Local Art Resources for the Five Senses

Before moving to Washington, a friend of mine who lives in Seattle tried to sell me on the state. “You would love it here,” she said. “It’s beautiful—there’s mountains and water and trees and really great food.”

“But it’s so rainy,” I whined—a classic out-of-towner grievance. I could practically hear her rolling her eyes over the phone. “Think about it,” she said, “half the year you can hole up and write!”

I recall this conversation every fall, when Washington pulls a gray blanket over its head and the days grow darker and time slows down. Although my first instinct is always to book a ticket somewhere sunny, I eventually remember that the fall and winter are perfect opportunities for hunkering down and turning inward.

This period of slower time is part of why I love the hyperbolic weather cycle here in the Pacific Northwest. The summers are a frenzy of sunshine and activity. People become extroverted and hyperactive. The days are long and glitter-bright. You can go hiking and swimming and exploring or stay out late eating and drinking with friends. And yet, it’s always somewhat of a relief when the fall steps in—like a mother telling her cranky children to take a nap—and we’re forced to collectively grow slower, quieter, more introspective.

In this way, Washington is an artist’s paradise. You can spend the summer seeking out adventure and beauty, and then while away the winter months turning this inspiration into something tangible: a painting, a song, a story.

To help you and your family stay inspired and creative this fall and throughout the cozier winter months, we’ve compiled a list of ways to artistically engage all five of the senses, plus an extra category dedicated to indoor play.

Find out what to hear, see, touch, taste, and smell in our rainy corner of the world. Whether it’s a concert, an art show, a poetry reading, a virtual reality escape, or a jewelry-making class, there are plenty of ways to keep the creative juices flowing for months.

Rather than waste the dark months watching television and dreaming of July, get busy making or experiencing something beautiful. Treat these pages as your beginner’s guide to boosting your imagination this fall.


The Pacific Northwest is its own art gallery, with natural wonders tucked into every corner. With so many picturesque beaches, forests, and alpine vistas nearby, it’s always a little sad when rainy weather obscures these views or hinders us from adventuring as far as we might like. But just as you can find beauty in a foggy forest or rain falling on a lake, there’s also plenty of beauty to find indoors—at museums, galleries, and art shows. Make a trip to any of these destinations and leave feeling inspired, revitalized, and a little less homesick for wildflowers and sunshine.



Originally The Valley Museum of Northwest Art, this impressive yet charming museum has served Skagit and surrounding communities since 1981. Located in the quaint and quirky town of La Conner, the museum regularly hosts rotating exhibitions from artists across the Pacific Northwest as well as exhibitions from its permanent collection of art.

As part of its mission to “connect people with the art, diverse cultures, and environments of the Northwest,” MoNA also offers a variety of educational programming. One example is MoNA Link: Learning Through the Arts, a program that provides arts education for students in Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties. As part of the program, students create their own art projects and visit the museum three times a year. The museum also hosts workshops and panels available to the general public. One event, Coffee with Local Artists (November 10 at 12:30), directly connects community members with local makers.

If you’re planning a visit to La Conner, the MoNA—and its gift store—are a mandatory stop. In order to offer access to as many visitors as possible, admission to the museum is free, so there’s really no excuse not to at least drop in.

121 First St., La Conner, 360.466.4446, monamuseum.org



Located in the historic Gaches Mansion in La Conner—a space alone worth visiting—this museum regularly hosts exhibits from quilters and fiber artists near and far. For those who love quilts or simply admire the beauty of textures and patterns, it’s sure to exceed expectations.

With a mission to “inspire, teach, and preserve fiber art traditions and culture for future generations,” it’s more than just a place to see pretty quilts—it’s an opportunity to connect with the artform on a deeper, more meaningful level. For instance, as part of the 2019 International Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival Challenge, the museum tasked contestants to recreate a memory using vintage materials, a challenge meant to produce personal, moving pieces of fiber art. You can see the contest’s award- winning pieces at the museum’s “The Best of the Festival” exhibit, which runs until November 24.

During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, stop by the museum to see their Victorian-themed Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees and a selection of antique quilts and dolls from their permanent collection.

703 S. Second St., La Conner, 360.466.4288, qfamuseum.org



In her sculptures, artist Ann Morris captures the intimate, primitive, and spiritual relationship between humans and nature. Her private studio on Lummi Island is surrounded by nearly 15 acres of trees, among which stand more than a dozen of her bronze sculptures.

The sculptures are breathtaking, celebratory, and emotionally charged, the kind of art that gives you chills and leaves you contemplating larger themes for days to come. One depicts a human/animal form decomposing into the mossy forest floor. Another portrays a woman held aloft by a minotaur-esque monster, representing the unity of the feminine and masculine.

I visited the Sculpture Woods on a foggy winter afternoon in 2018, during a short cat-sitting stint on Lummi Island. Some of the sculptures are tucked further into the trees than others, creating an experience of discovery. Although there are maps available to guide you from one sculpture to the next, you still feel as though you’ve stumbled upon something organic. At one point, my partner and I came upon a deer partly hidden by foliage. The doe stood stark still for so long we genuinely questioned whether she was real or if she too was a sculpture.

In 2018, Morris donated the Sculpture Woods to Western Washington University, which will use the space to enhance its arts curriculum. To view the sculptures, you can book an appointment or visit for free on the first Saturday of each month, when the grounds are open to the public.

3851 Legoe Bay Rd., Lummi Island, 360.758.2143, sculpturewoods.com



A nexus for art and artists in the San Juan Islands, this museum specifically promotes art from the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. Its three galleries host rotating exhibits. In a given year, you can experience between eight and 10 different shows. Whether you’re already planning a trip to Friday Harbor or need an excuse to visit, be sure to make this museum one of your stops.

540 Spring St., Friday Harbor, 360.370.5050, sjima.org


Robert Dash’s Food for Thought- Micro Views of Sustenance: Threats and Prospects
All of November

Through photomontages, naturalist and photographer Robert Dash explores the connection between climate change and arguably the most important aspect of our natural world: our food supply. The show shines a spotlight on threats to our food, including crop loss, at risk insect pollinator populations, and stresses on developing nations. As a hopeful counterbalance, the photos also explore prospects of permaculture, soil regeneration, and grassroots farming efforts. The marriage of these photos offers a balanced, nuanced, and realistic vision of our food supply’s future in the wake of climate change. Regardless of their message, the photos offer a beautiful view of nature on the small-scale. San Juan Island Museum of Art

Tide of Transition — Cathryn Mallory
All of November

Mallory’s work explores the possibilities of kelp as an environmentally supportive natural material, one that can be used to create alternative energy and positively affect sustainable farming practices. Her site-specific installation speaks to the power of kelp, encouraging conversations around our relationship to organic materials. San Juan Island Museum of Art

The Natural World of Malcolm Curtis Ross
All of November

The paintings of Curtis Ross—a San Juan Island local who passed away in the early 2000s—explore flowers, trees, and other greenery throughout the four seasons. The bright, celebratory paintings capture the joy of nature and the spirit of the artist himself. San Juan Island Museum of Art

Eve Deisher: Indicator
All of November

Eve Deisher passed away from lung cancer in early 2017. This retrospective exhibition, lovingly curated by the late artist’s husband, features mixed-media fiber works and drawings she created between 1982 and 2015. The title speaks to how her work indicates a particular location and time, as well as her state of mind at the time of the work’s creation. The exhibit runs through January 11, 2020. Museum of Northwest Art

Holiday Eastsound Art Walk
November 29–30

Art isn’t always in a gallery. Starting at noon each day, Eastsound’s talented artists will sell their goods at this free annual holiday art walk on Orcas Island. Browse galleries and businesses to find paintings, jewelry, photography, pottery, fiber arts, and more, all crafted by local island artisans. The art walk will also offer music, wine, and snacks. You can learn more at visitsanjuans.com. Eastsound, Orcas Island


The Pacific Northwest is rich with beautiful things to hear, whether it’s music, the spoken word, or rain tapping on your windowsill. Here are a few ways you can engage your musical side as well as your literary side this fall, with jazz concerts, voice and instrument lessons, poetry readings, storytelling events, and more.



If you’re feeling musical this fall, look no further than Bellinghome School of Music. Founded by musician Nick Taylor in 2017, the school has everything you need to get your kids (or yourself) started with a musical instrument. Located in the old Piper Music Building in the Fountain District, the school boasts a professional recording studio and 10 rehearsal spaces. Each week, the school instructs more than 150 budding musicians.

Whether you want to learn how to play piano, guitar, saxophone, or vibraphone, Bellinghome has an expert musician (25 of them, to be exact) ready to show you the ropes. The school also offers instruction in DJ/electronic music, voice, and songwriting.

You can schedule private or group lessons or really sharpen your skills with Rockband, an advanced group class involving weekly rehearsals. If your band gets really good, you might even get to perform at events like the Ski to Sea Block Party or Bite of Sudden Valley. Although the school primarily serves youth, it does offer an adult band class on Monday nights.

2512 Meridian St., Bellingham, 360.922.0382, bellinghomeschoolofmusic.com



Whether you want to share your own work or hear the work of others, Village Books typically hosts an open mic event on the final Monday of every month. The readings start at 7 p.m. in the store’s Readings Gallery. Bring a short work of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction to read or just sit back and listen as other brave local writers share their words.

1200 11th St., Bellingham, 360.671.2626, villagebooks.com



If you’re a fan of storytelling groups like The Moth, then the Bellingham Storytellers Guild might be right up your alley. This local nonprofit seeks to “build community through the preservation, perpetuation, and celebration of storytelling of all cultures and to nurture, sustain, and develop the storytelling community of tellers, audiences, and enthusiasts in Northwest Washington.”

Come to the Fairhaven Library every third Friday of the month at 7 p.m. for the guild’s monthly Storytelling Event, in which members share 10-minute stories. If you’re interested in joining the guild and sharing your own story, attend the guild’s monthly meeting an hour before the event, at 6 p.m. After attending a meeting, you can then sign up to perform your story the following month.

117 12th St., Bellingham, 360.714.96



The goal of the Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center (WJMAC) is simple: to bring jazz to the community. Not only do they attract talent from across the Pacific Northwest, as well as around the country, but they also foster jazz education through combo classes. The combo classes cater to musicians of high school age or older and meet once a week on Monday nights.

If you’re interested in attending one of WJMAC’s shows, most of the center’s jazz performance events are extremely affordable, with ticket prices ranging from $10–$15. Unless advertised otherwise, all classes and events take place at the Sylvia Center for the Arts.

207 Prospect St., Bellingham, wjmac.org



Bellingham’s longest-running open mic, the Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, has offered a platform for local writers since 1991. All types of writing are welcome, from poetry and fiction to play-writing and memoir. Readings take place on the second Wednesday of every month at The Happy Place. The show starts at 7 p.m., but readers should arrive at least 15 minutes early to sign up.

1215 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham, 360.961.2320, chuckanutsandstone.blogspot.com


Music Makers, Body Shakers
Dates vary, 10:30 A.M.

Gather the kids or grandkids and visit Whatcom Museum for this recurring exploration of music, song, and dance starting November 2. Hosted in the Lightcatcher & Family Interactive Gallery, this event starts at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday and lasts for half an hour. The cost is included with admission; members can attend for free. Whatcom Museum — Lightcatcher Building

Jack Straw Writers Anthology Group Reading
November 3, 4 P.M.

Since 1997, the Jack Straw Writers Program has helped writers across the Pacific Northwest build their skills and connect to other writers in their community. A large part of the program focuses on the auditory aspects of writing, such as reading work aloud for recordings, creating podcasts, producing radio content, and giving public readings. Each year, the program selects a pool of participating writers in a diversity of genres. Six writers from this year’s program will read from their work at Village Books in Fairhaven. Readers include Dianne Aprile, Christianne Balk, Leanne Dunic, Sylvia Byrne Pollack, Rena Priest, and Suzanne Warren. Village Books, Bellingham

Tess Gallagher Poetry Reading
November 16, 7 P.M.

Tess Gallagher is the author of numerous books of poetry. Her newest, out from Graywolf Press last May, is titled “Is, Is Not: Poems.” Gallagher is from Port Angeles but now splits her time between Washington and Ireland. Come hear her read from “Is, Is Not” and get your book signed after. The event is part of the Nature of Writing Series, offered in conjunction with North Cascades Institute. Village Books, Bellingham

Clave Gringa Quartet
November 20, 7 P.M.

The Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center hosts this Seattle-based Latin jazz quartet. Before the show starts, band leader Ann Reynolds will hold a pre-show discussion about Latin rhythms. The pre-show talk starts at 6 p.m. and includes hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Bellingham Cider Company. Sylvia Center for the Arts


When I hear the word art, I often think of paintings on a wall in a gallery or pieces of pottery concealed in an off-limits glass case. But some art is meant to be touched—both in the process of creating it and during the experience of admiring it. Here are a few nearby places where you can engage with the art of touch. Whether it’s creating quilts, making jewelry, or learning the art of fabric repair, there are plenty of local businesses that want to help you—and your hands—stay creative this fall and winter.



The Hug Shirt
Never let distance get in the way of physical contact again with this special shirt that doubles as a Bluetooth sensory experience. Invented in 2002, The Hug Shirt senses the strength, duration, location, and warmth of touch. This gives you the opportunity to record and send a hug just like a text message.

Love at First Tag Touch
No one can say no to a cozy sweater, and all your favorite stores know it. Because convenience and proximity play a big part in our shopping experience, shoppers are 35 percent more likely to buy something at eye-level. Often, shops will put more expensive, brand name items in more accessible locations, and because humans develop attachments to objects via touch, it’s easy to fill your cart.

Lies of the Eyes
All five senses are linked, though hand-eye coordination can easily be manipulated. Humans tend to be visually dominant, therefore our eyes can trick the rest of our body with phantom senses. If something appears sticky, wet, curvy, or straight, our eyes will often overrule our touch and convince us that this is so.

Wireless Gloves
Virtual reality continues to get more advanced, manipulating not just your eyes, but all of your senses. RICE University researchers developed a tool that brings touch into the game: Hands Omni. These special gloves use air and pressure to create realistic touch sensation during VR simulations. Be careful what you grab, you’re going to feel it.

– Anelyse Morris



If you’re feeling crafty this fall, head to Fairhaven or Downtown Lynden and let CreativiTea inspire you. At this fired-art studio, you can choose a piece of pottery—prices range from $12–$75—and then get to work designing your own clay creation.

Come up with your own unique designs and color schemes or let one of the studio’s samples or idea books inspire you. Once you’ve finished painting your masterpiece, the staff will gladly help you glaze/ fire your project. Within a week, your hand-painted pottery will be ready for pick-up.

At the Fairhaven studio, you can also treat yourself to a cup of tea while you work or get classy with a fused glass project.

1312 11th St., Bellingham, 306-B Front St., Lynden, 360.752.1724, creativitea.com



No matter your artistic experience or background, The Bellingham Metal Arts Guild offers an avenue into the world of metal arts. With lectures, workshops, classes, and demonstrations at all skill levels, there’s something for everyone interested in working with metal.

If you’re hoping to make DIY presents this holiday season, consider taking one of the guild’s many craft classes. Newbie jewelry-makers might enjoy a class called Five Earrings in which students take home—you guessed it—five pairs of hand-made sterling silver earrings. For something special, sign up for The Joy of Making Coin Rings in which you make a silver ring out of a vintage quarter. If you’re looking for something extra-festive, consider the Christmas Ornament Workshop.

More experienced crafters can benefit from courses that focus on specific technical skills such as silver soldering, wax carving, and bezel setting. Additional offerings such as Beginning Jewelry Photography; Branding, Marketing, and Self-Promoting; and Resume and Artist Statement Support offer guidance for both new and seasoned artists in the industry.

2620 N. Harbor Loop Dr., Ste. 6, Bellingham, 360.788.5858, bmag-wa.org



Everyone has a dress, shirt, or jacket they love that’s falling apart. Rather than give up on beloved old clothes, why not learn to fix them? The sewing and crafting classes at Ragfinery help you give new life to old fabric, keeping old clothes out of the landfill and bringing beautiful, upcycled pieces into your wardrobe and home.

Learn the basics of fabric repair with courses like Upcycle Sewing and Marvelous Mending or explore a new craft such as needle felting, toymaking, rug braiding, weaving, or indigo dying. All classes are taught by local artists, helping strengthen creative communities and inspire new, environmentally friendly projects.

1421 N. Forest St., Bellingham, 360.738.6977, ragfinery.com



In this feature’s “See” section, we covered what you can expect to view at the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, but there’s also plenty to do, learn, and touch. The museum regularly offers workshops in everything from quilt making and basket weaving to classes that explore how to create a hand-bound leather journal. The quilt making classes cater to quilters of different experience levels, exploring specific topics in the art, such as working with circles or employing various color palettes. If you’re hoping to make a quilt for the winter—for yourself, or as a gift for someone else—these classes might be the perfect way to meet your goals.

703 S. Second St., La Conner, 360.466.4288, qfamuseum.org


Painted Fabric Collage
November 2–3, 12:30 P.M.

In this two-session workshop, students ages 13 and up will learn how to create a fabric collage. Using acrylic paints, students will decorate fabric, then hand-sew the pieces together to create a beautiful and unique collage. The workshop is inspired by the late artist Eve Deisher, whose exhibit will be on display at the museum. Museum of Northwest Art

Toymaking: Little Winter Mice
November 9, 1:00 P.M.

Just in time for the holidays, learn how to transform scraps of fabric into adorable mouse finger puppets. The class will cover the basic elements of toymaking, showing you not only how to make the pint-sized puppet but also how to dress and personalize it. You’ll leave class with a tiny toy perfect for a stocking-stuffer or ornament. Ragfinery

Beginning Jewelry Metalsmithing
November 9–10, 10:00 A.M.
In a supportive, pressure-free environment, instructor Marie-Claire Dole will guide you through introductory jewelry-making equipment and techniques. Learn how to saw, file, solder, texture, and more. The Guild supplies all materials—all you have to do is show up and be ready to learn. Best of all? Everyone leaves this two-day course with something they’ve created. Bellingham Metal Arts Guild

My Parents & Me Painting Class
November 14 & 16, times vary
Grab your paintbrush and head to the MoNA for this parent-child painting course. Local artist Lara Parker will guide you and your child through the fundamentals of painting, covering introductory topics such as mixing colors and using acrylic and tempera paint. The class will touch on landscape painting, mixed media art, still life, abstract, and collage. Museum of Northwest Art

Introduction to Sewing Machines
November 23, 10:00 A.M.
For those who have always wanted to learn how to sew, this class is the ultimate introduction. In this hands-on workshop, instructor Brigitte Parra will show you how to use and care for a sewing machine, exploring different needles, attachments, and functions. Ragfinery


Like our other senses, smell is meant to help us survive, and yet it also delivers a world of pleasure, joy, and feeling—all elements related to great art. Scent is a powerful tool, one that can move us with as much force as a great song or a beautiful painting. Here are a few ways you can engage your sense of smell this fall.



What smells better than fresh flowers? Learn the art of creating floral arrangements that are both beautiful and aromatic at Flourish Floral Design in Bellingham. The workshop covers various arranging techniques, exploring how to combine colors, textures, fragrances, and shapes to create the most beautiful, luscious-smelling arrangements possible. Once you know the basics, you’ll be able to brighten your home with fragrant flowers or give a professional-looking bouquet to someone you love. Contact the store to set up a private class or check their website or social media accounts for scheduled workshops.

360.305.2061, flourishbellingham.com



Aromatherapy is no joke. Some studies suggest it can improve sleep, enhance focus, aid in digestion, and offer relief from feelings of depression and anxiety. Essential oils serve as the foundation of aromatherapy, with different oils creating different effects. If you’re interested in learning the art of blending and using essential oils, Flow Motion in Ferndale offers frequent essential oil classes. Classes are typically free, aside for Make & Take classes, in which students take home their own sprays, lotions, or roller bottles. For these classes, a small fee covers the cost of materials. Keep an eye out for seasonal offerings, like a class on boosting immunity during cold season and a holiday-themed Make & Take.

1920 Main St., Ste. 19, Ferndale, 360.393.8829, moveinflowmotion.com



Whether it’s soaps, candles, lotions, lip balms, scrubs, or bath bombs—the list goes on—Bramble Berry Handcraft Provisions has projects and DIY kits to satisfy your crafty side while filling your home with delicious smells. From peach Bellini lip gloss to Grapefruit LaCroix Soap, Bramble Berry’s website truly has every type of scented bath goody you can imagine. Kits range in difficulty and include their own fragrance oils, ensuring your masterpiece leaves you smelling fruity, flowery, spicy, or fresh. If you get drawn into the world of DIY bath goodies, the store also sells a variety of molds, jars, and labels so you can keep concocting your own scented inventions at home.

877.627.7883, brambleberry.com



Flavour Bottle
The Aroma R-evolution kit consists of four forks and 21 aroma vials. The aromas subtly spread into your food, enhancing the flavors as you eat. Options include olive oil, wasabi, mint, strawberry, and smoke.

Experimental Fork
Want better-tasting water? This special water bottle comes with scent deposits in the spout, tricking your brain into tasting something other than just plain water. Pre-loaded flavors include grape, cola, and strawberry.

Everyone knows the essential smells of relaxation—lilac, jasmine, peppermint—but familiar scents such as vanilla and cherry tend to cause more pleasant reactions in the brain. Vanilla in particular has been shown to trigger emotional responses.

– Anelyse Morris


My personal favorite of the five senses, taste unites people, defines different cultures, and brings immense joy to our daily lives. In other words: it’s art. With longer, colder nights, fall and winter are the perfect seasons for spending more time in the kitchen, inventing new recipes or perfecting old ones. It’s also the time of year for warm soups, spiced baked goods, and hearty meals—not to mention the holidays, which come with their own culinary traditions and demands. This fall, these local businesses will help you hone your cooking skills, explore new flavors, and savor time spent around the table with family and friends.



Since 2011, the Bread Lab—a “laboratory” run through Washington State University but located in Burlington—has been exploring the complicated science behind bread-making. Over the years, the lab has yielded some pretty incredible results, including creating a healthier tortilla chip for the restaurant chain, Chipotle. Who knew?

Now, you too can get in on the Bread Lab fun with King Arthur Flour’s Baking School. Although the baking school started in Vermont—and King Arthur Flour has been supplying America with flour since the days of the Revolution—the school now operates this second location in our own Skagit Valley.

The employee-owned company offers classes for all levels of baker, ranging from introductory courses to intensive classes that last up to a week long. The Skagit campus offers classes for kids, home bakers, and professionals. This upcoming holiday season, learn to perfect everything from holiday pies to artisan breads and pizza dough.

11768 Westar Ln., Burlington, 800.652.3334, kingarthurflour.com/baking-school



What doesn’t the co-op do? In addition to selling fresh and local produce, each month it also offers a selection of cooking classes. These classes vary by month and can center around particular ingredients, dishes, or regions around the world. For instance, a course might examine the various uses of salt, teach you how to prepare the perfect warm fall dessert, or explore the most popular dishes in Peruvian cuisine. Some of the culinary classes focus less on food preparation and more on wellness or health, delving into how to create nutritious meals that are plant-based, gluten-free, or vegan.

Whatever area of cooking you want to learn more about, the co-op likely offers a class to meet your interests. Classes are typically held in the Co-op’s Healthy Connections Building Classroom, located across the street from the downtown store, or in the Local Roots Room, situated on the second floor of the Cordata store. Prices vary, but most courses are under $50.

Bellingham, various locations, 360.734.8158, communityfood.coop



The Miracle Fruit
Surrender to your sweet tooth with just a taste of this small berry that makes even the sourest food taste like a decadent dessert. This unique treat will prank your palette for about an hour. Just let it sit in your mouth for a minute—then prepare to go on an ultimate “flavor trip.” Stevia Fans of sweeteners, we have some bittersweet news. While adding sugar to things activates sweet receptors on your tongue, the popular sugar substitute Stevia actually triggers both the sweet and bitter receptors—leaving a bitter aftertaste. If you like your morning drink sweet, add real sugar instead.

Phantom Sweetness
You’ve heard of cucumber water, but what about artichoke water? This vegetable is part of the daisy family and, similar to the miracle fruit, creates phantom sweetness via a chemical called cynarine, which latches on to your tongue’s sweet receptors without activating them. If you drink water after eating an artichoke, the cynarine gets washed away and creates a brief, false sweet sensation.

Salty Sensation
Those pretzels you eat sure are salty, but not for the reason you may think. Sometimes things taste salty to us simply because we think they should. Studies have shown that simply thinking about salt or even just saying the word salt makes food taste salty, regardless of the sodium content.

– Anelyse Morris



In 2019, this Skagit-based chocolatier took home several honors at the International Chocolate Awards. Owner and renowned chocolate-maker Karen Neugebauer received silver for several creations, among them her Tasmanian pepper and lime dark chocolate bar, cherry almond truffle, and white chocolate bar with lemon and pepper. She even won gold for her pecan caramels. Is your mouth watering yet?

Lucky for us, Forte offers regular classes in everything from creating molds to preparing truffles and tempering chocolate. No matter the class, you’ll learn from a master chocolatier and head home with something edible. One of the classes is simply called Chocolate Tasting and involves—maybe you guessed it—sampling different delectable treats from around the globe while also learning the fine art of tasting chocolate for different flavors and textures. Classes vary by month, so be sure to check their website for listings.

Forte also hosts other fun tasting events, such as its Smell-O-Vision showing of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” this past September. Participating theaters in Whatcom and Skagit showed the classic candy-lover’s movie while audience-members enjoyed an interactive bag of goodies—taffy, everlasting gobstoppers, and, of course, chocolate—to eat along with the show.

700 S. 1st St., Mount Vernon, 360.588.4859, fortechocolates.com



For those looking to learn their way around the kitchen or to simply spice up their skills, let Ciao Thyme teach you some new tricks. Their hands-on cooking classes vary throughout the year. Earlier this fall, they offered a course on cheese-making and pizza. Whatever the season, the instructors incorporate seasonal recipes and ingredients.

207 Unity St., Bellingham, 360.733.1267, ciaothyme.com


Chocolate Bar Making and Molding Class
November 2, 2 P.M.
Forte Chocolate in Mount Vernon

Le Café de Paris Cooking Class with Karina Davidson
November 5, 6:30 P.M.
Roots Room at Cordata Community Food Co-op

Small Plates of the World: Venetian Bar
Plates Cooking Class with Jesse Otero
November 11, 6:30 P.M.
Co-op Connections Building Downtown

Classic Italian Dinner Cooking Class with Karina Davidson
November 14, 6:30 P.M.
Roots Room at Cordata Community Food Co-op

Wild Alaskan Shrimp Cooking Class with Robert Fong
November 19, 6:30 P.M.
Co-op Connections Building Downtown

Truffle Making Class
November 22, 6 P.M.
Forte Chocolate in Mount Vernon


Creativity doesn’t always mean making something you can touch, see, taste, smell, or hear. In a lot of ways, we’re most creative when we play. Children are the true experts—they make believe they’re pirates or aliens or princesses, creating stories and imaginary worlds as a way of learning about themselves, their environment, and the people around them. They’re also resourceful, inventing games and building toys with whatever’s at their disposal (true story, one of my favorite toys as a kid was an old washcloth).

As we get older, play becomes something more structured. We play tennis; we play the piano; we play chess. Although these modes of play are certainly fun and valid ways to let loose, I encourage you to find your own definition of play this fall by tapping into the way you played as a kid. Here are a few places to let loose and rediscover a sense of wonder.



What would you get if you fused a sculpture with an instrument and then decided the whole thing was actually a toy? The result might be something like the Interactive Exhibits at Mindport. The gallery is filled with multi-sensory exhibits meant to be touched, heard, seen, and manipulated.

If you’re feeling something quieter, head to the highly curated library or browse the Fine Art Exhibits, which consist of sculptures, drawings, and photography from local artists. For those who enjoy letter-writing and collage, Mindport also offers mail art classes.

210 W. Holly St., Bellingham, 360.647.5614, mindport.org



Rather than sit at home and conk out in front of the TV, rally the family and head downtown to Rook & Rogue to get your imagination—and maybe your competitive side—ticking.

With literally hundreds of games to choose from—and a full menu of nerd-themed food and drinks to sustain you through hours of play—this game pub has something for everyone. Try out indie role-playing games or stick to classics such as Scrabble, Monopoly, and Jenga. The best part is discovering new games you might not have learned about otherwise.

If you’re seriously dedicated to play, or just want something to get you up and out of the house each week, you can try out one of the pub’s membership options for access to extra perks, exclusive games, and member deals.

206 W. Magnolia St., Bellingham, 360.207.4038, rookandrogue.com



If you’ve ever wanted to fight zombies, walk a plank 80 stories up in the air, or paint in 3D (with brushstrokes made of stars and fire), then head to Heady Virtual Reality Arcade for an experience like none other. Choose single or multi-player games from categories such as puzzle/horror, action, or sports. There’s even a selection of games for kids.

If you’re feeling more like a spectator, the Arts and Exploration category might be a good fit. Google Earth VR lets you soar above the Swiss Alps, explore the streets of foreign cities, or zoom above Manhattan. Art-lovers might prefer Dreams of Dalí, which lets you explore the surrealist worlds imagined by Salvador Dalí, or The Night Café: Vincent Van Gogh, which guides you through one of the iconic painter’s most popular works.

Each station at the futuristic arcade is pay-by-the-hour, so you’re free to explore however many games you want to in the time allotted. If you need a break to come back to reality, the arcade also serves snacks and beverages. Seniors, military, and students receive a discount; there’s also a happy hour discount every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

1216 Bay St., Bellingham, 360.922.3022, headyvirtualreality.com

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