BEST WAY TO HAVE YOUR CAKE AND LOSE THE BABY FAT, TOO

Babycakes

We have a question. Why is it that as soon as you have a baby, all your friends come over with steaming trays of lasagna and iced sugar cookies the size of salad plates? Bitches. Your stomach's hanging to your knees, your boobs are the size of watermelons, and your butt — well, thank goodness you lack the dexterity or the energy to get a good glimpse of that.

You don't want to eat. After nine months, you want to drink. In lieu of a big bottle of Three Olives vodka (grape flavor, please), we'll take one of those "cakes" they make at Babycakes of Scottsdale. These smart folks obviously understand the challenges of new mothers: All you really need, to go with your cocktail, is a crapload of blankets, onesies and socks, since Junior will go through a basket of laundry faster than you can say, "Make mine a double!" And because you'll be weepy (after catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror), your own personal "babycake" will distract you, constructed of useful baby accessories but covered with flowers and jewels, festooned to look just like that cake you wouldn't dare touch a bite of. Ah, but a girl can dream. And a good visual never hurts.

Lollilocks
It's not easy, being a 21st-century mom. You want to give little Annabelle all the best, but you don't want her turning into a whore.

No, really, we mean it. Have you been to the mall lately, walked by a certain shop that offers your 6-year-old the chance to romp like Christina and Britney, complete with long wig, platforms and micro-mini? And the makeup? Oh, it's enough to make us want to home school. (Well, not quite.)

But we don't want to push Annabelle toward a nunnery, either. If we've learned one thing, it's that as soon as you forbid your kid another M&M, you've created a chocoholic.

What's a mom to do? Head to Lollilocks, our favorite new kiddy salon. The kid haircut concept is nothing new, and those other spots are cute, sure. The kids can watch videos so their bangs won't come out too crooked, but we needed a little pizzazz. That's where the "Spa Buddies" package comes in. For just a little too much money, Annabelle and Kate got an afternoon of pampering — a seat in a teeny-tiny hot pink spa chair, feet soaked, toes painted, flower decal applied. Same for the fingers. The girls were delighted, and we all loved the candy-themed décor, the yummy line of marshmallow- and orange-scented lotions and bath products, the cute hair accessories.

The girls felt like princesses, we were out of there for under $50, and no one looked like a streetwalker.

Muffy is badly in need of a new dog collar, dahling, but there's no way in hell we're going to wrap one of those neon nylon jobs from PetSmart around her precious little throat. She's much better off with the rhinestone-encrusted patent leather neckbands we can get from the Diva Dogs Boutique, an absolutely fabulous ritzy pet shop located in North Phoenix. In addition to offering other bow-wow blingage (such as glittering pearl drop necklaces and ornate chokers), the store specializes in posh pet supplies and groovy canine couture. If you're like us and consider your doggies to be your very own children, try spoiling them rotten with some chic New York Dog pet furniture, some indestructible Orbee-Tuff toys, or DVDs designed for them to watch on TV when you're away from home. They've also got bathrobes, adorable outfits, and a selection of gourmet treats like Zen Puppy Energy Treats and DoggieSprings Vitamin Dog Water. It'll run you a pretty penny to take it all home, but the happier your pooch is, the less likely he'll leave you little "surprises" inside your shoes.
These days, it seems like you can't be a true diva unless you've got a pint-size pup peeking out of your purse, particularly a Chihuahua. Songstress Katharine McPhee owns a cutie-pie named Nena, while Demi Moore dotes on Vida Blue, and Paris Hilton has both Tinkerbell and Hendrix.

But before you beat feet to the closest pet store and purchase your own tiny tail-wagger, we recommend perusing the bundles of spastic joy available through Arizona Puppies. Unlike many of the so-called "puppy mills" stationed in malls throughout the Valley, this cooperative of "ethical toy dog breeders" ensures the AKC-certified Chihuahuas they're selling are completely disease free and are bred in a humane manner. Their selection is also quite staggering, offering a variety of different Chihuahua breeds and sizes, including longhairs, shorthairs, deer types, appleheads, and teacups. (A sister site, www.aztoydogs.com, offers such other breeds as Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, and Papillons).

Pricing is a little steep, starting at $500 and going as high as $1,650. But, hey, no one said living the sweet life was gonna be cheap.

Women who've spent their entire lives planning their perfect weddings likely won't consider deviating from the "formula" — conservative gown, staid church, standard-issue vows. Those you can find all over town. But the playfully slinky designs of Jennyvi Dizon are designed for more open-minded and impulsive ladies who can't be caged inside stuffy cathedrals, who like to get their hems wet frolicking in dewy grass, who opt to read from the lyrics of Coldplay. (She will do a formal, too, on demand, if you're that uptight.)

Dizon, daughter of a Filipino tailor, moved to Phoenix with her family when she was 5. After graduating from Phoenix College's fashion-design program, it's been nothing but award after award for Dizon, culminating in 2006 with a couple of fashionista biggies: Designer of the Year honors from both the Arizona Fashion Foundation and LabelHorde. While Jenny's still something of a regional phenomenon, don't be shocked when you see her beguiling creations bust a move onto the national scene. We think you'll be delightfully surprised. Well, most of you.

Hustler Hollywood
As his hulking bodyguards hoisted his gold-plated wheelchair over the threshold of a swank new Hustler Hollywood store back in December of '06, a crowd of 200-plus greeted porn magnate Larry Flynt with the sort of spontaneous chant usually reserved for the likes of Jerry Springer or Howard Stern: "Lar-ry, Lar-ry, Lar-ry!" Little old ladies and Iraqi war vets. Truck drivers and Scottsdale hotties. Reporters and pimp daddies. All there to press the great man's sagging flesh and celebrate the grand opening of an idea: A sex shop as gleaming and stylish as a Nordstrom, as hip and trendy as an Urban Outfitters, but with sections devoted to kinky lingerie and vinyl bustiers, adult books and novelties, vibrators, and XXX-rated DVDs.

On one wall of the 10,000-square-foot orange-and-cream themed erotic emporium read the store's motto, "Relax... it's only sex." And while Flynt signed books and body parts, it was clear that the reason folks were so enthused was that Flynt had brought a touch of Hollywood decadence to Sand Land, and made that decadence as uncontroversial as an ice cream parlor, though no less titillating in the process. Even more than the magazines and the books that Flynt's Hustler empire mass-produces, the Hustler Hollywood stores are his ultimate triumph over America's prudes. Somewhere, Jerry Falwell's 300-pound corpse is rolling over. Of this, you can be sure.

At a glance, it looks like an electric razor, maybe, or even, um... Well, okay, we'll say it. A vibrator. But the Taser C2 packs a much bigger punch than your personal pleasure device. This thing is built to take a grown man down from a distance of 15 feet. Shocking! Really, why should cops get all the fun? Now you can have your own firearm alternative, thanks to the folks at Taser International, who've even thought to make them in pretty colors, like a cell phone or an iPod. We're sure your assailant will admire your style as you take him down.

But think twice before putting that thing in your pocket. You wouldn't want to risk a misfire.

Fleur't has a solid collection of all the cute basics: dresses, jeans, tops, skirts. But what really makes this place pop is the bling. It's everywhere — on the Havaiana flip-flops (they're made in Brazil, all the girls have 'em, where have you been?) to the bras in the boudoir section in the back of the boutique. In the center, you'll find display cases full of big sunglasses, flashy pendants and watches, but our favorite blingables were at the front of the shop, where a tableful of rhinestoned T's and tops just begged us to take them out. "Walking Contradition," reads one. Another: "Shopping is My Cardio." Amen, sisters!
Jennifer Croll and Croll Blue
Now that Jennifer Croll is getting national props for her retail vision, we wish we could say we knew her when. The fact is, Croll opened her first boutique in California — but don't blame us for boasting that she soon found a better shopping mecca in Scottsdale. Today, Croll's six-boutique empire is based in the Valley of the Sun, and she's not only leading The Mix, the giant new, Fred Segal-esque retail space in Old Town, she's also running great shops in Kierland Commons and DC Ranch. Yes, you can get Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses and Theory pants elsewhere in town, but nobody, and we mean nobody, picks pieces with a better eye than Croll and company. It's like having a personal shopper to pare down the collections to leave us with only the high notes — and then arranging them so artfully, we really can't help buying more things than we'd planned. We get confused in department stores, but at Jennifer Croll, we just get lucky.
Bunky Boutique
We've been waiting for more great shopping near Roosevelt Row (MADE art boutique was getting lonely!) and finally, our wish has been granted. Bunky Boutique is named for the owner's grandmother, and that's not the only whimsical touch at this small but well-stocked haven. Yes, we saw stacks of silk-screened T's (what passes for high fashion in our fair metropolis) but what really got us going were the more unusual items, like funky, gangsta-ish hats for guys and dresses made from bed sheets (really, it looks better than it sounds, and the designer will make you clothes from your own sheets if you ask). We were pleased to see Angela Johnson's tulle-festooned dresses showcased, and very happy to see Laura Spalding's amazing painted metal tiles on the walls. Spalding's palm tree scenes reminded us a bit of the great shot on Bunky's Web site: the artfully graffiti'd façade of the boutique, with Phoenix's signature palms peeking up behind it. We expect this place to be a city signature someday soon, too.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of