Barbara Gibbs' 10 favorite things

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's not quite like Oprah Winfrey's favorite things, but in the same spirit Barbara Gibbs picks her own ABC11 favorite things.

Like the timeless Disney movie "Cinderella" my favorite things are all classics, but classics that are new again!

Let's begin with something that will make you feel like a princess! Well, a modern day princess, that is. The new version of the little black dress. I went to "Scout and Molly's" boutique in North Hills in Raleigh. They also have a location in Chapel Hill. My first favorite thing, is a slinky, black mini cocktail dress. The little black dress never goes out of style, but this year Spokeswoman Pam Craig says, "There is a little more beadwork this year and shorter length. Pair it with black tights or hose, high heels or tall boots and you're good to go." Ok now, this dress is a splurge at $375. So if you don't want to spend that much, just take a fashion tip.. and shop around!

A princess is not a princess without her jewelry and I love the one of a kind jewelry made by Chapel Hill's own Laura Whayne. My second favorite thing is her double-strand rock crystal necklace. You can dress it up, or even wear it with jeans. Wayne's ZDesigns are unique and bursting with color from all sorts of beautiful stones. They sell at Fine Feathers in Chapel Hill. Or you can also go to her website for more locations, Whayne also recommends two other pieces perfect for the holidays featuring gorgeous, authentic emeralds. Her pieces are also a splurge - between $150 and $300.

A different kind of gem is my third favorite thing. A gem of a new business, "The Cupcake Shoppe", in the Glenwood South area near downtown Raleigh. Sara Coleman, who grew up in Hillsborough and educated at N.C. State, opened her shop in late July and business is really taking off. She and her staff are constantly trying out new flavors, from red velvet and carrot cake, to a brand new pumpkin cupcake with maple buttercream frosting. The frosting is so cute, it's whipped perfectly into a very tall, elegant swirl on top. Coleman has always been fascinated with cupcakes and now she's happy that it's her business, "It takes you back to your childhood. Everyone had cupcakes when they were little." The cupcakes are $2.75 a piece. Coleman also caters and accepts special orders. If you're interested in sampling, The Cupcake Shoppe is having a special open house Saturday December 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 104 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh. (919)821-4223

One of my all time favorite places is "A Southern Season" in Chapel Hill. It's nearly impossible to pick one favorite thing from this wonderful store, but if I had to I would pick a perfect holiday gift, The Carolina Treasures Gift Tin. It's full of a mix of sweet and savory goodies from across the state, a copy of "Our State" magazine and a bottle of wine. You can order one without wine too. The price ranges from around $59 to $95, with or without wine, or the type of wine.

My fifth favorite thing will turn your grandmother's air freshener on her ear! It's not only better, but it's beautiful! It's the Lampe Berger, pronounced phonetically "lamb-ber-jhay." It's originally from Paris, France, now sold exclusively in Raleigh at Atlantic Avenue Orchid and Garden Center. Spokeswoman Monica Humphrey tells me instead of just covering up odors in the air, the Lampe Berger removes the odor, whether it's from pets, smoke or cooking, up to 75% in a matter of minutes. You can choose from dozens of fragrances, from "cinnamon rolls," that make your house smell like grandma's, to fresh linen, and even neutral if you don't like a perfume smell. Lampe Berger's come in a variety of colors, styles and prices ranging from around $35 dollars to really fancy ones priced at just under $200.00. The buyers at Atlantic Avenue Orchid and Garden Center have their fingers on the pulse of unique items. They have carried items on Oprah's previous favorite things lists and even had them in stock before Oprah picked them! (For example, some great gardening gloves and precious gardening shoes with interchangeable bows)

North Carolina-based Belk has my sixth favorite thing. One of the new fragrances made with chocolate YES, REAL CHOCOLATE, by famed designer Vera Wang. "Vera Wang Princess" is a lovely scent that really does have cocoa listed in the ingredients! The lavendar-colored liquid comes in a beautiful heart-shaped bottle with a top shaped like a crown, encrusted in lavendar stones.. and under the crown there's a playful, cosmetic golden ring also with tiny lavendar stones, you can slip on your finger! Travis Groome, the merchandise coordinator for the newly renovated Belk location in Raleigh's Crabtree Mall tells me, "Princess" is one of their top ten fragrances and with the chocolate undertones is the perfect gift for the holidays. "Vera Wang Princess" retails at $68 at Belk.

A dozen roses don't have to be expensive. In fact, North Carolina based "Fresh Market" has an extraordinary selection of fresh roses all the time and at a price that will blow your mind, in a good way! They are always $7.99 a dozen. Jeff Soucey, who takes care of the flowers at the location in Raleigh's Cameron Village, says if you follow the directions on the packet that comes with each dozen, your roses will last a week or longer. Warm water will generally make flowers open quicker. Soucey says they get shipments of roses every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. He says it's an affordable luxury! Perfect to perk up your home or to perk up someone you love!" Prices will go up temporarily on Fresh Market roses for Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.

My eighth favorite thing is a special holiday wine from Raleigh's Seaboard Wine Warehouse near downtown. They suggest a perfect white wine for the Thanksgiving table that is strong enough not to compete with all the bold flavors and tastes on your table. It's the Gruner Veltliner from Austria. It also comes with a glass cork that seals the flavor and keeps it clean and fresh longer. A bottle of Gruner Veltliner is around $20.00.

My ninth favorite thing is the new book from one of my favorite authors, North Carolina's own Nicholas Sparks. His latest is called "The Choice." $24.99. It's another NY Times best seller about love found and lost! The nice folks at Quail Ridge Books and Music store in Raleigh off Wade Avenue let us come into their store to find out more about Sparks' latest book. They also have some great recommendations for other books by North Carolina authors. "Boone, A Biography" $29.95. A Spokeswoman at Quail Ridge says this is a definitive biography by NC Author Robert Morgan that will tell you more than you can imagine about Daniel Boone and probably dispell some myths. They also recommend "Rhett Butler's People." Author Donald Mc Caig got the contract to tell the story of "Gone with the Wind" from Rhett Butler's point of view. $27.95. And "A Love Affair with Southern Cooking" is their third recommendation. It's written by former NY Times food editor, Jean Anderson, who now resides in North Carolina. It's full of classic southern recipes and great stories about having a passion for southern cooking. $32.50.

My tenth and final favorite thing.. is probably everyone else's favorite. North Carolina's own Krispy Kreme doughnut. For a limited time, you can get the popular snowman-shaped doughnut.. that looks adorable and tastes even better for .99. You can buy them in dozens as well for the cost of a box of assorted doughnuts. They'll be on sale through the holidays!

I may not be as fortunate as Oprah, to be able to give away my favorite things to hundreds of people, but I had such fun finding my favorite things, all at North Carolina-based businesses. I hope you enjoy my favorite things as much as I am!

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