Bright eyes and toothless smiles are regularly flashed at Little Nest Portraits, where the photographers specialize in children's portraiture. Owner Laura Novak and her quirky, talented staff love to fish for spontaneity and smiles during in-studio and outdoor photo shoots. Like backwards magicians, their trick is preparation: they chat with families beforehand to run down the session, pick up personality traits, and dish out tips such as what to wear. After frames are snapped, their home-design specialists can augment the prints with accessories such as hand-painted frames, canvas wraps, and gallery mounts.
Moments are captured in the comfortable studio, which creates a natural aesthetic with charming textures and a blend of modern furniture and antiques. Not content with merely decorating walls and mantels, the studio also strives to make its community more beautiful, giving back to a number of charities and working with school fundraiser programs.
Starting in 1998 in the Philadelphia suburbs, the women behind Art of Exotic Dancing have strutted and hip-rolled their way to the forefront of a surge of interest in fun, sensual movement. Dedicated to fostering a comfortable space where all participants feel safe, the certified instructors proffer encouragement and reassurance as they teach dances that emphasize self-expression, personal power, and natural movement. Women learn to dance to a full song during the 90-minute CoreMoves class, while the Signature Workshop fortifies confidence via flirtatious techniques such as sensual walking and slow-motion winking.
Culinary craftsmen at Fingers, Wings and Other Things grease ravenous fingers with hand-battered chicken tenderloins and zesty buffalo wings gracefully dunked into more than 12 homemade dipping sauces. The vibrant menu entices eyeteeth with handheld munchies such as fried pickles, mac 'n' cheese wedges, or buffalo shrimp glazed in mild, spicy, or extra-spicy sauce hot enough to garner a centerfold spread in Condiment Monthly. Guests can count their chickens before they're devoured with a basket of 10 fingers or 20 wings bedecked in a choice of savory sauces, including three types of barbecue, horseradish mayo, and honey mustard. A selection of seafood and chicken entrees heads up the main event with tasty picks such as the beer-battered fish 'n' chips platter or the grilled shrimp and chicken skewers, which unite meaty morsels more conveniently than a mailbox full of pork chops.
As the only professional coed team sport in the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii, World TeamTennis provides tennis enthusiasts with an adventurous approach to match play. A single match consists of two teams made up of high-ranking men's and women's professionals. These four-player teams (two men and two women) battle one another across a five-set gauntlet—the one-on-one onslaught of men's and women's singles, the low-five-laden lusciousness of men's and women's doubles, and the gender-juxtaposed jubilation of mixed doubles. Whoever wins the majority takes home bragging rights and, possibly, temporary immortality. This year's Philadelphia Freedoms roster features fast-serving superstar Andy Roddick alongside pros such as Ramon Delgado and Courtney Nagle.
Radnor Valley Country Club provides players with access to three newly renovated indoor courts, outdoor lighted clay courts, and a staff of professional instructors from around the globe, including tennis director Reda Akbil. Each one-hour private lesson is tailored to the orbit-whacking needs and talents of budding baseliners, with instruction in skills such as serving, hitting, and outsmarting Charles Nelson Reilly. With one-on-one attention from their racquet racketeer, students can shape up their swing, better their backhand, or just get some exercise while working out deep-seated net angst.
Flag Lady Gifts offers an eclectic selection of giftable goods and patriotic paraphernalia. This deal gets you a 3'x5' two-ply polyester American flag ($56.30) made of extra-strength spun polyester with sewn stripes, full-sized embroidered stars and a pole sleeve for front-door flying. These flags (made by Valley Forge) can resist the gust of high winds, red rocket glares, and bombs bursting in air, and are all made (naturally) in America. You also get two reflective, vinyl oval U.S.A. decals (normally $2.85 each) to stick to the back of the car or tandem bicycle of your choice. Seize this opportunity to publicly announce your household's favorable impression of America this Fourth of July or gift a U.S.A. flag and decal to a friend.