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10 Pandemic must haves – Now and always

Pandemic must haves


The most often used products over the last year that I now can’t live without


We are officially 12 months into a pandemic that has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide. Trying my best not to get political, the reality of southern California residents, which is the only perspective I have, is that life has become as restrictive as ever. Few establishments are open, severely limiting options, yet the weather remains optimal, forcing Angelinos outside to clog freeways and non-socially distance. Mask wearing is observed, mostly, but, if you are like me, hypochondriac leaning since birth, I’ve become accustomed to staying indoors mostly, only going out when necessary, and waiting for worldwide vaccination. I went around the house the other day and made note of the most often used things that have become staples in the Birt household. Most items are used everyday or multiple times per week. They’ve made life in lockdown bearable. Thought I’d share them with you. Comment below and share some of yours.


1. A really good water bottle

A friend of mine gave me one of these, the Hydro Flask water bottle (32oz) for my birthday last year (June). I’ve been through hundreds of water bottles over the years and this one has been the best. Made of heavy duty sustainable metal and a clean design, it keeps my water with lemon juice cold all day and I tell myself drinking 2 full ones is quota, which also means I’m visiting the loo, as the Brits say, frequently, which brings me to my next must-have.

2. The Bidet toilet seat

Why these are not required on every toilet in the world is beyond me. Japan has it right, they’re everywhere there. Easy to install. The benefits cannot be overstated. Remember when the pandemic started and toilet paper was so scarce it was being traded on the black market? Never in this house, toilet paper lasts 3x as long as before this amazing contraption arrived a few years ago. I even have a portable one I travel with. It’s plain common sense. If the subject in question landed anywhere else on my body, would a piece of Charmin be enough? Duh!

3. The Air Fryer

Not late to the game on this one, I’ve had mine for about 4 years and, if not used everyday, then several times a week. From vegetables to fish to just about anything in the frozen food aisle. 15 minutes later, crispy and done. When I’m too lazy to make prepared meals, which is most of the time, the Air Fryer is a life saver. Little to no oil, even crispy potato wedges come out perfect. I watch  Youtube videos for recipes. I recommend getting a cheap one as they are basically all the same.

4. The Weighted Blanket

Designed for relaxation and better sleep, this was recommended to me by an actress on one of the Conan sketches I did in 2018. It does feel like a warm hug and the weight of the blanket keeps me calmer and more stationary so I fall asleep faster. Not a miracle cure, sleep, especially during the pandemic, has been very challenging, but, I’ll take as many aids as I can get and this one is very effective. I’ll often use it with….

5. The Calm App

Free, I’ve put it on every device available. Less for the meditation than the soundscapes. Heavy rain, Majestic valley and Crackling fireplace are my favorites and if I’m having trouble falling asleep, I’ll just put on the headphones and set the timer. It’s nice to use in the daytime too. There are some great meditations on there as well.

6. Mask Aromatherapy

When I was in Tokyo in 2018, I was fascinated with the mask wearing. At that time, at least 50% of the population, 38 million, wore masks daily. Japanese culture dictates that you protect others and wearing masks provide for that. Long before the pandemic. It’s my understanding that they’ve never had to have a mask mandate during this time, a simple reminder from the government is suffice. There’s a big department store there called Tokyo Hands and I bought some masks and aromatherapy mask spray. Not thinking at the time I’d ever use them, a quick spray into the mask makes a huge difference. I use it almost everyday.

7. The Under Armour Sports mask

So breathable, it’s far and away the best mask I have. Made for athletes to use when working out, it’s designed to give the nose and mouth ample space to breathe. Stretchy nylon, spandex ear loops and a moldable nose-bridge hold the mask in place. It’s a sized mask, so take time to measure your face if you order one. Only complaint is there’s a slightly moldy smell coming from the nose bridge area despite thorough washing and drying. I tend to wear mine only for exercise, but it’s good for use anytime

8. The Aero indoor Herb garden

Italian Parsley, Thai Basil, Lemon Basil, Rosemary, Thyme and Cilantro are just some of the herbs I haven’t bought at the grocery store in a year. Easy to use and fun to watch grow, it can get out of hand at times, but delicious and plentiful herbs always on the kitchen counter has been handy. Thinking of trying tomatoes and peppers next. Salsa mix. About 4 weeks for a full slate of herbs or vegetables. The lights are really bright and on a timer, so, make sure you put it in a place where that amount of light won’t disturb you.

9. The Water Filter

I use the alkaline water filter pitcher. Filtered alkaline iodized water contains minimal free radicals and toxins, is a powerful antioxidant and enhances your energy levels and immune system. The filters last a couple of months at a time and the taste is noticeably smoother. I use it for everything. Coffee, tea, smoothies and….

10. The Soda Stream

Combined with the flavored drops (raspberry, lemon, watermelon, cucumber and mango), my flavored sparkling waters are sugar free, less plastics are brought into the house and therefore not wasted, and I no longer drink sodas. Wasn’t really a soda drinker since the younger days, actually, but I do like the fizz and not the plain water kind. Saves money and plastic.


The Links

I make no money off of these nor do I have any endorsements, but I thought I’d include the links to the items listed above. Most of you know I’m not very computer literate and don’t know how to make the links look tidy, but, at any rate.

*Update: I am now a member of Amazon Associates. The links below cost you nothing, but will help strengthen the forward progression of this site and is greatly appreciated.


1. The Really good water bottle

2. The Bidet toilet seat

3. The Air Fryer

4. The Weighted Blanket

5. The Calm App is available at any google play or apple app store.

6. The Mask Aromatherapy

7. The Under Armour Sports mask

8. The Aero Indoor Herb Garden

9. The alkaline water filter pitcher

10. The Soda Stream


Have you discovered a pandemic must-have?

What is it?









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  1. Mike says:

    Thanks Chris! Those are some great items! Far and away, my favorite is the bidet. Once you go bidet, anything else is not ok. No longer smear with the bidet here. How that is not a mandatory item for all households is beyond me. And now they have portable ones?!? I’m on it! (Most of the day).

    I love the air fryers. We got one after Rick raved about the one you gave him. Probably my favorite cooking apparatus/appliance(?). We started with a small one but have upgraded to a Mac daddy.

    One thing I would add is a white noise machine. Especially for those of us (and/or spouses) who are snorers. (Although right now, my white noise machine is losing the battle).

    Great list!
    I’ll definitely be doing some shopping after reading it. Thanks Chris!

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