Friday, August 29, 2008

Canoe Lessons

As September looms, I'm mourning summer and -- for some inexplicable reason -- thinking a lot about going canoeing. I've spent many family reunions canoeing around a lake, so I'm pretty comfortable with a paddle. But if you don't know the paddle from the life preserver, Camptown has a solution.

Camptown's primary business is youth wilderness experiences. But coming up Sept. 6, the organization is offering a "Quickstart Your Canoe" class for adults. The $35 class focuses on basic canoe skills, water safety and trip planning, and you'll take a 5.5-mile guided trip down the White River.

If canoeing doesn't float your boat (sorry, I couldn't help myself), Camptown also offers introductory classes in hiking, biking and camping. What a great way to finish the summer!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Travel as a Learning Opportunity

Last night, I had drinks with a friend who just returned from two years in the Peace Corps. Talk about your adult continuing education experience! My friend, who was stationed in St. Lucia, is now well versed in how to farm sea moss, prepare breadfruit and even sleep through 3 a.m. rooster calls.

Okay, so maybe you can't commit 27 months of your life to the Peace Corps. But what if you had a couple of weeks? You can get a similar experience through a "voluntourism" trip that combines, you guessed it, volunteering and tourism. Local company Ambassadors for Children offers such trips, as do organizations like Cross-Cultural Solutions, the Global Citizens Network and Globe Aware.

I'd love to take one of Globe Aware's trips to Peru, which combines volunteering in Cuzco with a trek to Machu Picchu. Alas, I've spent all my discretionary income on this fall's slate of local continuing education classes. Well, life is full of choices.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Few Thoughts

At the moment, I'm reading "Eat Pray Love," about a woman who seeks spiritual renewal in Italy, India and Indonesia. It's a great read, but I do object to one thing. When the author decides to learn Italian, she enrolls in an evening class at a local continuing education program -- which she derisively refers to as "night school for divorced ladies." We know better, don't we?

If you're interested in following in her footsteps, check out the Italian classes through the IUPUI Community Learning Network or the Indy Foreign Language Academy.

In other news, last night I used one of the recipes from my recent Frasier's cooking class: raspberry fool. It's layers of macerated berries and fresh whipped cream, and it's absolutely divine. Who knew I could make such a fabulous dessert? I take back most (but not all) of the bad things I said about cooking classes at Frasier's Gourmet Foods.

Finally, I checked a few blog statistics yesterday, and we're rapidly approaching our 1,000th reader for this blog. Thank you so much for your interest and enthusiasm!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gardening Class at Smith & Hawken

It's hard to believe, but already it's time to start obeying school-zone speed limits and buying school supplies on clearance at Target. Based on my very limited gardening knowledge, it's also time to start planting flower bulbs. I think.

To learn more, try the "Landscaping with Bulbs" class this Saturday at Smith & Hawken (at Keystone at the Crossing). Topics include blooming times and planting techniques. The class starts at 2 p.m. and is free.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fall Classes: Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation

Carmel-Clay Parks & Recreation has posted its fall calendar. Sports are well represented, as you might imagine (although, is a cornhole league a sport?), but there are some other fun classes, too:
  • Beginning and advanced calligraphy classes.
  • A variety of painting and drawing classes.
  • Cooking classes, including making candy apples, dipping cookies and making candies.
  • Random classes on making wine, playing bridge, tracing your genealogy and de-cluttering your life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things You Didn't Know You Wanted to Know

I just picked up an interesting brochure at the Indiana State Fair: The Indiana State Beekeepers Association is offering a free Beekeeping for Beginners class. Maybe you can do your part to boost the declining bee population!

Here's the information: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6, Holliday Park Nature Center (6363 Spring Mill Road). To register, call (317) 327-7180.

Travel Journal: Stratford Shakespeare Festival

If you're a Shakespeare fan, nothing on this continent can match the experience of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. After a mere eight-hour drive, you'll find yourself in a quaint Ontario farming town that lives and breathes Shakespeare.

At the festival, you can see two shows per day (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.). The festival puts on about a dozen plays each season, about half of which are by Shakespeare. In between shows, get dinner at one of the town's fantastic restaurants, which are boosted by the talents of students from the local culinary school.

You can also take a backstage tour, explore the costume warehouse, attend lectures and discussion groups, or attend a performance about Shakespeare's life and times. And, if you get tired of learning, you can shop: Stratford is home to dozens of unique shops and boutiques.

Can you tell how much I love the place? This past weekend, on my annual pilgrimage, I squeezed in six shows in three days: "All's Well that Ends Well," "Love's Labour's Lost," "The Taming of the Shrew," "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet" and G.B. Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra." The performance of "Hamlet" was outstanding, so much so that I'm already itching to go see it again.

The festival runs through October, so there's still plenty of time to make a weekend trip. If you go, plan to leave early on Friday morning. That way, you can catch the 8 p.m. show on Friday and both shows on Saturday, then head back home on Sunday.

My favorite place to stay is Bentley's, which is freshly renovated and right on the main street downtown. If Bentley's is booked, look for any other hotel on or near Ontario Street downtown; you want to be able to walk to the restaurants and theaters.

Also make time for a few other great experiences: Getting a cup of coffee at Balzac's; strolling along the Avon River; browsing the town's outstanding bookstores; shopping for antiques in the nearby town of Shakespeare; and finding your inner child at several clever toy stores downtown.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Confucius Institute at IUPUI

Is the Olympic buzz stirring your interest in Chinese history and culture? Consider signing up for one of the many new classes at the Confucius Institute, a division of the IUPUI Community Learning Network. Here are the classes offered this fall:
  • Chinese Civilization.
  • Chinese Cooking.
  • Chinese Festivals and Customs.
  • Chinese Martial Arts.
  • Conversational Chinese.
  • Beginning Chinese.
  • Chinese Character Writing.

All classes are eight weeks long and are held one evening per week in September and October. Cost is $139 to $185 per class. (The exception is Chinese Character Writing, which is during the day on Thursdays in September and costs $79.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Topic Overview: Quilting

I know, I know: It's 90 degrees outside, and the last thing you're thinking about is snuggling up under a warm homemade quilt. But if you want your quilt to be ready when the cold weather arrives, you need to get started soon. Here's how:

At Quilts Plus, 1748 E. 86th St., you can enroll in Quilts Plus University, a series of ten classes that starts with Beginning Quilting and covers piecing, cutting, appliques, binding and popular patterns. Prices range from $15 to $45 per class.

If you live in or near Fishers, try Quiltmakers, on Allisonville Road just north of 116th Street. The shop offers an introductory Quilt Primer class ($30), plus a dozen other introductory classes for specific techniques and patterns.

If you're in the Carmel area, head to Quilt Quarters for its Beginning Nine-patch Quilt class ($45). When you've mastered the basics, you can take classes in specific patterns and techniques.

Another option is your nearest Jo-Ann Fabrics store, which offers Quilting 101, 201 and 301. At my nearest store (in Castleton), each class consists of two three-hour sessions and costs $60.

Happy quilting!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Weekend Roundup

First, some good news: I've just finished a massive, all-consuming work project. You can now expect more frequent postings and a return to my busy class-reviewing schedule! Here are a few tidbits to get us started:
  • If you prefer paper catalogs to online versions, the IUPUI Community Learning Network's fall calendar is in today's Star.
  • This month, Clark Appliances continues its series of cooking classes with topics such as Mexican cooking (vegetarian style), convection cooking, barbecuing ribs and making pizzas.
  • The J. Everett Light Career Center has released its fall calendar. It leans heavily toward GED and ESL programs, but there are a few fun classes tucked in there: drawing, painting, working with precious metal clay, languages, fitness and photography.
  • Want to learn more about rum? Vine & Table has a "Minister of Rum" class Aug. 13.
  • If you're planning to go star-gazing soon, note that the J.I. Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium at Butler is closed until mid-September for maintenance and repairs.