April Odds & Ends
Happy April Friends! It’s that time of the month again when I share some of my favorite tips, tricks and products with you. This month I did something a little different. In addition to my one giant Odds and Ends monthly post, you will be able to find each individual tip or trick in their corresponding category on the Parker Posts menu. This way if you want to go back and read about just my favorite family Easter tradition, you will be able to easily find it in the Family Traditions Category. Don’t forget to let me know if any of the tips and tricks below make your day a little brighter or your life a little easier 😘.
When I was a little girl, the first thing I did every Easter morning was check to see if the Easter bunny had kissed me during the night. The tell tale sign that the bunny had given me a kiss while I slept was if I found a small red heart somewhere on my body. I would usually spot the heart-shaped kiss on the back of my hand.
This Easter tradition continued after welcoming my own children. Every year the bunny never fails to kiss each member of our family without causing anyone to stir from their slumber. One of the first things my children do on Easter morning is run around the house double checking that each person has indeed received a special bunny kiss.
My no bake haystack cookie recipe was so popular over the holidays that I thought I would give it a little spring makeover so that you can enjoy this salty and sweet treat throughout the year. With just a few tweaks and an additional ingredient these crunchy, butterscotch and chocolate cookies become an adorable bird’s nest. Package individual nests in cellophane bags, tied with ribbon for a cute party favor. Place a nest at each place setting to add a special touch to your Easter table. Display the nests on a domed cake plate as a tasty spring centerpiece for you dining table, sideboard, or kitchen island.
Bird’s Nest Cookies
- 2 bags butterscotch chips
- 2 bags chocolate chips
- 2 cups salted peanuts
- 1 12 oz. bag of chow mein noodles
- 1 10 oz. bag of Hershey’s candy coated milk chocolate eggs
Combine chocolate and butterscotch chips. Melt chips over low heat until smooth in a double boiler. Add peanuts and chow mein noodles. If mixture seems a bit thin add a few more nuts and noodles, in equal amounts. Remove from heat. Place a scoop of the mixture on a non-stick surface. Flatten each scoop with the back of a spoon and press down gently in the center to form a resting spot for the Hershey’s candy coasted milk chocolate eggs. Let cool in the refrigerator until set. Place eggs in center of nest. Makes approximately 20 nests. Enjoy!
Tip: If you don’t have a double boiler you can fill a saucepan with 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once water comes to a boil, turn the heat down to medium. Rest a heat proof bowl on top of the sauce pan and add chips to the bowl. Stir until chips are completely melted. You can also melt chips in the microwave. Heat in 30 second increments, then stir, until chips are completely melted.
A couple months ago a couple of girlfriends were talking about their FabFitFun box subscriptions at Bunco. The conversation piqued my interest and I decided to find out more. I learned that FabFitFun members receive a box filled with 8-10 full-sized, premium products valued at over $200 each season. Members can sign up for either a $49.99 seasonal subscription (I paid $39.99 because I used a special offer) or a $179.99 annual subscription. New members and annual subscribers will have the option to customize some of the products in their box. New members also fill out a personal survey to help FabFitFun curate future boxes with products that match their customers tastes.
My fourteen year old daughter and I decided that it would be a fun subscription to try together. What could be better than receiving a box of goodies four times a year that we could either share or divvy up depending on the contents. Below I have listed the types of items included in each box as well as a few examples of products from past seasons:
- home decor: throw blanket, candle, beach towel
- skin, hair and beauty care: eyeshadow, lip gloss, make-up brushes
- jewelry and accessories: necklace, backpack, sunglasses
- kitchen tools: copper measuring spoons, coffee mug
- clothing: robe, beanie, socks, scarf
- health & wellness: jump rope, gym bag, ear buds, water bottle
Our first box arrived last week and I have to admit it felt a little bit like Christmas morning. We couldn’t wait to tear open the box and discover what was inside. Here are the items we received:
Unplug Meditation Aromatherapy Diffuser (value $55) My daughter had been asking for a diffuser for her bedroom, so this customization was a no-brainer because it had already been on my shopping list. We have used it several times already with both the essential oil “happy” that arrived in the box and our own personal oils.
Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Brightening Sleeping Facial (value $48) One of our favorite things to do on our mother/daughter nights at home is apply a face mask while watching a movie. The ingredients in this facial work for both my daughter’s teenage skin and my (slightly 😉) more mature skin.
Lavido Aromatic Body Lotion (value $19) Body lotion is product we both use regularly. I will not be switching to this new brand in the future, but it is nice to take a break from our normal drug store brand to try a new higher end body lotion.
S’IP by S’WELL Water Bottle (value $19.99) Our family primarily uses reusable stainless steel water bottles and it is also one of my favorite items to give as a gift. I once left my S’WELL bottle in my car for a couple days during the summer when it was in the shop. I took a sip from the bottle after I picked the car up without thinking and was shocked to find that the water inside was still cool. These water bottles are a must for those of you that like to drink cold water while out and about for the day.
Tula Purifying Face Cleanser (value $28) This is one of the items that I snagged for myself. I really love the fact that this cleanser completely removes all of my eye make-up without the the added step of using make-up remover in addition to cleanser. I typically have to remove my mascara with make-up remover when I wash my face with my regular drug store cleanser. I am also really enjoying how just a small amount forms a thick, foamy lather when applied to my skin. I would consider purchasing this again depending how long a container lasts.
Quai Leave in Conditioner (value $26) I was familiar with this brand because I use their texture spray when styling my hair with beachy waves. I was excited to try their leave in conditioner because it also offers heat protection which is a staple in my haircare routine. I like this product, but to be honest I prefer the smell of my less expensive L’Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Blow Dry It Quick Dry Primer Spray and will go back to using that once my bottle of Quai has run out.
Dr. Brandt Skincare Needles No More Baggade Eye De-puffing Gel (value $42) Neither my daughter or I tend to get bags under our eyes, but we are prone to dark circles. I did not notice a huge difference in the appearance of my eye area after using this product. It was still necessary to use concealer to camouflage my under eye shadows. I will not be purchasing this in the future, but I will continue to use this tube on days when my allergies are acting up or after a tearful night watching This Is Us. I enjoyed the soothing feeling that resulted upon application.
Manna Kadar Champagne Body Scrub (value $24) This charcoal and mineral body scrub left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I especially liked the fact that it did not have a strong fragrance. In fact, although it is not labeled as unscented I did not detect any scent at all. I tend to use an exfoliating scrub at a couple times a week, so I know that this will be put to good use. Truth be told, I’ll probably go back to using my $5.99 Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub once this container is finished due to the much higher cost.
We enjoyed receiving our FabFitFun box so much that we decided to send one to my sister-in-law for her birthday. Tip: Subscribers have the ability to gift individual boxes to their family and friends. We were able to customize several of the items in her box. We chose a gorgeous floral Show Me Your Mumu robe for her box instead of the diffuser we had chosen for our box.
Overall, I think a FabFitFun subscription is worth the cost if you enjoy experimenting with new beauty products. I would have spent roughly $30 on the four drugstore beauty products that serve a similar purpose to those products that came in the box. The FabFitFun box allowed me to spoil myself with higher end products that I typically wouldn’t buy. The diffuser and the water bottle more than make up for the remainder of the cost of a seasonal subscription because I would have spent an equal or greater amount on those two products alone.
I received an offer to share three FabFitFun starter boxes with friends. Each starter box is valued at $75, but friends only have to pay the cost of shipping. It contains 3-4 full size, premium products. I will pass on this offer to the first three Parker Posts subscribers that message me that they would like to receive a starter box.
I’m curious…Is this the first time you are learning about FabFitFun or are you already a FabFitFun subscriber? If you are a subscriber, do you like the items you have received and would you recommend joining the FabFitFun community? I would love to hear what you think and if you have any recommendations for me moving forward.
I came across a fantastic de-cluttering trick in 2006 when home organizer extraordinaire Peter Walsh shared this technique with Oprah viewers.
“One-Month Cardboard Box Test- Not sure what you use and what you don’t in your kitchen? Here is a tried and true way to find out. Empty the contents of your kitchen utensils drawer into a cardboard box. For one month, put a utensil back into the drawer only if you take it out of the box to use it. If it’s still in the box after four weeks—you don’t need it. Pass it on to charity. “
— Peter Walsh
I find the One-Month Cardboard Box Test is useful when decluttering, remodeling or moving. It allows you to only fill your drawers and cabinets with exactly what you need. When I first tried this method I realized that I was holding onto three turners for flipping over grilled cheese sandwiches or serving up an egg. Although the notion of having an extra turner in case one was dirty or in use sounded ideal, the reality was that I would always use my one, favorite, tried and true turner EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
Disclaimer: There are certain items (such as a turkey baster) that you only use a couple times a year. These items are the exception to the rule and can be put away once the challenge is over.
I find this method also works wonderfully with bathroom drawers and cabinets. If you are anything like me, you are holding on to cosmetics, perfume, and body lotions that are either past their prime or just gathering dust. There is a reason you are ignoring that perfectly good lipstick. The shade, scent or texture just isn’t for you. If that isn’t the case, you will make a point of using that lipstick during the one month test so that you don’t have to toss it. I decluttered my master bathroom drawers this past year. Being able to open a drawer and see only the items that I truly use on a regular basis has made my skin and hair routine quicker and more enjoyable because I’m not having to sift through the extra clutter.