The Amazing Forgotten Gift

A Smart Shopper’s Secret Tip from “Anonymous.”

Thank you “Anonymous” from the Shopping Gurus at Virginia Born and Bred.  We love your smart shopper tip!

VBB In Store 017It’s surprising how many ideal places there are in a home to hang something that says, “Welcome!”  I discovered Welcome Slates make amazing gifts, maybe because they are overlooked as charming home decor.  People used to think one plaque was enough.

The truth is there are always a variety of perfect spots to instantly make guests feel wanted. There’s the obvious entry way, but what about the back door, the door from the garage, the kitchen, a patio wall, even the guest room door?

VBB In Store 018

And there are as many varieties of Welcome Slates as there are doors and walls to hold them.

Besides all that, it is no longer un-fashionable to have more than one Welcome Plaque adorning your home.

Some folks prefer elegant personalized versions for glamour and sophistication.

Or you can find welcome slates to suit the seasons or to announce there may be critters afoot.  I received one for my birthday that featured two happy Golden Retrievers because I had two Goldens! Why not switch things around from season to season? Who says you have to have just one all-purpose welcome slate anyway?

I absolutely love my two most recent finds.  I hang the one that says, “Welcome” featuring a happy horse on the enter side of the guestroom door, and on the exit side of the same door I hang the one that says “Come Back Soon” featuring the business ends of  three horses.   How cute is that? Horse Slate

That’s my secret shopping tip of course.  Find a Welcome Slate to make your visitors feel happy.  It will also make an amazing gift. horse rears slate

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.

 

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Placemats for Dining Decor

A Virginia Born and Bred Shopping Guru Shares Her Secret Tip!

pineappleplacemat-1

I think placemats started with a cave woman I will call Cave Mother!

I’m guessing that before tablecloths she used a giant leaf  to lay out the family’s meals.  This saved time and kept sand out of the food!  Besides that each flat leaf  designated one private table setting.

But, like every other simple invention, placemats evolved and now they are the chameleons of the dining experience.magnolia placemats

There are placemats for every season and occasion, every taste, hobby or need – placemats for children’s games,  political messages, cartoons and comic strip heroes, elegant representations of the hunt, horses, and the chase,  herbals, fruit and trees.  There are round, rectangular, straw and wheat grass table mats, floral, stripe, paisley, leaf, map and beach themed mats, and cloth and vinyl placemats in all the colors of the rainbow made to fit any table.

Placemats bistroplacematsandnapkinblue1Because of this huge variety, the simple placemat now allows us to change our minds with our moods and remains one of the most versatile additions to our lives.  I even have friends who frame their more exciting placemats for dining room wall displays!  And others who change the styles and colors regularly to add zip to table decorating.  Some of the finest art is duplicated onto placemats!Placemats sailboatplmts2

So, Kudos to Cave Mother who probably introduced place matting into dining décor!   Be sure to use your own ingenuity and creativity too! Refresh your table with placemats for new looks and appetizing dining.

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 Home Decor, Placemats for Home Decor, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sweets for the Sweet – Off Season

cranlemcake2Hurrah for shopping in any season!  I love shopping!

But, since when did big box stores decide to hurry up the seasons?   Why do I listen when they scream, “Buy Now for Back to School at the same time we are all having a picnic for the Fourth of July?

Have you noticed we can no longer shop “in season” for gifts that fit?  Looking for  summer clothes in summer?  Forgeddabout it!  Stores now feature “off season” stuff putting everybody out of step with “in season” favorites.  Off season – In season – Out of season?  Talk about confusion!

I tried to buy beachy gifts for my young nieces last year near the end of July.  There was nothing on the shelves but “Back to School” supplies.  July is still summer isn’t it? Where are the beach towels and sand buckets?

Solution and my Secret Shopper Tip:doublchoc2

I now give gifts that know no seasons –  sweet things!

wholefruitcake2Last year I actually gave a fruitcake in August! And my name has lived on in infamy ever since.

But did you know most fruit cakes have an indefinite life span (no expiration date)?  If nothing else you can shellac last year’s fruit cake and create a charming gift – a door stop!  Actually, a really good fruit cake sounds yummy to me right now and I do know where I can get one.

But “all kidding aside,” you get the idea.  When you are giving delectable goodies all year, you are beating the big box stores at their own game.

Oh you can still buy gifts off season if you can remember what season you are buying for.   And yes, there will be  Season-Directed Sweets like pumpkin shaped candies for Halloween and fruit cake for Christmas.  And who can resist?  Everything has its sweet place in its sweet time.

But off season, on season, in season, or out of season, we can never go wrong with sweets for the sweet people in our lives – any time of year.

This Smart Shopper Secret Tip was submitted by Dorothy R., Glasgow, 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, Food, Food Gifts, Local Connection, Seasons, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Personalize Gifts for Lasting Love

Monnogram Glassware 2From Marcia W., Sarasota, Florida

I have a ring from when I was about 6 years old,  monogrammed with my initials in fancy script.  That ring is the only piece of jewelry saved from childhood because it was a gift from my favorite Aunt.  I recall the day we went shopping and how puffed up and important I felt trying on rings in the jewelry store and choosing the script for my initials.  I lost my Aunt Gigi many years ago but have never parted with the little ring of memories.

Monogramming has come a long way since then.  Placemats, letter openers, clothing, hats, and tote bags are just a few places you can find monograms engraved, stamped or stitched.  It’s called “personalizing” and you can put it on anything from bath towels to smart phone cases.  You can even have your baby’s diaper bag monogrammed!  Glassware is a biggie too – I call it etching but it’s really monogramming.  And the monogrammed silver and pewter pieces in my grandma’s china closet are becoming heirlooms that will never go out of style.

The thing is, if the gift you give is monogrammed, that means you really have personalized it and you are obviously giving the gift of love.

 

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.

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The Local Art Connection

appomattox2JOIN 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.  

From the Virginia Shopper Dor – Lexington, Virginia

Different Gifts Make the Difference!

I was in a Shopping Slump and getting soooo tired of giving the same old, same old – that is until I discovered LOCAL TALENT!  Starting right here in my own state my search turned up paintings, prints, photographic art, jewelry, toys, folk art, collectibles, and wood carvings, all made by  creative folks in my own neck o’ the woods!

 Great ideas for gifts come from fascinating, even famous, local artists.

There’s no doubt about it, art by the artist makes a huge impact and oftentimes the perfect gift.   But even when I wander afar and find  artists in other states, the selection of superb gifts simply expands.  The trick is to find a “local art” connection and that is when gift shopping woes will be over.

Here’s a small sampling of things I found that were created by Virginia artists:

A handmade, Three Dimensional Interlocking Puzzle (I chose a Golden Retriever) with a secret treasure (a frisbee) hidden inside.yellowdogpuzzle2

A Whimsical Wooden Nutcracker that is actually considered a collector’s item.

A Folk Art-Limited Edition Print of a Fourth of July Celebration in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia.

A Panoramic Sepia Toned Photograph with a 360 degree view of Appomattox, Virginia (perfect for my husband’s office).

A Handmade Sterling Silver Pendant from a fabulous collection.sprayslide2

But, no matter which state you choose if you are looking for unusual gifts, keepsake gifts, handmade gifts, or even accessories for home décor, begin your search with a look at local artists.   Their creations are a treasure chest of resource ideas and their talents open up a whole new world of exciting choices that make gift giving fun!

Note: Pictured items are available at Virginia Born and Bred.

 

Posted in Favorite Gifts, Folk Art, Local Artists, Local Connection | 2 Comments

Drama in the Dining Room

White china blue clothJOIN 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.  ~Virginia Born and Bred

From a Smart Shopper in Springfield, Virginia

White China for a Dramatic Table

I used to have 3 sets of china – one for every-day, one for special occasions, and I even had a different set for ladies’ luncheons. Now I have just one.  It is all white.  Plain old white.

White china  is a lot like the legendary versatile “little black dress.”  It can be dressed up or down and always looks classically special.

Similarly, there is only one classic china – White!  Those plain old white dishes can be dressed up or down,  always makes a statement and they scream “elegance” even in the most mundane setting.

Even white on white is awesome.  Depending on your choice of colors for table linens, white china can set just the right  mood for any season, holiday or special occasion.  It can create  the carnival spirit of a birthday party,  an atmosphere of romantic elegance for a wedding, and take you right through to the casual joy of  patio dining, all at the same table!  The trick is in choosing the under-cloth and finding complementary accessories like napkins, placemats, chargers, candles, or a stunning floral arrangement.

I especially love white china on rich dark colors like black, navy, burgundy, or deep forest green.  Talk about making an elegant statement!

So my tip is this:  For real drama in your dining room, get rid of all that extra china and pare down to basics with the most beautiful color of all – White!      

Posted in Home Decor, Wine | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

The Perfect Accessory for Home Decor

Mirror 1JOIN 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.

From Jan J. – Phoenix, Arizona

What is the one home accessory that will immediately add oomph and elegance to any home décor?  As an Interior Designer, I am often asked that question.

And the perfect accessory I recommend is always a mirror.

Well, “Ho-Hum,” we all know a mirror can visually expand a small space and can be nice for a last minute self-check on your way out to a party.

But if you follow only one basic decorating rule, I guarantee you will enjoy infinitely more charm from a mirror and you will always choose the right one for the perfect spot where it will be on perpetual glamour duty for your home.

Think of the mirror you choose as a FRAME that reflects a beautiful view.   

Maybe it will reflect a scene through a window, the light and movement of the leaves of a tree, or perhaps a stunning piece of artwork, the fireplace, a lovely expanse of interior space, a handsome mantle, your candle collection.  Even a mirror on your porch or patio might reflect the serenity of your garden.Reflections of Xmas 2013

After years of searching for the most effective decorating tip for my clients I decided the one perfect thing is a mirror, but not just any old mirror on any old wall.

A mirror that reflects a sad view, a blank wall, a messy kitchen, or the air conditioner out back is no longer an accessory but an eyesore!

A mirror that is planned to frame a beautiful view immediately goes to work inside (and sometimes even out) to add interest to a room that is “missing something,” and to add depth, color and style to almost any home décor.

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The Psychology of Smart 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.

It would have made the perfect gift, but “you see, I kept it!”

This fabulous tip  makes so much sense it almost sounds elementary and like everyone should know this.  But on reflection, we often forget the Smart Buyer’s Rule #1 – IF YOU  WANT IT FOR YOURSELF, IT WILL MAKE A PERFECT GIFT.

From Mary L. – Arlington, Virginia

“The other day I was searching for some jewelry for a very close relative.  I was looking for a birthday gift but nothing felt really right.

Then – OH!  OH!  OH!  Look at that silver necklace!  I love that.  Let me try that on!  I did try it on, and  felt transformed into a lady of extremely good taste. I want that necklace, I thought, but Wait a minute!  You are not shopping for yourself.  This is supposed to be a special gift.  But, I love that necklace.  What should I do?  The struggle with conscience went on.

You have probably guessed that I did wind up buying the necklace and now wear it all the time.circlenecklace2

I kept it!

It would have made the perfect gift.

I know this because I get compliments on it all the time.

And the secret shopping tip is this:  If you see something you love enough to keep, it will surely make the perfect gift and you should probably buy two!

Posted in Buy for Yourself First, Favorite Gifts, Graduation Gifts, Jewelry, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Rags to Riches

Magic Rag

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. ~Virginia Born and Bred

From a Smart Shopper in North Carolina

There are rags and there are rags!

But there is one that is pure magic.   In fact, this one  is so cool I have even given it as a gift.  Giving a rag-gift does not sound very elegant, but this one is more like giving a home improvement tool.

I am talking about a fabric square that is sometimes called a Microfiber Cloth, Streak Free Cloth, Super Cloth or a Miracle Cloth.   I didn’t believe it either but this little humble thing is a HUGE help in my house and it even saves dollars.  You can find microfiber cloths  almost everywhere for around $2 each, but maybe you do not believe all the hoopla.  Maybe you are a skeptic like me.

Magic Rag Ready and Waiting

Magic Rag Ready and Waiting

Well this one is is all true and it’s all in the weave.  The cleaning secret is the fiber that attacks dirt, grime and moisture and acts like a magnet without scratching the surface.  They say this mighty little cloth can absorb up to seven times its weight in moisture and can be used on literally any surface!  

And how does it save me dollars?  I clean my glass stove top with it.  I rarely ever use those ceramic cleaners – you know – that expensive white gloppy stuff where you wind up wiping and wiping with a paper towel? I have a little bottle of it saved for heavy duty messes, but I haven’t bought a new supply in months! And I can use the magic rag over and over because I can throw it in the washer.

Anyway, what you do is wet the magic rag down and wring it out to almost dry and it will even clean glass. I have a glass topped dining table and it’s perfect for that too.   No streaking if the cloth is wrung out enough.

I call this little fabric thing my Magic Rag.   Once it was a secret to me but now I think it is a secret worth sharing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thinking Out of the Garden

Milmont Garden Center

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.

Here’s A Smart Shopper’s Tip from Kit K. of Roanoke, Virginia

TOOLS FOR THE GARDEN TRANSFORMED

Not many people in search of a perfect gift think to look in the garden section of a gift store or to visit an upscale nursery.  These places are treasure troves of lovely things like double duty backyard and patio items.  And I don’t know about you, but I am always astounded by the unusually bearable prices.

Now I don’t mean you should give a weed eater to Grandma for her birthday, but you could certainly give a beautiful hand painted ceramic pot and  I’ll bet she would be delighted.

Wedding plaqueAnd I don’t mean you should give His and Her shovels to newlyweds, but you could definitely present a gorgeous sundial, birdbath, or a garden décor wall plaque.

Wind chimes make a lovely gift for almost any occasion and they come in all sizes and prices.  Outdoor accessories like garden globes, bird houses, bird feeders, and carved stone creatures make magical gifts too.  There is even patio wall décor that works perfectly as indoor wall art!

And it doesn’t matter what the season either.  I found an adorable “digging doggie” sculpture I plan to give my dog-loving brother for his birthday and his birthday isn’t until January!Digging Doggie

Wonderful gifts for the garden can work for just about any occasion.  Why not?  They say to “think out of the box” and I say, “Think out of the garden!”

And that’s my secret shopper tip.  I love Virginia Born and Bred by the way and this  opportunity for sharing ideas is great!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Gardens, Gift Baskets, Out of the Garden, Shopping Tipster | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment