We might as well admit it: Dallasites have a longstanding love affair with foreign cars, as one glance at the jammed lanes of Central Expressway will attest. And with the city’s first Grand Prix only a month away, lots of folks may suddenly feel inspired to drive like Mario An-dretti. What better time to indulge your long-hidden desire to do something nice for your car-or your favorite car enthusiast? For starters, you can give a key that’s a work of art. These unusual keys, designed by California silversmith Dwight Bennett, are made of sterling silver with brass fittings. Bennett uses the logos of such famous auto makers as Ferrari (pictured here) and Mercedes-Benz as the basis for his designs. Each key has different designs on the front and back and is signed and dated by the artist. The keys, which are also available for Porsche, Alfa Romeo, BMW, Jaguar and Rolls-Royce automobiles, can be cut to fit your car and may be personalized with name or initials. What a way to go! Ferrari key, $145. Exclusively in Dallas at Automotive Emporium, Turtle Creek Village, Oak Lawn at Blackburn. Mon-Sat 10-6. 521-1930.
SHOWER POWER .
April flowers bring May showers-wedding showers, that is. When the marriage season starts to bloom, you may despair of finding a truly unique gift for the bride-to-be. This “chef’s basket” from Present Trends is several gifts in one-and it doesn’t even have to be wrapped. Packed inside a willow basket tied with ribbon are a ceramic spoon rest, ceramic salt and pepper shakers, a set of six matching coasters and napkins and a ceramic magnet for the fridge. Shop owners Jody Platt and Laurie Zahn will make up a basket to your specifications, the contents of which-anything from bar-ware to pasta plates, teapots to planters-are limited only by your imagination. Or, you can simply choose (as we did) one of the baskets on display. Either way, you’ll have a shower gift that will be remembered long after the thank-you notes are written. Chefs basket, $49. Present Trends, Preston Center East, 8409 Pickwick Lane. Mon-Sat 10-5. 692-9898.
A young child looks at the world with boundless curiosity and a natural eagerness to learn. Capturing his interest is easy; the problem is how to hold it when he or she is always on the move. Here’s a book that will stop your preschooler in his tracks. The Think and Do Book, designed by David Blumenberg of Garland-based Heirloom Designs, is a book that lets children touch, snap, button and zip as they learn to read. Each fabric page teaches a different skill-tying laces, counting beads, telling time -as it illustrates a familiar object. On one page, a clown wears a snap-on hat; on another, a rocket ship unzips to reveal several plastic spacemen. An instructional pamphlet written by SMU professor Patricia K. Webb suggests many ways the book can be used to teach your child. The Think and Do Book, $45. Designs for Growing, 6721 Preston. Mon-Sat 9:30-5:30. 528-2230.
ITS A ZIP-OFF
’Tis the season to be skinny -or at least fit. Has your conscience been telling you to start that exercise program, but somehow you haven’t quite been convinced? You may just need a little zip to get you moving-and this playful warmup has more than enough. This versatile outfit, (made by the Dance Centre, a London-based dance/exercise wear company) can change with the weather or with your mood. When you’re feeling cool, it’s a snappy sweatsuit. Once you’ve warmed up, it transforms with the flick of a zip into a short-sleeved (or sleeveless) top and a pair of shorts. The soft cotton sweats are trimmed with contrasting-colored zippers and ribbing: white with raspberry, blue with white and pale pink with gray. Available in small, medium and large sizes. Top, $82; pants, $70. The Dance Centre, 4019 Villanova in Preston Center. Mon-Sat 10-5:30. 361-0958.