snip up all four bottom edges.  Aim to cut it about the length of half the box opening.
Fold all four edges neatly up.
Going in a circle, fold down the flaps one by one.
For the last flap, tuck it under the first flap. 
If it looks like this, your snips were too short.  Or maybe you want that hole on the bottom for better drainage?  I guess that's okay too.
For mine, I liked them nice and closed like this afterwards.  I basically cut the snips too long and just trimmed off a bit off each flap to make a perfect fit.
The two shortest ones are using half rolls, the two taller ones were made from whole rolls.

Now just add soil and seeds and you're ready to grow some new plants!

Happy Gardening!

My First Year of Nursing

My first year of nursing has gone by!  Hurray!  I would love to say that it has been magnificent, but the truth is that it has been rather appalling (and has passed very quickly).
Too Many Night Shifts
I have experienced the very terrible four night shifts in a row (which I should never ever do again!).  It lead to a very zombie-like nurse and I got sick the week after.  I think my body couldn't handle it.  I couldn't sleep much during the noisy day time so I basically had four sleep-deprived nights in a row.  It is a very bad thing.  Don't do it  :)

Nurse Bullying 
I experienced situations where I got criticized for not doing things by another nurse.  Afterwards, I discovered that no one else had time either (somehow three shifts later no nurse had done it yet) and, in some cases, no one wants to do those tasks either (you realize it's a task that no nurse actually does).  So... why am I getting criticized for not doing them?  You quickly learn that nurses that complain the loudest and most assertively get away with the most.  Unfortunately, I am not that brave and not that loud.
Not Enough Time
I have tried and tried to do everything every shift, but I have realized it is not possible.  I get aching feet, super fatigue, and I end up hating my job cuz I'm so burnt out.  On the plus side, I have really happy patients and families on those days and the other nurses benefit because the families bring goodies like hot coffee and pastries for the ward as thanks for their family member being so well taken care of.  
It's not sustainable though.  When you have 8 hours and 7 patients, you can only do so much each shift without completely obliterating every last ounce of energy and patience you have.  If you're lucky, some of these patients are independent.  If one or more of your patients' condition turns sour, you're screwed.
Burn Out
For a short while, I thought it was just me.  Maybe I was the only one getting burned out so quickly after starting nursing.  To my surprise, I found other nurses that talked about getting burned out and considering dropping out of the field.  They told me that it helped to do things like changing wards to get a fresh start, or getting into a specialty area.  Also, they said that not doing night shifts anymore helped.
I feel like I just got out of nursing school and it's too quickly to go back to school again, but getting out of this rut is very important too.  I hate feeling tired every day.  I'm tired from working so hard every day, but I'm also tired emotionally.  
Natural deaths are hard to handle, unexpected and gruesome deaths are even harder to handle, and calming down people is something that I do so often that I'm tired of it.  It seems like every patient is panicking because they are confused about where they are and why, they are in pain and need to be medicated regularly all shift, they are puking, and their disposable brief needs to be changed for poop - very, very smelly whole-ward stinkin' poop.  
Meanwhile, the other nurses are getting stressed out and they're taking it out on each other.  I've heard nurses yelling at each other in frustration or snapping at me if I ask too many questions (I've since learned to just look stuff up instead of asking people, just in case).  It is a very stressful work environment.
Good Stuff
Anyways, that's all the bad stuff.  The good stuff is that I have learned so many new skills.  And so many skills that used to be hard, are now much easier.  Little by little, I am becoming a more competent and skilled nurse.  It's a good feeling.  I also still appreciate the little comments my patients give me when they appreciate what I do for them, or the relieved smiles when their families get positive reports from me.  I appreciate the nurses that take the time to teach me new things, help me with my work, or that thank me when I help them.  Those are good things too.
All in all, year one of real nursing has been challenging.  Let's see how year two goes!  Fingers crossed!

My Nursing School Diary