Monday, October 27, 2008

Wickedly Chic promoted one of my photos today!

I logged into my often neglected second Etsy shop and was surprised to find that one of my photos had been featured on the Wickedly Chic website in their daily ditties feature. I can't tell you how honored and excited I am! I'm a huge fan of the website and the indie artists it promotes. My photo will be permanently archived on their site and it includes a link to my Etsy site. Liz, the editor of Wickedly Chic, is also a co-founder and member of Marmalade Pink, a co-operative of businesses supporting socially conscious shopping. I try to shop handmade and local for everything I possibly can and am thrilled that these websites promote indie in the manner that they do! Have I gushed enough yet?

Zombie Fest was a blast and I met several amazing people, um zombies, but being undead is exhausting and I'm utterly worn out and dead tired (make that undead tired). Apparently there is such a thing as too much fun! LOL It was soooo worth it, though! My flickr is quite loaded with pictures from the weekend and pictures of me even popped up on the website for a local newspaper.
The Zombie Walk was part of World Zombie Day™ when all fans of zombie culture can join together in an international charity event done throughout the cities involved to help alleviate world hunger. "The It’s Alive Show”, World Record Holders for the largest zombie walk ever, will spearhead this event from the very birthplace of zombie culture, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The participating living dead are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to each zombie walk starting point. A mass effort will be taken on worldwide to prove that charity, goodwill, and zombie love can flourish in every nation regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, or religion, and that no matter where or how we die… "(from the It's Alive Show website)

I frequently watch people and tend to over analyze everything. My husband tells me I think too much, but he wouldn't love me as much if I didn't (think that is). For some time I've been fascinated with how liberating being in costume can be for people. It's as is they feel safe when hiding behind a mask, literal or otherwise. What I hadn't noticed until this past weekend is how being in costume can bring people together. For almost two years, my doctor had me on medication to treat my depression that caused me to gain weight. It allowed me to feel like myself again so I didn't mind the weight gain terribly until the day I stepped on the scales and realized I'd gained 75 lbs. while taking it. I'm now on a different medication and working to lose the weight I gained, but it's a gradual process and I often feel rather self conscious because of it. Like it or not, we're all constantly being judged by others. The criteria is just different based on where you are. This past weekend I was able to forget about being anything other than myself and have fun being zombie Monroe. It was unbelievably refreshing to feel accepted and appreciated simply because I came up with a fun twist on a zombie monroe costume, complete with a bite mark left behind when zombie JFK caught up with me and infected me with the zombie virus in the first place.
If you've stayed with me to read to this point, I thank you. Enough rambling for now. Have a wonderful week!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Undead Girls Just Want to Have Fun Too

Photo of last year's Zombie Walk, a part of Zombiefest, which will be held this weekend, October 25 - 26 at the Monroeville Mall, in Monroeville, PA. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the movie Dawn of the Dead, considered by many to be the ultimate zombie film (personally, I have to place it second behind Shaun of the Dead).

Visit Zombiefest Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm for makeup demonstrations, bands such as Venus in Furs and the Legendary Hucklebucks, movies such as The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, and much more! Admission is FREE!!

Sunday, World Zombie Day, begins with the Zombie walk, which earned Pittsburgh a second world record in 2007 with 1,098 zombies. Participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item to benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

All events are hosted by The It's Alive Show and are open to all, zombie or otherwise.

I'll be vending in costume, along with a few fellow team members of the Etsy Pittsburgh Street Team. As an undead girl, I just want to have fun too, but no, I won't be a zombified Cyndi Lauper -- I'll be a zombified Marilyn Monroe. Yes, I died several years ago, but what few people realize is that I was bitten by a zombie and have been roaming around cemeteries ever since. I usually only roam under cover of darkness but will be making an exception to attend the Zombiefest to search for a fresh source of brains. See you there............bring your brain.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eco Etsy Auction for a Cause

Team EcoEtsy's Auction for a Cause

Auction for a CauseThe EcoEtsy team has come together to donate a basket of Eco-minded goodies to be auctioned off for the benefit of the Nature Conservancy. This auction is entirely a non-profit event, created by the members of EcoEtsy ( in order to promote handmade, eco-friendly goods and to support a worthy organization.

About the Auction

The benefit auction started preparations in the spring of 2008, and each participant that donated to the auction basket were required to follow a set of rules for their items:

- Every item is Eco-related in some way. These include repurposed, recycled, up-cycled, and eco-friendly products.
- Every item is handmade.
- Every item includes a small card that describes the item and how it relates to eco-practices.

More than 60 individual items are contained in this beautiful, eco-friendly auction basket, handcrafted by people who care about nature and our environment. The total of all donations is valued at more than $300 retail.

Additional details about the event can be found here:
Auction for a Cause

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sunstone Soap Giveaway on the Pittsburgh Craft Collective Blog!

Kim, at Sunstone Soap makes some of the loveliest soaps! She also makes fantabulous massage bars that are solid but melt from the warmth of your hand. Her soaps are all natural and smell wonderful, plus she donates a portion of all of her proceeds to animal welfare organizations or FSMA.

The best part? This month, you have a chance to win some of her soap for free at the Pittsburgh Craft Collective blog. Go visit the PCC blog, visit Sunstone Soap, and tell Kim BarkerBell sent you (or Basil-Tam as I've come to be known).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Writing Challenge

A fellow Etsy Trashion Team member, Panoptica, posted a writing challenge on their blog. Here is my entry:

She sat at her desk and surveyed the office. It used to be such a fun, lively place to come to work each day. As jobs went, it was a great fit and didn’t really seem like work at all. It seemed more like going to visit with your friends or family each day. They were a tight knit group and had worked on many campaigns together, often into the wee hours of the morning until they’d completed that one, perfect final touch on a print ad or the final edit of a broadcast spot met their high standards. They worked hard, but played hard too. Any one of them could tell a number of stories about office antics. Most of them, however, would probably involve the prankster. Every agency has at least one.

She used to pull a prank each day. They were usually something small, like rearranging a few items on a coworkers desk, or moving the extra paper for the copier. Sometimes she would simply use a repetitive word over the course of a day or follow a coworker around until they noticed and asked her about it. Occasionally, they were a bit more grandiose. One day, while a coworker was away on vacation, a brilliant flash of inspiration struck and she recruited the entire creative team. They all moved the entire work station out into the middle of the common area in the office and set it up exactly as it had been inside the cubicle and then proceeded to cover every surface with bubble wrap. Everyone in the office enjoyed the joke immensely, with the exception of the office manager who expressed great concern over the waste of office supplies and the cost of replacing the bubble wrap. Apparently, the lost billable hours never factored into her equation. The creative team assured her that the bubble wrap would be returned once their victim witnessed their glorious handiwork. This all continued, to the amusement of most of the office, until the dreaded day when she, in a lapse of judgement, messed with kitchen. She thought it would be funny to hide the coffee pots. Creative types don’t always do well without their caffeine, nor do they find much humor in being deprived of it. The receptionist, as part of her morning routine, went in to unload the kitchen, and start a pot of coffee when she suddenly realized that the coffee pots were missing and her mind started racing. Surely, there must have been a thief in the office overnight, but why would they have stolen the coffee pots? What else was stolen? After great turmoil ensued and every employee in the office spent their morning trying to find the missing coffee pots, the prankster produced them from a drawer in her desk. The fallout was so great that she never dared to prank again, at least not in the office.

Now, they would all love to return to the days of the prankster, as the era had come to be known amongst the office lore. Instead, the bottom dropped out of the stock market and hit most of their clients. The clients all reacted as one would expect – they cut their advertising budgets and any other costs deemed to be luxuries. Now, with an operating budget that relied entirely upon client revenues, they were all faced with Christmas bringing the closing of their doors. Some agencies might start the new year with a reduced staff, but for the smaller, more specialized agencies, they will never write another catchy headline, nor copy designed to convince you that your life is incomplete without their client’s product. Some may cheer at the thought, but the ads many find so annoying help drive the economy. If you listen closely, on Christmas Eve, you may hear a collective thud in most major cities in the United States as each of these agencies close their doors sending many new faces to the unemployment line. Most of them have families, some are even the primary wage earners, and now, they’ll no longer have any income. The Christmas bells ringing sounds like peals of laughter, their tone seems a bit lower this year as they all go their separate ways and each mourn the loss in their own way. The Christmas bells toll, “an agency has died.”

Friday, October 10, 2008

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball......


Life can be funny sometimes. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something hits you out of the blue. In my case, it's been several things.

Late last week, I found out that my current full time day job at a local advertising agency will likely be cut at the end of the year due to our clients severely cutting back on their budgets. I've been in this position before, though never with as much warning, so I'm sure somehow things will work out for the best and I'm already looking at my employment options and updating my resume.

Then, Sunday night I received one of those dreaded phone calls from my mother. Please don't misunderstand, normally I enjoy hearing from my mother, but this was one of those calls. You know the kind.......the bad news phone calls. My husband answered the phone and I could tell right away by his tone that something was wrong. I could feel myself starting to panic as my mind raced through which of the elderly relatives had passed away this time and caught myself wondering if something was wrong with my father. I couldn't possibly imagine any news my mom would be sharing that would be worse than that. Oh, how wrong I was! My 31 year old "baby" brother, pictured above with his wife of just over a year, was in the hospital in critical condition due to kidney failure. He and his wife had visited our parents for Sunday dinner. When he mentioned to mom that he'd been having trouble breathing and that his vision was blurry she knew enough to get him to the emergency room right away. I thank God that he visited our parents that day and that mom got him to the hospital in time! When they arrived at the hospital his blood pressure was so high they couldn't measure it using the cuff in the triage room (hence the blurry vision) and given the difficulty he was having breathing they immediately admitted him to the ICU. He was suffering from end stage kidney failure, blood pressure so high it would have killed most people, heart damage akin to having a mild heart attack, and had fluid in his lungs. He would not still be with us had he not gone to the hospital when he did. The doctors were able to stabilize him and discharged him from the hospital Wednesday. Unfortunately, the kidney damage was so severe he'll have to undergo 6 - 12 months of dialysis before his body will accept a kidney transplant.

5 years ago he was diagnosed with a kidney disease known as Berger's Disease, or, officially, IGA Nephropathy. My understanding of this disease is that it usually progresses slowly and can be managed by watching the diet, particularly limiting protein intake, by monitoring cholesterol to ensure the levels are low, and by keeping blood pressure in check. We knew we may one day, hopefully many years from now, be faced with my brother's kidney failure, but none of us were prepared for the disease to progress so rapidly and for him to end up in ICU without warning. He should have been getting regular checkups recently but due to only being on his current health insurance for 9 months he hadn't been for a checkup since going on it. Due to health plans denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions anywhere from 6 months to a year after covering someone he was afraid to get a checkup. It angers me that health care in our country is such that he was placed in such a position. He underwent his first dialysis session Wednesday evening, but only was able to endure 1/2 the time recommended by his doctor. Hopefully his session this evening will be easier on him and he'll respond favorably to the treatment. At least it will buy the time needed before he can undergo a transplant. As soon as he is well enough to visit a transplant center and initiate the process my sister and I will undergo testing as potential donors.

My sister, brother, and I posing for a cell phone photo at his wedding last fall.

To top off an already great week, Wednesday, after she shared the news that my brother was stable enough to be discharged, mom let me know that my father has a unilateral nasal polyp and has a doctor appointment today to most likely schedule surgery to remove it. Normally a polyp is not a cause for great concern, but dad's nose has been sore and bleeds when he blows his nose so it's likely a sign of an intranasal tumor. I'm waiting to hear more after his doctor visit today before I allow myself to get overly concerned.

My family all live in Washington state, whereas I'm in Pennsylvania, and the distance is causing me to feel even more helpless than I otherwise would if I lived closer. I haven't made it home to visit since last fall when I was home for my brother's wedding. I would like to be able to visit more often, but with two boys in grade school, a full time job, the craft business, my husband's very demanding schedule for his full time job, and just life in general, it's difficult to find the time.

In the course of one of the phone conversations with my mother about all of this, she said that she'd put my brother in God's hands. This has given her peace of mind and she said that she hopes we all learn whatever we're supposed to learn from all of this.

I'm fairly certain I'm still learning, but for right now, what I've learned is this.........

Life is precious. Don't ever take it for granted and take advantage of each opportunity to let your friends and family know how much you love and appreciate them. You never know when the opportunity to tell them may be suddenly taken away from you. As much as I recycle, there's one thing I'll never be able to: wasted time.

So, please, go hug your loved ones, tell them how much they mean to you, and remember:

You can't recycle wasted time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Music as a Time Machine

"It never seems we have enough time to do the things we want to do once we find them". This is especially true for me with regard to my blog entries. I usually wait until I have pictures to accompany a blog entry, but often find that there are long gaps in between postings. So, today, I decided to just post random thoughts and intend to start trying to post more regularly (even if I don't have any pictures to share).

A favorite childhood memory for me involves being in the car with my father, listening to music. Dad always had music playing in the car whenever we drove anywhere. Sometimes he'd play the radio, but usually would put on a cassette tape from his collection. Jim Croce is one artist that was frequently played during these times and hearing "Time in A Bottle" or any of his other songs magically transports me back to the time when I was a little girl, riding in a green Chevy van, with my father at the wheel.

What songs magically transport you to your past? I'd love to read your comments about a favorite time or place and how music relates to it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lovely Mail.......

Last night when I came home, a package from Jenny's Bake Shop (aka Holiday Jenny) had arrived. When I unpacked it, the contents were so lovely I just had to photograph them.

I can't wait to add her to a shelf full of inspiration as soon as my studio is complete.

Holiday Jenny has absolutely adorable items in her Etsy shop! Take a look: Jenny's Bakeshop on Etsy


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