As soon as that EPT test shows up red, your girlfriends gather with reams of advice: Ginger for morning sickness, Maalox for heartburn, bags of frozen vegetables for swollen ankles. As for stretch marks? There's no scientific prevention, but that doesn't stop our girlfriends from offering up remedies. We're particularly fond of one concoction, passed along by a girlfriend who earned her college tuition behind the counter at Lotions and Potions, one of the Valley's first bath and body shops. She suggested a four-ounce bottle of Lotions and Potions massage oil, mixed with a quarter-ounce of Vitamin E oil. Top it off with your choice from the shop's wide assortment of scents -- everything from strawberry to sandalwood. We can't guarantee it'll prevent stretch marks, but it sure feels great. And as any pregnant woman can tell you, that's a premium worth not passing up.
Last year, the term "BoBo" joined "yuppie" and "Gen Xer" on the shelf of social labels, with the publication of journalist David Brooks' book BoBos in Paradise. BoBo is short for "bourgeois bohemian" -- newly rich people who cling to less moneyed, hippie-esque traditions. You've seen them -- day traders in incense-smelly coffee houses, bankers in Birkenstocks, lawyers in used bookstores.

Home decorating is a great showcase for BoBo-ness, Brooks says. Go with expensive but beat up: chipped antique plates, banged-up coffee tables, batiked bedding. And one of Brooks' favorite examples of BoBo-dom -- the furniture/clothing store Anthropologie, formerly accessible to Arizonans only by catalogue or online -- has come to Scottdale's Kierland Commons, so you can finger the organza curtains and wrought-iron candlesticks in person. BoBo wanna-bes, beware: Anthropologie's goods are shabby in the best bohemian tradition, but the prices are strictly bourgeois.

Magazine junkies like us will go to great lengths to get a glossy fix. That's why Borders isn't just a pit stop but an essential destination for satisfying our craving for periodicals. Sheer variety fuels our shameless addiction. At Borders, we can plan our dream vacation, drool over sports cars, brush up on global affairs or preview Paris' prêt-à-porter, all while flipping through scores of titles. Magazines you can't find anywhere else in town are neatly stacked up next to more common selections. Need a little more time to decide? The Borders cafe is conveniently located adjacent to the mag section, so shoppers can leisurely enjoy an iced latte with their I-D.
Great Caesar's ghost! Did All About Books & Comics really win this category again? Hey, does Lois Lane have the hots for Superman?

A contender long before anyone ever heard of Spawn, Sandman or Witchblade, Alan and Marsha Giroux's fortress of funny books continues to be one-stop shopping headquarters for two generations of Valley comic-book geeks. In addition to thousands of comic titles (both new and used), the store stocks scads of related ephemera: sci-fi trading cards, James Bondabilia, monster-movie merchandise and, well, you get the idea.

Hey, what do you want us to do? Draw you a picture?

When the much-loved but cramped Book Gallery moved across the street to its new location last year, it was as if a handsome prince had been released from a familiar frog. And handsome is the perfect word to describe Book Gallery's new space, which looks like a classic library, without the stuffiness. The staffers are laid-back and friendly, and knowledgeable about virtually every volume on their shelves. Chairs and tables are arranged throughout, for the comfy perusal of merchandise ranging from beautifully preserved first editions and ancient signed hardcovers to more modern, but carefully chosen, coffee-table books. Rows of rich wood shelves with glass doors house the rarest and priciest volumes. Luckily, the store stays open late (10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays), but with virtually every item here a gem, there aren't enough hours in a lifetime to fully explore the treasures of this literary museum.
Memorabilia collecting is built on the sunny premise that yesteryear's omnipresent junk is today's rare gem. That premise implies that the junkier the item was in its own time, the more wondrous it is in the sweet glow of nostalgia. The fine people at Pop Culture Classics understand this. Where else are you liable to find an unopened can of Billy Beer, as powerful -- and rare -- a piece of '70s Americana as you can purchase, for $25? The arcana doesn't end there. Whether you're in need of KISS makeup kits, Chewbacca masks, Doctor Who comic books, UNICEF Barbie dolls or Charles Barkley action figures, this is your one-way ticket to trash heaven. Just don't try drinking that Billy Beer.
Toto, I don't think we're in Blockbuster anymore.

Actually, dogs and Kansas farm girls are two of the few fetishes you won't find on the video shelves of Castle, an XXX-rated Oz catering to every carnal whim this side of the sex-crimes ward. Straight, gay, bi, pre-op, post-op, even libidinous midgets -- if it's bigger, longer, harder and uncut, you'll find it here. Shaved Clam Slurp, anyone?

In addition to the gulp-inducing VHS and DVD inventory (several jillion titles, all for sale or rent), Castle's embarrassment of raunches also includes more pre- and post-show entertainment than you can shake a strap-on at. Who needs popcorn when you've got a lapful of edible panties, flavored love gels, and some of the weirdest-shaped rubber doodads outside of a Firestone recall center?

Used to be that this place called itself Castle Boutique; now it's slickly marketing itself as Castle Megastore. If it were up to us, we'd rename the place KYmart.

Best Place To Buy Something For The Person Who Has Everything

Scottsdale Center for the Arts Museum Store

The gift shop at Scottsdale Center for the Arts is so entertaining that shows and exhibits at the center sometimes seem like a distraction from shopping. High-concept designs for traditional household items (ashtrays, flower bowls, trivets) fill one side of the store, while a children's section in the back invites exploration from all ages (check out the wacky marionettes!). Novelty items (a beaded bookmark, a boxing nun hand puppet), jewelry, musical instruments and a vast collection of hard-to-find jazz and world music have kept us here 'til closing time, stocking up on holiday and birthday gifts for our they-own-everything friends. The staff is friendly, and there's something to fit every budget.

So what happened to the extra flared pants that didn't get snatched up in the rush when today's thirty- and fortysomethings were in high school? More than likely, they're on the racks at Plush Living, labeled "new old stock" because they still have the original tags on them. Plush specializes in Disco, Pimp, Hooker and all that is '70s Baaaad, though occasionally some great '50s and '60s threads turn up here, too. We find it hard to concentrate on shopping, because we really like chatting nonstop with Curtis Gannon and Amy Bowling, the shop's hip proprietors. But we tear ourselves away to check out the upstairs for fetchin' furniture, with the emphasis on Brady Bunch Mod and I Love Lucite. Austin Powers fans will be happy here, as will anyone with a hankering for his old high school wardrobe.
We were bereaved when our favorite cassette tape, an irreplaceable treasure, finally snapped. When we found no listings in the Yellow Pages for audiotape repair, we panicked. Our home repair job (which employed an old pencil and some Scotch tape) was a disaster and, just as we were about to cry, someone suggested Tom Brightwell. This one-man wonder, a retiree with a flair for fixing busted audiotapes, is a best-kept secret if we've ever overheard one. Tom's word-of-mouth, home-based business employs secret but sophisticated technology, and his fair-minded pricing includes the repair to your original plus a tidy back-up copy, just in case.

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