Hi, I’m Marc. I’ve been putting my drawings on the interweb since around October 2006, but I’ve been drawing since I was tiny. I’m not tiny anymore, but I’m not very big either.
It’s no secret; I am a sucker for the Holiday Season. And, for me, that season kicks off on the first of October and officially begins with preparations for Halloween. As close to the first of October as possible I pull my inspiration folder from it’s year-round resting spot on the shelves behind the door in my office, wrap myself in my favorite chenille throw, snuggle into the sofa and start dreaming. I dream big, beautiful, impossibly perfect dreams about what sort of straight-from-a-50s-sitcom things our lives will hold in the next three months. There will be homemade costumes and handmade, vintage-y decorations that will set the mood in and around our home. There will be harvest parties with apple bobbing and pumpkin carving. There will be candles and wreaths. There will be family portraits on a brilliant background of firey yellow, orange and red leaves. And there will be food, oh, will there ever be food!
Invariably, only one-tenth of any of these dreams come to fruition — I’m only one woman with only so many hours in a day, after all — but that’s never stopped me from having them. When it comes to the food portion of those dreams I always seem to focus on a few flavors at a time; cranberry and sage during the month of November, for instance, or cinnamon and peppermint in the last few weeks leading up to Christmas. As far as I’m concerned, apples and pumpkin are the stars of the show throughout the month of October though. So lately, they’re what I’ve found myself focusing on again this year. Scrumptious both together and apart their possibilities are endless. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinners and desserts can all be made from these two; my most adored treasures of the season’s bounty.
I have never met a creamy pumpkin soup recipe I couldn’t love; I’ve been known to spend entire Saturdays in the kitchen peeling, coring, cooking and smashing apples into a chunky applesauce that can only be accomplished at home; one blended with just the right amount of local honey and spices. But I can’t make it all. The real autumn lifesavers — the ones that make my season and relieve my stress when I’ve once again aimed far too high in my holiday planning — are drool-worthy handmade and artisan products that infuse the season’s best flavors into my celebrations with little effort on my part. This year my early searches for those products have landed me in the shops of both the Cookie Jar and The Girl & The Fig drooling over Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Apple, Raisin Fig Mostarda. (Pictured above along with Bekah Jennings’ Trick or Treat Banner)
Where have your early fall food searches led you?
Halloween is my sister Kate’s favourite holiday…after Christmas and her birthday (she’s a holiday fiend). Kate lives in Canada, where I am sure she has much more opportunity to celebrate Halloween than I do in the UK. You see, we just don’t ‘get’ Halloween here and our efforts are somewhat half-hearted compared with our friends across the Atlantic.
My childhood memories of Halloween involve dressing up in a black leotard and tights with a black headband, knocking on about three neighbours’ doors before I’d get bored. My eyes were opened to the potential of this glorious occasion when, at the age of 10 I visited Texas at the end of October. People went crazy over October 31, with children dressed in elaborate costumes (not a cat or witch in sight!) and specialist decorations, candies and other sweet treats on offer.
It’s still not catching on here, despite my family’s best efforts. I’m not to be deterred though, and this year I’ve rounded up the best of British-made Halloween-themed treats in a bid to inspire my fellow citizens!
Kate would approve of byanne‘s adorable resin heart necklace (above), which reminds me of the huge plastic beads filled with candy I would lust after as a child. Anne of byanne is a fellow Halloween lover who is drawn to bright, attention-grabbing hues. Her inspiration is vintage gumball and the necklace includes real candy pieces and shiny confetti to give it a real vintage Halloween feel.
Truss up your Jack O’Lantern with sneddonia‘s glow-in-the-dark decoration. The inspiration for this beautiful wire decoration came from some beads that Jen found while searching for Halloween supplies on Etsy. She thought that the cute beads would be the perfect focal point for a new design.
Continue your decorating with keitosan‘s little witch print (top), which features Millie and her cat Tofu. Kate at keitosan decided to go against drawing a traditional scary witch and black cat and do the complete opposite to create a fun feel, reflecting the fun that comes with Halloween festivities.
Kids will love FurWillFly‘s sweet vampire plushie, inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Claire loves the show and wanted to create some unusual plush creatures based on the dark side!
This lovely necklace from ichbin was inspired by Caroline’s neighbour’s little black and white cat, Tia, who sits on the conservatory roof and peers in her bedroom window every morning! It’s the perfect complement to a grown-up Halloween outfit – who says only children get to dress up?
What are your favourite Halloween traditions? Share them here!
While other months may be able to stake claim to being most bountiful October is probably one of the most interesting months during which to eat local. Many places, even in the cold northern regions, still have the tail-end of summer harvests trickling in as the short-season, cool-weather crops we saw at the beginning of spring make their reemergence and the long-season, fall-specific crops make their debut. It makes for a combination of flavors and textures that cannot be accomplished during any other time of year; meals based on cool weather staples — many green and leafy — spiked with the fading flavors of summer and complimented by the hearty, warming hints of autumn and the impending winter.
As you venture to your local farmer’s market and on-farm stands this month take both plenty of reusable produce bags — small, lightweight — and larger, heavy duty reusable sacks to cart back your finds; they’ll range from tender baby spinach leaves to heavy, heirloom squashes. Here’s a short list of what you should be on the lookout for:
Winter Squashes & Pumpkins
- Pie Pumpkins
- Cinderella Pumpkins – like that pictured above, actually a scrumptious variety of squash.
As a bonus, hard-skinned squashes and pumpkins store well under even adverse conditions, making them prime candidates for edible decor. Stack a few of your favorite small varieties atop a cake stand for a center piece, allow larger varieties to adorn front walkways and porch steps until they make their way to the dinner table.
Late Summer’s Leftovers
- Peppers – hot, sweet, mild and bell.
- Beans – bush and pole
- Summer Squashes
Of course I would be remiss to leave out the star of last week’s column, apples, like those pictured above. And, since I couldn’t possibly include every in-season item in any one column, do be sure to check out previous installments of What’s In Season Now for more ideas.
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All Produce featured in this week’s column was photographed by the author and sourced from local, Michigan farms. To find farms and farmer’s markets near you check out Local Harvest.
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.