Let Summer Begin: Long Island Iced Crystal Gemstone Bracelet

First week of camp: friends and initiation (?)!
For so many kids, summer brings visions of carefree days, friends, swimming, having fun, ice cream and so much more.

Recently a good friend asked me if I had any plans for the summer. While thinking, I mumbled something about surviving it. :-)

We learn something new everyday, right? With the first week of summer camp over, lesson #1:

Summer camp = one tired little girl!

Each day is filled with fun and activities. We get a full summer schedule, in advance, and many of the activities the little one will be doing at day camp are the very things I had hoped to do with her, over the summer. Lesson #2:

Responsibility = is no fun!

The first week of camp included a camp t-shirt and creating her first friendship bracelets. She has such a big heart. The first two she made she, well, gave to her friend! Guess that's the point of them, right?! My version of a bracelet celebrating friends:
Long Island Iced Crystal Gemstone Beaded Bracelet (B183)
Long Island Iced Crystal Gemstone Beaded Bracelet (B183)
$55.15
Hmmm...interesting....they all have sterling silver cocktail charms! Shown above is Long Island Iced Tea Onyx Carnelian Gemstone Crystal Charm Beaded Bracelet (B183). Most of my girl friend cocktail charm "friendship" bracelets don't stay in stock very long and the ladies demand more and more each year.

About the design:
Friendship was the inspiration behind this handmade beaded bracelet. Friends are an important part of our lives and this bracelet celebrates special girlfriends and fond memories of a girls night out. After a long day at work, isn't it fun to just get out with the girls, relax and have a tasty cocktail?! This irresistibly fun cocktail charm bracelet features Swarovski Crystal, carnelian gemstone, onyx gemstone, sterling silver Bali and a long island iced tea charm. Finished with our signature jewelry tag. Measures 7-3/4".

Oh yes...the topic is summer camp. My philosophy: If she has a good, safe day, I'm okay with that. By the third day, though, sure enough, she took a tumble. But, nothing three bandaids (2 purple, 1 regular) couldn't fix. If she were a cat, she'd have landed on her feet, right?! Instead, her feet are what got in the way.

I don't think I could send her off to camp -as in, over night, away camp -no way! My brother had actually gone off to camp when he was little. I was jealous that I couldn't go but was happy he had the experience and it was a camp that understood his health needs (and didn't turn him away because of it). Only once or twice did we have to pick him up because of difficulty breathing.

In thinking about him, I asked the little one if she knew what "away" camp was (explained it a little) and she said she did. I told her when kids go off to camp they often write their parents letters. So, for fun, I asked her what she would write back to us (if she was at "away camp"). Here's her response:

Dear mom and dad,
I miss you. Can you bring me your self? Oh, and some cookies too.
Love, N


We've got some new memories to put in our book and the little one is anxious, so off I go...

Custom Swarovski Crystal Musical Charm Necklaces

Custom Swarovski Crystal Musical Charm Necklaces N107-N108
French Horn and Trombone
So many ideas. So little time.

I completely realize we are just nine days into the summer season and here I am (finally!) posting about a custom beaded order I received just before the holidays...2010!

Seems I had created the draft blog post but had not completed it. Recently while cleaning up the blog, I accidentally posted it...and it wasn't ready yet.

So, that mistake, which actually turned out well, has pushed me to get this shared with you. See...everything happens for a reason.

My long time customer, Roland, usually places a wholesale order for my beaded suncatchers. He gives them out to his own customers'. But this time, he wanted two custom handmade beaded necklaces to give as gifts to his granddaughters.

One granddaughter, Lauren (16 years old), plays the trombone. The other, Christina (14 years old), plays the french horn. The best part of this custom order was that Roland gave me full artistic freedom in the overall design, all he requested was that each necklace have a pendant that represented the instrument that each played and that both be made with purple crystals (their favorite color -and mine too!).

French Horn Swarovski Crystal Necklae Redux with Sterling Cameo for Pendant
After delivery of both necklaces, Roland decided he wanted the french horn necklace to have cameo effect for the pendant.

A bit of sterling silver wire did the job perfectly!

I was a little concerned that a 14-year old might not "get" the cameo as very fashionable. But, both girls loved their necklaces! Whew!

The French Horn Swarovski Crystal Muscial Charm Necklace (N107) featured a mix of both light amethyst and amethyst crystals, artistic wire wrapping and was fully adjustable from 13-1/4" to 14-1/4".

The Trombone Swarovski Crystal Ombre Musical Charm Necklace (N108) also featured a mix of both light amethyst and amethyst crystals wire wrapped in an ombre effect on a sterling silver chain and measured 15" in length.

Enjoy girls!!

Prevent Animal Cruelty Orange Paw Crystal Anklet (A118)

June is National Adopt A Shelter Cat Awareness Month.

Personally, I believe pet adoption should be your first option. All my pets have been rescues, even as a child. And each one has brought happiness and something unique to my life.

There are many health benefits of pet ownership*, pets can decrease your:
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Feelings of loneliness
They can also increase your:
  • Opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Opportunities for socialization
Many shelters are running adoption specials this month, especially on cats. But, please, before you adopt, make sure you can make the full commitment of pet ownership and will honestly make the commitment.
Prevent Animal Cruelty Orange Paw Crystal Awareness Anklet (A118)
Orange Prevent Animal Cruelty Awareness Anklet (A118)
Crystal Red Aventurine Gemstone Beaded Anklet
$32.95
In January 2010, I introduced a new collection of Swarovski Crystal Animal Awareness Bracelets to support spaying-neutering your pet to help reduce pet overpopulation, prevention of animal abuse and the prosecution of abusers. A percentage of the proceeds is donated to applicable charities and/or programs.

Recently added to this collection is the Prevent Animal Cruelty Orange Paw Crystal Awareness Anklet (A118), designed with orange crystals and red aventurine gemstone beads (the awareness color representing prevention of animal cruelty). With this 10-1/2" beaded anklet, not only are you raising awareness but you will also be a fashionista!

Pantone has named Tangerine Tango (orange) as the color of the year (2012) and orange is also the nationally recognized color for raising awareness of Animal Abuse and Cruelty.

Help save an animal's life and reap all the benefits of pet ownership -adopt a shelter cat (or pet) today!

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I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce two of our rescue shelter cats. Meet Doodie and Ralphie (aka Mushie Man).

As with all pets, ours were named for their personalities. Doodie, a domestic short-haired tiger cat, was actually named Lucky and indeed he was. He was scheduled to be euthanized but somehow got out of his cage and hide in a dog's cage for three days. When the shelter found him, they felt he was special and they contacted a no-kill shelter to take him in.

Doodie got his name from, well, his stomach problems. When he was little...yeah...it wasn't pretty. But, he fought against the odds and today he is a little stinker (and I mean that in a cute way!).

Ralphie is our black and white tuxedo cat. He was actually already in a no-kill shelter when we adopted him and he was raised from kittenhood by the woman we adopted him from. For the record, tuxedo cats, their breed usually means they will have weight issues, so they take a little extra care to not become obese. In the picture below, he just looks much bigger because he is laying next to petite Doodie. He gets his nickname, Mushie Man, because he's such a lover!
Shelter Pets Adopted by Crystal Allure Jewelry Designer
Doodie (far left); Doodie and Ralphie
In the first picture, Doodie looks like he's getting his inner crank on. Nice face! In the second picture, my second oldest niece said it looked like Doodie was, well, passing gas. Is this interpretation something similar to 'what shape is that cloud'? And well, given his stomach issues, he just may have!

I'm a little late in sharing this important blog post and introducing you to some of our sweet adopted cats. It's been a busy week and after today's work day, seemed an appropriate post to show the value of animals and pets. And I must admit, my mind has been elsewhere, seems like for weeks, but my focus kind of got away from me this week. But, thanks to my friends and a few of my readers for the kick nudge (in the email)!

*http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm

A Change to Using Google at Checkout

Effective June 26, 2012 Google announced a change in their checkout offerings. Google Checkout has now changed to Google Wallet.

Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry Designs does accept Google payments but this change will not affect how you checkout on our site. The only change you may notice is the payment logo for Google Wallet (which looks similar to the one on the right).

Here is what we received from Google explaining this new change:

- Google Wallet securely stores your payment information and makes purchasing fast both online and in-store.

- If you’ve used Google Wallet or Google Checkout before, all you need to do is log in with your Google username and password to buy from us.

- If you’re using Google Wallet for the first time, just fill out the single page of information when you make your purchase. After that, you’ll only need your Google Wallet login to make a purchase. There’s no need to re-enter your information or create multiple usernames and passwords each time you buy.

- When you pay with Google Wallet, you can track all of your orders in one place.

Humorous Parenting

Ballerina box holding one school year of paperwork
With school having ended, I spent some time filtering through the little one's paperwork (what to keep, what to save). It is A-mazing what waste one child could generate.

She has a ballerina box that we have her put all her school work into each day she comes home from school. The box dimensions are 16-1/2" (long) x 14" (wide) x 10" (deep). This box was full from just one school year and to be honest, I had already filtered out some of her papers as she brought them home!

We try to have her be more aware of how much paper she uses (trees provide clean air and the more paper we use, the more trees that have to be cut down, etc., etc.). But, sometimes you just can't curb creativity, I guess. :-)

While I was doing this paper cleansing, the little one decided she was going to work with me in her playroom and began compiling handwritten notes -that later I learned she taped all over the house.

One of the notes, she taped on the basement door. Our cats' hard food bowls are on the landing of the basement stairs. One of her daily responsibilities is to make sure the food bowls are full.

On this particular day, it was a hectic day and she forgot to check the bowls when we got home. My husband also happened to get home late on this day and she was already in bed for the night.

Knowing what the note said, I tell him there's a note for him on the basement door. He reads the note, "the cast needs privasye" (in kids' speak it really says, "the cats need privacy").

My husband assesses things and writes her a note back.

It reads, "The cats need food!" and tapes it to the door. The next morning she reads it and giving us the most cute girl smirk she could work, she smiles coyly, apologizes and proceeds to fill the bowls. :-)

I'm not sure what her goal was with the note, but I don't think she believed we'd write her a note back or that she'd get a response. Either way, it was way to funny!

Now, onto jewelry related news (the main purpose of the blog). I've been working with some fantastic ladies and will have a few custom beaded jewelry designs to share with you soon.

One custom request is for a couple of pulmonary fibrosis awareness bracelets and the other is for an aplastic anemia awareness bracelet.

Stay tuned....

What Lingers...Beneath The Surface

Sand Piper on Sanibel Island, Florida, November 2001
Sand Piper on Sanibel Island, Florida
November 2001
Each time I had vacationed on Sanibel Island, it was usually for a week at a time. But, I saw very little of the island because I spent every waking hour at the beach. I really didn't care much to see what else Sanibel offered. Except I did go to Captiva Island for dinner. Great restaurant down there. Oh, and I did do a little shopping. A girl has gotta shop! Here was my daily schedule:

-Wake up (with the sandpipers)
  -Go to beach
-Eat lunch
  -Go back to beach
-Eat dinner
  -Go back to beach, stay until (past) sunset
-Sleep, then repeat

Funny story. The first year we vacationed on Sanibel Island, it was with two other people. We unloaded our bags and went straight to the beach. Walking about knee-deep or so in the surf, four across, with me closest to the 'deep' end of the ocean. Something small and fluttery swam between mine and my husbands' feet, startling us (we later discovered it was a wee-bitty little stingray). So, what does he do? He saves himself. Yes. You read that correctly. He pushes me toward the ocean while he jumps toward the beach...nice. And yet, I still married him. :-)

One on evening, we went to go watch the sunset. There was a family at the beach and two of their kids were in the water. Daylight had been fading away and as I watched them, I commented out loud, I hoped they (the parents) are watching those kids (because of course, I was thinking about 'what you can't see beneath, and I saw the father with a cocktail in his hands). No sooner had I thought this but this fin pops out of the water, I start toward the parents but luckily dad was paying attention and ran into the water shouting for them to get out. The kids got out safely.

The ocean is what I like to term a "beautiful nightmare". Its' sparkling blue waters and sandy floors will lure you in, but, believe for one moment the ocean is your friend and you could find yourself struggling in its' powerful waves and currents.

Or, you just might end up as shark bait..hoo, ha-ha (sorry, had to throw that in there!), if you're not careful. Personally, I am not a fan of not being able to see what's below me in the water. Maybe I watched too many Jaws movies.

Sanibel Island. The beach. The unknowns of daily life. These were the inspirations behind two newest handmade beaded necklace designs, affectionately termed Sink or Swim. When I discovered these two unique one-of-a-kind lampwork glass pendants, the swirling green and blue colors reminded me of the ocean.

Both necklaces feature Swarovski Crystals, sterling silver and a unique artisan lampwork glass pendant. See below for purchase information.

Ocean Inspired Green or Blue Artisan Lampwork Crystal Necklaces (N124)
JAWS coming up out of the deep blue sea

I know you are all alone sneaking in some internet time and if you got this far in the blog post, you saw him....and you're mind wandered with me. Go ahead. It's okay. You can admit it. It scared you too!
Green Artisan Lampwork Swirl Crystal Beaded Necklace (N124-G)
Green Artisan Lampwork Swirl Crystal Beaded Necklace (N124-G)
$59.10
Sink. If you are fascinated by the deep sea, you're going to love this green handmade beaded necklace.

A mysterious 16.5mm green swirling artisan lampwork glass button pendant is the focal on this design, accented with both olivine and lime green Swarovski Crystals, sterling silver , Bali beads and silver-lined seed beads.

Finished with a single Swarovski Crystal charm dangle and signature jewelry tag.

This one of a kind necklace is a PRINCESS length at 18-1/2".
Blue Artisan Lampwork Crystal Necklace (N124-B)
Blue Artisan Lampwork Crystal Necklace (N124-B)
$59.10
Swim. If you love the blue oceans, you're going to love this deep blue handmade beaded necklace.

A mesmerizing 16.5mm blue swirling artisan lampwork glass button pendant is the focal on this design, accented with both indian sapphire and montana blue Swarovski Crystals, sterling silver, Bali beads and silver-line seed beads.

Finished with a single Swarovski Crystal charm dangle and signature jewelry tag.

This one of a kind necklace measures a PRINCESS length at 18-1/2".

Funnyisms

While in the car today it starts to rain and I say, "uh-oh". The little one asks why I said that. I remind her because Lucy (our dog) doesn't like the rain. She replies with something I say all the time, "no worries!". Tell that to the dog.

Then a short time later she says, "We should get a white car because our last name is White." I laugh. She then says, "And we can get purple, pink and yellow on it for our favorite colors. Ohh, and a rainbow heart...on top." Uhhhh -no. :-)

I'll concede (in theory, of course) to the favorite colors (I suppose it could work..somehow) but I put my foot down at the rainbow heart on top. Silly girl. :-)

Happy Transplant Bracelet Customer

Cheryl had purchased our unique, one of a kind Jasper Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B165) and here's what she had to say:
Dear Stephanie,
I love my bracelet. The fit is perfect and the color is my birthstone so it was a fantastic birthday present from my husband! It means so much to me. August 31, 2011 my stepson had a double lung transplant, he too has Cystic Fibrosis! He was 40 when he had it done and he has been very lucky. He weighed 104 lbs and had to be put on a feeding tube to gain the weight in order to be considered for a transplant. He now weighs 157 lbs. It is truly a miracle and no oxygen. He has a life now! He was just baptized Easter Sunday and what a special moment in all our lives!

Thank you again, I have gotten a lot of compliments and it is so special for me. You have done such a wonderful thing for others!
-Cheryl
Jasper Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B165)
Jasper Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B165)
SOLD

Cheryl then took the time to sit down and write a lovely note:
He (stepson) is doing well and it is a miracle. I have never had such a beautiful bracelet. I admire your courage to take sad moments in your life [find the beauty in them] and encourage others who have gone or who are going through [to do] the same thing. Thank you,
Cheryl
Thank you Cheryl!! I truly appreciate you taking the time to pen a note and for your thoughtful comments. In light of my recent blog postings -my customers comments and thoughts are also a source of inspiration as I continue to design the beautiful beaded bracelets that adorn women's wrists' around the world!

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Design details:
This one of a kind handmade gemstone awareness bracelet features a jasper gemstone centered on a strand of white Swarovski Pearls and green emerald Crystals, accented by sterling silver, Bali and finished with a sterling silver awareness ribbon charm and our signature jewelry tag.

What is so unique about this jasper gemstone is its' coloring with ribbons of green, beige and a hint of purple, it is the perfect stone representing both cystic fibrosis and transplant. Measures 7-1/2".

Due to the natural gemstone used, this is a one-of-a-kind beaded awareness bracelet and cannot be replicated.

Diane's Custom LLGL Red Heart Survivor Bracelet (B113-HRT-II)

The best gift to give is one from the heart.

Diane's (48 year old) daughter, Candy, had just recently received a much awaited and anticipated heart transplant. Congrats Candy!!

To celebrate this milestone in both their lives', Diane went on a search for a meaningful gift. She came across Charlene's Custom Live Life Give Life Red Heart Transplant Bracelet (B113-HRT). Immediately she knew this was the perfect gift for her daughter.
Diane's Custom Live Life Give Life Heart Transplant Bracelet (B113-HRT-II)
Diane's Custom Live Life Give Life Heart Survivor Bracelet (B113-HRT-II)
SOLD

The original handcrafted beaded bracelet design was modified slightly but still retained all the important elements of our exclusive design. Diane's custom awareness bracelet features a mix of both sterling silver and 14 karat goldfill precious metals, red Swarovski Crystals, sterling silver letter block beads that read 'Live Life Give Life' and finished with a red Swarovski Crystal Heart charm and our signature jewelry tag.

A symbol of HOPE. A source of AWARENESS. This bracelet represents the voices of individuals and their families who face life-threatening illnesses everyday.

Anyone, worldwide, who has been touched by a life-threatening illness knows the importance of the gift of life -transplant. Organ transplant is made possible by the those individuals who have lived their lives and choose to give life back through organ donation.

Consider donating your organs today.

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As I prepared this blog post I realized how much admiration I have for my customers. Each customer who contacts me for a custom awareness bracelet is either at discovery, nearing, in the middle of, or past their personal crisis. And their lives are forever changed by it.

In their search for hope, understanding, healing, remembrance, they open their hearts and share with me their personal stories. There are many exchanges that I simply do not share here because, I feel, they are something which was between just them and myself.

Many of us protect ourselves from hurt by putting up those walls or closing up our hearts. But, doing this also closes out someone who could really touch your soul. The point is, with great love comes the possibility of being hurt -that's the risk you must take.

I'll be the first to admit, it's not easy being vulnerable, or opening up. But, these very special people open their hearts to me and I, in turn, warmly reciprocate. I have no hidden agenda in getting to know my customers and what brought them to Crystal Allure Jewelry. And I feel each one has the potential to add great value to my life and happiness.

They trust me with their personal stories and lives to create for them something that will be treasured for a lifetime. It is really, I, who gets the greatest gift. Which is why I put so much of myself into each design and incorporate as many personal touches, as possible. There is a special meaning to every awareness design I have created and with it comes stories of heartbreak, strength, courage and hope.

Even today, I share the occasional email with some of my past customers'. It's a great feeling and I really must thank my fantastic customers for allowing me into their lives and for trusting me with their heart.

Little Reasons We Celebrate Father's Day

Source: 1000GiftIdeas.com
Here's wishing every great dad out there today a Happy Father's Day!! Hope you enjoy your day and your gifts!

Let me share with you my little reason for celebrating father's day. Yesterday, the little one and I are enroute to the salon and I remind her of something we have to do. Here's our conversation:

Me: After the salon we have to go shopping for a father's day gift.

Little One: What are we going to get?

Me: I'll know it when I see it. (this is code for I haven't a darn clue)

Little One: Can't we just get him a tie?

I like her thinking.

Me: No. He doesn't have to wear suits and ties to work.

Little One: Oh. Only on fancy days?

Me: uhh, yes?! (that closes this topic)

We get finished at the salon, head over to the store. We're in the store in the beauty section (I know...we're getting to the men's stuff...really we are) and the little one asks me, "Where is the husband isle?"

The "husband isle"? I can hardly contain myself. But, I'm thinking to myself...if only it were that easy, I'm sure alot of women would be very happy. :-)

----
I realize the tie picture isn't all that fantastic, per se. But, after seeking the comments from several friends about what male celebrity to post (who happens to be wearing a suit and tie that fit the theme of the blog post), I got back suggestions ranging from Eric Dane, Mario Lopez, George Clooney to Mark Wahlberg and more.

Now, I'll come clean here. I had absolutely no problem doing the actual research for this blog post. Sometimes, you just have to take one for the team, right?! But, in trying to keep it real for my male readers, I doubted they would prefer any of the pictures I would have selected. So, I opted on the side of 'safe' with a picture of a tie.  :-)

Thanks for the help, ladies. I think.

Artwork in the Home -My Home

Hand sketched custom artwork title "The White Family"
of pumpkins by Bronson Hill Arts
It shouldn't come as no surprise that I am a big fan of Bronson Hill Arts. I've mentioned Barb's artwork before and I'm not kidding, I have it all over my house! This is proven by my personalized painted wine glass, custom gift tag and sunflower photo, to name just a few.

Some time ago (yes, it has taken this long to post about them), I had asked my artisan friend, Barb, to create artwork that showcased three pumpkins representing the three members of our new family.

What she presented to me far exceeded my expectations. A hand sketched, colored pencil, autumn pumpkin family custom artwork. And she provided me with two additional copies of the custom pumpkins so the little one could have one in her room. Aww, you're such a good friend Barb! (and a great artist!)

Barb pulls inspiration from many different sources, and as I've discovered, at times our conversations! Sometimes she gets it rights, sometimes, she misses (the point....my point). But how the art was interpreted doesn't matter. What matters is the quality of the art. Which is why Bronson Hill Arts is so popular.

I'm so proud of my "little student". lol. A year or so back, Barb, finally took some time for herself to focus on her art and I was right there badgering encouraging her to share it with the world. I think I may even be able to take a little all credit for getting her to start a blog, work on a website and market her goods. We even get together periodically to purposely discuss marketing our businesses (and sometimes we really do get some work done!). In the twelve plus years' I've been working on my businesses', I've learned a lot. So, I love to share all that knowledge with her.

Now, if I can just get my other friend Darlene to start a blog on her beautiful home decorating style....

Purple Coneflowers colored pencil Artwork
by Bronson Hill Arts
You can check out Barb's work, in person, this coming weekend at her first show. The concept for her booth set up is fantastic and I guarantee if you see it, you will definately step into her booth. It draws you in and once you look at her artwork -you too will be hooked. The show details:

What: 9th Annual Wildflowers & Wine Celebration
When: Father's Day, June 17, 2012
Time: 11 am - 4 pm
Where: Montezuma Winery & Hidden Marsh Distillery
2981 Auburn Rd (Route 20)
Seneca Falls, NY 13148
(315) 568-8190
http://www.montezumawinery.com/

This event is also a fundraiser for the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge (315-568-5987). So your purchase will work double-time!

Hope you have a great show Barb!

Barb: I know you will read this blog post and just so ya know...I've got another idea that I'd like you to create. :-)  I guess I'll give you some time to rest from your show but then...expect my call. :-)

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To all my loyal email and newsletter readers, my apologies for the notice posting you received about autumn gold jewelry. I've been working, all week, on cleaning up the blog and must have inadvertently published a draft idea I had. Sorry about that. :-) You probably thought I was losing it...an autumn jewelry post in the summer. Silly me.

My Muse: Happy Birthday Eddie!

Awww! Aren't we sweet?!
To understand the passion I have for both designing jewelry and for the heartfelt designs I create, you have to know where it comes from.

Today is my oldest brothers' birthday. He passed away fourteen years ago from complications from cystic fibrosis, while waiting for a double lung transplant. Just prior to his passing I had begun an aggressive fundraising campaign to raise money to help defray the costs of his lung transplant and life-long follow up care.

Less than two years after his passing, I had founded and registered a charitable organization in his memory. The mission of the Foundation was to raise money to give to individuals and families faced with cystic fibrosis and/or transplant costs. The Foundation has provided assistance funds to over 100 individuals and families in need.

That may not seem like a huge number, but consider these facts: (1) We are a small all-volunteer grassroots fundraising organization -no big grants, no big corporate donors, no national media attention, no paid staff; (2) We created a solid program structure and, really, a new charitable model where (a) no other organization like this existed that (b) provided the services we provided and (c) actually succeeded at it; (3) We made contact, through the good 'ole method of snail mail letter, with approximately 260 care centers and built long-term relationships with over 70 social workers. These accomplishments were no easy feat. This doesn't even speak to the physical, emotional and taxing work that was involved in fundraising.

However, over the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to raise the funds, find the time and volunteers necessary to support our much needed programs. I have come to the difficult decision that the Foundation will be dissolved by years' end. But, I accept this turning point with an open heart. It's time. The Foundation has been providing assistance funds for nearly twelve years. I am only able to let this go because I can look back at all those families we helped and I know, in my heart, what good we did for them. The Foundation accomplished exactly what it set out to do and now its' time to let it go. I may reinvent the Foundation concept somehow, but the charitable part will have to be dissolved.

While running the Foundation, I had come up with a fundraising idea of selling beaded bracelets, designed for our awareness causes (cystic fibrosis, transplant, lung transplant). I searched high and low and found absolutely no jewelry or bracelets that supported raising awareness of cystic fibrosis, lung transplant or organ donation. So, what did I do? I fulfilled that unmet need, of course! The first two handcrafted awareness bracelets designed were back in early 2004. It makes me proud to say, to date, Crystal Allure Jewelry is the leader of cystic fibrosis, lung transplant, organ donation and transplant related beaded awareness bracelets! In the competitive market of jewelry, this too was no easy feat.

I can stand proud of these accomplishments because really neither were for me. Both endeavors were for the benefit of someone or something else and I wouldn't have it any other way. Okay, in fairness, I do get something out of both. Comfort, hope, peace of heart and mind. Satisfaction that I have contributed back and made a difference. I guess you could say, my brother is my guardian angel. He is and always will be my inspiration.

Born and blessed with both benevolent and entrepreneur qualities, I always knew I'd run my own business someday. I just never dreamed it would be two and that both would help people. I completely realize, I've put in the actual effort that ultimately made these businesses' successful. But it was the short time I had with Eddie that provided me a lifetime of memories that continue to motivate me and drive me to be humble to others' struggles and to be as successful as I can be. From my point of view, he is the sole reason why Crystal Allure Jewelry exists today. Our beautiful beaded jewelry is shipped all over the world and I get to meet some pretty fantastic people along this journey. :-)

Growing up with him, his illness and what it meant really gave me a different perspective on life -on living -and on making the most of everyday. I can't imagine not being able to breathe almost every. day. of. your. life. No. Wait. Yes, I think I can and it scares the bejesus out of me! Even on my most worst of days, if you ask me, my response will always be: everything is fine; I'm good. That's how I roll because I know this is just a day, it will pass. But somewhere, someone most surely "has it worse than me". I'm sure of it.

The lens(es) from which I view life were forever changed the day he passed away. I was changed, humbled, crushed, deeply saddened and felt alone. Through my own healing journey, I have discovered, time heals all wounds. I took my loss, sadness and turned it into two successful businesses, eternally celebrating his memory and what he means and meant to me.

Now you have a little better picture of what motivates me and inspires my jewelry designs. My ability to relate to many of my customers is what makes Crystal Allure Jewelry so personable. I infuse each custom jewelry piece with as many personal touches, from the customer, as I can. My artisan designs are always inspired by everyday life. And what is so great about our awareness jewelry is it works double time. Not only does the purchaser get an exquisite piece of jewelry (that was not mass produced) a portion of the proceeds gets donated to charity. It's a win-win. These, and many more, reasons are what sets Crystal Allure Jewelry apart from the competition and makes our business model and handcrafted jewelry designs so unique.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey of rediscovering the roots and purpose of Crystal Allure Jewelry.

About the picture used: I'm not a fan of being in pictures (I'd rather be behind the camera than in front of one) but I chose to feature the above picture of my brother and myself because, (1) having spent a good portion of my younger years "speeding through life", I didn't get many pictures with him; (2) this picture, for me, invokes a lot of good memories and; (3) this picture is actually the one used in the butterfly wing on the back cover of my good friend, Joanne Schum's second edition book: Taking Flight, Insprirational Stories of Lung Transplantation, More Journeys.

My vision for Joanne's 2nd edition book cover
highlighting one of our most popular bracelets
I was asked to contribute my story to this second edition. I was both honored and thrilled to be a part of this fantastic book. I hope you pick up a copy for yourself. There are some amazing stories that will fill your heart and make you look at things a little differently after reading it.

I was also invited to submit my idea(s) for the new book cover. I didn't win but I was 2nd place and was told it was a tough decision for her to make. I'm sad my idea didn't win the cover, but for the first time, since the book was published, I'm sharing my design idea with you.

My rough draft design idea highlights our most popular Transplant Awareness Ribbons Bracelet (B105). Which is also the bracelet that I guess you could say 'put Crystal Allure Jewelry on the map'!

So, join me today in our hearts in wishing Eddie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Eddie: I love you, miss you and you will be forever in my heart. Thank you for being the inspiring force behind my success and for listening when I still talk to you. :-)

Amy's Custom Polycythemia Vera Awareness Bracelet (B188-CPVD)

Amy was very close to her father, who sadly had recently passed away from polycythemia vera, a rare blood cancer disorder.

In her search to find a bracelet that would raise awareness, honor her father and be beautiful at the same time, Amy discovered Crystal Allure Jewelry.

She contacted me for a custom awareness bracelet which we personalized with elements that mattered most to her. Amy had fallen in love with our beautiful and very popular Swarovski Crystal Pearl Mommy Bracelet (B188) but wanted to have it read "daddy" in sterling letter blocks.
Amy's Custom Polycythemia Vera Awareness Bracelet (B188-CPVD)
Amy's Custom Polycythemia Vera Awareness Bracelet (B188-CPVD)
SOLD

Amy's custom awareness bracelet was designed with both red and orange awareness Swarovski Crystals representing polycythemia vera awareness, accented with luminous aurora borealis Swarovski Crystals (her dad's birthstone), eternal love knot rings, sterling silver beads and letter beads for "Daddy". Finished with a sterling silver guardian angel pearl charm, awareness ribbon and our signature jewelry tag.

About Polycythemia Vera:
Polycythemia vera is a bone marrow disease that leads to an abnormal increase in the number of blood cells (primarily red blood cells).

It is a rare disease that occurs more often in men than women, and is rare in patients under age 40. It is usually associated with a gene mutation called JAK2V617F. The cause of this mutation is unknown.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001615/
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Read a few of Amy's comments on her custom bracelet:
Hello Stephanie, I have enjoyed my bracelet now for a week. I wear it every day....love, love it!! It turn out very pretty I truely do like it.. you did a wonderful job! Thank you and I'll talk to you soon. :)
Amy

I can't wait to get it. :) Thank you so much for doing this for me it means the world to me I will treasure it for ever!!! Thanks!! And may God Bless you. :)
Amy

Happy Customer and Planting Freeze Pops

I'm always thrilled and completely appreciative when I hear back from happy customers. It gives me great pleasure to know I've made someone's day and honored their design detail requests that truly make each custom piece a one-of-a-kind!

I received this email recently from Nancy who ordered a Custom Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Graduation Bracelet. Here is what she had to say:
Hi Stephanie!!!
: ) : ) : ) Just wanted to share that I opened the box tonight and the bracelet is perfect, thanks so much! : )  My niece's graduation is in a couple of weeks and I think I may give it to her ahead of time just in case she wants to wear it for her special day. I really appreciate all the time and care you put into the bracelet to make it such a special and meaningful gift.
Thanks, you're the best! : )
-Nancy
I had also received this lovely follow up comment from Holly who ordered the Custom Hope Love Cherish 2-strand Swarovski Crystal Bracelet:
I LOVE the bracelet we made for my friend with cancer. My friend loved it. I am planning on having others made very soon.
-Holly
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It's pretty late, as I prepare this blog post to schedule to post tomorrow. But I just had to share this hilarious story. We bought some of those inexpensive freeze pops for the kids. At the store, the little one asked us what they were for (clearly she was mesmerized by all the vibrant, delicious looking colors).

As a joke, we answered, "we are going to plant them". We totally figured she'd take a minute or so and question this. But she didn't. So, we left it be (with a little giggle, of course).

Today, we brought them out for the little one and her friends and she says, "Hey! Are we going to plant those?"

I laughed so hard, I cried...and couldn't stop for a good few minutes. Even now, I'm giggling about it! Out of the mouth of babes!

BELIEVE Swarovski Stardust Angel Bracelet

Remember my everything happens for a reason post about Frances? She had ordered a cystic fibrosis awareness bracelet and for some reason, her order email address (in PayPal) was mixed up with some gentleman in Texas.

It was not 'by chance' that Frances and this man spoke. It was because he made the choice to call her. A choice that resulted in their connection being solidified -in this case through a commonality -a health matter.
Believe Pearl Stardust Angel Charm Bracelet (B208)
Believe Pearl Stardust Angel Charm Bracelet (B208)
SOLD

But, the commonality is not necessarily the point here. Sometimes it's not to question why, rather it's to accept it is what is to be. He initially called with a purpose (to find out about this strange order email he received). Yet, the call ended with both of their lives having more meaning because (1) he took the chance of calling, making conversation and (2) both made the time to nurture their connection. Regardless of what ever perceived boundaries they felt or assumed they were constrained by. What if Frances had not given him the time of day when he called? What if they conducted the 'business' portion of their call and both rushed off the phone? Although I have not followed up with Frances -I'd bet they both still talk.

The lesson here: Don't waste moments. They are gifts. Throw caution to the wind. Take a chance -cause in the end your life will have greater meaning and value for having taken the leap. If you have given any time thinking about a particular something/someone, there's a moment to be had. You can fight it, but you cannot deny it.

Most people speed through daily life, checking off each accomplishment as they achieve it. Graduation, driving, college, career, dating, marriage, kids, etc, etc. Granted the daily grind of life contributes to almost never glancing backward with so much as a thought. But, think about what you miss when you do this.

I am guilty of this myself. I did it for years, prior to my oldest brother passing away. I don't think to this day I could fully explain why. I just felt this constant drive to boldly grind through life...people...moments...to get to where I was going. And I didn't even know where I was going. I missed connections, time with my brother, time to simply enjoy...life.

I have a lot of theories as to why I did this. Maybe it was to experience all I could -for him -so I could share it with him because he would never get that chance. Maybe it was to avoid what I knew was coming and coming or not, was not prepared for. Again, I have lots of theories. The reality is, I missed out on alot of goodness. For this, I have regret.

In this particular instance, I didn't get a 'do-over' or a second chance. From this I have learned -life is short, make the most of it while you are here. Don't ignore or waste moments. Be happy. Cherish the good people you meet, they give my life value.

When I initially spoke with Frances, my conversation with her sparked a bracelet design concept. Although its' been months, I have discovered the purpose of this blog post and the newest inspired design. The Believe Pearl Stardust Angel Charm Bracelet (B208), shown above, features white Swarovski Pearls, sterling stardust pave' style beads, .925 Bali, sterling letter blocks that read BELIEVE and is finished with sterling silver guardian angel pearl charm and signature jewelry tag. Measures 7-1/2".

Thank you for your inspiration Frances. I hope you are enjoying your new found moments. :-)

Always Late, But Never Forgotten!

Vera Bradley Coin and Key Case in Tea Garden
A woman cannot define her daily life without, in some way, including or referencing her friendships. Our girlfriends' are the next best thing to well, our significant other (but, don't tell the men that!). Although, in fairness, the good men know this.

I always have and still do, make more friends with men than women. However, this post doesn't have anything to do with my male friends. Sorry guys! I have been blessed with some truly great (female) friends that I cherish for the individual and collective roles they play in my life.

Some of these ladies I have been friends with longer than I have been married. Hmmm...they just might know a little too much. They have guided me and seen me through boyfriend woes, college stress, career building, the loss of my brother, infertility, wedding planning, marriage, in-laws, crazy family drama, ladies' nights out (there's always a "mother-hen" amongst us gals...thanks Barb!), ridiculous trends, style changes and so much more. They have been brutally honest at times (ouch!), super supportive (always), catty (you really shouldn't be surprised) and have always accepted me for what I am (a little bit of everything -I like to keep 'em on their toes!).

Each one of these fantastic ladies have enriched my life and I hope I have done the same in return. Of course, not having grown up with sisters, I can also say at times, it's a good thing! Just like the best of them, we can, as they say, 'get in our moods'. We're women. It's what we do. Do not question it. Just go with it. And oh, by the way, should you be around us when 'we are in that mood' -step away...in fact....turn and run!
This is WAY to funny not to share!
I have educated my husband, that when I happen to 'get in one of those moods', his response should always be, 'yes, dear'. I did mention always, didn't I? It's safer that way (for him). lol. I've also explained to him, that if he tells me something and asks me 'not to tell anyone', I totally hear him. Really, I do. BUT. You do understand that I will tell my girlfriends, right?! It's not that I mean to....it's just....well, I have to! He doesn't get it but he doesn't fight it either.

And for my male readers, in case you're wondering at this point...no, we really don't tell our girl friends everything. :-) There are just some things that have more meaning when left in our heart and in our memories.

The official girl friend to girl friend code of conduct goes like this: "secrets" can be shared from anyone else to your girl friend. BUT, a secret one girl friend shared with you cannot be shared with another girl friend (sub-rule): especially if (1) you're all from the same girl friend circle and/or (2) it's about the other girl friend. Yes, we are complicated creatures. Do not try to figure us out. Just when you think you have -you're wrong.

Recently, I mailed one of my friends, "T", a package of birthday gifts that well, I should have mailed, ohhhh, before April 6th (her actual birthday!). It's two months later, you say? Yup...that's how I roll. And this friend accepts me for that.

A Time For Tea Venetian Pink Pearl Beaded Watch (W08)
A Time For Tea Venetian Pink Pearl Beaded Watch (W08)
One of a Kind
SOLD

This friend and I share a love of getting together for tea. Neither time nor distance has faded our friendship. And each year, we try to at least either get together for tea (she lives about an hour and a half away) or we ship each other a package of all tea related gift items.

She was also the inspiration behind this handmade beaded watch.

"T" is an old-soul with a big heart. Thanks for being a friend "T" and hope you had a fantastic birthday...now go and enjoy your belated gifts!

The card says it all:
"Friendship is another word for love." -Sylvia Tomas

Inside it reads:
True Friendships are forever.

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And "T", if you happen to catch this blog post. I realize this is an old topic, but on the heels of our recent texts. You might think of making the suggestion to your mom to remove those shelves above the heaven-sent feather guest bed. Maybe then your guest won't wake up from small bombs being dropped pushed off those shelves by little furry paws!

Custom Crystal Awareness Bracelet For The Mommy Who Gives Love With A Bear Hug!

Robyn's Custom Swarovski Crystal Awareness Bracelet (B188-CI)
Robyn's Custom Swarovski Crystal Awareness Bracelet (B188-CI)
SOLD
Robyn's son, Cale, has cochlear implants and she was looking for a custom cochlear implant awareness bracelet. Although there was not a specific color associated with cochlear implants, silver and gold are the awareness colors for hearing loss/impairment.

Robyn loved our beautiful and very popular Swarovski Crystal Pearl Mommy Bracelet. Using that as the starting point, her inspired custom handmade beaded bracelet design was personalized with the details that are closest to her heart.

Robyn chose to go with the Swarovski Crystal color indicolite because the color is represented in the foundation, Operation "Hug-A-Bear", she and her family formed in 2011. Its' mission is to bring smiles to children who are in the hospital, or going through treatments. Having seen her own son go thru the surgeries for his cochlear implants geared her to help others who are in pain, or saddened with treatments. The foundation raised enough money to purchase 123 Ronald McDonald bears through her side job, Scentsy. These bears will be given out to two of the large hospitals her son has had treatments at.

Robyn's Custom Swarovski Crystal Awareness Name Bracelet (B188-CI) features Cale's name in sterling silver letter blocks, illuminating indicolite Swarovski Crystals, Swarovski Pearls, sterling beads, Bali and our newly introduced exclusive handstamped sterling silver HOPE charm with awareness ribbon stamped on the same charm. Finished with our sterling signature jewelry tag.

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What Robyn had to say about her custom bracelet:
I just saw the bracelet! I love it!!!!!!! Thank you again so much for creating such a beautiful bracelet to tell my story!
Robyn M.

The Relaxing Art of Nature

Big Bend Overlook -Letchworth State Park
Warning: This blog post is very photo intensive.

Recently the family and I took a day trip to our local Letchworth State Park, purely for the scenery. Of course, I forgot my good camera so all the pictures provided were taken with my IPhone.

After the 40 minute or so drive, the first place we stopped and checked out was Big Bend Overlook. There were a couple of falcons floating around but the camera wasn't good enough to get a shot of them. That's quite the drop there, isn't it?!

The drive alone through the park was well worth the drive time to get there. You might recall my What I Love About Fall blog post last year, just after I joined SITSgirls (which I haven't done much with since the beginning of the year). I haven't quite found any comparison to Letchworth in the fall season -they, by far knock out any competition for beauty and leaf peeping!

The next stop on our mini road trip was to check out the lower falls. We briefly stopped at the Footbridge Nature Gift Shop and the kind woman there told us we'd have to climb down the stairs.

Pictured to the left are the stairs. What she didn't tell us is there are 127 stairs! Ok, no problem. Down we go. It was a nice scenic "stroll".

Kids loved it. Hmm..they must have gotten a crazy amount of sleep last night. We have to keep telling them to stop and wait for us to catch up. Or was it that we were just slowwwwer? No matter. Throw a flying bug statement in, here and there, and we're golden. They run back for safety. ;-)

It briefly runs through my mind. We climbed down 127 stairs...that means we gotta climb back up. Maybe there is an escalator? You think? Where is the emergency route?

After the descent, we spent quite a bit of time at the lower falls. So much beauty to take in. Although I will note here that as I looked around, I asked the question of my husband, "surely, there are other ladies carrying their Vera handbags here, right?!". I got the look. Guess that answered that. :-)

We come upon another set of stairs -really?! The mist from the falls is trashing my hair! Did I mention I really am a nature girl? Well, I am. As in, glamping. Yes, camping (roughing it) I will no longer do. However, give me a fully equiped glamper (glamour camper) and I'm in!! Here's some sweet shots from the lower falls:
No. I did not count these stairs.

Another shot of the stairs and falls. Wait! What's that blip in the lower right side of the photo?
Ahhh! That would be the little one enjoying a nice cool ICEE on a hot day!
A resting dragonfly on the lower falls brick wall. Or maybe it was taking a light mist shower!
We spent a great deal of time at the lower falls -and still had to tackle the stairs back to the top. We survived. Clearly. Or else you wouldn't be reading this blog post. :-)

Our last stop was at, I believe, the visitor center gift shop. I was on the hunt for something, which I didn't find. However, while climbing the small number of stairs (yes! more stairs) to the building. We happened to catch in the garden a very un-timid little chipmunk. We ohhh'd a ahhh'd and he continued on with his business. But, he only allowed one photo op. Anything more and it'd probably cost me.

We all know, had the little guy thought we'd give him food and he came towards us, it would have been chaos with two girls running and screaming for their lives. Cause that cute lil' fuzzy guy would have, in their eyes, turned into a jungle lion -for sure. Really. I kid you not. Girls.

Our lovely day ended, with two very tired kids (yea!!) and dinner out at a lovely family restaurant -complete with a bunch of gigling, tired, silly people! It was a good day, had by all.

We will definately go back to see the rest of the park. For sure in the fall for some great leaf peeping. Until then...

Beautiful Butterflies in Swarovski Crystal

Painted Lady Butterfly 2012. Photo Source: Crystal Allure Creations Jewelry and Gifts
Painted Lady Butterfly 2012
You may recall some weeks ago an unusually large number of Red Admiral Butterflies invaded the area.

They were everywhere! The combination of a mild winter and an early spring produced a warm front that sped up the butterflies' migration back to Rochester.

This influx event is called an irruption. It's a natural, cyclical population boom that causes an increase of butterflies every couple of years. It's been estimated the last time an event like this happened was 12-15 years ago.

The Painted Lady Butterfly pictured above was taken with my IPhone (no marketing plug there..) on my way to work one morning. It's actually the underside of the butterfly as it was resting on glass. If you've ever wondered what the underside of a butterfly looks like, well, there you have it. For the last ten plus years, my own personal butterfly garden has gone through numerous changes. But, each year, it continues to get a variety of visitors. I can't wait to see what it brings this year!

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly 2010 from Butterfly Garden at Crystal Allure
Yellow Tiger Swallowtail from my Butterfly Garden 2010
For those of you who follow this blog and Crystal Allure Jewelry regularly, you also know, the butterfly is a symbol of lung transplant. It has been said that when newly transplanted lungs take their first breath, it looks like a butterfly opening its' wings.

Which is why on nearly all our handmade beaded lung transplant awareness bracelets and jewelry you will find a sterling silver butterfly charm.

There is much more to butterflies than just their beauty. Butterflies symbolize many different things. Some butterfly mythology reads:
  • The Mandarin Chinese word for butterfly is "hu-tieh". "Tieh" means "70 years", therefore butterflies have become a symbol for a long life.
  • Greek mythology, links butterflies to the human soul. The Ancient Greeks also considered butterflies as the souls of those who had passed away.
The butterfly is also a symbol of transformation because of its impressive process of metamorphosis. The butterfly goes through a huge transformation, in the short span of about a month, to such an extreme that they are unrecognizable at the end of their transformation.

The symbolic lesson of the butterfly transformation is to casually accept and have belief in the changes taking place in our lives. By accepting the change that comes we can emerge from our own transitions as brilliantly as the butterfly.

Our lives are always in transition. It's how gracefully we accept the transition that determines how successful we will be. Others will either share in your new found beauty or they will not. Conditions do not have to be perfect (and I'm sure most will agree, they rarely are!). But, if your transition is one you accept, believe in and welcome in your heart -you will.not.fail.
Floating Crystal Butterfly Bracelet B174 in Aqua Blue Peridot Green Yellow Jonquil
Floating Blue Green Yellow Crystal Butterfly Bracelet (B174)
$65.65
What I want to know is, why does the butterfly get to hide in its' cocoon until its' transformation is complete.  :-) Maybe its' transformation (physically) is so gross you wouldn't want to see it? But, I digress...

Although I have attempted all week to share this inspiring butterfly blog post, it wasn't until today that I guess it was meant to be. Today's weather is looking somewhat gloomy. But, I'd say spring has sprung with a field of beautiful floating Swarovski Crystal Butterflies in this handcrafted bracelet.

Each crystal butterfly has been individually wire wrapped with sterling silver wire for added elegance and sophistication. Three strands of various sized butterfly beads in a gentle spring palette of yellow, blue and green presents a beautiful cuff style bracelet. Finished with our signature jewelry tag. The Floating Crystal Butterfly Bracelet (B174) is adjustable 7" to 7-1/2".