Monday, April 27, 2009

Career Development Options

After hearing all the doomsday news about our economy, some of you are pulling back your spending on classes -- and educators are starting to notice. In response, some are shifting the focus of their summer schedules, offering more career-development classes and fewer "personal enrichment" options.

In particular, the IUPUI Community Learning Network has partnered with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Ready Indiana to offer a slew of career-development classes.

One course, "A Blueprint for Action," guides job-seekers through that grueling process. It's a new course this summer -- and it's free.

Other classes, especially in the IT and business categories, have been discounted. And, the summer brochure lists a variety of college-credit and "weekend university" classes you might find useful, such as operations management and business communications.

Just make yourself a deal: As soon as you feel comfortable financially again, be sure to reward yourself with an educational opportunity that's fun instead of practical.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Review: Spring Veggies Class at Frasier's

What's the test of a good cooking class? We've dealt with this issue before: Some people prefer hands-on instruction, and some are content to watch and learn. In my Thursday class at Frasier's Gourmet Foods, I'm not sure I accomplished either.

The class, taught by chef Tony Hanslits (of the Chef's Academy and formerly Tavola di Tosa), was supposed to focus on the bounty of spring beans. But Hanslits wasn't able to find fava beans, so he switched the topic to spring vegetables instead. Our menu included asparagus, pasta primavera and a trofie pasta with potatoes and green beans.

I am not a great cook by any stretch of the imagination. But even I can throw together a quick pasta primavera; I don't need the best pasta chef in town to spend an hour showing me how.

On the plus side, it was neat to watch Hanslits make the trofie pasta: It's done the same way a first-grader might roll out Play-Doh. Of the three dishes, the trofie pasta was by far my favorite -- and the only thing I haven't seen before.

Another plus: Hanslits took time to demonstrate several knife skills and cooking techniques, such as how to dice zucchini and how to blanch and shock asparagus.

On the whole, I learned less than I usually learn at these classes (which is odd, considering the fact that Hanslits is actually a teacher). But I'm looking forward to Hanslits' latest venture: a Broad Ripple shop where Hanslits will sell his pastas and prepared meals. It's scheduled to open in May.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: Bead Stringing Class at Boca Loca

I've lived in Indianapolis all my life, but the Fountain Square area is my own personal Bermuda triangle. It doesn't matter where I start or how good my directions are; I always, always get lost.

So, when I headed to Boca Loca Beads for an introductory bead-stringing class a few weeks ago, I allowed plenty of extra time (and needed it). I finally found the shop on Prospect Street, just east of the square, and was grateful for the shop's dedicated parking lot.

When I signed up for the introductory bead-stringing class, I did think, "Well, okay, but how hard can it be? You just slide a whole bunch of beads onto a wire." Of course, as I should have expected, there's a lot more to the process than that.

Our class, which was taught by owner Jari Sheese and met in the store's lamp-working studio, focused instead on how to attach clasps, how to select tools and materials, and how to string beads efficiently. We also practiced several beading patterns and techniques, and every student left the class with two very different bracelets -- which I've actually worn since then.

All in all, it was a worthwhile way to spend two hours and $30. I went alone, but it would certainly be fun with a few friends, too. And, when you're feeling more ambitious, you can sign up for a host of other classes, which focus on different techniques and beading patterns.

One of these days I'm going to sign up for the store's lamp-working boot camp, an intense weekend workshop where students create glass beads, buttons and pendants. It's a bit more expensive, but you get to play with fire!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lecture Series at the Eiteljorg

To celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, the Eiteljorg has a lot on its calendar, including a special exhibition called "Facing West." It's also offering a series of lectures about American Indians and Western art -- and the topics aren't ones you're likely to see discussed locally again.

First up: "I See by Your Outfit," this Saturday at noon (free with admission). Here's the description from the Eiteljorg's events calendar: "There is no doubt that with just a cowboy hat and a pair of cowboy boots, an image of a Westerner is immediately created. Why is this image so ingrained, and where did it come from? We will explore origins of style for hats and boots, showing how this particular portrait has changed through time."

Other lectures in the series (all held at noon) include:
  • What does a portrait tell us, and what is left out? (May 16)
  • Cultural heroes (June 20)
  • Curtis vs. Curtis (about controversial photographer Edward S. Curtis) (July 18)
Also coming up are several art workshops with the museum's artist in residence, Mary Tafoya of the Santa Domingo Pueblo. On May 9, she'll teach a morning workshop on mosaics ($25) and an afternoon workshop on inlay jewelry ($45). Registration is required; call (317) 636-9378.

Classes at Christian Theological Seminary

For about a year, I've been meaning to post an update on the Faith Learning Initiative at Christian Theological Seminary. It sounds like a great opportunity to delve into deeper aspects of spirituality and faith.

The problem? The seminary always posts its community class schedule late -- long after I've stopped checking for the next season's schedules. I always remind myself to check back later, and I always forget. Finally, I've managed to remember after the schedule is posted but before the classes actually start next week.

Here's a quick sampling of what's offered:
  • Sufi Mysticism - the Spiritual Heart of Islam (Monday evenings, starting April 27)
  • Faiths and Films (Tuesday evenings, starting April 28)
  • A Conversation with the Mystic Poets (Wednesday evenings, starting April 29)
  • Science, Sex and Secret Societies: Dan Brown's Angels and Demons (Wednesday evenings, starting April 29)
As a side note, the seminary also allows adults to audit semester-long courses for a reduced fee.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wine: Red, White and ... Green?

If you're like me, Earth Day just makes you feel guilty. Instead of focusing on your eco-friendly choices, like recycling and using CFLs, you're probably thinking about all the things you're still not doing (you know, installing solar panels on your roof, biking to work, that sort of thing).

As with all major changes, the best way to "go green" is by taking one step at a time. On May 19, Vine & Table will help you do just that. The gourmet grocery and liquor store is offering a class on choosing Earth-friendly, sustainably produced wines.

The class, taught by vintner Scott Woodward, costs $20 and includes a tasting of eight sustainable wines. You'll learn how these wines are made and discuss the difference between sustainable and organic production.

To register, click here or call the store at (317) 817-9473. Vine & Table is also offering a master class April 29 on wines of the Piedmont region.

Summer Class Schedules

And, we're back! I've just gotten home from a trip to the Pacific Northwest (where I may or may not have visited Forks), and I have lots of updates to share.

First things first: Many of the summer class schedules are available. As usual, the summer fare is pretty light; schedule-makers assume you're going to be out of town and/or stuck with your kids all day. If not, it's a great time to take that class you've been meaning to take.

You'll find the standard fare in summer schedules for the Indianapolis Art Center, the IUPUI Community Learning Network, the Jewish Community Center, the Stutz Artists Association and Lawrence Township Community Education (which seems to be relying more heavily on online courses).

The truth is, I'm just not seeing many classes this season that I haven't seen before. As soon as I find something that inspires me, I'll let you know!