Dog Days of Summer: Summertime Pet Gadgets

dog friendly travel

Travel smart with your furkids.

Summertime is full of outdoor activities that are perfect for bringing along the family dog. Hikes, beach trips, dining al fresco – your pup enjoys spending time with you and experiencing new sights and scents. The warm weather definitely promotes more time outside, but sometimes the heat is too much and can be dangerous to canines. When you spend time with your dog traveling this summer or at home on a staycation, here are a few gadgets that can help:

  • Cooling accessories. Aside from hydration, another way you can help keep your dog comfortable is with a cooling collar. Several brands, like KoolCollar, are worn on your dog’s neck and help regulate your dog’s temperature. Some varieties work with ice cubes, while others can be soaked in cool water and then worn. For greater surface area, some manufacturers create vests that operate a similar way. (Some are made for humans too!)

    beach tent

    Tents are not just for camping, they can provide shade for your pup on beach trips.

  • Dog beach tent. You can enjoy a break from the sun and a cocktail in the cabana with your dog. Canine tents and beach cabanas offer a shady, ventilated spot where your dog can relax.
  • iFetch. You might have your hands full with a toddler or two—keeping your dog entertained might be challenging! iFetch can help manage dog play time. This device launches a ball, the dog places the ball back inside, and the fun keeps going. They work indoors and outdoors!
  • Foldable bowls and bottles. Foldable food and water bowls and bottles are perfect for traveling. Several lined cloth options can fold up in your suitcase or even in your pocket, and take up just about as much room as a pair of socks.
family dog

Our dog Cinnamon enjoying summer.

You might have peace of mind keeping your dog with you while you travel. Our dog Cinnamon is a notorious escape artist. When tethering her in our yard, we went through a few dozen different restraints until finding one that safely and successfully keeps her at home!

One of the challenges when traveling with pets is finding dog-friendly accommodations. You might find a pet-friendly hotel at the beach, only to learn there is a weight limit. We have had multiple positive experiences with Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), both within the United States and abroad. Generally, dog-friendly rentals on VRBO will require an additional pet deposit or cleaning fee. Having all the amenities and familiar comforts of a home might be a better travel experience for you and your dog. A bark-happy dog might fare better in a private home than with hotel room neighbors a wall away!

Lovely Locks

bohemian hair

Summer hair could be a disaster unless you know how to manage it. Chlorine exposure during pool time, salt water contact on beach trips, and UV rays from the sun all add up and take a toll on hair. The effects generally result in dried out hair, split ends, or faded color (if you use hair colorants). Fortunately, a few simple products and accessories can be added to your summer hair care arsenal to make this season your hair’s favorite:

summer hair

Sun and salt water can damage hair, but there are ways to restore it.

  1. Hair oils. The 80s had hair spray, the 90s had hair gel, and contemporary times have brought us a variety of hair oils. Hair oils help nourish hair without leaving a greasy texture. Generally the best way to apply Moroccan oil or argan oil is to start at the ends. This usually moisturizes and protects the ends from splitting and minimizes a frizzy appearance. Limiting exposure to just the ends or the middle of hair and avoiding the scalp can help prevent a greasy or flat result. Sun Bum Shine On (which we were happy to learn is now available at Nordstrom), is a paraben-free blend of argan and almond oils sourced from products in the United States, and offers UV defense and color protection.
  2. Dry shampoo. If you don’t live close to the beach and spend time at the coast via day trips, or take advantage of summer weather for camping where showers are not readily accessible, a dry shampoo might be your summer savior. Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo is a popular water-free styling choice that offers a salon formula blend. Dry shampoos are formulated for use without water. They absorb oils, add volume, and blend with your natural hair color.

    hat styles

    Decorate your hat with beach treasures for a personalized souvenir.

  3. Headbands and hats. If you don’t have space to store products on your summer travels – wear accessories to protect your hair. Bohemian headbands can help you stay trendy and protect your hair at the same time. Wideband headbands adorned with seashells, feathers, and other boho embellishments can help shield your hair and scalp from UV exposure. You can memorialize your trips by adorning a headband or wide-brimmed hat with found objects from the beach: shells, faded sea glass, sparking stones. These are simple to add with a hot glue gun after your trip.

Summer Beauty Prep Time

summer beauty

Streamline your tan and protect your hair this summer.

Now that Memorial Day has passed and marked the start of the early summer season, we gathered helpful summer beauty routines and featured them on the Asher Marie Collection blog. From affordable mobile tanning options that can cater to parties in your home, to deep conditioning hair treatments that minimize sun, salt, and chlorine damage – we covered all the necessary basics. Check out Summer Beauty Prep to read about them all.

Digital Parenting: Battle of the Gadgets

digital parenting

The Digital Parenting Divide

Technology helps us in many ways, but it can also hurt us. Ask a parent what they think of their toddler’s–or fast forward, their teen’s–use of cell phones or tablets and you’re sure to spark a controversial debate. Are these devices helping our children learn faster or are they limiting their social skills? Or both? As with most things in life, our home has found a balance.

Before I explain more about how we manage our toddler’s tech time, let’s acknowledge that computers will be part of every child’s schoolwork and career. Many private (and public) schools provide an iPad or computer in the first grade—or not long after. Computers and other mobile devices come with a responsibility, which is great to instill at a young age!

toddler tech

Asher’s recent 3-year-old portraits featured our iPad.

I try to take advantage of every positive opportunity our smartphones and computers have available for young minds. We have an ABC subscription and easily access phonics videos on YouTube.

Our ‘digital parenting’ style is not overly rigid, but some things must be enforced. For a bit of balance, we’ve established no-tech times while we have the parental control over our toddler’s access to devices:

  • No devices between lunchtime and naptime
  • No digital after dinner

Our son probably gets about one cumulative hour of tech time per day. With the exception of an occasional Disney movie or live surfing contest in the evening with Mom and Dad. By limiting our toddler’s screen time, we hope he gets the educational benefit and the cognitive development of ‘old school’ flash cards and other activities, like playing with stickers or a Polaroid camera. Check out our earlier post on creative non-digital gifts for toddlers. Plus, for birthdays and holidays, I encourage him to handwrite thank you and holiday cards.

Although it seems like parents will eventually surrender to the Gadget Battle, for now we try to use it as a bargaining chip. It is much easier to offer five minutes on an iPad and avoid a 30-minute meltdown. (Don’t let our little one know this!)

Curious how you answer a question that is still a few years off for us: How old will your child be when they get a mobile phone?

Trips With Yacht Rentals

yacht rental vacations

Make your next trip on the open water.

We added a new luxury travel post on the Asher Marie Collection blog. This is our first post on travel for Asher Marie. As the pieces are designed for resort wear – we thought a post outlining basic options for renting a yacht would fit well. Since we have strong personal ties in Florida we focused the post on the various port options on and off the coast of The Sunshine State. Bon voyage!

Modern Working Mom

work at home mom

Parents today have more digital shortcuts and tools than ever before, but do you really need to rely on your smartphone? Modern working mothers, like myself, have our own routines and support systems. Whether you work from home or your job offers a flexible schedule out of the home, balancing professional and familial responsibilities is an art.

work life balance

How do you juggle priorities, keep little ones happy and healthy, plus take care of yourself? I’m one of those individuals who feels guilty for pleasure reading. I always feel like I should be productive and contributing to my home and work. Here are a few (mostly low-tech) ways I’ve been able to make days more fluid, less stressful, and manage to get it all done:

  1. Handwritten lists. Yes, there are plenty of apps for organizing tasks, but I prefer to rely on handwritten lists. Reminders and tasks with pen and paper are familiar to me, and they also keep me away from further distractions on digital devices. How many times have you gone to your phone for one thing and found yourself scrolling and replying to emails 20 minutes later? As a last resort, if I don’t have any hard copy note-taking supplies with me I will text myself a note. I’ll be sure to see it later in the day since I clear out all my personal texts daily!
  2. Routine for all. Although common and simple, picking out our clothes the night before helps the next day run smoothly. My toddler has an outfit for the day, one for naptime, and others dependent upon his activities. Having those lined up and ready when we need them moves the day along. Many parents are overwhelmed with keeping a clean house and get distracted by straightening up. Now that my son is three, he’s much more independent and his nap times are shrinking. As he has grown responsible enough to clean up his toys, I use that time to start dinner or basic household clean up. While he finishes his meal, we wipe down the kitchen counters and load the dishwasher. Together we do laundry and he learns color sorting and basic measuring. No big cleaning time is taken away from our day when we piecemeal it throughout our normal routine and the bonus is the learning included along the way!
  3. Autopilot. Of course, the trick is to stay with your routine! I do rely on technology in this way. Our neighborhood grocery store Harris Teeter offers online shopping. This allows me to shop from my phone or computer and set a pickup time. I can pick up the groceries after a meeting and not have to make two separate trips—plus avoid food shopping with a toddler, which could eat up a lot of time! I also love Amazon Prime Subscribe and Save and newest addition, Pantry. Their subscription service offers reduced prices and lets me set dates when our items are automatically re-ordered and dropped at our doorstep. Huge help and it is often much less expensive then me walking into any large retailer…with or without a list!

Photo Shoot Details and Outtakes!

asher marie fashion

The girls taking a break from striking poses.

We want to share a few spontaneous shots before we release the formal stylized portraits and Look Book from Asher Marie Collection’s inaugural photo shoot. These will give you a peek at the styles and a little behind-the-scenes look at the talented individuals involved with the shoot.

fashion photo shoot

Even the Ferrari modeled for us.

How did the day unfold? From 8:30AM-10:30AM we dedicated time to hair and makeup. Thank you to Jamie and Jessie for your great talents! Then our models were styled and posed for the shoot from 10:30AM-3PM. We celebrated the official launch of the Asher Marie Collection through a party held at my home in the evening. As usual, Chef Michael Saunders and his team rocked it out of the park with crafty cocktails and endless delicious eats!!!

fashion models

Libations and snacks courtesy of Chef Michael Saunders.

Yes, you now have the privilege of seeing our designs showcased on models! But who are the Asher Marie models in our shoot? Our look book models included my beautiful sister Rachel (who you’ve seen in earlier posts on Her Heel Flops where she modeled her boho fashion style), and my sister-like bestie (and hopefully soon-to-be cousin-in-law) Sharice a.k.a. ‘Legs.’ (A term of endearment given by all of us who fall short of her beautiful, natural, six foot tall physical composition!) Sharice clearly has some experience modeling, but she would be the last person to tell you about it! Best friends, Desiree and Kim also joined in for our lifestyle shots and brought us great comedic relief with their one-liners, slightly inappropriate humor and always-honest opinions. I am beyond blessed with this group of women and grateful to have them in my life!!!

yoga fashion

Desiree posing yoga-style.

What about the talent behind the camera? That’s Christa Hook. Christa Hook is the photographer responsible for my beautiful maternity shoot, my son’s infant portraits, and many family photos. She used to live here in the Triangle-area, but she moved out to Colorado. Fortunate for me and many other clients—she flies back to North Carolina regularly for photo sessions! Very grateful for her time and talent!

fashion photographer

Thanks to photographer Christa Hook who flew to North Carolina from Colorado.

The largest challenge for the shoot was that the Asher Marie designs are intended for late spring and early summer. Our collection is made for women who like to travel and aspire to the wanderlust theme. However, the photo shoot was shot outside of beach season and over a hundred miles from the coast. We took creative steps in locating palms to decorate our set and “faking” it outside with a few coastal accessories. A friend of a friend was also kind enough to loan us her beautiful suburban estate for a poolside backdrop. Talk about braving it…the girls even dipped their legs in for a few summer-themed travel shots…it was barely 50 degrees! I continue to appreciate it!

resort wear

Can you believe they dipped their toes in the pool on a 50-degree day?!

Yes, this photo shoot required a tremendous collaboration. The owners of the estate were gracious to open their property to us, Rachel flew in from Florida, Sharice and Desiree from California, Christa from Colorado, and we had vendors in California as part of the fashion production process. Check out our earlier post about collaborating on a photo shoot.

One take away, our next shoot will definitely be a destination shoot, on location somewhere warm and sunny, perhaps with a bit of sand and salt in the air! 🙂

That’s a wrap!

Photo Shoot Collaboration

asher marie spring fashion

Models wearing items from Asher Marie Collection’s inaugural line. Who designed the clutches? Who took the photographs? We collaborated with great vendors.

Curious how to maximize your efforts and time when planning a fashion photo shoot? Here is the story behind how the Asher Marie Collection connected with vendors for our photo shoot launch: Best Ways to Collaborate for a Photo Shoot.