Welcome to "A Mad Designer's Journey"

The comic, inspiring and always fashionable adventures of this "mad designer" as she navigates the reality of pursuing her dream...living the artisan lifestyle of a jewelry designer.

Phoenix Design, Artisan Jewelry is a one woman shop powered by zany energy, midnight inspirations and the support of my friends.

Stay tuned this is going to be interesting....

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

My walk along Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi, Vietnam

Today we set out on a walk along the railway tracks behind our apartment which leads to the Long Bien Bridge. It is amazing to see houses built right up to the tracks. When the train goes by there is only a sidewalk span of space, which is the shared stoop for the row of houses, between them and the roaring train. Yet people carry on with cooking, washing and other day to day things without really taking notice of the train on their doorstep. Walking along the train tracks I could see right into the houses and observe the lifestyle of the Vietnamese people that lived there.
The Long Bien Bridge crosses the Red River and you can see houseboats on the water. The train runs down the middle of the bridge with roadways on either side for motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians. It was a nice walk of about 1 1/2 miles across. There were a couple of sections where the bridge got wider and locals had baskets selling fresh fruits, veggies and various types of seafood (some of the fish were still gasping).
You can see the newer bridges used for larger vehicles, cars and of course the ever present motorbikes, to cross from the "city" of Hanoi to the quieter outskirts of Hanoi City in the background.
  Here's a bit of the bridge's history...
It was built in 1903 by the architects of Daydé & Pillé, a French company. Before Vietnam's independence in 1954, it was called Doumer Bridge, named after Paul Doumer - The Governor-General of French Indochina and then French president. It was, at that time, one of the longest bridges in Asia with the length of 2,500 m.[1] For the French colonial government, the construction was of strategic importance in securing control of northern Vietnam. From 1899 to 1902, more than 3,000 Vietnamese took part in the construction.

It was heavily bombarded during Vietnam War due to its critical position (the only bridge at that time across the Red River and connect Hanoi to the main port Haiphong). The first attack took place in 1967, and the center span of the bridge was felled by an attack by 20 USAF F-105 Fighters[2]. The defense of Long Bien Bridge continues to play a large role in Hanoi’s self-image and is often extolled in poetry and song. It was rendered unusable for a year when, in May 1972, it fell victim to one of the first co-ordinated attacks using laser-guided "smart bombs".

The bridge now stands like a patched-up war veteran. Some parts of the original structure remain intact, while large sections have clearly been built later to repair the holes. In this way the bridge is a strong visual expression of history. Only half of the bridge retains its original shape. A project with support and loan from the French government is currently in progress to restore the bridge to its original appearance.
Today trains, mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians use the dilapidated bridge, while all other traffic is diverted to the nearby Chuong Duong Bridge and some newly built bridges: Thanh Tri Bridge, Thang Long Bridge, Vinh Tuy Bridge, and Nhat Tan Bridge.

...a warm bowl of soup on a winter's day

Butternut Squash Soup w/ Lime, Garlic and Ginger

1T unsalted butter (I used salted)
1 Spanish (or yellow) onion
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1T peeled, coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 butternut squash (approx. 2 – 2 ½ lbs.) peeled, seeded and chopped (smallish cubes)
*I added a couple of carrots, cut the same size as the squash cubes
5 cups fat free chicken stock
Pinch of brown sugar
¼ cup fresh lime juice
Fresh lime slices for garnish

Place a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat and when it is hot, add butter.

When butter is melted, add the onion, garlic and ginger; cook until tender and lightly colored, about 10 minutes.

Add the butternut squash, chicken stock and sugar; raise the heat to high and bring to boil.

Lower the heat to low and cook until the squash is very tender, about 20-25 minutes depending on size of cubed squash.

Remove the solids and place in a blender and blend until smooth. (I used a ricer but you could also mash by hand for more texture)

Gradually mix in the cooking liquid and lime juice to desired consistency.

Serve immediately garnished with lime slices (or cover and refrigerate up to three days)

Yield: 8 – 10 cups, Approx. 1 – 1 ½ hour preparation time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Primative Boho Statement Necklace

...Loamy Green Moss Agate Pinned with Gunmetal Chain

Natural Raw Moss Agate stones hand wrapped with gunmetal wire are linked in pairs by multiple strands of gunmetal chain. A gunmetal kilt pin fastens the necklace and can be positioned various ways.  Total Length: 20 ½ inches.

My personal favorite is to arrange the necklace so that the kilt pin sits along the collar bone giving, asymmetrically, fashionably primitive. Moss Agate is a variety of chalcedony with dark greenish mossy markings, used as a gemstone.

...soon to be listed in my online Etsy, Art Fire & Facebook Shops :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

China...a funny little cat who need a loving home

China & Jeanne
 China is about 10 years old and female. I got her from a rescue shelter 4 years ago. She was born with a cleft pallet and has an ear/nose/throat issue which is why I could not bring her to Vietnam with me. She is accustomed to living with other animals both other cats and small dogs although she is a queen bee by nature. If you are interested in adopting a rescue pet contact me on Facebook

I love a good ear scratch...
China may have been abused at some point and may take a minute to warm up to people but is extremely loving. Basically if she is warm and taken care of she will sleep all day with short breaks to lick your face and get a little snack. She needs her eyes cleaned with a tissue or warm damp wash cloth if they are bad or else they get gunked up and she cannot see all that well. She has a tendency to scratch herself silly when she is upset and is very vocal if she is not happy. She is accustomed to living with other animals both other cats and small dogs although she is a queen bee by nature.

...oh my, was I drooling!
Special thanks to my good friends Jeanne and Billy for re-rescuing China who was abandoned in an empty apartment by the person who adopted her when I left for Vietnam. She will be taken to a rescue shelter in Doraville, Georgia "Fur Kids". They will make sure she is given any necessary medical treatment, look after her until she can be placed in a good home with someone who will love her just as much as I do.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sneak Peep at my Spring 2011 Jewelry Designs

The "fall/winter" weather I am accustomed to has finally reached Hanoi, Vietnam so of course I am thinking of spring. This fall I introduced my "Body Armor" line for Phoenix Design Artisan Jewelry while I was still back in the states. While I have been acclimating to life in Hanoi I have been teaching myself new chain mail weaves and contemplating the direction I want my jewelry designs to go in moving forward into the New Year. Below is an excerpt from one of the blogs that I follow forecasting trends for Spring 2011.
Though 2011 will see us move still further from the economic woes of recent history, don't expect a massive change in the tangent of fashion: the major excesses of the last decade are gone, and 2011 will see us, rightfully, continue on with a drive of subtle consumption mixed with obvious quality. 2011 fashion trends will accomodate the fact that we'll be buying less but spending more. That means less bland, and more quality. Fewer indulgences, but better statement pieces. - Rebloged from Fashionising.com

I just finished these three new statement pieces and I am really pleased with the result. The designs below feature a mixture of various types of chain and chainmaille with natural semi-precious gemstones like the hand cut faceted moonstone and free form amethyst.

ROCK ON! by Phoenix Design Jewelry