Farmers Market Season Starts with BUGS

 

With the opening of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar two weeks ago, you can safely say that the city’s farmers market season has officially started. While I love the tried and true markets, I wanted to give a shout out to a smaller, less-known one that’s big on heart, as well as food.

This Saturday, May 6, 2017, be sure to check out the  BUGS Farmers’ Market on Living Classrooms’ campus. This one day market is run by the BUGS students who worked all school year to grow the food, make the crafts and wares, and plan the entertainment. It’s kid planned, kid grown, and kid powered! Not only can you fill your bags with delicious locally grown produce, but you can feel great knowing that all the proceeds go right back into the BUGS program. Trust me, this is one program you want to support.

Finishing up its 22nd year, the BUGS program is one of Living Classrooms Foundation’s outreach programs that works to give under-served Baltimore City elementary students academic, social and dietary help. Currently, the program works with 60 students from Commodore John Rodgers Elementary School and offers a unique support system that includes help with homework, a healthy dinner, and the opportunity to learn skills not often found in the traditional education setting. With five areas of study: gardening, cooking, art, dance and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), students in grades 2 through 5 are able to learn a variety of things, like healthy eating, chicken raising, dance routine creation and ice cream making. Working after school all year, students create or grow the wares and food that will be on sale at this year’s market.

BUGS Farmers Artists 2016

The BUGS Farmers’ Market itself is in its 21st year and is a staple of the community that surrounds Living Classrooms’ campus. It’s the must-attend event of the spring with seasoned patrons arriving early to snag a sought after tomato plant, bowl of freshly made ice cream or, the crowd favorite, money soap. (Seriously, this soap has $1, $5 or $10 hidden inside!) Along with other traditional favorites like scented soaps, herbs, and perennial flowers, this year’s market will also sell kid-made pillows, recycled handbags, slime and the very on-trend succulents.

Want to get a little more hands on? BUGS wouldn’t say no to some adult volunteers —  simply contact Erin Myers at emyers@livingclassroomfoundation.org.

After you peruse the stands, fill your bags (and empty your wallets) swing by the face painting, say hello to the chickens and watch the dance performance. It’s a morning at the market like no other.

The BUGS market is open on May 6, 2017, from 10 am until 2 pm at 802 S. Caroline Street and will be well worth the visit. Then, put it on your calendar for next year. Program Director, Algernon Campbell, gave me the scoop about 2018:

“Next year: Ponies.”

What could ‘B’ more fantastic?

BUGS Farmers Table

 

I’m sensing a pattern here: A sit down with MICA graduate Steph Stilwell

pattern play

I took one look at the Charm City pillow on thebaltimorecreatives Instagram feed and thought: I. Must. Have. That. The picture of bright blue and purple row homes in a throw pillow perfect square was meant to be on my couch. Sale at Caravanserai on the Avenue in Hampden when I wasn’t in town – unacceptable. So, being resourceful, I joined others who were clamoring to find out how else to get these delightful pillows of perfection.

Enter MICA artist, Steph Stilwell. She happily directed me to a solution to my conundrum and pictures of her entire line of pillows. Scratch the Charm City row homes, I had to have the Baltimore crab and the Maryland postcard. I mean, it has a diamondback terrapin on it, what’s not to love? She also excitedly accepted an invite to be featured on my humble blog. So on a Saturday afternoon in the unassuming, but ever hip Red Emma’s, we meet for hummus, iced coffee and a chat about MICA, Delaware, and art.

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Artist Steph Stilwell

The first thing you should know about Steph is that as a graduate fresh out of MICA, she has honed a unique voice and style all her own. Her doodles and sketches are simply delightful. She creates characters and illustrations that dance around the page. In a style that she describes as “50% food, 50% animals” she uses patterns to solve problems – like how to make a cactus footstool.

Steph hails from Middletown, Delaware where she started drawing at an early age. Her father was an artist by hobby and her mom likes to say she sacrificed her own artistic ability so Steph could inherit all of it. Fed on a steady stream of art supplies at Christmas and plenty of doodle time, Steph spent the weekends redrawing cartoons and comics instead of actually watching them. This naturally progressed to doodling during high school classes, cumulating in an independent high school project and landing her at MICA. 

MICA was my dream school. For art school, it’s a very collaborative, tight knit community…it makes you want to be as good as the people you admire.” Plus she wanted to live in a city, and Bmore was the place for her. “I wanted somewhere I could assimilate. Baltimore isn’t NYC, I like the environment. I  think there’s a lot of great things happening here.”

cactus footstool

For her it was really all about the patterns.

“It kinda just fell into place. I went into MICA and I didn’t really know what ‘Illustrator’ meant. But I think I was drawn to it because I was redrawing illustrations.

I took the patterns course… I was trying so hard to be what graphic design is, but I took that patterns course and I kept using patterns in other assignments. It’s funny, looking back, that I use patterns so much in my assignments, it was sorta foreshadowing what was happening later.”

If she had her way she would stay here in Baltimore, but there’s not a lot of work for illustrators and designers like her in the area. While her own gallery and studio would be nice one day, right now she’s focusing on expanding her portfolio and style. While I may argue that her style needs no tweaking, she’s got her eyes on bigger things. Her main goal right now is to work for a company where she can collaborate with other artists. While you might think of illustrators as people hunched over a desk drawing away by the light of a lamp, she’s quick to dispel that stereotype. The back and forth creativity that fed her passion and education at MICA is not something she’s ready to part with just yet.

piggies

Currently she’s shopping Hallmark, Greetings and Readings, and even Target. While she doesn’t have any bites yet, she’s hopeful that the right company will come along. I offered my two cents that Mod Cloth and her would be the perfect fit. (I’m also the first to admit, what do I know?)

But I do know that at this point you are thinking: “I love her stuff! I can’t wait for Target to wake up! Where can I get my own cactus footstool?

While she was mum on current projects (“There’s one in particular I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about yet.”), she is currently freelancing while working the typical post-college desk job to help make ends meet. (Oh, the life of the starving artist.) You can find samples of her work on her website stephstilwell.com and request your own custom work. Or you can stop at Caravanserai and grab one of her pillows – before they’re all gone.

Bmore crab and postcard

Sushi Outside the City: A New Place for your Raw Bar

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Rainbow Roll & Spicy Tuna Roll: Sushi Staples

I’m just going to come clean: I’m addicted to sushi.

Hopelessly, shamelessly, happily addicted to the rice buffered, seaweed wrapped, pastel colored circles of taste explosion. There is never a time when I don’t crave the intricate flavor dance that is a sushi roll. Luckily for me, there are no shortages of places to go to feed this joyful addiction.

There is a new kid behind the sushi bar: Ooki Sushi in Owings Mills. (I know, it’s outside of Bmore, but food is an adventure right?) All I can say is that if you find yourself wandering around the area you must give this place a try.

Located in a strip mall by a Giant and a gym, you wouldn’t think it’s much from the outside – but trust me – this is a place to surprise a date on a Friday night.

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Ooki Sushi, complete with mounted fish

The inside gives a super modern vibe with textured walls, changing light displays, and a color palette that’s easy on the eyes. Whether you want an intimate booth for a date, a high top table for a causal girls’ night out, or the sushi bar to cut it up with the chef, the waitstaff will have you comfortable and covered.

This isn’t one of those places that’s dimly lit so you can’t read the menu or see your food. It’s bright, inviting and with a six page menu of traditional favorites and chef specialties, there’s no worry about running out of rolls to order.

Ordering might actually be the most difficult thing you do once you arrive! (Although pricing may help – while it’s not extreme in expense, it’s not your cheap eats either.)

 

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Philly, Green Dragon and Yellow Tail and Scallion Rolls

Staying with tried and true favorites for my first trip, I have to say they did not disappoint. The rolls were the perfect size, steering away from the gargantuan monstrosities that you sometimes encounter or the tiny morsels that leave you wondering if you ate anything. Where sauce was used, like in the Spicy Tuna Roll, it never overwhelmed the fish. Each roll allowed you to taste the flavor notes of each ingredient and blended together to give you the perfect sushi eating experience. I highly recommend the Yellowtail Scallion roll, the perfect pairing of light fish flavor and tangy onion family goodness.

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Pork Dumplings

Not in the mood for raw fish? There are other plates for your discerning taste. The pork dumplings were a favorite of mine. Light, sweet, with a great accompanying sauce. It’s the perfect plate to share… or order seconds and thirds!

I’ll definitely be back for a new round of rolls – and maybe desserts (there are bear shaped chocolates that I’m keen on trying). When you check this place out, let me know what you think! And leave me your sushi suggestions – I’m always looking for a new place to roll up and try.

What could B more fresh?

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9944 Reisterstown Road, Owing Mills MD

 

 

10 Questions Posed by a Blogger

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Getting my writing on

This post will be incredibly different from my usual ones. You see, a good friend of mine Nicole (whom you can find at thoughtsstainedwithink.wordpress.com) has “nominated” me for a get-to-know-your-blogger type posting. The rules are simple: You become nominated by an awesome blogger who poses 10 questions which you answer. You then you pose your own to 10 new bloggers.

Nicole is an awesome writer, who will one day be a published author, and I highly recommend that you check out her blog, especially if you are into the fantasy genre. I also find it a great honor that out of all the fantastic bloggers and people she knows she asked me, a local Bmore blogger to throw my two cents in to the ring. And I’m hoping you will enjoy getting to know a little bit about me. So here goes:

1.Why do you write?

I feel my answer will be completely predictable here. I write because I feel I have to do so. While I have just started truly trying to “put my writing” out into the larger world, I have always written. Short stories, bad poetry, and journal upon journal of personal essays about my experiences. The personal essay writing has been my favorite and it was in the past few years I seriously considered trying my hand at “publishing” it. And slowly it became this blog!

2. What would be the hardest part about surviving the apocalypse?

Knowing that it is actually happening, because I feel that I would miss that memo big time. Especially if it happened during a snowfall when everyone acts like the world is ending anyway and I ignore these things and promptly run out of food.

3. What author has inspired your writing the most?

Hands down it would be Bill Bryson. I am completely at awe with how he can turn anything into an incredible tale and still sneak in educational tidbits. His In A Sunburned Country was my bible when in Australia.

4. Your top five animated films?

Bambi (because I still like to walk around my parents’ house yelling “Mother”), The Lion King (whose list is this not on?), Tangled (Lanterns, incredible hair, catchy songs), The Lego Movie (Again, who doesn’t love this?), Cars (because it’s fits nicely next to my Fast & Furious Collection)

(And Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Sometimes you need a sixth.)

5. Have you ever read any books on craft? If so, which was your favorite and why?

Honestly, for writing books and blogs I have not. I have read bits and pieces on various other blogs but no tried and true books. I have read two books on how to write a screenplay and many advertising textbooks in college years gone by, but those aren’t the same thing.

6. Which fictional land would you have to visit and why?

Honestly, I want to visit the 1980’s My Little Pony Land because I still love those ponies! Again, there is nothing to hate about miniature unicorns and pegasus.

7. What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten about writing?

Not sure who to credit to: just write. It doesn’t matter how much, how often, to who, just put the pen/pencil to paper (or digits to the keyboard) and write. It’s the best advice and the advice I’m still struggling with on a daily basis.

8. Which element do you wish you could control?

Fire. Done.

9. What is your current writing project about and what about it excites you?

Currently this blog is my biggest project. I started it because I LOVE my hometown and I love to write. And I’ve encountered a lot of people who want to tear it down, and I won’t let them! I want to spread the Bmore Love. I felt like there’s a lot of sites where you can find things to do but so few of them tell you what it’s like to do these things or go these places.

That’s why this is a present day memoir. I enjoy trying to describe a place or event and transport you there. I don’t know how effective it is, to write about things that may be finished for the year, but it’s what I like to do. It’s also making me search out and try new things in this town which is always fun!

10. Most importantly: favorite type of cheese?

I am a fan of the cream cheese variety. You can put it on anything and it’s magically wonderful. And it’s the basis of every good dip there is, therefore becoming my food staple during football season.

There you have it, a little about me, courtesy of Nicole.

Here are my 10 questions for 10 new bloggers.

  1. Who is your pop star spirit animal?
  2. What are three things you love most about your current city of residence?
  3. When will you know you “made it” as a writer/blogger?
  4. Where do you hope your current writing project is in 3 months?
  5. Why did you pick the topic you did for your blog/project?
  6. How close are you to reaching the writing goal you set at the start?
  7. In the music realm, who is an unknown you think we need to know?
  8. What’s the most unhelpful advice, about anything, you’ve ever been given? (No one asks this ever.)
  9. Social media: best creation ever or end of society? Go.
  10. And lastly, because I always have to know: If you could only travel to one more place, where would that be and why? (Yes, it can be a repeat trip!)

And the 10 bloggers I extend an invite to answer are actually 7 because I don’t really follow that many bloggers. But trust me, these are people you want to read and follow. They are fantastic writers:

Tippy Rex: when you stop digging

Becky Stavely: BS in Bmore

Alysha: Discover Charm City

Ellen: Travelling the World Solo

Ashley: Neverbeenso

Meghan Faulkner: Oatgasm

So there you have it! A little about me and some new friends to meet.

What could B more friendly?

Me n lights

Lit up at Light City

For the Return of Books: Upcoming Fundraiser for The Book Thing

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Just a few (and I mean few) of the free books I’ve collected from The Book Thing

If you haven’t heard our beautiful and glorious The Book Thing is in need of help and support. March 5 was the last day it was able to open it’s doors because of a fire that destroyed much of the building and the free books.

Yes, for those of you not in the know, The Book Thing was a wonderful place where you could go and take a book or a million books all for free. Basically, if the Disney’s Beast had known about this place he’d have bought it for Belle instead of giving her a silly small library.

Baltimore is rallying around our beloved book exchange and events have been taking place to help raise funds for the not-for-profit. The newest one will be held at Clavel on April 11, 2016. Below you’ll find the link for the event as well as the description from the Facebook page.

What could ‘B’more giving?

Book Thing Benefit at Clavel

On the morning of March 2nd, Baltimore’s Book Thing suffered a catastrophic fire which destroyed portions of their roof, garage door, and large collection of free books for the public.

Lane Harlan (WC Harlan, Clavel) and Doug Atwell (Rye) are joining forces to create a special evening-long happy hour to benefit our beloved community institution.

Doug and Lane will be joining the Clavel bar staff and offering 2 literary themed cocktails from a satellite bar on the patio.

Clavel will donate 50% of the drink sales both inside and outside to the Book Thing’s restoration fund. Join us Monday April 11th from 8pm – midnite to support the Book Thing in their efforts to rebuild.

Monday, April 11 at 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

Clavel

225 W, 23rd Street Baltimore 21211

When the Lights go on in the City

20160328_222647If you’re looking for a bright way to spend a spring evening head to Baltimore and check out Light City. Starting last night and continuing until Sunday, April 3 the festival showcases both local talent and the city skyline. This all ages event takes nothing from your wallet and adds inspiration to your imagination.

Each night promises bright and fun light installations, ranging in animatronic peacocks, 70’s inspired patterns, and projected short films. Run through a playground of light, take selfies with Vegas style signs or play with glowing shipping containers that react to your movements.
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While you may have missed last night’s parade (and the axolotl) there are are still plenty of events to surprise and delight you. You could catch a “ballet” of bubble balls by Single Carrot Theatre, paint the air with Illumnia! or catch a Planet Awkward performance.20160328_201107

The free Light City app,which is available for both Android and Apple, will help you plan your evening’s events. I found it extremely easy to use and as you star events you want to catch it puts them in a handy schedule for you. The maps let you know where everything is happening and where the street food is.
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Being in the heart of the Inner Harbor and spreading to Fells Point, there is no shortage of food options provide by all the excellent restaurants. However, if you’d rather chow down by the lights there are food vendors serving up drinks and delicious treats. I totally recommend The Nickel Taphouse Badass Burger sliders. They are amazing!20160328_193316.jpg

I spent all night at the festival with a friend and have every intention of heading back this weekend. Any pictures you see of the event don’t do it justice – it’s a must do this week. So gather your friends, family, dogs and head down to spend the night with the lights. You won’t be disappointed.

What could be more bright?

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(And after you check it out comment below and tell me what you thought!)

Going, Going… Gone? A Trip to National Geographic Museum

 

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Photo Ark at the National Geographic Museum

One of the best things about Bmore is that in a matter of moments (albeit very long ones) you can be in a different and interesting place. Today’s place of choice: National Geographic Museum in DC.

Interesting because I didn’t even know such a place existed, but it does indeed, just a short 3-minute walk from the Farragut North metro stop and right across from the Defenders of Wildlife building, which seems only fitting.

The building itself is unremarkable in its architecture, although there are nifty side walls that are topped with small metal mountains that were holding water from the day’s rain to create the scene of them overlooking a riverbed. On the first floor of this many-storied building are changing exhibits highlighting the nature, science, history and wonder that is both the natural and human world. Think of it like a really extravagant lobby – one with paths and treasures hidden in plain sight. The cost to enter is nominal ($15 for nonmembers) and, true to National Geographic form, the exhibits are spectacular.

My reason for venturing on the DC Metro to spend the day in a building I didn’t know existed was the special exhibit, “Photo Ark.” Photographer Joel Sartore is on a mission to take pictures of every creature currently living in zoos, aquariums and sanctuaries from around the world. To date, he has taken portraits of over 5,000 animals, from the tiniest frogs to enormous rhinos.

The exhibit is a must see for any animal enthusiast, photographer or parent who wants to show their children just what this planet has to offer and what we humans have to lose.

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Red Wolf as photographed by Joel Sartore

To say the photography is stunning is like saying the Grand Canyon is large. These are moments in time of the animal’s life. They demand your attention in a startling, intimate way.

The subjects sneak up on you –, as you walk through the draped passageways, you feel a quiet, calm insistence to acknowledge them. Animals from the smallest to the largest, familiar to unbelievable, glance, stare and peek back at you. Some are sadly already gone from this earth, memorialized in these portraits. Sartore said he wanted you to look into their eyes, to consider them and their existence. If you take just a few seconds to observe them, you find you do just that. Their eyes are emotive, alive, and haunting.

The exhibit runs through April 2016.

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Budgett’s Frog as photographed by Joel Sartore (frog from National Aquarium)