Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Made It! for the Holidays


I Made It! Market, the city’s nomadic indie craft marketplace, will pop into Bakery Square for their sixth annual I Made It! for the Holidays event. This year’s event features more than 90 local artisans selling all handmade wares. Shoppers can meet and talk with the artists who are our neighbors throughout the Pittsburgh region on Friday, November 30 from 5 pm - 10 pm and Saturday, December 1 from 11 am - 6 pm.

Friday’s festivities include the lighting of Bakery Square’s building in red to acknowledge World AIDS Awareness Day by the Delta Foundation. On Saturday, a pop up beer garden will be hosted by Tapped and Santa will be on site to pose for pictures. 

Last year I Made It! Market welcomed 7,000 shoppers over the two-day event. This year’s artists will include a diverse mixture of goods including ceramics, housewares, jewelry, clothing, bath and body products, giftware, prints, letterpress, sweet treats, plush, children’s items and much more.

This pop up marketplace offers shoppers the opportunity to shop for all of their holiday needs in one space, choosing handmade and local offerings. The makers will be on hand to share their passion for creating unique products and will often work with customers to produce custom orders just in time for the holidays.

Each purchase made at I Made It! Market benefits our local micro economy by supporting an artist from our region who is able to continue to make a living through their art, some even sourcing their materials locally. Additionally, many I Made It! artists utilize repurposed or recycled materials in the creation of new ones including plush, clothing, jewelry, accessories, and more.

Several of the artist members at the boutique will be exhibiting their wares at this market including:

After Dinner Designs
Barker's Herbs & Heirlooms
Bel Monili
Bonne Amy
Designs by Samantha
Everyday Balloons
The I Made It! Market creates events with a two-fold mission in mind: to provide the opportunity for regional craftspeople to establish small businesses and to partner with non-profit, arts, and community groups to raise awareness and financial assistance for their causes.

Partner with IMI!: For more information including sponsorship and partnerships, or to vend at a future I Made It! Market event, contact
Access a listing of all participating artists:

Find their Facebook page:

And find them on Twitter @imadeitmarket



Friday, November 23, 2012

Plaid Friday & Small Business Saturday

Support the numerous independant businesses in Pittsburgh (or wherever you live) this holiday season.

Today, in the mass consumer world, is Black Friday.  Instead, we ask that you support Plaid Friday.

The name Plaid Friday celebrates the diversity and creativity of independent businesses. Plaid Friday is the fun and enjoyable alternative to the big box store "Black Friday", and is designed to promote both local and independently owned businesses during the holidays.

Plaid Friday was conceptualized in Oakland, CA, a city known for strong shop local campaigns. Plaid Friday brings back the nostalgic times when shopping for friends and family was a pleasurable leisurely activity.


Tomorrow, Saturday November 24th, is Small Business Saturday.  Please stop by and visit us and support the numerous artists who sell their handmade items in our boutique.  From the American Express Shop Small Website, "Small Business Saturday is a day for everyone — from the business owners who create jobs to the customers who buy locally — to support small businesses that invigorate the economy and keep communities thriving.
It began in 2010 when American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help small businesses get more exposure during one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year. Last year, over 100 million people came out to shop at independently-owned small businesses on the day. Now, in its third year, Small Business Saturday will be even bigger."

If you're wondering why you keep hearing so many pleas to shop small & to shop local, it's mainly due to the difference in economic impact your spending makes.  Shopping at a big box store sends much of your money out of your community.  Sure, members of your local community are employed at those stores and receive a paycheck that they may spend in your local economy, but small, locally owned businesses keep much more of your money in your community.  From an article in the Raleigh News Observer, "Smaller retailers return a total of 51.1 percent of revenue to the local economy, while national chains, such as Barnes & Noble and Target, return an average of 13.6 percent of revenue within the market that hosts the store, according to an impact study by Civic Economics of Austin, Texas. The research firm compared the economic impacts of independent, locally owned businesses in Raleigh with major national chains." 
Thanks for shopping at our small business, and the other local small businesses in our area.  American Express offers a great graphic to explain the importance here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pinterest Party Recap

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, we hosted the first of our collaborative efforts with Koolkat Designs, and Wildcard in our joint celebration of Fall.

Our Pinterest Party —“Falling Into Autumn”— featured Fall themed recipes and craft projects that we found on Pinterest and pinned to our board called "Pinterest Party - November 2012 Edition".

Artists from each of the three artisan boutiques chose recipes from the board, made them, brought them to the party, and we all got to try them and review them.  The event was open to the public and the customers that attended the event got to try the recipes as well.

The following are the recipes we tested, along with a few comments about the recipe.

Easy to make and delicious.  Half a mini pretzel was used for the stem in the place of a braided pretzel.  The flavor of the goat cheese stands out but blends nicely with the other flavors.  Served with baby carrots and Triscuit minis (which are the perfect size for snacking). Group concensus: the recipe could easily be cut in half as this was huge by cheeseball standards.
Hands down, the hit of the party.  Deceptively simple to make, especially since the recipe makes use of a food processor to save on prep time.  Don't expect leftovers with this recipe, though.  Group concensus:  Even non-bakers wanted to try this themselves.  If making these for children, omitting the crushed red pepper flakes is suggested.
Results were close to the picture in the pin and was easy to follow.  As one pinner said, "like a pumpkin pie in a cup!"  Group concensus:  Fun Thanksgiving dessert alternative and definitely worth making again.
Delicious and easy to make, though it seemed to be lacking something.  Group concensus:  Worth trying, but might want to substitute Sprite or 7Up for the club soda to add more fizz and a little extra flavor.
Also pictured are slices of cinnamon swirl bread for those who may not like the tortilla chips.  Another easy to follow recipe.  The apple pie dip tasted like apple pie without the crust.  Reviews were mixed for the tortilla chips.  Many in attendance found them to be a great textural contrast to the dip but were hesitant to try them.  They have a nice cinnamon flavor with just a hint of sweetness.  Group consensus:  The dip makes a great sweet addition to an appetizer spread, but depending on how adventurous your guests are, you may want to skip the tortilla chips.
Delicious, easy to make, and served with the cinnamon swirl bread pictured above.  Transport presented a few challenges, however.  Group consensus:  Worth making, though if taking to an event, assembling onsite provides a better presentation.
Both were delicious, though the acorns turned out closer to the picture than the pumpkin pie bites.  The pumpkin pie bites, though, were delicious bite sized pies, as the name would suggest.  The artist who made, and brought, these recipes reported that for the acorns, dipping the mini chocolate chips in the melted chocolate was difficult to accomplish without burning herself.  Group concensus:  Try putting melted chocolate for the acorns in a squeeze bottle.  The pumpkin pie bites could easily be made with circles of pie dough in place of the pumpkin shapes for a more attractive final product and reduced prep time.
Easy to make and tasted like pumpkin gobs in an adorable cupcake package.  Group consensus:  While the cake mix in the recipe provides a bit of a time savings, making the cake portion from scratch would provide even better results.
Challenging to get toppings to stick to the bark, but wonderful combination of sweet, salty, and tart flavors.  Group consensus:  Flavor more than compensates for the challenge of loose toppings.
The first attempt at making these resulted in burnt crust which ruined the flavor of the entire dish.  So, the artist that made these tried again, without the bottom layer.  They were delicious, but difficult to present well without the bottom crust.  Group consensus:  Pumpkin and cheesecake make a delicious combination, but this recipe needs a bit of finessing.
We all really enjoyed the flavor combination of pumpkin and chocolate together.  This did turn out much darker than the picture on the pin, though.  Group consensus:  Worth making if you're looking for a unique dessert option for your Fall gatherings.
For our DIY Craft project, we chose to make this adorable pumpkin.  A friend of ours had given us a cashmere sweater that was very similar to the one pictured.  Since it had a hole in it toward the bottom of the sweater, she had no further use for it and thought it would be a great candidate for cutting as instructed.  As a group of resourceful artists who frequently repurpose materials for other projects, this was the perfect project for us, but we couldn't bring ourselves to cut the sweater.  Instead, we turned the sweater inside out, put a rubber band around the middle, turned it back right side out, and used the top half of the sweater and sleeves as part of the stuffing while leaving the sweater intact.  This produced the same finished result, but reduced the amount of plastic bags needed to stuff it and kept the sweater intact so that it could be used for future projects.  Group consensus:  Following our revised project steps would allow you to utilize sweaters from your wardrobe, without the need for storing yet another seasonal decoration.
We were having so much fun, we forgot to take any pictures of our artists that attended until after about half of us had left, but we all had a great time, enjoyed tasting each other's dishes, hearing recipe reviews, and having an excuse to spend time together.
We're all eagerly anticipating our next two events in our series:
Koolkat Designs in Uptown Mt. Lebanon is hosting the second event—“Eat, Drink & Make Merry”— on Thursday, December 13, 2012 from 6pm to 9pm.
Wildcard in Lawrenceville is kicking off the New Year with the third event —“New Year, New Craft” —to be held on Thursday, January 10, 2013 from 6pm to 9pm.
All events are open to the public. There is no charge to participate, however a donation of a canned good or non-perishable food item for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank is encouraged.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pinterest Party: Falling Into Autumn

We are proud to announce that we will be hosting a Pinterest Party —“Falling Into Autumn”— on Wednesday, November 14, 2012 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm, which will feature Fall themed recipes and craft projects.

Please join us at the first of our collaborative efforts with Koolkat Designs, and Wildcard in our joint celebration of Fall.

The first party in our new monthly series will provide seasonal recipes for you to taste as well as a couple of fun seasonal make and take projects. 

This past September, Tamara Barker, our Manager, posted to her Facebook wall that she had “set a goal to actually make at least one recipe” that she had pinned to Pinterest that week. What started as a discussion among friends and fellow artists on Facebook about their Pinterest recipe trials quickly developed into planning a monthly event hosted by three local artisan boutiques.  

The beauty, and somewhat addicting quality, of Pinterest is the plethora of tempting recipes and creative projects to pin. Often pinners find they pin more than they have time to try. Boutique 208, Koolkat Designs and Wildcard are joining forces to solve this problem for fellow Pittsburghers in the form of monthly Pinterest Parties. Each month, one of these distinctive stores will take a turn hosting the event. The stores’ staff will prepare various Pinterest recipes to serve as the event spread. Party attendees will be able to taste the recipes without spending a dime or a second in the kitchen. The party planners will also feature their favorite DIY Craft projects. The recipes and projects tried will be shared on Pinterest Boards created for the party by its host and also on the three stores’ Twitter and Facebook feeds so that all who wish to can access the pins and comment on the results. The best part? The recipes and crafts being tried are seasonal, and will line up perfectly with Pittsburghers’ seasonal and holiday planning.

Through this collaboration, the artisan boutiques hope that the Pinterest Parties will help to foster community and friendships through the sharing of delicious food and ideas.

Please check out our board on Pinterest for a preview of some of the items you'll get to eat or make.

If you're on Facebook, feel free to RSVP to our Facebook event.

Koolkat Designs in Uptown Mt. Lebanon is hosting the second event—“Eat, Drink & Make Merry”— on Thursday, December 13, 2012 from 6pm to 9pm. 
Wildcard in Lawrenceville is kicking off the New Year with the third event —“New Year, New Craft” —to be held on Thursday,January 10, 2013 from 6pm to 9pm. 
All events are open to the public. There is no charge to participate, however a donation of a canned good or non-perishable food item for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank is encouraged.
Boutique 208 can also be found online at the following locations: 

Twitter: @Boutique208

Koolkat Designs is located in Uptown Mt. Lebanon and features handcrafted jewelry, accessories and art made by local Pittsburgh artists and artisans.  Joe Manganiello (actor, werewolf Alcide on HBO’s True Blood) recently told Vanity Fair that Koolkat Designs was the place he goes when he’s “in the mood for retail therapy” (October 19, 2012). 

691 Washington Road (next to Potomac Bakery), Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Twitter:  @KoolkatPGH

Wildcard is located in the heart of Lawrenceville and features the creations of local artists and crafters.  Wildcard was recently voted Best One-of-a-Kind Gift Store in the Pittsburgh City Paper.

4209 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Twitter:  @Wildcardpgh