All right, kids, get your minds out of the gutter! Crystal Visions creates handmade glasswares, not low-budget porn. Their 2,000-degree oven, known as the Glory Hole (hey, that's enough outta you!), heats and reheats all the prospective pieces. As one of South Florida's only glass-blowing studios, it caters to an array of customers. From stylish ashtrays and elegant dishes to stained-glass windows, this one-stop glass studio delivers speedy service at reasonable prices.

Need toys? Why visit a colossal chain store that practically requires a map to navigate (we're talking three aisles just for Barbie's shoes) when there's a cool little place like the Explorer Store? The shop, located in the Museum of Discovery & Science, sells all sorts of creative games, toys, and gadgets designed to provide challenging fun. The Build Your Own Volcano kit ($15) helps kids create actual eruptions using baking soda and vinegar. Another kit teaches children to build clocks out of vegetables. Then there's the always-popular Make Your Own Slime kit. "Kids really love that kind of thing because it's green, messy, and gross," says the store's Carol Villaverde. "And because they get to eat it." Speaking of which, the astronaut ice cream ($2.50) is rather tasty; it comes freeze-fried in a foil pouch, in napoleon and ice cream-sandwich flavors. You'll also find sea monkeys (actually brine shrimp), stuffed manatees and sea turtles, dinosaurs, books, puzzles, and the like. The shop, located across from the atrium at the museum's entrance, also sells toys that complement whatever IMAX film is showing at the time, as well as DVDs and videos of the film. The Explorer Store sees about 300 kids a day, all visiting on school field trips. But why should your child have to wait until then?
The name pretty much says it all. This store sells one thing and one thing only: bridal headpieces. Whether you favor a comb, tiara, or headband and want it beaded, jeweled or filigreed, you'll find it here. Think your mind is spinning with wedding details already? Just wait until the ridiculously patient salespeople painstakingly assess your head shape, hair style, face shape, and veil predilections to determine exactly whether you're the high ornate crown or simple barrette type. Just grin, bear it, and keep telling yourself you have to do this only once.

When Ray Oktavec was in the rag biz, he boasted $6 million sales. If Wal-Mart wanted embroidery on that sleeveless shirt, he'd get it done. But this v.p. changed shirts just after the economy tanked. Then on September 11, 2001, he was on his way to New York City to do business for Beverly Hills Polo Club clothing company. His plane was forced to turn around, and soon the company went under, taking his job with it. So now, in a building off South Andrews Avenue, gutted and remodeled into a warehouse-size space, he and his wife, Barby, deal in antiques and ornamental architectural salvage. Although the goods have changed, Oktavec still exercises a finely tuned eye in selecting merchandise and in reading the marketplace. Eastside stocks some stunning finds. From an estate in southern Dade County, he purchased an elaborately worked wrought-iron door that features an image of Cuba's patron saint Virgen de la Caridad (Our Lady of Charity). The Oktavecs gleaned a liberal range of stained glass from England, including stacks of small pub windows and a giant five-pane window decorated with delicate turquoise panes. Amid the antiques and high-end salvage are ideas a handyman could carry home for giving old objects new uses: benches fashioned from antique iron and wooden headboards, a wrought-iron horse feeder turned into a planter, and old doors given new life as murals.
Natural Selections sells strange plants. There are plants here with blossoms so luxurious they should come with parental advisories. The voodoo lily is pornography, though, plain and simple, with its thick fecund and penile-like stamen emerging from a delicately curled and vulvate flower. Other plants don't so much sex you as scare you. Natural Selections sells lurid monster versions of innocuous backyard plants so common as to have become vegetative wallpaper here in South Florida. Witness the sea grape. This protected plant with saucer-sized leaves and snarled trunk is everywhere -- growing into an impressive tree alongside A1A or taking on a tangled form close to the ground as it climbs over dunes or keeps a red mangrove company close to shore. At Natural Selections, they sell the Colossus of sea grapes, a variety whose leaves grow to about four feet in diameter. And that's not the nursery's behemoth. Nooooo. When the Borneo giant unfurls, its elephant ear plant-like leaf becomes a king-size bed of green, six feet wide and ten feet long. Natural Selections sold its wares for two years online until earlier this year. Now you can wander through the feverish greenery in a compound off South Andrews Avenue. Contemplate the 12-inch whiskers of a white bat plant. Admire the dramatic red spine of a red sealing wax palm. Languish with a vanilla orchid. Lose your dread of the corporal coil. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

How many places give you the chance to shop for bargains and help some kid get a college scholarship? While philanthropy probably isn't what drives the hundreds who flock to the Lake Worth High School Flea Market each weekend, it is the driving force behind the oddly placed open-air shopping court that offers everything from fresh tomatoes to foreign flags to deeply discounted name-brand clothes to irresistible garage-sale fare. One hundred percent of the money collected from vendors goes directly to the high school scholarship fund, organizer Betty Brown says proudly. Since it first opened under the towering Interstate 95 overpass at Lake Worth Road in the mid-1980s, the flea market has raised more than $1 million for scholarships, she says. But in truth, those who visit the market, open from 4 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, could care less. Like flea market junkies everywhere, it's the chance to get a good deal on a pair of Ray-Bans, pick up some fresh produce, take home a $25 dresser, or just stroll around with a cup of coffee and chat that brings them back time and again. The rumble of 18-wheelers and the occasional squeal of brakes overhead gives the market a special appeal. The urban shade from that freeway structure makes a trip to the flea market cool, even when the weather, like the promise of bargains, is hot.
We're not about to say that it's impossible to find some chic retro threads at your local thrift store. The problem with the armies of salvation is that looking for that one choice shirt often turns into a hunt for the proverbial needle in a haystack. One must pore over piles upon piles of leisure suits just to find that one shirt that says, "I am just dated enough to be completely hip." For those too lazy for this sort of odyssey -- or for those who would rather have more options in their vintage clothes -- consignment shops are probably the way to go. After all, most folks are greedy enough to say to themselves, "Why give away this stuff when I might be able to get some money out of it?" And if you're planning on going the consignment route, you need to start with Lucille's. The store seems like the haunted mansion of the Ghost of Styles Past. Here, you'll find dresses from 60 years ago, suits from the 1970s, and a whole slew of shirts whose history stretches far back into the 20th Century. They say if you keep something long enough, it'll come back in style. Well, no matter which decade has returned to prominence, you can depend upon finding the representative clothing at Lucille's -- assuming we don't all decide to start wearing breeches and surcoats again.
Courtesy of the Breakers Palm Beach
Ocean breezes ruffle the yoga mats of a group of women who are kneeling and stretching, and a trainer in the bustling gym with an ocean view guides a spa guest as she does crunches on an ab ball. The immaculate 140-acre oceanfront resort seems fitting for a spa that offers 13 different massage therapies, 12 facial and eye treatments, and 11 body wraps and scrubs. Outside of Paris, this is the only spa to offer Guerlain skin care services developed by the Guerlain Institut de Beauté in Paris. Too many choices? Make it easy with a package such as the Tropical Escape -- herbal citrus bath, citrus body polish, 50-minute Swedish massage with citrus oil in the comfort of your spa suite. Or make up your own Suite Dream package that includes a body treatment, specialty bath, and 50-minute massage. The spa's pristine facilities are available to hotel guests and those who buy at least a 50-minute facial.
Stevie Moon comes by his tattoo talent genetically. He learned the art from his mother, Juli Moon, who runs a tattoo parlor in Seabrook, New Hampshire. Son Moon is a master of the technical needlework of tattooing, but he also understands it as a graphic art. He wants the image to pop. He accomplishes that through structure of the image, by using the traditional black outline. But he also catches the eye with his artistry. Moon creates his own images. He does replications from artwork clients bring to him. A sleepy-eyed bodhisattva he tattooed onto the forearm of one client in pale green is rendered with a rare sophistication.

Ow -- this hurts. A nefarious chain selected as the area's finest representative of a retail establishment where independence is a virtue? Yes, 'tis true. Since mom-and-pop record stores haven't been able to mount stiffer competition in these parts, Border's Books, Music & Café wins because: (1) it sports the most comprehensive and complete new compact disc selection in Broward; (2) the staff would be working at a cool, hip indie store if there were a decent one around; since there isn't and they don't want to wear ties, they punch a clock here; (3) if we can't have housecats lounging around on hand-built bins under blacklight posters while the new Ministry album blares from a tattered speaker, at least you can get a decent cuppa joe while you browse the clean, well-lighted big-box floor; (4) no one else carries the extensive line of music-oriented DVDs that can be found here, like Gotham, a live Bauhaus concert film, or Icky Flix, a collection of artsy videos that puts the Residents in New York's Museum of Modern Art. A record shop's only as good as the back-room purchaser who orders product, and the buyer at Border's is obviously no shrinking violet, making sure the store is stocked with edgy stuff like Richard Kern's sexploitation series Hardcore Collection. Put that in your latte and drink it.

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