As a licensed interior designer, Gibbins has an especially discerning eye, and it shows in her shop's remarkable selection. This includes Welsh dressers, cricket tables, trunks and more period oaks than you can shake a stick at. According to her Web site, "Carol makes three to five buying trips every year, which helps her keep the shop in Houston full of inventory on three large floors." So you're guaranteed to fall in love with at least one piece any time you go. Whether you're a beginner or you've been ­antiquing your whole life, you won't be ­disappointed.

Photo by Houston Press Staff

A good bartender acknowledges you right away, serves you promptly and keeps the drinks flowing steadily. A great bartender also remembers your name and your drink preference and will become one of your most important confidants aside from your partner and your priest. Andres Chapa, the dark, handsome and eternally cool mixologist, fits this description perfectly. While other barkeeps in Houston range from aloof hipsters to sunglass-wearing snobs, Chapa keeps it professional and prompt. He takes his work seriously and is a veteran of many upscale restaurants, bars and lounges all over this city. You can also find him tending bar and managing at Eighteenth Cocktail Bar and Hughes Hangar.

Houston is blessed with many good supermarkets, both chain and independent, which is a great thing for the consumer. We've got hoity-toity places, no-frills bargain bins and plenty of exotic markets. But among the four prominent local chains, we usually find ourselves at Kroger — and one Kroger in particular: the gleaming, expansive oasis in West U. The produce, seafood and meat seem fresher there; the layout more intuitive; and the whole space just seems cleaner and brighter. H-E-B tried to snatch some of the upscale clientele by opening a store across the street, but no thanks. We're sticking to the O.G. — that's Original Grocery.

This family-owned business has a wonderful selection at reasonable prices. Whatever the occasion — birthday, anniversary, sympathy, wedding, thank-you or "just because" — the friendly, experienced staff can help you find the best way to express your thoughts. Ace says on its Web site, "Because all of our customers are important, our professional staff is dedicated to making your experience a pleasant one. That is why we always go the extra mile to make your floral gift perfect." They're telling the truth. So we encourage you to give them a shot the next time you need to say it with flowers.

Mass transit demands a certain amount of uniformity, which means a rail station is really defined by its surroundings. Looking out the windows as you pull up to the Ensemble/HCC South Bound station, you're greeted by something lacking at most other rail stations: character. It's a location that feels like a haven from the great concrete constructs that make up most of the line, a tiny section of the city that feels inviting instead of daunting. You may not find the biggest rodeo in the world or the hustle and bustle of downtown when you step through the railcar doors, but you may just make some new friends.

A Houston institution, Texas Art Supply has been meeting the needs of armchair doodlers and professional artistes for as long as we can remember. No matter your medium, Texas Art Supply will be able to meet your needs. Whether you're shopping for yourself or for a friend or family member who's even just a little passionate about art, this should be your destination. It's nearly impossible to browse among all the paints, inks, papers, textiles, clays, ceramics and pastels (and on and on) and not be inspired to create something yourself. It's that amazing.

Jeff Balke

Could there possibly be any question? El Bolillo stands as close to a model of fresh-baked Mexican pan as anything America knows, and rightfully so. Don't be fooled by its imposing, stately facade: Once you're inside, all the warmth of a neighborhood panadería is yours. There are the piles of variegated cakes. There are the buckets of fresh bolillos waiting for their customers' trays. There are the rows of pastries — the ones iced as you like, the ones filled with whatever fruit jam you can imagine — all for the taking. And you're a fool if you leave without a slice or three of tres leches stowed away. Come hungry and bring friends.

Surely it's every TV meteorologist's worst nightmare: an on-air attack of the hiccups that can't be contained and won't be denied. But that's exactly what happened to Channel 11's David Paul the evening of May 1 — and not during a routine weather update, but instead amid some heavy rush-hour rains. Paul kept his composure while shooting a series of "Can you believe this?" looks at the camera every time another hiccup came forth. It was the same supremely affable, ever so slightly goofy style viewers have come to expect from the Westfield High grad, who has worked at KHOU since 1996 and was promoted to senior meteorologist last year, and it played well when the clip inevitably went viral. (David Letterman quipped, "What is going on there in Houston?") More important, Paul kept right on running down the rainfall totals, proving that he takes the weather much more seriously than he takes himself.

You know what sucks about Mr. K's? His shop can be a little tricky to find. You know what else sucks? Absolutely nothing. For years, Houstonians have trusted this extremely skilled, knowledgeable and personable watch-wiz with their timepieces. It doesn't matter if you have a cheapo, entirely utilitarian watch or a keepsake handed down from generation to generation — the dude will know how to fix it. He doesn't keep you waiting, and he doesn't overcharge. There's a certain level of service you get from proprietors who sincerely love what they do for a living — it's why people wind up (heh) being customers for life.

The list of "residents" at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery is impressive. Civic and government leaders like Jesse Jones, Oscar Holcombe, Hugh Roy Cullen, "Red" Adair and Lloyd Bentsen are all buried here. Some not so illustrious characters also call Forest Park Lawndale their home, including Karla Faye Tucker (the last woman to be put to death in Texas). More impressive still are the grounds. Buildings with Tiffany stained-glass windows, spectacular statues and ornate headstones fill the cemetery's 225 acres. Fifty-plus-year-old trees shade the graves and a small lake while a beautiful, wide bend of Braes Bayou gracefully makes its way along the edge of the property.

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