Jill Popowich Designs: Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved jewelry and was intrigued with designing and making it. I attended the Maryland Institute College of Art where I received a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration. Since 1994 I’ve been working as an Environmental Graphic Designer having the opportunity to travel the world working on large scale retail environments designing signage, sculptures and architectural details. It is this large scale 3-D work that re-sparked my interest in jewelry design and the opportunity to build something that can be interacted with on a personal scale.
All of the jewelry in my shop is handcrafted by me. Since each piece is hand made they will all vary taking on a personality of their own making each one unique and special. Please wear and enjoy each of my creations for its individual personality, shape, texture, material and craftsmanship.
Last month, as March ushered in just slightly warmer weather and a little more sunlight, our guide to shopping in-season at local farmer’s markets focused on seriously cold weather crops. This month however, as April in most regions brings in moderate temperatures and days with a significant amount more sunshine our list of local foods available gets longer and more interesting.
Those cold weather crops we discussed last month — lettuces, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, garlic and leeks, for instance — are still available in most places, but in certain regions April’s seasonal foods will give us the ability to add more dimension to the table. Citrus, artichokes, beets, chives, horseradish, asparagus, sweet onions, and shallots are just to name a few. In some of the more southern areas Strawberries may even peek out from beneath their vines and make an appearance at the market.
And then there is one of my all time favorites. Though I’ll have to wait a little longer for them here in Michigan, many people around the country can get a jump on my season and indulge now.
When I was young I had a friend whose father I adored. Every year he would head to the woods and hunt. The elusive object he sought to bring home? Morel Mushrooms. And if memory serves, he was always wildly successful.
I remember watching her mom dump the contents of the bags he would bring back onto a cutting board in the kitchen, separate any remnants of the woodland floor they called home from the bunch, gently clean them up and start slicing. When that was done she’d fill the bottom of a frying pan with butter and heat it over the stove until it popped and sizzled before tossing the mushrooms in and frying them to buttery perfection.
Of course, given that Morels have a nasty poisonous twin inhabiting many of the same wooded areas they call home, I would never suggest you try to replicate the entirety of my childhood memories, but hunting a pound or two down at your local farmer’s market where they’re clearly marked wouldn’t hurt. Finding the best, fresh foods in any market is a bit of a hunt, after all.
Not sure where to find a farmer’s market near you? Check out Local Harvest for help. Not sure how to shop a farmer’s market? Never been before? Check out the farmer’s market guide that was featured right here at Try Handmade last year for tips! Happy April Hunting, all.
These paintings just plain make me happy. That is all. (Can you tell my favorite season is Spring? I got married in March, I’m jealous of my stepmother for having an April birthday… Spring is da bom.)
budanART bio: I am a Canadian artist who works primarily in acrylic. Inspired by nature, I use strong colour, discrete shapes and rhythmic patterns to create paintings which can be enjoyed for both their abstract and realistic qualities.
A couple of weeks ago I planted a bed of peas. It was pushing the season, to say the least, but I did it anyway. And less than 48 hours later I awoke to a house without power and a yard and garden covered in no less than two inches of slush and snow and ice. Mostly ice. It’s a good thing peas don’t mind a freeze or ten.
Mother Nature is a finicky lass and though April first seems to be the unofficial start to spring in this part of the world there’s no guarantee she won’t pummel us again.
Yet, I remain optimistic. The sun is shining more days than not and the earliest spring plants have been seen shooting up from the cold, brown ground. The grass is beginning to green and I know sooner or later the growing season simply has to make an appearance again.
In the meantime we continue to dine on whatever is left of what we put by last season, taking careful stock of what exactly is left with every new jar we open. There’s not much. And we dream, of fresh picked, newly harvested. Of another season of preserving because it’s those last jars that truly get us by when fresh, local food is so close to being available we can taste it.
And while we’re dreaming and waiting we are a bit envious. Okay, more than a bit envious, because in other parts of the world — parts not even very far from our own little corner — there is fresh food in abundance already. If you’re in one of those parts here’s what you should be looking for at the market:
- Greens — Spinach and lettuce and kale and chard galore!
- Radishes — Spice things up by looking for colors other than the traditional reds and pinks. Chinese Green Luobo, for instance, are a bright green variety.
- Brassicas — Broccoli, Cabbages and Cauliflowers make great side dishes and also lend themselves well to center stage, making a hearty late spring meal when roasted or sauteed in a little oil and garlic.
- Asparagus — Look for thin, tender shoots.
- Rhubarb — Great raw, cooked, in pies and even makes a lovely jam.
- Herbs — Chives are some of the first herbs to pop up in spring gardens. Look for Parsley, Chervil and even Sage and Thyme to follow shortly thereafter.
- Peas — Both pod and sugar-snap are hardy and among the first producers of the season.
- Onions — Especially green, but also be on the lookout for bunching and short day varieties in the south.
Of course, there are always preserves and storable produce — apples, potatoes, winter squashes and the like — to lend flavor and variety to the menu. And those items that are ‘on the hoof’ — meats and dairy products — never go out of season. Pair some with a side or two of the above in-season veggies and a baguette from your local baker and you’ll have a meal worth sitting down and thoroughly enjoying!
Until next month, Happy Shopping!
As a lover of handmade things, and a supporter of artists sharing their talents with the world, I wish there was a Fenton Street Market in every neighborhood.
The brainchild of Silver Spring, Maryland resident Hannah McCann, the Fenton Street Market is a weekly exhibition of local talent and entrepreneurship that began as a two-weekend experiment at the end of 2009.
Hannah knew there was creativity and innovation in her neighborhood that was just waiting for a place to show itself. She found that place in a vacant lot at the corner of Fenton Street and Silver Spring Avenue, in downtown Silver Spring, MD.
The first two weekends were so successful, Hannah was able to get support from local non-profits and business development organizations like Downtown Silver Spring, to make the Market a more permanent event.
The market began its 2010 season on April 17, and has been running every Saturday since. Vendors at the Market are different nearly every week, and include artists, designers, crafters, and collectors from all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia.
The day I visited, I found beautiful silk purses, handmade jewelry of all kinds, stuffed toys, hand-carved wooden walking sticks, screen-printed posters, and much more. There was even a woodcarver who specialized in handmade pens. I chose from more than a dozen types of wood he had in his booth, and he carved a pen just for me while I waited!
The other driving forces behind the Fenton Street Market are two women who know a bit about putting together successful arts and crafts markets. The Market’s manager is Debbie Lee, the architect of Silver Spring’s Handmade Mart, a craft show which gets nationwide attention that happens twice a year. Her intrepid assistant manager is Jessica Blaszczak, the mastermind behind the Ballston Arts and Crafts Market in Arlington, Virginia, a monthly market from May through October.
If only these women (or at least their efforts) could be cloned, there could be cool places to shop in every neighborhood on every weekend of the year! The Fenton Street Market is open every Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm from April through October. Visit the web site for a list of participating vendors.