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Gone are the days when department stores played the same elevator music under the same fluorescent lighting and had the same sad shoe rack your parents made you choose from. Welcome instead to Nordstrom in The Woodlands, where the store is chic and each area is treated as a boutique and not just the next department. Enter into the realm of a modern department store that features its own coffee shop, restaurant and lounge area, where each restroom feels like a spa and the selection is friendly for almost every shopper's price point. Go ahead, try on this Woodlands Mall Nordstrom for size the next time you need a new pair of jeans. The fit might surprise you.

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Finding a long-term pediatrician for your children is a challenge. You take into consideration a doctor's experience, knowledge and bedside manner. With Dr. Teresa Romero of Kelsey-Seybold in the Woodlands, parents can find it all. A physician with Kelsey-Seybold for 15 years who has no plans to slow down, Romero is known among parents for her reassuring smile and her caring treatment tailored to each little patient. To future parents who are expecting or current ones who already have kids running around, we suggest you give Dr. Romero a call — she may be just the remedy you are looking for.

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Life is stressful, and sometimes the best way to deal with that stress is through lots of stretching, bending and focusing on being mindful while taking plenty of deep, healing breaths — and Joy Yoga on Washington Avenue is the place to go for all of that. Joy Yoga specializes in vinyasa yoga, and when you hit up the studio for classes, you're being taught by wonderful instructors who are always willing both to help you get deeper into your practice, if that's what you're after, and to help you deal with an injury in class so you can still practice without doing damage to your body. On top of that, there are plenty of options for how to take the classes. If you only want to practice occasionally, you can buy the classes à la carte or pay for a set amount at a time, or, if you know you need a lot of yoga, you can pay a set monthly fee and attend as many classes as time and your body allow.

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It's clear that Flowers Etc. by Georgia is a family-owned business from the moment you walk through the door. The small group of employees will ask you exactly what kind of arrangement you're looking for — a birthday, a graduation, a get-together at home — and will take you into the floral cooler, where it instantly smells like paradise. You can choose from a wide variety of daisies, daffodils, greens and a half-dozen colors of roses. You can go the DIY route, picking your flowers as you go; you can leave it to the experts to make the recommendations; or you can pre-select an arrangement from the shop's website. Flowers Etc. by Georgia offers about 60 options. Gift baskets and candles are also available in the shop.

Jeff Balke

Whether you're looking for a unique libation only rarely heard of in these parts, or are only after a standard excellent bottle of something red, Spec's Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods, located just outside of downtown Houston, is the best place to go. But be prepared; you'll be walking into an absolute wonderland of booze when you enter the store. The downtown Spec's is the mothership of all the satellite stores in Houston, and as such it has just about anything you can think of on its shelves. Plus, you can always wind your way over to the grocery and deli section if you want a little something to nibble on while you enjoy your alcoholic beverage of choice. And if for some reason you don't quite know what you want, or are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of options arrayed on aisle after aisle, the super-helpful and extremely knowledgeable Spec's employees have you covered.

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When you have put off getting your bridesmaid dress hemmed until the last possible moment and are desperately praying for a miracle solution so the bride won't throttle you, Bridals by Nancy is the place to go. Tucked into a tiny shop on a corner in Rice Village, Nancy will not bat an eye when you carry in your too-long dress, or your too-expensive-to-simply-throw-them-away jeans, or your vintage swing dress that's roughly 80 years old but only needs to be stitched up in 15 different places to be wearable again. She will simply take the item you have proffered, examine it, give an incredibly reasonable price for the work and then have it neatly, sturdily done when you come back at the appointed time. Altered clothes will fit to perfection, and any patches will be so seamlessly and thoroughly done that the items will look like new.

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Although we are lucky to live in a city that is full-to-bursting with able medical specialists, we're still a little skint when it comes to holistic practitioners, a notable exception being Dr. Moss, whose approach to optometry is rooted in general health strategies and cutting-edge approaches to vision correction. In addition to the usual Victorian gadgets, eye tests and hypnotic lulls one encounters in every eye doctor's office, Dr. Moss puts in the extra time — the extra time reading about progressive medical practices, the extra time looking at the whole messy spectrum of well-being, and, rarer yet, the extra one-on-one time with her patients.

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There's nothing "basic" about Splash's basic wash package, which runs a reasonable $18-$35. The attention and care Splash attendants give to your vehicle, from the lowliest bucket to the fanciest Italian import, is a marvel. They will vacuum, wash, Armor All, and generally primp and preen your ride to your heart's delight. For a few bucks more, you can step it up to the executive wash package, which includes cleaning the dashboard, door panels, console areas and seats. For the super-serious driver, Splash offers premiere detailing services like shampooing, deodorizing, deluxe leather conditioning and oxidation removal. You'll leave feeling like your vehicle is brand-new, and for the amount of time most Houstonians spend in traffic every day, it's well worth it.

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We haven't always exercised regularly or eaten healthy — hence that unfortunate summer we came down with scurvy. But, with just a little effort, we got our act in shape, and a big part of that was the Vitamin Shoppe. Sure, we felt out of our element the first time we walked in, especially since we were holding a bucket of fried chicken. But the employees were patient, courteous and knowledgeable. They explained all the different powders and supplements without pushing any product or trying to rush us out the door. It's amazing — we started to feel better even before we left. We're pretty sure you will too.

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Dick's has a way of immersing shoppers in whatever sport they're browsing for in the way a cruise line brochure might sell you a vacation. Deer heads are mounted on the wall in the hunting section. Pictures of sweaty runners with to-be-envied steel abs seem to be racing along the walls. Golf clubs line the putting green, where you can try them out. The point is, Dick's has a way of convincing you that you deserve the highest-quality equipment, for any sport or activity. Whether you're in need of football cleats or hockey skates, kayaks or snowboards, Dick's has everything for both serious athletes willing to lay down the cash and casual shoppers who just want to pick up a lawn game and some jogging shorts.

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