Radio-controlled cars speed along the dirt path of twin, 20,000-square-foot off-road racetracks at RC Hobby Shop, spurred on by shouts of encouragement and furiously twisting thumbs. Too colossal to fit inside the building, the tracks embody RC Hobby Shop’s serious approach to having fun. Inside the 9,400-square-foot retail space, stacks of toys line the aisles and beckon kids and hobbyists with battery-operated modern gadgets and timeless classics such as yo-yos and board games. Model makers of every age can stoke their creative sparks with detailed modeling kits that reconstruct classic cars, elaborate train sets, and Lilliputian crime scenes.
With its circle of cushy chairs and iron-wrought footstools, the sewing area at Sugar Land Yarn Company bears a striking resemblance to a pastoral living room, where yarns of all colors fill a bowl resting on the coffee table and cubbyholes lined along the walls. Shawls and scarves hang in display to inspire future knitting projects, and a library of patterns and manuals demonstrates various techniques, such as stringing together a baby sweater without bursting into tears of joy. The shop’s wool-wizards lead classes in a wide variety of topics, allowing beginners and experienced knitters to socialize as they create wearable and decorative soft goods.
Beau Kisses kindly greets customers with a selection of sundry jewelry and home décor items. Visitors to the boutique can revel in novel prettifying devices, such as the Lady Primrose body brush with dusting silk ($30), a downy-soft delivery mechanism for a tincture of crushed marigold flowers, silk, and chamomile that leaves skin ready to steep in a cup of bedtime tea. For an olfactory flourish in the home and vehicle, the Tyler Candle Co. Glam Suite gift set ($22) completes romantic dinner-table preparations with a 3.4-ounce fragrant candle, which collaborates with a room spray, 4-ounce detergent, and Autoglam car freshener to please all manner of nostril. Force sullen earlobes to sparkle with a pair of 14-karat gold-plated pink agate earrings ($60) by Austin-based designer Kendra Scott, or step into an elegant pair of Yellowbox Pansy bronze sandals ($72) for a trot along the beach or stroll atop Martian sand dunes.
Quilt ‘N Sew Studio’s bolts of vibrant fabrics and rows of quilting accouterments beg artisans and neophytes for a shot at playing a starring role in their homespun wares. Blanket builders can follow the Berry Picking Party quilting pattern ($25.95) to soft-cobble a plush strawberry-themed quilt for a guest room or daiquiri den, or celebrate pilfered holidays with a Merry Grinchmas full quilt kit ($80.50), which includes the pattern, fabric, and binding. Needle bearers in need of textiles can stock their supply closet with fabrics from brands such as Full Circle ($6.33–$9.50/yd.) or Flannel Elements ($11/yd.), whose plaid patterns and soft, woven cotton make for cozy sheets and winter-weather tuxedos.
An online supershop of readables, BlueDolphin.com offers more than 1,000 magazine titles spanning nearly every imaginable genre. The site's mags are supplied by publishers at already discounted prices, allowing readers to get their literary fill without hocking their grandmothers' priceless porcelain flyswatters. Browse through the selection of titles available for $20 or less to find a year's worth of affordable reading, or choose your favorite category—from news and sports to computing, cooking, and gambling—to line up a suitable bedtime companion, such as Good Housekeeping, Rolling Stone, or The Beer Connoisseur. To help ensure word diets stay balanced, BlueDolphin.com also streamlines the subscription experience with MagTracker, a free online service that makes keeping tabs on your mags easier than bilking an aging schnauzer out of his 401(k).
The National Council for Certified Personal Trainers offers a nationally accredited program that prepares fitness instructors to become professional trainers within commercial, community, medical, and residential fitness facilities. Its curriculum centers on an in-home study course, during which students broaden their horizons with online materials including instructional textbooks, videos, and holographic spitballs. They cover key personal-training skills such as continuously evaluating clients, understanding nutrition, and properly operating fitness equipment. Some packages also incorporate in-person workshops, during which professional instructors work one-on-one with students. The curriculum culminates in an NCCPT exam—conducted online or in person—that transforms students into nationally accredited certified personal trainers once they pass.
Aside from these core programs, the National Council for Certified Personal Trainers offers classes that focus on specific areas of health and exercise, including topics such as group exercise, weight management, kickboxing, and golf fitness. Customers can also pick up equipment such as jump ropes and weight vests, a crucial tool for trainers who work on the moon.