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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For

All summer long I was counting the days until the first day of school. When that day arrived, I welcomed it with open arms. I did my happy dance all day that first day. I embraced the new school year. You see, I've come to realize that my children cannot be in each other's presence for any length of time without getting the urge to pummel each other. I don't like this but I accept this. It is what it is. Therefor, I viewed the new school year as a bit of a reprieve from the bickering and sibling rivalry. This year Zoe started full day kindergarten which left me with only 1 at home. I must admit, my days are much quieter now, at least until the older 2 get home. You'd think I'd gets lots done between housework and the jewelry biz. Not so.
Since school started I've been busier than ever, both personally and professionally. With Zach and Caitlyn at school all day, I've lost my helpers. I've trained them well when it comes to helping around the house. When the day comes that they go out into the world they'll do just fine. I, on the other hand, am feeling the pain. Laundry seems to multiply exponentially on a daily basis. And with the kids constantly running in and out, from school to sports, they drop their stuff and run. Speaking of running, thank god that hubby is so hands on and willing to do the running. But, with 3 kids who are very active and always in a different location, hubby and I are outnumbered. Again, time management is key. My goal has been to get as much work done prior to 4pm as possible. Easier said than done when the littlest munchkin has had her playmates taken away. Aeryn is now 21 months old and has officially entered the infamous terrible twos. She's into everything and good lord is that child fast! There are moments during the day that she is content to play on her own and then there's nap time (thank god). It is during those times that I am busily preparing for jewelry shows, keeping up with office tasks and creating one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.
Thankfully, even in this economy, I have been very busy with craft shows, in-home jewelry shows and custom orders. Since September I have had back to back events which requires me to keep my stock full. Since I refuse to be a cookie cutter jewelry designer, this means constantly coming up with new designs. I have found the hour during Zoe's ballet class is a good time to brainstorm w/ my pen and paper. And I have found this to be almost as good of a creative outlet as actually making the jewelry, although nothing compares to seeing a happy customer proudly wearing a finished piece.

Aside from making jewelry, I was very excited to organize my first walking team in the American Heart Association's 2008 Heart Walk. I was able to gather enough walkers to exceed my participant goal as well as my team goal for monies collected. Team Hillcrest Jewelry Design raised over $1,000! Not bad for my first year, right? What a great day we had. Beautiful weather, great friends and a great DJ played music over the PA system while we walked (and danced). Next year I've challenged the team to bring a friend to double our numbers. Some team members are missing and/or hiding from the pictures.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Natives are Getting Restless

The natives in question are the kids of course. It's that time of year when our family starts preparing for the school year ahead. Yes, I'm still counting down...18 days until the first day of school! I should really go through their closets and see what needs to be bought for school clothes and back packs, notebooks, binders, etc etc etc. Zoe will need dance wear as she is starting ballet in the fall as well as gymnastics. She's up-side-down most of the time anyway so that seemed to make sense. Sports continue for Zach and Cait and little Aeryn gets to come along for the ride wherever we go.

Besides preparing for school to start, I've been busy both in the office and with the family. We actually got to go on vacation to CT where we visited with Jim's dad and did quite a bit of sightseeing on our own as well. It was great to be near the coast, to smell the salt air, see the sailboats, yachts and fish and feel the sand on my toes. One of the places we visited was Gillette Castle. The detail in the workmanship throughout the castle was amazing and the grounds surrounding it were beautiful.

Earlier this week we went hiking in Nolde Forest and got to see lots of funky colored fungi (created a little I-spy game with this to occupy the little ones) and painted turtles. Zach stayed home since he hurt himself playing soccer but I have a feeling it had more to do w/ the teenager too cool to hang w/ his family factor. Zoe is always our little trailblazer.

Prior to our CT trip I had been working tirelessly on a custom order for bridesmaid jewelry. I even filed raw wire during the car trip! I finally finished the order and am just now getting ready to ship it to the bride. I can't wait to see the girls in their dresses w/ their jewelry on.

Next up, summer shopping days at Hillcrest, this Saturday, 12-4pm. New pieces for sale include this freshwater pearl necklace which has a matching bracelet. I'm thinking earrings will follow.

Lots of designs are floating around in my head for the fall and I can't wait to create the finished product. I will also be working on a custom Sterling and Gold choker for my dear friend so check back for updates on that.

I hope you're all enjoying what's left of the summer! ~Heather

Saturday, July 26, 2008

32 Days Until School Starts!

Have you ever seen the commercial where the parents are shopping for school supplies for the start of another school year and in the background you hear the song..."it's the most wonderful time of the year..."? While I am a bit intimidated with the prospect of my son starting high school this year, I am also anxiously anticipating my little Zoe going to full day kindergarten!! I will be singing this song all day on August 25th. That day will start off early but how peaceful will it be when there is no one to home to bicker with each other? Just me and my little Aeryn. And the dog.

But I digress.

Back to jewelry. Hillcrest hosted another fabulous party this past Sunday. Thank you to all that attended, including some new attendees whom I hope will be repeat customers and friends for years to come. A special thanks goes out to my Tastefully Simple rep who provided all the yummy treats.
Check out some new pieces that made their debut but have yet to be snatched up. The top photo is of a Lapis and Sterling Silver bracelet followed by a photo of Green Chalcedony and gold fill bracelet with vermeil bead caps.

And then there's this Russian Jade Necklace that has a matching bracelet. I want to keep them all.
Check out for more jewelry.
I'd love to blog more but it is past Miss Zoe's bedtime and she refuses to sleep so I'm off to read her chapter 4 of Junie B., First Grader.
Have a great night where you are.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gold, Pearls, Kids and Sports

The past few weeks have been happily busy for Hillcrest Jewelry Design. I was pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm for my jewelry at a family bridal shower 3 weeks ago. I had packed up a basket of various bracelets, necklaces and earrings with the intention of the Bride-to-be picking out some pieces that suit her specific style. I attached a poem and gift certificate to the basket. Since I haven't seen her in years and wasn't quite sure what her style is I thought this would be a nice way for her to select her gift. Not only did she enjoy "shopping" out of the basket, but the other bridal shower attendees also enjoyed trying on the jewelry and subsequently purchased several pieces. Yeah! Not only was it a beautiful day spending time with family that I rarely get a chance to see but it was great to get such positive feedback on my designs. Thank you!

The following week was spent creating a few new pieces and prep work for the Leesport Market Mid-Summer Craft Fair. I had been thinking of doing a gold version of the Mogadouro earrings. These are about half the size of the sterling version. I will have to make more since these are on hold and I already have a request for another pair.

While playing with my gold wire, I came up with these earrings. A friend of mine suggested I flatten the bottom of the wire underneath the bead and I'm so happy with the result. The bead is hematite, which is wrapped in sterling silver wire.

In between all the jewelry, the kids have been keeping me busy as well. Zoe had so much fun at dance camp last week. Zach and Cait both played in summer basketball leagues and have been having fun with basketball and volleyball open gym sessions, respectively. Soccer continues throughout the summer as Caitlyn is playing on a Super Y team. Hubby took the girls up to New York last Saturday while Zach kept me company at the Leesport Craft Fair. Despite the 92 degree heat and humidity, the shoppers were out in full force. I can't wait to see all the shoppers return in October. Sunday I joined the family in Queens for another soccer game. Caitlyn was spectacular in goal! I was surprised to see the New York Fire Department Ladder 140 show up to watch the game. Several firefighters climbed on top of the truck to get a better view. It reminded me of my dad, who volunteered for 20 years with a fire department in Bucks County, and made me wish that he could have been there to see her play.

This week hubby will be shuttling kids to soccer camp in the morning and keeper camp in the evening while I'll be home in the office getting ready for my summer jewelry show with Tastefully Simple. I have several new designs that will be for sale in addition to the selection of earrings, bracelets and necklaces that I have marked down 50%!
I love this white fresh water pearl bracelet and almost kept it for myself. There are 2 bronze pearls that are set off-center along with a sterling silver cut out tube and sterling bead caps.

This tri-strand bracelet is the result of mixing all my left over rice pearls. Peacock, light blue, white and gold rice pearls combine for a stunning look. Two more sterling capped pearls dangle off the extender.

I must have been on a roll with the pearls when I decided that these black button pearls would look great in an anklet design. A sterling silver heart locket daintily dangles at the clasp.

I have also been designing custom bridesmaid jewelry which will entail a significant amount of sterling silver wire-work. I'll keep you posted as it develops.
I have a few more pieces to work on for the show this weekend and will be cleaning like crazy.
Oh one more thing...Welcome to the world Sydney Maureen! I can't wait to meet you! ~Heather

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer is in full swing

Summer already seems to be flying by as we're busy as ever shuttling kids to their various activities. Silly me, thought that the arrival of summer vacation would mean a less hectic schedule. This has not been the case. Every day of the week, including weekends, has something on the calendar. July looks as busy as June. I keep telling myself that keeping the kids, especially the teens, busy will keep them active and hopefully out of trouble.

We did manage a family day a couple of weeks ago. We took all the kids to Longwood Gardens for the day. Our family has been visiting Longwood since 1992 so we have lots of great memories there. Longwood Gardens has recently reconstructed their indoor children's garden which is a site to see. The kids, as well as the adults, didn't want to leave this indoor oasis that stimulated the imagination with architectural and fresco-like details. Their outdoor gardens are always beautiful and lush with flowers but this year they added 3 tree houses. Zoe was our little trail-blazer, leading the way to the next tree house. We couldn't wait to climb into the trees and take in the beautiful views.

As you can imagine, with 4 kids, the house can get very noisy. It's been very challenging to get work done between refereeing the fights and arguments. How do I have time to make jewelry? I have noticed that my pace has slowed since summer began. I'll start to work on a piece and stop to make lunch, return to the piece, stop to change a diaper, get a sippy cup, do a load of laundry, by the time I finish working on a piece of jewelry it might be day 2. Time management is my friend. I find that most of my marketing ideas come to me while in the shower!! No one is in there distracting me!! I'm sure any mom reading this can relate.

I did manage to make this necklace last week. The center piece is chalcedony, which is flanked by pink opal nuggets. Rhodonite climbs each strand, ending in a hand-tooled and sterling silver wrapped toggle clasp.

Last week was my first office trunk show. It was a great success! I can't wait to do another one! Much thanks to the hostess and all of her co-workers who shopped.

Well this busy mom still needs to get to work! Enjoy your summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Something About Copper

This rose colored metal has a mirror finish which plays with the sunlight that seems to highlight the stones it surrounds.

I have a new appreciation for copper. I generally keep copper wire on hand to test out new designs. Copper is less expensive compared to sterling silver wire and malleable which makes it a suitable material for prototypes. So I had this design idea floating around in my head for a while and finally had a chance to sit down last night and work with my wire and pliers. I created a frame for the ring and wrapped it in copper wire. The fresh water pearls are also hand wrapped in copper wire. The pearls actually dangle off the ring, creating movement that will undoubtedly attract lots of attention for the person wearing it.

Today was so peaceful since my older children had sports camps and hubby took the younger kiddies to run errands. I was so inspired by how well the copper ring had turned out that I took advantage of the quiet and created a pendant out of copper wire and gemstones, specifically Flower New Jade surrounded by Ocean Jasper. Three strands of thin brown leather cord and my hand-tooled copper hook and findings finish off the 15 1/2" choker.

I made this sterling silver link bracelet between customers this past Saturday at the Summer Shopping Days event. I hand turned each figure eight link then hammer them flat. For added interest, a fine silver Thai charm and rhodonite charm dangle off the end. The sterling silver hook is also hand-tooled by yours truly.

I have yet to price my lovely new additions but when I do I'll add them to the website--unless I decide to keep them for myself!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flower Girl Bracelets

I'm half way through the day and functioning on 1 cup of coffee after sleeping 4ish hours last night. I need a nap. By now I have usually downed several cups of jo but I happily received a phone call this morning requesting a private showing. You may know by now that when I get a call for a showing I make a mad dash around the house picking up after 4 kids, a husband and a dog. This requires fierce time management skills and in addition to corralling the younger two, the ability to delegate tasks to my older kids, who are so thrilled to be home from school. You see, the bride is getting married in 4 days and she forgot flower girl bracelets. That's where I come in. Simple, yet elegant Swarovski Pearl stretch bracelets for 2 flower girls, ages 3 and 6. Fortunately I had enough pearls to accommodate the order and they look precious.

An update on the Chakra Earrings. This is another version with sterling silver. I think I'll make a pair using 1 kind of gemstone as opposed to the variety. The various gemstone beads are hematite, red aventurine, calcite, rose quartz, sodalite, amethyst and crystal quartz. The colors are representative of the Chakra energy centers in the body and when combined in this specific order,are believed to help balance the body's energy centers which in turn balances the person. I'm all for a little balance in life!!

On that note, I'm off to markdown some pieces that will be for sale this Sat. during the 1st ever Hillcrest Summer Shopping Days and price out a project for my girl who has a need for beads--you know who you are!! I'll be in touch soon.

Have a great day! ~Heather

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Day at Hershey Park

I actually stepped away from my desk for the day in order to enjoy a day with the family at Hershey Park. Zach and Caitlyn attended with their school chorus group. Hubby and I had the little ones with us. At 16 months of age, it was Aeryn's first trip to an amusement park and she loved it! What surprised me is that my Zoe, who is forever running and jumping off of anything that's standing still, was quite reserved with the amusement rides. It took her several rides with her dad and I before she got the nerve to ride independently. Although the day turned out to be hot and sticky and my old ankle injury got the best of me after several hours of walking up and down the hills, it ended up being a beautiful day with the girls. We never did run into Zach and Caitlyn but they probably preferred it that way!

As a side note, I am forever checking out what other people are sporting for bling. I had the opportunity to check out styles while walking from ride to ride. Surprisingly, there were oodles of park goers dawning a wide variety of jewelry styles, even in the sticky heat. Chunky necklaces seemed to stand out the most.

Have a great weekend and stay cool as we're suppose to have record high temps. ~Heather

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Last Day of School

For my older 2 children, summer will officially begin in a matter of minutes when they step off the bus. I'm bracing myself for a summer filled with bickering. Zach, 14 years old, and Caitlyn, 12 years old, are fiercly competetive with each other--about everything. I'll never forget when they were both riding the school bus with each other for the first time, Zach was in 3rd grade and Caitlyn was in 1st. She would push her way past him to be the first on the bus. Not much has changed since then.

As I await their arrival home, I'm enjoying the relative peace and quiet. My little ones are content at the moment, I'm sipping my 1st of many cups of coffee for the day, and contemplating the next piece of jewelry that will hopefully take shape by the day's end. I have so many designs floating around in my head and unfortunately I don't have enough silver wire at the moment to make all of them.

So I made these earrings on Monday. They are a spin off of the Chakra Balancing Bracelet that I made for the Yoga Collection. Each gemstone is representative of a Chakra Energy Center. I'm learning as I go (I'm no expert) as the Yoga Collection was born out of a custom order and the customer has been kind enough to share this very interesting information with me. More on that later. The point I'm trying to get to is that I'm thinking the earrings need a little something more. A little silver daisy spacer in between the beads just might do the trick. What do you think? If I get around to making the change, I'll post the picture for your viewing pleasure.

Guess what? They're home.....suddenly, the house got very loud. ~Heather

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Late night last night

No, it's not as interesting as it sounds. I was up late working on my newsletter. I have a tendency to stay up late after the kids are in bed so that I can work without distractions. So last night I remember getting up from my desk at about 11pm with the intention of going to bed. I was yawning and dozing off in front of the computer, after all. But I went back to the desk to proof read what I had just worked on and next thing I knew it was going on 1am. "Just one more edit", I told myself and 2 hours later I was in bed asleep. Half of what I had worked on last night I changed this morning. Figures. I should have called it a night at 11. I did get the newsletter finished and I'm pretty happy with it. Now I need to print out address labels and get them in the mail Monday. I also finished off a new Chakra Balancing Bracelet that was ordered last week. I need to work on the coordinating anklet and get that in the mail. I finished Teresa's two-tone anklet today as well. I'd love to keep it for myself!! And I designed a proposal for a custom cancer awareness bracelet made out of gemstones. I actually accomplished a lot today regardless of the fact that 3 of the 4 kids were home with me. Thankfully my older 2 help occupy the little ones when I'm trying to work. Well, I'm off to make dinner...not sure what I'm making yet but I guess I'll figure it out when I stick my head in the freezer. Have a good weekend! ~Heather

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The necklace was "bangin"

I finished the custom necklace last night after attending Miss Zoe's preschool graduation. Zoe is 5, very rambunctious and thankfully going to full day kindergarten in the fall. Graduation was very nice. All the children had caps and gowns and they sang songs and then the teachers gave each child an award that is specific to that child. Zoe received the "most athletic" award. Needless to say, Daddy was very proud.

So, back to the necklace. My client returned this afternoon to pick up the necklace. She is wearing it to prom tomorrow night and she looks great in it. She was so happy with it, she said it was "bangin!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Busy Day

Not that everyday isn't busy. There's usually a multitude of activities on the calendar between all of the kids' activities and the business. Today is a busy day because I ended up changing my plans when I received a phone call last night that a new customer would like a custom design to be completed by Friday. Of course, I'm customers make me happy (actually all customers make me happy)! She is coming to the office/studio that is in my home to discuss the particulars of the piece. With 4 kids, hubby and a dog in the mix, I'm thinking the house needs to be tidied up --by 3pm today. No small task. Hubby is off today (thank god) so he'll keep the little ones occupied. And on that note...I must go spruce up the place. One of these days I'll have my own boutique.