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SHOPTALK : For Men Who Watch Football and Women Who Love Them : Just in time for the gridiron season, some tips on where to buy soft, scented, frilly gifts.


It might not be so easy to tell, what with the mention of bath beads, soaps, doilies and such, but what you are about to read is for guys.

Guys who like to watch football on TV.

We believe they should acknowledge the women who let them do so every weekend. This column will provide tips on selecting gift items that say, "I love you and it's not even Valentine's Day"--gift items that will leave that special woman feeling pampered and appreciated.

And guys, remember, this is not a column on bribery. These items are not to be bought because you want to watch next weekend's games. These items are to be bought in thanks for getting to watch last weekend's games.

You can find sweet, sentimental gifts in specialty stores, drug stores, gift shops and other locations. We visited three specialty shops--Les Romantiques in Oxnard, Tottenham Court Ltd. in Ojai, and Eastland Stationers (a Hallmark shop), also in Ojai.

Our first stop was Tottenham Court, where we were overwhelmed by the selection of lovely merchandise for women.

First we checked out those dainty, decorative soaps shaped like teddy bears, angels, hearts, fish, turtles and the like. Each was priced at $1.25. Those same soaps at Les Romantiques were 35 cents, 75 cents and 80 cents, depending on size. The exception was an extra-large angel soap for $2.

Next we checked out the potpourri, fragrances of dried flower petals or spices mixed together. It's French, for one thing, so it's got to be romantic. What we were surprised to find--probably because we've spent too many hours staring at the pigskin--is the amazing variety of potpourri available.

At Tottenham Court we found a four-ounce bag of vanilla bean scent from Seasons Inc. going for $12.50. There was also a nice four-ounce Scarborough And Co. bag for $11. Or instead of buying the pre-made bag, the store also has sachet lace bags (for $2.50) that can be filled with either lavender or rosebud potpourri at $4.50 a scoop.

A three-ounce bag of Renaissance Inc. amber rose potpourri was selling for $9.95 at Eastland Stationers. And at Les Romantiques, a five-ounce bag of Bella's Secret Garden potpourri was $12.50. Scoops of cinnamon, gardenia, peach and other scents were $3, with sachets going for $5.

Next on our shopping list was bath beads. We've always been interested in the quantity of designs and colors available. Beads shaped like hearts, dolphins and stars, in purple, blue, red and gold, were 40 cents each at Tottenham Court. Comparable beads were also 40 cents at Les Romantiques and 25 cents at Eastland Stationers.

If you want to go the way of fabric, lace doilies are a sentimental and attractive option. Les Romantiques had them ranging from $4.50 to $7.50. Tottenham Court had them priced at $2 for the simpler three-incher, $4 for the six-incher and up to $42.50 for the more intricately designed versions.

Those were some of the basic, common items. For more of a flare, here are some other samplings.

At Tottenham Court, there was an attractive cranberry-colored vase, about four inches tall, for $18.50; burnished rosebud-pattern soap dishes made in England, ranging from $8.50 to $15; a glass jewelry box with an ornate silver heart-shaped top for $16.50, and a small, burnished picture frame for $9.50.

Eastland Stationers had an English Garden Fragrance Basket (with two ounces of potpourri, two scented candles, a silk flower and a sachet) for $7.95; a heart-shaped white ceramic jewelry box with a pastel floral bouquet design for $4.95, and a shell-shaped crystal perfume bottle with silver-plated stopper for $4.95.

And at Les Romantiques, there was a soap dish shaped like an old-fashioned bathtub--complete with knobs--for $13.50; scented candles in glass with gold edging and wrapped in gold netting for $15.50; and an array of attractive aromatic bars of soap.

Now for you guys thinking of giving up football just so you don't have to deal with this mushy stuff, Les Romantiques also sells pre-wrapped, could-be-anything "surprise packages" for $5.50. If you don't know what's inside, that special woman in your life can't blame you if it's wrong.

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