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 devices, services, apps, kitchen tools, and education.
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 loose it.
Tim has an iPhone 6S Plus and Franicia has an iPhone 6S. Tim likes the larger size of the iPhone 6S Plus while Franicia prefers the smaller iPhone 6S.
You can read Tim's article on how to choose the best smartphone here.
- Apple iPad
- Apple Mac Pro
- Apple Macbook Pro
- 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 That February or March, Nikon released the D800 (that has now been replaced by the D810 .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.
- Google Apps for Work - "Professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and more. Built for business, designed for teams.” You get the regular Google services but associated with your own domain.
We've tried Google Apps for Work, Exchange hosted on Office 365, hosted Exchange with Rackspace, business email with Rackspace, and even the Open Exchange Suite. We keep going back to Google Apps because it is so flexible and powerful (and it's a great value compared to some other options).
One of our favorite things about Google Apps 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 Google Apps can do this through it's own, very-capable Gmail interface both on a web browser and on the Gmail app 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 businesses.
Another thing that we really like about Google Apps for Work 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 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 like our upcoming relocation!
- Nozbe - Nozbe is a simple but very powerful task and project management system. There is a web app as well as native apps for the Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iPad, and iPhone. One thing we really like about Nozbe is that it will stay in sync between all of your devices. It also integrates really well with Google Calendar, Twitter, Evernote, Dropbox, and Box.
- Slack - team communication. 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 apposed 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?
- Hosting by InMotion Hosting - 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)
- 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.
- Michael Hyatt’s Platform University for help to develop our platform.
- LinkedIn - social networking for your professional side
- Instagram for sharing picture updates to our followers and supporters
- Twitter for quick updates to our followers and supporters
- Vimeo for online video hosting
- Google Drive - Google offers Google Drive with Docs, Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (slide presentations), Forms, and Drawing for free with any Google account. Google Apps for Work 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fantastical- 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.
- Slack - Slack, mentioned above, also has dedicated apps for iOS and Android. WE LOVE SLACK!
- Quip - We use Quip primarily for writing, shopping lists, packing lists, and tracking various projects. Quip is great at collaboration and communication within a document. The only thing that it's missing at this point is an option is the ability to conduct a bulk export of documents. This feature is in the works, though.
We get many of our cooking tools from our favorite restaurant supply company, KaTom. They sell Vollrath and Shun among other great brands.
- 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).
- 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!
- Rackspace email - professional, enterprise-level email hosting with both Microsoft Exchange solutions and business-grade IMAP email that can even be mixed on a single domain.
- Robinson Curriculum - A great homeschool curriculum that will get your children reading a lot of historical literary works where they'll learn about history from the source.
- Khan Academy - Free, online education for adults and children alike. This is not a faith-based curriculum, so parents need to ensure that they're involved in what their children are learning. We have noticed some progressive themes in some of the material. Their math curriculum, however, is very good.
- Saxton Math - Saxton Math is a very good and thorough math curriculum that offers math courses all the way up to Calculus.
- Melissa & Doug - We love Melissa & Doug's toys and learning products for children. We love wooden and quiet toys -- our children love them too!