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Monday, November 29, 2010

Review and giveaway: HomeGoods holiday gift hunt

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and HomeGoods.

I was recently invited to review the HomeGoods store by participating in a $50 gift-shopping challenge. As a veteran HomeGoods shopper I know that the store carries practically everything under the sun at crazy affordable prices, so the answer was easy: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!

The girls and I set out one afternoon and breezed into the store.DSC_0276LR

We kept an open mind and figured we’d know the winning gifts when we saw them. Hm, perhaps not the best strategy when the absolute first thing we saw was the BIGGEST LOLLIPOP IN THE WORLD. Ro and Ree screamed and ran over to it hopping and gasping and trying to convince me that they might perish on the spot if they didn’t get this gift.DSC_0277LR

Steering resolutely away from the giganto pop (which I suspect TubaDad is going to get for his sweeties the second he reads this review), I managed to refocus them on our task, and we went on find some really cute gifts. We found some adorable soft, sparkly sugar plum fairies for the girls’ friends (I think their whole gang is nuts about fairies this year).DSC_0282LR

We found an entire aisle of pink stuff – oh the squealing and twirling and leaping. I was laughing so hard I almost forgot to take a picture. Pretty much everything in that aisle was perfect for Ro and Ree’s buddies:DSC_0284LR

DSC_0291LRAnd we found really affordable stocking stuffers around every corner! I may or may not have grabbed a few chocolate snowmen, and one of them may or may not have been devoured already during the writing of this review. There’s really no need to discuss it any further, right?

Let’s see, what else? Oh! We found the best frames and mirrors. I was so tempted to walk out with a wall-sized mirror for my living room (oh man it was gorgeous), but left that one for another shopping trip and picked up a few of these fun, brightly colored iron frames instead. Nice price!


In the end, our $50 gift challenge was met with the following seven gifts:
2 sugar plum fairies: $14
2 Nutcrackers: $18
3 iron picture frames (to fill with pics for the grandparents): $18

Oh, and can you guess who the Nutcrackers are for? Hee. Yes, Ro and Ree each got to pick out a gift for themselves.


One of my favorite things about the store, by the way, is the check-out system. You get in a single-file line, and once you get to the front of the line an automated system calls out the number of the next available cash register. Such a relief for someone like me who ALWAYS picks the slowest line if given a choice. We went to the store in the middle of Black Friday weekend, and the huge line you see in this picture took us only 4 minutes to navigate (yes I timed it). Sweet!DSC_0290LR

If you need any gifts this holiday, head to your nearest HomeGoods and I’ll bet you’ll find plenty of neat stuff for everyone on your list (and you’ll even have money left over to buy yourself a few gifts!).

The giveaway:

You can also enter our giveaway to win your own $50 HomeGoods giftcard. To enter, just leave a comment with a great gift idea for someone who is hard to buy for (I have so many of those on my list!). For more chances to win, see the other bloggers’ reviews.

(Comments on this post are closed so all entries go to the above form. View form entries here.)

The rules:
Promotion begins 9:00 a.m. (PST) 11/29/2010 and ends 5:00 p.m. (PST) 12/29/2010. No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt in the above form
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in the above form
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in the above form
d) Read the official rules for alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. Full text of the Official Rules is available here.

Disclosure: I received a $50 giftcard from HomeGoods in order to complete my gift challenge and was compensated by BlogHer for writing this review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Psst, want a cool site for Christmas presents? (review of Novica handcrafted art web site)

I always have the hardest time finding great presents for friends and family. I am just not a very creative shopper (unless you’re talking about little girl clothes, hee!). So when the folks at Novica contacted me about a product review, I checked out the web site, was very intrigued, and instantly saw a solution to my gifting dilemmas.

Novica is associated with National Geographic, and they provide a global web site for artists around the world to sell their handcrafted art. They have the most beautiful products, from ceramics and furniture created in the Andes to apparel and ornaments from Thailand to baskets and instruments from West Africa. And each item has a fascinating description of the artist.

I browsed for almost an hour (not even kidding) before selecting an Alpaca Wool Wrap in Brown Tweed from the Andes to review. It was designed by Alfredo Falcon, a third-generation weaver whose life has been changed by Novica. His story is typical of many of the artists.

DSC_9814LR_srgbI’ve been wearing the beautiful wrap for a couple of weeks now and love it!

It’s kind of become my go-to cool weather accessory. It’s warm, cozy, fun to wear in different ways, and SO much more stylish than my boring old cardigans. Now if I was on America’s Next Top model, I’d figure out a stunningly awesome pose to show the wrap off, but I’m just a mama, so the pic to the left is what you get. Smile

And here’s the back view – isn’t the wrap fun-looking from any angle? Thanks to TubaDad for taking these photos, by the way:DSC_9818LR_srgb

Here’s a close-up of the yummy browns:DSC_9820LR_srgb

And here’s one of our littles, who just had to try it on. Can you guess which girl this is?:DSC_9809LR_srgb

The Novica web site is chock full of interesting artists and art that would make a perfect gift (for a friend or for yourself!). If you want a wrap of your own this winter, check out the amazing selection here. They've also got jewelry, corporate gifts, green gifts, unique gifts, holiday items, and even a microfinance section where artists can get loans without interest. It’s just plain neat. And I’m planning to do a whole bunch of my Christmas shopping there.

Disclosure: I was provided with a Novica product of my choice (the Alpaca Wrap) for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. No additional compensation was received.