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.
In 1925, Kiddie Park first opened its doors, and since then, generations of kids have flocked to the park, and its classic rides. After a renovation in 2009, the grounds were augmented with modern facilities such as a new entrance. The revamping efforts proved fruitful, and the San Antonio Current lauded the facility as the Best Kid-friendly Park (& Comeback Story) in 2010.
Now more than 85 years after its opening, Kiddie Park welcomes visitors for days of fun and nostalgia. A train winds through turns, while a ferris wheel proffers elevated views of the historic grounds and lollipops stuck in visitors' hair. Hand-carved in 1918, the park's flagship Herschell Spillman carousel still beckons visitors aboard its decades-old horses. Elsewhere, a snack bar tempts taste buds with classic treats such as funnel cakes and cotton candy.
Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
Amazing Kakes sugar artists Yvette Humbert and Kim Sanchez, whose creations have been featured on the Food Network and in The Knot’s Best of Weddings 2010, apply their artistry to made-to-order wedding cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops. The flavorings and fondant in their cakes hail from Switzerland, imparting a distinct European note to flavors that range in complexity from red velvet to champagne bellini. The duo's commitment to detail extends to its firm stance on only designing wedding cakes in-person, though the two have flown as far as San Francisco and the moon to construct and attend to celebratory pastries.
Humbert and her fleet of instructors share their expertise in cake-making classes, teaching students to mimic their magic in a roomy, sunlit classroom. In general classes, including topics such as how to make fondant or gum-paste flowers, bakers add new techniques to their repertoires, and during more specific classes, they learn to build cakes that resemble anything from the University of Texas at Austin tower to a high-heeled shoe. All materials are generally provided, allowing students to observe firsthand Amazing Kakes’ efforts to use exclusively sustainable and nontoxic products.
Pump It Up's indoor inflatable arenas launch socked striplings into the air with a plethora of kid-friendly bounce pads. Staffers supervise fun-filled visits, during which adult counterparts leap around with their kids through gargantuan bounce houses, skip down air-filled slides, and slither like snakes covered in bacon grease through an inflated obstacle course. Occasionally, the staffers switch off the lights, arming the roomful of players with glow sticks and bracelets as they navigate the air-cushioned obstaclescape.
The colorful venue also hosts custom birthday parties and private team parties, each themed to please the partygoers in question. These soirees immerse children in a schedule of interactive activities befitting a pirate or a superhero while melting off youthful energy faster than ice cubes thrown into a running DVD player. The birthday boy or girl even gets to blow out the candles on their cake seated in their blow-up throne. Relying on the staffers' vigilant, watchful eyes, guardians can rest assured that their charges will stay safe, and each piece of the inflatable playground is held to the wall by a complex series of anchors installed according to strict safety standards.
Restaurant Express makes quick and convenient food delivery its business with an easy-to-use online ordering system featuring 34 eateries of all shapes and flavors. The ordering process begins when famished diners choose their desired delicacies from a range of restaurant menus available on Restaurant Express’s website. Featured nosh nests include Chubby’s Bronx Deli, The Magic Pan, and Jaxon’s Restaurant and Brewing Co., along with a slew of other neighborhood favorites. The dialing dynamos at Restaurant Express arrange your order with the restaurant and have orders to your door anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour after the order is placed. The delivery charge for restaurants within Restaurant Express’s delivery zone is $6.99, but purchases are also available outside of this zone, and friendly Restaurant Express customer service reps are on-hand to inform customers of any additional costs these deliveries might incur.