By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
By Michael Roberts
By Melanie Asmar
Best Oaxacan Folk Art
1420 Pearl St., Boulder
It's a sculpture. It's a decoration. It's a fire-breathing dragon painted in psychedelic patterns and colors, and it wants to come live in your house. Oaxacan folk art is an acquired taste, but if you're among those who adore the fanciful carved creatures from southern Mexico, Artesanias has a fine collection--from a dog-sized curly-horned sheep (if money is no object) to a flowered armadillo tsatske (if it is).
Best Russian Knickknacks
Natasha's Russian Treasures
1320 E. 17th Ave.
Calling them knickknacks is really just a ruse. Sure, you can buy nesting dolls, ornamental trinkets and flashy Cyrillic-lettered T-shirts depicting onion domes at Natasha's. But the rest of the booty truly does qualify as treasure: Recent shows displayed antique icons and works by emerging Russian artists, and the shop always boasts a fine selection of illustrated lacquer-work boxes decorated with fur-wrapped heroines, lean hounds, balalaika players and snowbound sleighs--intricate reminders of romantic times preserved today solely in fairy-tale books. Only the price tags are modern. But you don't have to look.
Best Rushin' Motorcycle Mechanic
The Fabulous Oatmeal Speed Shop
6005 W. 16th Ave., Lakewood
Motorcycle repair presents a paradox: If your bike doesn't run, how are you supposed to get it to the shop? The Fabulous Oatmeal Speed Shop (owner Richard McCarey says the name grew out of a shouting match with a city zoning officer) solves the problem cleanly. He comes to your house and does most of the repairs there. If the bike can't be fixed on the street, he'll load it in his van and take it to his Lakewood shop. Which, by the way, you'll never find.
Best Calgon-Take-Me-Away Store
Escape from the pressures of the office or take a moment during your downtown shopping spree to sneak into H2O Plus, a haven in the busy city. H2O Plus offers body-moisturizing gels and lotions, facial scrubs, shower and bath treatments, hair-care products, loofahs, sponges and fluffy bathrobes--all the items necessary for pampering yourself or your significant someone. Choose from scents such as fresh peach, honey, mineral spa or tango mango. Even a five-minute pit stop can be aromatherapeutic.
Best Body Care Products for Mad Scientists
Mix-and-match scents anchor the lotions and potions offered at Seattle-based Garden Botanika. Lined up along the counter are odoriferous beakers of oils--musky, flowery, spicy or sweet--to choose from. Once you've decided on your signature fragrance, they'll mix it into a generic base lotion, shampoo or massage oil and send you on your completely customized way. But if you want something totally tried and true, Garden Botanika also sells lines of premixed products guaranteed to make you smell great.
Best Sleeping Potions
Rosie Moonbeam's Herb Cottage
1101 S. Logan St.
An odd little shop in an odd little building painted with floral murals, Rosie's is the place to buy antiquated herbal concoctions and other pleasantly quaint things: beeswax candles, teas, dried rosebud garlands, flower presses and fresh catnip, and handmade stationery infused with herbs and spices. Most appealing, though, are Rosie's herbal mixes--one you boil to make a room smell nice, another is mysteriously designated "chaste herbs" (an anti-aphrodisiac?), and then there's the one sewn inside a "dream pillow." Take it to bed with you and you're guaranteed sweet dreams.
Best Salon Deal
Rita B. Salon
200 Fillmore St.
Normally the cuts at this high-class salon run $25 and up, color $30 to $150. But if you call ahead, they'll tell you when their next "training session" starts, and you can book an appointment with a "junior" stylist and get a cut or color for all of $5. The supervision is intense, and even though they haven't achieved senior status, these stylists aren't underclassmen--they're fully licensed and know what they're doing.
Best Cure for a Cowlick
Michael of the Carlyle
Cherry Creek Mall
No joke; this guy could have cured Dennis the Menace. Sometimes stylist Mark Towne (just ask for "Towne" when making reservations) reverses the part, sometimes he just finesses a layer, but either way, you can forget having to continually try to force that sucker down. Newt, eat your heart out.
Best Ten-Minute Eyebrow Shaping
Oxford Aveda Salon
1616 17th St.
Stop looking like Brezhnev. The Oxford Aveda's Susan Ann McMillan takes time out from her facials to tend to even the most unruly brow. Since she knows so much about skin care, she knows when to wax and when to tweeze. And it never, ever hurts. She'll send you on your way refreshed, in a high-brow sort of way.
Best Place for a Hair-Raising Time
Preferred Image and Electrology
1017 Gaylord St.
Unwanted hair got you down? A lot of places offer waxing and electrolysis. But this place will free your body and your mind. Preferred Image is the only skin-care spa we know of that has a psychic reader on the premises. A great gift idea for your hairy, superstitious sister-in-law.
Best Fancy-Schmancy Spa at Reasonable Prices
Teresa Flint Personal Appearance Center
1895 Youngfield St., Lakewood
Every once in a while, we get the urge to pose as one of those Ladies Who Lunch. You know the type--a woman of leisure, one who can afford to dish out the big bucks that keep her looking impeccable. When that mood descends, we lovely-up at Teresa Flint's, where $89 gets you a half-day of pampering that includes a facial, pedicure, massage, scalp treatments, shampoo and hair style. And then we go to lunch.