Strangely enough, it was Maria Prochaska Boudreaux's baby daughter who first spread the word about her art. When her daughter was born, Maria painted a mural in her room. Friends who stopped by to see the newborn became entranced by the piece, and soon they were requesting murals in their homes, too. Maria did them one better: she opened up her own art business, where she sells her work and hosts art classes for all ages.
During these classes, she teaches students how to make textured paintings with layers of color that create 3-D ridges on the canvas. One of her more popular classes is the Women, Wine, & Whatever series, a three-hour session complete with a BYOB policy. Guests paint whatever they desire on an 11"x14" canvas while Maria provides basic instruction on brushstroke techniques and how to keep hungry raccoons away from your still-life portraits. She also hosts children's birthday parties and painting classes with set subjects, which range from stylized fleurs-de-lis to flowers, butterflies, and even crawfish.
Flipping through the TV channels, it’s not unusual to see cooking sensation Holly Clegg working her culinary magic on shows such as Fox & Friends, The 700 Club, or NBC’s Weekend Today. At once a culinary phenom, family woman, and tech entrepreneur, Holly has also added the title of author to her ever-growing resumé of success. Her trim&Terrific series, a 14-book women’s lifestyle series that unlocks the secrets to healthy eating, has sold almost one million copies. She’s also penned cookbooks for people with diabetes and cancer patients, leading to features in both USA Today and Country Living magazine. Her books also cover topics such as quick meals and cooking for beginners, walking novices through the cooking basics such as nutrition and singing to a lobster before plucking it from a tank.
Charbel and Ruth Harb's love for plants surfaces in their kaleidoscopic displays of foliage and garden-ready plants, each carefully arranged with meticulous detail and care. These vivid, creative displays regale retinas beside a complete water garden stocked with colorful koi fish, pumps, filtration systems, and fountains, where staffers answer any customer questions and chase away any loitering gnomes hailing from gardens on the wrong side of the tracks. As sun pours through the greenhouse windows, Charbel and Ruth work to outfit gardeners with all the foliage and supplies necessary to build backyard displays of greenery. Bedding plants, perennials, trees, and shrubs round out the collection of flora, which can be slotted into handpicked varieties of glazed pottery imported from China and Vietnam.
Mattress Direct culls a variety of mattresses in textures ranging from firm to plush from brands such as Tempur-Pedic and Serta. Serta's iComfort, for example, evenly distributes support across the body with microsupport gel capsules nestled in its memory foam; a specialized material prevents overheating and the resulting unpleasant lava-chase nightmares. Mattress Direct's stock of bed frames, bed linens, and pillows allow patrons to assemble complete bedroom sets in one trip, and an express delivery service prevents the hassle of renting a moving truck or outfitting each leg of a new bed with a rollerblade.
Clouds of fog roll through darkened halls, concealing mercenaries tracking their target’s movement. Before their trap can be sprung, the unthinkable happens: their vests begin to vibrate as a giggling child yells, "Got you!"Laser Tag of Baton Rouge's family-friendly laser-tag sessions thrust players aged 7 and older into similar faux combat, peppered with flashing lights and thumping music. Players race through a 7,500-square-foot multilevel arena brandishing Gen 6 laser-tag weapons that dole out precise shots and automated score updates. Special scenarios challenge players to work cooperatively toward a shared goal; for instance, in the Fugitive mission, one or two targets must escape a group intent on their capture.
Between bouts inside the arena, players can test their gaming skills at the center's arcade, which is filled with contemporary and classic machines. Each game is outfitted with the Power Play system, a swipe-card-and-sensor combo that tracks remaining game credits, relieving players from the hassle of endlessly fishing for quarters. The arcade also leads to an observation deck that looks onto the laser-tag arena, giving spectators a giant's-eye view of the combat below.
Catherine and Scott McKearn leave no corner of the world unsearched in their quest to discover artisan furniture builders. The couple frequents faraway destinations in India, Indonesia, China, and Morocco to unearth beautiful solid-wood furniture to import directly to their three shops. In order to save their customers money, they buy pieces wholesale and ship them in 40-foot containers, bypassing both middlemen and price-gun-wielding pirates. Their furniture ranges in style from industrial to French country, and the eclectic selection rotates every few weeks to accommodate new shipments.