A Few of My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things – Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music

Today, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favorite things.  Mine won’t make Oprah’s top 10, but these favorites are some of life’s little pleasures that I just wouldn’t want to live without.

  1.  Duke’s Mayonnaise

If you don’t live in the South, you’ve probably never heard of Duke’s mayonnaise, though it’s the third largest mayonnaise brand in the United States.  Hellman’s and Kraft take first and second place. 

But I’ll wager that among Southerners, Duke’s is first. 

Those of us that grew up with Duke’s mayonnaise know that it is distinctly different from other mayonnaise brands.  The reason for this is that Duke’s is not made with sugar and has extra egg yolks in the recipe.  It gives the spread a rather twangy taste, unlike the sweetness that I associate with Hellman’s.

This brand was started in 1917, during World War I.  At that time, sugar was rationed, so Eugenia Duke made do with what she had available.  At that time, she was living in Greenville, South Carolina.  She started her company here, which has kept it fairly local.

Everyone in my immediate family used Duke’s mayonnaise, not only as a spread, but in many recipes.  A dollop of Duke’s gives mashed potatoes an extra creaminess and just the right amount of zing.  Add it to Chocolate Cake and you’ve got a cake so moist that it’ll melt in your mouth.  Find more recipes here.

When I was about five years old, I went on a visit with my cousin to her grandmother’s.  Her grandmother made bologna sandwiches for us.  I took one bite of that sandwich and it wouldn’t go down.  I didn’t know what was wrong with the sandwich, only that I couldn’t swallow it.

Her grandmother came into the kitchen and happened to open the refrigerator door.  Inside on the shelf was a jar of Hellman’s, but no jar of Duke’s.  I must’ve made some mention of that because for years now, my cousin has picked on me about being the “Duke’s” kid.  It’s such a widely spread story that everyone in my family (even if they don’t use Duke’s) keeps a jar of it on hand, just in case I drop by for a sandwich.

I’m so found of this brand that when The Dane and I travel up North, I make sure to take a jar with me.

2.  Ugg Bedroom Slippers


A few years ago, I had to go away on a business trip.  When I came home, The Dane had bought new bedroom slippers for me.

I’ve never been much for wearing slippers.  Up until The Dane bought these for me, I mainly wore what I call house socks.  You know, those thick socks that you really can’t wear with shoes.  But even with those, I’d wear them until they made my feet hot, then I’d pull them off and forget where I put them. 

There are even a few other pairs of slippers around.  Actually, there is probably one slipper of each kind around the house and I have no idea where the mate went.  I keep them in a drawer in hopes of finding the other, but they never seem to turn up.

There are a few reasons why I love these slippers so much.  First, I like that they are substantial.  No more changing shoes for a quick run outside to check the mail.  In fact, if you wanted to wear these to town, you could because they have a hardy sole to them.  Second, when I wear them, my feet don’t get too hot or too cold.  Lastly, they are very comfortable to wear. 

3.  Torrid Bras

I have a love/hate relationship with bras, but there is simply no way for me to go braless.

For years, plus-size women like me had a couple of choices that were in a word “blah.”  Not anymore, thanks to Torrid (and others) we now have choices. 

I love that Torrid makes a substantial bra that holds everything nicely in place and looks sexy as well.  I have a few of the push-up bras and one strapless.  All work very well.

Recently, I discovered that they carry bralettes and bandeaus.  Up to now, I have shied away from these as I didn’t think anything of that sort would provide enough support.  However, the reviews at Torrid for bras is usually 4 to 5 stars.  Typically, I go with the ones that have 5 stars and this has served me well.  (My January Haute cash is now burning a hole in my pocket.)

4.  Burt’s Bees

In the Winter months, the wind tears up my lips and constant hand washing tears up my hands.  I’ve used several products through the years to help with chapping, but overall, I like Burt’s the best. 

I keep a tin of Burt’s Hand Salve in my drawer at work.  At the beginning of the day, I rub some on about 30 minutes before my first patient, then the constant hand washing commences.  At the end of the day after another good hand washing, I find my tin and dab on a little before going home.  It helps to keep my hands smooth and prevents cracking.  It’s important to pay attention to your hands when you use them as much as I do.

There is a tube of Burt’s lip balm just about anywhere I spend any time:  beside my computer, in my desk drawer at work, at the bottom of at least four pocketbooks at any given moment, and most importantly, in my junk drawer in the kitchen.  I use that tube most often because it doesn’t move around like the others do.  Most recently, I bought a four pack not realizing they were flavored.  The mango was a surprise flavor, but the Peppermint is my favorite.

5. J.R. Watkins Petro-Carbo Salve

The Watkins Company has a special place in my heart.  Many, many years ago, my grandfather was a Watkins salesman.  My family grew up with Watkins products.  One look around my house tells me that this company is ingrained in my fiber just as much as Duke’s.  The best banana ice cream in the world can’t be made without Watkins.

My favorite product by them is the Petro-Carbo salve.  I think everyone in my family has a tin of this in the main bathroom, especially if there are small children around.  It’s good for using on skin irritations, minor cuts, burns, scrapes and especially insect bites.

At times, I have had a hard time finding this product.  Sometimes, I will give out “my favorite things” basket as a gift and it has to include a jar of Petro-Carbo Salve.  Last year, I found it at The Cracker Barrel.  Of course, you can always get it at J.R. Watkins online.  I just like knowing there is a place close by where I can pick up a tin when I need it.

On a side note, there is a movie called “Door to Door” staring William H. Macy about a door-to-door Watkins salesman.  If you ever get a chance to see it, it’s worth the watch.

6.  Borax

Borax is a workhorse. Don’t believe me? Go to pinterest and search for uses for Borax.

You’ll find that you can use it as a cleaner, a deodorizer, to unclog drains, remove rust, kill bugs, make candle wicks and put out fires. Use it in your cat’s litter box. Clean your mattress.  There’s so many uses for Borax, it should be a must have for everyone.

I love this product. Mainly, I use it as a cleaner, but occasionally to make fake snot as a gag Christmas gift 🙂  Here’s the recipe.  One year, our family had a “White Elephant” party for Christmas and I made this as my gag gift.  Chika ended up with it and she was, of course, grossed out.  The boys couldn’t wait to steal it from her so they could make it!

7.  Yearly Planner

I love planners and calendars of all kinds, but I haven’t quite found one that is “the” planner. 

The monthly calendar is a must so that I can see at a glance all the things that are coming up that need attention:  meetings, birthdays, holidays, anniversary’s.  Last year, while I was surfing pinterest, I found a page that listed special dates on one page.  Interestingly, I’d never even thought about doing that.  Straight away, I made a page so that I could have that all in one place, so no more forgetting. 

There are times when I think I am not normal when it comes to planners.  Sometimes I get creative and add photos and journaling, but this year, I haven’t had as much time to do that as I have in the past.  I’m constantly checking out pinterest to see all the neat ideas people use when planning, but so far, mine just don’t look like that on the inside.

For years, just to keep things simple, I bought plain black binders with generic pages.  It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve ventured into more colorful territory.

This year, my planner was all about keeping up with meetings and events.  As a member of four different committees (one of which I was the chair), I got quite bogged down and at times couldn’t remember where I was supposed to be or why.  For the first time in my life, I realized that there is a such thing as overdoing it a bit.  This year, my term is up in two of them and I’m cutting down to one.  My planners won’t be nearly as full as they have been, but maybe I’ll have a little more time to use them in the way I’ve enjoyed them in the past.

The planner on the left is my 2015 planner.  It’s a Misc me! Bo Bunny planner.  It’s pretty simple on the inside with only a monthly calendar, pocket pages and photo sheets. 

The one on the right is a kit that I picked up from Michael’s last year.  I believe it is either a Project Life or Recollections.  I don’t remember now and it’s not marked.  This one has both monthly and weekly calendars with free journaling pages.  It’s stuffed with jotted notes from meetings and the binders are filled with meeting minutes. 

I haven’t picked out a planner for this year, but I’m looking forward to it.  Any great suggestions?

8.  Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Dip

A good friend of mine introduced me to this dip last year when she served it at her Christmas party.

The Dane and I both loved it.  A few days later, I was on the phone calling her for the recipe.  She laughed and told me that she’d gotten it at Costco.  On our next run, The Dane and I grabbed a few tubs and took them with us to all the other parties we attended last year.  It was a big hit everywhere we went.  Surprisingly, it was the biggest hit of all with Chicka.  That child rarely will introduce new things in her diet, but she LOVED this.

This year, she asked if I was bringing the “pizza dip.”  The Dane and I looked for it at Costco several times and couldn’t find it.  This recipe is very similar to what we had last year.  I layer mine the way you see in the picture here, but any way you layer it, it’s good!

9.  Fried Pickles

I don’t know if fried pickles are well-known in other parts of the country.  They are a staple here.  Mainly as an appetizer. 

Through the years, I’ve seen and had a lot of fried pickles.  Some good, some just plain awful.  There’s a trick to making good fried pickles, just like there is with frying green tomatoes.  (Well, there are actually two tricks with green tomatoes, but that’s another story). 

For the best fried prickles, start with a brand you really like.  I like Vlasic kosher dills, but Mt. Olive works just as well.  First you have to start with the batter.  There’s a lot of dispute over exactly how this is done.  I’ll give you my secret, never ever use cornbread mix.  Cornbread fried pickles suck.  Mix all-purpose and whole-wheat flours for the best batter.

Once the pickles are coated, leave them in the refrigerator for at least an hour so that the batter sticks to the pickles (that’s one of the tricks you use with fried green tomatoes too).  Once they’ve chilled, get ready because it’s going to go fast.  I suggest use two people to cook them as it can get overwhelming with just one person.  Get the grease hot (I use a fry daddy) and then add in the pickles.  Almost as fast as they hit the hot grease they are ready to remove for the next batch.  Leave them in too long and they’ll burn.  This Hooters copycat recipe works very well. 

10.  Dark Nights of the Soul by Thomas Moore

During a particularly dark period in my life, a good friend of mine recommended this book to me.  It took some time to read as there is a lot of thinking involved with reading this book. 

For me, this book gave me an appreciation for when the darker times hit in our lives, for without them, we wouldn’t truly know when we are having a good season.

I’ve come to really love the books of Thomas Moore.  I don’t always agree with him, but he always, always makes me think and I always come through them with a better perspective on life, love and happiness. 

If you’re having a dark season (and even if you’re not), this book can help you through it. 


These are my top 10 favorites.  If you have a moment, drop me a line and let me know what yours are.  I’d really like to know.


Thanks for stopping by!











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