Tom Battles Custom Framing
Though already known for all the gig-poster framing he's done for the All Good Cafe, Tom Battles still fights the good fight to keep his mom-and-pop a contender against big chains that are way expensive and may handle old photos and hard-to-frame items with less care. Part of Battles' battle plan was this year's relocation from the Design District to Oak Cliff's Tyler-Davis District. It was a resurrection of sorts as now his shop is nestled in with galleries, studios, gift shops and more, and the walk-up/street traffic factor makes the frame shop a more convenient destination. One of Battles' biggest talents is his ability to turn anything into an art piece. Clothes, keepsakes, fragile papers, and, of course, art are all fair game, and with Battles' keen eye, he can offer matte and wood suggestions that are far from boring. For a well-executed frame job you simply shouldn't go anywhere else.
The Junius Heights storefront Little Bean is already stocked with plenty of too-cute wares from various lines of clothing to toys, but designer/owner Christine Visneau also keeps her sewing machine at the ready for special requests and sudden inspiration. Visneau's styles, also dubbed Little Bean, are fashion with function paying respect to both the wearers and the washers of the pieces. Pieces are kid-chic but come in comfy textiles and tastefully bright patterns. Onesies to dresses are all made with diaper-changing in mind but feature adorable details like handmade accents (rosettes, for example) or spaghetti straps with bows. We think some of Visneau's success originates in having her own brood — moms just know what works — but also in her incredibly youthful spirit, evident even before she greets you. Little Bean, as a line and as a shop that carries multiple designers and products, reflects that energy and happiness. To show that Visneau's thought of everything, Little Bean features eye-level unbreakable merch for shorties to browse and a coloring table for when boredom sets in. When baby's busy, shopping is bliss.
Hookah District
Toward the top of the line, the $289.99 Egyptian copper and brass single-hose hookah with handmade clay bowl and ice cup. At the bottom, a $40 model that is nevertheless nice and totally without plastic parts. Hookah District, which has a sister store at 11532 Harry Hines Blvd., sells to the discriminating nargilist, offering a line of top hookah tobaccos including Starbuzz, Sex on the Beach and Fuzzy Lemonade. These gooey concoctions don't burn, you know: They vaporize beneath specially fabricated hookah charcoal sticks, which you can also get here. In fact, you could drop some serious dough in this joint. Or not.
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.

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