Apple Store

Good design is the cultural imperative of the day. It rules prime time on TV shows like Queer Eye and Trading Spaces. It rules middle-American staples like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. These days, even vacuum cleaners and toilet brushes come with their own unique aesthetic, and the fact that we can use "aesthetic" so casually is proof of all of this (and also, that we're pretentious). But no one knows good design like the folks behind Apple products. Their breathtaking iPod is, so far, the design of the century, much like their iMac was the design of the '90s. Stepping into the Knox Street store is like entering the future of a very, very rich person. Which is awesome. Maybe the 21st century won't have flying cars or personal robots, but we will have Apple. Which means if we have to sit in traffic and make our own stupid dinner, at least our gadgets look cool.

Every woman deserves to have cute shoes. And as far as addictions go, shoe-dependency is one of the few that can improve your appearance. Unfortunately, though, like any good addiction, shoes can be a real drain on the bank account. Which is why DSW is where we go when we need a fix. The smell of leather and the sight of row upon row of discounted designer labels give us such a rush that it's almost overwhelming. And when we try on that first pair of summer sandals or fall boots, we often have to take a deep breath, pause and let the ecstasy wash over us. It's such a good high, we want to shout it to the world, but this has to be our little secret. We can't have all those other shoe junkies hanging around, grabbing up all the good stuff. Some people have no shame.

Readers' Pick

DSW Shoe Warehouse

Krimson & Klover

Once upon a time, we wore teeny-weeny clothes. (Back then, we ate teeny-weeny food and drank teeny-weeny beers.) We loved parading around the latest fashions--the midriff-baring tees, the low-cut V-necks, the tight mini. And there was no better place to find such fashion fabulosity than Krimson and Klover, Kathryn and Kristin Anderson's darling boutique for the pint-sized fashionista. We don't mean clothes for children; we mean clothes for skinny women, those blessed lovelies who scour the size-6-and-under racks ("What? No size 0?") while the rest of us dribble queso on our shirts and shop at Dress Barn. Oh, life is cruel. And yet, we still have a soft spot for K&K, housed in that cool yellow Victorian house on Cole Avenue. Not only because it reminds us of roller rinks and a killer Joan-Jett-by-way-of-Tommy-James-and-the-Shondells song, but also because the clothes are so snappy, so sophisticated yet playful, so blasted cute that we want to at least pretend we can one day fit into their pants again. And if all else fails, there's always the shoes.

The only place cigarettes and flowers really go together is, perhaps, in the lyrics of a country and western song. So how these two establishments came to share a building, we're not sure. One smells of stale tobacco, and the other has what you might call a garden-fresh scent. Unlikely neighbors, maybe, but if you ever find yourself in the market for a bouquet of roses and a carton of Camels, you'll be thanking your lucky stars that Greenville Ave. Tobacco Co. and Flowerama share a space. And for Bank of America customers, there's an added bonus: a drive-thru ATM. In somebody's world, this has to be the perfect combination.

There are places you go when you want one thing. You go to the convenience store for a lottery ticket or cigs. You go to Kroger for their pies. (If you don't, start.) You go to Condom Sense for the cake toppers. But then there are stores you go to just because you want to browse before you buy. Target, for example. And Office Depot. (We love looking at different pen-holding options.) And Jackson's Home & Garden. We love to walk the aisles on Saturdays because it gets us in the home-improvement mood--something that usually translates to marital relations if we get enough weekend projects done by sundown. Besides, you don't know what you want to add to your garden or deck or porch or home until you see it, and that's the beauty of Jackson's. Anything you want, and lots of stuff you have no idea you want, you'll find there.

This place is so great--better than just best--that we feel as though we're violating a sacred oath by telling people about it. We're pretty sure we're not, but we still have mixed emotions about doing so. See, if we tell people, they might buy something we want before we have the chance. On the other hand, if enough people buy things, the store will stay open, so we can keep shopping there. It's a double-edged sword, which, by the way, we think we saw there for sale. Bon Ton is a vintage wonderland, a weathered general store building with books, framed art, baseball pennants, knickknacks, children's clothing and other detritus on the ground floor, watched over by a white-haired man in suspenders and Converse. His wife keeps shop upstairs in the retro-clothing gold mine with everything from old military and marching band uniforms to every piece of women's clothing needed for a Hitchcock film, including dainty sheer stockings, feathered hats and demure dresses. 'Round back in a separate storefront, their daughter keeps the groovy '60s and '70s shop with Nixon campaign buttons, mushroom-print dishes and a Hollie Hobbie tea set. We've never walked out empty-handed; nor should anyone else. It's worth the hour drive south. (It's past Waxahachie.)

Whether you are a serious cyclist or just have a single-speed Schwinn cruiser with a bell like we do, the right gear is imperative. Recently, we went on a bike accessory hunt with our sister, new to the cycling world. The friendly guys at Debo hooked her up with cycling shorts (lovingly referred to by us as "diaper pants"), the perfect helmet, a bottle and pump to keep on the bike frame, a bag for emergency parts, a tire tube and various other things that she was convinced she'd need for a few miles around White Rock Lake. They set her up, made her feel confident about the new venture, and they never lorded over her like know-it-alls. We all agreed that wearing a helmet is a necessity, and the diaper, er, cycling shorts will keep your ass from lighting on fire around mile three, but she still hasn't used that spare tube...although they did instruct her on how if the need arises. Debo also carries the bikes themselves--Cannondale, KHS and Jamis. Recumbents and tandems are available. And if you're just starting out, they can set you up with some sweet training wheels.

Readers' Pick

Richardson Bike Mart

Various locations

Dr Delphinium Designs & Events

Too bad nobody really goes to a florist anymore. It's mostly a phone or online transaction to send an "I'm sorry I'm such an idiot," "Congrats on the new poop dispenser" or "Get well soon because your work is really piling up around here" gift of flowers. They used to say, "Say it with flowers," and we kinda like that idea. Dr. Delphinium speaks about 2,000 languages, though, so we tell them what we're thinking, what we can afford and where to send it, and then we let them do the rest. If you can stop in, you're in for a true European flower market experience, with helpful sales staff and designers who can show you how the very best bouquets are conceived.

Readers' Pick

Dr Delphinium Designs & Events

We are openly, unashamed, serious cat people. We call them our children. We've considered lint roller companies on our investment profile. We support pet rescues and the unabashed pampering of our fur-babies. So why wouldn't we back a shop that feels the same way? Open the door to Cat Connection and immediately there's an unsaid camaraderie between the employees and the customer. No one is going to make fun of you for upgrading from the original Panic Mouse to the Panic Mouse 360 (a fully rotating electronic contraption that flings a tethered fur pouch randomly). And no one will rush you if you stand stymied in front of the collar wall, unsure if paw prints or rhinestones are the way to go. The store is also an excellent place for the budget-conscious pet parent as it stocks feline finery that ranges from 69-cent Mylar Krinkle Balls to custom cat loveseats and TreasureKnit Photo Blankets. Foods, litter, pest control and kitty-themed goodies for humans are also available. Plus, they have a bin of Greenies dog treats if you can't go home without a gift for the canine kids.

Gardening in Texas is literally a tough row to hoe. Brutal summer sun, voracious insects and prolific weeds make producing that perfect tomato a long shot at best. Maybe the wisest thing gardeners here can do is what the rest of the city does in the summer--stay indoors. Texas Hydroponics in Deep Ellum--they have shops in Watauga and Arlington, too--has all the gear you need to keep your garden growing year-round, safe from the great outdoors (and prying eyes). The store offers a full range of efficient hydroponics and aeroponics systems along with lights and eco-friendly organic nutrients. "I can set you up with a $50 system or a $50,000 system," says owner Tom Marek, a plant physiologist. (They also do consulting work.) This isn't like some corner counter in your local head shop--they've helped commercial growers and universities set up soilless systems as well. What you grow is your business; helping you grow it right is theirs.

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