Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Family Affair

Like most of you, I'm taking a few days off this week for Thanksgiving. But I'll still be learning -- about my family members and the stories of their lives.

A few years ago, Real Simple magazine published a "family history worksheet" with questions to ask your loved ones. Here are a few of those questions. If nothing else, they'll make great conversation starters at the dinner table. Who knows what you might learn?
  • What was your childhood home like? Your neighborhood?
  • What was your parents' relationship like? To which parent were you closer?
  • Growing up, what was the biggest disagreement you had with your parents?
  • Outside of your family, who were the most important people in your life?
  • What were the happiest times of your childhood? The biggest disappointments?
  • Who is the first person you ever kissed? Describe your first serious romance.
  • What was your first job, and how did you get it? How did you decide which field to enter?
  • What was the most rewarding thing about raising kids? The toughest?
  • How would you define love? How has your definition changed over time?
  • How are you like your parents? How are you different?
  • What is the best trip you ever took? The most amazing place you've seen?
  • What are five things you couldn't live without?
  • What is the bravest thing you've ever done?
  • What were the best years of your life?
  • What was the hardest decision you've made?
  • If you could do anything over in your life, what would it be and what would you do differently?

December Classes at IMA

Lately, I'm impressed with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It seems to be offering more classes, promoting more-interesting exhibits and generally doing a better job of connecting with the community. That's good news for continuing education fans!

Coming up in December are two classes of note:
  • Felting Featherweight Fashions -- creating wearable art using felt (three Thursday evenings, $70).
  • Colorful "Chain Mail" Jewelry -- creating jewelry with plastic and rubber O-rings (three Thursday evenings, $70).

I'm also intrigued by "Museums, Fame and Money," a lecture Dec. 7 about the commercialization of art museums and global competition for high-profile traveling exhibits. The lecturer is Axel Ruger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. (If you've ever backpacked through Europe, you'll remember the museum's ubiquitous poster tubes.) The lecture is free, but registration is required.

The museum is hosting Alice Waters, a chef and "eat local" advocate, on Dec. 2, but that lecture sold out long ago. Instead, head over to the newest high-profile exhibit, "Power and Glory: Court Arts of China's Ming Dynasty." It's open through Jan. 11.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Indianapolis Art Center Classes

In college, I was the dork who poured over the course catalog and signed up for my classes the exact second registration opened. So I get a bit overly excited when my continuing-education course catalogs arrive, as they have started doing recently.

As always, one of the first ones out is the Indianapolis Art Center catalog; registration opens Dec. 3.

This semester, you'll see new weekend workshops on how to make lace, felt hats and gourd art, as well as all the usual suspects. The Center seems to be trying to offer workshops with broader appeal, focusing on topics like interior decorating and closet organization. So, you have options even if you don't feel artistic.

In longer-term classes, you'll find the usual depth of classes in ceramics, photography, drawing, painting, textiles, glass, jewelry, sculpture and woodworking. I can personally recommend the basic ceramics, weaving and PMC jewelry classes, but I'm still trying to work up the nerve for steel sculpture.

I'll be keeping a close eye on the rest of the local catalog releases, so sit tight!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cooking Classes: Winter Comfort Foods

When the weather gets this nasty, I crave soup, hot chocolate and other winter comfort foods. But I also need some culinary inspiration, or I end up eating yet another batch of my fabulous Mr. Noodles raman noodles (bought by the case every time I go to Stratford).

A mid-winter grocery run to Canada is something I'd like to avoid, so here are a few culinary classes I'm considering:
  • Frasier's Gourmet Foods has a "Soup & Bread" class series coming up. Taught by chef Joseph Allford, the classes meet on Monday evenings in January and are likely to sell out.

  • Clark Appliance is offering a class called "Culinary Foundations: Soups and Stews." The class takes place Friday, Dec. 5, and costs $35. Recipes include basic stocks, wonton soup and Guinness stew.

  • The Chef's Academy is offering "Winter Comfort Foods" this coming Saturday, Nov. 22. Cost is $75.

  • Looking for something less traditional? Warm up despite the cold weather with a Brazilian cuisine "date night" at Kiss Z Cook this Friday. Cost is $125 per couple.

  • Do your comfort foods usually involve chocolate? Sign up for the "Chocolate Centerpieces" class through Lawrence Township Community Education. It meets the evening of Dec. 11 and costs $85.

Of course, if you need some serious cooking instruction -- like how to tell a parsnip from a rutabaga -- you have a few options. One is the "Have Fun Cooking" class, offered by the IUPUI Community Learning Network. Another is the Foundations series at Kiss Z Cook, which focuses on knife skills, soups, starches, meats and other food types. Frasier's also has a great Cooking 101 class series, but no dates are scheduled at the moment.

New Music Studio

If you live in the Geist/Fortville area, you have a new option for voice and music lessons: Sonata Studio. The studio, in one the area's many new strip malls, offers adult classes in piano, guitar, brass, percussion, woodwind and voice -- all at very reasonable rates. Maybe I'll finally get around to taking piano lessons again!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sampler Classes: Indianapolis Art Center

Registration for the Art Center's spring classes opens Dec. 3, but you can get a preview of your options Saturday, Nov. 22. The Center is hosting two-hour sampler classes on glass blowing, fiber arts and print-making.

Here's the schedule:
10 a.m. -- Glass blowing
1 p.m. -- Fiber arts
3 p.m. -- Print-making

The $28 cost includes all materials. Registration is required.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Update: Conner Prairie by Candlelight

I made our reservation for Conner Prairie by Candlelight yesterday, and reservation slots are filling up fast -- especially for the slots later in the evening. I wanted an 8 p.m. start time, but the best I could do was 7:20. If you'd like to attend this year, make your reservation soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recycled Threads Fashion Show

Want to learn how to stretch your clothing budget? Our friends at Green Piece Indy are atwitter about the upcoming Recycled Threads fashion show, part of the Spirit and Place Festival.

Local fashion designers will present runway-worthy fashions made from cast-off, secondhand clothing. Categories include children's, teens', men's and women's fashions. (As Renee and Meghan point out, can't you just hear Tim Gunn saying "Make it work!"?)

The event takes place at 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 14, at Epworth United Methodist Church, 6450 Allisonville Road. See you there!

Conner Prairie by Candlelight

Poor Thanksgiving. This year, we seem to have skipped it entirely, heading directly from Halloween to Christmas. Since we're already in the holiday mood, it's time to make your reservations for Conner Prairie by Candlelight, one of the city's best -- and most educational -- holiday events.

Attending Conner Prairie by Candlelight is like stepping back to a time when the holidays were simple, joyful family affairs. You'll stroll through the lantern-lit 1836 village, clutching your cup of hot cider or cocoa, and stop in at the houses along the way.

At each house, museum interpreters present a holiday tradition, such as a pioneer Christmas party or Hanukkah celebration. You can ask questions, sample foods from that time, sing carols and even get involved in the action. (Last year's "plot" for the evening involved some local boys barricading themselves in the schoolhouse to protest the classes scheduled for Christmas Day.)

Yes, it will be cold outside, but don't let that stop you. Each house along the way offers a roaring fire, and you can always warm up at the museum's gingerbread-house exhibit. It's a great way to get in the holiday spirit -- and remind yourself what the holiday spirit is really supposed to be.

Conner Prairie by Candlelight takes place from 5 to 8 p.m., Dec. 5-7 and 12-14. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for youth ages 2 to 12. Reservations are required: call (317) 776-6006.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Few Tidbits

Ack! I have neglected this blog for far too long. My apologies! Here are a few tidbits to keep you busy while I regroup:
  • Honor Moore, author of "The Bishop's Daughter," is speaking at 7:30 tonight at Butler.
  • We're about halfway through this year's Spirit and Place Festival, a project of the Polis Center. Still upcoming: "The Gospel According to Kurt Vonnegut," "The Problem of Religious Illiteracy in America," "Does God 'Swing'?" and more.
  • The IUPUI Community Learning Network has posted some of its late winter/early spring classes. A few to consider: "Mindfulness Meditation" and a literary discussion group focused on Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series. (I've already read those books about 2,000 times each, so I think I can skip the discussion group. Speaking of reasons I haven't been blogging ...)