Working for Scale

If you like tropical fish but don’t like taking care of them, perhaps you might be a candidate for rent-a-fish. Jeff Watters and David Lougee provide aquarium service for 135 homes and businesses. You buy the aquarium (they build custom models for $250 to $10,000), they provide the fish and service the equipment every three weeks (at $25 per visit). Look at the 650-gallon salt water tank at La Truite restaurant or make an appointment to go by their showroom to see what’s available. Living Interiors, 709 Lingco, Suite 108, Richardson. 750-1094.

Special Delivery

Two local hospitals have joined the national trend to delivering babies in a “homelike” environment instead of a bright, noisy operating room. St. Paul Hospital’s “birthing room” uses lamplight, plants, rockers, a couch, and carpet to simulate home delivery. Fort Worth Huguley Hospital’s delivery room has dimmed lights, special warmers, and 100 percent rooming-in for both papa and newborn. Brook-haven has a committee studying an alternative birth center, and there may be more to follow. If you’re not ready for all that, Baylor has an “OB Hotel” for women who want to be sure and make it on time. $28 a day gets you hotel room, nursing care, and meals.

Batter Ideas

Brenda Crouch is known for her imaginative cakes and Austrian-style confections. Her birthday cakes for children are something special: Try the foot-high panda bear (chocolate cake) who sits on a patchwork quilt (white cake), or a cake in the shape of long-stemmed red roses, delivered in a florist’s box. Prices range from $7 to $25, depending on size; a panda cake large enough to feed 30 costs $15. Cakes by Brenda, De-Soto, 223-3592.

Heir Mail

If your kids got really good at writing letters when they were away at camp this summer and you want to keep them in practice, how about a pen pal? A New Jersey service matches children with pen pals who share the same birthday, for a $1 fee. It’s a great way to make new friends and improve literacy at the same time. Birthday Pals of America, Box 335 W, Englishtown, N.J.

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