Bronson Hill Arts: Butterfly Notecard Winner

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed the day with friends and/or family. New Years' Eve/Day is just around the corner and with the holidays nearly over, it's back to business!

The butterfly notecard contest, from our Bronson Hill Arts guest post, has ended and it's time to announce the winner. (drum roll....) congratulations to Heather from Azure Island Designs!! I'm so in love with these notecards, you'll simply have to come back and comment once you receive them.

Note: Although there were 5 comments made, only 4 were counted since the creative designer of the cards cannot enter into the contest. :-)

In other good news, I also was finally able to connect with the true 'Valerie' winner from the 'Just Breathe' wall decal contest. She will be getting her prize soon and I look forward to hearing back from her.

Guest Post: Bronson Hill Arts

It's the Christmas season of giving! Today I have a fantastic artisan and friend to introduce you to (and a great giveaway too!). I have known Barb Deuel, owner/artisan of Bronson Hill Arts, for, oh, around 18 years. During our friendship, we've supported each other through marriage, divorce, marriage again, life's happy moments as well as sad times. For me, Barb is my go-to, always there for me, no-matter-what, true blue friend!

Being creative myself, our friendship was a natural fit. I had never met an artisan such as Barb and was quite intriqued by her creativeness. Today, I have quite a few pieces of Barb's art in my home and will continue to have more over the years. In fact, there is one that I use every time I enjoy a glass of white wine! A few years back, Barb created four individual wine glasses for each of the friends in our small group. I absolutely lurve my wine glass and the interpretation of who is am was right on target! I'll let Barb tell you more about them and herself...

A few years ago, I was inspired by one of Stephanie’s wine parties to make some portraiture wine glasses for our friends. The response was overwhelming. There were a lot of time constraints at that point in my life that stopped me from pursuing any marketing of the idea. The last few months, I’ve had a good amount of free time come about, and with a hardy push from Stephanie, I’m finally doing it. I’ve developed a personalized art service.

I’m excited to have been brought into the world of blogging. It’s been such a positive experience for me. I’ve gotten past a lot of my fears and frustrations about computers. Thank you, Stephanie! And, oddly enough, this technological wonder, combined with a renewal of my first “arty” friendship, has reintroduced me to my creative side again.

I’m enjoying writing and have received tremendous support for the pieces that have been posted. I’m looking forward to being challenged to create some of these customized paintings, drawings, glasses, etc., for other people, too. The beauty of these art forms is that it can be applied to any event or loved one you want to celebrate any time. It’s not just for Christmas!

I hope you like the butterfly postcards I’ve painted for this give-away. I used Stephanie’s idea of butterflies, including green ones, to support her fantastic efforts on behalf of organ transplant awareness. They are done on Strathmore 140# paper with General’s Kimberly watercolor pencils.


A special thank you to Barb for her generous and most beautiful, handmade art giveaway! I, for one, look forward to seeing more stunning art created by Barb. Remember, you can stay current on what's happening at the studio up on Bronson Hill by following Barb's blog.

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Flights of Life Butterfly Notecard Giveaway


Prize: Six (6) Handcrafted 4x6 Butterfly Notecards

The butterfly notecards pictured above are exactly the butterflies you will receive.

Open To: U.S. only

Ends: December 21, 2010!

To Enter: Visit the Bronson Hill Arts Blog (http://bronsonhillarts.blogspot.com) and leave a comment below noting at least one of your favorite art pieces from the shop gallery.

Extra:
+1 if you follow this blog (leave a NEW comment please)
+1 if you post this giveaway somewhere (leave a NEW comment please)
+1 if you follow Crystal Allure on Facebook (leave a NEW comment please)

+2 if you visit the Bronson Hill Arts blog and leave a comment on one of Barb's blog posts (no need to leave a new comment back here, I'll coordinate with Barb to get your name put in the chances "hat" twice -BUT, in your comment, you must say you are visiting from the Crystal Allure giveaway)
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Flights of Life Butterfly Notecard Finishing Touch
Included with this giveaway:


As a lovely finish to your wonderful new gift, Barb will be sending the winner their butterfly notecards in a lovely hand-created envelope package!

Word Décor 'n More: "Just Breathe" Winner

We have a winner! It's (drum roll please...) VALERIE!! Congratulations Valerie! I tried contacting you through your profile but wasn't successful, so hopefully you will get this RSS feed. I look forward to hearing back from you. Please contact me by Friday, December 10, 2010 to claim your prize.

I was truly humbled by some of the comments and was really taken by Sylvia's comment. She commented, "Thank you for the chance to win the "Breathe" quote. Having that grace my wall would enable me to easily talk about organ donation to anyone who comes by!". What a fantastic idea! It really gives a whole new concept to word wall decor.

Okay, confession. I've always watched those tattoo shows and wondered what I'd get if I had it done, but always chicken out. Then I read that Kristen had the word "breathe" tattooed on her back. Wow! Good for you Kristen! And what a fabulous tat to show off! I'm jealous.

This particular guest post was just so special to me and I'm honored to have featured Andrea with Word Décor 'n More. I'll also have some more exciting news to share with you in the coming days, regarding the JUST BREATHE wall decal. Stay tuned..

Thank you to each and every one of you who stopped by, participated and/or became a fan/follower of Crystal Allure and shared with us your personal transplant stories. It was so touching to hear your stories of hope, strength and second chances.

A very special thank you to Andrea for offering such an inspirational gift for our giveaway!

Swarovski Elements Holiday Giveaway

Let the sparkle of the holidays begin!! I was contacted about sharing a fabulous contest that Swarovski Elements is hosting and I've already put in my entries.

To enter, visit the Swarovski Elements Facebook page and click on the image under the "US Holiday.." tab. The directions are pretty simple, although I did find the application was a little "clunky".

By entering you could possibly win one of 50 Swarovski Crystallized items a day for the next 5 days (although I believe today is day 5) and then enter to win one of three product packages from the US Holiday Collection starting on December 8, 2010.

Thanks for sharing this info Allison!

Guest Post: Word Décor 'n More

Today I have a fantastic business to tell you about. I was introduced to Word Décor 'n More when I shifted my jewelry business web hosting over to Shoppe Pro in 2008. In my own home, I love that my guests can "read" my walls. I'm a huge fan of word wall decor and especially liked the idea of a "welcome" quote on the front door of my house (and I'm still going to get that...just as soon as my door gets its' second coat of paint!).

What I really love about the Word Décor 'n More website is they offer a photo gallery of inspiration. Just take a peek through the gallery and you're sure to find some ideas you'd love to put in your own home. Another great offering at Word Décor 'n More are their car decals. In fact, I had an idea for my car and that's when I personally "met" the owner, Andrea. She is super nice and provides some fantastic customer service!

Many women can relate to Andrea's desire to own their own business and enjoy going to work everyday. Here's what she had to say about her journey:

After many years of working in the corporate world, I decided to branch out on my own, and follow my lifelong dream of owning my own business. With a love for decorating, it was only natural to start a business that allowed me to express my creative side. After much research, I discovered vinyl lettering, and knew I had found my niche. With the loving support of my husband and family, Word Décor 'n More was launched.

Vinyl lettering is economical, easy to apply, and yet, looks like many hours and much money was spent to achieve a personal, custom look. I am a firm believer of DREAMING BIG, then working hard to make those dreams come true! To that end, I find myself drawn to motivational quotes such as "WISH, HOPE, DREAM... then make it happen!".


Personally, I'm a sucker for true love stories and I get to live one everyday with my husband. So when I saw this quote, "Always Kiss Me Goodnight", I just know I have to have it! From the beginning of my relationship with my husband, he would always say, no matter how mad, angry, tired or frustrated we might be at bedtime -'always kiss me goodnight'. Nearly, eleven years later, we always kiss goodnight. Well, that is, unless the dog decides she wants to kiss him goodnight first!

I am very tied to the transplant community and what has been so great about meeting Andrea and being introduced to Word Décor 'n More is that, Andrea has offered a beautiful "Just Breathe..." quote for our guest post giveaway.

I was immediately and personally touched by this quote. For that person who needs a lung transplant, they live every day with hope. Then when their day arrives and they receive their new lungs, it is truly a miracle. I believe when they wake up and take their first conscious breath of life, it must be so awe inspiring a feeling to "Just Breathe" -because you'll never live this moment again.


Prize: JUST BREATHE vinyl wall quote

Open To: International

Ends: December 7, 2010!

To Enter: Visit the Word Décor 'n More (http://www.worddecor-n-more.com/) website and leave a comment below noting at least one of your favorite quotes from the shop.

Extra:
+1 if you follow this blog (leave a NEW comment please)
+1 if you post this giveaway somewhere (leave a NEW comment please)
+1 if you follow Crystal Allure on Facebook (leave a NEW comment please)

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Thank you to Andrea for a giving us a glimpse into her business and for offering such a fantastic, inspirational quote for the blog contest.

Gift Idea: Pretty is a Pendant

Pretty is a Pendant: Fuchsia Venetian Crystal Beaded Pendant Set (P09) by Crystal Allure
Fuchsia Venetian Crystal Beaded Pendant Set (P09)
Purchase this Pretty is a Pendant below.
You know the old saying "the best things come in small packages"? I, for one, believe that to be very true! And just in time for the holidays, a perfect stocking stuffer is a Crystal Allure Beaded Pendant or better still a Pendant Gift Set.

Each pendant arrives on a sterling silver chain and gift packaged in our lovely signature organza bag.

Already have one, two or more of our beaded pendants and just need the pendant, without a chain? No problem! Simply email me prior to placing your order and I'll adjust the item for you.

A single pretty pendant drop necklace lends a demure touch to your femininity. Pair with the matching earrings and OH-LA-LA!
Fuchsia Venetian Crystal Beaded Pendant Set (P09)
Fuchsia Venetian Crystal Beaded Pendant Set (P09)
$50.00 for the set
This is a gorgeous handmade bead jewelry gift set! Designed with a 12x17mm artisan Venetian glass bead accented with satin fuchsia Swarovski Crystals. The pendant necklace is draped on an elegant 18" sterling silver chain and earrings are on sterling silver hoop ear wires. Both pendant and bead earrings measure at a 1-1/2" drop from the bottom of the ear wire.

Vacation-Schmacation!

For me, vacation started yesterday. Yet I literally spent the entire day, since 7:30 am!, catching up on business paperwork. Yea, as a small business owner, you don't ever want to get behind in your paperwork. ugh. nightmare.

BUT, I did successfully get it all entered and cleared off my ever growing "to-do" list. And boy, what a stress relief that was. I did feel it weighing on me...since...oh...July. I work with numbers all day so it was very daunting to think of getting home and doing more numbers. So I made that a goal during "vacation".

Today, so far, I've spent the morning catching up on some blogs, blogging myself, working on the jewelry boutique, organizing some upcoming sales/offers, sending/reading emails and I still have to address my Content is King task; and get to stores, shopping, gift buying...the list never ends.

So as I sit here (still in my jammies), sipping coffee, writing all about what I still have to do my sweet little girl (Lucy) is snorting. Yes, snorting. She's in such a deep, relaxed sleep that she is snorting. I think my "assistant" is on her union break? Oh wait, we just got a streeeeetch -a long sigh...a quick glance, through sleepy eyes, that I am still in the room...aaaannnd...back to sleep.

Makes it really hard to get motivated. :-)

Are you on vacation this week? What are your plans?

Have a Holi-Latte!! Starbucks Promo

Be still my heart!! Last night I caught the tail end of a commercial about a buy-one-get-one-free latte promo at Starbucks. Could it be true?!?! It is true!!

I'm SO there!! Get your double-shot (no pun intended) starting today (November 18, 2010) through Sunday (November 21, 2010), between 2 and 5 pm, at your local Starbucks.

The only drinks offered in the deal are: Caramel Brulee Latte, Peppermint Mocha, Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Gingerbread Latte, Eggnog Latte, Caramel Brulee Frappuccino blended beverage and Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino blended beverage.

I'm definately interested in trying the Peppermint Mocha. Which are you gonna try?

My Sweet Little 'Baby Girl'

Awwww! She looks terrified! Well, in reality, she is -poor lil' thing. This is one of the rare pictures of our little Lucy. A rescue from Rochester Animal Services.

In case you haven't figured it out. She HATES (yes...a strong word...but trust me..) her picture being taken. We obviously don't know why so we try not to stress her out. I wish she didn't mind because she has such a cute face and expressive eyes.

Two weekends ago we had a gathering and as always, she stuck to me like glue. She couldn't get close enough to me and literally was on top of my leg whenever I moved around. I don't mind though and love her as much as she loves me. A friend of mine snapped this picture of her and it must have been when she was getting tired of trying to hide from all the pictures being taken; the people walking around and louder than normal noise of our guests.

I feel sad we upset her but at the same time, glad we have some pictures of her. We have one good picture of her in the grass (she clearly didn't hear the camera!) and now this one which is "fair". Unless you count the ones where she's not even looking and doesn't know because she's peeing or doing her duty (I'll spare you the graphics and just show her on one of her daily walks).

Needless to say, after the picture above, it didn't take long for me to know she just needed her quite space. So I put her upstairs and baby-gated her into
ourher bedroom.

And, yeaaah, the flooring. Nine years and counting. Another project yet to be completed. Someday. Someday. Well, the theory is when the kitchen is remodeled the flooring will be replaced. OH, I know...

My Christmas List
-NEW KITCHEN! :-)

What I Love About Fall

I recently joined The Secret's In the Sauce group and love it! Once I hopped around the site a bit, I jumped right in and joined the Content is King group and took on the challenge of writing better blog posts.

Under tip #2, Nuture Your Voice, it says:
Words on a page are just words on a page unless you can find a way to breathe life into them. (amen! I wholeheartedly agree!) Allow people to relate. Make yourself vulnerable. (yikes!! open up? ahhh...no?! darn!)

Okay, okay. I get it. And I do know this. It's just...well...alright, I'll stop whining. Indeed my lack of blogging regularly has alot (did I say, ALOT) to do with being a very private person. Everytime I think to blog something, I think, hmmm..TMI. Although, I think I've done a pretty darn good job in the last year or so of sharing -beyond my jewelry business. My other ish is I am a very visual person. I like to "see" things so I'm always wanting to add some pictures or visuals. Which leads to other issues (remembering your camera where ever you go...remembering to pull out your camera to even take pictures!...having the time to download the pictures, crop them, fix them, etc, etc.)

The whole concept of my blog was to give a Behind the Designs look at life, when I'm not handcrafting jewelry designs (or dreaming of designs). Of course, this doesn't exclude sharing my designs or the inspirations behind them, rather to breathe life into them.

So, today I wanted to share with you what I love most about fall/autumn (activity #2). Here in Rochester, NY, autumn arrived right on schedule -the craft show schedule that is. I love to shop/look around craft shows in the fall. I scheduled with two good friends to check out the Letchworth Craft Show the first weekend of October. It was the perfect day. Sunny. Slight crisp to the air. BEAUTIFUL trees with all the red, gold, green and rust colored leaves. And of course, great conversation with a couple of dear friends!

The trip wasn't so much about the craft show. It was about getting together with girlfriends (bonding time here, ladies) -laughing -having fun -escaping the daily grind, etc. We arrived at the park only to spend approximately 20 minutes or so in the car, just to reach parking (lots of traffic!). But this time, sitting and doing nothing really didn't bother me. It fact, it was quite enjoyable. Relaxing.

Of course, both me and one friend remembered our cameras so we took the opportunity to snap some pictures along the way.


I think I may have gone a tad beyond the "list" function of my activity, but it is true; once you just sit down and start "writing" the words just flow. Thanks Jade for the kick in the butt! And to stay true to the list, here's my autumn loves (in no particular order):

-the colorful trees
-the crisp air
-the feeling of a renew of the self
-the feeling life has slowed down a bit (remember to stop and smell the acorns)
-oh yes, acorns..and pinecones...and colorful leaves (oh yeah, said that)
-pumpkins
-warm crumbly top apple pie (Mmmmmm!)
-thanksgiving dinner
-cozy sweaters

In closing, I will not admit (no -never!) this blog post took more than 10 minutes to write. :-)

How about you? What do you love most about the autumn/fall season?

The Great Beaded Pumpkin Zipper Pulls Charms

Pumpkin Artwork by Bronson Hill ArtsA dear friend recently started her own art blog to showcase her art and share it with the world (since I told her to stop keeping it all to herself!). In fact, I have quite a few of her pieces and love each one for its' uniqueness, handcrafted nature and beautiful design.

So it comes as no surprise that I fell in love with her hand-drawn pumpkin! (for those of you catching up on my obsessions..I love pumpkins!)

After seeing her sketch I was inspired to create some pumpkin themed jewelry and beaded gifts. So, this past weekend I pulled out my stash of beads and got to creating. If you can picture Edward scissor hands cutting through bushes with the pieces flying all over...yeah, that was me in the studio this past weekend. No lie.
Beaded Pumpkin Key Chains and Halloween Zipper Pulls by Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry

What emerged were the beginnings of a new gift selection at Crystal Allure: Beaded Key Chains and Beaded Zipper Pulls. Now, expand your mind a little and you will find, zipper pulls are not just for zippers. You can add them to purses, handbags, book bags, tote bags, luggage, jean belt loops, you can even clip them on shoelaces! The possibilities are endless.

Learn more about the Halloween Pumpkin Crystal Lampwork Beaded Keychain (K103) shown above.

I may be a little late posting some of these designs, as Halloween is over, but the pumpkin is something that is in style straight through Thanksgiving. And these beaded zipper pull bag charms are perfect for kids, stocking stuffers, grab bag gifts and even mom's purse!
Wicked Witch Lampwork Petite Beaded Purse Charm Zipper Pull (ZP101)
Wicked Witch Lampwork Petite Beaded Purse Charm Zipper Pull (ZP101)
One of a Kind
$10.50
Scare up some frightful style by simply clipping this wicked witch beaded lampwork zipper pull bag charm on your coat, jacket, jeans belt loop, purse, handbag, school bag, book bag, luggage or anywhere you can think of. Or grab two and clip to your shoelaces for double the fun! Total length is 2-1/4".
Pumpkin Lampwork Petite Beaded Purse Charm Zipper Pull (ZP100)
Pumpkin Lampwork Petite Beaded Purse Charm Zipper Pull (ZP100)
One of a Kind
$10.50
It's the Great Pumpkin (Charlie Brown)! If you're a fall pumpkin lover, you will just adore this lovely lampwork beaded pumpkin zipper pull. It easily attaches to coats, jackets, purses, handbags, tote bags, jean belt loops, shoelaces -well, just about anywhere! Total length 2".
Green Goblin Lampwork Petite Beaded Purse Charm Zipper Pull (ZP103)
Green Goblin Lampwork Petite Beaded Purse Charm Zipper Pull (ZP103)
One of a Kind
$10.50
This adorable green goblin isn't so scary! Designed with a green artisan lampwork glass tube bead with variously placed "eyes" add to this "frightful" zipper pull. It's so adorable, you can add this accessory to your coat, jacket, purse, handbag, book bag, jeans belt loop or anywhere you can clip it! Total length: 2-1/4".

With the holidays right around the corner, there are many surprises and new designs coming to the Crystal Allure Jewelry Boutique. So check back often.

Unlock Your Style: Beaded Keychains by Crystal Allure

Unlock Your Style with Handmade Beaded Keychains by Crystal AllureIt's November 1st and do you know what you are getting friends and family as gifts? I hear ya...Christmas is next month. But as we all know, gift buying creeps up on us and then we are rushing around, last minute, for that perfect gift.

My best intentions in the studio were halted this weekend when I finished a Fall Jewelry design and realized I still needed one more element. So, with that on hold, I spent some time organizing my finished pieces, only to realize, I had quite a few beaded gifts completed that were not pictured or posted yet. (you know what's coming next...)

(drum roll please..) NEW to the boutique, today, are two beautiful beaded keychains. I'm most especially excited about the Personally Yours Purple Heart Charm Beaded Keychain (K104) because you can personalize it with your own family, friend or pet photo! And it makes a perfect gift for Mom this Mother's Day.

Not so much a key carrying person? No worries! The Crystal Allure collection of handmade beaded keychains are versatile enough that you could even stylize your handbag, purse, computer bag, or well, any bag by simply slipping the ring onto the handle. So go ahead -Unlock Your Style with a beautiful beaded keychain by Crystal Allure!

Pssst. I also realized the pictures of the other key chains available weren't as great as I'd like so new, updated pictures for those will be coming soon. But rest assured, all Crystal Allure Jewelry and Beaded Gifts are more beautiful in person than any camera can catch on its' lens! That's a guarantee!
Personally Yours Purple Heart Charm Beaded Keychain (K104)
Personally Yours Purple Heart Charm Beaded Keychain (K104)
$25.70
I may have designed it -but you get to personalize it! This beautiful beaded keychain features a heart-shaped picture frame to personalize with a picture of your child, loved one or favorite pet. Accented with stunning dark and light purple glass beads, white Swarovski Crystal Pearls, sterling silver beads and Bali. Make this key chain a purse charm by requesting a FREE silver hook at checkout. Total length (with ring) 4".

Not only can Mom personalize this keychain with her child's picture, she can use it as a keychain or as a brag charm by simply attaching to her purse, work bag or wallet.

Swarovski Pink Hope Collection

Photo Source: Swarovski Crystal Group
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the motto is, Think Pink!

There is no shortage of companies offering pink-related products in support of charitable organizations and breast cancer awareness.

New to the movement is the Swarovski Crystal Group. They have designed a pink ribbon pin (retails for $55), a pink ribbon charm (retails for $55), a pink ribbon heart pendant (retails for $80) and a pink crystalline pen (retails for $24). During this month 10% of the proceeds from the sale of Swarovski's breast cancer awareness collection will be donated to The Libby Ross Foundation.

All of the products will be available at Swarovski's 230 boutiques nationwide and through authorized Swarovski retailers in the USA.

Learn more about what color(s) supports your cause: Awareness Colors and Meanings Guide

Jewelry Artisans Beware: Success is Self-Made!

Today I came across an online company that offers (of course, for a fee...which is not small by any means) to connect handmade artisans with retailers looking for wholesale accounts. Intriqued, I read more on their site. What I found was a clearly presented (well, marketed) site, providing all the information one would need to evaluate if they wanted to join or not and lots of artisan testimonials.

What I didn't find -testimonials from the retailers. I found that odd since, well, as a potential "customer" of this site, not only am I interested in what other artists' experiences have been, but also what experiences/successes retailers have had in finding the right products for their stores/boutiques.

Additionally, for jewelry artists to "qualify" to join, they must already have 5 wholesale accounts that they could provide references for when they apply.

So, I ask this. If, I, (the artisan) already have 5 wholesale accounts (clearly showing that I've been successful with wholesaling my products to the right retailers) -why do I need XYZ wholesale company???? And to pay them $395.00 a year??

Obviously, I don't plan to list the company that I am referring to because I don't plan on giving them any additional advertisement -but, to me, as a jewelry artisan -this seems like a scam! Okay, maybe not a SCAM, SCAM, but they certainly wouldn't mine taking your hard earned money! :-)

Please Excuse The Dust Bunnies...

Just a quick note to please excuse the "dust bunnies" as I freshen up the studio blog. I've been wanting to reorganize it for a while now and since I haven't had time to design jewelry, I chose to work on the studio blog. :-)

Most functions are working. Still a few to fix/correct but if you should run into any problems (commenting, recommending, etc) please, please feel free to contact me.

By switching around the formatting, I was able to add a few new features, two of which are the "tweet" and "recommend" buttons at the top of every post. There are still two functions that don't seem to be showing but I'm actively working on it.

I know I probably sound like a broken record but there are some fall designs coming soon -really! I promise! Since the beginning of fall I've been in a seasonal decorating kinda mood and of course, baking! Plus, for whatever crazy reason, I decided to repaint many rooms in the house (really, what was I thinking?!).

How's your autumn been so far? Have you gone leaf peeping?

Autumn's Bounty -Keuka Lake Wine Trail Tour

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a break from daily life with a few friends and went on a Sunday wine tour. We purchased some tickets for the Keuka Lake Wine Trail that included eight wineries, but, we only got to five of them. We started out at Heron Hill Winery and not only tasted some good wines but some good food too.

Pictured to the right is a view from the pathway leading up into the winery. And if you like pumpkin, their Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake is to die for!

They had a beautiful garden of which they clipped some flowers for the tables. We loved this pink flower but cannot figure out what it is.

Do you know what this flower is? Please leave a comment -I'd love to plant it in my garden!

Personally, I'm a white wine girl. I can tolerate some reds and have found a handful I really like that I keep in my personal stock. In fact, a few years back I happened to taste a port wine while in Pennsylvania and LOVED IT!!!

So when I discovered Heron Hill had both a red and white wine labeled "Eclipse", I simply had to share it with you. I (of course) like the white more than the red, but I pictured the bottles for all you Twilight fans out there. Come on now...how more ironic can you get...red wine...vampires...twilight?! You see it right?

The next stop was Dr. Frank's
Vinifera Wine Cellars
. I'm pretty sure we picked up at least one bottle of wine from each winery but most memorable at Dr. Frank's winery was the view from the deck. Simply breathtaking. This same view could be seen to the left and right with miles upon miles of grape vines.

The day may have started out hazy but it was the perfect setting for the beginning of fall and the harvesting of wine season.

Our third stop was Stever Hill Vineyards. Here we were able to get up close to the grapes and snap a few delicious pictures.

Don't these look so delicious that you just want to pick one off the vine and taste it?! With the vineyard located just behind the house and barn, the black and white cat sitting next to the vines, was picture perfect..but I didn't get that picture. :-)

The tasting took place inside the barn and while we sampled some good homemade cooking, I spied three different colors of grapes in their containers off to the side.

The colors were so lush and seasonally perfect that I had my husband assemble them into a "group picture" for you. Whether purposely placed there or not, they definately added some ambiance to the tour!

The last two stops were Hunt Country Vineyards and Keuka Spring Vineyards. At Hunt Country, everyone was so very friendly and they even had a mascot -Gus. He was a little shy but a beautiful dog! In fact, the vineyard creates a wine named "Gus" (which of course we purchased) and donates a portion of the proceeds to an animal organization. BTW -the "Gus" wine was delicious!

The last stop for the day was Keuka Spring. Now, I don't know if it was the end of the tour, or if the servers had a long day -but ya know, wasn't so great. It seemed everytime the server started coming our way, he would serve someone along the way. It almost felt like he was ignoring us. At one point, I asked him if they had a paper copy of the wine selection list. He stood staring at me with this blank look for a few moments and then asked, "yes, do you want one?". Well, ah, yeah? Duh. Isn't that why I asked for one? So, sadly, not so great an experience for the last stop.

All in all, it was a relaxing, great day with some friends. Tasted some new wines, picked up some new ones for our personal stock and enjoyed the beginning of the fall season.

Happy Autumn!!

Heart Transplants: Inspiring Customer Feedback

A few months back I posted about custom and customizing awareness jewelry in which I showcased a heart transplant survivor awareness bracelet I had customized for a customer. This customer (Barbara) asked to have our Transplant Awareness Survivor Heart Bracelet (B173-TX) crystals changed to red. She wanted to give the bracelet to her daughter for her birthday and in celebration of her heart transplant.

Shown at right is a picture of the recipient (Jeannette) opening her gift -a Custom Survivor Heart Crystal Awareness Bracelet (B173-SI).

This is what my customer said about her beautiful bracelet:
Dear Stephanie,
After attending my daughter's (Jeannette) birthday party, I just had to tell you how much everyone was stunned at the bracelet that I gave to her. My daughter, as well as everyone else, were amazed at how beautiful and appropriate my gift was. This made me feel great. My daughter will cherish it forever! Of course, I told everyone about you and where I found my gift.

Thank you so much. It was a pleasure doing business with you.
Barbara


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Not more than a month later, another customer, currently on the heart transplant waiting list, requested this design as well. In her email request, she wrote, "Some days it is hard to keep a positive attitude when one is feeling so tired and weak. I think wearing this bracelet and looking at it would remind me one day at a time that you can do this, you are a survivor. Thanks for what you do making items like this to give individuals like me hope and encouragement".

When I emailed her to tell her the bracelet shipped, she wrote back, "Thanks again and may you be richly blessed for helping individuals like me to have something beautiful to look at for inspiration along their journey".

But, I was completely blown away when I opened my email the other day. My customer had sat down and written a most thoughtful email about how much she loved her awareness bracelet and how it gave her comfort and hope. If I have not said it a thousand times before, I'll say it again: THIS IS WHY I LOVE TO DESIGN AWARENESS JEWELRY! To touch peoples lives in this way is just beyond words. It fills my heart...

Here is my customers' email to me:

Dear Stephanie,
I just wanted to let you know I received my bracelet Monday. I absolutely "love it". I had to go to Transplant clinic last Friday and was feeling so down. They think I have some issues going on with my lungs now. The week-end was really stressful, because they had sceduled me for a bunch of testing Tuesday. I put that beautiful bracelet on and everytime I felt myself feeling down, I looked at it and my spirits would lift. I wore it through the testing and it helped "so" much. I am claustrophobic and the pulmonary function test requires getting closed up in a glass
cage. I would just glance at my bracelet when I tensed up, and did the same for the
CT scans. I am sorry to ramble on, but I just had to let you know what a blessing
the bracelet has been to me. Even though I am a yellow-gold girl, I love it.

I don't want to take it off, but will it hurt it to wear it showering or to bed. I do not want to damage it. Thank you again so much for what you do, and thank you for the beautiful card that you enclosed and the pen. I look forward to doing business again.
Hope you have a great day,
Charlene


Thank you, thank you, thank you to ALL my wonderful customers for providing me the feedback that helps inspire me and my designs. I'm so overjoyed you love your designs and that they offer you comfort and hope.

In response to Charlene's question on the proper care of her handmade beaded bracelet, there is a jewelry article on the website detailing the proper storage and care of beaded jewelry.

Organ Transplant Awareness Ribbon Bracelet (B105)

Although green represents many awareness diseases, this bracelet was designed as a symbol for Organ Donation awareness and the Gift of Life through Transplantation.

When someone receives a set of transplanted lungs, it has been said the new lungs look like a butterfly opening its' wings, when they take their first breath of new life.
Organ Transplant Awareness Ribbon Bracelet (B105)
Organ Transplant Awareness Ribbon Bracelet (B105)
SOLD

This handmade beaded awareness bracelet features green emerald Swarovski Crystals with white Swarovski Pearls accenting sterling silver awareness ribbons beads.

Finished with a sterling silver butterfly charm (symbolizing lung transplant) and our signature jewelry tag. Measures 7-1/2".

This bracelet has been, by far, the most popular! Don't wait to get yours -this bracelet sells out very quickly and sometimes it can take months to get it back in stock.

Green is nationally recognized as the Organ Donation Awareness and Transplant Awareness ribbon colors.

This bracelet has been featured in the following media: -Shooting Stars Mag Blog

Creative Desserts: Berry Pudding Cake

For a recent invitiation we received to a friends' summer cookout, I decided to bring a dessert (since well, I love to make desserts). Most of the time, I try to find someone different and unique or at least something I haven't seen brought to other gatherings. I am a die-hard Betty Crocker fan but this time, I checked out Better Homes and Gardens online to search their recipes.

I came across their (notice how great their picture looks...) Berry Pudding Cake, loaded with various fruits (summer friendly) and light enough that it was actually heart healthy. Perfect. Go to the store, gather all the ingredients. I have a plan. Of course, as life would happen, "the plan", slightly changed the day I was to make them. Had all this running around to do and still had to get more of the individual tart dishes. sigh...


Rush home, start preparations. Cut up fruit, arrange in dishes (easy enough). Make the "cake" batter (hmm..didn't get fat-free milk..oh just use what I have). Fill the dishes and bake (cooking time is short -good). Out of the oven they emerge. Mmmmm..looks tasty...might be a little short on the berries....and probably should have made another batch of batter since the recipe served 6 and I needed 8 dishes. Lesson learned.

End result. They were a little "flat" because of the lack of berries and batter, but overall, pretty tasty and the perfect summer dessert! Will definately try these again.

Want to try them yourself? Here's the recipe link:

http://www.diabeticlivingonline.com/recipe/cakes/berry-pudding-cake/

Island Treasures Wedding: Jewelry Inspiration Board

It should come as no surprise that I'm completely mesmerized by our new Island Treasures Summer Jewelry Collection featuring CrystallizedTM Swarovski Elements Starfish.

Although originally designed for everyday summer fashions, I quickly realized that all three crystal colors would also pair perfectly with a summer wedding. So I got to work building a jewelry inspiration board that would make any bride weep with joy.


Although I was a winter bride and loved my winter wedding (held just three days before Christmas). Just about a month before our wedding we took a trip to Sanibel Island. IF for some reason, my winter wedding was not doable, I definitely would have considered a beach wedding, right on Sanibel Island.

The pieces of jewelry shown above are the Blue Crystal Starfish Charm Floating Circles Bracelet (B178-IN) and MOP Shell Circles Blue Starfish Crystal Necklace (N100).

Bronze Starfish Sandals -Image by Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry CreationsThe layers of the wedding dress featured, by Brides.com, reminded me of waves on the ocean, rolling towards the beach.

Ironically, just a few weeks ago, I purchased a pair of bronze jewel encrusted sandals from Dress Barn (love 'em!).

After wearing them I thought, 'gee...these would be perfect for a beach wedding' (in white of course!). So if you're having a beach wedding or destination wedding, why bother with the formality of a wedding shoe -wear a wedding sandal!

Featured in the set above are a pair of women's starfish beaded sandals by Cocobelle.

Summertime Fun Summer Design Partner Gallery

I'm a little late in announcing this, but I'm still super excited!! My Summertime Designs and photo were the featured album cover for Artbeads' Summertime Design Partners Gallery II on Facebook!! Thanks Artbeads!

At the time I clipped the picture to the right, there were only 69 beautiful designer pieces in the album. Now there are over 110+!! Some of the pieces carried over the spring theme of butterflies and flowers, with tons of techniques used from beaded jewelry, wire wrap to bead weaving. I loved looking over the colors used and the unique vision each designer produced. Even the photo interpretations were stunning. You simply have to check them for yourself!