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!