The Dyer family opened their first appliance repair shop on a dusty stretch of road in Fort Worth in 1945, and nearly 70 years later they're still at work tinkering over the ovens, refrigerators, and washing machines families invest in for their homes. Over the years their repertoire has come to include modern appliances such as microwaves and garbage disposals, and they can work with many major brands, including Whirlpool, GE, and Sub-Zero. Perhaps not surprisingly, they also conduct an appliance-repair academy that equips students to become certified professional technicians.
Teeming with precisely organized lighting fixtures, Passion Lighting's 9,000-square-foot retail show room—a multiple-year finalist of Residential Lighting magazine’s Showroom of the Year award—is designed to demystify home lighting and interior design for the everyday customer. Owner Bruce Paul—one of only 125 ALA-certified lighting consultants in the nation—uses his years of illumination expertise to help customers solve their interior-design conundrums. In addition to his company’s website, Paul maintains the video blog LightingGourmet.com, where he doles out expert advice on household lighting strategies and irresistible video clips of kittens installing solar panels.
Brenden "Stubby" Stubblefield, a Texas Tech University scholar studying animal science, bent his head intently over his latest lab project: home-brewed beer. After an exercise with yeast sparked Stubblefield's interest, he taught himself to brew beer to suit his own tastes. As he learned, he noticed the lack of a home-brewing supply store in the area and resolved to start his own with the help of his family. Stubblefield says that he loves his career because, "I get to talk about beer all day. It's like a dream job to me." Other staff members are just as passionate about home brewing, talking with customers and answering questions about introductory home-brewing kits and high-end brewing equipment, some of which the store manufactures.
In addition to equipment, the store carries brewing ingredients such as hops, grains, and a selection of 85 different malts in its own room. Stubblefield also leads home-brewing classes complete with a brief history of beer and a brewing demonstration for students who wish to buy their own supplies and continue the beer-creation process at home. Along with bolstering beer-brewing hobbies, Stubby's Texas Brewing carries hundreds of wine kits and high-end wine making equipment for those who prefer to grapes over grains.
The emerald easements of Hidden Valley's 18-hole miniature golf course encompass more than an acre of topsy-turvy terrain lined with rocky outcrops and windmills. Putt-putt posses engage in rapidly escalating one-upmanship as they traverse the scenic circuit, rolling colorful golf balls over multitiered greens that create breaking putts more difficult to read than ancient hieroglyphs projected onto a fun-house mirror. A central lighthouse prevents putters from losing their sense of direction and expounds on a nautical theme established by streams, waterfalls, and fountains that mist throughout the course. Hidden Valley also offers a game room and picnic area, along with refreshments to slake parched putters or create impromptu water hazards in front of their opponents' orbs.
It’s a Party purveys upscale gifts for all occasions within its cozy boutique. Rarefied finds such as jalapeño-pepper jelly ($8.95) delight gift-seekers with a taste for sweet and fire flavor, and Mini Love Crosses ($11.95) reiterate the power of love with graffiti messages scrawled over a small white cross. For an aromatic touch in the home, office, or Cold War bunker, scented candles ($18.95) give olfactory kisses to enclosed spaces while casting a romantic ambient glow. Relax Petite Treat Handcreme ($7 mini, $24 large) pampers person paws with a moisturizing cocktail of lavender, bee-blossom honey, Indian amber and Tahitian vanilla. Spread across the store, themed gifts commemorate a variety of important events from graduations to baby showers, and cards and stationery stand ready to be launched into mailboxes and tethered to carrier pigeons.
Nothing Bundt Cakes mixes fresh eggs, genuine butter, and real cream cheese into rounded risers worthy of slapping up on Mom's fridge. Choose from nine moistened cake flavors, such as ravishingly rich red velvet or swirlishly scrawled marble. Lemon bundt cake goes particularly well with tea parties attended largely by rabbits, mice, eccentric haberdashers, and confused British girls, and raging chocoholics can get a day’s worth of fixes with the moist and decadent chocolate chocolate chip. Every cake, from the pineapple-studded carrot cake to the streusel-like pecan praline, comes topped with thick petals of Nothing Bundt Cake's signature cream-cheese frosting. Sizes start as small as a single serving (wee bundtlets are $3.99 each, $45 per dozen), and go all the way up to a two-tiered cake ($65, serves about 26) that resembles a frosted snowman, which is perfect for any autonomous ice monster's first birthday. Split the menu down the middle with an eight-inch, frosted bundt-in-a-box ($18.50).