Editor’s favorite things
We’ll be saving all of her finds right here, so bookmark this page and come browse through to get ideas and inspiration, and discover new products that will bring you joy, or help make your life easier.
When I started thinking about compiling my 2nd edition of my Favorite Finds a few weeks ago, this certainly wasn’t the direction I thought I’d be taking.
In such a short period of time we’ve had to come to terms with a “new normal” — drastic changes like navigating homeschooling, being isolated with social distancing, and trying to track down essential supplies — it’s unchartered territory.
So it just didn’t feel right to include recommendations with things like beauty supplies or “the best jeans” (I’m certainly not getting out of my sweats these days, are you??).
Instead, I wanted to focus on the things that will help make your life EASIER and HEALTHIER in this moment of time.
All of these Favorite Finds are things that I’ve personally used and experienced, and get my highest recommendation.
I apologize for the mini-novels I’ve written on each one…I just want to share the goodness with you, and the passion came pouring out.
It was actually a goal of mine in 2020 to do a major detox-ing of my home, and I’m more thankful than ever that some of the items I’ve been using have helped purify our air, reduce toxins in our bodies, and boost our immunities. I truly believe that these products have kept us healthier, and lessened our stress during this crisis.
Although we got our AirDoctors months before the coronavirus crisis, this air purifying device has brought us even more peace of mind in the last several weeks.
We got our first AirDoctor when my husband went to an allergist and confirmed that he was allergic to dust mites. He went on a rampage steam-cleaning our bedroom — comforters, rugs, anything with fibers was deep cleaned. That helped a little, but it was only when we started using the AirDoctor that he noticed a drastic difference in his ears/nose (he’d even been to an ENT doctor with no solutions other than surgery!).
We quickly ordered 2 more — 1 for our main living area, and another for my son’s room who also struggles with allergy-related symptoms.
It’s crazy to think, but indoor air can be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air!
A lot of people don’t realize that symptoms like headaches, fatigue, nasal congestion, throat irritation, sleep troubles, and sneezing can be caused by air pollutants hanging out in your house.
And now we’re spending so much time inside, I’m so thankful that our AirDoctors are constantly scrubbing our air of almost 100% of particles, contaminants and toxic gasses.
As far as COVID-19 goes, I contacted AirDoctor and they stated that their UltraHEPA filters have been independently tested to capture 100% of airborne particles at 0.003 microns in size (making it 100x more effective than ordinary HEPA filters). Viruses can range in size from 0.004 to 0.15 microns in size (so AirDoctor would capture them all), and according to research from Maryville University, the size of COVID-19 is around 0.125 microns. Big thumbs up!
I will be grabbing one more for our basement (if yours has that musty “basement” smell, this will solve that in a hurry!) and also managed to get you an absolute killer discount:
Get THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS OFF (yes, $300!!) an AirDoctor by using our special link!
When I first went to the grocery store to prep our home for a COVID-19 disruption, the thing that shocked me the most was that the bottled water aisle was completely bare. This was BEFORE the toilet paper shortage even began!
I felt such security in knowing that I had my AquaTru in my pantry at home, and I didn’t have to buy any bottled water.
AquaTru is a countertop reverse osmosis water purifier that is certified to create bottled-quality water from your tap water. You simply fill up one side of the device with your tap water (fits about a gallon and is removable for easy fill-ups), and it cleans 75+ different chemicals out of the water, including lead, chlorine, pesticides, glyphosate, copper, nitrates and herbicides.
You then simply place your glass or reusable water bottle under the spout, press the button, and out comes the cleanest, best tasting water you’ll ever drink.
So backing up here a little, the reason I initially got my AquaTru is that I discovered my town’s water had over 20 contaminants in it, with 7 exceeding the EWG’s Health Guidelines, including Radium (16x more than guideline) and Nitrate (10x more).
This is your typical suburban town that I TRUSTED would have higher standards in place to provide us with safer tap water. I suggest checking your town’s water too: simply type in your zip code on the EWG Tap Water Database. You might have the same realization I did.
I initially wasn’t that worried because our fridge has an integrated filter, but the more research I did, I found that fridge filters (and others like Brita), are NOT purifiers — they are only designed to make water taste better, not necessarily safer. That wasn’t OK to me.
I discovered AquaTru because I had seen a lot of the leading healthy-living teachers touting it, then did my own research on the technology behind it.
Now this is a device that is an investment, but to me it was worth the price to provide my family with the best quality drinking water. And now with the coronavirus crisis upon us, it lessens my stress knowing that clean water can always be readily available.
That being said, I arranged a call with the company before including AquaTru in this email and they agreed to give you guys an unbelievable discount: $150 off!!
If interested, use THIS LINK and the $150 will automatically come off at checkout.
By now I think we’re all aware that washing your hands with soap and water is the most surefire way of keeping your hands germ-free. But when you’re out and about, this isn’t always an option. And with hand sanitizer hard to come by, I’ve been keeping my Suds2Go in my car so when I finish grocery shopping or pumping gas (the ONLY 2 things I’m doing right now!), I can give my hands a thorough wash before touching anything else.
At first glance, Suds2Go looks like a stainless steel waterbottle (and it certainly can be used that way). The innovation lies in a small attachment which holds foaming soap, that turns it into the world’s first mobile handwashing device.
Simply pump the soap onto your hands, lather up (we all know the proper way to do this now!), and then rinse with water from the bottle. It provides you and your kids a way to stay hydrated and keep your hands germ-free wherever you may be.
Before COVID-19 hit, I had replaced the regular water bottle I usually carry with me at all times (for those “I’m sooo thirsty” moments) with Suds2Go, and there were so many times I was very glad to have it with me. Think of going to the playground and wanting to clean off actual dirt or sand from the sandbox before having a snack or getting into the car. Or doing the same at the beach.
It’s a life saver now, and the uses will continue once we return to our regularly-scheduled lives.
I reached out to Suds2Go and got all of my subscribers 10% off with this link and code: WHATMOMSLOVE
I mentioned this amazing device in my COVID-19 prep email that turns regular tap water + a capsule of salt, water and vinegar into a cleaner and disinfectant as effective as bleach (but much safer for your family). It has been scientifically proven to kill 99.9% of viruses without toxic chemicals, making it safe for your family. You can use it for EVERYTHING: cleaning, hand sanitizing, deodorizing and disinfecting!
I use it for:
- daily disinfecting of doorknobs, light switches and countertops
- deodorizing of kids’ stinky shoes and sports equipment
- disinfecting toys
- disinfecting sponges, cutting boards, and toothbrushes (works great for pacifiers too if you’re in that stage!)
- deodorizing garbage cans, compost bins and diaper disposals
- disinfecting/deodorizing car seats, strollers, carpet/rugs, pillows, couch cushions, bean bag chairs, changing pads and more
We did a complete review of the system here, and I reached out to the company and they agreed to give our What Moms Love readers an amazing discount (especially at a time where they could jack their prices significantly):
For 50% off & free shipping (wow!!) on Starter Kits click here and use code: WHATMOMSLOVE
For $35 off Value Bundles click here and use code: MOMSLOVE35
Honestly, I don’t even know where to even start with this…I could write an entire article on how I have completely fallen in love with Essential Oils. And perhaps that’s what I should do instead, but I felt so strongly about including it here because these oils are helping me so much through this coronavirus crisis.
I remember seeing a surgence of people on social media talking about Essential Oils, and I was always curious about them, but really had no clue what all the hype was about. After doing a ton of research, and taking the plunge, I can now tell you that I get it. I’ve now incorporated Young Living into so many different aspects of my life.
Some of my favorite uses include:
- Diffusing and rolling-on “Thieves”, a natural way to boost your immunity (before using oils I’d get 2–3+ colds every winter…this winter I got ZERO, and feel like my immune system is as strong as ever — SO important right now)
- Bed time calming — I do a quick roll of Lavender on my kids’ wrists and spine + diffuse “Sleepize” in my kids’ rooms; they are more relaxed and fall asleep SO much faster.
- Using my “Deep Relief” roller on my temples to alleviate headaches (getting plenty these days as I’m staying up even later planning homeschool work)
- Rolling on Digize on my stomach for any upset moments or period bloating/cramping — seriously magically!
- Using a Face Serum every night with Frankicense (amazing on fine lines) and Tea Tree Oil (the only thing that has EVER worked on my cystic acne)
- Rolling on “Stress Away” or “Peace and Calming” to stay centered during our crazy homeschooling days
+ a zillion more.
I would love to share more of my journey with you, so if you’re interested in learning more about Essential Oils, please CLICK HERE.
If you haven’t heard of the Time Timer before, it is an ingenious tool that visually shows your child how much time they have left for a certain task.
I have several of them throughout my house (they come in a variety of sizes and colors from the compact 3″ to a large 12″), and we use them multiple times every day — now more than ever with homeschooling in the mix.
You simply set the Time Timer for a certain number of minutes, and the time they have left is shown in red. As time elapses, the red section gets smaller and smaller. Your child doesn’t need to know how to read a clock in order to understand this visual concept of time diminishing. It even beeps when time is up.
Some examples of how I use it include, setting a timer for:
- screen time limits
- taking turns with siblings (“you can play with the toy first, but when the Time Timer is up, your sister can have it”)
- bedtime routine (“can you brush your teeth, put on your pajamas and get into bed before the Time Timer is up?”)
- clean-up time (set the Time Timer for 5–10 minutes while everyone runs around and picks up toys)
- silent reading time
- getting out the door (“I’m setting the Time Timer for 5 minutes, let’s see if we can all be out the door before it goes off”)
- independent time management for older kids
Could you set a timer on your phone for these?
But a.) they’d need to hijack your phone, and b.) they can’t visually see how much time they have left, which is the key to their understanding.
I’m telling you, this thing is MAGIC.
This is an uncertain time for everyone — our old schedules and routines were abruptly stopped, and drastically new ones were quickly put in their place. We’re all a little on edge, more stressed, and our kids can easily pick up on these feelings. In short, there is no better time to teach your kids the power of mindfulness.
This book does just that, and delivers the power of mindfulness to kids in an extremely engaging and fun way — teaching them techniques for managing their bodies, breath and emotions. Each exercise only lasts a few minutes (great for short attention spans), but they’re simple to follow, and don’t require any sort of equipment.
I use Breathe Like A Bear every day with my own kids — both at bedtime to wind down for the night, and now that we’re homeschooling, as little brain-breaks throughout the day. They are extremely peaceful activities that incorporate breathing and small movements, and I’ve seen first-hand how they can turn a riled-up 5 and 7‑year old acting like a couple “crazies” into calm and focused little people.
My kids now ask for their favorites by name, and if they ever get worked up or anxious, I can guide them through the exercise without the book on hand. We all find peace in knowing that we have a method to find calm when needed, especially in these uncertain times.
The book is beautifully illustrated, and secretly, it is helping me too!
I’ve been front-loading our homeschool schedule so by the time lunch rolls around, the big kids are usually done with most of their work. That still leaves 6+ hours for them to play and be kids…which is great, until the “I’m boooreds” start.
As we are constantly testing toys/games for our Gift Guides, I have a lot of first-hand experience on products that will help keep your kids engaged and entertained during those non-school hours. I’ve chosen a couple of my favorites that I think could help your family too.
If you asked me “I only want to get 1 subscription box for my kids, what should I get?”. Without hesitation, my answer would be: Kiwi Co.! And now is the absolute perfect time to get your first “crate”.
My kids absolutely LOVE when their crates arrive, and at a time like this when I’m struggling to keep them engaged with out-of-the-box activities, Kiwi Co. showing up can give this “teacher” a ready-to-go art, science and engineering class!
In the past, my kids have built fun things like a pin-ball machine (that they then played with for hours), designed musical instruments and made stunning stained glass.
KiwiCo’s mission is to make STEAM accessible, engaging and fun – inspiring kids to see themselves as scientists, artists, creators and makers. They offer 8 different subscription boxes based on your child’s age and stage (from newborn to 16+) and they are all extremely high-quality, beautifully designed and thoughtfully crafted to stimulate your child’s passions.
If I could give it more than 2 thumbs up, I wouldn’t hesitate!
KiwiCo is very flexible and allows you to switch which crate your child receives at any time. Subscriptions are available on a month-to-month, 3‑month, 6‑month or 12-month basis.
Right now, get 15% off your subscription to Kiwi Co with code LEARN
Incorporating movement breaks into our new homeschool schedule is an absolutely MUST, and if you have kids who need to blow off some steam — Magic Moves is EVERYTHING!
This microphone-looking device will get your kids running, jumping and slithering around with a simple press of a button. The interactive wand includes 90 fun and creative commands like “run like a cheetah”, “float like a butterfly” or “slither like a snake”.
We use it inside and outside for a quick “recess”. I love that all of my kids can play at the same time, and it helps them get their energy out in a fun (and non-destructive!) way.
If you’re looking for more recommendations for products that will help your kids release that pent-up energy, check out our Best Indoor Gross Motor Toys For Active Kids (To Get That Energy Out!)
Or if you have an outdoor space, these amazing outdoor swings and hideouts would be such a blessing now that the weather is warming up.
We usually have pretty strict screen-time rules in my house, but those all went out the door once school was canceled for 6+ weeks. Now we’re in survive-and-try-to-thrive mode, so screens are being used a lot more, but I’m still trying to utilize them for “Learning Tech Time”.
We’ve had the Osmo system since it’s inception, and it has revolutionized the way kids can use their iPads. Instead of just being disconnected-spectator-zombies in front of a screen, Osmo turns them into engaged participants who are thinking, learning and using their imagination with dynamic hands-on play.
The set-up is simple: just download the app, place an iPad, iPhone or Amazon Fire device in the base, and clip on the reflector. Then your kids are ready to use the Osmo game pieces or drawing board to start interacting with the screen.
Kids can learn to Code with the help of a cute strawberry-loving monster, practice their Spelling and Math, unleash their creativity and have their drawings magically come to life, run a Pizza parlor working with money, fractions and profit, and unleash their brain power with numerous other games.
While my kids often get bored with other learning apps, Osmo keeps them thoroughly entertained, and at least one of my kids uses it daily. To me it’s a worthwhile investment for quiet time where learning and creativity is happening!
If you’re like me and have a toddler who you have to entertain while trying to keep big kids on their homeschool tasks (or just a toddler to keep busy!), I have a magical solution.
I got this amazing sink for my just-turned-2-year-old daughter for Christmas, and months later she will still sit and play with it for over an hour every day.
The water recirculates and it includes mini dishes/cups to wash. Everyday I’ll throw in a different set of small plastic animals or character figures (think Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, zoo animals, etc) and she goes nuts for it! I set it-up after breakfast so she’s occupied while I take my other 3 kids through their morning tasks. It’s been a complete life saver!
These solid tempura painting sticks are nothing short of genius, allowing your kids to paint without any set-up or mess involved. And let’s face it, our lives are messy enough right now — getting out the real paints and the subsequent clean-up is an ever bigger job than usual.
To use, just twist up the Stix and use it as your paintbrush – the colors come out bold and smooth and dry almost instantly. No more brushes to clean, and they can be used on paper, cardboard or even wood. We tested a few spots on clothing and it washed right out. Check out the thin version for older kids. Everyone goes crazy for these!
This cardboard playhouse has been a total hit at my house, and has all 4 of my kids occupied and playing nicely together…complete miracle! After some help with assembly, your kids can color and doodle away for hours upon hours, decorating it to their hearts-content.
It doubles as a fun playhouse with interactive features like a mailbox slot, and open/close windows.
It comes with 8 washable markers, but you could use any marker, colored pencil or crayon that you’d like (the Kwik Stix I mentioned above are also fantastic for covering larger areas).
Thank you so much for sticking with me — I hope you found something here that will help make this current situation a little healthier or more sane!
As we’re in the dead of winter, I thought it would be pretty fitting to share my most favorite self tanner of all time.
I have super pale skin so I stayed away from any sort of tanning lotion for a very long time, assuming that it would make me look like an Oompa Loompa. But last year before I went on February vacation (where I had to trade my winter layers for a bathing suit), I decided I had to give it a try.
First, I did A LOT of research to find one that wasn’t full of harmful toxins.The skin is our largest organ, and as you’re essentially covering almost every bit of it with self tanner, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t serving myself a chemical cocktail each time I used it. Through my research I landed on a couple of different brands, and tried them all. The winner by a long shot, was the Beauty by Earth Organic Self Tanner. It scores a “1” on the EWG’s scale (“1” being the best), and it gave me the more gorgeous, natural-looking tan.
What’s great about this product is that the cream is white, so it won’t stain your pillow or sheets, it’s easy to apply (wash your hands right after and they won’t turn orange), and it’s a buildable tan — so if you want to keep going darker, just reapply the next day.
They also have one specifically for your face, but I use the regular Self-Tanner all over with no issues. Seriously, give it a try — I can not imagine anyone being unhappy with the results!
I put this on my Christmas list this year and didn’t think a pillowcase could bring so much joy — but after using it for over a month, I can tell you…it can!
I noticed a while ago that every time I woke up, one of the lines (yes, that’s a nice way of saying “wrinkles”) in between my eyes (I believe the “technical” term for those are number 11’s) was much more pronounced than the other. It took me a while to realize that it was because I mainly sleep on that side of my face, which was causing the extra creasing.
Sleeping was causing me wrinkles — crazy, right?!
But would you believe that using this Slip Pillowcase, it no longer happens?! I mean, it didn’t make the wrinkles disappear, but it doesn’t make them any worse — which at my age, I will gladly accept!
Apparently it’s because the silk allows your skin to glide across the pillow, thereby reducing the friction and pressure on your face. As an added benefit, it also has the same effect on your hair, and I’ve noticed that I have more volume and less tangles in the morning than before.
It also just feels ah-mazing on your skin. This sounds completely ridiculous to say, but it’s honestly such a treat to lay on! I never want to go back to my scratchy cotton pillow again.
The Slip comes in a variety of colors and 2 sizes (the “Queen” size is just your standard pillow case size, and “King”) and can be washed on a delicate cycle in the washing machine. I just hang it to dry but reviews say you can put it in the dryer. I’m just not brave enough to try as I don’t want to spend one night without my face plastered all over this dream pillow.
It isn’t super cheap, but this is your face we’re talking about!
And be warned — I loved it so much, I wanted to get another so I could swap them out during washing, and I fell into the trap of getting a cheaper, copycat one on Amazon. At first I thought I had discovered a great deal, but after using it for just a week, the fabric was pulling apart and it was pretty much ruined in the washing machine. So lesson learned, some things are worth paying for.
(3) Monopoly Deal
My son LOVES Monopoly — it’s the game he always asks to play…but I’m sure you know the problem there, right? It can take HOURS, so games get started but rarely finished. So when I saw that Monopoly Deal could be played in just 15 minutes, I knew it was worth a try.
After a few rounds of getting our feet wet with the rules, we (my husband, 9‑year old son, 7‑year old daughter and I) were completely hooked. It’s fast-paced fun that still involves collecting properties, while adding in a fun element of stealing and swapping from other players. It’s exciting fun, and can indeed be played in 15 minutes (although some games lasted in the 20–30 range, it’s still an improvement over 2–3 HOURS!).
Best yet, it’s currently on sale for under $5 on Amazon!
My sister-in-law gifted one of these beautiful, interactive The Story Orchestra books to my almost 2‑year old (knowing that she already had pretty much every hand-me-down toy imaginable!), and now Baby G won’t let me read anything else to her.
There are 4 different books, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”, “The Nutcracker” and “Four Seasons in One Day” which all feature stunning illustrations and a retelling of the classic ballet stories. But the unique element is that on each page you can press a button to hear the sound of an orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s or Vivaldi’s music that corresponds with that scene. They are truly magical, and my other girls are equally enthralled.
Great for a special gift, or just to liven up your current book selection.
I am totally obsessed with this mom-run company, that makes the most magical sensory playdough kits. Each kit has its own theme (a few of my favorites include “ice cream”, “fairy”, “construction” and “pirate”), and comes with 3 balls of homemade, non-toxic playdough, and the most amazing little accessories. I love how it gives your child an invitation to play and create, and lets their imaginations go to work.
I got my 4‑year old daughter the Unicorn kit for Christmas and it is BY FAR the gift that she has played with the most. In fact, all 3 of my girls (7‑year old + almost 2 year old) play with it together, and gives me the most magical moments of quiet time.
And the kits come in a great plastic container that makes clean-up and storage super easy.
These are my new obsession. I still can not believe that they are only made from one ingredient: organic apples. That’s it! Nothing added. Just baked apples that form crispy, sweet chips. I was highly skeptical, but grabbed a bag when I saw them on sale at my local Costco and decided to give them a try. So glad I did!
My kids like them too (anything in chip form has a much higher probability of getting eaten), and although nothing can beat a fresh apple, they are perfect for a quick on-the-go nibble.
When we completed our kitchen renovation in August, I just couldn’t bring myself to rehang my old white-board family calendar I’d been using for years. It just didn’t fit with the new, modern space, and it was starting to look pretty beat-up with many of the black calendar lines wearing off.
So I went searching for a different solution, and was blown away when I stumbled across Girl Friday Acrylic Calendars on Etsy. They were just what I was looking for: modern and minimal, yet super functional.
I love that the black lines are printed on the back of the acrylic, so they will never come off, and you can chose the metal color for the little brackets that hold it off the wall.
I use these chalk markers to color coordinate everyone’s schedule, and stuck this little acrylic container from the Container Store onto the bottom corner to hold the markers so they’re easily accessible.
It’s one of the things people comment on the most out of our whole reno!
I shared this genius little gadget on my Instagram stories a few weeks ago (also saved in my “Favorites” highlight if you want to see it in action), and the response was crazy! I’m completely ready to throw out my matches and traditional flame lighter, because this Flameless USB Lighter is a bazillion times smarter.
I won’t pretend that I know the science of how it produces the flameless light, but because there’s no actual flame, it’s wind proof, moisture proof and great for lighting things vertically or at an angle.
Have you ever tried lighting the candles on your child’s birthday cake at an outdoor party when the wind keeps blowing out your match? Or when you go to light a candle in a tall votive and have the flame shoot up at your hand? Gone camping and can’t light your fire because you have damp matches? With this little device, these things CAN’T happen! It’s small and slim, and not only great for candles, but camping, BBQs, lighting your fireplace pilot light and more.
You simply use any USB cord to charge it, flip the on/off switch, then slide up the main button to ignite the “flame”. Couldn’t be easier. Mine is tucked away in my “junk” drawer, but I assure you, it’s a far cry from being a piece of junk.
(9) Get Sick Bags
OK, totally not a glamourous item by any means, but one day you will thank me for encouraging you to buy these Sick Bags. I swear, kids can be feeling fine one moment, and the next thing you know they spring “mooom, I don’t feel so good” on you and you’re left in a panic searching for any sort of plastic bag or container. And after you’ve had a kid throw up all over your car, you’ll gladly shell out a few bucks to have one of these disposable Sick Bags at-the-ready.
l keep one in my handbag, plus a few in my car. The ring at the top makes it easy for kids to hold over their mouth, and they’re quick and easy to close to contain the mess.
And if you’re pregnant with morning sickness, these are a MUST!
Aly will be back next month to share more of her favorites, so stay tuned!