Custom Pumpkin Lampwork Beaded Keychains Gift Set

The beauty of my job, as a jewelry designer, is that I get to design unique handmade creations, for special people, that will be cherished for years to come. Each of my custom pieces are infused with memories, special moments and meaning.

You may remember The Great Beaded Pumpkin Zipper Pulls Charms post, where I shared the inspiration for our Halloween Pumpkin Crystal Lampwork Beaded Keychain (K103) was another artisan's pumpkin drawing.

This dear friend has a heart of gold and is always thinking of others. She wanted the original design and requested three additional custom pumpkin beaded keychains, to give as handmade gifts to her three step-daughters, which she considers as her own precious daughters.

You know the saying:
You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family.
Barb's Custom Pumpkin Lampwork Beaded Key Chains (K103)
Barb's Custom Pumpkin Lampwork Beaded Keychains (K103)

Over the years, the three siblings have agreed and disagreed on many things. When one sibling stands against the rest for what ever reason, hearts are bound to feel hurt. These disagreements led the siblings to sometimes forget the true meaning of family.

Barb was witness to how this discord had affected the three siblings' relationship and it broke her heart. Knowing that "pumpkin" was a nickname given to her oldest daughter, Tori, as a baby, she knew these would make perfect personalized gifts and symbols of what is important -family.

Barb gifted each of the girls with one Custom Pumpkin Lampwork Beaded Keychain and kept one for herself. The gift to the girls was to be a reminder they will always be family and they should stick together. The fourth key ring remained with Barb as a symbol to all three girls that she is always there for them -through thick and thin.

Enjoying the Beauty of Autumn and Handmade Crafts

This past weekend I enjoyed not only the company of a good friend but also the beauty of autumn, in what can only be described as the perfect place for leaf peeping -Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York.

Columbus Day weekend is traditionally when the annual Arts and Crafts Show is held at Letchworth. It's a great event to kick start your holiday shopping with over 300 vendors. We should have left a little earlier for this short trip because we were only there a couple of hours and didn't even get to see all the vendors. Now that's a shame! Lol.
Letchworth State Park Fall 2014. Photo Credits: Crystal Allure Jewelry

It's nice sometimes to be a shopper at a craft show, rather than a vendor. I love to see all the great handmade items these talented artists create. The crafts are amazing and I truly love that they are all handcrafted, it makes any purchase I do make even better.

Along my way, I would grab the business card of the artisans that I wanted to look up later. Here's my filtered list of interesting artisans to check out:
  • Adorable black cat artwork from The Cranky Cat Collection by Cynthia Schmidt. I just love that fluffy black cat!!.
  • Felted purses, cowls and mittens from recycled materials from Trendy Wendy Handbags by Wendy Stout, In fact, I did purchase a pair of super warm wool mittens from Wendy. Although my skin can't handle wool to well, the beauty of these mittens were the wool was on the outside and soft, fleece was the inside of the mitten -perfect!
  • Laura Regatuso of Snowflakes and Flowers creates absolutely stunning artwork and crafts using the method of quilling. Her intricate designs are just amazing! I'll be getting in touch with her as I saw a few things I wanted to get as Christmas gifts. Update: Since this introduction, I had contacted Laura about a product I wished to purchase and unfortunately, have learned their customer service is not so great. I've decided not to purchase from them.
  • There were some fabulous glass artists, as well. But sadly, I didn't grab their business card and wish I did because they had beautiful glass pumpkins (and I love pumpkins!).
It was a day well spent with a great friend and we closed the day with a meal from my fav restaurant near her house -actually it was breakfast for dinner. Does anyone else do this (eat breakfast for dinner)?

Caramel Latte Mother of Pearl Coffee Charm Bracelet (B193)

I can't believe I missed National Coffee Day on September 29, 2014!

As an avid coffee-lover this is just unacceptable! lol.

Those of you who know me, know I love me some Starbucks coffee. And enjoying a good cup of coffee with a friend, makes it twice as nice.
Mother of Pearl Caramel Latte Coffee Crystal Charm Bracelet (B193)
Crystal Allure Mother of Pearl Caramel Latte Coffee Charm Bracelet (B193)
Meeting a friend for coffee at the cafe is pretty much equivalent to a therapy session. The only difference is your copay is your coffee (yes!) and your therapist is your friend (and she is not taking notes!). Our friends see us through the good times, tough times, marriage, (and unfortunately if it happens) divorce, child rearing, pet loss (thanks for your support Barb!!), the list is endless.

It was after just one of those coffee conversations with a friend that inspired this delicious crystal handmade beaded bracelet.

My friends are an important part of my life and this bracelet celebrates that bond we share together. In fact, there are a few bracelets, celebrating friendship, available at Crystal Allure Jewelry in designs that offer a modern update to the typical embroidery floss friendship bracelets. They are grown up styles -and they sparkle!

The Caramel Latte Mother of Pearl Crystal Coffee Charm Bracelet (B193) features shades of caramel mocha in Swarvoski Crystals paired with creamy Mother of Pearl beads, sterling silver beads, Bali and a sweet sterling silver coffee cup charm. Bracelet measures 8".

What do you most cherish about your friend(s)? Leave a comment below.

Flight of Life Butterfly Transplant Awareness Necklace (NA104)

October raises awareness of many causes that include Breast Cancer, Depression, Mental Illness and Red Ribbon Week -to name a few.

As well, October is National Healthy Lung Month which is sponsored by the American Lung Association. The goal is to increase awareness of steps we can take to maintain healthy lungs.

Our lungs are amazing organs! They are affected by anything we breathe in and although our body has a defense system in place designed to protect our lungs, there are things we can do to reduce our risk of lung disease:

1. Don't smoke! Cigarette smoking is a major cause of COPD, lung cancer and it destroys lung tissue.
2. Avoid exposure to pollutants that can damage your lungs such as secondhand smoke, outdoor air pollution and chemicals/bad air in both the home and at work.
3. You can prevent infections simply by washing your hands, getting a flu vaccine and brushing your teeth.
Flight of Life Butterfly Transplant Awareness Necklace (NA104)
Flight of Life Butterfly Transplant Awareness Necklace (NA104)

Unfortunately, for some, even taking these preventative measures cannot save their lungs. For example, those with Cystic Fibrosis were born with the lung disease. No matter what precautions they take their lungs will eventually deteriorate to the point that they will need a lung transplant. That doesn't mean they shouldn't still take these precautions because they should still do anything they can to protect their lungs, for as long as they can.

So, for me, Healthy Lung Month and Transplant go hand in hand. Which is why I created the Flight of Life Butterfly Transplant Awareness Necklace (NA104)! Not only does it raise awareness of healthy lungs, it represents the importance of organ donation and giving the Gift of Life.

This inspiring handmade beaded necklace was designed for all those who are organ donors, transplant recipients and lung transplant survivors. The 17-1/2" necklace features a beautiful sterling silver 30.15mm butterfly pendant (symbolizing life) with a full beaded strand of gorgeous green marble seraphinite gemstones, white Swarovski Pearls (hope) and sterling silver beads. Not only is green the nationally recognized ribbon color for Organ Donation and Transplant, it's also the awareness color for Healthy Lung Month!

Did you know? It has been said when lungs are transplanted and take their first breath, it's like a butterfly opening its' wings. A beautiful symbol for what can only be described as a beautiful -life saving -event. That is why the Butterfly is a Symbol of Lung Transplant.

Looking for more handmade Butterfly Awareness products? Check out Bronson Hill Arts handcrafted Flights of Life Butterfly Notecards, in support of Lungs for Life.

Today I Wear Gray and Say Goodbye

This post has absolutely nothing to do with jewelry and as a rule, I tend not to talk about too many personal things. But I thought maybe writing about our sweet kitty would help to heal from this great loss I feel. And maybe it would help someone else who might have a similar situation.

On September 30, 2014 I had to say goodbye to my beloved Sweetie Pie. He was still so young at only 10 years old. My husband and I adopted both him and his brother (Cookie Toe) from a local shelter. We were told they had found their way there, with their mom, when their previous owners turned them in. If I recall correctly it was because they had too many pets? Neither were neutered and sadly, it looked like their mom was pregnant again.

We had gone to the local shelter every weekend for a number of weeks looking for the cat who would best fit in our home. One the day we made the decision to adopt these two brothers, it was Cookie Toe who had stuck his paw through the cage wires to grab my hair..and ultimately get my attention.

The beauty of these two were they looked almost exactly alike except Sweetie Pie is gray and his brother, Cookie Toe is all black. They both have this little white patch on their chests. They sat in their cage together with their mom in the cage next to them. While Cookie Toe was meowing at me and not getting my attention, he then decided to grab my hair. When I looked up to pet him, I saw this brother Sweetie Pie, sitting in the litter box (that was a silly place to decide to lay). I said to Cookie Toe, "are you my baby"? And as if on cue, he meowed right back while looking me directly in the eyes.

It was quite the decision to make because we were initially only looking to adopt one cat. But, looking at the both of them, we knew, if we only adopted one and the other was not adopted....well, you know the possibility. So, that day we completed our paperwork to adopt both!

Our Gray Cat Sweetie Pie. Photo Credits: Crystal Allure Jewelry

There are so many stories I can share of the goofy Sweetie Pie, like how he would bounce along the floor like a rocking horse -which was his way to telling you to play with him, or how you could use the yellow feather on the rod and get him jumping for it at heights that were unbelievable. He also had this fascination with a pair of my fun slipper socks that had small stuffed frog faces on them. One day one of the socks turned up missing. Come to find out Sweetie Pie decided he liked the frog so he took the sock as his toy! From that day forward I just cut off the frog faces and gave both to him as a toy. He loved those frogs! He would carry them all around the house in his mouth! Silly Sweetie Pie! :-)

Sadly in 2012, Sweetie Pie was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma (intestinal cancer). We were devastated. Prior to the diagnosis his weight had gone down to just a little more than 5 pounds. It pained us greatly to see him suffering. Our fantastic veterinarian performed surgery to remove the mass that had grown at the intersection of his esophagus and intestine -which had prevented food from getting to his stomach. After surgery she educated us on his prognosis.

We were told this type of cancer in cats was not a good one. Ultimately, he would be on borrowed time. There was the option to do radiation therapy but he would have to endure the discomfort of the therapy and there were no statistics that showed this therapy worked, for this type of cancer. So, we opted to not do the therapy and let him enjoy the last months or years of his life.

Sweetie Pie's recovery from the surgery was absolutely phenomenal. He went back up to a healthy weight, his spunky, quirky, goofy personality was back. He was running around playing and enjoying life to the fullest! Over time, he did gain a little too much weight. We think he was making up for lost time. :-)

But, something changed around early Spring, mid-Summer this year. Throughout this time and into Autumn, I noticed his weight just didn't look right. It looked like he had a football, laying sideways, in his mid-section.

I took him in just two days ago because of his weight, he had refused food since late last week and overall he just looked unhappy. He had an x-ray done and it was discovered he had a lot of fluid in his stomach (hence the odd shaped weight he was carrying), as well as, some fluid in his lungs. He also had a low temperature and was slightly anemic. I was heartbroken.

An ultrasound was scheduled for the next day to see what was causing the fluid buildup. However, I spent that evening researching the information I was given and I also spent the next day with him and had the opportunity to really watch him. It was very apparent what we really needed to do.

At the ultrasound appointment, we declined that service but asked that he be re-checked by a vet because I had noticed his breathing was really shallow and labored, he seemed unresponsive to what was going on around him, he was even more wobbly on his feet and more.

While the vet talked to us, Sweetie Pie was given a warming bed and some tender loving care. Armed with additional information about how sick he was, his heart was weak, his low temp was dangerously low...we made the heartbreaking decision to help Sweetie Pie to Rainbow Bridge so he didn't suffer anymore. :-(

I've cried for two days and know that time heals all wounds. At this time I am still so immensely sad, however, I will say CANCER SUCKS!!

Goodbye my sweet, sweet, Sweetie Pie. We LOVE YOU dearly. We hope you are running around and playing with your kitty friends, brothers and sisters.

And thank you, in advance, to all the readers who have chosen to allow me this moment of sadness on the blog and to offer words of comfort. Hug your little fur-babies a little tighter today -and everyday.