Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye 2008, Hello 2009!

I had hoped to write before Christmas, but the last minute craziness took over! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! We enjoyed festivities on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My family gets together the night before to have dinner and exchange gifts. Chloe and I always manage to make out very well! Here she is with some of her presents:

As you can tell, she's very into Disney princesses. Since getting this Cinderella dress, she insists on wearing it all day long, every day! I do take it off for bed, however. Notice the pink computer she got? That's because she loves mine so much, my mom thought she needed her own. Great idea! Here is the princess Christmas morning when she opened her presents from Mommy & Daddy:

To carry on with the princess theme, we got her a playhut. This is because she is obsessed with playing hide and seek, and I knew she would love to hide in here. Now I'm sure you're wondering why she has a pink dress on instead of the blue one in the previous photos. Well, she got a Sleeping Beauty dress on Christmas day from her Nana & Papa. Variety!

Here it is the last day of 2008. I hope everyone has a happy and safe new year! May 2009 be wonderful and prosperous!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy With Everything, Not Getting Anything Done

Well, what I mean is not getting anything creative done! I've been busy getting ready for Christmas: decorating, baking cookies and entertaining Chloe, that I haven't had time to just sit down and create! With a large show coming up in two months, I need to get moving. Why is it that everytime I try to have a little time to myself, I always wind up doing for others? Don't get me wrong, I enjoy taking care of Chloe, but at the end of the day, I'm kind of exhausted and don't have much left to give.

A few weeks ago I received a very nice award from TiLT Creations, and I'm just getting to post it now. It is the Marie Antoinette award and here are the rules:

Official RULES:
1) Please add the Marie Antoinette award photo on your blog

2) Place a link to the person from whom you received the award

3) nominate 7 exceptional blogs to receive the award

4) put the links to those blogs on your blog

5) leave a message on their blogs to tell them they are the chosen ones!

I have to say it's hard for me to choose, so I am going to give it to all of my readers to post on their blogs! Once you've posted it, let me know, and I'll add your link! As a side note, check out TiLT's etsy shop for some great bags and accessories.

I did manage to get one new item posted on the site. It's my Bloomin' Earrings set which I think would make a great gift ( I can get this sent out right away)! It comes with a brass elongated earwire and 4 sets of czech glass flowers, which are accented with a brass flower bead cap. The flower can easily be removed and switched out depending on your mood! The set includes:

Seafoam green



Navy blue

It's on sale! I'm working on creating a bunch more colors, so keep checking back!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Beginning and The End

I have had so much going on this year, it's sometimes hard to put it into words. I've been overwhelmed at times with being a stay at home mom. I have done so much work for my business to try and get our name out there and gain some more sales. There have been a lot of disappointments, mainly with advertising not working out or some flops with shows we've participated in. I am, however still perservering and am looking for new avenues to further promote my handcrafted jewelry business. I love doing what I do and want to learn some new techniques and really find my true style of design. I've already booked one big show for February, which we participated in last year. Shecky's Girls Night Out is a shopping event that is super fun with lots of great discounts. Check them out if they come to your area! For me, this is the beginning of a new year as I have had to make some major decisions in my life. Without going into too much detail, both my personal life and "professional" life will be going through some major changes I believe.

Another major change is the end of Skwigga-zine. The editor, Missy, started a really great community geared towards independant artists and helping us to promote each other. She put a lot of effort into it, but when life got a little too hectic, she asked me to step in as Co-editor. I was pleased to do so and had started a spotlight on jewelry designers, gained us some more advertising, and wrote a weekly feature on How Do We Get Ourselves Out There? Unfortunately, most of the members died off and weren't participating. Each week I'd post about a member of our Blog-Ring group but only a handful of us took the commitment seriously. I am sad to see it go, but completely understand Missy's decision to shut it down. She asked if I would like to take it over, but my plate is already full and I just couldn't commit to it at this time. With one last Blog-ring post, I'd like to spotlight Kelly from Macaroni & Glue. With the holidays right around the corner, check out her shop for unique and festive designs!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Am Thankful For...

I am joining in on this wonderful meme since Thanksgiving is tomorrow! There are so many things to be thankful for, but here are the main things:

*My daughter. Even though she tests my patience EVERY day, she is bright, creative, loving, and beautiful. I thank God I have her!
*My home. It may not be the greatest or where I want to spend the rest of my life, but I have a roof over my head. Not everyone can say the same.
*My family. I have a very supportive mother and grandmother who are always there for me. I am lucky to have them!
*My work. It may not bring me much as far as income, but I like what I do and I'm glad I have the creativity to do it!
*My pets, on Earth and in Heaven. I love my cat, Pumpkin because she loves me unconditonally. Andy will forever be in my heart.

Join in and let us know what you are thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting Ready For the Holidays

I have been working furiously to get my site in order for the upcoming gift giving season. We are offering a 30% discount on all of our handcrafted jewelry!! Plus, I have added some new pieces to the site, including these Snowstorm earrings. I just love the look of these chandeliers, including the opal crystal teardrops.

We are also offering Free Gift wrap for those of you that can't stand wrapping gifts! Just include that in the comments section of your order. We still have Free Shipping, so why fight the crowds when you can shop from the comfort of your home?! Lastly, for those hard to buy for ladies on your list, we offer Gift Certificates! Order early for the best selection. I will be adding new items throughout the next coming weeks, but many of our pieces are limited edition.

Another artist getting ready for the holidays is Corinne from Daydream Art Studios. I first met her on Skwigga-zine, which is a great online community for independant artists. Check out these lovely ornaments that she made! Keep up the great work!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Look What I Won!!

I entered into a giveaway a few weeks ago on Posh Mama during one of Capitola Girl's "Friday Findings" posts. I was so impressed with the Photo Tile Pendant that was up for grabs, I didn't hesitate for a second. I was so pleasantly surprised to learn I won! I never win anything! Wendy from WithYouAlways was very accomodating and she had my photo ready for me to view in no time. I wasn't sure which photo to choose for my pendant. I knew I wanted it to have my daughter in it. Then I came across the one that adorns my necklace. As many of you faithful readers know, we had to put our precious dachshund, Andy, down a few months ago. While time has helped the pain slightly, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him. What a wonderful way to remember him and my daughter always! I am very pleased with the quality of the necklace! Wendy was also a featured artist in my article that was published. I hope it brings her much success!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Article Was Published!!

I have been a contributing writer on Boutique Flair for about a month now reporting on jewelry trends, gift ideas, and general info. Our editor, Krista, submitted the site to Blogburst last week and we were finally accepted. Well, I got the news today that my article entitled, "Pendant Make Great Gifts" was published by Computer Shopper in their gift guide! How cool is that? I'm very excited to know someone else likes what I have to say! I featured many talented artists, so please take a look!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cool Blog Award!!

I was so excited to learn that I received a Cool Blog Award from Teresa at TopCat Creations! I really like blogging, but sometimes I feel no one really reads it. Or that they like what I have to say. Now I know at least someone does! I'm honored to pass the award on. Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 other blogs for this award
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs
6. Give a reason why you consider their blogs cool

Here are my 10 Cool Blog Picks:

I hope everyone is as thrilled as I was. Enjoy your award!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jewelry That Is Fabulous & Eco-Friendly!

Jewelry is very beautiful and an essential part of many of our wardrobes. For me, it's my livlihood! However, the process used to create it is often environmentally destructive.
Mining for gold, silver and other metals is the United States’ leading source of toxic pollution. That may come as a surprise, but it can take the removal of 280 tons of rock just to produce one ounce of gold. That’s because mining companies often extract vast quantities of dirt and rock and then spray it with cyanide or other chemicals to leach out microscopic amounts of metal. It can pollute our air and water. So what's a girl to do?

You can wear antique pieces or heirloom jewelry that's been in your family. Also wearing natural or recycled materials is a better choice than new metal. There is some beautiful jewelry made of wood, bamboo, paper, and recycled products.

Take a look at these eco-friendly fabulous finds:

I hope you will check out some of these great pieces and help out the planet in the process! Join me next week for some more fabulous finds!

Originally posted on Boutique Flair.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Unexpected Friends

For most of my life I have had a few close friends. I tend to keep to myself and have always found it hard to talk to new people. Also, I am the kind of person who doesn't hide my feelings well. I try to be straightforward and I kind of tell it like it is. So people either like me or they don't I guess. Recently, I joined a mommy's group so Chloe and I would have some people to meet with and activities to do. I am so happy I did! I have met a lot of nice new friends that I hope to get to know a lot better.

In high school I had a very good friend who I did a lot of things with. We were close all throughout college, and through the beginning of our post-college jobs. However, we lost contact and hadn't talked to each other in over 7 years. Last week out of the blue, she called me hoping to reconnect. I was pleasantly surprised and happy to have her back in my life! She said she had been trying to find me and had been thinking about me for a long time. She had no idea I had a little girl and was very excited to learn that. I'm glad to have an old friend back!

I seem to make "friends" pretty easily online. Maybe because they don't know all your baggage or they just see you for what you present to them. I don't know, but I have really connected with Annette Piper of Under the Loupe. She is an amazing jewelry designer whom I've featured many times on my blog. I admire what she's done and how she is always there to lend advice or tips. It's too bad she lives all the way in Australia, because I would love to be able to chat with her. Please check out her blog because she shares her gorgeous designs and lots of knowledge!

Monday, November 3, 2008

What's Hot For Fall: The Statement Necklace

I absolutely love big and bold necklaces! Once and awhile I may opt for a dainty piece, but typically I like to jazz it up with an eye-catching number. I guess I'm fortunate because this season, it's all about making a statement! You can take the most ordinary outfit and turn it into extrodinary by adding the right jewelry. Here are just a few of my favorites:

The necklace pictured above is a stunner and handcrafted by Elaine Haydon of Elaine Haydon Jewelry. I'm a sucker for green, and this stick pearl and peridot piece is an absolute winner! Can't you just imagine this with a simple black dress or a pretty ivory blouse? You'll certainly stand out from the crowd!

If you want a dramatic piece, here it is! Handcrafted by Annette Piper of Dip.Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery, the Iliad is named for the Greek poetry. Annette is a gemologist who has turned her love of gemstones into works of art. Luxurious peruvian amazonite is accented with a bold Hill Tribe silver clasp. Wear it with a white button down and jeans for an unbelievable look!

The Painting - August Glitz Lounge Challenge

This gorgeous design is handcrafted by Yazmin Wickham from A Pretty Rock. I love the combination of gemstones she used, plus the oxidized silver really makes it stand out. I would love to wear this with a neutral turtleneck this fall!

This last piece would be perfect for the holidays! This beautiful 5 strand garnet and silver necklace was handcrafted by Becky Augustine of Becky Augustine Jewelry. Wear the clasp to the side to show off the garnet ends! The deepness of the garnet would show up well against black, grey, and ivory. You'll look like a million bucks wearing this to your holiday parties!

Originally posted on Boutique Flair.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

Jewelry That Is Beautiful & Raises Awareness

As October comes to a close, I wanted to take a look at some of the beautiful jewelry that's being made in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness. This is a cause that is very dear to me. When my grandmother was 73, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Our family was in shock, as she had always been so healthy. We are blessed that she is doing well and has been for a few years. Not everyone is that fortunate. I believe finding a cure for this disease is in our near future. By giving a portion of the proceeds to cancer research from these beautiful designs, I believe these ladies are truly raising awareness!
When I saw this necklace at the top of the article, I knew I wanted to include it. Made by poetsummer, it includes glass beads in various designs and shades of pink, silver charms, and an adjustable rope chain. It's a One Of A Kind Piece and sells for $42.99.

This meticulously handcrafted bracelet can be found at a lovely shop called time2cre8. Mary Lou is a very talented beadweaver and I've been in awe of her work for some time. This is a woodgrain pattern she does in peyote stitch using delica seed beads. It sells for $63.00 and 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation in the purchaser's name.

These adorable sandal charm earrings are made in honor of all the cancer walks that are held in the fall. For $20 you can purchase these sterling, Swarovski crystal, and pearl beauties from kari1121 on Etsy.

This handstamped sterling silver necklace is dainty but powerful. It signifies the hope that there will be a cure one day! Accented with a pink Swarovski crystal, it can be found at indigosignature for only $26.00.

These pretty little earrings are made with lampwork glass ribbon beads, Swarovski crystals, and silver. For just $15 you can show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness by purchasing them at tilleyjewels.

The last piece is called a Wiggle Weave bracelet and is just so pretty and unique! Made with seed beads and Swarovski crystals, you will definitely raise awareness! It sells for $40, with $5 of the proceeds going to the St.Louis affiliate of the Susan G. Komen foundation. Handcrafted and found at JewelsbyJaci.

With all these pretty pieces, I'm sure you can find something that's meaningful to you. It's always time to raise awareness!

Originally published at Boutique Flair.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Unfulfilled Dreams

I'm sure most of us have had dreams in our life that have not come true. I know my life has definitely taken a path I would never have expected. I am so very blessed to have my little girl. I was raised by a single mother, and we didn't have very much. It was my dream to make something of myself and to be successful. It was a big accomplishment when I graduated from college. Now my mom, at 49 years of age (yes, she had me young!), has gone back to college to complete her degree to be a R.N. I'm very proud of her for going after her dream, no matter how long she waited. I thought I'd share with you some things that I wanted to do in life that I have not fulfilled:

Become a top model (okay, I don't really have a desire to do this anymore, but I sure wanted it when I was younger).

Move to a big city.

Become a fashion designer (does making jewelry count?).

Travel to new and exciting places (slowly doing this one).

Those are just a few of the things I thought I'd do in life. I'd love to hear from all of you what your unfulfilled dreams are. I was so thrilled to hear that Lily of Tulip's Talking has a daughter that started modeling! Good for her! I hope it brings her happiness!

I have many dreams for the future both for me and for my daughter. I want her to know that she can be anything and do anything she wants. I will support her in all endeavors. As long as she's happy, that will be my most fulfilled dream!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Inspiration and A Tagging Game

I am asked quite often where I get the inspiration for my designs. There are many things that inspire me. First and foremost, I think the beads themselves make the design. I often by a bead because I love it, then later on figure out what to do with it. I'm also inspired by TV, fashion magazines, and images on the internet. I love to see what other people are wearing and sometimes I take something I've seen and put my own spin on it. I'm also inspired by the seasons: fall brings about the changes in the leaves, winter brings sparkly snow, spring with it's vibrant flowers, and summer just reminds me of the beach. I was recently reading the blog, Designing Hilary, where she talks about her inspirations. Hilary is a very talented jewelry designer whom I've met in several of the social networks we belong to. Check out her shop to see what I mean!
The ring above is one of my newest designs and I was inspired by the beautiful Vintaj brass pieces. I wanted to do a ring in brass, and when I saw they introduced this etruscan piece that could be manipulated into a ring band, I was thrilled. I love the look of this brass, it has a vintage look while still being modern. I used a round of Chinese Ocean Jasper which I think compliments it perfectly.
Lastly, I've been tagged! I have to say it's a first. My wonderful buddy Annette of Under the Loupe tagged me and I must tell you 7 things you may not know about me and then nominate 7 other blogs, with a link to the person's blog who tagged you. Here goes:
1. I was raised by a single mother.
2. I've always been very shy and mostly a loner.
3. I wanted to be a veternarian when I was little.
4. I have a B.A. in Visual & Apparel Merchandising.
5. I was diagnosed with Endometriosis when I was 13, and was told I most likely would never be able to have children. I proved the doctor's wrong and had my miracle baby 3 years ago!
6. I used to model in high school.
7. I have a very mixed ancestry. I am part Irish, German, Dutch, Italian, and Native American. My husband calls me the melting pot!
Okay, enough of that! Here are the 7 blogs I've tagged:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shop For A Cure

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to share some of our designs. Both Cindy and I have had family members affected with this disease, so this is a cause that is very important to us. While Cindy's mom and my grandma are doing well, many are not so lucky! With each sale of any of our Cancer Awareness Items, we will be donating 20% to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. Please help us Shop For The Cure!!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why We Do What We Do

We are getting back into the swing of things with our Skwigga-zine Blog Ring group, and this week's featured artist is Karen of Cherished Dreams. She makes some very lovely quilts, something I don't think I would have the patience to do! She is also a lovely person. When I suffered the loss of my precious Andy, she was there with kind words of support. She is a fellow dachshund lover (and owner) and knows how they become a huge part of your life! Karen also understands how some days you wonder why you do what you do. But we realize that we are doing what we are meant to do and we are at this point in our lives for a reason. Sometimes we don't know that reason. We just perservere and know our lives do have meaning. Thanks Karen for putting that into perspective!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What's Most Important

It seems like forever since I last posted. Cindy and I are selling our designs at the York Women's Show this weekend and I've been busy putting together new creations. Not to mention my most important job, being a mother.
I've expressed my frustrations over being a stay at home mommy in previous posts. The feeling that you have no time for yourself. Always catering to the needs of your little one. Being exhausted and lonely. And I only have 1!!! I have no comparison to Debi of Who Says 8 Is Enough? She has 9 children, many of them are still at home with her! She has an amazing story of love and unselfishness and I admire her for doing what she does. Debi has a blended family, some are her natural children, and others her and her husband have adopted. She recently posted about how overwhelmed and exhausted she is and how she feels she can't get anything done!!! I'm sure! I know how I feel with just my darling Chloe! She ends her post by saying though, they sure are cute! In the end, the love for our children is what matters the most. Not how tempremental or cranky they can be. Not the fact that you hear "Mommy" a thousand times a day. But the fact that you are shaping another human being and you love them unconditionally. You want to protect them and let them know you will always be there for them. When I saw my daughter dancing around the room the other morning to the Dora the Explorer theme song, I was filled with tears. Not tears of frustration or sadness, but tears of joy. She looked so adorable and innocent just having fun watching her favorite show. That's what's most important!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Our First Arts Festival

It's been a busy couple of weeks! Cindy and I had 2 shows in a week because of a cancellation due to Huricane Hannah. Our first one was in Wilmington, DE at the 48th Annual Brandywine Arts Festival. For our first time, it went pretty well. Other vendors and guests commented that there weren't as many people visiting this year. Many obstacles, such as the prior week's cancellation, and the weekend's hot weather could have played a part. This was the first time I spent a weekend away from Chloe, but despite a whole mess of stuff to do when I arrived back home, I had a nice weekend.

Some of our new fall pieces were a big hit, some have not even made it to the website yet! Several pieces that were one of a kind were sold. We look forward to attending next year.

Our second show was in Bel Air, MD at the Bel Air Festival for the Arts. It was a one day show this time so it was an early morning drive to Maryland for us. This was our first time here as well, and I have to say it was a bit disappointing. The people that were to be beside us didn't even show up, and you do have to be selected to be in this event. I also heard other vendors saying this show was not like it has been in years prior. I'm sure the unstable economy is the biggest factor. People just aren't spending the way they used to. I can't say that I blame them, I rarely buy anything for myself. Of course, I want to sell my creations so I'm hoping the approaching holiday season will be a success!

Our next show is Oct. 4-5 at the York Women's Show. We are looking forward to meeting a lot of great ladies and sharing our love for what we do.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We are a Winner of I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!

Cindy and I had a weekend show in DE (post and pics to follow), and upon return I was pleasantly surprised to see we won this award! I have really tried to work on blogging more frequently and I want to thank all of you who nominated us! Skwiggazine members are the best!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Jewelry Tuesday Giveaway

Please visit House of Raquel to read my interview and to enter my giveaway! Raquel has devoted every Tuesday as Jewelry Tuesday and features a different jewelry artist each week, this week is me. I am giving away this beautiful ring, just right for fall! You have until 7:30 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow evening to enter. Good luck!

Monday, September 8, 2008

In Memory Of Andy

Last week, we had to put our precious dachshund Andy down. This is the saddest time of my life. He was only 5 and had always been so full of life. Just one week prior, he was fine. But, one day he was crying at the bottom of the steps and I went down to find him just standing there. I picked him up and brought him upstairs. He seemed okay, just took things a little slower. I didn't know what had happened, but I knew something was wrong the next morning. I called the vet right away and had an appointment that evening. During the day, he was losing his balance and starting dragging his back legs. The vet examined him, said there was nothing broken or dislocated, so he gave him a shot and sent home some medication. I was also to put moist heat on his backend twice a day. I did everything the vet said, but Andy only got worse. Monday was a holiday, so Tuesday morning I called to report there was no improvement. He referred me to a specialist. They could only see him the next day, and that day I knew he was dying. It was so heartbreaking to see him just lay around, not able to move. We were given some options, but surgery seemed unlikely to help because he had no feeling in his back end and he had become incontinent. A cart may have been an option, but would be very tough with a bi-level house. The new vet told us if he had been her pet, she would put him down. I knew it was coming. It didn't make it any easier. My husband and I didn't want to see him suffer. I still wonder if we could have made it with the cart. It happened so suddenly. My heart aches. I am having a very hard time dealing with why he had to go so young. I know this breed has problems losing their backends, and I know I did everything I could for him, but I just can't believe he is gone. I still think I'm going to see him when I walk into the room, or hear his cry. My words can't express how much he was loved. He was the most gentle dog who just wanted to be around us. He always made us laugh and was a wonderful companion to our family. He will be greatly missed. I will leave you with a beautiful poem the vet sent to us with her sympathies:

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven lies the Rainbow Bridge.

When a beloved pet dies, it goes to the Rainbow Bridge. It makes Friends with other animals and frolics over rolling hills and peaceful, lush meadows of green.

Our pets do not thirst or hunger. The old and sick are made young once more; the maimed and ill become healed and strong. They are as healthy and playful as we remember them in days gone by.

Though happy and content, they still miss someone very special, someone they had to leave behind.

Together, the animals chase and play, but the day comes when a pet will suddenly stop and look into the distance...bright eyes intent, eager body quivering. Suddenly recognizing you, your pet bounds quickly across the green fields and into your embrace. You celebrate in joyous reunion. You will never again separate. Happy tears and kisses are warm and plenty; your hands caress the face you missed. You look once more into the loving eyes of your pet and know you never really parted. You realize that though out of sight, your love had been remebered.

And now, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Grid

Our featured blogger this week on Skwiggazine is Corinne Sullivan of Daydream Art Studios. I was first in contact with Corinne a few months ago when I joined her project called, The Grid. Corinne wanted to add creations from all different kinds of artists, and one of my rings is featured (7 th row, first one on the left). Corinne is a very talented artist herself! I love that on her blog she features a different drink recipe every Friday. Who doesn't need one after a long day! Go check out Corinne's blog and show her some love!

Monday, August 25, 2008

So Much To Do, So Little Time

I'm a little behind on my posting because I received 2 orders last week! That's a lot for me, especially since one is a wholesale order for the SPCA. Last year Cindy and I appeared on the Comcast Tonight show in Reading,PA and the camera lady there works for the SPCA and was interested in purchasing my Bracelet for Simon (pictured) for sale at their organization. She ordered 12, and a few months later called to order 24 more! They just ordered another 24 last week, which I'm thrilled to do because it's a bracelet I made in remembrance of a family cat who died of feline leukemia 2 years ago. The proceeds of the bracelet go to research for finding a cure for feline leukemia.

The next day, I received a custom order for a lady getting married who wanted to purchase 2 of our Flower Girl bracelets. We discussed her wedding colors and came up with an ivory pearl and olive green Swarovski crystal bracelet for her flower girls. So with 2 orders, I had lots of supplies to order. I can't keep all supplies I need for every piece on hand. Not to mention that we have a 2 day show coming up in less than 2 weeks, and I have a lot of new pieces I'm in the process of making for that. Needless to say, I have found it kind of difficult to run the business, take care of Chloe and the house, and do my blogging, so the blogging had to come last. A fellow Skwiggazine member who also has been busy with jewelry design and her full-time job of teaching is Teresa of Inspired Designs. Head over to her blog to find out about her busy life! She has some beautiful pieces. Well, that's all for now! Hope everyone has a good day!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back To Life

We just got back Sunday night from our first trip to the Outer Banks. It was an 11 hour drive back and forth, counting all the stops we had to make to give Chloe a break from the car. It wasn't pretty, but thank goodness for the portable DVD player she recieved for her birthday! We couldn't have made the trip without it!! The house we rented was in Rodanthe, N.C. which is pretty far away from a lot of things, but we could walk right out to the beach. It was a gorgeous beach and totally different from what I'm used to. No crowds, just sand, sea, and beautiful seashells! I have always loved to find different seashells, and have a collection on my windowsill in the bathroom. I found some AMAZING shells which has inspired me greatly!

Most days were spent splashing in the water, playing in the sand, and relaxing at the house. Here is a pic of hubby and Chloe flying her first kite. We had really good weather, except for Wednesday, which was a total washout. We drove about 30 miles to Roanoke, which had an aquarium. Everyone must have had the same idea, because it was packed! But a fun thing for Chloe to see, and for me as well! Here is a picture of Chloe standing in front of a huge jaw of a shark. Scary, right?!

Chloe didn't want to leave the beach. In a way, I can't blame her. It sure beats the lack of scenery we have here in Lebanon, PA. My dream is to have a house at the beach. Maybe one day. Until then, it's back to normal life!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mint Chocolate Chip & Skwiggazine

Strange title, huh? Well, I'm heading for the beach on Sunday, my first trip to North Carolina, and I wanted to leave you with one of my latest designs. It's called Mint Chocolate Chip after my favorite ice cream. Since it's the dog days of summer, what better way to cool yourself off than with some ice cream and Aquamarine, Swarovski crystal, and silver earrings? The Aquamarine is man-made, but I thought the cut was beautiful and it also lowers the price than if it were genuine! The sterling silver earwires have a hammered look and accent the cluster of crystals perfectly!

My featured artist this week is Missy from Skwiggazine. I have been a part of this great community for some time now, and have become a weekly contributor with my article, "How Do We Get Ourselves Out There?" It has given me a chance to explore different areas of the internet that we as independant artists can use to promote ourselves. Missy has been very supportive of my articles and work and has just recently asked me to step in for her as editor of Skwiggazine while she is tending to some personal issues. It is a great magazine style type of social networking, and I urge you to check it out! We have some wonderful and talented members and I'm happy to be a part of it. Great job, Missy!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

An Interview with Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Since starting my website a year and a half ago, I have joined many social networking sites, where I have met some fabulous ladies. One in particular is Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery. Upon "meeting" her, she was so warm and welcoming, ready to give advice and share experiences. She is an extremely talented designer and busy mom, but she always has time to do her blog postings, greet new members on the sites she belongs, and leave comments for me on my blog, which I love! I wanted to interview Annette to find out a little bit more about her and her business. This is what she had to say:

Name: Annette Piper

Business Name: Annette Piper Dip. Gem. Handcrafted Jewellery

Where are you located: Coolah, NSW, Australia

What is your favorite part of the design process: Putting two things together and realising it could look fabulous and then those spectacular end results - knowing that someone will LOVE the piece I've just made enough to want to purchase it.

How did your business begin: I qualified as a gemmologist in the 1980s and worked in the jewellery trade in Sydney, so had a good working knowledge of tool use, had seen the design process from concept to finished product, had a good eye for colour and display and a lot of retail experience. I have always felt an affinity for gemstones and pearls so when I made a few little bracelets and necklaces for my (then) toddler daughters out of wood and glass, I thought that I would really like to make jewellery that was all about the stones rather than about the metal. So I let the stones take the lead in design. Everybody who I showed them to loved them and quite a few bought them. As I enjoyed the creation process so much I continued on with it and it grew from there.

Who or what inspires you: The gemstones themselves - their patterns, shading, colours. Occasionally fabrics, flowers and scenery help inspire a combination. I also find images of Audrey Hepburn inspiring - such class, elegance and style, all simple yet so beautiful.

When do you find time to create having 3 active children: All my children are at school so most days I can spend designing/ creating/ photographing / networking / researching / plus all the boring stuff! I also get a lot done late at night when everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet, the phone doesn't ring and the emails slow down.

What do you enjoy doing when you're not creating: Reading- predominately fantasy, fiction and classic literature. I'm not much of a factual reader - whilst interesting, it makes me yawn and ultimately I'll nod off. I used to enjoy cooking and a little bit of gardening but jewellery has taken over these areas in the enjoyment factor. I also really enjoy selling my work - I'm very much a people person and love to get out there and share my enthusiasm for gemstones.

What advice would you give other indie artists who are just starting out: Do something that you have experience with and a talent for. Refine your skills before selling - it's a quick way to lose your reputation if you sell a product that is of inferior craftsmanship. Identify your market and then go and find them - don't think they are going to come to you! Be prepared to travel to your target market if they are not nearby or find alternate ways to sell to them.

What is the secret to your success: High quality stones and craftsmanship, extremely rigid quality control, full guarantee of my product, excellence in customer service and going an unexpected step further for the customer, not promising something I can't deliver.

Favorite food: chocolate *guilt*, creamy sauces *guilt*, berries *no guilt > :D

Favorite music: swing, lighter styles of jazz, acoustic guitar, some traditional folk (Irish/Scottish) and 'show tunes' (just ask my long suffering children and husband about the latter.... yes I break into song for no apparent reason)!

I want to thank Annette for taking the time to answer my questions. It's obvious she has a passion for what she does, and it definitly shows! Just look at those gorgeous pieces! She also had some great advice for us as artists just starting out. Continued success with everything Annette!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Chloe!!!

3 years ago today at 3:11 p.m., I gave birth to 7 lb. 4 oz. Chloe Ann Harvey. It's been an eye-opening experience, one that I wouldn't trade for the world. Despite the tantrums, crying over "spilled milk" and repeating myself constantly, I can't imagine my life without her. Chloe is a very emotional and strong-willed child, which I'm sure will be good later in life, but she is also caring, sweet, loving, curious and extrememly intelligent. I answer more questions in a day now than I ever did as a manager in my previous job. I've learned so many things over the last 3 years. I've found patience I never knew existed! I've found love I never knew I would have. I've learned what she does and doesn't like, for the most part. I have learned what it means to be totally responsible for someone else and to do what I can for her, even if I may not feel like it. I have learned what it is to be totally selfless. I know what it is to be a mother.

Happy Birthday my sweet little girl!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend Getaway

For the first time in a while, my husband and I had a little getaway this weekend. I knew I needed a little time away from the little one before our family vacation in a few weeks. I have always loved Philadelphia, so we decided to visit again. I myself am a city girl. I love that there is something to do on every street. Shops, restaurants, parks, book stores, bars (yes, bars)! I wish I had more to do where I live besides the one mall and few playgrounds to take Chloe to. I would love to be able to take a stroll around the neighborhood or park each day instead of driving every where. Alas, that isn't the case. So I really enjoyed my trip to the "City of Brotherly Love".

While Chloe was happily off with my parents, we had a relaxing, albeit scorching, time in the city! We visited a lovely little cafe for lunch, explored some little shops, visited a cigar bar for the hubby, and just walked! I was drenched by the middle of the day from sweat, and my feet were throbbing, but after a short nap, I was ready to go again! We had a nice pre-dinner drink (or two) and had the most fabulous dinner I can remember. I must say it was wonderful to not have to fight with someone to eat, sit still, or not be so noisy, and actually enjoy what I was eating! We ate at an asian restaurant where we had incredible dumplings, crab fried rice, and miso glazed cod. A rare treat! After some more walking around, and a trip to our favorite pub, I was ready to retire! We started the next day with a lovely breakfast and a trip to the enourmous Reading Terminal Market. If you are familiar with the city, I'm sure you know this is one of the largest markets around. They have everything! I would love to buy fresh food every day for dinner here. We spent some more time walking, had a famous Philly cheesesteak, and headed for home. Unexpectedly, I had a call from my mom that she wanted to keep Chloe overnight again. I was really missing her and looking forward to seeing her, but we decided to let her stay. I knew she must have been having fun or my mom wouldn't have asked! After a long weekend, it was good to be home and in my own bed. Back to "work" today and I do miss my time away. It will be a while until another one of those weekends! For now, I look forward to enjoying Chloe's birthday this week, the big 3! I can't believe it!! Time really does go fast, whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

2 For the Price of 1

Each week I try to post about a different artist that I've "met" through my Blog-Ring group at Skwiggazine. Last week I was remiss in talking about Stacy of Busy Mommy Product Review, so I will do so now. Not only does Stacy design gorgeous tutus for the little ones, but she reviews products that will help any busy mommy in her daily life. Pay her a visit and see what she's up to today!

The next artist I will be telling you about is Lily from Tulip's Treasure Box. Not only does Lily have a great blog that talks about her experiences and her pension for fishing, but she designs amazing beadwoven jewelry. I don't know how she does it, but the pendants that she does are amazing!! Check out her designs and you'll be in awe!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Will These Days Ever End???

Now please don't get me wrong. I love my daughter more than anything else in the world. I would do anything for her. But I have to say this "terrible two" stage that has gone on for what seems like her whole life is getting extremely tiring. If I'm not constantly telling her not to hit the dog, to please not yell, to stop telling ME not to tell her no or to please go potty, I'm asking her to sit to eat, say "please" and "thank you" if you want something and you receive it or to stop throwing herself around the room. I know I am not the first mother to go through this, and I certainly won't be the last, but sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy! That feeling of frustration, exhaustion, depression, anxiety, and loneliness tends to get to you!

I'm sure in another couple years I will wish I had this stage in her life back, but right now, I hope for anything else. If I could leave the room for more than a few seconds without her screaming "Mommy" it would be a miracle, even if someone else is with her. If I could get her to not whine about everything under the sun, it would be a godsend. If I could get some work done while she was awake, I would be eternally grateful. Unfortunately, I do things early in the morning, at naptime, or at night after she's finally resting peacefully.

I have done a lot of reading once I found out I was going to have a baby, and I still read as much as I can. I look for advice anywhere I can. However, not much seems to work with my child. I have found a book about Spirited Children and absolutely believe I am a parent to one. I will talk about this a little more in depth when I have some sanity, but a Spirited Child is more energetic, more emotional, more perceptive, and more intense than other children. My husband doesn't seem to buy into it, but spending every day with her for nearly 3 years, tells me this is the case. So for now I am grabbing a few moments while she is watching a movie with my grandma before I burst! I need to get out my feelings, so I figured my blog was the perfect place. I have realized I need more time to myself. I have focused solely on my daughter, and my business for the last 3 years. I can count the number of times on two hands that I have left her overnight with someone. It just doesn't feel right to me. But, as things are becoming more of a handful, I know I have to let others help me when they can. So with that I will return upstairs feeling a little more able to handle things again. It's soon bedtime:)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fresh and Chic

I am always so thrilled when someone features Michabella Creations and our jewelry on their blog or site. This week Liz from Wickedly Chic named us Fresh and Chic and featured our Cafe au Lait necklace! Liz had some very nice things to say about our jewelry and she loved our prices! If you haven't yet visited Wickedly Chic, it is a site devoted to "Independant Shopping for the Wickedly Fashionable". Go check it out!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Weddings and Such

Wedding season is upon us! I myself was married 6 years ago on June 1. It took us 7 years to tie the knot. I'm sure you're asking yourself "Why so long"? Well, I was only 18 when we got engaged and was entering my first semester of college. I wanted to finish school and get my career underway before I settled into marriage. My mom re-married almost 17 years ago on July 20, which is also her birthday.

Cindy just finished designing jewelry for a bride and her entire bridal party. I haven't gotten to post the new design on our site, but I'm giving you a sneak peek here! It's pretty and just what the bride wanted! Her bridesmaids had the set with pink Swarovski crystals instead of the clear. I hope she sends us some pictures! I was reading one of the blogs in my weekly Blog-Ring group, and Stacy is getting married! She and her fiance have a 9 month old little girl and I'm sure they have their hands full! Her little one is going to be so adorable in the dress she chose! I hope they have a special day! Good luck to all of them!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Finding

I am so thrilled because one of our designs has been featured!! Susan of Capitola Girl writes a weekly column for Posh Mama about great new jewelry findings. She has done a write-up about her ring fetish and has included our Ring of Autumn as one of her faves! Have a look:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Feeling of Frustration

...with everything right now! For starters, my almost 3 year old daughter has woken up every night this week screaming for a certain animal to hold in her hand. Not just once, several times a night. Now, this may be my fault for letting her sleep with stuffed animals, but why is this necessary?! I'm lucky if I get 2 good hours of sleep before the screaming begins. My room is right next to hers, so thin walls make her calls for help even more prominent. My daughter has always been a handful, but this is starting to wear on me. I guess she likes the security of her animals and I hate to banish them all from her bed, but if this continues, I guess I will have to. She is not one that will not persist in getting her own way. Secondly, my husband. Now I am not going to give a breakdown of all the things that drive me crazy about him, or I'd be here for days. However, his unwillingness to ever get up with our daughter in the middle of the night or his failure to see where I'm coming from is about all I can stand! Lastly, my business. Now, I LOVE making jewelry! It's the only thing I do for myself. However, I spend any and all free time (when daughter is sleeping) working on ways to get my name out there. It can be EXTREMELY time consuming and exhausting!! I'm not a very patient person, so I guess I thought it would all happen overnight. Obviously not the case!! There are hundreds of very talented jewelry artists out there and finding your niche can take a long time. At least I know I'm not the only one who feels this point of frustration. A fellow Skwiggazine member, Hilary Johnson, has blogged about this as well. Hilary is a very talented jewelry artist who is finding it overwhelming, as I am, marketing yourself on the internet. Visit her blog, Designing Hilary, and show her a little love. Well, it helped getting my frustrations out. Now I need a nap!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Our Furry Friends

I have almost finished adding a bunch of new items to our website. We've also added some new categories. With summer fast approaching, we've added Anklets to our collection, and since I've fallen in love with Vintaj natural brass, there is a Brass category filled with necklaces, earrings, and a pretty cool bracelet if I do say so myself. Check them out and let us know what you think.

I love visiting other blogs to see what others are doing. I recently visited Karen's blog Cherished Dreams and couldn't help feeling both happy and sad. Karen is a real animal lover. She recently became Mom to a 5 year old dachshund named Peanut. She now has 5 doxies and 5 kitties. The sad news is one of her beloved kitties was hit by a car. I can't imagine how she must have felt. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved animals. I even wanted to become a veternarian. Like Karen, I have a dachshund. Just one, however. Andy is quite a dog. He is five years old and has a mind of his own and isn't happy until he's tight up against you. He is a wonderful companion to my little girl. She loves to feed him, give him toys and play with him. He is very patient with her as she can get a little rough sometimes. He is the first dog I've really ever had. I've always lived with cats. My feline baby is almost 11 now. The moment I saw Pumpkin as a furry little baby I fell in love with her. Even though my attention has shifted quite a bit, she is still very loving. She spends most of her day hiding from Andy and Chloe but she does let Chloe feed her treats every night. It's very cute. I don't know what I'd do without her. I can't imagine a home without pets. They can be a lot of work sometimes, especially dogs, but I wouldn't want it any other way!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Great New Places

Getting your name out there is truly a hard thing to do. I never could have imagined how many great jewelry artists there are out there. Every day I try to plug away a little bit, while Chloe is sleeping or playing. I recently joined a group called Everything Skwiggle, which is dedicated to bringing artists together for a place to chat, show off their newest creations, and help each other out. Missy has done a really great job making this a community for all of us. She has taught me many things and I'm happy I had the opportunity to "meet" her, so to speak!

Through Everything Skwiggle, I have also had the pleasure of "meeting" a very talented jewelry maker, Annette Piper. She has a background in gemology and has some phenomenal pieces! She has a great blog, Under the Loupe, which you should check out. Annette lives in Australia, which I can't even imagine, but they are getting ready for their winter months. I have to say I like all four seasons, but there's something about curling up by the fireplace while snow is falling outside that just makes me happy. I'm probably one of the few. Go see for yourself these great new places to visit!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Hidden Meaning of Your Name

I found this little quiz and thought it would be interesting:
What Michelle Means
You are confident, self assured, and capable. You are not easily intimidated.
You master any and all skills easily. You don't have to work hard for what you want.
You make your life out to be exactly how you want it. And you'll knock down anyone who gets in your way!

You tend to be pretty tightly wound. It's easy to get you excited... which can be a good or bad thing.
You have a lot of enthusiasm, but it fades rather quickly. You don't stick with any one thing for very long.
You have the drive to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time. Your biggest problem is making sure you finish the projects you start.

You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.
You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.
A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are truly an original person. You have amazing ideas, and the power to carry them out.
Success comes rather easily for you... especially in business and academia.
Some people find you to be selfish and a bit overbearing. You're a strong person.

You are friendly, charming, and warm. You get along with almost everyone.
You work hard not to rock the boat. Your easy going attitude brings people together.
At times, you can be a little flaky and irresponsible. But for the important things, you pull it together.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.
Most of this is true, however, there are a few things that aren't. I am not flaky, irresponsible and I'm not usually too relaxed! I also can't say that success has ever come to me easily. I've always worked hard for everything. Well, it can't all be true, right?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

We are back from our first Girls Night Out event! We managed to sell quite a bit of jewelry, gave out some business cards and had a great experience! It was definitely exhausting to say the least, but I'm so glad we did it! Here are some photos of our booth and new pieces we hope to add to the website soon.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Here We Go

It's a rainy day here in Lebanon, but Cindy and I are doing our first Girls Night Out event tonight in Philly. I have spent some long and tedious hours making new pieces for the show and for our website. I have to say I'm a bit nervous! Not only is this a new experience for me, but I'm not used to being away from my little girl so much! I'll be gone most of the day and only home about midnight each night, but at least I'll get to see her in the morning! I hope to bring back some great experiences and a lot less jewelry!!
I have been contemplating opening an Etsy store, which I only found out about after we launched our website. It seems like a great place to sell your products and there are a lot of talented people out there. One I've found is Marilyn from Cigarbox Beads. Not only is she a very talented designer, but she is featuring 90 Etsy artists in 90 days on her blog! Go check out what she's got going on. Maybe when I'm finished with the week, I will go ahead and open that Etsy store! Well, here we go!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Time for Change

With spring approaching, I was thinking about how everything becomes anew again. The flowers bloom, birds begin singing, and we are no longer cooped up in our houses. With spring also comes a chance for us to make a change in our lives and in ourselves. I recently came across a blog by Zura called Creative Clown in which she talks about starting a journal to write something good about yourselves in everyday. I know I definitely could stand to do this, as I am always my harshest critic. I'm sure we could all find something good to say about ourselves that would help improve our moods. I am going to try doing this and I challenge you all to do the same.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What A Week!!

This past week has been a tough one! Where to begin. My little girl was just not herself for the beginning of the week, and by Tuesday, she wouldn't eat and was just so miserable. Not to mention a fever that was on and off. I was so worried about her because she hardly ate for days, no matter what I tried. I did manage to keep her hydrated and she got a lot of rest. We tried to celebrate her PaPa's birthday, but she just was so upset she didn't even get any cake (very unusual for her)! Her doctor said the stomach bug was going around and by Sunday, I had it as well. Thankfully it only lasted a day, but that day was excruciating! Now that in and of itself was enough for me. Unfortunately, the bad luck didn't end there. Friday night I tried going onto my computer to check e-mails and do some work, only to find I couldn't get a connection. I spent 2 hours on the phone, but I just kept getting transferred and by this time, many of the people weren't in and I had to wait until Monday to get it figured out. A weekend without the internet! I wasn't used to it, but since Chloe and I were sick it didn't bother me too much. By Monday, we were both feeling better, so I decided to give the internet company another call. They could only tell me it was a billing issue, which didn't make any sense since my credit card gets billed every month and my husband pays it. However, nothing was simple to figure out. I had to order high speed again, and was transferred to so many people, I lost track. 4 hours on the phone!! To me that was just utterly ridiculous!! God bless Chloe, she was so patient with me. I hate to be on the phone, especially like that. I was told I wouldn't have the internet until Thursday. It takes 4 days to get me something I already had and shouldn't have ever been without?! By Thursday, I still didn't have it, and spent another 2 hours on the phone until I somehow managed to get my internet connection back. So I had over 300 e-mails to go through and have finally caught up. Computers are great and enable you to do so many things, but when they're not working, it's the biggest pain trying to figure out why! Let's hope things are looking up:)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Bead Show Bonanza

Cindy and I went to a bead show over the weekend, and it was great fun to see so many beads laid out to get your creative juices flowing! We managed to find some unique and exquisite beads to match some pendants we had. We have so much to do to get ready for our upcoming shopping event in Philly that I don't know where to begin. I have several packages coming filled with beads, chain, rings, watch faces, you name it. Then the fun begins! I hope to post some of our finished pieces before we head off to the show! I will be filling you in on my creative process as I have never had to make so many pieces at one time! I'm ready for a month of heavy duty jewelry making!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Jewelry Isn't My Only Love

Right now I am in the process of making some beautiful new designs for spring/summer. I can't wait to share them all with you! But I have to admit, most days I don't even get a chance to create jewelry. You see, my first "job" is being a mommy to Chloe, my 2 1/2 year old angel. She's energetic, bright, inquisitive, and knows exactly what she likes and doesn't like. My day starts bright and early and doesn't end until late at night. I get about a 2 hour break while she naps, and I find myself trying to do as many things as possible (or sleeping myself)! By the end of the day, I am exhausted from a day of playing, reading, chasing, potty training, cooking, cleaning, errands, and yes, even trying to do a little work for my business. I know in the end, everything I do is worth it. I recently came across a little blurb that really touched me, and I'd like to share it with you. It states:

Love them
Nurture them
Teach them well
and believe in them...
for they are our future.

I truly believe our children are our first priority and that's what's most important to me!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Where Have We Been?

It's been forever since our last post! Sometimes it seems like days go by too fast and you just can't get everything done! We hope 2008 has been a good year for everyone so far. It has proved to be a busy one for us! We have recently been invited to participate in the annual Shecky's Girls Night Out event. We are very excited about this opportunity, as we have a chance to be seen by 6,000 shoppers in Philadelphia! We are offering some great discounts and debuting our spring/summer collection. We would love to see you April 1-3, so check out their great website for all the details!