Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Music to my ears

The other day on my way to ballet, I had the car radio tuned to the local classical music station when out comes this piano music floating out of the speakers. I sat in my car in the parking lot for a long time, mesmerized.

I’m not usually a fan of piano solos (I like full symphonies and violin concertos), but this song was just so gorgeous and poignant that I stopped, breathless, in my car until the music ended. It was Widmung, composed by Schumann and arranged for the piano by Liszt. Schumann wrote the song as a wedding gift to his new bride, and I can see why – it has a deeply romantic melody.

The first thought in my head when I heard it was that this is exactly how the lullaby Edward composed for Bella would sound like. Throughout the books, there are references to Edward humming Bella to sleep with her lullaby and playing it on the piano to welcome her home.

Like I said, deeply romantic.

I downloaded Widmung on iTunes, and I get an ache in my chest every time I listen.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Wow, wow, wow.

That was wonderful.

The plot of the last book in the saga was really clever, even though it took the story to an unexpected direction that I was unsure of at first. And the build up to the tension and the action, all the while maintaining the highly romantic and poignant tone of Bella and Edward's love story, was very well done.

And now that I am at the end and can see the whole story arc from the other side of the bridge, I have to say that the whole saga was just plain great - everything, from Books 1 through 4. The little things that were driving me crazy before had a purpose when you see everything in its entirety, most importantly the love triangle that was explained and resolved in such a way that left me very satisfied.

And I take it back - Jacob Black, you ain't half bad after all. Sorry I wanted you dead before.


And the best part of Book 4? When Bella finally becomes a vampire. Her character improved a million times after her transformation - it's like she grew up overnight, as she quit her whining, became a strong, kickass heroine, and was finally worthy and deserving of Edward's regard - an equal to him in every way. They were partners in every sense. I loved that she turned into a vampire. After Edward's deliciousness, Bella turning into a vampire was the second best part of the series and the build up to it was worth it.

I did wish we saw more of Edward fighting like during the climax of Book 3 (perhaps my most favorite part of Book 3). Edward in battle was a sight to behold - he was like an unstoppable commando warrior force. So hot.

So all these thoughts are swirling in my head now as I try to process everything I've read in the past few weeks, which is why I must sound a bit incoherent to you right now. And as I'm still loathe to leave this pretty magical Twilight world, I have more to say about all of this in coming posts. So stay tuned as I get my thoughts in order...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My friends know me so well

I'm taking a break from my Twilight marathon/obsession to post this picture of the awesome gift my friend Stephanie gave me.

My friends know I have the sense of humor of a 7 year old boy. I just about peed my pants when I opened the package.

Thanks, Steph. I love it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The most annoying character

DIE, Jacob Black, DIE!

And Bella, honey? If you claim to love Edward so much, stop making him suffer!


My hand is itching to smack both Jacob and Bella. Badly.

Meyer was obviously basing the stupid Bella-Edward-Jacob love triangle on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. I don't know if Edward is supposed to be Heathcliff or if he's supposed to be Edgar Linton, but there are passages in the book that make me think Meyer is identifying some of Edward into Heathcliff's point of view, even though Edgar was better for Catherine, as Edward is likewise a whole of a hell lot better for Bella.

But, aside from all that, what I remember now about Wuthering Heights is how much I hated Catherine Earnshaw. She was quite possibly one of the most annoying heroines ever (until Bella), and the love triangle between Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar was teeth-grindingly irritating and ridiculously overwrought. Until Bella and Jacob came along, that is. Really - can we have the Twilight saga just be about Edward? He is the most compelling, the most noble, the best character. If it weren't for him, I would have stopped reading at page 300 of Book 1. He redeems these books - without him, Bella and Jacob and all the rest would be nothing.

Bella doesn't deserve Edward.

And Jacob Black needs to die a slow, painful death.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Deep in the throes of Book 3 of the Twilight series, I am pretty much useless to everyone right now. No new jewelry will be made, almost no dinner cooked (sorry, Mr Hazel!), no laundry washed and no kitties petted until I finish these books. Tonight I went to Borders to buy Book 4 (Breaking Dawn) so that I'll be ready to go as soon as I finish reading the very last page of Eclipse.

I'm amazed I even managed to surface long enough to blog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book Two

I finished this in less than 24 hours.

I don't know what happened, but again, it's like book 2 was written by an author different from whoever wrote the first half of Twilight. This was an extremely poignant and bittersweet story, and I didn't notice any of the stuff that was driving me crazy last time...there was a lot more showing and less telling, smoother prose, lyrical descriptions, wonderful turns of phrase. The worldbuilding during the Italy scenes was also very clever.

The writing is like night and day.

My only complaint (I have to complain about something) is that, like in the last book, the climax sprang out of nowhere.

But you know about those female readers who fell in love with Edward? Count me in as being one of them. He is absolutely dreamy. There's no other word for it. And I don't say that about just any of my heroes.

Monday, September 22, 2008


OK, OK, so in the interests of full literary disclosure (plus I did say I would be the first to admit if I ended up liking the book), this is what happened.

Right around page 100, I couldn't stand the drivel that was Twilight anymore and resolved to chuck this godawful book. But, my rampant curiosity still annoyingly unsatisfied, I flipped to the last page to read the ending...and it made me even more curious, wanting to find out how that ending came about. So I flipped back.

And up until page 200, it truly was awful. All about how Bella would wake up, look at the rain, brush her teeth, go to school, stare at Edward, come home, go to bed. It was like the most mundane episode of "24" I could think of. But then...but then...! After page 300, things got really good. Really good. The book did a total 180 degrees on me - action, adventure, tension, chases, adrenaline, heart-stopping chapters - all exploded out of the pages. It was like a whole different writer all of a sudden (or a whole different, better editor, more like). And was it some kind of sign that the climactic scene occurred inside a ballet studio?

In short, I was hooked. I was so hooked, in fact, that as soon as I finished Twilight 0n Sunday, I rushed to Borders in a frenzy to buy book 2 (New Moon).

So if you can manage to slog through the first painful 200 pages (why did no one warn me about that!?), the payoff is awesome. Still a few things wrong with it, and Bella still whiny and annoying sometimes, but...

I'm converted. Completely.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall wedding jewelry

It seems fitting that I would finish my friend Camille's bridesmaids' jewelry order for her fall wedding on the first official day of fall. I played around with the design all summer, adding all kinds of embellishments here and there, but in the end, I decided to go simple so as not to compete with the bridesmaids' necklaces, dresses, and gold pashmina shawls.

In total, I made 4 bracelets and 4 pairs of earrings (3 bridesmaids and 1 maid of honor).

For the bracelets, I used smoky quartz faceted beads and gold-filled chain. The facets on the beads are really sparkly and the rich brown color complement the gold of the chain really well.

The maid of honor bracelet has little 14k gold-filled beads as additional embellishment.

The bridesmaids' bracelets. They are adjustable from 6" to 8".

The maid of honor's earrings, made of smoky quartz brios.

The bridesmaids' earrings.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New traditions

A grocery store run for pancake ingredients a few weeks ago has led to a new tradition in our household: every Saturday, Mr Hazel makes a heaping stack of pancakes for brunch, to which I usually add bacon. A veritable feast to be sure - enough to ensure me a whole week's worth of leftovers for breakfast.

My sister and I also started a new tradition where every Friday after ballet class we alternate renting a dance movie and watching it at each others' houses over dinner. Last week we saw the ballet-centric Center Stage, which I loved, and this week I chose Flashdance. Such campy 80s fun - especially the clothes.

I hope you all made the most of the last day of summer. Me? I went to the dancewear store with the female members of my family, where we proceeded to buy out their inventory. I bought a new dance skirt and tights, and a nifty hair gadget that will enable me to put my hair up easily in a bun.

Goodbye, summer!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blue page

The Etsy front page was so pretty yesterday with its blue color theme that I took a screen shot.

Of course, this reminds me that I remain bitter over the fact that I've never gotten on the front page yet. It occurs pretty much by random happenstance, and even if you do get on, the chances of catching it on time are rather slim since the front page changes several times an hour. This means I have to be more obsessed than usual in checking Etsy on the off chance that my shop will be there.

An Etsy seller can dream...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Artistic goals

1. Casting. An important skill in metalsmithing, I'm hoping to take a class in lost wax casting and sandcasting next. I know the processes in theory, but the practice is a bit more complicated. Once I learn these, though, the possibilities of what I can make are endless. The only problem is that I would need to invest in a kiln, and my basement utility room isn't equipped to handle one.

2. Enameling. This is to add color to my metals. Again, I would need a kiln, and I hear the cost of enamels is very expensive. This would be a skill to be learned at a later date, when I feel I've mastered the other more fundamental skills.

3. Coppersmithing. My smithing experience has really only been in silver, and I'd like to add copper to the repertoire. It would make for interesting results. And I kind of like the idea of working in iron, too, with a leather apron and bulging biceps.

"Hi, my name is Hazel and I'm a blacksmith."

Has a badass ring to it.

4. Pour ingots, work with resin, learn to use precious metal clay, and set stones in other settings besides bezel.

5. And for ballet, advance to pointe shoes. Oh, those pointe shoes...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Twilight rant

This is the kind of crappy, awkward prose I was subjected to on the train today:

I should be avoiding him entirely after my brainless and embarrassing babbling yesterday. And I was suspicious of him; why should he lie about his eyes? I was still frightened of the hostility I sometimes felt emanating from him, and I was still tongue-tied whenever I pictured his perfect face. I was well aware that my league and his league were spheres that did not touch. So I shouldn't be at all anxious to see him today.

So in this paragzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

See what happened? I fell asleep again after reading it a second time! Besides the endless exposition, Meyer also violates the "show, don't tell" edict. Instead of showing us how good-looking Edward is, she tells us. Endlessly. His "perfect" face. His "glorious" face. His "stunning" face (the latter two within a couple of sentences of each other). I'm skeptical. He must be pretty ugly if she keeps trying so hard to convince me.

I'm going to give this book until page 100 and if it still does not give me any kind of satisfaction, I am chucking it.

And if you're a fan, please don't send me hate mail!

Lastly, to see what great YA fiction is like, I recommend Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. A classic.

ETA: Since the time I wrote this post, I have subsequently eaten my words. Upon further reading, I have done a total 180 degree turnaround, and have become an obsessive Twilight fan. And I mean obsessive. I ended up absolutely loving these books, mostly because I fell in love with Edward.There are subsequent posts on this blog where I talk (er, gush) about each of the books, so look for them if you're interested.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Twilight musings

I've been meaning to pick up the extremely popular YA book Twilight by Stephenie Meyer for a while now to see what all the fuss is about, especially with adult women (I can sort of understand, from what I know of it so far, why teenage girls would swoon over this book, but I wanted to see what about it makes the adult female fans also want to swoon).

I finally got a chance to check it out when my coworker lent me her copy. I started it today.

I'm already on page 32, and I say already because usually by page 32 you have some idea of where the story is going and lots of things start happening and you get to know the main character's motivation, habits, personality. But, alas, not with this story. Page 32, and I feel like a big fat nothing has happened so far - just lots of painful exposition to set things up. An exposition that has gone on too long, in my opinion. I don't know anything about Bella other than she blushes a lot; I'm not even sure I want to get to know her better. And so far, Edward has failed to impress.

To make matters worse, the actual writing itself is laborious and painful. It feels like it takes a hundred pound boulder just for Meyer to construct one paragraph - let alone a whole chapter.

Maybe it's been hyped way too much for me - all the dozens of fan sites devoted to Edward and Bella; even Etsy's in on the action with this and this and this and this - but so far, I am not impressed. I may end up eating my words when I finally finish the book...and if I do, I'll be the first to admit it. But so far? It's a big fat...eh.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Amazonite earrings

To tie in my ballet kick with my jewelry designs, I named these new amazonite and gold earrings Odette, after the good swan princess from Swan Lake. I'm still deciding whether to name another piece Odile, after the evil princess - we will see.

These earrings are really dainty and delicate-looking, measuring a total of a little under two inches. Now available at the shop!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Strength and muscles

As in, I don't have either, but I need both, badly.

I've had some time now to get used to my metalsmithing tools and equipment in the past few weeks, and in the process, I discovered that you need serious elbow grease to see any results.

For example, I learned how to use a disc cutter in my metalsmithing class but only from watching my teacher do it - I didn't get to actually try it out myself during class. So when I got my own disc cutter and used it for the first time, I found that I needed strength - lots of it - to wield the hammer, and that my puny little muscles were not up to the task. In addition, striking enough blows to cut through a thick sheet of metal is really, really exhausting. It makes your teeth rattle and your head ache and your arms really sore.

I am counting on ballet to help me develop strength, but I'm thinking maybe I should also start lifting weights!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In denial

Ugh. I received the latest J Crew catalog in the mail today and as I was flipping through it, all I could feel was dismay at seeing all the coats and jackets on display.

Usually I look forward to fall - the season of new boots! And cozy sweaters! - but not this year. This year, I am still defiantly wearing my sundresses and sandals all over and refusing to go shopping for fall clothes.

Because fall means winter is just around the corner, and I feel like we just got rid of winter.

And I always think that the period between Labor Day and the first true cool autumn day is tricky, because you're ready to shift your mindset to butternut squash soup and apple cider and merino sweaters, but it's still 95 degrees outside and the pool continues to beckon.

Someday I'm going to drag Mr Hazel and the cats and moving to San Diego.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Contemplating: whether to go to a fashion show at the French embassy that my sis wants to go to. It costs $50. I've been to the French embassy once, to get a visa for my 5-month stay in Paris, but the closest I've gotten to a fashion show was to stand outside the tents at Bryant Park watching the comings and goings of those lucky enough to get invited.

Wanting: a puppy. A golden retriever, to be exact. But Mr Hazel vetoed the idea because he said the kitties would be terrified, plus dogs are a lot of work, what with poop-scooping and going for walks at sub-zero temperatures. But I think Nomad and Moxie would love to have a puppy friend. As would I!

Reading: a romance novel whose hero is a hot network administrator. Mr Hazel said this isn't possible.

Watching: tonight, the premiere of Sarah Connor Chronicles and then Prison Break right after. Prison Break is cool this season - they have somehow morphed into a special forces commando team. That's pretty hot!

Lusting after: fall boots, metalsmithing tools, and rough diamond rings.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

At the barre

We had our first ballet class on Friday, and I am in love. It was, quite possibly, one of the most relaxing, rewarding, and satisfying learning experiences I've had. We dove right into barre exercises and then did combinations on the center floor, and I loved every minute of it.

I was also amazed because even though the last time I took ballet was when I was five years old, and I don't remember too much about it except for my pea green tutu-style leotard, my muscles seemed to recall a lot more. I instinctively remembered how I was supposed to hold my fingers while doing plies, how to point my toes during tendus, how to keep my torso straight during an arabesque. And all the while, I was concentrating so hard on following the teacher's combinations that worries and anxieties of everyday life just seemed to magically melt away.

This must be why there has been a resurgence of interest in adult ballet classes. In addition to the mental benefits, recreational ballet has tremendous physical benefits such as increasing strength and flexibility (both of which I sorely lack). It is also a wonderful cardio workout and a great part of a fitness regimen.

Check out my sister's dance blog for more ballet fun, as well as this funny and sweet New York Times article about adult ballet classes.

I can't wait for the next class!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanna pays a visit

Tropical Storm Hanna is paying us a visit today.

Sheets of rain pounding down on our roof, and not many cars out on the roads. Mr Hazel, Nomad, Moxie and I are holing up inside pretty much all day, cozying up with blankets and books and the TV remote. Later on we plan on making heaping stacks of pancakes and bacon.

It's also a good day to head down to the basement, fire up my torch, and melt some metal.

I love rainy days!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chalcedony charms

New shop item! The Anne bracelet, named after one of my favorite childhood books, Anne of Green Gables. She is made of fourteen gorgeous chalcedony briolettes whose color is called peruvian opal (according to my vendor). This is a charm-style bracelet measuring an inner circumference of 8".

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fresh look

I did, I revamped the blog.

A couple of my friends told me they were having problems viewing it. Mr Hazel quickly figured out what was wrong - apparently it had something to do with Photobucket transferring too much data and messing up my blog template.

But in the midst of him fixing the problem, I realized that since the blog is so photo intensive, an all-white, clean and simple background would be more ideal so the pictures would not compete with the busy design of the old blog. Even though I absolutely adored the old design, I think this might be a better idea.

Simpler. Cleaner. At least, I hope so.

So...what do you think?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Finished projects

These are a couple of custom projects that I've been working on, and that I've finally completed. That bracelet you see in the pictures is made of 25mm kyanite coin beads and sterling silver links. The stones turned out to be much bigger than originally planned, but I think the piece turned out great. I hope the new owner thinks so too!

The necklace is similar to Abigail, but much longer, and with a blue teardrop stone as the focal bead instead of a crystal.

Whew - it's been a busy, busy few weeks for custom orders.

I have a couple of more things on my plate before I can turn back to metalsmithing. My head is brimming with ideas for new rings. I have my eye on some pretty stones that are going to look wonderful in bezel settings, and I can't wait to work on them!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Ballet class

I'm a little sad over summer being unofficially over, especially as it was a pretty wonderful one. But, my melancholy is mitigated by the fact that I am looking forward to taking ballet classes this fall with my sis! We both meticulously planned our dance outfits and I am going to look very New York dance studio: black footless capri tights, a gauzy little skirt, black sleeveless leotard, and a pretty pink wraparound sweater. I think I'm more excited over my outfit more than anything.

Pas de bourree, here I come!