W Dallas Victory
We are including this for one very good reason: You're more or less paying for this anyway, what with the tax breaks and publicly subsidized dough Dallas poured into Ross Perot's piece of property years ago, so ya might as well give yourselves a pat on the big ol' back. For whatever reason—film fests, traveling friends, spa trips, dinner plans—we've found ourselves visiting the W often since its opening last year. And, yeah, hipsters love their Belmont in the Cliff and old-timers love their classy-charming Adolphus and the visionaries can't wait for their Mandarin Oriental, but the W offers just what we were expecting: sleek, cool, comfortable, the coolest swimming pool in town (even if it overlooks the minimum-security jail, ugh), the blissful Bliss spa and one of the best restaurants in town (Tom Colicchio's Craft). And we've heard about issues with hotel security being a tad over-eager on occasion, but that's how we like our fancy-schmancy hotels—well-protected to keep out the riff-raff that really oughta be staying at the Ritz-Carlton or ZaZa. Move along now. But next year, this goes to the Stoneleigh, assuming they don't screw up that multimillion-dollar renovation. They won't. Fingers crossed.
La Mariposa
That drive down to Brownsville can be a real hassle, and they're shooting people in Nuevo Laredo a little too often to make shopping there worthwhile. Best to let La Mariposa handle the Mexican importing for you. No, they don't carry cheap prescription drugs, but they do have a lovely selection of Mexican folk art, jewelry, embroidered clothing and home décor items imported from and inspired by our neighbors to the south. Dig their Day of the Dead trinkets and sculptures, which make great gifts for those who deserve little skeletons.
Visit this fruteria for a taste of one of the best parts of Mexico. Down there colorful fruit stands dot every busy corner selling fresh-squeezed juice and smoothies. This little store in Oak Cliff is packed with boxes overflowing with fruit from Mexico, and depending on the season, from all over Latin America too. There's papaya, coconut and pineapple, mangos and even a fridge full of edible cacti. The glass counter is abloom with freshly cut fruit, including chocolate-dipped strawberries. And you can order fresh-squeezed juice and any fruit (we recommend mango) served with lime and red chili. That'll put a skip in your sip.
We counted 'em—11 different styles of boys' blue jeans, plus numerous khakis, cargo pants and camouflage jeans. Faded, un-faded; dark blue, light blue or charcoal; with or without reinforced knee patches—they come in all kinds, and the best thing is sizes. Unlike a lot of discount purveyors, Old Navy always has the slim and husky sizes you need in stock. And these clothes will have your kid looking sharp at great prices, including frequent buy-two-or-more-for-a-special-price deals. We probably don't need to sell you on Old Navy's girls' selection, because chances are your daughter is already shopping there.
Sure, you can spend all weekend prowling the local gardening stores, picking out the perfect annuals and organic herbs and filling up the back of your SUV with bags of mulch and fertilizer. But when Sunday night rolls around and all the stores have closed, how do you sate your gardening jones? Click on over to Clean Air Gardening online. Their selection of products for environmentally friendly gardening is vast: rain barrels, compost bins, organic fertilizers and additives. The big item is the garden tool that jump-started site founder Lars Hundley's passion for online retailing: the push reel mower. Our order (an upside-down tomato planter, if you're curious) arrived quickly and was well-packaged. While Clean Air Gardening is online only, now that the seeds of retail success have been planted, they plan to plant a showroom in the Dallas Design District soon.
It's time to lighten up. We mean environmentally, as in lightening your energy consumption. An easy place to start is by changing all the old light bulbs in your bat cave to the new long-lasting, Energy Star-certified, low-wattage variety. They have a bounty of bulbs at Current Energy, the Knox Street boutique for all things energy-wise. Besides lights, they also can enlighten you on everything from switching to cost-cutting electric suppliers (takes 10 minutes at one of their computers) to the best way to insulate your attic with recycled materials. They'll even do a "house audit" (for a fee) to let you know everything you could do to save as much as 50 percent on air-conditioning, electricity and appliances in your new (or old) place. And they'll give you a fresh-baked cookie while you browse. Best to keep up your own energy, right?
Sigel's Fine Wines and Great Spirits
Quick quiz: Would you rather have to choose a good, reasonably priced bottle of wine, or overhaul the engine in your car? Yeah, we'd go with the engine overhaul too, and we know precisely dick about motors. Why, oh why, does buying a bottle of fermented grape juice have to be such a royal pain? We just want to bring a nice gift to a dinner party without breaking the bank or facing those awkward, wooden smiles when we hand our more knowledgeable hosts something they wouldn't wash their feet with. We don't have an effin' enology degree. We don't want to know the DNA sequence of the variety of grape we're drinking. We just want to get out of the store without spending a fortune or having the clerk laughing behind our backs. That's why we shop Sigel's—not the huge variety of wines and spirits in every price range, and not the huge cases of cold beer. We go there because they have very nice people who will guide wine idiots to a reasonable bottle, without leaving you feeling like you've just been pantsed.
REI
Suits? What do we know about suits? A week's worth of work clothes around this joint consists of two pairs of jeans, five T-shirts and a pair of flip-flops. Sometimes, though, the missus insists we look less like the reprobate we are. For funereal and wedding gear (same diff), you got your mall. For casual (read: everything else), we shop REI's racks of Columbia Sportswear, North Face and their own comfortable, cottony house brand. Natural and high-tech fibers, plenty of cargo pants and shirts with big, big pockets, fit for casual Friday at the office or hitting the trail—because we're men, dammit, and you just never know when you might have to tear off and answer the call of the wild, all while hauling your BlackBerry, encased in sweat-wicking synthetic linen. Our fave? The REI Adventure Pants, because there's always an adventure in our pants.
About two years ago, those of us who dug the mid-century décor of Eames, Stow Davis, Miller and Dunbar had a place to go for a much-needed chair, side table or console record player. The place was Metro Retro in Lakewood, with Andrea Jennings on hand and on the lookout for anything Eisenhower-era. Then she closed up shop, and we somehow found ourselves stranded styleless with a futon and a cinderblock bookshelf. Well, Jennings is back, this time in a smaller storefront on Lower Greenville. She's got a fresh stock of vintage pieces (selling quickly) and goofy gift items that are technically modern but with a wink at the past: Forbidden Planet journals, B-movie DVDs, pet-related funnies and cocktail accessories pepper the 1950s to 1970s furniture and wearables. Jennings is still settling into the new locale, unloading more and more every time we've visited, but the old Metro Retro popcorn machine has made an appearance—a sign that all is well in this '50s haven.
Are you contributing what you should to your 401K? Are you a good candidate for investing in a mutual fund, or should you have a Roth IRA? What goals do you have in terms of retirement income? All of these questions can be mind-boggling. Hell, on what we make, they may not even make sense, but James Lehman can help put it all into perspective. One meeting with the man (you'll be coached on what info to bring beforehand, fret not) puts your mind at ease when it comes to planning for that small business, college fund for the kids, a home in the country or whatever you have your heart set on years, or even decades, down the road. Lehman is a master at explaining in layman's terms what a few dollars squirreled away now can do for you later. This guy is money, man.

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