A Few of My Favorite Things

By Ann Fulton

Favorite Things
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I’m a firm believer in the little things in life. Eating your lunch outside on a sunny day, waiting an extra few seconds to hold the door for someone, smiling more, avoiding gossip and simply taking the time to say out loud the nice thing you’re thinking about someone. These seemingly small actions have to power to lift someone’s mood and brighten our own day at the same time.
In that spirit, my current (and inaugural!) list of favorite things is neither flashy nor expensive, and the various items are unlikely to top any hot new trends lists. They may, however, loosen a tight back or hamstring, work a little magic on dry, cracked skin, make you think, laugh or simply provide a welcome ray of sunshine on an otherwise dreary day.
This series was originally requested by a reader (great idea, Cathy!) and many others enthusiastically welcomed it when I posed the idea several weeks ago. Fully excited about sharing the things that make a difference in my day-to-day life, I’ve been keeping a list!
So much of what we learn comes through word of mouth, so feel free to comment as to YOUR favorite things on our very first “favorite things” post. There’s also a question at the end of this post and, as always, I welcome your input!
🌷 🌷 🌷 🌷 🌷 🌷 🌷
Favorite Things
Tulips - Fresh flowers are a little ray of sunshine, especially during the long, cold days of winter-or when spring is upon us but it really doesn’t feel too springlike! You could certainly substitute a variety of fresh cut flowers, but tulips are my top pick for several reasons.
First, you need not have any flower-arranging talent (and I do not!). Simply plop them in a vase and they look stunning. Secondly, they don’t cost a lot. I buy 10-stem bunches from my nearby Giant for $7.99 and they always last a full week.
For locals who live near the Columbia Avenue Giant, I must give a shout out to Tomeo. He’s the older gentleman with the stylish glasses who works in the floral department. He’s the nicest man and will always look for the freshest bunch for you, often making a quick trip to the cooler for a better bunch or your favorite color.🌷



Lululemon Double Roller

Lululemon Double Roller – For those who have used a foam roller, the first thing to know is that this is not your ordinary foam roller! The ridges massage areas that the typical roller can’t access, plus there’s a removable inner roller that’s firmer and has more pronounced ridges. These are ideal when your tightness is really deep or in bendy places like a hip or shoulder (as opposed to the long, flat expanse of a quad muscle).

I’ve long subscribed to the merits of foam rolling to ease soreness, work out tight spots and increase flexibility. My sons realized the benefits when they began running cross country at school several years ago. My husband thought it was silly, until we convinced him to try last summer when his back was bothering him. Suffice it to say that he’s a convert.

I have my older son to thank for discovering this model. I’ve tried many different rollers over the years, and this is by far the most therapeutic.

$58.00. Available through Lululemon stores and online.


Burt’s Bees Body Lotion with Milk & Honey -We’ve all likely tried dozens of lotions and creams over the years. So often the ones that might work are greasy (so we don’t use them) or really expensive (so we never actually try).

Like many of you, my hands are a in a seemingly permanent state of dryness and often crack. On top of that, I have eczema, which leads to areas that can be itchy, inflamed and crusty. (I know…yuk!) I have a prescription steroid cream to deal with flareups, and I should mention that I’ve hardly needed it since I began using this healing lotion.

I purchased my first tube on a whim (having long been a fan of Burt’s lip shimmers), when I saw it on a display rack at the end of a grocery store aisle - and It did not disappoint. This cream is thick but not greasy and has an extremely mild scent that is more natural than perfume-y.  Perhaps I should try the formulation that’s specifically designed to be a hand cream, but this tube has done the trick for hands and body quite well.

Available at many larger drug stores, grocery stores ( a recent check included Walgreen’s, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods) and online for $7.99 for a 6-ounce tube.


Parchment Paper Cupcake Liners - Have you ever baked muffins or mini frittatas only to have them stubbornly stick to the liners-which were designed to make things easy, by the way? Parchment liners are inexpensive and virtually guarantee that your baked goods will peel away with ease.

I purchase the pictured If You Care brand. (Some larger grocery stores carry them; locally Lemon Street Market carries large, mini and jumbo packages for under $2.00 each, and they can be found on Amazon.)

A DIY alternative-You can fashion your own parchment paper liners by cutting 5-inch squares of parchment paper (or 6-inch squares for jumbo muffins). Center a square over each muffin cup, firmly pressing the parchment down around the sides of the cup with your hand and creasing the paper all the way around, sort of like a fan. For perfectly symmetrical pleats, press the paper against the cup’s four “corners” with one hand, then fold and press each corner individually with your other hand.

If you want them to look uniformly symmetrical and extra-pretty, press the paper against the cup’s four “corners” with one hand, and then fold the edges over so that they are facing the same direction. The folds won’t end up completely flat, but they’ll flatten out more once the muffin or cupcake batter is added.

Helpful hint: For evenly dispersed batter and fewer drips, use a large ice cream scoop to transfer the batter from the mixing bowl to the muffin or cupcake tins.



Book: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is historical fiction and drew me in from the opening chapter with vivid characters and unexpected plot twists. At its most basic level, this book tells the story of two sisters struggling to survive German-occupied France during World War II. One sister is rebellious and determined to fight for her country; the other’s sole motivation is serving the war with her family intact despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Having read many books set against the backdrop of World War II, I was drawn to The Nightingale because it detailed a piece of this time period about which I was less familiar. With its historical accuracy and riveting storyline, this book is likely to appeal to those who prefer nonfiction and fiction alike.


Favorite graphic:Funny...and true!


✏️✏️✏️ Current favorite quote: My older son is to thank for finding this quote (author unknown), which he texted to me on the heels of a challenging week. There’s such wisdom in it: “Disappointment reveals investment. What a beautiful thing to care, even if you were hoping for a different outcome. Celebrate that always.”


One more thing… I’ve been thinking about a monthly recipe series based on cookbooks. How many of us have a shelfful of cookbooks that we hardly ever use? Do you, like me, have countless pages dog-eared with good intentions? Yet there they sit?

There are some real gems hiding within those pages, so perhaps we should follow through on some of those good intentions. Do you have a favorite cookbook or a favorite recipe (or several)? Please feel free to comment as to any personal favorites and any desire to revisit some of the standouts in the pages of this blog.

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  1. Thrift at Home

    Love the idea for a series on the cookbooks we own! I try to keep only the books I actually use. I just bought the new Smitten Kitchen cookbook because I checked it out of the library so many times, haha.

    I don’t know about foam rollers at all, but your description of their usefulness makes me want to try. Any tips for getting started with one? Thanks. . .

    1. Ann Post author

      Thanks for your comment and feel free to share any favorite cookbooks or specific recipes from the Smitten Kitchen book. I love that you checked it out of the library so often. You know it will be money well spent! As for the foam roller, you will find tight spots you never knew existed. Basically, you just want to slowly roll down the length of your muscles. The key is to do it slowly and hover on spots that feel particularly tight. You’ll feel great!

  2. Lynn Myers

    Hi Ann,
    Tulips are my all time favorite flower! My wedding was all tulips!!
    The Nightingale was my favorite!
    And, I have dry hands and will try your recommendation.
    Thanks for all of the hints of your favorite things!! Oh, and the Sound of Music…don’t need to say more!

    1. Ann Post author

      So true, Lynn. You can’t beat that classic! Thanks for your comment…I would have loved your wedding!

  3. jane link

    Love Burt’s Bees Body Lotion! been using if for years and it is my favorite no matter how dry and cracked my skin gets. Also loved The Nightingale, the first book I read by this author,
    One of my favorite sayings is “it is a mother’s job to teach children to handle embarrassment” . I made it up when my kids told me I embarrassed them in front of their friends.
    I have many cookbooks and also many recipes in binders, shoe boxes and recipe boxes. When we moved last August, I tried to purge some, with a little success , but since then I have collected more! I use my Google Home Hub for recipes all the time but still am addicted to my printed ones .

    1. Ann Post author

      Your quote is fantastic, Jane, and no doubt every parent can appreciate the wisdom behind it. So glad you second the lotion pick, and as for the recipes, feel free to share any gems that fellow readers might enjoy. A series on tried-and-true reader favorites could be in the works!

  4. Nancy Fischer

    Dear Ann,
    Like you, I loved The Nightingale. It was such a moving story. If you haven’t already, try Winter Garden, also by Kristin Hannah and The Storyteller by Jodi Piccolt. Both are set in the same time period as The Nightingale and just as compelling.
    Happy reading!
    Nancy Fischer