When you have uninvited creepy crawlies, the best advice on getting rid of them comes from people in your own 'hood. After all, they know the same critters. East Dallas couple Douglas and Chrissy Fairweather developed all-natural Papa Richter's Roach Ridder and eventually manufactured it in sticky-backed bottle caps to mount in strategic spots. The boric acid-based formula is green and safe for use around inquisitive toddlers and the like. Without reliving any nightmares, we'll just say that it works quickly even during the humid spring and demanding summer. Oh, you could make a similar pest-prohibitive paste yourself, but you won't, so buy theirs. Available at the Green Spot, Walton's and other locations, as well as online.
After checking out photo booth after photo booth, we found that Premiere truly lived up to its name. The Frisco-based company provides Dallas-area events with a booth to entertain guests and spit out personalized photo strips that hearken back to those of the old days ... if the old days came with custom logos, a box of crazy props and a kick-ass, accommodating attendant. While your hired photographers are snapping your friends' "cheese," the booth documents the real hams, and you get all the copies. With their competitively priced, freebie-packed packages, Premiere's photo strips are fun and inexpensive party favors that won't get regifted, lost or tossed on the drive home. They're keepsakes from a wedding, bar mitzvah or corporate event that you'll actually want to keep.
Whole Foods
Walking in the 64,000-square-foot Whole Foods for the first time can be intimidating. Why is there a large cosmetics section? Did I accidentally go to Dillard's? But once you make your way through the expansive produce and meat sections, you realize this is foodstuff heaven. Allergic to gluten? You'll find a large selection of gluten-free foods here. Like to get buzzed while perusing baked goods? There's a wine bar with a well-priced and versatile selection of wines by the glass. Oh, and did we mention the frozen yogurt bar, expansive chef's case and covered parking? That last part sure makes this Whole Foods our favorite shopping haven in the summer heat.
Urban Acres
Whenever anyone starts talking to us about organic this, sustainable that and how buying local food can reduce our carbon footprint, we tend to zone out and assume that the conversation doesn't apply to us. Because we eat meat. A lot. Especially when we cook. A meal just isn't a meal unless we're eating something that once had a face, as far as we're concerned. So we assumed that a store that serves as the hub for a co-op style produce market had nothing to offer us other than some of the green stuff that goes on the plate as sort of an afterthought next to the T-bone steak, drumstick, pork chop or fillet of fish. And yet, the first time we walked into Urban Acres, fully expecting to find a bunch of bean patties and tofu and other bullshit meat substitutes, we instead saw a cooler full of flesh. Grass-fed, hormone-free beef. Free-range, stimulant-free chicken. Milk from cattle that weren't pumped full of antibiotics. Eating like a caveman never felt so natural.
We're not so nimble with a sewing needle, but Margaret of Margaret Custom Alterations is so talented that she puts those crafty wannabes on Project Runway to shame. Whether you need a designer gown to be shortened or sequins replaced on your tacky Christmas sweater, Margaret can do it just right and in a reasonable amount of time. She can shorten those fancy designer jeans you just got and replicate the fancy stitching on the hem, and her steady hand can repair even the most intricate of beadwork. Now you don't have to worry when you get a snag in your Rudolph sweater at the holiday office party.
Katy Trail Animal Hospital
We all know that old cliché about our furry friends being family members is true, and it's as much of a bummer when man's best friend gets sick as when your better half does. Sometimes veterinarian costs can run higher than human healthcare costs, but the folks at Katy Trail Animal Hospital aren't in the business of helping animals just for the money, and that certainly shows not only when you're paying the bill, but also when you see the staff interact with the four-legged clients. The doctors and staff are certified animal lovers, the hospital features a state-of-the-art surgical facility and the kitty boarding area has plenty of windows for our cat to stare at her favorite birds.
Avalon Salon
There's no better feeling than stepping out of the hair salon with a shiny, swishy new 'do, especially if that new cut, color and/or blow-out hasn't made you break the bank. In a city full of fancy (read: expensive) hair salons, Avalon has consistently been our go-to spot for reasonably priced hair styling and up-to-the-second trends. Those feathers you see all the young, hot things sporting in their manes? You could have been the first to have those red and yellow streaks in your hair and made all the kids envious. We give Avalon bonus points for the West Village location extending weekday hours and being open on Sundays and Mondays, a rarity in the salon world.
Adrift Float Spa
As much as massages have been touted as the ultimate way to melt away stress, there's another stress reliever that puts the standard massage to shame. Adrift Float Spa specializes in floating treatments coupled with anti-gravity massage. First, you spend 15 minutes or so in the anti-gravity massage chair, which loosens up your muscles and surprisingly feels as good as a massage from a real, live person. Afterward you're whisked away to a private room that contains a giant saltwater tank with enough salt to allow you to be blissfully buoyant for an hour. With the dim lighting and soothing music, your stress immediately melts away as you enjoy the feeling of being almost weightless. After an hour of floating, you'll forget about those Swedish massages. It's like having The Dead Sea all to yourself.
The Labyrinth Metaphysical Herbal Apothecary
In a purple cottage tucked away in a mysterious corner of Old East Dallas, this ... store? ... venue? ... spooky little hideaway offers a variety of merchandise associated with Wicca and other forms of magic. At the front in a glass cabinet is the best selection of tarot cards you're going to find in the city, certainly better than Walmart, ranging all the way from Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck to the more common and less infamous Rider deck. Lessons in tarot reading are offered here as well. But be polite, or you may get out to your car and find you've become a newt.
Baylor Medical Center
If you're having a medical emergency, the best facility isn't usually the one that shows up on U.S. News & World Report's hospital rankings year after year or the one that landed 14 consecutive Consumer Choice Awards. It's the closest. Fortunately for an East Dallas-dwelling friend who had a recent health crisis in which seconds counted, his nearest medical center was Baylor, which has won all of those honors along with many others. His experience with a top-notch medical team was just as positive as those of other friends and family members who've been patients there recently. And it doesn't hurt that the cafeteria food options are surprisingly good, including a Chik-fil-A stand instead of the dreaded McDonald's outpost. Baylor, while not always the closest, is the best choice when you have a choice.

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