Below are some of the tools and resources that we use both for just regular family life as well as for our family business. Below are links to and discussion about our favorite devicesservicesapps, and kitchen tools.



We fought the draw to get a smartphone for a long time. Tim was given an iPhone for his work phone for one of his jobs in Guam, though, and we realized during this time how useful it was. It's like having a planner, address book, computer, phone, calculator, book collection, and camera all in one easy-to-carry item that is even backed up to either your computer or the cloud so that the information isn't lost forever if you lose it. 

Both of us have iPhone XSs. The X and XS are really great devices. They’re small enough to use one-handed, but their screens are as big as the previous plus sizes. Cameras on the XS are also the same ones used on the XS Max, and the images from the phone are really amazing — on par with a consumer-level DSLR. In many cases, image quality is more due to the skill of the shooter and the subject matter rather than the equipment used anyway.


We have iOS mobile devices and use MacOS computers. We love the tight integration that iOS and MacOS share.

Tim loves to save money, but Apple products aren't the cheapest -- they're usually on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to price. Because of this, Tim has tried multiple times to transition to Windows products, but he was more productive and efficient on Mac computers. Maybe that's because he's been using them since our first iMac in 2005 (has it really been that long?!). Tim uses Windows at work, though, so he's used to the shortcuts and Windows-specific features in Office. Even with Office products being a little more feature-rich in Windows (c), Tim still prefers MacOS. 

Back in 2005, we had a Dell desktop that was only a couple of years old. Something happened with a display driver, and, even though Tim performed a fresh install of Windows and all of the drivers, that computer never was the same. At that time, we were in Guam and Tim was deploying as a helicopter pilot and couldn't stay home to keep troubleshooting the computer. The all-in-one iMac G5 had just been released, and we heard good things about Apple products. From that time on, we've been pretty loyal and bought our first Macbook Pro in 2008. We gave that laptop to a friend in 2015 (it was still going strong then).

We now use a 2009 Apple Mac Pro  (yes, we bought it new in 2009 and it's still going strong). Tim uses this mostly when he's home. Franicia uses a 2015 Macbook Pro. 2015 was the model before Apple switched to only USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook Pros. This is good for us because we can still read SD cards and connect to USB 2 and 3 devices without needing a dongle/adapter. 2015 MacBook Pros still also used MagSafe power adapters. These can be yanked off without causing damage to the laptop or pulling it to the floor. This is still a great laptop and runs like a champ.

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 Camera

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 16MP Digital Camera with APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor (Body Only)
Back in the spring of 2012, we were wanting to replace our Nikon D40. We used that camera SO much. It actually had over 145,000 shutter actuations. We had been waiting for Nikon to come out with the replacement for the Nikon D700. That February or March, Nikon released the D800 (that has now been replaced by the D810 . We didn't have enough money initially, so we saved until we did have the money. When we finally had the money, the waiting list for the D800 was so long that we would receive the camera after our move from Guam to Florida.That timing wouldn't work for us, so we started looking for other options. We really wanted a camera that had a good (at least DX-size) sensor with excellent interchangeable lenses. I (Tim) wasn't even sure those existed. It turns out that Fujifilm had released the X-Pro 1 right around the same time that the D800 was released. The X-Pro 1 takes great pictures and good enough video. We're hoping that the video capabilities improve on the next version of the X-Pro.We also like Manfrotto's products for photography and have a 10% off code that you may use. They offer tripods, headds, accessories, alternative supports, dollies, and bags as well as video support systems. Use code SAVE10 for products delivered to the US only. Click here.


Productivity and Communications - Google's G Suite

G Suite offers "Professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and more. Built for business, designed for teams.” You get the regular, free Google services but associated with your own domain AND you have more control over the content within your domain than you would with Google's free services..

We've tried G Suite, Exchange hosted on Office 365, hosted Exchange with Rackspace, business email with Rackspace, and even the Open Exchange Suite. We keep going back to G Suite because it is so flexible and powerful (and it's a great value compared to some other options).

One of our favorite things about G Suite is the ability to send and receive email from multiple aliases. It's possible to do this with the other solutions (mostly) while using a desktop or web-based interface, but G Suite can do this through it's own, very-capable Gmail interface both on a web browser and on the Gmail app available on most mobile devices. This is really a huge deal for us since we're pursuing several business opportunities and don't want to pay for multiple accounts for each of our brands.

Another thing that we really like about G Suite  is Gmail's labeling feature. Labels are different than folders in that a single message or message thread can belong to several different labels. This is really helpful for cases when messages could go in two or more folders in other email solutions such as a regular IMAP or POP email account. With Gmail, you don't have to pick which folder they go to -- you can label to your heart's content. There is also a folder feature in Gmail if you want to organize your emails this way, but you still have the ability to label messages with multiple labels no matter what folder they're assigned. 

Google Drive with Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Forms, and more is also an amazing collaboration and productivity tool. We use all of these to keep our business documents synced and even plan events!

Task Management - Trello

Trello  is a simple but very powerful task and project management system. There is a web app as well as native apps for the MacOS, Windows, Android, iOS. One thing we really like about Trello is that it will stay in sync between all of your devices. It also integrates really well with Google Calendar, Evernote, Dropbox, and OneDrive.

Team Communication - Slack

Slack is awesome! Our team could always communicate with each other via email, but then we'd have potentially a lot of email threads for various projects that could get lost among the rest of our important and unimportant emails. Slack is like a messaging application built specifically for projects and teams. One thing that is different about Slack as opposed to other messaging solutions is the ability to create your own channels and the ability to archive messages. Google Hangouts offers archiving, but it doesn't offer channels. Apples Messaging app is great, but it's hard to archive (and it doesn't offer channels). Slack offers both archiving and channels as well as great integrations with external services. WE LOVE SLACK! Did I mention we love Slack?

Website Hosting - InMotion

InMotion provides hosting on solid-state drives (SSD’s) that enable Wordpress sites to load up to 3x faster than traditional hosting services.

Wordpress - The most widely-used and supported Content Management System (CMS)

Creative Tools

Adobe Creative Cloud - Adobe professional apps for creating such as Photoshop, Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Adobe Acrobat Pro and online (cloud) storage for sharing content across services and with others.

Apple's Final Cut Pro

Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer

Michael Hyatt’s Platform University for help to develop our platform.

Social Media

  1. LinkedIn - social networking for your professional side

  2. Instagram for sharing picture updates to our followers and supporters

  3. Twitter for quick updates to our followers and supporters

  4. Vimeo for online video hosting


  1. Google Drive - Google offers Google Drive with Docs, Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (slide presentations), Forms, and Drawing for free with any Google account. G Suite also includes drive with these features. Google Drive can also edit Microsoft Word files and save documents as Word files. Another great feature is it's real-time collaboration feature.

  2. Evernote Premium - We use Evernote as an electronic notebook both for our family, our website, and our business. The Premium subscription to Evernote gives you some added features over the free version such as a larger storage and syncing allotment, ability to store notes to work offline, document search to include attached files, and premium support.

  3. 1Password - "1Password is a comprehensive password manager for Mac OS X, Windows, iOS and Android developed by AgileBits Inc. It provides a place for users to store various passwords, software licenses, and other sensitive information in a virtual vault that is locked with a PBKDF2-guarded master password.” We use it to keep all of our accounts and passwords synced across our multiple devices (including our desktop and laptop computers.

  4. Google Calendar - We keep track of all of our appointments and reminders through Fantastical on our phones, iPad, and computers. Viewing, modifying, and adding events AND reminders is quicker and easier than other applications including the stock iOS and OS X apps.

  5. Slack - Slack, mentioned above, also has dedicated apps for iOS and Android. WE LOVE SLACK!

Kitchen Tools

We get many of our cooking tools from our favorite restaurant supply company, KaTom. They sell Vollrath and Shun among other great brands.

  • Cookware: We love, love, LOVE our Vollrath pots. We love stainless steel and cast iron cookware and try to stay away from non-stick surfaces simply because they're not natural. Finding stainless steel pots and pans that are high-quality and offer efficient cooking is not always easy and is often very expensive especially when you buy a full set. We try to stay away from rolled lips and seams that collect food and bacteria. Since stainless steel is not very conductive as compared to other materials like copper and aluminum, though, we also like to get cookware that has a layer of conductive material sandwiched between layers of stainless steel. This type of cookware can get VERY expensive. Vollrath cookware is designed for restaraunt use and isn't quite as pretty as other cookware with polished, mirror finishes, but we love it's sturdy, easy to clean, and easy to use features. We enthusiastically recommend them!

  • Dinnerware - We try to use stainless steel dinnerware as much as possible so that we don’t have to be concerned about our children breaking their plates, cups, etc. We have bought Zebra Thailand stainless steel dinnerware before, but they can be difficult to find a. Tumblers - Vollrath 12-oz tumbler from KaTom. b. Plates - Amazon sells GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Plate and MSR Alpine Plate c. Silverware - We use Oneida Flight 45-Piece Stainless-Steel Flatware Set because they’re easy to get and are comfortable in our hands.

  • Berkey Water Filtration - Berkey water filters are great for general filtered water needs. We have a whole-house water filter as well as a Berkey water filter in our kitchen. One great thing about Berkey water filters is that they are powered by gravity! Their filters remove 99.99% of viruses, bacteria, and even fluoride when combined with their special fluoride attachments.

  • Kitchen knives - We've tried Shun, Wulstof, Henckels, and even Cutco knives. We even have a $300 Shun Ken Onion Chef's knife. Our favorite knives for function, comfort, and price, though (BY FAR), are Victorinox Fibrox knives. Our favorite chef's knife is the Victorinox Fibrox 10-in knife. It is SO comfortable, cuts really well, holds an edge very well, and can easily be sharpened. It's not quite as fancy as the other knives from big-name, expensive brands with a big bolster and wooden handle, and it's stamped instead of ground or formed from a single piece of steel, but it's AWESOME! Their bread knife is really great too and works just as good if not better than our high-dollar German-made bread knife. Bottom line -- get Victorinox knives. That's what a lot of the world's top chefs use (trust us -- our brother is an executive sous chef at a Hyatt resort).