No offense, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, but Loulou's is a great choice for funky place settings and accessories at a reasonable price. Some items are original, scavenged from old ships, hotels, and trains; some just reproductions; all are excellent for someone setting up house or just wanting to add to an eclectic collection. 121 Newbury Street, Boston, MA .
Michael's the kind of guy who remembers what you bought last fall and will help you find a way to make it work with something new this season. He'll stand at the curb with your purchases when parking is impossible. He's discreet, honest, and his sense of humor is legendary. 5 Newbury Street, Boston, MA .
For most of us, it's hard to distinguish between a good two-by-four and a bad one. What distinguishes Anderson & McQuaid is its selection of exotic woods, including purple heart and lacewood, and its knowledgeable, helpful staff. Novice woodworkers are welcome. 170 Fawcett St., Cambridge, MA .
George Trantafillidis learned his trade from his father, who operated out of the same closet-size space for 36 years. Even the scruffiest loafers pose no challenge to his shoeshining skills, and he charges just four bucks a pair. That puts Trantafillidis's shoeshines among the best old-fashioned bargains in town. Orange Garage Level, Prudential Center, Boston, MA .
Tired though it is, this building houses a pool, squash courts, an indoor track, basketball courts, a weight room, aerobics and many other classes, and newly built Nautilus and locker rooms. For an initiation fee of $100 and $420 a year (individual), it's the best deal in town. 316 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA .
Romance is available at your very fingertips. Just call Rosexpress, a new outfit that delivers a dozen roses, with superlong stems and huge blossoms, anywhere in downtown Boston for only $29.99. Warning: the price goes up on Valentine's Day, but it's still less than the extortion that takes place at other shops around town. 125 B St., Boston, MA .
The hip harbinger of the buzzy Union Square restaurant scene, the Indo has been pouring craft beers and feeding Somervillians and their friends since 2001—talk about foresight. What to Order: The quinoa salad with shaved fennel and grapefruit; the Hanson & Roberts Farm grass-fed cheeseburger. 75 Union Sq., Somerville, MA theindo.com.
While you're lounging on the Cote d'Azur, your beloved poodle Reauvair can enjoy air-conditioned accommodations, three walks a day, and a diet of Purina High-Protein chow mixed with ground beef, all for $4.25 a day. Veterinarian and grooming services are available as well. 820 Pleasant St., Belmont, MA .
Don't attempt to call your own cab if you've had one too many here. "Where am I? Um... Harvey's? St. Botolph's? The Good Life?" None of the above—the latest incarnation of the rotating restaurant/bar is now the Good Life Uptown. 99 St. Botolph St., Boston, MA .
Ask for the Energizer, Rejuvenator, or Passion Cooler—or let the friendly blender wizards custom-design your drink. Their palette includes a smorgasboard of fresh fruit, a huge stock of vitamins and herbs (including the kava kava and St. John's Wort), and yogurt, sorbet, or ice cream. Refreshing, and as healthy or decadent as you choose. 290 Newbury St., Boston, MA .
New chef Alisa Levy (from Biba) only adds to the pizzazz of Greater Boston's most atmospherically enchanting eatery. Maitre d'/owner Michael Frechet's diabolically delicious Twisted Suzie cocktails (individually concocted to fit your mood) are reason enough to make the trip. 75 Congress Street, Salem, MA .
We've always loved the frites—especially the sweet potato wedges with the peanut dipping sauce—but the new Belgian spin on the menu—plus the all-you-can-eat mussels on Monday nights makes this several cuts above your standard suburban hangout. 1208 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA .
If you haven't heard of Nantucket Nectars, go to your local deli. Purists may not care for the fact that they are made with pure cane sugar, but Tom and Tom (the owners) are serious juice mavens. Their apple j, for example, is a Delicious, Macintosh, and Granny Smith combo.
St. Botolph: But sit in the bar. Key West: Sip your Cornoa beer in South Florida deco-dence. Commonwealth Brewing Company: A draft of pale ale will cool you down after sweltering out a game. Bnu: The Italian dishes in this small restaurant might make you miss the curtain. 99 St. Botolph St.; 645 Beacon St.; 85 Merrimack St.; 123 Stuart St., Boston, MA .
Chocolate Pudding ice cream is a flavor phenomenon: more dense than ice cream, more malleable than fudge, it is a heart-stopping, concentrated burst of chocolate, guaranteed to meet your direst chocolate need. Bad moods can be altered after brief but regular treatments with chocolate pudding ice cream.