The Spice of Life Just Got Spicier

Bday D and Julie stuff 027If you’re tired of the same-old-same-old repetitive tastes at your dinner table, there’s a brand new solution called Dizzy Pig Seasonings!

And these are no ordinary spices.

Created by the Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company in Manassas, Virginia, these are fabulously unique concoctions.  The VA Shopper used a few and almost caused a stampede for seconds at a dinner party.  Her guests now think she is a gourmet cook.

Yes, THE VIRGINIA SHOPPER is back from prowling  around the Commonwealth for all things new and tempting.  Talk about an amazing array of offerings that will definitely add zip to the mundane.

Now’s the time to spice up the holidays with something fresh and new and all it will take is a few sprinkles of magic!

I love the name of this one – The Tsunami Spin – a blend of seasonings that draw from Far East influences.  Sesame seeds, ginger, galangal, and fenugreek that come together best for poultry, seafood, duck – or by golly, try it on popcorn!

 The Cow Lick Steak Rub is a natural on hamburgers, steak and brisket or wherever you crave a peppery kick.  It’s a combo of fresh ground pepper balanced with kosher salt chilies, herbs and spices.   Oh boy!

Then there’s the Jamaican Firewalk,  a Dizzy Pig invention that balances  unique but potent flavors of Jamaican allspice with ginger, citrus, scallions, and plenty of heat.   Best on shrimp, chicken, pork and fish.  A friend of The Shopper’s tried this on shrimp and moaned, “That’s the best shrimp I have ever tasted!”

And that’s not all!

Try Dizzy Dust or

The Raging River Rub,

Swamp Venom,

The Red Eye Express,

Shakin’ the Tree, or

Pineapple Head

And can you believe there are more to choose from?  There are over 15 varieties to tempt any yearning palate.   And we all know freshness counts, along with whole spices, and unprocessed raw sugar.  Expect the best here for sure.  The Dizzy Pig people hate additives like MSG or anything with a name you can’t pronounce.  And their spices are also low in salt (generally less than 20%, or you can actually order Salt-Free versions.  They are all natural, gluten free and have won hundreds  of pro competition awards.  Imagine?

Dizzy Pig seasonings are available at Virginia Born and Bred.  They are not currently listed in the Online Catalog but  are available in-store at 16 W. Washington Street, Lexington, VA 24450 (Look for Sam the bear out front)  or call to order at  800-437-2452 or 540 463-1832.



Posted in Food, Food Gifts, VA Food & Gift Baskets | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Engagement Gifts: To Give or Not to Give

“Grow old along with me.  The best is yet to be.”  ~ Robert Browning

Wedding plaque

O.K., so you have been invited to an engagement party!  To give or not to give is the question.  And if you decide to give, what should the gift be?

We are accustomed to bridal showers (yes, bring a gift) and of course the wedding itself requires a more formal gift.   Around weddings there are also bachelor and bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners and lots of opportunities for gift giving.

But what about engagements?  Do you give a gift or not?  What is the proper etiquette around engagements?

A good rule of thumb is never to show up at a party empty-handed. But what to bring?

Think of an engagement announcement as a  joyful shout out.

“We are taken!  We are committed!  Share in our joy!”

It’s the first step toward wedded bliss and it also shouts, “Let’s have some fun!”

That’s why engagement parties are usually casual events like picnics or barbecues.  No formal gifts of course but fun things that won’t break the bank. You can even get creative with gifts designed for two.   Here are some ideas:

Biscuits and Jam Delight


  • A picnic tote complete with a bottle of wine and other goodies.
  • A gourmet food basket for those quiet moments.turtlemusician1
  • A special dessert – Sweets for the Sweethearts.
  • A plant that will continue to grow long after the wedding.
  • A set of candles for a softly lit romantic evening.
  • Or think “His and Her” engraved pewter mugs  with the date of their engagement (or wedding date). vapewtercup2

Whatever you come up with, be sure to include a great card with a handwritten message (those cards are “keepers” too).

So go! Have fun at the engagement party.  You are bringing along the right gift as long as it adds to the celebration of love.



Posted in Events, Pewter Products, Special Occasions, Uncategorized, VA Food & Gift Baskets, Virginia is for Lovers, Wedding Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Announcing Glamour Chick

An Array of Glaour Chick JewelryVirginia Born and Bred, our little shop in Lexington, Virginia is introducing a charming new collection of  jewelry.   These lovely pieces have been “reconstituted” from bits and pieces of the past into utterly glamorous renditions that are entirely new!

And each exquisite piece is truly One-of-a-Kind.

The last Shopper Tip from Dorothy R. was about antiques and how antique bowls, platters and vases can make favorite long-cherished gifts.  That idea opened up a whole new way of thinking here at Virginia Born and Bred.

And the guru shoppers at “the little store that could” found a surprising resource for fabulous new jewelry made from beautiful old things!

Antique Jewlry n Nature 033


Glamour Chick One-of-a-Kind Jewelry

Meticulously handcrafted right here in Virginia by Glamour Chick, Betsy Jones, this inspired collection is continually drawing from Betsy’s always growing treasure trove of antique possibilities.

antique baubles

Each necklace is a stunning original made from old bits and pieces of glass and glitter, old jewels and charms, brooches, antique shoe buckles, earrings and odds and ends of stones and gems from days gone by.

And the results are amazing!Shoebuckle Necklace


Sheer Elegance

Pink Adornment

Just thinking of the human interest stories behind these reincarnations is half the fun, and wearing something you will never see again is a huge part of the charm.  A Glamour Chick creation is surely a gift that will never be forgotten!

If there is something you like here, please call for further information (800 437-2452)  or stop by the shop at 16 West Washington Street in Lexington, Virginia.  

Please note that Glamour Chick jewelry is only available in-store and not listed in our online catalog since the pieces cannot be duplicated.

Smart Shopper’s Secret Tips will be back!  We are waiting for more input, so don’t forget to send us your ideas!

Posted in About the Artist Series, Antiques, Favorite Gifts, Jewelry, Local Artists, Shopping Tipster, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

For the Love of Antiques: Old Gifts for Young People

From Dorothy R., Virginia

Art Deco BowlI had an old friend who gave me old gifts.  They were very old objects that would be classified as antiques.  In fact, she shopped in antique stores and antique malls for many of the beautiful things she gave to family and friends.  Now there are reminders all over my house of a friend who put extra thought into her gifts to me. Sadly, we have lost Viola, but here are some of the items that still remind me of my friend:

  • A beautiful scalloped edged platter I use to serve cookies.Lacy Edged Vase
  • An art deco bowl that makes bananas seem brighter and yellower.
  • A lacy edged vase to arrange short stemmed flowers into elegant arrangements.

Cookie Platter

So my Smart Shoppers’ Secret Tip is this:

If you are looking for something truly unique for you or yours, think “antique.”

JOIN THE FUN!  JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopper tip?  Something that works and that you would share with your best friend? We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we do mean a valuable recommendation about any kind of shopping.  This is the place to share secrets.  Just send us your tip in a comment or a reply.  🙂

Posted in Antiques, Favorite Gifts, Shopping Tipster, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Trend Toward Old Toys


salejokerboard2In spite of the devotion to mass produced playthings, there is now a surprising call for the return of classic toys for kids and grownups.  It’s a new trend toward the old days following a yearning for simpler times.

If you are shopping for a favorite child or even an adult, there are wonderful wooden toys and games still being “built to last,” and made for ongoing family fun or quiet contemplation.  And believe it or not, a wooden toy can make the perfect, most cherished gift of all.

Wooden toys and games:

  • Last the longest and take the most wear and tear.
  • They contain no toxic PVC.
  • They stimulate the imagination.
  • Enhance motor skills.
  • Encourage social and emotional development.
  • Develop problem solving skills.
  • Aid in color and form recognition.
  • Grow in value and become heirlooms.

Wooden checkers and chess sets, cars and trucks, pull along toys, and simple playthings like wooden fire stations, farmhouses, doll houses and furniture, all make beloved gifts.   And have you seen the three dimensional wooden puzzle that contains little surprises inside a beautifully carved animal?yellowdogpuzzle2

Computer games and plastic gadgets have their place in today’s fast paced society, but if you are looking for a gift that lasts and creates fun and memories, think about joining the wooden toy revival!

Submitted by Barbara N., Annandale, Virginia

JOIN THE FUN!  JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopper tip?  Something that works and that you would share with your best friend? We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we do mean a valuable recommendation about any kind of shopping.  This is the place to share secrets and your comments are always welcome.


Posted in Favorite Gifts, Games and Toys, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Did You Know?

Here are two “short, but sweet” savvy shopper tips – about food:

From Anonymous:

grocery_150161552-thumb-380xauto-2629Benefits of Looking Up and Down

O.K. You said we could send in our secret shopping tips on ANY kind of shopping. Well, I just discovered   supermarkets arrange their shelves in a special way to entice you to buy the higher priced items.  Imagine?

I guess they figure you are too lazy to reach up or down so they place the most expensive items on shelves in special most-looked-at-zones.


The easiest place for you to look at or reach on grocery store shelves is between eye level and  knee level..  I think of that area as the “Danger Zone” because that’s where prices are most often the highest.  Do you think supermarkets have calculated this from psychological studies on human buying behavior?

Did you know the best prices and bargains are usually above or below The Danger Zone!

And from Caleb in Marietta, Georgia:

music_notes-300x280Chewing to the Music

I have heard that fast music in a restaurant is the owner’s sly way of getting you in and out of the place – fast.  The more customers, the more income for the restaurant, right?

And it is little known that people unconsciously tend to chew in time to music!

Have you noticed  that finer restaurants provide soothing slow paced background music?  That is to encourage you to linger and enjoy.

All that fits right in with the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

 JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopping tip?  Virginia Born and Bred is sharing!  We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we are looking for valuable recommendations on a variety of shopping challenges.  If you have something to share, just put your idea in a “Reply” at the bottom of this post.  We will take it from there.   Thanks for participating!  ~The Shopping Gurus at Virginia Born and Bred.




Posted in Food, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cool Gifts for Cooler Weather

From Julie, Head Shopping Guru at Virginia Born and Bred – Lexington Virginia

Summer is almost over!

What a bummer.  Here in  Virginia, we hardly had enough time to bask or barbecue between overcast days and off and on rain.

But then there is reality.  After all, the big box stores tell us when to make the transition don’t they?

September’s back to school and we were already just about shopped out for that by mid August.  And September signals the availability of store-bought Halloween costumes, fake pumpkins and all that candy coming up.

So now is the time for all good people to shop for cool things to greet the new season.  Right?

Actually, there are some lovely warm gifts for when we finally do get that nip in the air.

Thinking cozy for shivery weather can be fun though!  What special gifts can you think of?

Here are a few we came up with at Virginia Born and Bred:

bourbonsauce2 Virginia Gentleman Bourbon Sauces  – the perfect combination of HEAT and flavor to complement beef, pork or chicken!

She Crab Soup (served HOT) in a beautiful Chowder Bowl – this soup is made from the delicate meat of the Chesapeake – so yummy soupchowder2and one of the most elegant of all Southern soups!

Horse Lover’s Hoodie –  Horses Arriving (on vahorsehoodie2the front) and Departing (on the back) – a delightfully WARM cover-up.

heresthebacon2 Here’s the Bacon (and Coffee) – We think this is the best bacon in the world.  It’s from Surry, Virginia.  Add grits and coffee for the perfect southern WARM-UP combo!

If you haven’t participated before, now’s the time to JOIN THE FUN!  JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopper tip?  Something that works and that you would share with your best friend? We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we do mean a valuable recommendation about any kind of shopping.  This is the place to share secrets.  Just send your idea as a comment!


Posted in Autumn, Favorite Gifts, Seasons, Shopping Tipster, The Horse | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sensational Gifts that Give and Go


A special gift for a special day

Biscuits & Jam Gift

Biscuits & Jam Gift

Here for now – then gone away.

It’s like a magic act I hear.

Now you see it. 

Now it disappears.

What is this gift removable?  

     It’s simply this – a gift Consumable.


 After years of agonizing over what gifts to get for those special people who have everything,  my friends and I made a pact to only give “consumable gifts” – meaning things that will get used up.  We have so much more fun shopping now and our pact is this:  If it will disappear soon, it’s a gift worth giving.

Here are some examples:

  • Chocolates (Yeah! They tend to disappear fast!)
  • Gourmet Other Foods  Chocolate Brittle
  • Candles (There are some beauties out there)
  • Note Paper (Lovely reminders to keep in touch the good old way)
  • Soap (Used to be an insult, but now soaps come in grand shapes, scents and colors)
  • Beeswax Candles

    Beeswax Candles

    Lotions and Perfumes

  • Nail Polish
  • NutsPerfume_Bottles
  • Flowers
  • Books

Are you getting the idea?  I know you will come up with a whole new list of your own and what fun shopping!

JOIN THE FUN!  JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopper tip?  Something that works and that you would share with your best friend? We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we do mean a valuable recommendation about any kind of shopping.  This is the place to share secrets and your comments are always welcome.



Posted in Books, Consumable Gifts, Favorite Gifts, Shopping Tipster, Special Occasions, Uncategorized, VA Food & Gift Baskets | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcing a Warm Welcome Home


Shopping = Pineapples?  I was a little hesitant to offer this Smart Shopper Tip.

But over time I have come to respect the pineapple as a real shopper’s treasure.

Yep – I mean the pineapple you can buy in the grocery store that looks something like a big pine cone (probably how it got its name).   It adds stature to a fruit bowl and tastes great “as is” or baked into a cake or used for toppings, sauces and marinades.  And it’s a nutritional powerhouse.

O.K., O.K., so you knew all that.

Pineapple Placemat

Pineapple Placemat

Pineapple Trivet

Pineapple Trivet

But beyond the obvious grocery store delicacy, did you know the pineapple is also a global symbol of sharing and friendship?  Anything with a pineapple represents the best in charm, warmth and hospitality.

How did this happen to a thorny fruit?  There is a little story:

 In Colonial days, when a seafaring captain returned from exotic lands he would bring pineapples back to delight his family and as gifts for his “true friends.”    The captain also placed a pineapple on his doorstep or on a fence post.  It became a signal that friends were welcome in his home.  The pineapple is still a symbol of gracious hospitality to this day.  And this is where the shopping comes in!


Door Mat

Pineapple Charm

Pineapple Charm

You can find the pineapple motive in both indoor and outdoor home décor including such things as paintings, wall hangings, doormats, welcome slates, lamps and candlesticks, placemats and hand towels.

If you receive pineapple jewelry as a gift, the tradition of marking you as a true friend is once again revived.  There are pineapple

Hooked Rug

Hooked Rug

charms and pineapple pendants and matching earrings, pins, and bracelets made into costume jewelry and into the finest artistic pieces in sterling silver and gold.

The pineapple, in all  its forms has also become a hot collector’s item.  Heirloom antiques, jewelry, kitchen and home accessories are still on the treasure-hunt lists, as well as contemporary home accessories and garden décor.  Candles, statuary, ceramics, pottery, cutlery, calendars, cookie jars – you name it, the pineapple adds something special and is as popular today as it was in colonial times.

I found two stately lamps for my living room to add “architectural interest” and then repeated the pattern in the wrought iron base of a glass coffee table. I love the whole effect!

Shopping = Pineapples?  Absolutely!  I hope you do too.

Marilyn J., Springfield, Virginia

JOIN THE FUN!  JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopper tip?  Something that works and that you would share with your best friend? We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we do mean a valuable recommendation about any kind of shopping.  This is the place to share secrets and your comments are always welcome.



Posted in Favorite Gifts, Home Decor, Home Decor, Jewelry, Pineapples, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Miracle Snacking on the Way to the Scale

MacaroonsI have been shopping for a weight loss miracle all my life.  And as a smart shopper you would think I would no longer throw money away for the latest book, video, or pill.  But there I go again, increasing the mounds (no, not FAT mounds!).  The last thing I ordered, tried, and trashed was something about a colon cleanser that left me drained (literally) but not a pound lighter.

Now I think I have the solution to all life’s problems!  It’s called “SNACKING.”

I am so happy with this idea that I want to share it.  But if you are going to try it too, please check with your doctor first o.k.?  I am no diet guru – only a shopper guru.

Ham Bixcuits Ready to Go!

Ham Bixcuits Ready to Go!

The Number 1 reason to give in to snacking they say, is to appease hunger!   Really?

Really, the latest recommendation for weight loss (no charge) is to eat 5 or 6 small meals a day instead of 2 or 3 big ones.  It’s called “grazing” and they say it’s the way to keep your metabolism revved.  Oh yes, I’m for a revved metabolism.  And apparently you will be so full you will eat less at each of the 6 mealtimes.  I wonder if 12 mealtimes would work too. And how big can I make my meals? (joking of course – JOKING!)

In addition to weight loss, there are even more reported reasons to snack and to give snacks out as gifts to your favorite people (whether they are skinny or fat):

Renewed energy.

Crunchy Cheese Straws Keep Fresh in a Tin

Crunchy Cheese Straws
Keep Fresh in a Tin

Increased productivity levels. Who knew?

Socially”in” (a social gathering without snacks would make for stiff conversation).

Cultural Diversity without travelling (no need to leave town to experience exotic tastes and flavors).

Versatile  (for the perfect holiday-special-occasion gift).

Fancy Hill Gift BoxSeasonal (good in hurricanes, winter power failures, and various other weather related catastrophes).

Mindless heavenly satisfaction.

Can you think of more?

Meet you at the snack bar!

Marlene S., Cherry Hill, PA

JOIN THE FUN!  JOIN THE SMART SHOPPERS!  Have you discovered a great shopper tip?  Something that works and that you would share with your best friend? We don’t mean a specifically named “place” to shop, but we do mean a valuable recommendation about any kind of shopping.  This is the place to share secrets and your comments are always welcome.

Posted in Featured Guests, Food, Food Gifts, Shopping Tipster, VA Food & Gift Baskets | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment