Monday, December 31, 2007

Countdown to zero hour

With less than 24 hours to go before the big launch, I've been running around like a crazy person trying to get everything ready in time for tomorrow's New Year's day opening.


Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A tale of two kitties

I thought to counter some of the scary and depressing headlines appearing this past week, I would post some pictures of my two adorable cats, Moxie (the skinny one on the left) and Nomad (her much fatter brother on the right). Here they both are checking out the world beyond from our front door. How's that for cuteness?

We adopted both of them separately from local shelters. Nomad came home first, and then Moxie a few weeks later. They got along famously right away and now are best friends.

Nomad is a very gentle animal. We named him thus because he can't sit still - he always has to get up and move around after a few minutes. He loves rolling on his back to have his big white belly petted.

And Moxie, a tortie, was a stray and had six babies who all died before she was found by a rescue group. She's very sassy. She's also a scrappy, brave little kitty who has plenty of moxie to have survived as she did.

Feel the kitty love!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Not just a trite cliche

I have been riveted by the headlines this past week, disenheartening to begin with but even more so considering they all are coming on the heels of Christmas, a time supposed to be of renewed hopes for goodwill to all, world peace, and "joy to the world."

From where I stand, these sayings look to be just mere platitudes, cliches that are uttered as lip service to mark the holiday.

Assassinations, murders, riots, and priests beating each other up with brooms at a church in Bethlehem (granted, the headline "Rival priests brawl inside Bethlehem church" is pretty funny, and not something you would expect to see.)

Still - joy to the world, it ain't.

As we mark down the approaching New Year, here is to renewing and carrying through in our hopes for peace, to proving that all our holiday goodwill is not just a trite cliche to be uttered and then forgotten.

As a side note, I went on Amazon today to look for Benazir Bhutto's autobiography "Daughter of Destiny," and not surprisingly, the price had been jacked up to $99!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You'll shoot your eye out!

Holiday highlights:

1. Watchng all 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" marathon. Fa ra ra ra ra!

2. My new TomTom, from my sister and brother-in-law. I love it! I've been wanting one of these GPS devices ever since I saw my sister's Garmin work its magic: we were right outside of Pittsburgh on a roadtrip, and when dinnertime rolled around, we both got a craving for sushi. Being unfamiliar with our surroundings was not a problem: we had the Garmin look up sushi restaurants within a certain radius of our current location, programmed it in, and it led us straight there like a pair of locals on back roads we wouldn't otherwise find. It was great.

I also take a lot of roadtrips with friends and to visit friends, and combined with the fact that I have no sense of direction and always get lost, the TomTom is made for people like me. This will be especially useful for my occasional trips to Philadelphia because the part where Wilmington and Philadelphia split never fails to confuse the hell out of me. The signage is awful there. But with my TomTom, no more looking stuff up on Mapquest and no more squinting at a printout of the directions while driving. I'm on my way, baby!

Thanks, sis! You're the best!

3. One of my friends has this awesome recipe for a dessert she calls fruit pizza. I made it for my family for an early Christmas dinner.

4. Our unique mix of Jewish/Catholic traditions for Christmas Eve: Chinese food takeout for dinner (Jewish) followed by Midnight Mass (Catholic).

5. Christmas night at the movies with a few hundred other people. Evidently everyone else had the same idea we had. We saw I Am Legend, which was alternately creepy, sad, riveting, and disappointing. There was also this part that was hard for me to watch, as all animal lovers and pet owners will no doubt find hard to watch as well.

6. Finaly, this magpie's Christmas gifts from Mr Hazel: a bracelet with little diamonds and a pair of amethyst earrings. Sparkly!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Track Santa's whereabouts!

This Christmas Eve, NORAD (yes, that's right - the North American Aerospace Defense Command) is tracking Santa's whereabouts and refreshes his location every five minutes on their world map.

From the North Pole, Santa and the reindeers made their way over Russia. And as of 8:32 pm, it appears that Santa has already hit most of the eastern hemisphere and is starting on South America. He is currently in Venezuela.

Keep track of his journey on NORAD's site.

Christmas by candlelight

Picture this: a hushed, darkened concert hall. A single soprano voice rising above, singing the first verses of Once in Royal David's City. Then a whole chorus of voices takes up the song as a long line of candles float up both sides of the aisles onto the stage, their voices swelling in the darkness, the long procession of candles casting an eerie, yet beautiful, glow.

I got chills.

When I played for the symphony orchestra in college, every Christmas we would perform Handel's Messiah to the whole community. It got to be that it wouldn't feel like Christmas without hearing the strains of Comfort Ye, or the Hallelujah Chorus, where the whole audience would stand up, following tradition.

But now that I don't play it anymore, I've missed hearing beautiful, traditional and classical Christmas songs (somehow, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer just doesn't cut it). The candlelight concert on Saturday was a wonderful substitute.

It also brought to mind something my dad once told me. Although we were Catholic, he and my mom would go to the Protestant churches while we were still living in Manila to listen to their choir at Christmastime, because the Catholics had nothing on the Protestants when it came to their choirs.

At the end of Saturday's concert, the chorale once again took their candles and slowly processed out of the dark concert hall humming Silent Night.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Winter Solstice!

Today marks the beginning of winter, the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the opposite in the southern. I've always thought it must feel so strange to have summer in December for the Australians.

As the saying goes, it is always darkest before the dawn - after today, the days begin to grow longer and longer. The countdown to the spring equinox begins!

It seems premature to think about spring just yet with Christmas just around the corner. (Are you ready? Did you finish all your last minute shopping?) In medieval times, the winter solstice marked the beginning of a scary period because of the lack of food, water, heat, and light. They burned yule logs to stave off the darkness and cheer themselves up. Today, our celebration of Christmas during the darkest days of the year stems from this practice, with all our twinkling lights and holiday cheer.

Tonight my family and I are going to a Christmas candlelight concert. The chorale is supposed to march in to the darkened concert hall carrying candles while singing Christmas songs. I hope I don't start bawling!

From all of us here at Hazel Designs, Merry Christmas and happy winter solstice!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Featured countdown necklace of the day: Crysophrase and silver

Ten days left! I am so excited!

I had a long photo shoot with all the finished pieces because some of the earlier pictures I took didn't come out right. After experimenting a whole lot, I found that the optimal place to photograph these is on my kitchen table - we have French doors directly next to it that is a great source of afternoon light. Plus, the color of the walls is a nice backdrop.

So today I took a bunch of pictures that I want to use on Etsy, but halfway through, the sun decided to say goodbye. I had to cut things short and try again another day.

Today's featured necklace is a new one, and it photographed fairly well. It is made of my favorite stone, crysophrase, with a single pearl hanging off a silver linked chain. This chain is such a great find - I really love this shade of silver.

And here is a close up of the toggle clasp.


Imagine the pleasant surprise I got when I found out that someone has linked to my blog from theirs! And under the heading "Blogs I Think Are Lovely". How about that! I am so flattered. I feel so legit now!

The aforementioned blog is called All Things Lovely.

Thanks, All Things Lovely!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Trappings, part deux

Listening to:
The August Rush soundtrack - "August's Rhapsody" is simply gorgeous. I can't get enough of it.

New Soul by Parisian/Israeli songwriter Yael Naim - so catchy!
Bleed It Out by Linkin Park

Reading: Valley of Silence by Nora Roberts.
This lady is seriously talented - her writing is smooth as chocolate, lyrical, and beautiful. Not a word out of place, nor a discordant phrase to be found. The hero is a vampire, which I don't usually go for because I'm not a fan of vampire stories (the only books I've read by Anne Rice are the non-vampire ones and those are amazing), but I'm making an exception for this one because it has an interesting twist. Plus, the dude is hot.

(Speaking of Anne Rice, I highly recommend Cry to Heaven - beautiful! - and The Witching Hour - creepy and scary but so good).

Stupid writers' strike! No Jon Stewart, no Colbert, no Office or Heroes or even Letterman! So we've been watching Family Guy. It's so wrong, yet so incredibly funny.

Disappointed over: Zodiac. What a meandering mess. I expected more from the guy who put Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box.

Searching for: a black turtleneck jersey dress.

Drooling over: the mysterious box under the Christmas tree with my name on it, from Mr Hazel.

Snacking on: raw mango with shrimp paste (a delicacy popular in the Philippines and my absolute favorite), Watchamacallits, and jalapeno kettle cooked potato chips.

Movie lineup:
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
I Am Legend
Atonement (maybe? It looks great, but I heard it's sad)

Dinner craving: a big bowl of yummy pho, but Mr Hazel vetoed this so now I am to be left disappointed.

Obsessing over:
Jamie Lynn Spears - like the rest of the world! I turn my back on my computer for one second and look what happens - she gets herself knocked up. However, with all the gossip blogs and entertainment news articles I've read since the story broke, not one of them has mentioned the one burning question that's been on my mind: what is wrong with her hair? Why is it dark at the bottom but light on top? And why did she choose to use that picture for her big OK! reveal?

I...don't understand.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wheels on the ground

There are plans and talks in the works for a new car for me come spring. Growing up, my parents always drove foreign-made cars (including the holy mecca of all things reliable, fuel efficient, and cost effective - the Toyota). Even to this day, it's still ingrained in me that I must not stray from tradition by buying domestic, a gas guzzler, or non-compact.

Fear not, I will probably end up buying something Japanese. After years of driving cars that go five million miles to the gallon I can't imagine buying something not as efficient (especially when I see how much Mr Hazel spends filling up his sports car).

But...a girl can dream, can't she? Fuel efficient and safe will come in the spring, but for now, practicalities and fuel costs aside, these are the cars that I want:

I want a muscle car!!! A screamingly loud, obnoxious, in-your-face yellow muscle car, such as this 2007 Mustang. You would never expect a girl like me to drive one of these things:

Or, a vintage powder blue 1956 Mustang convertible would work too:

And then I'll also take either a Porsche 911 Carrera:

Or a Porsche Boxster (either one will do - I'm not picky at all!)

But then I've always really wanted to own a powder blue pickup truck from the 1950s - very retro:

And I'll take a red Mini Cooper with white racing stripes (but only if it has the white racing stripes):

Our first family car when I was little was an orange VW Bug (because my parents were too cool for school). I want the same exact one:

Finally, to build up my badass image, I want this outdoor warrior Jeep Wrangler so I can go offroading (or shopping, one of the two - because anyone who knows me knows that the image below is something that will never happen to me if I can help it). But no one would ever dare steal a parking spot away from me at Target ever again if I were driving this baby:

Well, it was nice to dream...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Featured countdown stone of the day: Turquoise

From now until the opening of the Hazel Designs shop on January 1st, I will be incorporating some posts that feature different stones, new necklaces for preview, and jewelrymaking techniques and tips.

Today's featured stone is turquoise, which is one of my favorites both to work on and to wear. It looks especially fresh and summery when worn as a necklace or a pair of earrings with a white tank top, jeans, and flip flops.

I love this stone mostly because of its color, often a mix of sky blue and sea-foam green, with varying shades in between. In my scouting expeditions, I have run into turquoise of all kinds of shapes and sizes, each stone having different and unique characteristics.

The possibilities for design are limitless.

Turquoise is an ancient stone - its first known existence date back to 3000 BC in Egypt. Yet, it is also undeniably a modern stone. It is said to have powerful protective qualities, protecting the wearer against such things as depression and accidents.

Above are the different types of turquoise stones that I have in stock. Watch for these incorporated into future designs!


...goes to Mr Hazel, who has recently finished business school and is now an official, full-fledged MBA!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Even though I didn't quite make the Christmas shopping season, I'm excited to announce that Hazel Designs' Etsy shop will be having a New Year's Day grand opening!

That's right: January 1, 2008.

Because the new year deserves new adornment.

The countdown clock is on!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

To the finish line

It's been a bit hectic here at Hazel Designs studio, trying to get everything ready for the big launch.

In the meantime, here is a fresh (and slightly blurry) offering for you. This piece is made up of a rose quartz pendant, with smaller quartz clusters in a pretty seafoam green/blue color. Finished off with an 18" sterling silver chain and a sterling silver lobster clasp.

I might not be around as much in the next few days as I get things ready, but please dont forget to keep checking back for status updates!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Licensed to sell!

I received an email from my local government tax office, telling me that my request for a business license has been approved! This process was rather frustrating because I had to wade through a myriad of information in order to find what I needed, and even then I wasn't sure if I had the correct information. But apparently I did.

A few other business-related items to report:

1. I completed the cataloging of the finished pieces, which means all that's left is the dreaded task: pricing.

2. I bought the domain (or rather, Mr Hazel took care of this - thanks, Mr Hazel!), but as of right now there's nothing there. Eventually I will want this URL to point to my Etsy shop and to this blog.

Now that I am officially permitted to sell my products and I'm close to opening the online store, I'm suddenly extremely petrified. I'm assailed by all kinds of doubts, chief among them being: will people like my stuff? What if no one buys them? I think it would be different if I were selling something that I didn't create myself, but since these necklaces are a reflection of my artistic abilities, it would be very hard not to take it personally if they end up languishing in a kind of cyberspace limbo.

One thing that has been extremely encouraging, though, has been the invaluable feedback given by the awesome readers of this blog, and I can't even begin to say how much those have meant to me!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A fancy schmancy evening

Mr Hazel and I finally celebrated our anniversary. He wouldn't tell me where we were going, and it turned out to be to a fancy schmancy restaurant right beside a lake and man-made waterfalls, in a gorgeous tall-windowed dining room. I had foie gras and venison. The chef gave me an extra portion of foie gras because he thought the one he originally sent out was too small.

Anyone who gives me extra foie gras is my best friend forever.

The staff was incredibly friendly, and when I was exclaiming over the gorgeous silverware, especially the steak knife with the lacquered handle, our server overheard me and remarked that it was "a fancy knife for a fancy girl." It must have been my red dress.

And the best part? After dessert, they serve complimentary cotton candy to every patron, a frothy cloud of pink on a white dish. It's supposed to send you on your way from dinner with a memory of childhood.

I thought it was a whimsical touch.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Golden Stinker

I saw The Golden Compass tonight. It shall I put it? A dud. A major stinker. A ridiculously contrived fantasy wannabe. A miserable bomb with stilted dialogue, a meandering plot, stupid names, terrible acting (especially Nicole Kidman, who was so annoying playing the part of the villain that all I wanted to do the entire time was punch her in the face), and horrible world-building.

Lord of the Rings, this ain't.

In fact, it was so bad that we almost walked out in the middle of it, except I didn't want to compound the waste of the $17.50 we spent on the tickets. It's very rare when I feel like I have nothing to lose by walking out in the middle of a movie, so when I do feel this way it's gotta be pretty bad.

It was so much worse than Chronicles of Narnia, and that's saying a lot, because Narnia sucked butt big time. At least Narnia had an interesting warrior queen villainness and a cool final battle scene. Golden Compass had nothing redeeming about it except for the fact that it ended. Oh, and Daniel Craig, but he was only there for a total of five minutes and his plot had no resolution (I guess they left that for the sequel) so even Daniel Craig failed to lift this stinker bomb dud into the level of the tolerable.

All ten fingers and all ten toes thumbs down!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Snow and old friends

On Wednesday we got our first snowfall of the season. We didn't get as much as other places did, but we did get enough to cover the trees, which is a pretty sight.

I've had quite the nostalgic couple of days. Thursday evening I met up for happy hour with friends from grad school, which is always a nice time. Exchanging notes on the changes in our lives since graduation never fails to make for a fascinating discussion.

And then today I met some of my old coworkers for lunch, resulting in a mini reunion. Afterwards we all trooped back to the old office to say hello to everyone. It was very strange - yet extremely nice - to be back there again, and to see familiar old faces. I made sure to say hello to my old desk, as well.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A preview!

Here are some images of a sample packaging.

A close-up of my pink and brown toile business card! I think the printers did a great job.

And the gift tag, in pink and brown damask.

Now if only my county would respond about my business license, already.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Questions and answers

My cousin sent me this questionnaire. She also said that I am probably the most likely person to answer it, and I had to laugh because I love doing these things and always answer every one that people send to me.

Here is an edited version.

While watching "August Rush" on Friday

Roast beef

I'm not sure - even I annoy myself a lot

Yes, but it always falls flat

It used to be Cracklin' Oat Bran, now I like Oatmeal Squares by Kellogg

I never do, until I'm put to the test and then I surprise the hell out of myself

Coffee flavored

Their hair

My voice - it's way too high

Gray gauchos and black knee-high boots

"Brownie Crisps"

The guy who took my take-out order last night

Do the opening/closing ceremonies of the Olympics count? I love it when the different athletes march into the stadium carrying their countries' flags - it never fails to make me tear up!

Ooooh, boy: sushi, steak, ramen, lox, oysters, mussels, lobster, bulgogi, bibimbap, beets, linguine with clams, donuts, lamb, mushrooms, rice, and the whole gamut of Filipino cuisine, including: nilagang baka, arroz caldo, kare kare, lechon, dinuguan, bagoong

A scary movie with a happy ending


Plain glazed donut from Dunkin' Donuts



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

Today is Mr Hazel's and my wedding anniversary. Pictured above is our wedding cake, because I still dream about it to this day.

We're waiting to celebrate until closer to the end of the week because of scheduling conflicts, but Mr Hazel did buy me flowers, two boxes of chocolates, and a bottle of wildly expensive champagne. I know what I'll be eating for dinner tonight!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Ringing in the holidays

Mr Hazel and I bought our Christmas tree this weekend. The cats loved it. On Sunday I turned off all the other lights, turned on the Christmas music channel on cable, sat and looked at the Christmas lights, listened to the music, and got into the holiday spirit.

Christmas music always makes me sad for some reason.

We also took out the beautiful menorah that we got as a wedding gift. Hanukkah is super early this year; I'm not ready yet!

10 Things I Loved About August Rush

1. Jonathan Rhys Meyers playing his own guitar.

2. Jonathan Rhys Meyers singing his own rock songs.

3. Jonathan Rhys Meyers wearing ripped jeans and a leather jacket.

4. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his Irish accent.

5. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his hair.

6. Felicity playing the cello (hah - fooled you - you thought I was going to say Jonathan Rhys Meyers again, didn't you?). I was impressed - there were shots where a real string musician would be able to tell the flaws in her technique (for instance, she played with her bow too close to the fingerboard, and her bow was crooked when she drew it across the strings). But, with the way they shot those scenes, she sold me on her cello playing abilities.

7. Felicity absolutely glowed in this movie.

8. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and his vivid, soulful green eyes.

9. The music. I definitely want the soundtrack to this movie.

10. Freddie Highmore, playing the titular character August Rush. He was sweet, luminous, almost ethereal. I loved him.

My sister and I cried buckets. The only thing we both didn't like was there was no payoff. It left you wanting. But that's all I'm going to say about that because I don't want to give away spoilers.

And finally, I wanted to give a shoutout to my aunt, who had surgery today. She is one spunky lady!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Familiarity breeds comfort

It's been exactly one month since I started my new job and I'm happy to say that things are on the upswing. If you recall, I had an extremely rough time at the start of the new gig and was desperately missing my old coworkers.

At the time I didn't see how I could possibly ever feel comfortable at my new job, but little by little, as the weeks went by, I could feel myself physically and mentally relaxing. I'm making friends and I've gotten to the point where I feel comfortable enough to start joking around with my new coworkers.

One of my mom's favorite sayings, which I paraphrase here, is that adjusting to new changes is just a matter of familiarity. It sounds so simple when she said this, and, while true, the getting to that familiarity is nevertheless the hardest part (especially for me, who hates changes of any sort) .

Mom knew best, though. My new commute has now become my old commute, my new coworkers are now my old coworkers, and my new computer with the keyboard that felt all wrong is now my familiar old computer whose keyboard has conformed to my fingers.

And, a bonus - today I moved to my new office, which I have all to myself!


On Friday I am going to see August Rush with my sis (who was the only other person I know besides me who had any interest in seeing it - yay sis!). It stars Felicity and Jonathan Rhys Myers - okay, it's really Keri Russell, but she'll always be Felicity to me. This is a movie that I really, really, really, really (14 to the 9th power) wanted to see because Felicity plays the role of a cellist, and also because Jonathan Rhys Myers is pretty hot (even more so after I saw commercials for The Tudors where he was in all his buzzed cut glory). Furthermore, Felicity learned to play the cello in only three weeks. I read an article where she said she started out learning Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and was playing Bach concertos by the third week. Hell, it took me years before I could play Bach on the violin - and she did it in only three weeks?! This is why I love Keri Russell, and not just because she got to kiss Ben on Felicity.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cyber Monday

Yeah, I know, I know...I totally missed the boat on Cyber Monday. Getting up and running is a lot more work than I had thought (especially with the majority of hours spent at the day job). If anyone has any words of wisdom to impart on the whole process of launching a business, I'd dearly love to hear them!

I wonder how much Etsy rakes in on Cyber Mondays.

I'm slowly but surely getting there, though. The other day some of my packaging materials arrived! Check these out - each piece of Hazel Designs jewelry will arrive in one of these pretty organza bags, and then placed in a white gift box. I had personalized labels made up to stick on the boxes, and then I plan on tucking a business card inside the box.

I'm still waiting on the labels and the business cards, and I also have to order padded envelopes to ship the items in. Oh, and find out about shipping costs.


How about you, did you do any Christmas or Hanukkah online shopping on Monday?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I love me some deep fried turkey

We spent a wonderful -- albeit whirlwind-y -- Thanksgiving with various family members in various places. I think the highlights for me this year were spending time with my favorite relatives and meeting my cousin's adorable new baby. And, of course, the deep-fried turkey at my in-laws'. Greatest invention ever.

It was also a contrast in regional weather, because when we left home the weather was very warm, almost in the 70s, but by the time we arrived in the Midwest it was sleeting and the trees were completely bare. The next morning snow had accumulated on the ground; winter had definitely arrived. But then we came home and found, to our surprise, that it was actually still autumn - sun shining, balmy air, autumn colors still on the trees, and not a speck of snow to be seen anywhere. I arrived home dressed like I just came from the tundra; it was a bit disconcerting, to say the least.

I spent a major portion of today doing an inventory of my beads and supplies on a spreadsheet. It was time-consuming, counting each bead by hand and recording the quantity, colors, etc., but hopefully it will help me when the time comes to price my pieces (and that time is actually now - yikes). I've been putting off this chore but now there are no more excuses! I knew in theory that running a jewelry business isn't just about the fun part (designing and creating the pieces, shopping for beads) but that it also entails tedious chores like inventory and pricing. Going through it firsthand is definitely an interesting learning experience!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing all of you, your families, friends, and other loved-ones a wonderful, turkey-filled holiday.

See you on the flip side!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pastel clusters

Here is a cluster necklace consisting of yellow aventurine, blue amazonite, opal glass beads, and Swarovski crystals, on a 16" sterling silver chain.

I ordered a whole slew of boxes and organza bags yesterday, and also picked out my new business cards and gift box tags, in preparation for my store opening. I really like the style of the business cards - tomorrow I will post some pictures of what I picked.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Autumn colors

It's the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the trees around my house have finally - finally - turned. Only now do I feel like can I start enjoying hot apple cider, pumpkin pie, mulled wine, and butternut squash soup. Before the trees turned I felt like it was still too summery to enjoy those types of fall goodies.

I took one of our kitties to the vet today to have her sutures removed (long story short, a few weeks ago she had to have surgery done on her ear to remove a growth - but I'm happy to say that my brave little girl is doing fine now). Anyway, going to the vet makes me laugh because the staff refers to their patients by the pets' names, not by the owners' names, and so you hear the veterinarians calling them out loud in the waiting room.

Hearing the names people choose to give their cats is very entertaining.

For instance, there was a lady who named her cat "Tiramisu", and another, "Precious". As you can guess, Precious' owner is a frail, white-haired old lady, exactly the type of person you would think a cat who answers to the name Precious would belong to. I wonder if the veterinarians ever shake their heads and laugh at the names their poor patients are saddled with.

Now, the names of our cats - this is a story deserving of its own post for another day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boycott Cosi!

Today I went to get a sandwich at Cosi for lunch, and got in trouble with the cashier for allegedly skipping to the head of the line. The problem was that they have really confusing signage at this place - at the cashier stations they have a sign under one register that says "Pay Here", the same one at the second register, and then a sign that says "Order Your Barista Drink Here" in front of the third register. Because I was going to order a hot chocolate along with my sandwich (note: their hot chocolate SUCKS - it's the worst one I've ever had), I went to stand in front of the cashier under the sign that said "Order Your Barista Drink Here." I stood there and waited for my turn for a long time. Well, apparently I committed a grave mistake because the cashier, who was one of the most unpleasant people I've ever come across, told me in quite nasty accents that I was lined up at the wrong place, and in spite of the fact that I had been waiting for a long time and I was obviously the next customer "in line", she skipped over to the person who was waiting after me!

I was stunned at this blatant disregard of customer service. There were a million ways for her to have rectified the situation in a pleasant and friendly manner, but instead she chose to alienate a paying customer. I should have asked her name and then asked for the manager, but I was not up to a skerfuffle then (and boy do I regret not complaining now), so instead I'm just never going to patronize Cosi in general, and this Cosi in particular, ever again.

So, readers, join my call to arms! Boycott Cosi, because my experience tells me that they don't care about their customers at all. When I worked retail at The Gap many years ago, they told us that it takes just one bad experience to alienate a customer forever. Boy, they really knew what they were talking about!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dresses and millionaire marriages

I bought this cute red dress from Old Navy. The sleeves are my favorite feature (Old Navy calls them "lantern" sleeves, whatever that means), and the color is so festive. I'm thinking of wearing this to Mr HD's holiday office party.

I've also been following the news about Google's co-founder Larry Paige, who is engaged to be married. His fiancee really scored big time! But at least she doesn't sound like a trophy wife - apparently she is a doctoral student at Stanford called "biomedical informatics", which sounds like a very, very serious PhD indeed.

The other Google founder, Sergey Brins, also got married a while back, and I read that Google then invested $3 million to his new wife's start-up company. That's a great source of venture capital right there at her fingertips - I wonder if she had to make a "presentation", if you know what I mean. This guy is actually pretty cute - he sort of bears a faint resemblance to that actor Reid Scott from My Boys.

And that's all I have to say for today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I saw these oversized metal chains and couldn't resist - I had to have them. My aim was to mix a sort of old-fashioned Victorian style with a modern-goth vibe, but I don't know if this experiment worked so well. I think I need to tweak this one some more.

The maroon ribbon is made of polyester with the ends sewn shut, and the charms include a black cameo and a white nugget pearl. It's a variation on the pink cameo piece.

Yeah, definitely needs some tweaking.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Marie Antoinette-ish?

I worked on this for a major portion of the day. I used amazonite beads on gold-filled wire, and the end result kind of reminds me of something from Marie Antoinette's era, especially with the gold and blue combination. The pendant is actually a pendant frame but I used it by itself for a different sort of look, and hung a white nugget pearl from a 14K gold-plated chain. The pendant is approximately 2" long and 1.5" wide, and the whole necklace is around 20" long, finished off with a gold toggle clasp at the back.

Here are a few more shots and close-ups.

I am having a pretty productive day off. I filled out my business license application and it's all set to be mailed (I hope I did this correctly), put gas in my car (was running on fumes) and cleaned the inside (it was filthy). I also purchased more supplies at the craft store, which of course was mobbed by people getting ready for the holidays. Christmas music was blaring from the speakers and decorations were crammed into every aisle. I'm not even mentally ready for Thanksgiving yet, let alone Christmas!

A couple of months ago when football season started I joined a fantasy football league for kicks with people from my old office, even though I know absolutely nothing about football. Each week we are supposed to set our lineup, except I never did this because 1) I was too lazy 2) I didn't know what I was doing 3) I don't know who the heck any of my players on my team are. Finally, sick of my abysmal 0-6 record (luckily I am not in last place - I am tied for last place, which is a big difference), I finally went on the league website and found out that I have, apparently, been competing for weeks with an injured quarterback, an injured running back, and an injured wide receiver. Ha! But I have now remedied this, so brace yourselves for my team's upcoming, unstoppable winning streak. (Or not).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pajama Sunday

It feels like I've been running around non-stop for the past two months or so, and I'm exhausted. So today, with no plans for the first time in as long as I can remember, I stayed in my pajamas until about 3 in the afternoon.

My day went thus: I woke up when Mr HD had to get up to feed the cats, at which point I promptly fell right back to sleep. I woke up a second time hours later, and had munchkins and a mug of hot chocolate. I then plopped myself on the couch for a couple of blissful hours reading and watching bad TV, from where I didn't budge until hunger pangs forced me to scrounge around for some lunch (seriously, whoever thought that Little Black Book was a good idea ought to never work in the movie industry again. And what is up with Brittany Murphy? She looks like a heroin addict on crack).

I then bestirred myself to make this necklace.

Being in my pajamas must be good for my creative juices, though, because I think this turned out well. It is approximately 16" long, with three different kinds of sterling silver chain, adorned with one focal Swarovski crystal roundelle that is 12mm in size, and seven smaller crystals hanging off a second chain. The crystals really sparkle in the light, making this whole piece come alive.

It's a good thing I have a three-day weekend, because the fridge is empty, the house is a mess, and the laundry has piled up to the point where Mr HD was forced to do a load himself (this is typically my chore) - but hey, I'm in my pajamas, please don't disturb!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Santa Fe on my mind

A couple of old posts had me thinking about my trip to Santa Fe this past spring, which was planned as a girls' weekend with two of my best friends from college. There were many memorable things about Santa Fe, not least of which are its unique architecture and intensely art-focused culture, but perhaps my most memorable experience was the Indian market situated under the awning of the Palace of the Governors, pictured above.

Every day, the American Indian artists drive in from far-flung pueblos, some as far as two hours away, and line up at 7:30 am for intensely competitive lottery spots so they can sell their crafts. Not all of them are able to score a spot.

This market is an arts program strictly regulated by the state, and in order to sell their crafts, the vendors have to be American Indian and must make all their jewelry and components by hand. Many of them use jewelrymaking techniques that have been passed down from generations.

As a fellow jewelrymaker, I was naturally awed by their far superior craftsmanship and the quality of their stones and components, and wished that I could have taken lessons from them. My friends and I spent hours talking with them and learning all about their lives, families, and work.

If you ever make your way to New Mexico someday, make sure to check out the Indian market.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More cameo

I came home from my commute from hell today and immediately started working on this piece to decompress. Usually my commute is pretty smooth and even relaxing (I sit on the train with my e-book and my iPod, enjoying myself) but today there was some kind of a delay, which caused the whole world to converge at my stop at the same exact time. It took me almost an hour to get out.

This necklace is asymmetrically arranged and composed of a sterling silver chain and pink velvet ribbons, with a pink cameo pendant and a charm made up of one white nugget pearl and one Swarovski crystal. The ends are sewn shut, and the whole thing can be slipped over the head. It may not look it, but this was pretty labor intensive (somehow I find that working with ribbons has turned out to be this way.)

Here is a close-up.


Last night's Heroes was really exciting...I think the show is finally over its slump (at least I hope so). I won't spoil the ending here except to say that it was a thrilling surprise and I can't wait until next week!