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!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cameo and gold

I'm sad that this piece didn't photograph very well, but I hope you still like it. I tried something I've never done before - worked in yellow gold! Since I am a huge fan of the white metals (white gold, platinum, silver), and haven't worn yellow gold since I was a little girl, I've created my pieces exclusively in sterling silver up until now.

Lately, however, I've been loving the green and gold color combination, so I decided to work it into this piece.

The beads are yellow aventurine in gold-filled wire, topped with a green cameo pendant, all hanging from approximately 30" in length of gold-filled chain. This is a very long necklace and doesn't need a clasp.

When I see the necklace in person I really like it, but the more I stare at the pictures the less sure I get. Does the placement of the bead in the center look right to you? The problem I see here is that the bail (the gold triangular thing where the center bead is hooked to) makes it seem like there's too much going on. However, the bail came with the setting and is soldered shut, so it pretty much has to stay - my tools aren't strong enough to remove it.

I'm going to let this one stew for a while and maybe I'll take a fresh look at it again in a few days.


Since Mr HD was coming home late tonight I decided to treat myself for dinner, so I stopped by the local halal meat place for some lamb kabobs. I love coming to this place because in addition to take-out food, they also carry some Middle Eastern grocery items. While waiting for my order I perused the shelves, and had a great time imagining a kitchen in far away Cairo where things such as orange blossom water, grape leaves, carob molasses, grenadine syrup, date molasses, and rose leaves jelly are everyday staples for some family. For me, it evoked images of sun-drenched deserts, the great pyramids stretching to the skies; of mysterious back alleys and trade routes that are centuries old, caravans and camels shimmering in the harsh Arabian sun.

Though I have no idea what to do with those ingredients, I wanted to buy them anyway, just to keep my imagination running.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hot chocolate survey

Inspired by an old post of my brother-in-law's where he ranked his favorite fast food restaurants, I subsequently decided that there needs to be a similar one for one of my favorite drinks of all time, hot chocolate. I've sampled the hot chocolate offerings of many an establishment, including the cafes in France where they melt an actual chocolate and serve it in tiny cups (to die for!) - but since the Paris cafes will probably win hands down, I will limit my rankings to establishments in good ol' America.

Starting from worst to best, we have the following:

6) Starbucks: surprisingly, this coffee mecca serves mediocre hot chocolate. It's very watery and too sweet. I try to avoid it whenever I stop by there.

5) Au Bon Pain: normally I would rank ABP much higher on the list, but that would've been when they served their amazing spiced hot chocolate. It had red peppers in it, and its gooey chocolatey goodness was out of this world. I used to have one almost every morning. Alas, this was discontinued, and what's left is another mediocre hot chocolate similar to what Starbucks offers. Thumbs down!

4) Carabou Coffee: This place has a really, really good white hot chocolate, that isn't too sweet and tastes very "cozy". I've only had it once, but I will definitely go back for more. I give their offering props for being different.

3) 7 Eleven: never let it be said that I am a hot chocolate snob, 7 Eleven serves hot chocolate in different flavors. I always look forward to going there to buy one because I never know what kind they will have that day. My favorites so far have been the mint-flavored hot chocolate and the Snickers-flavored hot chocolate.

2) Chocolate Maven: this restaurant/cafe/bakery in Santa Fe, NM serves what could only be described as one of humankind's greatest inventions: Mayan chile hot chocolate, with actual red pepper flakes. We discovered this gem of a place through the Food Network's Giada de Laurentiis. I dreamed about their hot chocolate for weeks after I got home from New Mexico.

1) Dunkin' Donuts! Yes, you read that right! At first I couldn't believe it either, that Dunkin' Donuts would beat out Chocolate Maven, but it had to be done - Dunkin' Donuts has really good hot chocolate. A day doesn't go by that I don't feel the urge for a hot chocolate run at my neighborhood Dunkin', with its rich, dark, bittersweet flavor. I think all the world's problems would be solved if everyone had just one cup of Dunkin' Donuts' hot chocolate every day.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finding my footing

I ended the week in a much better frame of mind than I had started it, helped along by these lovely flowers Mr HD sent to my new office to "brighten up my new desk." How sweet is that! There are orange gerbera daisies, yellow roses, and red holly berries.

Consequently, they were also a great conversation piece with everyone who stopped by my office door.

Other factors that helped improve my outlook and helped bring about an end to both my major and mini meltdowns were the following:

1. Bringing along personal effects from my old desk, consisting of a framed picture of Mr HD, my Star Wars action figures (Yoda and Luke), and my postcards from Europe (another great conversation piece - nothing bonds two strangers quicker than comparing notes on various travel experiences).

2. The familiar presence of an old friend and coworker from my old job, who also now works at the new place, and his helpful, wonderful intercession on my behalf on various matters. To say that he was instrumental in easing my transition is an understatement indeed.

3. The discovery of a nail salon only half a block from my new building. I got a French manicure at lunch today and instantly felt revitalized and renewed.

4. The installation of a piece of software on my computer that I used a lot in my old job. I was so glad to see the software's friendly, familiar face again - it was like greeting an old friend.

5. The fact that not only are there a million places to choose from for my lunch and coffee/hot chocolate options all within walking distance, but there is also a food cart that sells Korean food (bulgogi and bibimbap) at a nearby corner. After I sampled the bulgogi I am happy to say that the vendor lived up to his culinary reputation.

Oookay, apparently food never fails to cheer me up.

As I was walking to work on Tuesday, still getting used to my new commute, I saw a bus pass by whose final destination was the neighborhood where my old office is. I followed it longingly with my eyes as I seriously contemplated jumping aboard and never looking back. Yes, I was that homesick for my old job. Sanity reasserted itself, however, and I'm relieved to say that I'm over the hump of my difficult adjustment period, and have slowly found myself on steadier footing as my first week on the new gig ends.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I'm still here, just been busy having a mini meltdown. I'll be back just as soon as I've gotten a grip.

Oh, and just as soon as my supplies arrive from the bead place. Got some great ideas in the works! Making jewelry is great therapy for mini meltdowns!