Raise Your Hand If You Hate Being Sick

Ahhhh....what a way to end the holidays. I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV (a little humor..what very little I have right now), but whatever I got, I certainly wouldn't want to pass to anyone else. ugh. I hate being sick. Right now, I wish I looked half as good as this little fellow to the right.

It started out as a scratchy throat and each day it was something else. But Sunday, it was a full blown sinus/headache/stuffy nose/can't breathe/ache head thing. Still today nothing has changed. Well, not to lie, yesterday when I woke up it felt like someone was hammering a nail in my ear -today, that didn't happen. Although I honestly felt that if I moved my head just an 1/8th of an inch my head would spontaneously conbust. No, today, I'm just plain tired and debating if I should call the doctor or not. Have you gotten sick in the last month or so? Do you think it was the H1N1 flu? I don't think mine is that, but whatever it is certainly has a hold on my head. Hoping for a much better day tomorrow!

Even through the holidays and being sick I did manage to work on the website a little. I wanted to change it up, fresh for the New Year, and was inspired by the website of a fellow blogger (Azure Islands...remember her guest post). But that's about all I did this past holiday week. I had so many things I wanted to do, the list is off the charts. But this year, I had no choice but to relax. So it goes.

And now, it's about time to start thinking about the dreaded end of year, bead inventory count. Yeah. Do you count your year end inventory? Maybe if I didn't have so many beads I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed doing this year end task.....nah! One can never have too many beads!

Well, coffee is kicking in and for now, I'm a little more awake. Guess, I should try and get some things done...and visit some fellow blogs!

Winter Is....

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday week. I know I have! With only two days til Christmas, all the baking done and the gifts wrapped, I found some time this morning to sit back and relax. And what do I do....get online! I've got me some blog friends to catch up with. :-)

It's a blustery cold 17 degrees here and as I stared out the window, I pondered:

Winter Is.......

(see a theme...awww they're so cute!)

So how about you? What is winter to you?


Image resources:
staying snuggly

beautiful snowscapes
Xena*best friend*

the crunch of new fallen snow
Dave Stiles

playing in the snow
Bonnie Matthews

Guest Post: Azure Islands Designs

I was first introduced to Heather, designer for Azure Islands Designs, from a good blog friend, Pearl over at the Beading Gem's Journal. Just like me, Heather is a regular visitor of Pearl's blog and so I checked out her website. I was curious as to what type of jewelry she designed with a company name such as, Azure Islands (so peaceful isn't it?!). I pictured all this shell jewelry. I was surprised to see such a very well designed website (love her front page!) and beautiful handmade jewelry. It goes without saying I also found many pieces that I would definately wear strolling along the beach!

But what really caught my eye was the fact that Heather created some handcrafted awareness jewelry for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. So, naturally I felt an instant bond with Heather. I invited her to guest post about her jewelry, on why she chose that foundation and to learn a little more about her awareness jewelry collection (her handmade and formed Twist Heart Awareness Earrings are shown above). Here is what she said:

I opened my business, Azure Accessories in September of 2006, and began designing and crafting jewelry in October of the same year…all it took was my first craft show in November of that same year, for the idea of custom designing jewelry to become a passion, which only seems to get stronger!

At a show in November 2007, I was selling Swarovski crystal hearts on chains…a lady purchased a pink one for herself and began a conversation with me…to make a long story short, she thought I should make “pink” items and donate a portion of the sale to the Breast Cancer Fund.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation with my customer…I’ve always donated personally to organizations that mean something to me, but at the time I wasn’t donating to an organization through my business. After careful consideration I decided I would like to donate, but my choice was the Heart & Stroke Foundation!

I especially love this sterling silver pendant etched with "Live Life". It reminds me very much of a bracelet I designed for the Crystal Allure Awareness Jewelry Collection.

Heather explained the reason she chose the Heart & Stroke Foundation is because: My father passed away in September 1985, my paternal grandmother, in June 1986, both from heart disease and my maternal grandmother in September 1986; my paternal grandfather died in the early 70’s…both from a stroke.

I have three brothers, one of my brothers, who is a twin, had a serious heart attach 10 years ago, when he was 43, he has since recovered, leading a more healthy life style. The other twin has high blood pressure, which is under control; my third brother and myself do not have any indication of heart disease so far…my donations are a drop in the bucket but they are my small way of contributing!!!

While many wonderful organizations are in desperate need of donations it was important for me to choose an organization I felt strongly about. I wanted to do my small part by drawing attention the Heart & Stroke Foundation!

The premise behind my Heart & Stroke Series jewelry is simple…anything I make with a heart is part of the series and when sold I will donate a portion of the sale to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

This particular sterling silver heart is a fabulous design concept and reminds me of a broken heart that has been mended and is once again beautiful! Which is probably why is it called the "Broken Heart". Heather cuts the heart free hand, so no two will ever be the same, into two pieces; punches holes in it and "mends" the heart with sterling silver rings.

I do have to say, often, when someone purchases a heart design from me it is because they love hearts, the fact that I give a donation to the Heart & Stroke Foundation is more than not, irrelevant to them. This does sadden me because people don’t seem to understand the impact heart disease or stroke can have on our lives… I proudly let my customer know that with their purchase I will be making a donation to the Heart & Stroke Foundation!

I would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to Stephanie for allowing me to bring awareness to the leading cause of death and disability in Canada!!!

Thank you Heather for sharing your handmade jewelry designs with us and for giving back through your awareness collection.

Heather provided some interesting facts you might be interested in:

• Someone dies or is disabled by a stroke very 10 minuets in Canada
• Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is the leading cause of death and disability in Canada.
• Over one third (36%) of all deaths in Canada (1999) were due to heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease or CVD) (78,942 deaths)
• Between 1969 and 1999, death rates due to heart disease and stroke decreased by 56%.

These facts were taken from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the web site can be found here: http://www.ottawaheart.ca/UOHI/PPO_PHD_F.do
• Eight in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease and 11% have three risk factors or more.
• Some risk factors are, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, lack of regular excursive, being overweight, high bad cholesterol.

Statistics Resource

Finding answers. For life! www.heartandstroke.ca

Sarah's Orange Chocolate Autumn Wedding Jewelry

Remember the post about fall weddings and autumn brides? Well, the inspiration for that post came from a bride, Sarah, who was getting married in October. The fall season can be such a beautiful time of the year to get married, with all the vibrant colors. Who wants to be a June bride? I'd take autumn (or winter...which I did!) anytime!
Sarah's Autumn Wedding in Chocolate and Orange | Bridesmaid Jewelry by Crystal Allure
Well you might recall, Sarah had come to me requesting two more additional necklaces like the one we had on our website, the Red Aventurine Gemstone Freshwater Pearl Beaded Necklace (N040). I explained it was a one-of-a-kind but suggested she consider that one for her maid of honor and have two additional Autumn Wedding Bridesmaid Necklace Sets made for her bridesmaids. That way, her maid of honor would stand out from the rest of the bridal party.

The Bride's Autumn Wedding in Chocolate and Orange | Bridesmaid Jewelry by Crystal Allure
A few weeks back Sarah was gracious enough to email a thank you and some pictures of her wedding with the bridal party wearing my custom designs. It was such a thrill to get her email and I'm so proud of this set -so beautiful! Did I mention I love autumn? *smiles*

Thank you Sarah for the opportunity to help make your wedding day even more special and unique!

Although Sarah is not the first bride to request custom wedding jewelry from Crystal Allure Beaded Jewelry, this is the first set where I did get pictures. So I wanted to start sharing with you the custom wedding jewelry that I design and the lovely brides who requested them.

What the Bride has to say:
Hi Stephanie,
Thank you for the congratulations. It's very nice of you to follow up. I was very happy with the pieces. I thought they worked wonderfully with our brown and orange wedding colors. The bridesmaids were very happy as well. My mother even commented that they looked like something out of the Bloomingdale's catalog - definitely a compliment! Thank you again for your help. Your design turned out perfectly! I got the wedding of my dreams.

Custom Holiday Beaded Bracelet -Vintage Redux II

Recently completed is a custom holiday bracelet set for one of my favorite customers. The Swarovski aurora borealis crystals used in this design are actually left over beads from Mary Kay's Custom Crystal Vintage Redux 3-pc. Jewelry Set (JS100). There was a plan to use them in another necklace design with vintage beads received from her family, but when that design didn't work out, we went to plan B.
Mary Kay's Custom Vintage Crystal Redux II Holiday Bracelet Set (B170)
Mary Kay's Custom Vintage Crystal Redux II Holiday Bracelet Set (B170)
Plan B, was to use them in a holiday bracelet design.

So I got to work and added some lovely freshwater pearls with some red siam and green tourmaline Swarovski Crystals to sterling silver and viola' -a festive holiday bracelet to treasure for a lifetime!

What makes this bracelet set even more unique is because the red and green crystals are small enough and there are not too many in the design -you could really wear this bracelet at other times throughout the year. Just add this beaded jewelry set to either a red outfit, or a green outfit, or even a neutral shade for just a small pop of color. Finished with my signature jewelry tag.

Mary Kay's comments:
"What a wonderful 'cold-Friday-in-December' surprise...I absolutely love them!!

We are planning a holiday outing tonight and they will be perfect. Of course, I have them on already. I especially like that they are festive, but not limiting and can really be worn anytime of the year.

Thank you so much. You are the best!"

BRrrrrr....Winter is HERE!

Our first official snowfall here in Rochester, NY was this past Wednesday, with a wind warning (and it sure was windy!). By Thursday, we were in our first winter storm watch with a high winds warning. I don't quite recall the temperature but I want to say it dropped in the beginning of the week from somewhere around 30 degrees to Thursday night, 19 degrees! (and that was the last time I looked at the temp)

The first picture is a view from my garage around 7:30 a.m. Thursday (yes, very gloomy looking at that hour!). But this is also the type of weather us Rochestarians live with until March (if we're lucky!)....cold, snowy, and gray. Although on the days it is sunny, the snow is just beautiful! Especially fresh, untouched snow. It's like a crystal landscape, made perfect by mother nature herself!

It has been a challenge and guessing game with how to handle our "new" dog (Lucy) in the snow. We have no idea what her life was like before and how she is/was in snow -heck, maybe she never had to go out in it? We just don't know. What we have discovered is that she does get cold and logically so -she's only 15-ish pounds with very little meat on her bones -especially her paws. Poor little thing comes in from the snow and shivers like a chihuahua for the next 20 minutes or more. We have gotten her in the habit of putting on a sweater and then a "coat", but paw protectors (aka, boots) -no way! She'll not have any of that!

But without doubt, when she's cold, she's cold and she's had enough. She'll let us know by adamantly pulling on the chain and going toward the door. Although, since the snow started, we had noticed she really hadn't gone well...poop, for lack of a better way to put it. Even last night, after getting cozy warm in bed, I noticed her behavior changed and I took the chance (froze my butt off) and took her outside. Sure enough, she had to do #1. Got back in bed...all was good. This morning she finally did #2 and we're happy she understands that she has to go outside -even in the snow. She's a great dog!

Although I told my husband that you just know the cats are laughing their butts off at her having to go outside. For them, she's still an intruder in the cat-dom. In fact, I honestly believe I saw one of them point at her last night and fall on their back laughing so hard, they cried. :-)

I must say, as a child I loved the beauty and magic of the winter season. Now that I'm older, I still love winter, I just see it differently. As an animal lover, I always worry about all the homeless animals and can only hope and pray they are safe, warm and have food and water. So, if you happen to see a stay animal, check to make sure it looks healthy, maybe give it some food and water, better still call your local animal shelter and tell them about it. And don't forget to donate to your local and/or favorite animal shelter/rescue this holidy season. Between the economy and the weather -they can certainly use any help you can give them for our furry best friends!

Note: At last check, 10am, the temperature has been stuck at 17 degrees. Where's my winter woolies!

New Handmade Wire Wrapped Rings

Handmade Gemstone Bead Rings by Crystal Allure
Handmade Gemstone Bead Rings
It's been a long time coming but they are finally here -elegant handmade wire wrapped rings! Styles are available in either sterling silver or 14 karat gold-fill wire, with currently seven different gemstones and/or bead rings to choose from.

Personally, I'm a ring fanatic -can't get enough of them. But as we all know, buying any kind of jewelry at the local jewelry store/department store can get quite expensive. So, I have designed a collection of wire wrapped rings that are not only beautifully chic, but affordable too! Heaven knows I'll have at least one of each ring in my personal collection!

This handmade ring collection will be limited in edition and some will be made upon order, so please allow a week to ten days before your order may ship out. But because each gemstone is different and the ring is wire wrapped by hand, each ring is unique. Custom ring styles are also available upon request.

Get information on the Jasper Gemstone Bead Ring (R106) and the Treasure Chest Goldstone Gem Bead Ring (R104).
Howlite Turquoise Gemstone Bead Ring (R102)
Howlite Turquoise Gemstone Bead Ring (R102)

Sterling silver wire surrounds a blue green howlite turquoise gemstone to create this handmade wire-wrapped bead ring. Each stone is unique and will vary slightly from the one pictured.

Howlite turquoise is actually a howlite gemstone that has been dyed to look like the more expensive turquoise gemstone.
Green Goldstone Coin Bead Ring (R105)
Green Goldstone Coin Bead Ring (R105)

Sterling silver surrounds a shimmering green goldstone gemstone bead to create this handmade wire-wrapped ring. Each stone is unique and will vary slightly from the one pictured.

The reflective particles in green goldstone are actually from chromium oxides rather than the copper flecks found in brown goldstone.

2009 Handmade Jewelry Holiday Shipping

Each year we all fall into the frenzied rush of getting last minute gift(s) and if you are ordering online you have the added stress of wondering if you'll get your package in time for Christmas.

Well, I want to help you out and give you the absolute last day you can order your handmade beaded jewelry from Crystal Allure and still get your package in time for the holiday. This year, that holiday order cut-off is 1:00 pm (EST) December 21, 2009.

Any order placed up to that time will ship out December 21st, priority mail and is guaranteed to reach you in time for the holiday. But, don't wait until the last minute to order your handmade beaded jewelry and beaded gifts, start shopping Crystal Allure and avoid the last minute rush.

Fall Porch Scape

I know, I know. We're past 'fall' now but I did want to share with you this years fall porch scape. Each year, I change it up a little and this is only the small area to the left of our door. There are a few more fall details on the right side...for some reason, just didn't get that photo.

In fact, in the last few weeks I've come to realize there were many photos I could have taken and shared (our thanksgiving day table, etc) because if you're anything like me, it's the small details that make the holidays that much better. Note to self: try to remember more pictures!

Back to the porch scape. I do like to take the time each year to decorate both inside and outside, for the fall/thanksgiving and winter/christmas seasons. And I'm a BIG fan of door wreaths (again, didn't think to get a picture this year). I used to change them for every season/holiday/month or just because I love the wreath so much. I think wreaths/door decor/door details are the most important thing you can do to your house to welcome your guests as they enter it.

So in this years' porch scape, I added a new old style, black lantern. It's a fantastic new feature of that corner area. I just wish I felt comfortable lighting the candle! The leaf strand around the door lights up but again, didn't think to get a picture of it at night.

Throw in a few bales of hay, pumpkins in both orange and white, scarecrows and you have a beautiful and welcoming porch entry way.

So do you porch scape? Tell me about it and if you have a blog, link your comment to your blog so I can check it out.

Holiday Gift Guide 2009

Christmas is now officially 3 weeks away, but if you're like me and ordering your gifts online, the time is much shorter. That being said, I completely understand the pressure of (1) finding the right gift and (2) getting it in time. And I'm all for ways to make my shopping easier!!

So I've complied a Crystal Allure Holiday Gift Guide to assist in narrowing down gift options so you choose just the right one. Included, new, in this years gift guide is a quick list of all the new beaded jewelry that is perfect for the upcoming holiday. Got a special company holiday party to attend and want to shine just enough to suit your individuality? Like to have a little fun and wear some jewelry with a hint of holiday color? Well, it's all right there in the Crystal Allure Holiday Gift Guide.

You'll find our most popular stocking stuffer options with a variety of choices under each. These great little gifts are perfect to give as secret santa gifts or even to the ladies in your office. Each come packaged in a lovely organza bag and ready for gift giving -or to drop in the stocking!

And for that hard to buy for person is the quintessential, can't go wrong, jewelry gift certificate. Available in $25, $50, $75 and $100 you're sure to find an amount that will fit your shopping budget. The Crystal Allure Jewelry Gift Certificate is a virtual certificate which means you will receive an email with the details of how to use the gift certificate and the code. However, if you really would like a paper gift certificate, just let me know.

So don't fret about shopping, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and shop with ease until your hearts content!

Bead Challenge

A few years back I had purchased these beads and although I'm pretty good at identifying beads, for some reason, these are challenging me. So, I thought I'd ask you.

Now I have a few thoughts on what they are but what do you think? Are they all the same? Help me out and leave a comment with your best guess on what these beads are.

The only info I have on them is that they are semi-precious.

Rare Pink Diamond Auctioned for $10.8 Million

By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - A rare, 5-carat pink diamond was auctioned off for a record $10.8 million in Hong Kong on Tuesday, putting some shine back into the world's rare and large stones market which was badly hit by the financial crisis.

The stone, of a "vivid pink" hue and considered near perfect, but not quite flawless, triggered brisk bidding in Christie's autumn sales of Asian and Chinese art in Hong Kong.

The price smashed the previous record, set 15 years ago in Geneva for a 19.66-carat stone that sold for $7.4 million. The pink gem's per-carat price of $2.2 million was also the highest ever paid for any diamond at auction, Christie's said.

"No stone has ever been sold for $2 million a carat, we were used to ... a million dollars a carat for colored diamonds but never 2 million," said Francois Curiel, Christie's Europe chairman. "This is an absolute record that is not going to be broken for a while I believe."

The stone, set in a so-called "cushion-cut" ring by famed jewelers Graff Diamonds, was just a quarter the size of the Geneva stone and not quite flawless but the stone's "vivid pink" is considered near perfect. Curiel described it as a "fabulous pink diamond, probably one of the rarest stones I've ever seen."

While the South African-mined diamond isn't quite rated flawless given minor blemishes, Christie's said that these could be removed by minor repolishing.

Christie's has a track-record of putting rare polished stones up for sale in Asia, given its confidence in the depth of the Asian market for the world's top gemstones and artwork.

Last May, before the financial crisis began to hurt the global auction market, Christie's sold a squash-ball-sized, 101.27-carat diamond in Hong Kong for $6.2 million.

Despite this, some major gems have disappointed in Asia, including a 72.22-carat "D" flawless white diamond that failed to hit its reserve price in a Sotheby's Hong Kong sale last April, falling short of its $10-12 million pre-sale estimate.

While the world's most expensive jewel ever sold at auction is the "Wittelsbach" blue diamond, a 17th-century deep grayish-blue stone that fetched $24 million last year, top red and pink gemstones are also known for stratospheric valuations.

(Additional reporting by Stefanie McIntyre; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Article Source and Ring Photo: http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSTRE5B02P620091201

Upcoming Holiday Show

The local Studio 34 will be having their annual Holiday Show and Sale on both Friday (12/4/09) from 5-8pm (invitation only) and Saturday (12/5/09) from 11-5pm (open to the public). The show will feature handcrafted works by Studio 34 faculty and local artisans (including Crystal Allure!).

The studio is located at 34 Elton Street, Rochester, NY and admission is FREE. Get a head start on your holiday shopping and stop on by. Hope to see you there!

New Lovely Holiday Wintertime Beaded Jewelry

Winter is almost here and I'm feeling festive!

Brand new to Crystal Allure Jewelry are two handcrafted winter beaded jewelry pieces that are perfect compliments to the upcoming holiday season and the beauty of wintertime.
Peppermint Twist Lampwork Pendant Crystal Beaded Necklace (N091)
Peppermint Twist Lampwork Pendant Crystal Beaded Necklace (N091)

For a delicious treat (without the calories!), try this new handmade beaded necklace! This beautiful beaded necklace features a mouth-watering red and white 'peppermint twist' glass lampwork pendant accented with candy colored Swarovski Crystals and white seed beads.
Winter Wonderland Snow Jade Snowflake Charm Beaded Bracelet (B169)

And if you love wintertime and the shimmering beauty of newly fallen snow, you won't want to miss out on the snowflakes inspired bracelet above!

Jack Frost blows the chilling wind your way in this handmade beaded bracelet featuring snow jade gemstones, shimmering blue Swarovski Austrian Crystals, pearls and a lovely sterling silver snowflake charm. 14 karat gold fill beads are mixed with sterling pave' style stardust beads that mimic the twinkling snow on a sunny winter day.

Both of these pieces are one of a kind designs and are finished with our sterling signature jewelry tag.

Cyber Monday Deal at CrystalAllure.com

For today only, Cyber Monday 2009, you can receive 25% off your total order when you shop at CrystalAllure.com. Just use code cybermon at checkout to receive your 25% discount.

There is no minimum order needed, but you cannot use the discount in conjunction with any other offer, on sale jewelry or custom jewelry requests.

Happy Holidays and Happy Shopping!

Shop CrystalAllure.com

Colorful Fiesta Onyx Agate Beaded Necklace (N092)

The term Fiesta is Spanish for "festival" or "party". But you might be more familiar with the Fiesta dinnerware. The bold dinnerware comes in bright, vivid colors.
Onyx Indian Agate Gemstone Beaded Necklace (N092)
Onyx Indian Agate Gemstone Beaded Necklace (N092)
One of a Kind
This stunning beaded necklace features a generous 50x20x15mm lightly-banded black onyx gemstone pendant accented with a colorful array of Indian agate gemstones, .925 Bali, beads and sterling silver.

At a princess length at 18-1/4". It's the perfect complement to any neckline.

Any gemstone necklace is unique in its' own right. On this particular necklace, the unique curve-shaped onyx pendant is a bold focal point. The Fiesta Black Onyx Indian Agate Gemstone Beaded Necklace (N092) is a great piece to add a shot of color to your fall wardrobe.

This handmade beaded necklace is a unique one of a kind piece of jewelry. If you would like matching earrings simply contact me for availability.

Black Friday Shopping -Bad or Not?

Well, I finally did it. After 40 years of avoiding Black Friday, I finally caved this year and did it. And you know what? It wasn't so bad -or at least not as bad as I think I built it up in my head.

Each year I wondered why anyone would feel the need to go out on the one day of the year when it was probably the most stressful time to shop and well -shop. It baffled me. I'd hear stories -people grabbing things, fighting other people for things, the best stuff sold out (that you had your heart set on) -on and on, the stories would flow each year. And I'd sit back and think -HA! my shopping is nearly done (because you see, I'd start shopping in August...all to avoid the holiday crowds and angry shoppers), and I'd do a lot of shopping online.

At first, people thought I was nuts but then would have to agree -avoiding as much holiday shopping after Thanksgiving was actually smart. Although in fairness, I think as the years have gone by, stores have gotten smarter about how to manage Black Friday and I think for the most part it's worked. And so far, I haven't ever really been all that interested in the "big" ticket items that are so hot the day after either.

Also in years past, it was the hour at which one had to get up to get the best deals -again for me, I'll take sleep any day over stuff. :-)

But this year was different, I mentioned it to my husband and he thought -righhht, you're gonna get up...we'll see. So I said set the alarm and we'll take it from there. The alarm went off promptly at 5:00 am and he asked if I was getting up -I confirmed in my half groggy still asleep state. It was another 15 minutes but I did get up (but, shhhh....let's not talk about how I can't get up for work!). After getting ready, planning the stores we'd hit and the order, we headed out into the morning darkness.

My philosophy -I'm a bear -if it's still dark, you should be sleeping. BUT, I was amazingly out of the house and at the first store by 6am. Yikes! We hit five stores in total and got pretty much what we went in for. Of course, we also had options. We were buying for our nieces and they had already marked items in the sale ads of things they'd like for Christmas. In fact, we were also pleasantly surprised that many people were pretty pleasant (certainly not the type of holiday shopper I had built up in my head all these years!).

At one store, there was one person who did grab onto the same item I was already trying to get off the hook -but it was a rush for that one item and when she realized I was not letting it go (meaning, maybe moving it out of the way for another color), she quickly let go and apologized.

In the end, it was a pleasant experience that I got to share with my husband. The holiday shoppers were pleasant, we got what we went out for, and there are now at least three less family members to buy for (of course, it didn't hurt to be out since I did pick up a few things for myself!).

So that is where I have been. Not MIA, but preparing for Thanksgiving and doing some early shopping. But I'm back and new designs will be added to the online jewelry store by Sunday evening -I promise. Now, off to make more pies for a second (and last) family Thanksgiving dinner.

So how was your holiday? Did you go out shopping on Black Friday? Did you get what you wanted? What was your shopping experience like? Leave a comment.

A Whole New Look For Our Colonial House

Earlier this month, we finally received our new shutters and recently just got them all up. When we first purchased our house eight years ago, the house had white shutters and a white door with brown trim, no landscaping other than junk "mulch" piled up to the top of the porch and no back deck. Even inside the house, we've done so much. The walls still had the original builders white-ish, gray paint on them. The previous owners had had the house built and lived here about 11 years (?) prior to us purchasing it. Eleven years and not once painting. I personally, just don't get that but hey, what-eva. So we are only the second owners of this lovely colonial house.

In the past eight years we have done sooo much to this house, both inside and out. I thought it would be great to share our "re-decorating", room by room. Well, since this was actually my first house, we have probably redecorated a few rooms more than once already. I love to decorate and always have tons of ideas. But in the last year, I guess you can say I've focused in more on redecorating to the style of the house (colonial) while continuing to add our own personal touches. Now that we have started doing this, I hope to show before and after pictures when ever possible. But there might be some rooms where I just never thought to get the before, so you won't get the full impact of the change, but you'll get the idea. It is not our plan to go full colonial style, just use it as a basis by which to design and decorate our house after. A touch of yester-year, if you will.

Most recently, were the shutters. It's sort of a conversation piece really (our house), because it is a bright yellow -not muted, trust me bright yellow. When we first moved here I suggested getting black shutters but my husband nixed that idea saying he didn't want a bumble bee looking house. So, I opted for a soft sage green. We cut costs by spray painting the white shutters and front door to a lovely shade of sage green.

What made our colonial house even more beautiful was the fact that it had a wrap around porch with 3/4 gazebo at the end of the side. In this first picture, we still had our summer flowers in bloom and you'll notice a very large tree at the corner of the house. This tree, although lovely and provides great privacy of the porch, really takes away from the wrap around porch.

Now that we have settled in and know what we want in our house decor, I had decided (again) we needed to go with black shutters and my husband has finally agreed. He's glad he did because he really likes how the house looks now. And we have many plans for the upcoming summer. For starters, the front door will also be painted black (this is a brand new door, as well) and we just never got to painting it before the cold weather settled in. You can also get a better glance at the porch with the tree having lost all its' leaves.

We had our roof reshingled (well, my husband did the whole job -tear off and put on!) in a brown and had purchased new outside lights in brown, all this prior to deciding on the black shutters. It sort of bugs me but it's something I'll have to live with now. Although it's not too bad.

You'll also notice between the two pictures that we have actually pulled some things from our garden near the house (mainly a small tree). This was in the beginning a full butterfly garden that I planned the layout myself. It was a great garden and one year we were visited by over six varieties of butterflies -it was so exciting!

Our pathway was originally a square "L" shaped pathway and we hated it. When we finally decided on an idea, we had had our our pathway re-done and landscaped in front, along with having some winter interest added to our yard -this was prior to both pictures. Well, when that was done, the landscaper did not know of my full butterfly garden and some of it was destroyed. It still has some elements for the butterflies but not nearly as many flowers as before. So both pictures above is what was left of the butterfly garden, the one large butterfly bush still remains but as I said, we pulled the small ornamental tree -to me it looked like a lollypop on a stick.

Come summer, our plans are also to pull out the very large tree at the corner of the porch. For us, I think it'll be a big shock in how the house looks but we really want to highlight our wrap around porch, (1) because no one else in our neighborhood or surrounding neighborhoods have anything like this and (2) it is a unique feature on the colonial style house. It almost gives it a victorian style touch.

Obviously once the big tree is pulled we'll have to come up with some landscaping to accent the porch, but not cover it up. Our house is a project we love working on and I look forward to sharing our changes with you. So tell me what you think -leave a comment.

Studio Friday

My time in the studio this past friday consisted of the one goal to start clearing off my desk of unfinished projects. I must have had at least 20+ (that I could actually count) projects that needed to either be strung, complete the design or finished off and ready to be pictured. This doesn't even count the number of finished pieces that wait to be photographed!

I have found that taking pictures can be a bit tedious, as a result, I tend to procrastinate on taking them. Which is why the online boutique has not been updated in, oh, 3 or more weeks?

But, I did get alot accomplished -even with a migraine that lasted until three in the afternoon. I completed, ready for pictures, 6 or more pieces -one of which includes an anklet that I've had at least a year simply to get the charm wire wrapped on the anklet. Such small things, yet they sit while other designs are finalized. Well, not this past friday!

There are still many more projects to finish and I hope to accomplish more this holiday week. But here is a preview of one of those new designs that will be posted in the boutique this week.

Holiday week or not, I will be posting in the studio blog this week but wanted to wish you all, in advance, a fabulous Thanksgiving with your family. While you are digesting your tasty turkey, take a moment and check out CrystalAllure.com for all the great beaded jewelry that will be posting this week.

Handmade Oak Wood Jewelry Box

While cleaning out our digital pictures file the other day I came across the pictures I took of a Christmas gift my husband lovingly made for me in 2004.

Below are pictures of the handmade jewelry box my husband custom designed (and made by hand) for me that mimics the cut and details of my dresser.

It is oak wood that was stained to match our existing bedroom furniture.

I actually just noticed in picture #2 that it is slightly unfinished -he had yet to get the liner in there because he wanted me to choose the color I liked best.

The end result was an absolutely beautiful handmade custom oak wood jewelry box for all my Crystal Allure Jewelry.

Well, if the truth be told....it is no longer big enough to hold my personal collection of handcrafted beaded jewelry (or my fine jewelry), but I still use it!

This custom handmade jewelry box was created using red oak wood with three functioning drawers, left side pull-out with small hooks to hold your handmade necklaces and a flip top compartment for all your beaded bracelets. The cut-out detail at the top is hand-carved dentil molding that carries over to the pull-out necklace side.

My Book Shelf: A Christmas to Remember by Thomas Kinkade

I just recently finished A Christmas to Remember by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer. The sad part....I've probably had the book for at least 1-1/2 to 2 years before actually picking it up and reading it. A short time ago, it just happened to work out where I was able to dedicate at least a half hour to an hour of time during the day to pick it up and read it.

As some might say, "back in the day" I used to read books as if they were nutrition and I would starve if I didn't read at least one or two books a week. I loved reading. Then came college and I was "forced" to read. It made the reading experience not so enjoyable and it was during this time that I lost my interest in reading for pleasure. Then life took over and well, I just couldn't find the time. Hence the reasons why it took so long to read this book.

I purchased it because it did look interesting and I am a fan of Thomas Kinkade paintings -so beautiful, so serene. The book was just as beautiful and by "beautiful" I mean...what's the word...nostalgic? I love winter (yes, I know I'm crazy) and I love Christmas (as I'm sure most of us do -especially if you remove the bad parts and focus on the good parts). If you let yourself and open up to the story you can almost feel a part of the tiny town and there are many elements in the story of that nostalgic feeling of Christmases' past. It definately leaves a warm feeling in your heart.

It is one book in a series of I think about 10 other books written in storylines of different characters/visitors of the seaside hamlet of Cape Light. The next book I picked up in the series was A Christmas Visitor and I'm reading that now. I hope to have that done before Christmas. Wish me luck.

By the way -should my sister in law be reading this...yes, I still have the book you gave me (oh, probably 3 years ago?!) and I will get to reading it (someday). But I certainly understand why you haven't lent me any other books since. :-)

It is because I spend so much time designing jewelry and running my business that I felt the need to take a step back and try to enjoy other facets of life (and to try and not be consumed by my beads!). This past weekend I went shopping with a good friend and she happened to ask me about my other projects (the basket weave crochet blanket and the chair reupholstering) and to date the status of both is -I've done nothing. See. I have great ideas and I would really love to do these...I just get side tracked or forget about them or well, everyday life takes over.

So as we approach the holidays I do have some time off and although I will be baking, it is my goal to try and complete these or at least pick them back up again. Stay tuned for updates.

Studio Friday -Well, Studio Monday

Okay, okay -today is monday. But I had planned on posting friday, just got side-tracked. As you can see, I spent a good portion of friday working in the studio on the blog. I changed around the columns, tweaked a few widgets in the smaller columns, and added a few features. Now located at the end of every blog post are two buttons labeled, "tweet this" and "share". The first cool little button allows you to 're-tweet', if you will, the blog post on your twitter account -or share the post through just about any other social media using the second "share" button.

I'm still working out some smaller quirks that bug me and some alignment issues, but I do like the fact that the first column is now the "reading" column -that's what'cha came here for right?!

On another note. It really irks me when someone steals my entire web template, favicon and some photos from my web -just so they can take a short cut to start their own online store. You know what? I've spend years and hours upon hours (and not to mention money) on getting my site, brand and photos to where they are. Take the high road and stop stealing my hard work. I know who you are now and will be following you -oh yeah...and I reported you.

There's always one, right?!

Custom Autumn Gemstone Bridesmaid Jewelry Set

Autumn Wedding Inspiration Board featuring Sarah's Custom Bridesmaids Necklace Jewelry Sets by Crystal AllureBack in September a bride-to-be contacted me about our Red Aventurine Gemstone Freshwater Pearl Beaded Necklace (N040) to see if I had more than one in stock. She wanted to give them as gifts to her bridesmaids for her upcoming October wedding. Although I didn't have but one in stock because it was a one of a kind beaded necklace, I discussed creating a second similar necklace to give as gifts to the bridesmaids and to get the Red Aventurine Gemstone Freshwater Pearl Beaded Necklace for her maid of honor. That way, the maid of honor will stand out from the rest of the bridal party!

I sent off small samples of the beads that would be used, since she really wanted her wedding jewelry to match with her fall themed wedding. The bridal party dresses where strapless with a sweetheart neckline in a rich chocolate brown color. Her wedding colors were to be brown and orange so these gemstones and style necklace were perfect for her wedding!

Beautiful Autumn Bridesmaids Jewelry Gift Packaging
Beautiful Autumn Bridesmaids Jewelry Gift Packaging
In the days after speaking with her I got set off on finding just the right pendant and gemstone to coordinate with the existing necklace she planned on purchasing.

What I found was a beautiful teardrop red aventurine pendant with a cut out in the middle. Instantly I pictured a single chocolate freshwater pearl dangling like a leaf in the middle. It was perfect!

I was able to secure the same pearls and gemstones for the bridesmaids dresses and with some beautiful gift packaging, Sarah's Custom Bridesmaid Autumn Necklace Sets (N087) was sure to be a showstopper!

The picture above is not of her wedding but it is a representation of how beautiful a fall wedding can be especially with a chocolate and orange color combination. The custom bridesmaid jewelry sets from Crystal Allure is pictured in the middle with my specialty packaging just for her wedding in the lower left corner (and enlarged above).
Sarah's Custom Bridesmaid Autumn Necklace Sets (N087)
Custom Bridesmaids Autumn Necklace Set (N087)

The bridesmaids jewelry sets feature a red aventurine teardrop pendant and throughout the beaded necklace with chocolate freshwater pearls. A single delicate brown freshwater pearl dangles in both the middle of the pendant and on the back necklace extender, for an exquisite finishing touch! These beads are paired with sterling silver Bali, beads, lobster clasp & extender chain making the necklaces adjustable 16-1/4" to 18".

The warm brown and vibrant reddish-orange colors, reminds you of the changing leaves and the design complements the design of the Maid of Honor necklace.

I'd love to design custom jewelry for your wedding, contact me for a free consultation.

Custom Bridal Memorial Bracelet

It seems almost impossible to combine the words, "bridal" with "memorial" -right? I would have thought the same thing but found recently that's not quite true. A very dear customer of mine approached me about designing a custom bracelet for a bride whose father had already passed away but asked her cousin (my customers' husband) to walk her down the isle. Here's the story of this beautiful bride gift from her mother in law..
Mary Kay's Custom Pearl Bali Bridal Memorial Bracelet (B168)
Custom Pearl Bali Bridal Memorial Bracelet (B168)

Mary Kay's husband was asked by his cousin to walk her down the isle on her special day (her father had passed before her wedding day). She came to me to design a unique and special bracelet that he could present to her in honor of being asked to walk her down the isle.
Custom Pearl Bali Bridal Memorial Bracelet (B168) with Flower
At first, it was difficult to come up with a design because I wanted to include both the honor of his being asked but also honor the memory of her father and still keep the design beautiful enough that she could wear it on her wedding day. It all came together when I found the sterling bali prayer box charm with the word "Dad" on the side. It was absolutely perfect!

The bali prayer box charm holds a single Swarovski crystal in the birthstone of her father and the initials each represent the first initial of the bride, her father and Mary Kay's husband (with the bride's initial in the middle). To make the bracelet even more meaningful, I included a little card that read:

Custom Bridal Memorial Bracelet with Prayer Box Charm (B168)
Custom Bridal Memorial Bracelet with Prayer Box Charm
I am honored to have been chosen to walk such a special person down the isle on her wedding day. This bracelet symbolizes how I feel and although I am physically here for this honor, your father is here in memory. On this bracelet, handmade just for you, is a prayer box containing an emerald Swarovski Crystal in your fathers’ birthstone. It also has three initials to symbolize that although I will walk beside you, your father will also in heart and spirit. We will both be “walking” you down the isle on this very special day.

Both Mary Kay and her husband were absolutely thrilled with the design and special meanings behind the charm used and letter beads. And I am always thrilled and exceptionally happy to create a special jewelry piece that has meaning and will be cherished for a lifetime.

View all Custom Bead Jewelry at Crystal Allure Handcrafted Beaded Jewelry

New Beaded Necklace: Sugar Plum Fairy

Every other year or so, my husband and I will attend the local Nutcracker Ballet show. It's a beautiful ballet and perfect introduction to the surprise, excitement and beauty of the upcoming holidays. Personally, I've never professionally danced although when I was young I'd stand for hours on end at the local dance studio watching all the girls dance -wishing I could be one of them. Alas, it never happened. But to this day I still love the beauty and magic of the Nutcracker -the dancing snowflakes, the land of the sugar plum fairy, clara, the Nutcracker, well, the whole thing!

Sugar Plum Fairy Ruby Quartz Natural Ruby Pave Gemstone Beaded Necklace

When shopping recently at a bead show I came across the most beautiful natural ruby gemstones and knew I had to have them. It wasn't until I 'accidentally' set them next to my ruby quartz gemstones that the design immediately came to life. Once again, I dropped everything to work on this design and I added sterling Pave' style stardust beads that give the illusion of fairy dust floating in the midnight sky, as Clara danced.

I have tried everything I could think of to get the best picture of these stunning and beautiful gemstones, but I just couldn't wait any longer to intro the piece. I'm like a kid in a candy store...when I love a design so much I just can't wait to share it with everyone. I'll still be working on a better picture but trust me, in person, this necklace and matching earrings are beyond words -so feminine, so beautiful...

And because I love sharing my designs so much, I'm making Tuesdays -Two for Tuesdays! So for today only, purchase the necklace and get the earrings FREE!! No coupon needed, I'll automatically ship the beaded earrings with your order.

Check out all the new beaded jewelry including beautiful holiday jewelry!

Autumn Honey -Jewelry Wardrobe Inspiration

I know the stores have seemed to have skipped over Thanksgiving and are now pushing Christmas already. But for me -it's still autumn! What better way to enjoy the season than with a little Autumn Honey?!

Okay, the black cat...yeah, nothing to do with the inspiration but I love my black cat (Cookie Toe, a.k.a. Tookie-Tookie) and Halloween is right around the corner. Besides the kitty coordinates with the boots! Right?! :-)

You can get both the Topaz Crystal Earrings and Topaz Crystal Teardrop Carnelian Gemstone Necklace (N039) at CrystalAllure.com.

Mary Kay's Custom Swarovski Crystal Vintage Redux

My favorite customer, Mary Kay, came to me with three different pieces of vintage jewelry that she had obtained through a family inheritance and an estate sale. She loved the pieces but wanted to update the style of the pieces and create a coordinating 3-piece jewelry set.

Mary Kay's only design requests:
1. Make the necklace longer and adjustable;
2. Create a removable pendant (if possible); and
3. Make the earring with her preferred leverback earwires.

Everything else she left up to me.

I quickly discovered that two of the vintage Swarovski Crystals in original the design were no longer available but that did not hinder the design process. Since the original bracelet was a two-strand, it provided more than enough crystals to work with. I added more sterling silver, a few fresh new soft blue light sapphire Swarovski Crystals and the removable trigger clasp for the pendant on the necklace.

This custom project did pose a few challenges but after thinking about it long enough and then just sitting down at the studio table, it all came together in literally one night. I may have restrung the necklace three or more times, but the end result is a stunning 3-pc. modern vintage Swarovski Crystal jewelry set -vintage redux!!

The original pieces... very much vintage, but....DRAB!!!
Mary Kay's original mix matched vintage crystal jewelry
Mary Kay's original mix matched vintage crystal jewelry
Photo credit: Crystal Allure Jewelry
I created a stunning three piece original crystal jewelry set, using 90% of the vintage crystals that Mary Kay supplied from her older pieces. Her vintage jewelry set went from drab to fab!!

The redux with style for today's woman -FAB!!!!
Mary Kay's Custom Crystal Vintage 3-pc. Jewelry Set (JS100)
Mary Kay's Custom Crystal Vintage 3-pc. Jewelry Set (JS100)
Custom vintage beaded necklace is adjustable 17"-19" with a removable triple-drop crystal pendant charm. The custom vintage crystal beaded bracelet measures 7-1/2" and the vintage earrings measure 1" from the bottom of the earwire. Now Mary Kay has three unique pieces of jewelry that all work together or can be worn individually!

With only having seen a picture so far of the set, Mary Kay's response was this:
"OMG, the set is absolutely gorgeous!!!"

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Final Show of the Season

For various reasons, I just didn't do many shows this year. It was kind of a bummer but necessary. However, I was invited back to the Johnson & Johnson Ortho Clinical United Way campaign show this year. As always, I was super excited because I get to meet and chat (however briefly) with all the ladies (and men this year too!). They have a few offsite locations and this year I added the second local offsite location at one of the Kodak buildings.

First and foremost, THANK YOU to all the wonderful ladies and men that I met and who purchased Crystal Allure Jewelry. A special thank you to my returning customers too! It is exactly your support and interest in my craft that drives my desire to create beautiful jewelry for you. And without doubt, thank you to Holly for pulling this all together and inviting me back for this years' campaign.

What was fascinating this year is I had quite a few men ask me about my pieces, stones used, etc AND they were actually listening. Don't get me wrong, but come on ladies, we all know how men can tune us out when we talk. Although in fairness we tend to babble sometimes or just talk out loud for the sake of talking. Maybe? You think? *smiles*

This year, I changed up my table decor and loved the new simple look. I like to change up the table every other year or so and the new setup was absolutely perfect for fall.

The show was such a success that I had to regroup and pump out a few new designs because I did one of the Kodak buildings first (it was a new location for me this year) and the ladies cleaned me out! I firmly live by the belief that every piece belongs to a particular woman and this was crystal clear at the first show because there were three necklaces in particular that were purchased by the very women they were perfect for. I hope you ladies are enjoying your new beaded jewelry!

At the second show, which was at the main location (Canal Ponds), I did put out some of my "special jewelry stash" designs for all the fantastic ladies there. Keeping this special stash is my way of thanking the ladies for their support and to offer pieces that no one else has seen yet. At the end of the show, my table was cleaned out, except for a few pieces. I even had a shopper comment on that (that I was cleaned out). But, I consider that a good thing and at this particular event, each purchase helps the United Way too.

You know how there are 'reformed smokers', you know the ones...they are soooo anti-smoking (and they used to smoke)?! I consider myself a 'reformed consumer'. Since I started designing jewelry, I just can't and won't purchase mass produced products (of any kind) if I know I can get it locally and more importantly by a local artist. I find the quality is much, much better and I'm actually investing in something rather than just buying it. This is another good reason why I love doing this event. It gives the opportunity to purchase handmade goods, from a local artist -the purchase supports the local economy AND helps the United Way. All this from one event. Fantastic!!

It is usually at the end of this show that I am inspired to create a host of new designs....and provided they do not sell before the next show -I promise in 2010, if invited back, that the designs will be even more fabulous than before!

Rhodonite vs. Rhodolite -New Beaded Necklace Added

Garnet is a popular jewelry component and has been used since the bronze age as an ornamental gemstone. I personally love all the colors of garnet from the reds to the greens.

The rhodonite gemstone is a stone of grace and elegance, with its' muted rose color and black manganese oxide veins running through it. It gets its name from the Greek word for rose, rhodon. Rhodonite is mined in the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia and is the official gem of Massachusetts.
Freshwater Pearl Rhodonite Gemstone Beaded Necklace (N071)

Just added to the jewelry boutique is the lovely necklace shown above. It's a can't miss, one of a kind.

Rhodolite comes from the garnet family and is a mixed crystal of almandine and pyrope. It generally features a magnificent velvety red with a fine violet or raspberry-red undertone. This "purple-red" color is the most sought after color for rhodolite.
Rhodolite Garnet Gemstone Earrings (E171)
Rhodolite Garnet Gemstone Earrings (E171)

Rhodolite is a beautiful stone that tends to be lighter in color than most other kinds of red garnet. It can easily be confused with ruby because of the similarity in color. However, rhodolite garnet is not artificially enhanced in any way. Originally found in the USA, it now comes mainly from the gemstone mines in East Africa, India and Sri Lanka.

Shown above: handmade gemstone earrings are ultra-light and elegant. A lovely purple-red rhodolite garnet gemstone briolette has been wire-wrapped and paired with hammered 14kt gold filled oval hoops. The earrings are finished with 14kt gold filled ear wires and are 3/4" from bottom of ear wires.

Unique Elegant Transplant Awareness Bracelets (B165, B167)

Two new beaded awareness bracelets have been added to the jewelry boutique. By popular request, both represent organ donation and transplant awareness.

I've been quite the busy bee designing new jewelry -albeit slowly -but the new designs are sure to tickle your fancy. Just last night while working on three different custom orders, I had this idea for a necklace and bead color combo and just had to put everything else down to design it. It can be crazy at times because this is exactly a representation of how designs come to be (sometimes). I will be sitting there working and my mind wanders and viola' -and idea!

For now, I'm super excited about the new awareness bracelets. Remember, each purchase helps support the mission of the Lungs for Life Foundation.
Jasper Gemstone Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B165)
Jasper Gemstone Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B165)

This one of a kind handmade Organ Transplant 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".

This is a one-of-a-kind beaded awareness bracelet and cannot be replicated.
Sterling Green Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B167)
Sterling Green Organ Transplant Awareness Bracelet (B167)

This next bracelet is an elegant strand of sparkling green emerald Swarovski Crystals accented with sterling Bali and white Swarovski Pearls. This stunning handmade beaded organ transplant awareness bracelet is finished with a sterling silver awareness ribbon charm and measures 7-1/2".

Check out the other organ donation awareness bracelets and transplant awareness bracelets at Crystal Allure Creations.

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

As a child my family had both cats and dogs. But it wasn't until this past April that I too (as a adult) became a dog parent. Yes, you read that correctly -dog parent. Not "owner". We do not "own" our children and nor do we "own" our pets. When we have children we protect them, shelter them, feed them and raise them properly. The same applies to pets -the difference (in my opinion) is that pets give us unconditional love and friendship.

Every year millions of animals are surrendered to shelters or found as strays and there is no one to blame for this terrible tragedy but ourselves. As pet parents we have been irresponsible. We think it'll be great to get a pet -but then we don't spay or neuter them -we think it'll be fine for them to roam free outside -we don't take them for regular medical checkups and/or we don't walk them daily. Sadly, many have probably made the decision to adopt a dog but did not think about the costs or time involved in parenting a pet.

The Story of Our Shelter Dog
I honestly cannot say exactly why I (we) started thinking about getting a dog -maybe it was to balance out the cats we have -or secretly, maybe it was to put them in their place. Those little stinkers think they "own" us humans! Who am I kidding...yes, all our pets have us wrapped around their fingers. Really, though, I think it was maybe to bring another element into our lives, even more enrichment and maybe some life into our home. My husband and I do not have children (and trust me, after hearing some of our friends who do have kids...we're kinda glad) and our pets give us more closeness and love than we could have ever hoped for.

So, as our talks became more serious, so did our search and RESEARCH. We were not taking this new endeavor lightly. We fully intended on finding the right dog for us and for our existing household. But we also knew, once we did make a choice it was a commitment we would never break. Therefore, it was extremely important to make an informed decision.

Although we did make an inquiry once to a woman who bred pugs, as we thought they'd make a great addition. I really, really did want an all black pug -but, I just couldn't wrap myself around paying for a dog, (1) when there are so many homeless dogs; (2) so many in shelters and (3) we'd still be paying for the unknown. And sadly, today, many people use dog breeding as their "job" and that's all they think about -the money. But that's a subject for another post.

For months, we continued to look up different breeds to learn at least a little something about their temperment and the breed itself. But we fully intended on adopting a shelter dog. The purpose of the research was to gain some knowledge of the different breeds should we adopt a dog that was listed as a specific breed or breed mix. It wasn't that we decided one day, I want a dog and adopted one within a week. This process took us months and months. We would go look and along the way discuss how we would handle this or that situation with the biggest factor being our cats. We didn't want to alienate them as they were the kings of the castle (all male cats except one).

One day, I happened across an ad for a toy breed dog. Due to the womans work schedule, she just felt it was wrong to keep the dog in a crate all day. So, my husband and I had met with her. Again, not sure why we even inquired as it just wasn't in me to purchase a dog. But we met with her anyway, loved the dog, cutest little button. But of course, she paid full price for the dog (which she said she got from a breeder in another state). When we had left I had stated that we both loved the dog (named LuLu) but I just couldn't morally pay that amount of money, especially knowing how good a home she would be going to and that there were so many homeless dogs. I said, at most, I'd pay X amount and even then I wasn't feeling good about it. Well, a day or two passed and as time went on part of me hoped she either wouldn't call or that she'd call and say she chose another family (this way, I wouldn't have to say, I've changed my mind that I just can't pay for a dog). The other part of me wanted her to call because we did fall in love with LuLu.

Well, we did get her call. She called me at work one day and was very apologetic but said she just couldn't part with her dog. She said she had a moment the night before and just couldn't let her go and that she was going to try and work it out with her family. I completely understood. I felt relieved and sad at the same time. But thanked her for calling and wished her the best. I think this call came on a friday. That following Monday or Tuesday, don't recall specifically, I was off work and happened across the website of one of our local shelters. I found they had two miniature pinscher mixes and decided to go meet them.

It was FATE
Strangely, of the two I wanted to meet the one they named Lou Lou -yes, the same name as the dog we just "lost". First impression, sweet, a tad high energy but I figured it was also because of all the excitement being out of the cage, etc. We did a kitty test by introducing her to the resident cats and the dog could care less. So I asked that she be held until my husband could meet her. The next day, we both went down there and Lou Lou was even more excited, still very sweet, and very kissy!

My only concern was that I didn't like her "face jumping" as I called it. You see, I was bitten as a young child, by a little white fluffy dog. But it was my fault. I had no right to approach the dog (who was on a lease in the front yard) and my brother even told me not to. I thought, oh no, she's soooo cute, she won't bite. Wrong. After getting some stitches and an eye patch, all I have today is a little scar near the eye. Am I afraid of dogs -NO. Just more careful and respectful of them. But, I will say I am not a fan when dogs jump at my face.

With Lou Lou, I realized it wasn't meant to be a defensive action, it was just her way, something she learned or wasn't taught properly and figured of all the things that could be an issue, we could train her to stop. We were told she was a stray they picked up and they had no prior info on her other than she passed the behavior tests. We had her put back in her cage and we talked in the hallway. While we talked I peeked around the corner (she was in the first cage) and there she stood as close as she could get to the door, with her cute little flippy ears pearked up and big eyes staring at me as if say, "I love you, don't leave me".

We left having completed the paperwork to pick her up in a few days after she was spayed. The day before picking her up we went "puppy" shopping -new harness, food bowl, food, toys, etc. We were so excited. While in the store, we get a call. It was the woman we met with for LuLu. She apologized for calling again but after a week realized that although she loved her dog very much she just couldn't give her the play time she deserved and would be happy for us to have her. In the blink of an eye I was happy, sad, angry and frustrated. I explained our story -we just adopted a dog...ironically, named Lou Lou....we love her dog but we've made a commitement...and we are not ready for two dogs...we don't even fully know how our new dog will integrate with our cats. The call was bittersweet. She understood, apologized and said if we changed our minds to please call her.

Our drive home should have been a happy one -there was silence and sadness. And I cried.

We arrived early the next day at the shelter to pick up Lucy (we decided she wasn't a Lou Lou...well, maybe she was...but we instead chose to name her Lucy). It was a chore getting her harness on but we came prepared with two different sizes since we didn't know which she'd fit and the technician helped us get the harness on. We decided to walk her in the park across the street before getting in the car -good thing we did. Lucy was in high gear, lots going on, super excited and she had to have pooped at least six times!

While shopping the day before we got Lucy a squeaky toy -we call it red dog (RD). We gave her this red dog in the shelter and from that point forward -she would go nuts if her red dog wasn't near. It was like her comfort toy and we've actually acquired a graveyard of red dogs! She will tear them a little but she sooooo loves her RD!!

To date, we haven't seen one issue that would have caused her previous parents to let her go and never look for her. She was a cared for dog because she had already been spayed and seemed in good health. The only thing not maintained on her were her nails. So we have yet to understand why she was a stray -she's a great dog. Fabulous little stinker -loves us dearly and is pretty much attached to my rear calf anywhere I go. We went from the crate during the day and at bedtime to being gated in the living room during the day and now sleeping on our bed at night -spoiled stinker...that's what she is. :-)

She does have her quirks, one of which is that she does not like the noise a camera makes or the flash. So getting a picture of her is hard but my sister in law got this great photo while she relaxed on the lawn one day. Thanks Dawn!

We have already taken her to Level 1 dog training and aside from a few very small things, she is the perfect dog. And perfect for us. The point(s) of this long, drawn out story:
1. adopt a shelter dog (if you do your research and make an informed decision, you won't be disappointed!)
2. believe in fate

You will get back triple and more than what you invested to find your perfect pet!

PS The big question. Does she get along with our cats? Yes....for the most part. She can have that drive to chase them...it's her breed. But do we allow her? NEVER. We correct her immediately upon seeing her face. She will have a certain fixated stare if she is going to chase them. And we've found it's usually not to hurt them, it's to play with them (which they don't get cause she's a bit bigger than them!) or to get them away from us (she thinks we're all hers!).

In the end - A VERY HAPPY STORY!

Remember, adopt a shelter dog and save a life!