Thursday, November 10, 2011

Handmade Arcade is this Saturday!

Handmade Arcade will be held this Saturday, November 12th, from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

This event brings a unique shopping experience to Pittsburgh with music, snacks and a Hands-on-Handmade making area. Come meet the Steel Town Etsy team (they'll be there representing Etsy - one of the event sponsors) and buy a raffle ticket to win a basket of locally made handmade items. A portion of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

I'm honored to be one of the vendors for this event - Barker's Herbs & Heirlooms.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Microcrafts, Book Release Party, & Raffle Prizes!

Lately, it seems I find myself immersed in one project after the other, causing much time to elapse before I'm able to come up for air.  I'm earning a living writing and creating, so no complaints, but I'm guessing my blog readers are feeling abandoned once again.  I was undead, which isn't much of an excuse, but it does make typing a bit difficult.

Freshly undead, at Zombiefest

I have a few big updates to share.  First, Microcrafts, a book which I have a project published in, was released last Tuesday, October 4th.  The day I'd been eagerly anticipating came and went without my notice as I was in the midst of preparing to vend at Zombiefest on Saturday, 10-ATE-11, in Market Square, in Pittsburgh, PA.  The event collects food donations for our local food bank and is one of the official festivities for World Zombie Day and put my wares in front of over 4,000 undead and several curious onlookers.  Now that I've returned from the undead, I am thrilled to be able to share the news about the book with you.

Back from the undead, at a Steampunk Picnic in Allegheny Cemetery on October 9th.

Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share

Announcing the Wildcard Microcraft Fall Hallo-Witch Craft Book Release Second Anniversary Party 3D!

From the Wildcard news, "Thursday, October 20: We're celebrating the publication of Microcrafts - a new how-to book for making teeny tiny crafts - edited and contributed to by local crochet superstar Alicia Kachmar and featuring work by Pittsburgh artists Nadia Marks Wojcik and Tamara Barker. We're also highlighting Kachmar's Witch Craft book, which is perfect for planning a handmade, homemade Halloween! We'll also be selling tickets and then drawing winners for our month-long Steeltown Etsy raffle to help Alicia Kachmar with medical bills.

And let's not forget that it's Wildcard's Second Anniversary! We're thrilled to have been here in Lawrenceville for two years now and we want to thank our loyal customers with a spectacular party! Costumes are welcome, and the first 25 families receive a free goodie bag!

5-7pm Crafting

Join Alicia Kachmar, Nadia Marks Wojcik and Tamara Barker as they as they lead you in some DIY craft projects from the book. Family-friendly: just bring yourself and a desire to craft! Free snacks for kids and books for sale!

7-9pm Party!

Bring your dancing and drinking shoes as we celebrate Wildcard's 2nd anniversary! Both books will still be on sale, but we'll have food, drinks (bring your ID if you're over 21), raffles, and music!"
Raffle, you say?  Yes, indeed!  Steel Town Etsy organized a raffle, with numerous handmade items donated by members, to do our small part to help Alicia, who is one of our members.  Baskets are currently on display at Wildcard and raffle tickets are available for sale for the low price of $1.00 each or 10/$5.00. 
 Raffle Basket #1

 Raffle Basket #2

Raffle Basket #3

Raffle tickets will remain on sale through the end of the party at Wildcard on the 20th, with the winners being drawn at the end of the evening.  You don't need to be present to win and if you're out of town, or otherwise can't make it to Wildcard, and would like to buy raffle tickets, you can email me at barkerbellheirlooms(at) and purchase virtual raffle tickets.  Should you win and need the basket shipped to you, I'll personally pay for half of your shipping costs.  If you'd like to simply make a donation to help with some of Alicia's hospital bills, feel free to email me for instructions for how to do that as well.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you 10 years ago today?

A friend of mine posed this question on Facebook this morning.  Now that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 has arrived, I imagine everyone in the country is reflecting on where they were on that fateful day.

I was at work at Marc Advertising, at my desk.  One of my coworkers came to my desk and told me that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center.  As we rushed to the lobby, I remember wondering why the plane had crashed.  I imagined that a pilot of a private plane must have had a heart attack while in the air, or something similar had occurred.  I wasn't even remotely expecting the reality of what was actually occurring.  When we reached the lobby, the TV had already been tuned to the live feed from ground zero and there were already quite a few coworkers gathered around it. 

We stood and watched live footage, much of which was never seen again, of the scene at the towers.  I remember vivid images of the events and feeling the pure terror of the victims as I stood and watched helplessly.  When flight 93 went down in a field not far north from Pittsburgh, there were concerns that Pittsburgh, and the US Steel building in particular, might be a target so buildings were evacuated and we all gathered our things and headed for home.

Jared was working downtown and we'd driven in together, so I waited in front of Station Square, watching the Smithfield Bridge for a sight of him walking toward me.  I honestly don't think I have ever been happier to see him than I was then.  He may have wondered why he was greeted with such an enthusiastic hug, but he never asked.  We quickly made it to our car and headed toward home.  My boys (ages 2 3/4 and 5 months)
were in daycare near where my mother-in-law worked at the time and I remember the entire drive home all I could think about was hugging them.  Once we arrived at home, I don't think I've ever felt more relieved.  Given the way the events were unfolding, I never truly worried about our safety, but I just wanted to have my family all together.  Once at home, we retrieved our children from my mother-in-law and spent the rest of the day watching coverage, reacting with great trepidation each time a plane flew over, and hugging our boys more than usual. 

Now, 10 years later, as I type this I am reclining on a couch at my parents' house in Yakima, WA.  I have just two short days left on this visit and intend to savor every moment.  As I reflect on the events as they unfolded 10 years ago this day, I am extremely grateful to the first responders who rushed in selflessly to try to save as many lives as they could but ended up sacrificing their own lives.  For all of them, and the people who worked in the towers, I wonder what they said to their loved ones as they left for work on that morning and if they enjoyed the beauty of the clear blue skies and warm temperatures that morning as they went through their morning routine.  I try to make the most of each day, but too often find that I too easily fall into a complacent routine.  I imagine many of us do. 

So, as a character in one the movie, Volunteers, asks, "What have you learned Dorothy?"  I answer, "Live each day the best you can.  Don't miss an opportunity to hug your loved ones or tell them how you feel.  Hold them tight and try to never take anything for granted."  I often say that life is too short not to be enjoyed and firmly believe it.  Make the most of each moment you have, as you never know when it may be your last.

Where were you 10 years ago today?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Localfest at Bocktown Beer & Grill

Stop down at Bocktown Beer & Grill tonight from 6:00 - 8:00 pm for their third annual Localfest.  They are located at 690 Chauvet Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15275, in Robinson across from the Target. 

Meet and greet with some of the local purveyors, artisans and friends that make Bocktown possible.  Learn more about Buy Fresh Buy Local and how they support and grow our Pittsburgh area and surrounding communities, and see how you can too. 

The event will also feature craft beer tastings, wine samples, and live music from Pete Bush from Pete Bush and the Hoi Polloi.

I'll be there vending and selling raffle tickets for the Steel Town Etsy fundraiser to help benefit one of our members, Alicia Kachmar of Eternal Sunshine who suffers from Ulcerative Colitis.  She has had the second of three surgeries to rid her of the disease and, despite having insurance, has mounting medical bills.   More fundraising activities will be coming in September, so watch for news of those in a future post.

Tonight's basket features items such as books donated by Quirk Books - Booze Cakes and On A Stick (80 Party-Perfect Recipes), a Pub Sweater donated by Kate of WakulaWorks , a lovely necklace donated by Lucy of Belmonili, a $20.00 gift certificate donated by Chrissie of Party Paper Scissors, and an art print donated by Kathryn of Go Carr Go.

Raffle Tickets are $1.00 each or 10 for $5.00.  You need not be present to win.  The winner will be contacted and can make arrangements to pick up the basket at Bocktown at a later date.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Babs Who Takes Pictures

At most any steampunk event, the New York ComiCon, NYC zombie walks, the Mermaid Parade, and at any number of other interesting events, Babette can be seen taking pictures, if you know where to look. Many of us simply refer to her as "Babs who takes pictures". Her photos always perfectly capture the essence of the events she attends and exude the personality of her subjects. In addition to being a highly skilled and talented photographer, she is also a truly kind person and one I'm happy to call a friend.

Please check out her portfolio online and vote for her in the One Life photo competition. Voting is as simple as clicking on a link in the top left of the page that says "vote for me".

Let's help her win first place so she can afford to go to more steampunk conventions, pay off some of her bills, take more amazing photos, and continue to be amazing. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Return to my internet world...

The reality of the real world has kept me away from my online world for far too long.  I'm slowly trying to achieve a balance and am finally able to devote a bit more time to my online presence.

Unfortunately, we experienced the loss of both of my in-laws earlier this year.  My mother-in-law lost her battle with cancer and passed away on January 13th.  My father-in-law, who'd been battling cancer even longer than she had, succumbed to the disease on March 26th.  They are both greatly missed and since their passing, my life has been absorbed by trying to take care of numerous necessary details and doing what I can to help my husband (an only child) deal with this tremendous loss.

Until recently, we lived in a Victorian farmhouse, built in the mid-1800's that was two doors away from my in-laws.  They'd built their home in 1980 on a tract of land that was part of the original farm and we were truly blessed to live as close to them as we did.  Their home is almost double the size of our beloved farmhouse and my husband wanted to move, so since the beginning of April, we've been working on cleaning out their home, moving into it, and trying to deal with 10 years of accumulation at the farmhouse.  We'll still own the farmhouse and if we ever finish moving out of it, will be renting it to one of my husband's cousins.  Eventually, it will become home again to one of our boys. 

I haven't had any time for creativity, but have been focusing all of my time on getting organized, taking multiple trips to donate items to the local Goodwill, getting my garden planted, and spending time with my family.  I know in time there will be plenty of chances for me to indulge my creative side, but for now I'm doing what I feel is most important.

Until I do have more time for my own endeavors again, I will attempt to keep this blog updated, at least once a week, even if it's with nothing more than a picture.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

My lengthy absence...

I log on to my blog from time to time to add new blogs I want to follow, but it wasn't until today that I realized just how long it's been since I wrote a new post.  I apologize profusely to those of you who were eagerly awaiting new content. 

Life has a way of taking over at times.  While there's always the daily chores that demand my attention, not the least of which is raising my two boys, the past few months there have been additional wrenches thrown into the clockwork of my life.

In the midst of working on a major creative project that has occupied the majority of my time (hopefully I can share news about this soon), my immediate family and I have been dealing with the fact that both my in-laws had cancer.  Needless to say, this has been especially difficult for my husband, who is an only child, and for my boys who were able to see them every day of their lives since we live only two doors away from them.

Since my father-in-law's initial diagnosis, over a year before my mother-in-law discovered that she had stomach cancer, we'd been hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, shortly before this past Christmas optimism became increasingly difficult as my mother-in-law was hospitalized due to a sudden inability to walk.  She was never able to return home, was transferred to hospice care, and passed away on January 13th. 

Now my father-in-law's cancer has progressed to the point where he is in hospice care, confined to a bed, on oxygen, with limited time remaining.

Understandably, the above events have absorbed a substantial portion of my time over the past several months.

This isn't intended to cause anyone to feel pity for me, but rather to help you understand the events in my life that have diverted my attention elsewhere.

My husband is fond of saying, "It is what it is."  While it's true, there's nothing we can do to change the course of these events, we do control how we react to them.  We've chosen to focus on spending as much time as we possibly can with them while they were, and are, still here so that we don't later look back on their last few days with any regrets over courses of action not taken.  Our boys have sadly had to learn about loss at a far younger age than I would have chosen, but hopefully they'll end up stronger because of it.  I've been making an effort to hug all three of my boys a little more as it's one of the few things I can do to make things easier.

This journey has taught me an important lesson, however:  not to take my loved ones for granted and to make the most of each day I have with them.  Hopefully this blog post will help you learn the same lesson, if you hadn't learned it already.


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