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Alexandria Buzzell knows how tiring it can be to throw one punch or kick after another. She is a fourth-degree black belt and certified group-fitness instructor with 15 years of experience and Level 2 certification from the Krav Maga Alliance. At America's Best Defense, she and co-owner Corey Buzzell employ functional movements during Krav Maga, kickboxing, and kids’ martial-arts classes, each of which wraps fitness and self-defense exercises into an engaging, effective workout.

107 N Spencer Rd.
Spencer,
MA
US

The chefs at this small, authentic eatery appease appetites with a slew of classic Mexican fare, including burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and favorite entrees. Diners can stoke hunger fires with meat-infused taquito bites or fajita nachos, piled high with cheese, onions, peppers, sour cream, and either chicken or steak. Hearty enough to combat extreme hunger and put dents in passing cars, california burritos provide homes to spiced meat, cheese, rice, and beans. The chimichanga del mar hides generous hunks of crabmeat, scallops, shrimp, and veggies under a deep-fried tortilla cloak, and street tacos, despite their name, are better to eat than they are to drive over.

117 Main St
Spencer,
MA
US

For more than 20 years, Master Hobbies has packed its shelves and display cases with a cache of hobby supplies ranging from R/C cars and planes to plastic model kits. Today, R/C helicopters and planes ($39.95+) hover over pint-size plastic ($12.95–$29.95) and die-cast ($19.95–$59.95) models of cars, military vehicles, and ships that ferry Lego men across bathtubs beset with hazardous ice cubes. Model rockets ($9.95–$29.95) count down to their assembly and launch, waiting to streak across the skies in the colors of individual paints ($1.59+) or full paint sets ($14.95). Always eager to cultivate new interests, the store's eclectic hobbyists guard an arsenal of airsoft guns ($29.95+) and paintball ammo ($14.95/bag) and can order any special items by tying a 1/10th-scale form to the leg of a carrier pigeon.

565 Main St
Cherry Valley,
MA
US

Every spring and summer since 1985, the green thumbs at Everlast Nursery have helped transform neighborhood lawns into verdant backyard escapes. A vast cornucopia of plants and colorful blooms awaits to fill home containers, window boxes, and hangers, including a selection of “proven winner” annuals favored my most home gardeners in a recent taste test. A healthy selection of trees and shrubs is also available to help fill bare spots in home landscapes, as is a full range of gardening supplies that help ensure plants thrive in their homes.

1894 Main St
Leicester,
MA
US

Inside the fully-automated facilities at Pepin's Auto Wash, machines lave vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With today's deal, customers can select either the touchless wash, which uses high-pressure jets of water to cleanse vehicles, or the soft-touch wash, which banishes dirt with polishing brushes. In either case, a soapy undercarriage wash launders caked-on mud from the car's hard-to-reach belly, and a heated or tepid presoak loosens the grip of gluey sap deposits and toy cars clinging to the exterior out of admiration. Spurts of triple-foam polish restore the automobile's youthful luster, evoking the car's memories of carefree joy-riding and playing hooky from driver's ed. Two rinses eliminate all evidence of lather, and a translucent smear of double-bond Teflon shields outer surfaces from sticky particles of dust and grime.

1500 Main St
Leicester,
MA
US

Each year, Breezy Gardens owners Kim and John Miczek plant and harvest more than 100 tons of pumpkins, many of them lifted from the earth by visitors to the farm's pick-your-own pumpkin patch. But pumpkins are just one of many crops: In the spring, chrysanthemums, lilies, and tulips emit subtle fragrances, and the summer months bring an abundance of edible color in the form of yellow squash, blueberries, and ruby-hued tomatoes. The Miczeks practice conscientious growing methods to support the quality of their bounty. Craftily planted determent crops distract insects from disturbing fruits and sleeping vegetables, and soil undergoes frequent analyses by the University of Massachusetts to reveal precise measurements of nutrients. In addition to supplying jack-o'-lanterns, Breezy Gardens gives a nod to colder months with Christmas trees, wreaths, statues, and dried floral arrangements.

1872 Main St
Leicester,
MA
US