Survival “Gear”

This section is dedicated to stuff/apps/things/tips that I find handy, whether it’s for travel or life in general. I love gadgets, good products, and innovative little “whatevers,” especially if they make my life easier!

Update: Now that I am trying to MINIMIZE the amount of stuff I have in my house, this section is really becoming sacred. Anything listed here is stuff that I will absolutely NOT part with because it makes my life easier and therefore adds value. 


Ohhhhhh how I get asked all the time, “Are they worth it?”

Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! As a working mom of two little and energetic kids (who sometimes do not embrace the danger of oncoming traffic), I have got to be able to chase them and keep up with them! But, I do not like ugly footwear and it often seems like style has to be sacrificed for comfort. Enter Tieks! Totally not the case with these puppies, and the multitudes of colors and styles will make any lady go bonkers over how pretty they are! They are extremely sturdy and don’t have that weak feeling of walking flat-footed on concrete all day like cheap flats do. I used to avoid flats due to the aching I would have in my hips at the end of the day, but Tieks provide the support I need! I have a few pairs, and I think my favorites are my Chestnut pair.


They are versatile and go with everything. I also have Matte Black (a basic must-have), Clover Green (Go Herd!) and Leopard (to add a kick to any outfit). Though I’m on a journey to downsize, I won’t stop loving or buying these when necessary because I wear the heck out of them; they have replaced several pairs of less-than-stellar uncomfortable shoes. Added bonus: they come in the cutest little packaging, complete with a flower bow, sturdy box, pouch for your flats, and a sack for your uncomfortable shoes (so that when you switch from your heels to flats, you don’t get the inside of your purse dirty. Genius!). They have excellent customer service, too. You can check them out on their website, and I dare you to resist all the pretty colors! (I think my next pair might be the vegan Greystones or Silverlakes.) #tieksforlife #decisions

Little Hoots App:

hootI love this app for keeping memories of all the funny and crazy stuff my kids say. They also have a little shop where you can purchase memorabilia with these silly things on them. I will definitely get a book for my kids one day. Could make a nice graduation present or something like that. It’s so true… Kids say the darndest things! And those are the memories I will always cherish.

Holloway House Floor Cleaner:

We use these products on our hardwood floors. (Recently switched from Bona.) This gets the floorhardwood very clean, and then the shine is so good you can see your reflection. Use the cleaner, then luster for best results! We also got the spray bottle of cleaner for small spot cleanings (ya know, because we have two little kids and a new pup). Definitely spring for the mops, too! I rotate them after every use (about every two weeks).

Crud Suds by Bissell:

crudWe have small kids and dogs, so sometimes clean up is necessary (ok, a lot of times cleanup is necessary). I’ve always had trouble finding something that didn’t just cover up the spot/smell, leaving behind a weird ring and slightly perfumed odor. But I have been quite happy with Crud Suds by Bissell! It really does take away any odor, and I haven’t had any troubles with discoloration or residual spots left behind. We buy it on Amazon and use it just about every other day.

Daylio app:

This little app is a handy way of doing a journal without putting a lot of time into it. Each img_4551day, you just go in and select your mood and stuff you did that day (totally customizable!) and then it is stored. I find it kind of cool to be able to track my moods/feelings and see my stats for each month. I’ve been using Daylio for almost a full year now, and it was an easy habit to adopt. Check it out in the app store!


This stuff is the Nectar of the Gods (in my humble opinion.) Have you ever seen the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Remember how they were with the Windex? That’s me with The Aquaphor. And yes I must use “the” before it. It deserves that level of reverence.img_0564

It started with diaper rash as the gateway drug. Now, I use it in anyway I can. My favorite use: under eye night cream and moisturizer. I also carry a tube of lip balm. Give it a try! It will be the best thing you ever smeared on your kid’s butt and then your face. (But I would recommend doing that in the opposite order, or at least washing your hands in between.) And now on their website, I see they have a lovely spray version. Ooooooooohhhhhh 😍


Rodan & Fields Microdermabrasion Paste:

Let me start by saying no, I do not sell these products. A co-worker and friend of mine gave me a tub of this and WOW!

img_0684-2Have you ever felt like your face needed to be “taken down a layer?” Enter this gritty paste from the heavens. You can dilute it or apply to a damp face if you want to decrease the intensity, but I smear it on dry because I want the full facial effect. You just rub it on, then rinse it off and voila! Your face is smooth and soft as a baby’s butt. Easier than a trip to the spa and just as effective in my opinion. I use it a few times a week whenever I feel like I need to liven up my face a little.

I think it runs about $80 (?). Worth every penny. Mine has lasted quite a while, and I’d buy it by the bucket. My friend uses it on her feet, too, and says it’s great for sloughing off the nasty bottoms of your feet. (Hello, sandal weather!) Want some? Contact an R&F salesperson. If you don’t know one, I can totally hook you up with one of the many wonderful R&F entrepreneurs I know. Happy sloughing!

Lil Gadgets Connect+ Headphones:

img_0632Designed specifically for kids, these headphones have a couple features that make them ideal for traveling kiddos. First of all, they are volume controlled. So no more worrying that your kids are going to blow their eardrums out. Second, they have a built in SharePort(r) that allows one kid to plug into the other’s in the event that they are listening to the same thing (no additional connector or dongle required!). They’re sturdy and they fold up into their own little carrying pouch for easy transport. These are a MUST HAVE if we go on any lengthy trips.

Sunny Tag Waterproof Case Phone Pouch:

This might be my Generation X version of the fanny pack, but I don’t even care. This little puppy has ample room for my phone (in its case), some $$, and cards/hotel room keys, so what more could I want when I’m lugging around kids/stuff? Oh, and it’s waterproof and floats. (Underwater pics anyone? I recommend the Slo-Mo setting on your camera phone to optimize usage.) We took these pouches on our Disney Cruise this year, and they are now part of our “lake/pool” bag we keep handy for impromptu trips where phones could end up waterlogged if not fully protected. Do I look a little lame with something dangling around my neck like an American tourist in Europe? You betcha! But, the pros outweigh the cons, and I have to do something to keep all the men at bay when I’m prancing around in my mom-suit and cover-up.

Brookstone Pocket Projector:

Remember how I said I used to travel a lot for work? Well, one of my favorite things to do in airports on long layovers was to shop, and my drug of choice: Brookstone. On one particularly long layover, I convinced myself that my husband would just LOVE one of these handy little gadgets. That was about 3 years ago (I think), and I can honestly say img_0423that, while it’s not really been used in the “man cave” way I envisioned, it has definitely been through many hours of family fun. Want to watch a movie on the wall “Drive-in style?” Not a problem! How about project a FaceTime call for your Floridian brother’s gender reveal so the whole family here in WV can watch together? Yep! Did it! It’s a very crisp picture and so easy to use. Great for projecting on any blank wall space, and my husband actually built a screen based on a Pinterest pin we found. (Well done, honey!) Now we can watch football games streaming outside by the fire pit. Win! Get the tripod stand and the case, as well as the HDMI dongle, if it doesn’t come with it. I also recommend getting an economical set of speakers to help project sound, especially for outside use.



Cool shoes. Need I say more? (Well, I will.) These awesome “kicks” come in a couple iterations. I have both the Fit and Kozi version, and my kids have the FitKids.

The “Fits” are great as waterimg_0416-1 shoes, and we wear them kayaking and tubing and all that fun water-sport stuff. My kids and my niece also wore the heck out of them on a cruise we took this year because the deck around the pool and in the splash are got a little slick, and these really helped the toddlers keep from slipping.

The “Kozis,” on the other hand, are slippers/house shoes on steroids. I’ve worn them outside from time to time because they have tread and look like a sporty shoe. I even wore them to the hospital when I had my gallbladder out! I have them in black and grey. They’re sporty and cute and COMFY! You can purchase them in multiple places, but my vendor of choice is the Cabell Huntington Hospital gift shop (benefitting the CHH Foundation). Pick up a couple pairs in fun colors for the whole family!

Zippy Sacks:

Making beds in the morning is a b-e-a-s-t sometimes, and neither of our kids are stellar at bed-making. zipEnter Zippy Sacks! The kids can literally zip their beds shut. It’s fun for them and easy for all. Check out all the fun prints! We have the Minnie Mouse and Dino. Bonus: they have a little pocket on the side that will hold a little gadget (i.e. flashlight or remote).