Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Enking via CC

When you're longing for some beautiful greenery in your yard or on your porch but don't want to introduce any nonnative species to the area, Buchanan's Native Plants is the place to go. For more than 30 years, this (relatively) little plant nursery in the Heights has been serving up offerings of native and adapted plants, everything from the usual perennials and herbs to delicate rose bushes and beautifully grown trees, while developing a loyal clientele among Houston gardeners along the way. Houston can be a tricky place to grow plants, but everything Buchanan's offers has at least a fair chance of thriving (except with those among us who simply lack green thumbs) because all its plants and trees are chosen to suit the Houston climate. Buchanan's is also devoted to organic gardening, so the nursery has a nice variety of organic options and natural soils to put your greenery in. And if you're among those who are not gifted at plant growing, it's lovely to simply stroll through the place admiring it all.

Photo by Benjamin Deutsch via CC

Bike shops are akin to record stores. They have plenty of stuff for the average rider, but are really tailored to the enthusiast. After all, it's the latter that keeps places like I-Cycle, the longtime Oak Forest cycling shop, in business. But even if you just want a first bike for the kid, the folks at I-Cycle will hook you up with wheels and all the gear to go with them.

Photo by Michael Dorausch via CC

The circumstances of life leave us battered, bruised and in need of repair. From exercise injuries to sitting long hours in front of the screen, from automobile accidents to the ravages of time, we all form a line outside the Conklin Clinics like moths to a flame. It's here that we find respite under the healing hands of Dr. Philip Conklin, who draws from 35 years of practice and a whole-body approach to pick us up and send us back into the world feeling exponentially better. East Houston has benefited from his innovative techniques for years, and now he's practicing out of a second clinic near The Galleria.

Photo by Ed Schipul via CC

Houston is a city likely cursed to always have questionable mass transit. We'll never be a New York or a Chicago, but stepping off the METRORail and onto Preston Station will at least give you the illusion of being a walkable city. There's plenty to visit, plenty to walk to, without having to worry about the burdens of parking. It's bright, and with spots like Notsuoh and Nightingale Room, among others, there are plenty of options for a night out without the worry of a drive home. Until you take the METRORail back to your car. This is still Houston, of course.

Photo by T.J. Lentz via CC

Getting your hair done is as much about the experience as it is the end result, and that is why you want to go to Flo at D-Vine Salon & Spa. Flo has been working miracles in Houston hair for years, and her customers keep coming back because not only does she provide stylish cuts and excellent color, but she ensures the style and cut is something you'll be able to manage and maintain. She's also wonderful at making her clients feel absolutely at home. Whether you need a cookie, a cup of coffee or just someone with whom to talk about life, she's got it all. You never leave feeling less than 110 percent better than you were before.

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Dr. Lore Haug is a licensed veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior. Based in Sugar Land, Haug has more than two decades' experience treating dogs (and cats, horses and other animals) for issues like aggression, separation anxiety, noise and weather phobias, and compulsive disorders. With her calm demeanor and uncanny ability to understand how animals think, Haug is able to solve behavior problems that have confounded dog owners. With plenty of success stories to show for her hard work, it's no wonder many Houston veterinarians refer patients to Haug.

Photo by Katharine Shilcutt

Though smaller than its suburban counterparts, H-E-B's so-called "Buffalo Market" sacrifices none of the Lone Star supermarket leader's essential Texan-ness. Start with the vast expanse of produce offering dozens of varieties of pretty much anything currently grown or picked, organic and non, and proceed past the fine in-house deli (the rotisserie chicken is especially delicious) and fleet of customer liaisons offering ever-helpful recipe suggestions or samples of anything from stone-ground crackers to wine. If a special occasion is approaching, don't miss the spacious floral department and an absolutely killer bakery. On the shelves, many H-E-B-brand products easily eclipse their neighboring name-brand rivals in both flavor and price. When it comes time to check out, the friendly (if often slammed) cashiers will be happy to offer up a few "Buddy Bucks," which kids can feed into a boardwalk-style wheel of fortune. For a place most families can't avoid visiting at least weekly, Buffalo Market makes grocery shopping less like a chore and more like a reward.

Photo by Mike Woods

Mike Woods, artist and owner of Advent Tattoo, is booked months in advance for those highly coveted five-hour slots for sleeves and other major ink projects. His portfolio speaks for itself, and this very talented inkmaster works with the body's curves to deliver highly detailed masterpieces that scream to be shown off. He's a class act, and you won't hear him publicly badmouthing the work of others, even when he has to rescue a tearful damsel in distress from a poorly rendered rose. Can't get in? The other Mike at his shop, Mike Ashworth, does amazing work as well.

Walking into Retropolis can be rather daunting initially. The long, slim aisle that you must march up to enter is packed to the brim with clothes, shoes, sunglasses, beaded handbags and crazy earrings from various decades, all thrown together in a kaleidoscope of brightly colored possibilities. But don't get bogged down there, because it's not until you move past the counter and up the stairs that you get to the really good stuff. The upstairs of Retropolis is massive but divided into booths. Each seller tends to have different specialties, so whether you're looking for Victorian-era loungewear, the perfect Led Zeppelin T-shirt from the actual days of yore, or a 1950s prom dress to wear to a symphony performance at Jones Hall, there's a section that is likely to offer something along the lines of what you're looking for. If you don't find it on one trip, just keep trying. The selection is always changing, and with time and patience, there are countless vintage goodies to be discovered and procured.

Photo by Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos via CC

In what is perhaps one of the most unassuming auto shops on what is rapidly becoming an extremely busy street corner just outside the Heights, Kelley Tires has quietly been fixing cars for decades. The tiny little shop still writes up orders with pen and paper, often stained with oil from the hands of the mechanics who handle the repairs and paperwork. They can fix almost anything and they will tell you when they can't. If nothing else, they are fair and honest, a critical component for customers when your lack of knowledge of cars can literally cost you.

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