NorthPark Center

In recent months, and certainly since the 2006 expansion of Ray Nasher's white-brick mall, we've discovered there is no such thing as a quick trip to NorthPark. A pit stop in, oh, the Apple store or the Gap turns into a long morning that morphs into an entire day, as suddenly the kiddo discovers the computer in the Dallas Public Library's Bookmarks or the outside garden, which allows for an extended game of tag-and-tackle; then, maybe, the urge to see a movie sets in, but not before grabbing a cup of coffee at the nearby Starbucks; then, of course, there's lunch to be had, either in the food court or Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom or one of the other high-end eateries scattered about the mall; then, a respite in the Bose dark, cool theater-room, where one can digest in surround sound. Then, for the ladies, the day spa—as common in NorthPark as a cop these days. Or, for the men, a shave in the Art of Shaving antique barber's chair, followed by a trip to the day spa, because, really, fella, don't you deserve it? The list of activities is limitless; so too the possibilities of killing a day.

Fry's Electronics

We so wanted to give you the name of some little, unknown gem of a computer store, some super-secret place that only the bearded guys in jumpsuits who wear white socks with sandals know about. No such luck. Turns out the unsurprising secret to good hardware and software deals—besides shopping online—is volume, volume, volume, so the big chain store guy wins again. But not just any Fry's location, since the secret to shopping at a computer megalomart is finding one where you can actually get waited on, since most seem to be staffed by leprechauns—if you can catch a sales rep, pot o' service for you! That doesn't seem to be the case at Fry's ginormous Irving location. Not only have we actually been approached repeatedly by living, breathing sales reps—none of them wearing green top hats or smoking pipes—they've even understood us as we stood among their well-stocked aisles of hard drives, motherboards and networking gear and explained that we're "looking for this, um, doohickey that connects to this whatchacallit that we need to set up our WiFi" and then found us just the right part. Customer service—it's magically delicious.

Avalon Salon

Named a "star stylist" in a recent Allure magazine, Jason Hull believes in curly hair. Rather than iron it, burn it or cut it all off, Hull cuts curly hair in ways that enhance the natural waves and coils. He's also good at teaching clients the secrets of air-drying and product application. At last, a hair stylist who's a friend to frizz, which puts him on the cutting edge.

Eyebrow threading (or epilation) began in the Middle East as a hair-removal method passed down from generation to generation, producing nearly perfect arches quickly and painlessly. (If you've ever seen a Bollywood movie, you know what we're talking about.) The procedure finally made its way to our shores, and now everyone's pretty much heard of it and probably heard how great it is, but no one's sure where to get it done. For the best arch for your buck, put yourself in the trusted hands of David Sance. He can be found a few days a week at the Perry Henderson salon on Oak Lawn and will give you the best-looking eyebrows in the Western Hemisphere. The process takes about five minutes and is more cost-effective, less painful, easier on your skin and more accurate than waxing.

Jane Fonda, Cicely Tyson, Paula Abdul, Rihanna, Michelle Williams—lovely ladies with lashes out to here. They have Ja'Maal Buster to thank for that. He's the eyelash guru who's an in-demand expert at custom tailoring false lashes and applying them with the skill of a fine artist. From Dallas to Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles, Buster has built a clientele of celebrities and others who count on him to make eyelashes that no one can tell aren't the real thing. He calls it "art for the eyes." If you're headed for a red carpet or just want a few extra lashes for heavy flirting, Buster's the guy to keep your eye on.

The Army Store

Not that you would ever impersonate a police officer or pull people over and write fake tickets or anything. But it's not against the law to do a little fantasy role-playing, is it? At the Army Store, for $4 to $12 you can find a really cool, battle-grimy blood-red beret that makes you look like a soldier of fortune, or a cloth cap with a stingy little brim on the front and extra-long earflaps. Nothing like dressing up as a North Korean border guard to make the neighbors nervous. You also can be "U.S. Marine Corps—Retired," or a naval officer, but that costs $29.99, and you have to learn how to snap a proper salute. For $10.99 you can don a very chic burgundy boho topper. How very armies of the night.

The Cultured Cup

We know folks around here prefer their tea heavily sweetened and over ice. And we will never refuse a tall glass of sweet tea on a muggy summer day. But at home, away from judgmental Texas eyes, we love to fill our Bodum tea press with a delicious hot tea—one of our favorites is Thé Rouge au Sahara from Mariage Frères, a rooibos-based herbal blend with mint and rose petals. Yes, we are fancy. And fortunately, The Cultured Cup has a wide selection of Mariage Frères teas to satisfy all our snooty desires. Not sure what kind of tea you like? They are glad to make suggestions, and the tea "bar" offers gotta-have-it-now tasting opportunities. To indulge your sweet tooth, Cultured Cup offers fresh Belgian candies from Leonidas (we love the fruit-shaped "jellies") and drinking chocolate fit for a queen (seriously).

Fish Gallery

We took it pretty hard when Fish Gallery was devastated by a fire last year; as renovations dragged on and on, we feared they might remain closed forever. But when after several months they reopened the fish showroom, we were glad they had put in the extra time and effort. The new space is attractive, and they even added a restroom. Sure, they're not the cheapest joint in town, but you'll never get the same service and knowledgeable staff at a big-box store. Their aquatic plant selection is excellent, and African cichlid-keepers already know that Fish Gallery is the place to go. If you're just getting started, it's OK to go to Petsmart. We bet Fish Gallery will still be around when you're ready to swim with the big boys.

Ross Discount Tire

Tires will always, always go flat at the most inopportune times. Some of our favorite flat tire memories include 103-degree heat, sleet, a fairly bulky Halloween costume and temperamental lug nuts. Ross Discount Tire has always been our go-to for treaded salvation. The amiable staff offers unbelievably inexpensive puncture tests and patches, and are lightning-quick. The air-conditioning in the lobby ain't too bad either. In addition to flat fixes, RDT is generous with free air checks (better to be safe than sorry) and swift with rotations and balances. A word to the wise, though: In case you're not in RDT's neighborhood next time you flatten out, be sure to ask their friendly tire techs to check and prep your spare. It's just too bad they can't also repair all the potholes on Ross Avenue.

Yes, we do love flowers. And we love cats too. Maybe that's why this little storefront shop tucked next to an Albertson's grocery at the corner of Northwest Highway and Midway Road is our favorite flower peddler. For years, until she went to that sandbox in the sky, Isadora the kitty dwelt among the fresh-cut flowers and vases at I Love Flowers. She's gone, but the kitty love continues with Oliver (the friendlier one) and Cece (who keeps an eye on the business end of the shop in the office). How the friendly, talented staff of arrangers, whose designs for us always look like living, one-of-a-kind artworks, keeps the cats from munching the merch, we'll never know. It's not because the flowers aren't fresh enough for cat chow. The roses we've picked up here have kept their color and scent for so long, it's almost like they have nine lives.

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