For Meredith McCord, looking at a piece of pottery brings back decades worth of memories. McCord started The Mad Potter in 1998, and since those early days, she's used her kiln to immortalize countless special moments. She traveled to hospitals to capture the footprints of newborns, helped a young man create a dessert plate with the words "Will you marry me?" emblazoned across it, and auctioned off items for charity. Yet some of her fondest memories center on the day-to-day interactions with customers, specifically when they return to pick up their fired pieces and utter three words of amazement: "I did that?"
The Mad Potter has since expanded into three Houston-area locations, where children and adults come to paint their own works of art or create replicas of their ancient ancestors' garden gnomes. More than 500 bisqueware items line the shelves of each studio, including coffee mugs, plates, and figurines. Staffers then help visitors select from more than 54 available colors of paint and supply them with everything else they might need, including brushes and stencils. The staff can even take things over and create more intricate designs?while still consulting closely with the customer. Whatever route a person chooses, there's always time for a sip of wine or beer; the River Oaks location sells wine and beer while Bellaire and Woodway maintain a BYOB policy.
A crackling fire warms guests perched at white-draped tables in the candlelit wine cellar. Upstairs, diners marvel at the picturesque views of the vineyard and rose garden filling the glass-enclosed patio's windows or deeply inhale the aroma of wildflowers drifting onto the vine-covered porch. It's against these intimate backdrops that servers at The Vineyards Restaurant deliver steak, seafood, and other upscale dishes to tables, which come aglow with candlelight as dusk falls.
The chefs work hard to make each bite as special as the surroundings. They age beef-tenderloin fillets for 45 days before plating them atop garlic-and-mushroom sauce and slowly marinate chicken in a spicy chipotle-garlic oil before nestling it in a bed of pasta covered in cilantro cream sauce.
With such food in such a setting, a regular night out at The Vineyards is one to remember, but a special occasion there is truly magical. For marriage proposals, anniversaries, and the reunions of long-lost pairs of socks, staffers lead guests down a candle-strewn path to a private table set for dessert among the vineyard's rows of grapevines. The Vineyards has held more than 500 weddings in its open-air pavilion, and its on-staff wedding coordinator and floral designer help plan picture-perfect ceremonies.
There was a time when looking down the barrel of Clyde Barrow's gun wouldn't have seemed too appealing. But now people visit the second floor galleries of the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture just to get a glimpse of the infamous weapon, which shares space with more than 1,000 other artifacts, including the first traffic light in Dallas County and handcuffs worn by Lee Harvey Oswald. Taken together, these artifacts trace Dallas County's past from prehistory to the present day, a timeline visitors also explore via the museum's 41 touchscreen computers, four mini theatres screening specially commissioned films, and hands-on activities on topics such as architecture and pioneer life. More hands-on activities await in the education center, where youngsters learn about their local heritage thanks to exhibits on Dallas County children.
Housed in the Old Red Courthouse, a restored Romanesque building from 1892, the museum is practically a large-scale exhibit unto itself. Its many architectural flourishes include a four-story grand staircase, a restored clock tower, and two original stained-glass windows from the courthouse's original collection of more than 100. Tours of all four floors grant visitors access to areas not otherwise open to the general public, including the courtroom and the judge's tightly guarded gavel shed. The historic building makes a fitting setting for the special exhibits that grace the first floor gallery several times a year.
“We hold the record for world’s smallest food truck,” Verts Kebap owner Michael declares in a prominent German accent. “They are Smart cars, all three of them. They took a year to develop.” German engineers spent those 12 months retrofitting sinks, refrigeration units, and food warmers into the backs of cars each roughly the size of two stacked bathtubs. But the record-setting vehicles—which each hold 50 sandwiches or one competitive eater who just ate 50 sandwiches—have a greater function. “They are for learning about the city, and teaching the city about our food. That’s how we hope to bring our food to the U.S.”
Verts is a casual-dining concept built around the döner kebap sandwich, which over the last 40 years has became the most popular fast food in Germany. “It doesn’t exist in the U.S.,” Michael explains. “We are wanting to share that.” While pursuing their MBAs, Verts founders Michael and Dominik craved the street food from their native country, inspiring their business concept. Their tasty pita-stuffed sandwiches employ Texas-raised meat, locally made bread, and house-made sauces––all the same composition as those found in Germany. That’s not to mention Turkish-style seasonings of pepper spices, basil, cayenne, and paprika.
The mobile food trucks, while conceptually innovative, are meant to bring people into their stubbornly immobile restaurants. They believe this is their true calling. “We get many people coming from Germany. People who have been in the military or traveled across Europe. Students. They are all happy to have those tastes again. And we are pleased to bring them."
Under the watchful guidance of founder and yogi Brynn Byrne, the dedicated instructors at Elemental Yoga: North Texas Yoga Therapy help students boost core strength and detoxify bodily systems with their schedule of yoga classes. Classes vary based on skill level and intensity, with meditative flow easing practitioners into centering poses and advanced posture sessions helping seasoned students progress on their yogic journeys. No matter the class, instructors embrace the tenets of holistic healing, crafting sessions that can improve respiration, sharpen mental faculties, and restore energy lost during attempts to power the television with a stationary bike.
The photos we leave behind may be the only way for future generations to see the styles and personalities we bear. That’s why the professional makeup artists and photographers at Glamour Shots strive to capture the true essence of a person with their shoots. Whether commemorating a milestone event or a successful trip to the grocery store, each session begins with the shop’s signature full airbrush and style makeover, which works to prevent unwanted shine while imparting a chic aesthetic. Makeup artists tailor looks to the purpose of the shoot, imparting children with a red-cheeked glow and boudoir subjects with a dark, seductive color palette.
Photographers encourage everyone to bring a few outfits and props from home, allowing them to give each photo shoot an individualized touch without snapping close-ups of their subjects’ fingerprints. Clients get to see the photos immediately so they can approve the looks and order their favorite shots in the form of pictures, phone cases, or calendars. A professional lab then prints out the chosen items using a range of color finishes—including colorization to make one color pop and the company's signature Glamour Touch retouching—onto made-to-last Kodak paper.