Como Theatre: Upcoming Auditions

With a couple of big productions coming up, now is a great time to get involved. It’s getting busier and busier in the Columbia, Missouri theatre world as it always does in the spring and summer.

Exterior of the new Maplewood Barn.

Exterior of the new Maplewood Barn. Their first production, Fiddler on the Roof, auditions this Monday and Tuesday!

The Maplewood Barn is opening it’s 40th season with Fiddler on the Roof. This production will be playing at the new barn (or is it the old one, it looks identical, people don’t call the new Heidelberg the new Heidelberg, do they?). They’re wanting a big cast for this, so if you’ve been wanting to get involved in theatre in some way, I’d strongly suggest you come audition this Monday and Tuesday, March 19th and 20th. They’re wanting males and females from 18 to 60 plus. They’ve even got four slots for kids age 7 to 13. Go befriend them on facebook for more pictures of the new barn.

Columbia Entertainment Company is concluding it’s 33rd season with the musical The Drowsy Chaperone. Auditions won’t be until next month on Monday, April 2nd and 3rd, but you can go ahead and start considering it. They’re wanting a wide range of ages as well, though there are no specific parts for children.  (Don’t worry, they’re making up for that in their 34th season….)

I don’t know much about this group, but there’s an independent film doing some casting in town. They’re looking for 30 women and 30 men.  It looks like it will be a bit on the “R” rated side, but they won’t be requiring any nudity etc. from anyone who is cast. Plus, it looks like a fun way to get involved and see how a movie is made.

For the kids, PACE has some events coming up this summer, with auditions in late April and early May.  Little Women promises to need lots of girls (err, little women?), but they also need some boys (little men?).  I’d encourage you to check it out if you have a little one. Heck, my first involvement in theatre was as a 5th grade kid in a production of Music Man. There weren’t many guys in the show then, but by the time high school hit, I knew a lot of the girls there because I was first exposed to them before, umm, puberty… sure that’s it.

Additionally, PACE will be doing Fame with auditions in May, so consider that one as well!

Finally, I wanted to point to some other art resources for you in Columbia. For one, the Office of Cultural Affairs is now on facebook. They’ve done a great job in posting and getting the word out, go like them so that you can stay on top of everything artistic going on in Columbia.  I also want to encourage you to check out the facebook group started by a few COMO theatre actors: Mid-Missouri Stage has become a stomping ground for anyone needing actors in a production, or letting people know of theatre productions in town. Even a few MU professors have started using it. Also, check out COMO Cabret. They’re doing a performance next week on the Broadway flops: songs from shows that didn’t make it.

Shout outs to IAT and Talking Horse Productions and also TRYPS. I don’t know why I don’t have anything on you in this post, but you too deserve recognition.  This post became a lot longer than I expected. That just goes to show how many wonderful opportunities there are in Columbia!!

CoMo Sports: Show-Me Games Win First Place

Governor Jay Nixon shows good form in participating at the Show-Me State Games

In 1985, Columbia, Missouri hosted the first-ever Show-Me State Games. No big deal really, just a few days of sporting events and competitions for all ages to get out and enjoy the weather and maybe win a medal or two.

The inaugural Show-Me State Games drew more than 600 athletes from across the state. By the time the event celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary in 2009, the field of competitors had expanded to upwards of 37,000.

Sounds pretty big, right?

Well, it’s currently the BIGGEST state games festival in the United States of America.

Every summer, (for three weekends in June & July) boys, girls, men, women, old and young swoop into Columbia in mini-vans covered in self-made graffiti. During the month of June, 41 different events are offered in Columbia. 52 are offered throughout the year. Like “Pickleball”. What in the hell is “Pickleball”?!

Lots of basketball. Lots of football. Lots of baseball. Lots of softball. But that still leaves 37 OTHER events. The expansion of the Show-Me State Games has opened the door to so many new events that you would be hard-pressed to not find SOMETHING that you would have fun participating in and maybe even winning. Competitions that the Show-Me State Games offer in 2011 may surprise you…

Yes, you can bowl and play volleyball. Of course, there’s cycling and golf. Track & field, and soccer are obviously part of the Games. But what about Judo?

Yup. You can judo-chop your way to a Show-Me State Games medal. “Martial Arts” is it’s own seperate event, and is also offered, Daniel San.

Under-17 Girls Soccer team from Bolivar, Missouri celebrates winning Gold

Handball and kickball. Seriously, they offer kickball. You can dominate a round of mini-golf if that’s your pleasure. The always entertaining synchronized swimming is on the docket. Muscle-heads can enter the powerlifting competition and others can power-lift their partner in the ballroom dancing event. You can wrestle an opponent, or you can wrestle with a course in disc golf.

You can play tennis or you can play table tennis.

It’s become apparent that the Show-Me State Games will undoubtedly be celebrating a 50th Anniversary in a couple more decades. The popularity is unmatched by any other state in the Union and any bump in revenue for a local business is a nice buffer after the students leave town. All-day basketball tournaments usually make for a wonderful daycare and/or dating opportunity. Jokes, jokes.

Seriously, though. What in the hell is “Pickleball”?

CoMo Event: Art in the Park

{photo courtesy: a hasty life}

Art in the Park has already happened, it was last weekend. I had never been before and wasn’t sure to tell you all, so I’m going to give you a heads-up for next year. It is hosted by the Columbia Art League and takes place at Stephen’s Lake Park.

There were so many fabulous artists there. Painters, wood-workers, jewelry makers, sculptors… everything was outstanding. It’s a juried show, meaning that the artists have to apply to be in the show.

I think my favorite part is that you are able to talk to the artists about how they created their things – I think it adds to the handmade experience.

I even ran into our friend Joe from Twinwood Carving! His bowls are just stunning.

I actually volunteered on Saturday in the children’s tent – it was SO much fun! There were four free crafts for the kids to do, a t-shirt tie-dye station that cost $10, and a young collector’s tent where each piece of art was $5. And of course, since it was 95 degrees, a lot of people took advantage of the splash park and lake. There were also yummy concessions to fill your belly with.

So I know that you can’t take part this year, but make sure you plan on attending next year!

CoMo Family: Movies in the Park

If you are looking for some wholesome, cheap family fun this weekend, look no further than the Movies in the Park at Flat Branch Park downtown Columbia, Missouri on Friday night at 9pm. For just $2 per adult, you can enjoy the movie Yogi Bear on the big, inflatable screen. Kids age 8 and under are free.

My family and I attended the first Movie in the Park this season back in May and it did not disappoint. Before the movie begins, the kiddos can burn off some energy running around playing tag or races (or whatever kids do) in the park. I have a little guy and he really enjoyed playing with the big kids. Also, this is a crucial first step if you accidentally cave and let your kid have a soda for the movie.

Speaking of soda, there are concessions at the park, hosted by (and benefiting) the Paquin Towers Adapted Recreation program. Popcorn, candy and ice-cold drinks are sold at a very reasonable price. You are welcome to bring your own snacks, but it’s nice to know the profits for the concessions sold at the movies are going for a good cause.

If you go:

  • Bring a blanket (or three!) and maybe some pillows for nice, comfy lounging on the ground.
  • If you’re more of a chair person, try to bring your lowest-sitting chairs and sit back away from the screen, leaving room for those who are sitting on blankets.
  • The show begins at 9pm. Make sure to get there a little early to find parking, get a good spot, buy your concessions, and get settled.
  • The movies are shown at the Flat Branch Park that’s on the North side of Locust. This is the green space that does not contain the sprayground and playground.
  • Bring bug spray. And be prepared for cicada symphony in the background this month–perhaps they’ll be gone next month!
  • If it is raining, the event is canceled. There is no rain date.

If you can’t make it this Friday, Parks & Rec will be hosting other outdoor movies throughout the summer. Here is the schedule:

  • July 8, 9pm, An American Tail
  • August 12, 8:30pm, Tangled
  • September 9, 8pm, TBA

Hope to see you there!

CoMo Artist: Twinwood Carving

all photos courtesy of Joe Marshall

Joe Marshall is the craftsman behind Twinwood Carving, a fabulous shop full of gorgeous hand-carved wood bowls.

Joe was born and raised in Ireland. He came to Columbia 11 years ago after meeting his future-wife, a Columbia-native, while she was studying abroad. While in high school, Joe learned the craft of hand woodcarving – the teachers didn’t believe in teaching how to use power tools because they could be learned in an afternoon. Twinwood Carving was started shortly after his twin boys were born so Joe could be a stay-at-home dad while still earning some income.

He uses a single solid piece of wood that he buys locally to make each bowl by hand. Five different tools are used to create each one, including electric and hand tools but no jig or template. Each bowl is completely unique. He had to make his own vices because the hardware store didn’t have anything that would work how he needed.

Joe finishes each bowl with a natural tung oil, and they are completely food safe. This is not the same tung oil you buy at the hardware store. Joe used pure tung oil that was squeezed from the nut of the tung tree – a chinese tree. It takes 2 weeks to apply the finish. He puts on 6 coats with 24-36 hours to dry inbetween and then it takes two to three weeks for the bowl to fully cure – so each bowl takes five to six weeks to create. Joe says that most people use mineral oil, which is a chemically produced oil. He doesn’t use it because mineral oil evaporates after three to four months and you would have to re-apply the oil. Tung oil penetrates into the wood and creates a hard, permanent finish.

While speaking with Joe I could tell that besides his family, hand-carving was his passion. You have to care about something if it’s going to takes six weeks to create! He takes pride in his work and really enjoys seeing how people react to his work.

I stopped by Blue Stem Crafts {located at 13 S. Ninth St., near Sparky’s} to see some of Joe’s work in person, but I am most looking forward to seeing his booth at the Columbia Art League’s Art in the Park on June 4th & 5th at Stephen’s Lake Park. He has been working for months to prepare the items he’ll take with. If you visit Joe at Art in the Park, be sure to tell him the CoMo Collective sent you!

You can visit Twinwood Carving on etsy, Joe’s blog, facebook, or twitter.

CoMo Shopping: Artichoke Annie’s Antique Mall

In North Texas, where I spent the latter part of my childhood – you know, the part you can actually remember – there were tons of antique stores in our little downtown square. My parents are collectors, in a small fashion, so antiquing grew on me too. Then, in 2005, I found myself in a new place without a car and a desire to hunt for treasue. I had to wait until I returned home to go antiquing. Until 2007 when I offically became a Missouri resident and had my own mode of transportation. I started asking around and googling antique stores. The first one I decided to visit was Artichoke Annie’s Antique Mall, so I paid them a visit.

Artichoke Annie’s is H-U-G-E. That is both good and bad. Good because if you are looking for something specific, you are likely to find it. Bad because you can’t just run in and out, I am always there for at least an hour. Bad because the prices match the size of the building… they, too, are big. You can find good deals, but furniture is always priced pretty high. Like that adorable teal/aqua dresser? Almost $700. For me that’s about the same as a rent payment, I don’t think I’m going to drop that kind of money on an old dresser. Even if I did pretty much fall in love with it.

Kitchen and dining items are usually a good price. I’ve gotten several Pyrex dishes there and a couple of other odds and ends. They do a great job of grouping like items together so you don’t have to search every booth for your grandmother’s prized gravy boat that your cousin stole before you had a chance to ask for it. {No, that didn’t actually happen to me, I made up the scenario.}

The people who work there are super nice and very helpful. They will hold your finds at the front of the store until you are ready to check-out and will load larger items into your car for you. They don’t allow purses into the store, but do have lockers for you to keep your things. I usually leave my purse in the car and go back out for it when I’m ready to pay.

Shopping at Artichoke Annie’s is not the same as walking my hometown square and visiting all the little shops, but it does satisfy my antique craving. As a bonus, they are open every day from 8am to 8pm so I don’t have to worry about scheduling my weekend around their hours. They do accept credit and debit cards, but some sellers are open to negotiations, so come prepared with cash to help your offer.

They are hosting a Spring Flea Market on Saturday, May 28th starting at 8am. Many outside vendors come to this market and the prices are usually better than inside the store. They will also have a concession booth with food and drinks. Make sure you have cash for this event, you pay each seller individually.

Artichoke Annie’s is located at 1781 Lindberg Dr Columbia, MO 65201-1718

Grand Reopening: ALDI

Aldi sign

We are lucky to have a number of great full-service grocery stores in Columbia. We’re also lucky to have a brand new discount grocery store in town. ALDI recently moved from their old location on the Business Loop down the street to a brand new building at the corner of Business Loop and I-70.

Aldi storefront

I was curious about the store, since we’re constantly looking for ways to save money, so I checked it out a couple of weeks ago. When I pulled up to the store, I noticed the parking lot was very well-designed for ease of getting in and out. The building is pretty standard from the outside, but they added some signage and architectural details to make it look clean and modern.

When I walked in, I was very pleasantly surprised at how nice the store looked. It was big and bright with fresh-looking marketing signs around the store.

The aisles were huge! I dare say they’re bigger than any other grocery store in town, though I can’t prove that fact.

When you go to an ALDI store, you learn pretty quickly that nearly everything in there is generic (or private label, as stores are calling it these days). According to their website, ALDI partners with many of the same suppliers that produce national brand foods, so you can be sure you’re getting high-quality food.

I’ve sampled many of their products and can confirm that the food is just as good as (if not better than) private label/generic products you find at other grocery stores. And I’m pretty picky when it comes to food taste. (Tip: their chocolate is excellent.)

Plus, something that I just discovered, if you’re not happy with something you purchased there, they’ll refund your money AND give you a replacement product. That’s a pretty impressive guarantee.

It cracks me up how much they try to get the packaging to match the national brand equivalent. I had to look twice at this package of cereal before I realized it was generic!

The other thing that surprised me at the new ALDI is that they carry a very reasonably priced wine selection. I really wanted to try some, but they didn’t carry the particular type of girly-wine that I tend to like most.

If you’ve never been to an ALDI store, there are some things you need to know ahead of time.

#1 – You have to pay for your cart

Well, actually, it’s more like a deposit. It’s ingenious, actually. Instead of paying for people to go retrieve carts from the parking lot, it leaves the work up to their customers. The carts are hooked together right outside the front door. You deposit a quarter in a little slot on your cart, which releases it from the cart corral. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back.

#2 – You need to bring your own bags

As eco-friendly grocery bags have become more popular in recent years, this isn’t that big of a deal. But trust me when I tell you it was a big ordeal trying to find suitable bags to bring to the grocery store when my mom & I frequented the store back in the day.

If you forget your bags, you can snag empty boxes as you shop. You can also purchase paper bags at the checkout counter.

By the way, you are also responsible for bagging your own groceries, which is actually kind of fun, once you get the hang of it.

#3 – They only accept cash, PIN-based debit cards and food stamps/EBT cards

While it may seem a little inconvenient that they don’t accept credit cards or checks, there are two very good reasons why they don’t. First, they don’t have to pay processing fees that the credit card companies charge, which helps keep their prices low. Second, checks and credit cards are the two slowest forms of transactions, so it speeds up the checkout line when they don’t accept them. I call that a win-win!

#4 – You may not be able to get all of your grocery shopping done there

While I’m a fan of ALDI stores, this is one of the major drawbacks of shopping there. They may or may not have everything on your list. It’s kind of a crap shoot, especially with the frozen items. They carry many items that are regularly stocked, but if you’re looking for something special for a specific recipe, such as a particular spice or something “fancy” like Canadian bacon, you’re probably going to be out of luck.

I also find that I personally do some impulse buying while I’m there because I’m never sure if they’re going to carry it again (or if it’s just a really good deal). This is something to watch out for if you’re trying to stick to a list and remain in budget.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out Columbia’s newest grocery store. They offer good food at great prices and the new building makes for a great shopping experience. For more tips on how to navigate the store before your first visit, check out their website.

If you’ve been to the new store, let me know what your experience was. And make sure to report back if you end up trying the wine! I’m so curious!

Upcoming Family Events

My friends often ask me where the party is happening on the weekends.

This is not because I’m cool.

Far from it, actually.

I just happen to like to keep up with the fun events in town that are kid-friendly.

This obsession is due, in part, to my son’s baby days. Let’s just say he was a little high-maintenance and required constant entertainment. Whenever he’d get fussy (after we’d tried every trick in the book), my husband and I would look at each other and declare, “It’s time to go somewhere.”

Worked like a charm every time.

So, I’ve always got a jam-packed weekend full of activities just in case he comes down with cabin fever and starts bouncing off the walls.

Here are some upcoming events that look like good, cheap family-friendly fun:

April 17-24 Easter Bunny at Bass Pro – I have to say that Bass Pro wins my award for best family-friendly shopping experience. At Easter, they give you a free photo with the Easter Bunny, offer free crafts for the kids, and set up an egg hunt right in the store. Plus, they never give me “the look” when my son wants to sit on every. single. 4-wheeler. in the store. This is a must-attend.

Sat, April 16 Mizzou Adventures in Education – I’ve never heard of this annual event before, but it looks like a blast. Mizzou puts 100 graduate students in Jesse Hall and makes them entertain and educate your kids FREE for a few hours. That sounds fabulous to me!

Sat, April 16MU Black & Gold Spring Game – If you’re looking for some good, cheap fun this Saturday, look no further. For $3 or 3 cans of food, you get into the football scrimmage game at Mizzou. There will also be a Fan Zone on the North concourse with bounce houses, face painting, balloon animals, kids/family activities and more.

Sun, April 17Earth Day at Peace Park – What better way to celebrate Earth Day than to head out to Peace Park. Besides all of the information booths, food vendors and music, there is also a special kid’s park where families can create recycled craft projects and see nature up-close. If you come, make sure to look for the Camp Fire USA booth and stop by to say hi to me!

April 21-23Just Between Friends Consignment Sale – If you can muddle through all of the pre-sale, volunteering and clothing sales information on their site, I’m sure you will be able to figure out what the scoop on this event really is. I’ve always been too intimidated to go to this event at the Boone County Fairgrounds (and I don’t get intimidated very easily), but I’ve heard you can get some good deals on kids clothes there, especially if you’re willing to volunteer.

Sat, April 23Spring Kids Fest – Columbia Mall will be throwing a kids fest with face painting, crafts, games, music, dancing, prizes and the Easter Bunny. If you can get past the fact that this will be held at the mall on a Saturday, it will probably be a fun time. Maybe Mommy deserves a little special prize herself after surviving this event…

Sat, April 30 – Arbor Day Celebration – From 9:30 to 11am at the Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia, free tree seedlings from the Missouri Department of Conservation will be distributed and horticulturalist Alan Helland will be on hand teach you how to select, plant and care for your young tree. What a fun activity to teach kids about Arbor Day!

Mark your May calendars for these upcoming events:

  • May 13 – Page Circus at the Boone County Fairgrounds
  • May 14 – KMOS Kids Day at the Holiday Inn Executive Center
  • May 14 – Bike Safety Rally at Shelter Insurance

Don’t forget about these recurring events that are happening too:

  • Family Fun Fests – Held the third Wednesday of the month at 6pm at Flat Branch Park; begins April 20
  • Movies in the Park – Held the second Friday of the month at 8:30pm at Flat Branch Park; begins May 6
  • Forum 8 Free Movies – Enjoy free, family-friendly movies at Forum 8 every Saturday and Sunday morning at 9am and 10am through May 1.

I have a feeling your social calendar is about to get a lot more busy!

Swimming lessons with my little fish

This is my son, Andrew. Evidently, he’s part fish.

I, on the other hand, was a swim school dropout at age 6.

The story goes something like I couldn’t tread water or swim the length of the pool or put my face in the water. So, I did not pass my first set of swim lessons. Then we moved and things got busy, and I never got to take swim lessons again.

How I’ve made it to the ripe old age of–well, old–and have not drowned is a miracle.

It probably has something to do with my uncle pushing me into a creek at some point and doing the “sink or swim” method.

It worked.

However, since throwing children who can’t swim into deep water is generally frowned upon these days, I thought it would be prudent to enroll my son in swim lessons so he could learn the proper technique. And since he loves water and met the three-year-old age requirement, last summer seemed like the perfect time to do so.

I searched high and low for the best program. I asked around, I did Internet searches, I checked the Red Cross website. Okay, I didn’t go that far, but I did spend a good hour or so trying to find the most cost-effective and best program for my kiddo.

I ended up choosing swim lessons through Columbia Parks & Recreation for these reasons, plus one more…they were the only program that let me enroll online.

Yep…you’re looking at super-mom right here…whatever is the most convenient.

Little did I know, the program was going to be perfect for us.

For 45 minutes, twice a week for four weeks, Andrew gets fun, engaging and informative swimming instruction.

I cannot express to you how EXCITED he gets when he finds out it’s swim lesson night! We’re talking pure joy, high-pitched squeals and clapping.

Every. Single. Time.

Which is fantastic because that also means that Mommy gets to read, work on the computer, or just veg out (oh yes, and every-so-often, cheer for Andrew’s cool jumps and 5 seconds of floating time) for 45 minutes, twice a week for four weeks while Andrew plays in the pool.

I’m telling you, if they put in wifi at the pool, we would never leave.

And the instructors are incredible. I have to admit I was a little worried when I saw his first class was four 3-year-olds, plus a teenage instructor. I honestly thought she didn’t stand a chance. But, let me tell you that every instructor we’ve had at Parks & Rec has been amazingly patient, fun, engaging and–most importantly–safe with the preschoolers. After four sessions, I have the utmost respect for these instructors and am most impressed with their training and ability to get the kids to listen for 45 minutes.

Can I please take one home with me?

If you are interested in enrolling, they have several sessions coming up. And it’s totally cool to enroll in back-to-back sessions (this is how we survived winter).

For $40 for 8 lessons, the price is right.

And did I mention you can enroll online?

There are plenty of other swim schools in town and I’ve heard good things about all of them. If you want to shop around (and the no online enrollment option thing doesn’t bother you), check them out:

Macher Swim School

Mizzou Recreation

Wilson’s Beach Club

MAC (Missouri Athletic Center/Wilsons)

Southwest Swim School

Columbia Swim Club