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Happenings List: Holiday 2017 (Nov/Dec)

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Happenings List | 0 comments

There are people making great things in every corner of the world.

Here’s some of the good November/December-ish stuff from Italy, France, the U.K., and the U.S. (Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington) that’s come up on my radar recently.

+Arizona

Phoenix Art Museum

  • Now – Dec 17: Past/Future/Present: Contemporary Brazilian Art from the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art

 

Raptor Free Flight!

Now – March 2018
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson
Watch hawks, falcons, and owls fly completely untethered in the open desert, while a narrator explains the characteristics of each species. Two presentations daily (at 10am and 2pm) with different birds of prey native to the Sonoran Desert region each time. Included with admission.

 

All Souls Procession

Now – Nov 5
Tucson

Pre-event workshops (Sep/Oct):

  • Oct 28, 9am-1pm + Oct 29, 1-6pm at 1011 E Miles Street: Mask & Papier-Mâché Craftshop. Free.
  • Oct 29, 11am-2pm: Flower Crown Workshop. Please bring at least one object with meaning for you to include in your crown. $25 contribution includes materials.
  • Oct 29, 3-5pm: Personal Altar Workshop. Create a personal altar to carry with you in the Procession! Craft supplies provided. Please bring any photos, flowers, lights, or other objects that you would like to incorporate into a small, hand-held altar. Free. Reservations encouraged.

Procession Weekend:

**Maynards Market + Kitchen

 

Día de los Muertos Celebration (DBG)

Oct 27 – Nov 7
Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix
Día de los Muertos festivities with music, dance, and storytelling. Included with admission.

  • Oct 27 – Nov 7. Ofrenda Exhibition: Original pieces created by local artists in the style of traditional Mexican altars.
  • Nov 4-5. Live entertainment, including mariachis and ballet folklorico.

 

Día de los Muertos Festival (Mesa)

Oct 28-29
Mesa Arts Center, Mesa
Food, market, live entertainment, and handmade altar contest. Free admission.

**Día de los Muertos

 

Stitching by the Books

Oct 30, Nov 6, Nov 13 at 6pm
East Flagstaff Community Library, Flagstaff

Drop-in for help with your fiber arts projects. Knitting supplies available.
All skill levels welcome. Ages 9+. Free.

 

Return: Marshall Maude in Asia

Oct 31 – Dec 1
NAU Art Museum (2nd floor, NAU Old Main building), Flagstaff

Exhibition of ceramic work by Marshall Maude that explores both traditional methods and new technologies. Free. (Parking info.)

 

Astronomy Nights

Nov 3 + Dec 1 every 30 minutes from 6-10pm
Mesa Community College, Mesa

Monthly Planetarium shows open to the public the first Friday of the month during the Fall semester. Free admission (first come, first served).

 

NU (Native + You)

Heard Museum, Phoenix
Monthly (First Friday) events at the museum with free general admission to the museum’s galleries. Food and beverages available for purchase. Heard Museum Shops open until 8 p.m.

  • Nov 3, 6-10pm. First Friday: Stamp It! Make and take stamped-metal jewelry. See the new exhibition Awa Tsireh: Pueblo Painter and Metalsmith.
  • Dec 1, 6-10pm. First Friday: Light It Up! Make an ornament, enjoy hot cocoa and holiday lights, and shop the Ornament Market at the Heard Museum Shops.

 

Camelback Studio Tour and Art Sale

Nov 3-5
Scottsdale
Visit artists’ studios, see artists at work, and purchase art. Free admission.

 

Tucson Comic-Con 2017

Nov 3-5
Tucson Convention Center
Community-based pop culture convention with a mission statement of “Pop Culture For All!” Full weekend passes $30.

 

Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival

Nov 9-11
Tucson Expo Center
Expo with sewing, quilting, needlework, and craft supply vendors (both local and national), as well as workshops and presentations. Admission $10 or free with online coupon (printable PDF).
**The Festival in Phoenix.

 

Hidden In The Hills Studio Tour and Sale

Nov 17-19, 24-26
Cave Creek, Arizona

Self-guided tour of open artist studios in the Cave Creek and Scottsdale area with demonstrations and art for sale. Free admission.

 

Phoenix Pizza Festival

Nov 18, 11am-5pm
Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix

Festival of top pizza makers, benefitting Downtown Phoenix Inc. Advance tickets $10.
**Phoenix Pizza Festival 2016

 

Holiday Arts + Crafts Fair

Nov 18-19
Du Bois Center (at Northern Arizona University), Flagstaff
Juried show of handmade arts and crafts benefiting the United Way of Northern Arizona. Admission $2 at the door.

  • Live music
  • Raffle
  • Free parking

 

Las Noches de las Luminarias

Nov 24 – Dec 30
Desert Botanical Garden
Garden lit by 8,000 candles inside luminaria bags. There is also stargazing, hot cocoa and apple cider, sculptures by artist Jun Kaneko on display throughout the garden, and a variety of musical performances. Tickets $30.

 

Mesa Christmas Market

Nov 24 – Dec 23
Downtown Mesa

Over 90 vendors with food and hand-crafted gifts surrounding the Merry Main Street 35-foot Christmas tree.

 

Succulent Success

Nov 25, 9am
Phoenix Public Market

Learn how to care for succulents and the best varieties to grow both indoor and outdoors. Pop-up truck will have succulents, containers, and soil available for purchase.

 

12th Annual Crafeteria Indie Craft Fair

Dec 1, 6-10pm
Medlock Plaza parking lot (Frances/Stinkweeds/Golden Rule Tattoo), Phoenix

Annual arts and crafts festival with local handmade original work, (jewelry, toys, knitwear, beauty products, holiday decor, etc.), as well as live music and food trucks. Free.

 

Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts

Dec 1-3
Downtown Tempe
Juried art show with 350 artist booths lining Mill Avenue and the surrounding streets. Handmade ceramics, wearable art, jewelry, woodwork and photography for sale, as well as food vendors, wine and beer gardens, and live entertainment. Free admission.

 

ARTrageous Benefit Ansel Adams: America

Dec 2, 8:30pm
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale
Gala to Benefit Scottsdale Arts Education + Outreach featuring Ansel Adams photography set to music. A full orchestra will perform a commissioned symphonic work by Dave Brubeck and his son Chris Brubeck. Concert + after-party tickets $75.

 

Mesa Arts Festival

Dec 9-10, 10am
Mesa Arts Center
Annual festival with original works of art for sale, live entertainment and artist demonstrations, and kids’ activity area. Free.
**NEARBY: Community Garden.

 

Phoestivus

Dec 14 + 21, 5-10pm
Phoenix Public Market

Holiday celebration with a Phoestivus Pole, Pheats of Strength, and Airing of Grievances, as well as a market featuring locally grown and hand-crafted gifts from more than 130 local vendors. Free admission and free parking near Roosevelt/Central Light Rail Station.

 

+California

Play!

Now – Dec 30
Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto
Group exhibition of artists who believe in the importance of play and make it part of their work.

 

Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985

Now – Apr 1, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

Exhibition about how four design movements — Spanish Colonial Inspiration, Pre-Hispanic Revivals, Folk Art and Craft Traditions, and Modernism — defined California and Mexico throughout the twentieth century.

 

Día de los Muertos Family Festival

Oct 29, 10am-5pm
Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach

Celebration with art and craft workshops, craft activities, live music, dance performances, gallery tours, face painting, sculpture garden, food and craft vendors and Community Ofrenda and Art Exhibition. Free.

 

Freeway Lace Guild’s Annual Lace Day

Nov 4, 10am-3pm
Pasadena Christian Church, Pasadena

Lace displays, classes, vendors. Pre-register to receive a goodie bag. Admission $5 (free for ages 25 and under).

  • Pre-register to receive a goodie bag, as well as the option to order lunch ($8) and/or a commemorative bobbin ($15).
  • 1pm: presentation on Renaissance Lace by William McConnell.
  • Mini classes by experienced lacemakers.

 

Eternal I Endure

November 4, 6pm
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
Movement theater piece inspired by the work of Rodin, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the artist’s death. The performance will include images, text, fragments of Rodin’s life story, and music. Included with admission.

  • Reserve a spot by going to the Main Entrance gallery and getting a sticker up to an hour before the performance.
  • General admission seating begins at 5:45pm.

 

Meet Me in the Woods

Nov 4 – Dec (date TBD)
A Little Lodge, San Francisco
Kanako Abe’s solo show of intricate hand-cut paper artworks inspired by wildlife.

  • Opening reception Nov 4, 6pm.

 

The Art of Paper Flowers and Décor: Woodland Egg Ornaments

Nov 11, 9:30am
Filoli Center, Woodside
Workshop on making a metallic or white crepe paper acorn ornament using a real, blown-out chicken’s egg. $90 fee includes materials.

 

Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair: Fall Fair

Nov 18-19, 10am – 4pm
Central Park, Pasadena
Shop handcrafted goods from over 200 local artisans. Free admission.

  • Grab Bag of vendor swag for the first 25 people to check in at the information booth BOTH Saturday and Sunday.
  • RSVP “Going” on the Facebook Event for a chance to win a $20 gift card.
  • Dogs allowed.

 

The Fab Faux: Sgt. Pepper In Its Entirety

Nov 18, 8:00pm
The Wiltern, Los Angeles
Performance of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety to celebrate the album’s 50th Anniversary. The Fab Faux with The Hogshead Horns, The Creme Tangerine Strings, and Erin Hill. Ages 5+. Tickets $40-65. To skip service charges, buy tickets in person at the Hollywood Palladium box office Saturdays from 10am-2pm, except holiday weekends.

 

Sacred Families in Hindu Art

Dec 2, 1pm
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena 
Tour to explore museum pieces that depict divine Hindu families (Vishnu and Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati etc.) Included with admission.

 

A Pastel Drawing Workshop: Degas’s Tactility in Two and Three Dimensions

Dec 2, 11am
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
Workshop on pastel drawing based on Degas’s painting and sculpture. $35 fee includes museum admission and materials.
**Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

 

 

+Colorado

Jackalope Indie Artisan Fair: Winter Fair

Dec 9-10, 10am – 5pm
McNichols Building, Denver
Shop handcrafted goods by over 150 local artisans. Free admission. (Optional donation to Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies.)

  • Grab Bag of vendor swag for the first 25 people to check in at the information booth BOTH Saturday and Sunday.
  • RSVP “Going” on the Facebook Event for a chance to win a $20 gift card.

**3 Denver Sites Not to Miss

 

+Massachusetts

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Exhibitions

  • Now – Feb 25, 2018. The Andes Inverted: Immersive installation by Daniela Rivera with materials, images, and sounds gathered from Chile’s Chuquicamata copper mine.
  • Now – Sep 3, 2018. Mark Rothko: Reflection: Exhibition of 11 Rothko pieces on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. that show the continuity of the artist’s work within western artistic tradition.
  • Now – Jun 3, 2018. Black and White Japanese Modern Art: Display of a newly acquired, large-scale calligraphy by Inoue Yūichi, along with a selection of other monochrome avant-garde works from postwar Japan.

 

+New York

9th Annual Latke Festival

Dec 18, 6-9pm
Brooklyn Museum
Potato pancake tasting event to benefit The Sylvia Center, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching healthy eating habits to children and their families. $70 general admission ticket includes unlimited latke tastings, beer, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages.

 

Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead

Oct 28, 12-5pm
American Indian Museum Heye Center

Day of the Dead celebration with traditional dances performed by Cetiliztli Nauhcampa and craft activities like decorating skeleton puppets and making paper flowers. Free admission.

 

+Washington

Seattle Art Museum

**A short visit to Seattle.

 

Stinging Nettle Gather + Cordage-Making with Stephanie Wood

Nov 4-5, 10am-4pm
White Salmon Studio, White Salmon

Gather stinging nettles near Gifford Pinchot National Forest, while learning sustainable harvesting techniques. Then process the nettles into cordage or yarn. Tuition + materials $225.

+Washington D.C.

Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

Now – 2019
Natural History Museum

Understanding this unique tusked whale through traditional Inuit knowledge and scientific research.

 

A Concert for Tomorrow’s Ancestors

Nov 4, 3pm
Potomac Atrium (American Indian Museum)
Musical collaboration to bring together the Day of the Dead with Native American Heritage Month. Performance by Sones de México Ensemble of Mexican folk genres, including huapango, gustos, chilenas, and son jarocho. Free.

 

Workshop Wednesdays

First + third Wednesdays, 1:30pm
National Museum of African Art
Drop-in workshops highlighting different artistic processes. All skill levels and ages welcome. Free.

  • Nov 15. Looking for Contours: Countour lines in the Museum’s collection inspire your own work of art.

**Navigating the National Mall in Washington D.C.

 

INTERNATIONAL

+France

L’Orchestre de Paris fête ses 50 ans

Nov 1 + 2
Philharmonie de Paris, Paris

2 free public concerts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of l’Orchestre de Paris. The orchestra will perform works by Stravinsky, Debussy, and Berio, as well as a newer piece by Jörg Widmann.

 

Christkindelmärik (Christmas market)

Nov 24 – Dec 24
Strasbourg city center

Traditional holiday market started in 1570 with 300 stalls with vendors of handcrafted items, regional produce, and typical Alsatian Christmas decorations.

  • Demonstrations by craftspeople.
  • Local baked goods, beer, and wine, including mulled Alsace white wine for sale.
  • Sharing Village of charities and humanitarian organisations.
  • OFF market focused on responsible consumption.

+Italy

Venice Biennale

Now – Nov 26
Giardini and Arsenale, Venice
“Viva Arte Viva” – International exhibition of visual art, theater, architecture, music, dance, and film. Full regular tickets €25.

  • Now – Nov 26. PROPAGATION: Bees + Seeds, glassworks by artist Judi Harvest (part of the Beauty and the Beast exhibition) in Palazzo Tiepolo Passi. Free.

 

The Cinquecento

Now – Jan 21, 2018
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence
Exhibition of 16th century art in Florence with works of art by such artists as Michelangelo, Bronzino, Giorgio Vasari, Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo, Santi di Tito, Giambologna and Bartolomeo Ammannati. Combo ticket to the exhibition, Baptistery of St. John, and Opera del Duomo Museum: €8.

 

Artissima Fair 

Nov 3-5
The Oval, Torino
International Fair of Contemporary Art with emerging as well as established contemporary artists from nearly two hundred international galleries.

+UK

The Big Barbican Adventure

Now – Dec 31
Barbican Centre, London

Clue solving, drawing and games for families along the Barbican do-it-yourself adventure trail. Pick up a free trail kit for The Big Barbican Adventure from the Barbican Centre Information Desk on Level G. Allow at least one hour to complete the trail. Ages 6+. Free.




As always, if you go to anything on the list, let me know how it goes!

FYI, I try to make sure all this information is correct, but there could be errors or changes. Also, I don’t necessarily endorse (or know) every single thing about each event, the venue, or organizations connected with it. 

**Asterisks point to related Travelcraft Journal posts.


Massachusetts photo via Jessica Tennant.

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Travel Partner

Posted by on Oct 16, 2017 in Life, Travel | 8 comments

Fountain Hills

I was scanning Google Maps, planning for our Italy trip, when something piqued my interest that other people might think of as mundane. I mentioned it to Phillip.

Me: Did you know there’s a grocery store in Vatican City?

Him: We should totally go!

Me: That’s what I was gonna say!

***

Another day, researching tours for the Doge’s Palace in Venice, I started to tell Phillip about the options…

Me: Okay, this tour costs a little more, but you go through secret passages–

Him: Let’s do it!

***

I’ve traveled with a lot of people, but Phillip is definitely my favorite.

image

 




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DIY Día de los Muertos

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Decorating sugar skulls at CraftHack this time last year prompted me to learn more about Día de los Muertos and the handmade elements of this tradition.

“Day of the Dead, or Día de los muertos, is a time for commemorating the dead, celebrating with family— both living and dead—and appreciating the cycle of life and death.”

– National Museum of the American Indian

San Xavier shrine

When you lose someone you love, they don’t stop being part of your life. They remain in your heart and your memories. There’s something beautiful about recognizing and honoring this presence.

Día de los muertos ofrenda

La Ofrenda / Altar

One way to do this is by making a small altar (ofrenda) for the October 31 – November 2 celebration.

“Making a Day of the Dead Altar is about memories and traditions and the most important part is that you enjoy the process …  add [your] own special touches … add the four elements, water, wind, earth and fire in some way, the picture of your beloved one, food, flowers and candles.”

Elba Valverde

 

Marigold crown

The ofrenda can take many forms. Crafty Chica Kathy Cano-Murillo has even made them inside foam pumpkins!

Sugar skull from CraftHack

Calaveras / Skulls

“The calavera is an important symbol in Mexican culture, representing ancestors and the celebration of the continuity of life through generations.”

Kathy Cano-Murillo

 

Plaster paris skulls by Crafty Chica

Sugar skull project inspiration:

Colorful sugar skulls are probably the most iconic element in Day of the Dead celebrations, and they take many forms in art and craft.

2 Sugar skulls at CraftHack
Sugar skull project at CraftHack

Decorated candyFor CraftHack, Shanlyn made the candy skulls ahead of time in molds she had at home. Then we decorated them with frosting, sprinkles, and sanding sugar. The skulls she made were the mostly straight-up sugar kind, but some people make them from white chocolate instead.

Tip: You can also use sugar skull molds with plaster of Paris!

Embroidery pattern – Berene Campbell (Happy Sew Lucky) created this cute pattern with a sugar skull and scissors.

Sugar Skull printable via Live Colorful

Cupcake toppers – Free printable at Live Colorful!

Skull necklace by Vesna Taneva-Miller

Necklace – After Vesna Taneva-Miller visited Mexico City, she was inspired to create this Día de los Muertos necklace from a necklace chain, beads, and sari silk.

Tip: If you don’t have a skull bead on hand, you can make your own with polymer clay!

Skull coloring page

Coloring pages to print off or color online.

Day of the Dead planters

Day of the Dead Planters – Regina Lord painted terra cotta pots to look like sugar skulls and then planted succulents in them. The tutorial is at Creative Kismet.

 

A post shared by Berene (@happysewlucky) on

 

Quilt – Berene Campbell also made this awesome Sugar Skull Quilt using a variety of techniques (piecing, appliqué, reverse appliqué, stuffed hand appliqué, etc.)!

 

 

Papel picado at pasquals Santa fe

Papel Picado / Punched Paper

“Delicately decorated tissue paper represents wind and the fragility of life.”

– Karen Castillo Farfán

Papel picado

Colorful papel picado banners 3 ways:

1. Folded tissue paper method

Tip: Sketch your own design or use a printable template.

 

Papel picado by Live Colorful
2. Papel picado shortcut

 

Mini papel picado by Tikkido

3. Miniature papel picado

 

 

Marigolds

Flowers

“The ofrenda (the altar), traditionally includes the yellow marigolds (cempasuchitl) the sweet scent that leads the departed home toward their altar…”

– Vianney Rodriguez

Marigold crown

1. Marigold Crown

 

Paper flowers via Made Everyday

2. Paper (napkin) flowers

 

Mini tissue paper flowers by Tikkido

3. Mini Tissue Paper Flowers

 

Marigold margarita

4. Marigold Margarita

 

 

What traditions are meaningful to you as you remember your loved ones?


– More Día de los Muertos Projects + Resources –

 

Ofrenda




Photos via:

1 + 2. Me

La Ofrenda–
3. Elba Valverde
4. Kathy Cano-Murillo

Calaveras–
5, 7, 8. Me
6. Kathy Cano-Murillo
9 + 14. Berene Campbell
10. Elba Valverde
11. Vesna Taneva-Miller
12. Emily Mathews. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.
13. Regina Lord

Papel picado–
15. Me.
16. Crafty Lady Abby
17. Elba Valverde
18. Nikki Wills

Flowers–
19. Tom of View from Another Angle
20. Nicole Valentine Don
21. Dana Willard
22. Nikki Wills
23. Vianney Rodriguez
24. Reign Trading Company

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The Southwest’s Indigenous Food and Films

Posted by on Oct 9, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 2 comments

I don’t think I’ve shared this video of a cooking demonstration from Agave Heritage Festival in Tucson here yet.

It seemed fitting to post this on Indigenous People’s Day (which I’m glad is gaining traction over Columbus Day!), since the recipe includes several local ingredients originally used by the Native American tribes in this area.

Also, unrelated to the video, we went to an IPD screening of two documentaries by Diné (Navajo) filmmakers at the Heard Museum yesterday. Both films were really great!

Heard Museum

You may get a chance to see them too, since they’re traveling around on a Navajo Films Documentary Tour starting in November, and one of the films, The Mayors of Shiprock, will air on the World Channel November 6.

Heard Museum

If I can track down tour dates, I’ll put them on the next Happenings List.

 




 

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Italy: a 30,000-Foot View

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Past midnight, we are zipping through Rome in the back of a cab, street lights flying by, windows down. It has taken 4 flights to get us to this point, and, after all that time in planes and airport terminals, the outside air feels delicious.

Italy map

In about an hour, we will have checked into our hotel. We will sleep like logs (or maybe like a pair of felled Corinthian columns) our first night in Italy. And that will be even more delicious.

Roma Room

Over the next two weeks, Phillip and I would be traveling from Rome to Venice to the central Italian countryside to Florence and back to Rome. Here’s some of the stuff we were up to.

Colosseum

Rome I

Arrived by: plane – Delta + Ryanair | Lodging: Hotel Roma Room | Food / drinks: Hotel Roma Room + Lettrere Caffè + Locanda Del Gelato

Our first day in Rome, we took a Colosseum tour and visited the Forum and Palatine Hills archaelogical sites.

From there, we walked the length of the Circus Maximus into the Trastevere neighborhood, ate enough apertifs to equal dinner, and then were irresistibly drawn into the gleaming gelato shop across the street.

The next morning we were on a train to Venice.

Bridge of Sighs, Venice

Venice

Arrived by: train – Italo Treno | Lodging: Couzy House in Venice (Airbnb) | Food / drinks: Un Mondo DiVino + Gelato Di Natura (at San Giacomo dall’Orio)

From Venice’s Santa Lucia train station, we lugged our rolling suitcases over stairs and bridges and bridges with stairs to get to the quiet street where our Airbnb apartment was.

Venice bridges

We had timed our visit so we could see both the annual Regata Storica gondola parade and race AND the  premiere of the opera “L’Occasione fa il ladro” at Teatro La Fenice.

Of course, we saw some of the city’s more permanent sights, as well.

Doge's Palace, Venice

At the Doge’s Palace, we wound our way through the ornate apartments, stuffy prison cells, and across the Bridge of Sighs. Afterwards, we went to the Basilica San Marco, craning our necks to marvel at the detail of its ceilings covered in gold mosaics.

Venice Grand Canal

We rode a water bus down the Grand Canal but mostly did a lot of walking and got lost so, so many times.

When we were just starting to maybe get the slightest grasp on getting around, it was time to retrace our path back over stepped bridges towards the edge of Venice – and into a car rental office.

 

Le Marche

Getting there: car rental – Auto Europe | Lodging: La Tavola Marche | Food / drinks: La Tavola Marche + Crazy Bar

Pears in wine

We were already behind schedule when we picked up our cute two-seater Smart car and began the (supposedly) 4-hour drive toward our next stop in the countryside of the Le Marche region.

Of course, it took us longer.

Le Marche

Winding through mountain roads well after dark, we finally arrived at La Tavola Marche, the inn/cooking school/agriturismo where we’d be staying. It’s run by a pair of American expats, chef Jason and marketing-genius Ashley, who have spent the last 10 years immersing themselves in the local culture and cuisine.

The “agriturismo” classification means all the food they serve must come from their own property or the local area. So they have fruit trees, chickens, and a big vegetable garden. We got to check it out the next afternoon, picking tomatoes for our cooking class.

Our last full day there we hiked a bit, and then got to sit back and enjoy a five-course dinner Chef Jason prepared just for two other guests, Phillip, and I.

Piobicco

At checkout time, we packed up our rental car, stopped briefly in the nearby town of Piobocco for postcards and an espresso, and then drove on to Florence.

 

Il Duomo, Florence

Florence

Getting there: car rental – Auto Europe | Lodging: Hotel Ferretti | Food / drinks: Gelateria Vivoli + cafeteria in the Uffizi

Arriving in the city to a tangle of traffic, we were glad to leave our rental car behind and head to the Hotel Ferretti, walking distance from all the sights we were planning to cram into our single-night stay.

We visited the Piazza del Duomo, the Uffizi Gallery, and (lesser-known) Vivoli, a gelateria that’s a contender for having the world’s best gelato.

We were also a short walk from the train station, where Italo Treno would take us back to Rome.

St. Peters ceiling

Rome II

Getting there: Italo Treno | Lodging: Mallory’s Guest House (Airbnb) | Food / drinks: Trattoria Sora Lella

Rome window

This time, we stayed in an apartment building built by our Airbnb host’s great grandfather. It was a lovely place to hang out when we stayed in to rest one rainy morning.

The day before we had wandered through the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We managed to make into the Vatican Post Office before closing time, so Phillip could check out the stamps.

At some point, we crossed the invisible borderline from Vatican City back into Italy. Instead of going straight to the Metro, we opted to walk by Castel Sant’Angelo (Hadrian’s Tomb) and hop on at the Spanish Steps.

Tiber River in Rome

Our final evening in Rome, we went to dinner on an island in the Tiber River. A couple different locals had recommended Trattoria Sora Lella for authentically Roman food, so we got the tasting menu and savored every forkful.

The next morning we were back in a cab, zipping through city streets on a circuitous route to the airport, grateful for our time in Italy.




We received media passes from Teatro La Fenice and Italo Treno. 

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Museum Day in the Garden

Posted by on Oct 2, 2017 in Travel | 1 comment

Last Saturday was Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day. The weather was too good to be inside, but they count the Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) as a museum, so we took advantage of the free admission and spent the afternoon walking garden paths.

I guess a botanical garden is kind of like an outdoor museum with living plants and animals.

We saw a hummingbird and bees buzzing around the Garden’s flowers and a big lizard was just hanging out on a rock next to the bench where I was sitting.

Since the DBG no longer allows picnicking, we ate our lunch at a nearby picnic area in Papago Park and were entertained by ground squirrels scurrying around and birds attempting to carry off pieces of a pizza someone had left behind.

Maybe they’re the reason DBG banned picnicking. You really don’t want grackles flying through your museum and dropping half-eaten pizza slices.




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Around the Baggage Carousel

Posted by on Sep 25, 2017 in Travel | 11 comments

Airport

We definitely thought we’d sleep on the overnight flight from L.A. to Paris.

Flight

But we were mistaken.

Instead, we arrived at Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport in an exceptionally groggy state with an hour to get through the passport line, collect and re-check our baggage, and catch our connecting flight.

Air France plane

But we were misinformed.

Our bags wouldn’t be coming down the luggage conveyor we were watching so intently. By the time we realized they were booked through and already on the plane for Madrid, we almost didn’t make the flight, arriving breathless at the gate as final boarding calls were announced.

Paris airport shuttle

The plane took off, and we could see the Seine below us through breaks in the clouds.

Seine from the plane

A couple hours later in Madrid, we found ourselves once again staring down a baggage carousel, so we could switch airlines for our last flight.

Plane

It was around 11pm when that flight landed in Rome, and we went – one more time – to wait for our bags.

Baggage claim

And that is how you tour three European capitals’ baggage claim areas in one day.

Madrid airport: buen viaje




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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A Hike in Le Marche

Posted by on Sep 18, 2017 in Travel | 5 comments

Le Marche countryside

At about the halfway point in our Italy trip, we took a break from museums and city streets and headed to the country.

Le Marche Road

We went to Le Marche, a region east of Tuscany that stretches to the Adriatic Sea.

hike in Le Marche - berries

Le Marche Hillside

One morning, we hiked up a hillside to some ruins of a city that had been abandoned there hundreds of years ago.

Le Marche Ruins

Le Marche Ruins

Coming over one ridge, we spotted a pair of horses grazing. One had a bell around its neck (like a cowbell – apparently it keeps porcupines away).

They seemed as curious about us as we were about them, both parties making our way cautiously toward each other bit by bit.

image

We stared at each other awhile until, finally, Phillip and I turned to scramble up the next hill to see the crumbling stone houses there. The horses continued to mosey down their path.

Le Marche Hike




 

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Itineraries Meet Reality

Posted by on Aug 31, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

We had to cut David.

I know! I know! I know.

Uffizi by Petar Milošević. • CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Past Me (i.e. me several months ago, before we got into the trip planning nitty gritty) would be saying the same thing you are right now. “You’re not going to see David?!! You’re going all the way to Italy, all the way to Florence, you’re probably going to walk by the building that Michelangelo’s most famous statue is inside of – but not go in?!!

I KNOW.

Michelangelo

It’s not that I’m not interested in art. Or Renaissance art specifically. (I am.) It’s not that I don’t want to see it. (I do.)

The thing is this: You don’t just pop in to see The David. The sculpture is housed in La Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, along with small collections of other artwork and molds and models for sculptures. I’d actually be interested in seeing all that.

David selfie

But David is a very popular guy. To the point that, getting inside l’Accademia usually means either (a) waiting in line for a couple hours to buy a ticket on-site or (b) buying a timed ticket online that allows you to skip the line that you cannot make changes to once purchased. You pick the time, buy the ticket, and then it’s set. No changes. No refunds. No mercy.

It’s the same deal at the Uffizi Gallery, which is a large musuem full of some of the most important art of the Renaissance (just not David). Either wait in line or be tied to a time.

Uffizi © Samuli Lintula / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

We had considered doing both during our morning in Florence. And in a guidebook-itinerary perfect world, that’s totally possible. But, in reality, it became clear that attempting to do both in one morning was not a good plan for us.

So that meant choosing between l’Accademia (David) or Uffizi (tons of art). You might’ve made a different choice. Or might’ve been willing to rush around and cram both in. Or maybe you’re not that into art and would’ve skipped both.

Florence Duomo by Petar Milošević • CC BY-SA 4.0

The point is there’s the trip you would plan in a vacuum, based solely on your interests and preferences. And then there’s the real-world itinerary (both planned and unplanned) that is limited by time and money and energy and weather and who you are traveling with and when things are open and whether your feet hurt and what else is happening in the town/the world/your life that day.

In the real world, you make trade-offs, try to be flexible, and do your best to enjoy the story as it unfolds.




Photo credits:

1+5 Petar Milošević • CC BY-SA 4.0

2 Me

La Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze

4 © Samuli Lintula / Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

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Virtually Visit Italy

Posted by on Aug 28, 2017 in Travel | 5 comments

If you can’t take a plane to Italy, there are still ways to see the sights from where you are.

Florence Duomo by Petar Milošević • CC BY-SA 4.0

If you can’t take a plane to Italy, there are still ways to see the sights from where you are.

Museums and monuments sometimes have “virtual tours” that allow you to see 3D views of a place and (usually) click to navigate through it – like Google Street View but inside.

A group of Russian photographers has taken incredible 360-degree photographs around the world. You can probably get lost in their site, AirPano, for days. I’ve linked to some of the AirPano pages for Italian cities (below).

Skyline Webcams allows you to search for live camera feeds of public places by country or category (city views, landscapes, etc.) I’ve included a few live cams from Italy in the lists below, but there are lots more on their site.

 

David selfie

Florence

Milan

 

Galleria Umberto, Naples

Naples and Pompeii

Pisa

 

Vatican

Rome and the Vatican

 

regata storica venice http://www.regatastoricavenezia.it/mg.php?fg=2016&pg=2&lang=it

Venice

Where would you like to “travel” to without leaving home?

Happy virtual trails!


*Not mobile friendly.


 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space




Photo credits —

  1. Florence (Duomo): Petar Milošević • CC BY-SA 4.0
  2. Florence (David): La Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze
  3. Naples: Italy Guides
  4. Rome: Vatican City State
  5. Venice: Regata Storica
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Happenings List: Fall 2017

Posted by on Aug 24, 2017 in Happenings List | 0 comments

The Happenings List is made up of things I would do if I could do everything and be everywhere.

This edition includes September and October events in Italy, Spain, the UK, and the U.S. – specifically, Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington (state), and Washington D.C. If you are able to go to something on the list, please tell me about it!

Look for the asterisks (**) to read more about a place or event on Travelcraft Journal.

MOCA

+Arizona

Phoenix Art Museum

Wall Draw

Now – Sep 29, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 10am to 5pm
Beasley Art Gallery, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff
Annual community show that allows you to draw on the gallery’s walls.

Virginia Overton exhibition

Now – Oct 1
MOCA, Tucson
Site-specific installation by Virginia Overton in response to the Neo-Brutalist space of MOCA’s Great Hall.

Astronomy Nights

Sep 1, Oct 6, Nov 3, Dec 1 every 30 minutes from 6-10pm
Mesa Community College, Mesa

Monthly Planetarium shows open to the public the first Friday of the month during the Fall semester. Free admission (first come, first served).

Operacon Extravaganza

Sep 7, 7pm
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson
Explore how opera is created with live performances, theatrical make-up demonstrations, and Q+A sessions with Arizona Opera. Free.
**Arizona Opera’s World Premiere Riders of the Purple Sage.

Arizona Restaurant Week

Sep 15-24
Central and Southern Arizona
Restaurants throughout the state offer prix-fixe dinners for $33 or $44 per person.

Rock Art of Spur Cross

Sep 16, 8am
Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area, Cave Creek
Moderate two-hour hike to visit petroglyphs created by the Hohokam people hundreds of years ago. $3 entry.

Ballet Under the Stars

7pm. Outdoor performances by Ballet Arizona. Free.

  • Sep 21. Beardsley Park, Sun City West.
  • Sep 22. Fountain Park, Fountain Hills.
  • Sep 23. Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix.
  • Sep 28. Tempe Center for the Arts Amphitheater, Tempe.
  • Sep 30. Estrella Lakeside Amphitheater, Goodyear.

The Story of Opera in Wine

A talk on opera’s history is paired with a tastings of European wines. Part of Arizona Opera’s OperaCon. Tickets $20. Registration required.

Lake Pleasant

National Public Lands Day Lake Pleasant Clean Up

Sep 30, 7am
Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria

Volunteers are wanted to clean up trash in the park. Free full-day park entry for people who sign up online and help from 7am to 11am. Check in the morning of the event at the main contact station of Lake Pleasant Regional Park.

Pinners Conference + Expo

Oct 6-7
WestWorld, Scottsdale
Craft, home, food, beauty, entertaining, wellness, and photography classes and over 200 exhibitors. One-day tickets $8-29, not including class kit fees.

Film: Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast with Score by Philip Glass

Oct 11, 7pm
Tucson
Screening of Jean Cocteau’s classic film La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) with an updated soundtrack by Philip Glass. Part of Arizona Opera’s OperaCon. Tickets $5.

Arizona Taco Festival

Oct 14-15
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale

Festival with about 50 restaurants serving $2 tacos, lucha libre wrestling, live music, tequila and margarita expos, and chihuahua beauty pageant. 1-day tickets $12.

  • Oct 14, 12-5pm. Tequila Expo: Up to 10 samples of fine tequila from a selection of over 100. Tickets $20 + festival admission.
  • Oct 15, 12-5pm. Margarita Tent: Showdown between local bars and up to 10 cocktail samples. Tickets $20 + festival admission.
  • Oct 15, 2:30pm. Chihuahua Beauty Pageant: Participant  application fee ($15-25) supports the Arizona Chihuahua Rescue.

**Pizza Festival.

 

Fall Festival + Antique Show

Oct 14-15
Pine-Strawberry Community Center, Pine

Local apples, antique show, book signings by local authors, and chili cookoff. Free entry + $5 to taste/judge.

Raptor Free Flight!

Oct 21, 2017 – March 2018
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson
Watch hawks, falcons, and owls fly completely untethered in the open desert, while a narrator explains the characteristics of each species. Two presentations daily (at 10am and 2pm) with different birds of prey native to the Sonoran Desert region each time. Included with admission.

Día de los Muertos Festival

Oct 28-29
Mesa Arts Center, Mesa
Food, market, live entertainment, and handmade altar contest. Free admission.

Camelback Studio Tour and Art Sale

Nov 3-5
Scottsdale
Visit artists’ studios, see artists at work, and purchase art. Free admission.

Tucson Comic-Con 2017

Nov 3-5
Tucson Convention Center
Community-based pop culture convention with a mission statement of “Pop Culture For All!” Full weekend passes $30.

Hidden In The Hills Studio Tour and Sale

Nov 17-19, 24-26
Cave Creek, Arizona

Self-guided tour of open artist studios in the Cave Creek and Scottsdale area with demonstrations and art for sale. Free admission.

ARTrageous Benefit Ansel Adams: America

Dec 2, 8:30pm
Virginia G. Piper Theater, Scottsdale
Gala to Benefit Scottsdale Arts Education + Outreach featuring Ansel Adams photography set to music. A full orchestra will perform a commissioned symphonic work by Dave Brubeck and his son Chris Brubeck. Concert + after-party tickets $75.

trailer-airbnb-ca-1

+California

Sculpture Is: 2017 “In the Garden”

Now – Oct 31
Sierra Azul Nursery and Gardens, Watsonville

Eleventh annual Pajaro Valley Arts (PVA) sculpture exhibition in the two-acre Sierra Azul Nursery demonstration gardens.
**Trailer or Tipi camping about 20 minutes from Watsonville (#2).

60th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival

September 15 – 17
Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey

The longest-running jazz festival in the world, celebrating the legacy of jazz with performances and educational programs. Tickets: Full weekend $145-410, Single day $45-164. Daily parking $15-40

Play!

Sep 16 – Dec 30
Palo Alto Art Center, Palo Alto
Group exhibition of artists who believe in the importance of play and make it part of their work.

  • Opening celebration: Sep 15
  • Includes work by Robert Xavier Burden, who creates intricate designs centered around toys.

The Fab Faux: Sgt. Pepper In Its Entirety

Nov 18, 8:00pm
The Wiltern, Los Angeles
Performance of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety to celebrate the album’s 50th Anniversary. The Fab Faux with The Hogshead Horns, The Creme Tangerine Strings, and Erin Hill. Ages 5+. Tickets $40-65. To skip service charges, buy tickets in person at the Hollywood Palladium box office Saturdays from 10am-2pm, except holiday weekends.

pond with water lilies

+Colorado

Calder Monumental

Now – Sep 24
Denver Botanic Gardens

Large metal sculptures by artist Alexander Calder placed throughout the gardens. Included with admission.
**Denver Botanic Gardens.

Pastels on 5th

Sep 9, 10am
Downtown Loveland

Sidewalk chalk art festival and fundraiser for Alternatives to Violence (ATV) victim services.

Silversmithing

Sep 12 – 26, Tuesdays, 5:30pm
Center for the Arts, Crested Butte
Create a set of five stackable sterling silver rings with different metal textures. In the process, learn soldering, annealing, chasing and polishing, as well as how to safely  handle a jeweler’s tools. $85 + $45 Supply Fee. Includes take-home resource and instruction packet.

+Massachusetts

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Exhibitions

  • Now – Feb 25, 2018. The Andes Inverted: Immersive installation by Daniela Rivera with materials, images, and sounds gathered from Chile’s Chuquicamata copper mine.
  • Sep 24, 2017 – Sep 3, 2018. Mark Rothko: Reflection: Exhibition of 11 Rothko pieces on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. that show the continuity of the artist’s work within western artistic tradition.
  • Sep 30, 2017 – Jun 3, 2018. Black and White Japanese Modern Art: Display of a newly acquired, large-scale calligraphy by Inoue Yūichi, along with a selection of other monochrome avant-garde works from postwar Japan.

The Salem Flea

Sep 17, 10am
Derby Square, Salem

Juried selection of vendors of vintage furniture and clothing, antiques, and architectural salvage, as well as a handmade goods by local artisans.
**A Weekend in Salem.

+New York

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Arts + Crafts Ideals in Buffalo

Edmund B. Hayes Hall, University at Buffalo
Buffalo is celebrating the 150th birthday of Frank Lloyd Wright and the region’s role in the American Arts + Crafts movement.

Kimchi

Sep 10, 11am
Q.E.D., Astoria
Course on making kimchi, its health benefits, and the science behind fermentation. Fee $45.

 

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

+Pennsylvania

Festival O17

Sep 14-25
Philadelphia
25 performances of new and classic operas at multiple venues across Philadelphia.

  • Sep 16-24. We Shall Not Be Moved: World Premiere chamber opera with classical, R&B and jazz singing, spoken word, contemporary movement, and video projection. Tickets $50-100.
  • Sep 23, 7pm. Opera on the Mall: Screening of an opera broadcast at Independence National Historical Park. Free.

Apple Butter Frolic

Oct 7, 10:30am
Mennonite Heritage Center, Harleysville

Autumn festival with Mennonite folk craft and farming demonstrations, wagon rides, and Pennsylvania Dutch (German) food – like scrapple, ground cherry pie, and a large caldron of apple butter! Proceeds help support the Mennonite Heritage Center.

Monticello

+Virginia

Monticello

  • Now – Oct 27, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. Harvest Tasting Tour: One-hour tour of Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden with a tasting of seasonal produce from the garden. Monticello Day Pass required + $15 ticket.
  • Sep 9. 2017 Heritage Harvest Festival: Celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s agricultural and epicurean legacy.
  • Sep 30, 9:15am. Get to Know Your Trails: Monticello Trail Ranger-lead walk along a woodland path to learn about the trail’s history. Tickets $18.

**Monticello.

SAM - Seattle Art Museum

+Washington

Seattle Art Museum

**A short visit to Seattle.
National Mall, Washington DC

+Washington D.C.

Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend

Now – 2019
Natural History Museum

Understanding this unique tusked whale through traditional Inuit knowledge and scientific research.

Workshop Wednesdays

First + third Wednesdays, 1:30pm
National Museum of African Art
Drop-in workshops highlighting different artistic processes. All skill levels and ages welcome. Free.

  • Sep 6. Bead Making: Create and string paper beads.
  • Sep 20. The Big Draw: Introduction to African art and drawing fundamentals, followed by guided tour through African Mosaic exhibition and sketching. All materials provided. Registration required.

**Navigating the National Mall in Washington D.C.

regata storica venice http://www.regatastoricavenezia.it/mg.php?fg=2016&pg=2&lang=it

INTERNATIONAL

+Italy

Sere d’Arte a Castel Sant’Angelo

Now – Sep 14
Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome

Art, music and theater at the second-century Mausoleum of Hadrian (the tomb-turned-castle-turned-museum). Tickets €14. Includes admission to Castel Sant’Angelo and Palazzo Venezia.

  • Sep 2, 9pm. Sonia Bergamasco reads “Ritratto di donna” (Portrait Of A Woman)
    by Nobel Prize in Literature winner Wislawa Szymborska.
  • Sep 7, 9pm. Two for You: jazz covers by Max Ionata and Dado Moroni.
  • Sep 14, 9pm. “La valigia di Ravel” by Fabrizio Sinisi, with Sandro Lombardi and the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino orchestra.
  • Sep 14, 11pm. Live concert with Dewey Dell.

Venice Biennale

Now – Nov 26
Giardini and Arsenale, Venice
“Viva Arte Viva” – International exhibition of visual art, theater, architecture, music, dance, and film. Full regular tickets €25.

  • Aug 30 – Sep 9. Venice International Film Festival.
  • Sep 29 – Oct 8. International Festival of Contemporary Music.

Regata Storica 2017

Aug 30, Sep 3
Canal Grande, Venice
Centuries-old parade of gondolas and other traditional boats, as well as the most important races of Venice’s rowing season.

  • Aug 30: Presentation of the teams and blessing of the gondolini.
  • Sep 3, 4pm: Historic boat parade on the Grand Canal, followed by races.

Venice Glass Week

A celebration of the city’s tradition of glass artisans.

**Teatro La Fenice.

 

Mushroom Festival: Festa Del Fungo

Sep 23 – Oct 1
Piazza della Libertà, San Sisto di Piandimeleto

50th Edition Regional Mushroom Show.

Artissima Fair 

Nov 3-5
The Oval, Torino
International Fair of Contemporary Art with emerging as well as established contemporary artists from nearly two hundred international galleries.

Real alcazar de sevilla

+Spain

Noches en los Jardines del Real Alcázar

Now – Sep 9, 10:30pm
Real Alcázar, Sevilla
Nightly (Monday – Saturday) concerts in the gardens of a historic palace, including flamenco, classical, and world music. Doors open at 9pm, so you can explore the gardens before the concert. Beverages available for purchase. Ages 8+. Tickets €6.

+UK

The Big Barbican Adventure

Now – Dec 31
Barbican Centre, London

Clue solving, drawing and games for families along the Barbican do-it-yourself adventure trail. Pick up a free trail kit for The Big Barbican Adventure from the Barbican Centre Information Desk on Level G. Allow at least one hour to complete the trail. Ages 6+. Free.




While I’ve done my best to be accurate, sometimes things change or weren’t listed correctly in the first place. Also, I choose events that seem fun, unique, and like something you’d be interested in, but your mileage may vary. I may not endorse everything connected with a particular event, organization, venue, etc. So consider this your starting point, double check the details, and then venture forth!


Italy photo via Regata Storica.

Spain Real Alcázar photo via Noches en los jardines del Real Alcázar.

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Crafts You Carry

Posted by on Aug 21, 2017 in Craft | 6 comments

Watercolor

Anytime you see me, there’s a good chance I have my watercolor kit with me. It’s also not unusual to have a roll or two of washi tape in my bag and/or a few ultra fine tip Sharpies. Maybe a partly finished scrapbook. You never know when you might need to craft on a moment’s notice!

travel-scrapbook

My friend Anne always has knitting with her. It has its own little bag. If she has to wait for someone or is in a conference session, she’s working on a scarf or a sweater or hat. Unlike my watercolors, she can knit without looking at her project much, so it’s particularly good for things like sitting in Phoenix Comicon panels.

paper-bag-scrapbook-supplies-ed

Do you carry craft supplies or projects with you? What’s in your bag?




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Make a Plan to See Smithsonian Museums in D.C.

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

Smithsonian visitor center castle

If you’re traveling to Washington D.C. for the first time and your list of things to do includes “see the Smithsonian,” you might be in for a surprise.

The Smithsonian Institution is not a single sight you can check off in an afternoon. It’s a collection of 19 different museums of varying sizes, research centers, gardens, galleries, and a zoo. There’s just way too much stuff to see it all in one trip, let alone a day.

In fact, a couple of the museums aren’t even in D.C., they’re in New York. A few more are scattered throughout the D.C. metro area. However, most of them (13 or so) are clustered right around the National Mall.

I’m calling them the “Mall Smithsonians” for short.

National Mall

In the coming weeks, Phillip will be sharing what it was like inside the Mall Smithsonians he was able to visit during our short D.C. trip – specifically, the American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, and café of the Native American Museum.

But, first, I wanted to give you some practical information about how to tackle the Mall Smithsonians.

Depending on how much time you have, you’ll probably want to pick 1-3 museums and prioritize the parts of each you want to see most. Choosing what you’re interested in is the easy part, though. Figuring out how to get there, when you can go, and where you can eat or find wifi or store your stuff gets a bit more confusing.

So here are some tips to help you make the most of these Mall museums.


DC

6 Things to Know about the Mall Smithsonians

1. Admission is free.

Donations are, of course, accepted and appreciated.

Since you’re not tied to paying a daily entrance fee, you can be more flexible in how you experience the museums.

You don’t have to spend the whole day in one museum…

  • If you’re short on time, stop in for an hour or two. Or just long enough to see whatever you were dying to see before leaving town.
  • If you’re tied up during the day (with business, a conference, or other obligations), check the hours. You may be able to do an evening visit.
  • Go museum hopping, seeing just the exhibits you’re most interested in at each.

You don’t have to see it all in one day…

  • Take your time checking out a museum you’re particularly interested in. Come back the next day if there’s more you want to see.
  • Instead of one long day, break a visit up into two weekday afternoons or weekend mornings, when crowds are typically lighter.
  • Leave when your (or your kid/s, travel companion/s, etc.) energy begins to wane, knowing you can pick up where you left off after a nap, a change in activity, or another day.

There are a few activities that do require free or paid tickets (like the IMAX theaters), but these are the exception rather than the rule.

Smithsonian visitor center castle

2. They’re open daily.

Mall Smithsonians are typically open every day, unless it’s Christmas (December 25) or if they’re closed for renovation.

  • Most have opening hours from 10am to 5:30pm (exceptions below).
  • In addition, some have extended hours on certain days or close early for special events. Double check the Smithsonian Special Hours Calendar to see what’s up before you go.

3. Large bags are not recommended.

  • Some museums (noted below) have storage lockers available for smallish items (like maybe under-your-airplane-seat sized bags).
  • For larger luggage, ask if you can leave it where you are/were staying (most hotels and Airbnbs will allow guests to store luggage before check in or after check out).
  • Otherwise, your best bet is the Tiburon Lockers Baggage Check Counter at Union Station, Gate A ($6/hour). (From there, you can take the DC Circulator to the Mall.)

4. You’ll need to go through security as you enter.

  • Bags will be checked either by hand or X-ray machine, even if you’re planning to store them in a locker.
  • During peak times, this can cause lines, especially at the Air and Space Museum. So, even though you don’t have to pay admission, you may have to wait to get in.

DC Museum cafe

5. Many of the museums have a café or food court.

  • You can also bring your own food for a picnic on the Mall’s lawn or in the Portrait Gallery’s courtyard.
  • As long as everything is sealed up well, you can carry food and water with you in your bag or store it in a locker.
  • Map of food vendors on the National Mall – with menus. Or check the list below.

6. Parking: don’t count on it.

  • None of the Mall Smithsonians have their own designated parking.
  • The Smithsonian Parking Map (PDF) lists other local lots.
  • Consider alternative transportation, like the DC Circulator (which stops near all the Mall-area Smithsonians) or the Metrorail (which has a stop – literally called “Smithsonian” – that exits onto the Mall itself in the middle of a bunch of museums.)

With this in mind, driving (and attempting to park) in the area may be more trouble than it’s worth – unless you need a place to stash your oversized luggage (see #3).

 

Air and Space Museum

Museum by Museum Guide

Here are the Smithsonian museums located around the National Mall listed geographically, roughly west to east – from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol Building (Smithsonian National Mall Map PDF).

I’ve gathered information about each to help you with planning:

  • Nearest Metrorail stop/s and where to exit*
  • Nearest Capital Bikeshare rental station/s and station number/s*
  • Hours (if different than 10am to 5:30pm)
  • Important things to note (closed to the public, requires a timed ticket, etc.)
  • If there are cafés (or food courts, carts, kiosks, etc.), wifi, storage lockers, and/or bike racks on site.
  • Other features (garden, planetarium, etc.)

*More info in our post on transportation tips for the National Mall!
Washington DC

On the Mall –

National Museum of African American History and Culture

1400 Constitution Avenue, NW

  • Metro: Federal Triangle or Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: 15th St & Constitution Ave NW, Bike station 31321
  • Requires timed ticket.
  • Café

National Museum of American History

1300 Constitution Avenue, NW

  • Metro: Federal Triangle or Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: 10th St & Constitution Ave NW, Bike station 31219 or Smithsonian-National Mall / Jefferson Dr & 12th St SW, Bike station 31248
  • Cafés on lower level and 1st floor
  • Wifi in Welcome Center and cafés (free)
  • Lockers available
  • Bike racks outside

National Museum of Natural History

10th St. and Constitution Ave., NW

  • Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: 10th St & Constitution Ave NW, Bike station 31219 or Smithsonian-National Mall / Jefferson Dr & 12th St SW, Bike station 31248
  • Butterfly Pavilion – tickets $6. Free admission on Tuesdays with timed ticket.
  • IMAX Theatre – tickets required (about $9-15/adult).
  • Cafés on ground level, food carts outside
  • Lockers available
  • Bike racks outside (Constitution Avenue entrance)

Freer Gallery of Art (Asian art)

Jefferson Dr. and 12th St., SW

  • Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: USDA / 12th & Independence Ave SW, Bike station 31217 or Smithsonian-National Mall / Jefferson Dr & 12th St SW, Bike station 31248
  • Closed to the public until October 14, 2017.
  • Lockers available

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Asian art)

1050 Independence Ave., SW

  • Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: Independence Ave & L’Enfant Plaza SW/DOE, Bike station 31633
  • Closed to the public until October 14, 2017.

National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Ave., SW

  • Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: Independence Ave & L’Enfant Plaza SW/DOE, Bike station 31633
  • Lockers available
  • Bike racks outside (between African Art Museum and Sacker Gallery, outside Haupt Garden gates on Independence Avenue)

Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle)

1000 Jefferson Dr., SW

  • Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)
  • Bikeshare: Independence Ave & L’Enfant Plaza SW/DOE, Bike station 31633 or Smithsonian-National Mall / Jefferson Dr & 12th St SW, Bike station 31248
  • Smithsonian Visitor Center
  • Daily hours: 8:30am – 5:30pm. It opens earlier than the other museums, so you can start there and get oriented.
  • Café, food carts outside seasonally
  • Wifi (free)
  • Bike racks outside

Hirshhorn Museum (international modern and contemporary art)

Independence Ave. and 7th St., SW

  • Metro: L’Enfant Plaza (Maryland Ave. exit)
  • Bikeshare: L’Enfant Plaza / 7th & C St SW, Bike station 31218 or Independence Ave & L’Enfant Plaza SW/DOE, Bike station 31633
  • Sculpture Garden – open 7:30 a.m. to dusk
  • Café (dessert and coffee)
  • Wifi (free)
  • Lockers available
  • Bike racks outside

National Air and Space Museum

Independence Ave. and 6th St., SW

  • Metro: L’Enfant Plaza (Maryland Ave. exit)
  • Bikeshare: Maryland & Independence Ave SW, Bike station 31243
  • Open until 7:30pm on select dates.
  • Entrances on Independence Avenue and the Mall/Jefferson Avenue. If lines are long at one entrance, try the other.
  • IMAX Theatre – tickets required (about $9-15/adult).
  • Planetarium – tickets required (some shows are free, others may be about $9/adult).
  • Observatory
  • Food Court (First Floor-East Wing), food carts outside
  • Bike racks outside
  • Wifi (free)

National Museum of the American Indian

4th St. & Jefferson Dr., SW

  • Metro: L’Enfant Plaza (Maryland Ave. exit)
  • Bikeshare: Maryland & Independence Ave SW, Bike station 31243
  • Café, espresso bar
  • Wifi (free)
  • Bike racks outside

 

Walking in DC - treasury

Near the Mall –

Renwick Gallery (contemporary craft and decorative art)

1700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

  • Metro: Farragut West or Farragut North
  • Bikeshare: 17th & G St NW, Bike station 31277
  • Barrier-free access at 17th Street entrance.

Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery

8th and F Sts., NW

  • Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown (9th St. exit)
  • Bikeshare: 7th & F St NW/Portrait Gallery, Bike station 31232
  • Both museums are inside the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.
  • Daily hours: 11:30am – 7pm
  • Kogod Courtyard – bag lunches allowed.
  • Café
  • Wifi (free)
  • Lockers and self-check coat room (near the F Street Lobby) available

National Postal Museum

2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE

  • Metro: Union Station (Mass. Ave. exit)
  • Bikeshare: North Capitol St & F St NW, Bike station 31624
  • Lockers available
  • Bike racks outside

National Mall, Washington DC


Have anything to add? Did you use this on a trip to D.C.? Leave a comment and share your experience!

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Standing Against Hate in Charlottesville

Posted by on Aug 14, 2017 in Travel | 3 comments

“We are deeply saddened by the violence in Charlottesville and the ongoing events that continue to threaten our community. We stand against all forms of hatred, racism and bigotry.”

– Leslie Greene Bowman, President and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello on the August 11 + 12 events in Charlottesville

 

Charlottesville

Author Sara Benincasa has collected a list of local non-profits for those wondering What to Do About Charlottesville and how they can help.

How can we fight ugliness and hate – except with love and beauty?

 




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

 

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National Mall Transportation Tips

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Lincoln memorial

The National Mall in Washington D.C. is bigger and more spread out than many first-time visitors expect.

While seeing the sights usually means a lot of walking, you may want to switch it up at some point. Here are a few other transportation options.

 

DC traffic and Washington Monument

Car

Traffic often gets very congested as you get close to the Mall. However, it can be an even bigger challenge to find parking once you get there.

  • Sights around the Mall tend not to have designated parking.
  • You may be able to find street parking, but it’s tricky.
  • There are several parking garages in the area with varying rates.

Car + Metro

  • To avoid the traffic, leave your car at your hotel and take the Metro in.
  • You can also park in Metro lots for about $5/day and pay with your SmarTrip Card.
  • Metro lots are free on weekends and federal holidays!

If you’re still in the trip planning stage, be aware that many of the hotels closer to the Mall charge guests for parking.

DC Metro

Metrorail

Washington D.C.’s Metro (subway/underground) system is a really convenient way to get to and from the National Mall.

Smartrip fare machines dc

Bus

DC Circulator

  • The National Mall route goes from the Lincoln Memorial to Union Station, then around the other side of the Mall and Tidal Basin, back to the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Route maps are available online, as a printable PDF, or via mail. There’s also an interactive map for finding the stop closest to you.
  • Frequency: Every 10 minutes from 7am to 8pm (9am start time on weekends).
  • Fare: $1 per ride. Pay with cash or a SmarTrip Card.
  • Order in advance for a 1-day pass ($3) or 3-day pass ($7).
  • Not a guided tour, just a (cheap) transportation option – although it might be a good way to get at least a visual overview of the Mall.

Big Bus Tours

  • Commentary via recording or live tour guide.
  • 3 different hop-on/hop-off routes available.
  • Tickets: $39-49 for 1 day.
  • Wifi on board.
  • Sightseeing bus recommended by Destination DC.

National mall dc pano

Bicycle

There are bike racks throughout the Mall to lock up your bike while you visit a museum, monument, or gallery.

Rental

You can rent a bike for short rides via Capital Bikeshare.


 

Have you been to D.C.? How did you get around?

National mall sign

– Resources for Finding Your Way in D.C. –

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Teatro La Fenice in Venezia (Venice)

Posted by on Aug 3, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Teatro La Fenice

The Phoenix

For a place that’s been called “a city of stone built on the water,” Venice has had a lot of fires.

In fact, Venice’s premiere opera house only came into being because of its predecessor’s destruction by fire. Symbolically, the new theater would rise from the ashes of the old one. They named it “La Fenice,” The Phoenix.

Teatro La Fenice - exterior

First opening in 1792, Teatro La Fenice is now one of the top opera houses in Italy and one of the best-known in Europe.

While the name was chosen to commemorate the theater’s origin, it turned out to also be an ominous foreshadowing. Teatro La Fenice has been resurrected twice, after catastrophic fires in 1836 and 1996.

The one in 1836 started because of some kind of malfunction with a new stove from Austria. The 1996 inferno, however, was intentional.

Teatro La Fenice boxes

Two electricians doing renovation work on the theater were facing fines for being behind schedule. So they set the place on fire.

This (a) did not help get the project done on time, and (b) lead to each of them serving several years in jail. Not actually a helpful strategy for anyone.

I’m not sure if the electricians intended to burn it to the ground or just to singe it a bit to make their point. However, access to the theater was restricted due to the renovation project, and firefighters were not able to quell the flames before the building was destroyed. It would remain closed for the next 7 years.

 

Teatro La Fenice

House

La Fenice re-opened in 2003 with upgraded accoustics and an increased seating capacity of 1000, while its appearance matched the elegance of its previous incarnation.

Teatro La Fenice

There are five tiers of boxes, which had been “deliberately egalitarian in design” – until Napoleon came to power. To prepare for his visits to the theater, six individual boxes were combined into one royal box. This imperial loggia remains part of the current design of the theater, just above the auditorium entrance.
Teatro La Fenice

Opera

Despite a real history rife with operatic-level turmoil, the theater remains open today with a busy schedule that includes symphonies, ballets, and over 100 opera performances a year.

L'occasione fa il ladro - opera

This September, we are looking forward to seeing  “L’Occasione fa il ladro: ossia Il cambio della valigia” (The Opportunity Makes the Thief: The Case of the Exchanged Luggage), a single-act farce with music by Gioachino Rossini and libretto by Luigi Prividal.

The opera is a romantic comedy of errors that debuted in Venice in 1812.

It’s good to know that, after all that drama, La Fenice still has a sense of humor.

 

Teatro La Fenice behind the curtain

– More Info –

Teatro La Fenice:

You can see a complete performance of “L’occasione fa il ladro” by another opera company at Schwetzingen Festival, Germany on YouTube.




Photos by Michele Crosera, courtesy of Teatro La Fenice.

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Olive Oil Soap for Travel

Posted by on Jul 31, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

When the face wash I used to use started to irritate my skin, I started using olive oil soap.

Phillip has started using it too. Sometimes we get the Kiss My Face brand from Sprouts, and sometimes we get whatever kind happens to be at our favorite middle eastern market.

Olive oil soap

It’s great for travel, because you can also use it as shampoo. That means two things (facewash or shampoo) I no longer have to worry about squeezing into my TSA-friendly quart-sized bag. Phillip will cut a slice off the end to make a travel-sized bar.

Olive oil soap

What I haven’t figured out is the best kind of container to pack it in to keep it from getting slimey (like soap does in a plastic baggie) without taking up a lot of space (why do they make travel soap dishes so big??).

Any ideas?

Olive oil soap


 

P.S. There’s a post on SmarterTravel with some interesting suggestions for packing without liquids. Who knew you could get toothpaste in tablet form?!




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

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Book Page Garland for a Graduation Party

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Craft | 0 comments

Book page garland

Phillip finished grad school, after seven years of working full time and taking classes part-time. So we needed to have a party.

Graduation cap

We ended up reserving space in a restaurant near where the commencement ceremony was, so friends and family could just go there directly afterward. I wanted to add some festive touches but knew I’d have little to no time to decorate before people got there. (It turned out to be the latter.)

I kept it super simple with a few school-themed items that I could set up in a flash – all using things I had on hand.

Book page garland

How I made the book page pennants:

1. Ripped out several pages of a ridiculous conspiracy theory novel that I had picked up from free bin outside Changing Hands. (I mean, I’m not going to cut up a good book!)

Book page garland

Book page garland

2. Found the center of the page by folding it in half, only creasing the very bottom of it and making a mark. You could also actually measure and/or use a template if you’re into precision.Book page garland

3. Made a cut from the top right corner of the page to my center mark. Then repeated from the top left.

What I wish I would’ve done: cut from the top right and left margins of the page instead, so that the text would run all the way to the edge.

Book page garland

4. Punched a couple holes near the top of each pennant.

Then I just threaded some bakers’ twine through the holes and added the tassels.

Book page garland - tassel

Tassels

In keeping with the graduation theme, I made paper tassels for each end of the garland, loosely based on instructions I found on A Subtle Revelry.

Here’s how I adapted the project:

  1. Cut about 4 thin strips of paper. (These don’t need to be the same width – or even cut straight.)
  2. Folded over 3 of the strips, leaving a loop at the top. I made mine with a smaller loop and longer “tails” than the ones in the tassel tutorial, because I wanted the proportions more like the tassel on a graduation cap.
  3. Fanned out the strips just a bit.
  4. Stapled them in place.
  5. Covered the staple by winding that last paper strip around the tassel and securing it with double stick tape.
  6. Added a tassel to each side of the garland by threading the baker’s twine through the top loop.

Book page craft

What Didn’t Work…

Watercolor

I thought about adding some color with watercolors. However, my test pages totally curled up, even when I used the smallest amount of water possible or painted just part of the page.

Book page garland

The Pages

Another thing that could’ve been cool was using a book or notes from Phillip’s classes. But he didn’t have anything like that around – at least nothing that he was willing to sacrifice to the craft gods.

So I went with the conspiracy book, because I liked the page size.

I tried to make sure there wasn’t any murder on the pages I used, but it was hard to avoid. And there were still black helicopters and government officials typing things out on Blackberries – not very festive or on theme.

Book page garland at grad party

I hoped people would see it as decor and not try to read it.

No such luck.

One family member said they had been trying to figure out if the pages had some significance or clues. (Nope.) Another one asked me what the garland spelled. (Nothing.) It took me awhile to convince her that what she thought were large letters were actually backwards chapter numbers showing through some of the backlit pages.

I obviously should have come up with more for people to do.

image

What Worked (Mostly): The Decoration Bag

I loaded up a large ziploc bag with everything I (or whoever) would need to set up the decorations at the restaurant:

  • Chalkboard sign with “Phillip’s grad party!” already written on it – with chalk markers, so it wouldn’t smear.
  • A jar for markers and pens that had a chalkboard label on the front. I wrote “Please sign the program” on it with a little arrow pointing down.
  • Chalk markers in case one of my signs needed a touch-up.
  • Regular markers and pens, so people could sign the commencement ceremony program like a yearbook. These were just regular kids’ markers you’d find in the back-to-school aisle.
  • A wooden ruler to hold the program open. (Also because it was cute and school-y.)
  • The garland, carefully folded and placed between things so it wouldn’t get crunched up.
  • Washi tape to hang the garland.
  • Scissors.
  • This Yoobi kit in case we required a tiny stapler or scotch tape for some reason.

I had hoped to hand the bag off to my parents, who were designated to get the party started, since I guessed (correcty) that Phillip and I wouldn’t be able to leave the place where the ceremony was and get over there right away. But they were so focused on their mission that they left before I could give them the Decoration Bag.

So I set things up halfway through the party. Less than ideal, but that’s life.

At least having everything in one bag meant I could get it done in record time. And at least the guests didn’t have to wait on the food.
Grad party garland

 

– More info on DIY party decor –

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