Gelato Dolce Vita
5251 E. Brown Road, Mesa
2743 S. Market Street, Suite 105, Gilbert
These independent shops run by Italian-born Walter Bergamaschi and his wife, Marti Printy — who both trained to make gelato near Bologna, Italy — are home to mounds of dense homemade gelato so pretty it’s almost satisfying enough just to gaze upon them. But order a scoop, and you’ll be in the kind of heaven that makes you think it’s perfectly reasonable to eat gelato for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plenty of traditional (and delicious) flavors are available, but the couple’s innovative concoctions are especially mouthwatering: chocolate habanero, salted caramel, lemongrass-cilantro, gorgonzola and walnut, and kiwi-chardonnay to name a few. They also serve coffee drinks and make gelato cakes to order. Info: (480) 329-2143 (Mesa), (480) 218-0225 (Gilbert) or gelatodolcevita.com.
Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Ave.
Vision Gallery, 80 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler (re-opens Nov. 1 in new building at 10 E. Chicago St.)
Pull a knob on one of these refurbished cigarette vending machines, and you could start a habit just as addictive as puffing Laramies or Lucky Strikes — you could start jonesing for art. The two spruced-up old smokes machines, one at Chandler Center for the Arts, the other at Chandler’s Vision Gallery, dispense small works of original art instead of cigarettes. Purchase a $5 token, put it in the slot, pull the knob, and get your own little masterpiece, from a miniature oil painting or ink drawing to a mixed-media figurine or jeweled pendant. Info: (480) 782-2680 (arts center) or (480) 917-6859 (Vision Gallery).
HandsOn Greater Phoenix
With work, family, friends and all life’s errands, obligations and 10 p.m. requests for two dozen cupcakes for tomorrow’s home room party, finding time to volunteer is tough. This nonprofit makes it easy to link up with a nearby cause you’re passionate about, because it works with hundreds of groups in need to schedule projects that can take place on evenings and weekends — when busy working folks are most able to pitch in. Info: (602) 973-2212 or handsonphoenix.org.
Confection Connection Cake Club
Meets 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month at Lovely Little Cake Shop, 444 W. Main St., Mesa
If your favorite TV shows include “Ace of Cakes,” “Top Chef: Just Desserts,” “Cake Boss,” or “Cupcake Wars,” this club of sugar art enthusiasts is the place to unleash your inner dessert diva. Members teach each other pastry skills, from making homemade marzipan and fondant people to molding baskets out of chocolate. They also enter an elaborately styled cake in the state fair. Guests can attend two meetings before committing to membership. Info: confectionconnection.webs.com.
44 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler
A multidisciplinary arts organization that was created in 1975 by local Chicano and Native American artists, this group not only promotes indigenous arts and culture through community-based arts programs — it shares them in a vibrant little gallery/office space in downtown Chandler. Exhibitions change throughout the year, and the group puts on special events, such as fall’s annual El Día de los Muertos celebration and a dinner with celebrity waiters. Info: (480) 833-5875 or xicoinc.com.
Becoming an Outdoorswoman
Jan. 28-30, 2011, at Saguaro Lake Ranch near Mesa
April 1-3, 2011, and Aug. 12-14, 2011, at Friendly Pines Camp near Prescott
These sleep-away camps teach women outdoorsy skills like archery, fly fishing, kayaking, rappeling, firearms safety, tracking and GPS navigation in an informal, all-girl setting. They’re organized by the Arizona Wildlife Federation, staffed by volunteers whose day jobs make them experts in their field, and include fun extras like a talent show, margarita and wild game tastings, and late-night s’mores (or a bottle of wine) around the campfire. Info: (480) 644-0077 or azwildlife.org/bow.html.
Take a free limo to a fancy dinner
Bogey’s Steak & Seafood, 7555 E. Eagle Crest Drive, Mesa
If you’re lucky enough to live within a 5- to 10-minute (yes, that’s minutes, not miles) radius of Bogey’s, the fine-dining restaurant at Las Sendas Golf Club, leave your car in the garage. The restaurant will send a free limo for you; just ask when you make your dinner reservations. You won’t only get to sit back and enjoy the scenic, winding drive to the club — you’ll get to sip cocktails on the aptly named Viewpoint Patio, enjoy the live music (Wednesdays through Saturdays) and eat a really nice dinner without worrying about how you’ll get home. Limousines will transport parties of up to eight, and can sometimes accommodate 10 or 12 if a second car is available. And because you’re classy like that, you should plan on giving the driver a tip. $20 ought to do it. Info: (480) 396-4000, Ext. 202, or lassendas.com/Bogeys.html.
Bergies Coffee Roast House, 309 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, and Inside the Bungalow, 48 N. Robson St., Mesa
When you’ve got two cute-as-a-button coffeehouses in two historic downtown districts, how do you choose where to sip your brew? Might as well do an “eenie, meenie, miney, mo,” because you can’t go wrong with either of these indie spots. “The Bungalow” is a combination coffee shop/cafe/yoga studio/retreat center/wedding venue run by a mother-daughter team. Bergies, helmed by two brothers, is a coffee-and-pastry shop with regular live music acts. Both have shady pet-friendly patios worthy of whiling away a few hours. Info: (480) 497-3913 or bergiescoffee.com; (480) 844-2353 or insidethebungalow.com.