Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just like crack

For a while now I've been a longtime lurker at this diamond and gemstone site called Pricescope (the forum Show Me the Ring has all the good pictures of the diamonds). It started out as a site for educating people who are in the market for diamonds, but the forums soon evolved into a place for women to show off their sparklies. The "Show Me the Ring" forum is like crack, I tell you - I have to check it out almost every day.

So it was inevitable that I too wanted to post pictures of my wedding rings, but I could never take good enough close ups as the pictures always came out blurry and crappy. When I got the new camera I started playing around and, surprisingly, the pictures came out well enough that I may be able to post them.

Here are my Art Deco filigree engagement ring and diamond eternity band, taken with the super macro setting:

And here is the requisite Pricescope "hand shot":

Pricescope, here I come!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What's in a name?

...that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell just as sweet...

One of the first ideas I had when I started Hazel Designs was to name my pieces after girls' names to infuse them with more of a "personality." The logical next step was to name them after my female friends and family.

So I started doing this. But then, as I went through the names, I began to worry. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to match the "personality" of the necklace to the personality of the real person. One necklace was whimsical and had a sort of gentle look to it - does this match better with that friend or this friend? While this other necklace was more funky and bold and colorful - is this more of this family member or that family member? And does this one look more like a "Mandy" or a "Meridith"? And then, as if that wasn't enough to agonize over, I began worrying over the possibility that the person would get offended if the necklace I named after her wasn't to her liking.

I got a fierce headache.

So I scrapped the whole idea and instead went to a baby naming website and picked out names that I loved, and this seemed to work out very nicely. I received many positive responses and feedback.

I kept going back and forth, though, on naming the pieces after my friends and family, and when my sister also, independently, suggested this idea, I finally decided to go ahead and follow my first inclination.

So now, each new piece that comes out from here on will be named after my female friends and family (until I run out of them), and you might have already noticed that I started doing this with recent pieces "Mariel" and "Mary" (warning: I do have a lot of friends whose names begin with "M", as you can probably already tell!).

And to my friends and family, if you somehow end up not liking your "namesake", please don't be offended. You know I love you!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cinnabar and music

Here is a preview of a new piece. This is "Mary," named after one of my good friends who was also one of my first customers (thanks, Mary!).

The pendant is a green cinnabar with white carved flower beads and a long sterling silver chain. I will post to let you know when she is available at the shop.

I downloaded four songs onto my iPod recently and I haven't been able to stop listening to them. The first two are by Jimmy Eat World, "Big Casino" and "Chase the Light." I swear, Chase the Light is so romantic! I don't even really know what the lyrics are saying (I never do) but it sounds so dreamy.

The third song is "Minority" by Greenday, and the last is "Shadow of the Day" by my new favorite group, Linkin Park. This one is very jangly pop, which sounds very different from their other songs like "Bleed It Out" and "What I've Done".

I keep putting them all on repeat. That might be bad, as I'll get sick of them in no time. But so far they're making my commute to work very enjoyable.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Purse lust

This is most certainly not from Target, and more's the pity because I absolutely adore, love, and covet it. It's the Yves Saint Laurent "Minaudiere" satin clutch, retailing for $1,395 at Saks. Hahahaha. I know. But still. It comes in red, too.

Because I love everything vintage (especially things that look like they came from flea markets), I haven't stopped dreaming about this purse.

Speaking of flea markets, if you ever find yourself in Paris there is a wonderful one there that you should check out called the Marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, on the 18th arrondissement. It's been billed as the world's largest flea market - I believe it, as I once spent a whole day there and probably only saw about a fourth of the whole thing.

Today I took care of one last (I hope!) business-related item, and that is applying for and receiving my Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS. This means I am now under the IRS' radar, which I have to say is a little scary. Ever since I registered Hazel Designs with the county tax office I haven't stopped getting a slew of mail from them consisting of official and scary looking tax forms of all shapes and sizes, so I can only imagine what the IRS will start sending me now.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


"Mariel" is now available! I just added her to the shop.


Getting to know you

I'm happy to say that "Kate" has been added to the shop, so check out her new and improved pictures!

As for the rest, I spent a big chunk today getting to know my new camera, and boy was it a lot of work. Somehow I couldn't get the brightness to work against my usual green wall/hydrangea backdrop, so there is a dearth of the requisite bust shots with a lot of the new pieces. I had to get creative.

This new one is "Mariel," a cluster of dyed quartz on a sterling silver chain. She's named after my cousin who was one of my very first customers! The pictures turned out well:

I have not added Mariel to the shop yet because I still need at least a couple of more pictures (I must get a bust shot in here somehow), so I need to keep working on the brightness issue with the camera.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Almost back to business

I heard back from the camera shop and they told me that it was going to cost upwards of $100 to repair the broken camera (FWIW, it was a Canon PowerShot - in case you want to avoid this product). We decided it was more cost effective to get a whole new camera, especially since we still had some leftover Best Buy gift cards. The final cost came to a little more than what we would have paid to repair the old camera.

The one we chose is a super slim Olympus FE-340, 8 megapixels, and the best part about it is that it has a super macro mode. I always take pictures of my jewelry in macro mode, especially the close ups, so I'm excited to see how much better they will come out in super macro mode.

It also has other neat features such as face detection, digital image stabilization (another great feature when taking pictures of my products since I don't have a tripod and blurry images would often plague me because of this), a camcorder, and this thing called a "smile shot," where the camera detects a smile on the subject's face and automatically fires off three consecutive shots without you having to do anything. The salesgirl said this is especially great for taking pictures of babies and kids.

My sister's 5-year old digital camera is also an Olympus and it's still working great, so I have high hopes for this new one. After the battery finishes charging I will finally be able to photograph my new designs from the past two weeks and put them up for sale.

I can't wait to show you!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Celebrity thoughts, redux

I have to admit it was a mite creepy to hear about Heath Ledger after I just talked about the new Batman movie a couple of posts back, where he is set to play the Joker.

This was such startling and unexpected news.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Say it ain't so!

Well, this is upsetting news - Isaac Mizrahi is leaving Target and defecting to Liz Claiborne, of all places.


I love Target. I hate Liz Claiborne. And I'm proud to claim that the only Liz Claiborne anything I have ever owned in my entire life was a brown logo purse that was a hand-me-down from my sister, back when those purses were huge in the mid to late 80s.

I've never actually spent any of my own money at Liz Claiborne. But now...does this mean I'm going to be forced to?

BEST WISHES my cousin for a successful day tomorrow and a speedy recovery.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Night at the (terrifying) movies

Mr Hazel and I saw Cloverfield last night. In a word: WOW.

I mean, WOW.

It was an intense, lean-forward-the-whole-time, never a relaxing moment kind of movie. It was really good. And the lead guy had a sort of Michael Vartan look to him, not surprising since this was a J.J. Abrams movie.

And speaking of J.J. Abrams, they showed the new Star Trek prequel during the previews, the one with Heroes' Zachary Quinto playing the young Spock. It was a true teaser and they didn't show much, except a darkened scene with a bunch of airplanes, a slowly-moving closeup of a ship with the "U.S.S Enterprise" written on it, and then the voice (that sounded strangely like Captain Picard's) saying the famous opening lines, "Space...the final frontier."

I got chills, I tell you! I am so excited for this movie!

Yes, I am a nerd.

They also showed previews for other movies I am excited about, namely: Hellboy 2 (I loved the first one), Iron Man (it looked great), Jumper (this one looked awesome), and the gambling movie about the infamous MIT card counters in Vegas (I'm not as excited about this as Mr Hazel is).

Though they didn't show the previews, I am also looking forward to the new Batman (Christian Bale: yummy) - especially because Katie "Crooked Face Zombie" Holmes won't be in it this time. Also, I got word that they are making a fourth Terminator movie, this one also with Christian Bale playing the old John Connor. They're going to show him actually sending the first guy back to protect Sarah Connor in the first Terminator movie, thus coming full circle.

Great movies coming up and I'm looking forward to them all.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'm Carrie

I got this from my sister. I was hoping to be Miranda!

You Are Most Like Carrie!

You're quirky, flirty, and every guy's perfect first date.
But can the guy in question live up to your romantic ideal?
It's tough for you to find the right match - you're more than a little picky.
Never fear... You've got a great group of friends and a
great closet of clothes, no matter what!

Romantic prediction: You'll fall for someone this year...

Totally different from any guy you've dated.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Celebrity thoughts

1. What is up with Amy Winehouse's hair these days? It looks even worse than before.

2. Heidi Montag looks like a blow up Barbie doll. And not in a good way.

3. I don't get all the Jessica Simpson hate. As if she really had any power over the Dallas Cowboys not getting into the playoffs.

4. Do you think Katie Holmes' hair looks more like
a) her toddler daughter's
b) Posh Spice's
c) Anna Wintour's

5. I just heard that Lily Allen had a miscarriage. While this is terrible news, I do remember there were some pictures taken of her smoking in the early days of her pregnancy. There's a reason doctors tell pregnant women not to smoke.

6. Fergie was caught at a concert with her fly open. I don't know what's more embarrassing - this, or the pictures of her taken after she had peed her pants a while back. This girl has pants problems.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pretty in pink

Great news - our internet is working again! I am now able to post these pictures that my sister took from her camera (because mine is still in the shop).

Never again will I take a fast internet connection for granted. Or a working camera, for that matter.

These are a couple of shots from American Girl Cafe. I adore the pink daisies in the watering can. I was thinking of getting something similar from the craft store so I can interchange this as a backdrop for the necklace shots with the green hydrangea arrangement that I've been using. Variety is good.

And also the pink daisy napkin ring is so charming.

Not only was I nostalgic for childhood, this trip also made me nostalgic for my early 20s, the time in your life right after college graduation where all kinds of adventures awaited.

I can't count the number of times I visited NYC in those days for weekends with my college friends. We would ramble all over Manhattan for hours, especially the West Village in and around Bleecker Street, where one time we stumbled onto this gem of a cafe that I called "the red cafe" because of the color of its walls. To this day, none of us can remember what it's really called but when I say "the red cafe" my friends instantly know what I'm talking about. It was a tiny, charming little place and I loved it.

We also loved this crazy, noisy, wonderful restaurant in Little Italy called La Mela, where you entered through the kitchen and there was no menu and you ate what they placed in front of you. The food was delicious and the wine came in huge, gigantic bottles.

And sitting on benches in Washington Square Park, people watching for hours and listening to the buskers and street musicians and crazy people. Checking out the cute boys as well as the outfits and accessories of the women who passed us by.

I miss New York.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Childhood memories

I spent a great, fun family girls' weekend in New York City. We saw a show, had dinner (roasted oysters and filet mignon, with a dark chocolate souffle for dessert and a Kahlua hot chocolate cocktail). We also went for a carriage ride around Central Park, which was a treat because in all the many times I've been to NYC I've never gone for a carriage ride. Our horse's name was Sweetheart and we fed him carrots.

We also spent some time shopping at American Girl Place with brunch at the American Girl Cafe afterwards. I was charmed by the cafe, especially the decor. It was a mix of girly and sophisticated, with its black and white horizontal striped walls and pink daisies. They even had a place setting for the dolls. You can see the care and thought they put into making the cafe a charming and magical place for young and old girls alike.

Though this was my second visit to the store, the first was extremely brief, making this second one a very poignant experience. It brought me vividly back to my childhood where I spent hours poring over those original American Girl catalogs when they first came out in 1986. I memorized every minute detail about those original dolls (Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly) and their various accessories and clothes. I remember spending hours staring intently into those pages, lovingly reading every description and feeling mesmerized. I kept those catalogs for years.

And so - being an adult notwithstanding - I admittedly felt like a kid again as I finally saw with my own eyes the dolls those old catalogs had lovingly pictured. Mattel has since bought the original company and there have been many changes and a dizzying array of new dolls, but the original ones still hook me back to those childhood days.

A quick side note, I had an hour free where I had hoped to be able to visit the bead shops along 6th Avenue, but I was so tired from traveling that I conked right out as soon as we got to the hotel. I need to set aside a full weekend just for the purpose of a buying trip for much-needed supplies.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy impending weekend!

I was playing around with my camera last weekend (before it conked out) and took a few shots of the gift boxes for fun.
I might use these images for some planned online advertising and for an upcoming new homepage that Mr Hazel is going to be putting together.

I registered Hazel Designs with the tax office so I am now officially in the books. I also received my official business license, which means I can now prove that I am "in the industry" to fellow beaders and jewelry folks.

All this "official" stuff is way cool.

I found throughout this whole process that wading through the red tape and submitting all the proper paperwork was not as hard as I anticipated. It's relatively easy to establish a business in this day and age, especially because some of the required red tape can be done online, which makes things super convenient.

They even assigned me a NAICS code!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thai silver and tiger tooth

Yee haw! I wrestled with the internet and managed to upload a couple of pictures!

This silver necklace is made up of a cluster pendant consisting of a Thai silver tiger tooth (one of my favorite finds from my recent buying trip), as well as a Thai silver circle with a baby pink aventurine bead. They are all hanging on a 16" sterling silver chain.

Do you like?

I think I will name this piece "Tatiana," in honor of the Bengal tiger from the San Francisco zoo.

This weekend I'm hoping to borrow my sister's camera so I can take some improved pictures of the new stuff for the shop. Hopefully I can have those up by next week.

Thanks to my sis for hearting Hazel Designs on Etsy!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The saga continues

It turns out it is not a circuit problem, which means the mystery of why our internet still isn't working continues.

The camera is in the shop.

They said it will take two weeks just to tell me what's wrong with said camera. Two weeks? Seriously? It takes mechanics one hour to fix a car, and that's about five hundred times bigger and more complicated than a camera. But two weeks for a measly little camera?

So turning briefly to other matters, since this blog is not a political blog I won't be venturing into that world too much on here, except to say that I love election season! All the drama and circus, and the suspense, and the fights that never cease to entertain.

So much fun!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Technical woes

Our internet connection is still as bad as ever, and now they think it might be a circuit problem, in which case it probably won't be fixed for a while. They're sending someone out to take a look. In the meantime, it's taking me almost an hour to write this post! Very frustrating.

To add to my technical difficulties, my camera decided to conk out. There I was all excited because the sun finally decided to make an appearance and I set everything up to take more pictures as quickly as I could, trying to catch the light, when I realized the camera was out of batteries.

So I raced to the drugstore to pick some up, raced back home, and was just about to get started a second time, when the screen on the camera went black - and black it stayed, no matter what buttons I pushed.

Understandably, all the pictures it took then turned out to be all black too.

I'm going to take it to a camera shop to see if it can be fixed, but I suppose it wouldn't be the end of the world to shell out money for a new camera since it would be tax deductible. I'm hoping I won't have to just yet though.

Very frustrating!

In the meantime, I'm staying productive by continuing to work on more pieces, and then there's always Britney to entertain all of us.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A new item

I managed to get this photo loaded so you can get a quick preview of this necklace in spite of our internet problems.

This one is "Kate," and she's made up of a white bone butterfly pendant measuring around 1.5" x 2", and blue howlite beads on sterling silver wire. This was the first time I've worked with howlite and I love the way it turned out.

I also really love the sharp color contrast between the beads and the pendant.

As usual, the sun hid behind a cloud and stayed there for the rest of the day when I took this picture so it's not as bright as I would like. I may have to re-take some shots tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'll try working on posting the rest of the pictures.

Lots of cool new stones

Yesterday I spent about five hundred hours at the bead shop and came away with a bunch of great new things for you: some gorgeous blue howlite, beautiful Thai silver pendants, orange and red carnelian, and some pretty amazonite.

I finished two new pieces yesterday and took pictures of them today. I was very excited to post them but unfortunately we have been having major problems with our internet connection, so I am having a hard time loading the pictures on both Blogger and Etsy.

Hopefully it will get fixed soon so I can add them to the shop and post them here for you to preview!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The U.S. Postal Service: my new best friend

In researching shipping options to use for sending packages to my customers, I have come to learn more than I have ever wanted to about all the different ways the post office can deliver packages and letters. Insurance? Signature confirmation? Delivery confirmation? Retail or online rates? Priority, first class, parcel post? Overnight, ground? What constitutes a small package vs a parcel?

I've been scouring the post office website, learning all I could about the different options until my eyes started rolling to the back of my head. But when I went to the actual post office, I was presented with even more options.

What happened to the days when it was just one man on his horse, riding on the rugged plains, carrying your package on a leather rucksack?

Thanks to highmaintenancemom for hearting Hazel Designs on Etsy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Someone hearts me

(...and I'm not just talking about Mr Hazel!)

It's been an exciting 24 hours here at Hazel Designs. First, I finalized "Jane's" sale, and then a friend of mine bought "Lindsay". Thank you to both!

I also received a really sweet message from a fellow Etsy seller letting me know that she likes my wares and wishing me luck on the store.

Additionally, Etsy has this feature called "See who hearts this shop" on each storefront, which shows all the buyers who have tagged the store as a favorite. And I got my first tag today! I am someone's favorite shop!

I have a serious case of the warm fuzzies.

I have begun working on some new pieces to add to the shop and also re-working some existing pieces (that are not currently displayed at the shop) to improve them - like the turquoise and citrine piece that wasn't a fan favorite the first go around.

So watch for new items being added!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I made a sale!

No one told me how incredibly exciting it would be to have people actually pay real money for stuff you make with your own two hands!

Today I made my first two sales! Someone is in the process of ordering "Jane," and my cousin, Highmaintenancemom, bought "Celia" today. The package pictured above is Celia all set to be shipped to her new home.

This also officially makes Highmaintenancemom the best cousin ever.

I love how Etsy has this great feature on the shop's site where you can see what items have been sold (it's to the right-hand side, under "hazeldesigns' other items").

I feel a little like a parent sending kids off to college for the first time. I'm sending my babies out into the big, wide world, anxiously hoping someone will like them enough to take them home with them (er...wait...that's not a parent, that's actually more like a pimp.) go, babies!

Grand Opening Day!

I am very pleased and excited to announce that my Etsy store is finally open!

I would also like to take this opportunity to send a huge thank you to the following people for all their encouragement, input, help, support, and invaluable feedback, without whom my new endeavor would not have been possible: Mr Hazel, Karmela, Highmaintenancemom, Meridith, Mom2Amara, Alissa, and Marnie.

And a huge thank you to all of you as well!

Wishing you the best for a wonderful, healthy and prosperous 2008! Happy New Year!