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Wednesday, September 20 2017 23:59

Buyer's Remorse: Samsung Activewash Washer & Dryer

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Writing about consumer products is a large part of what I do here at THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. My opinions are always 100% honest and straightforward, and when something isn't right - I let people know about it. Whether I receive free product for review or pay for it myself, the standards are the same because bad products hurt consumers. I don't like seeing people being taken advantage of, and I'm certainly not going to put up with that myself. American families work hard for their money, and my wife and I are a prime example of that. What's very concerning is how short a lifespan many of our high-dollar purchases have, and frankly, I'm tired of being fleeced. Today I'm going to tell you about the worst purchase I've made in the last year or so - a heavily-advertised (remember those commercials with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell?) Samsung Activewash Washer and Dryer Pair from Best Buy. Our "new" washer and dryer are essentially junk - products whose performance has defeated the reason they were purchased in the first place. It started with that infamous Samsung recall...

When we bought our home seven years ago, the property came with a shed. It was cumbersome, improperly installed and just plain yucky. Eventually, it became clear that it was in such bad shape, I feared that it might fall on the kids, and because of that I went all INCREDIBLE HULK and knocked the thing down myself. In place of the shed, we put some of our kids' outdoor toys in that spot, but approaching this year we knew it was time for a new shed. Backyard Discovery has long-been known for their excellent sheds, swingsets and playhouses, and thanks to their recent merger with The Step2 Company (long-time friends of mine), I had a chance to go hands-on with one of their new Ready Sheds - sent to Rock Father HQ™ for review. While I think I'm pretty solid when it comes to gardening and landscaping, construction and carpentry are pretty foreign to me. With the Ready Shed, Backyard Discovery has created a do-it-yourself shed kit that they say can be completed with one hammer, one drill, one person and in one day. Check out the video below to see ours... 

Blame Canada. At least in this instance, the title of the Oscar-winning 1999 song from the South Park motion picture might ring true, if only for those individuals that happen to have been a part of the angry social mob that just attacked Spokane-based RESCUE! Pest Control over the past couple of days. This angry, misguided gang of idiots also decided it was worth attacking yours truly based upon a 2014 review that I'd written about the TrapStik Non-Toxic Wasp Trap, followed by some social posts over the past few years - most recently, this past May. Part of my mission is to guide families toward products that work, and when it comes to controlling the Wasp population, there is nothing that I've found that works as well as the TrapStik - and it does so without pesticides of any kind. Now, they're being voluntarily pulled from the market pending a redesign, and that's a decision I don't agree with. The reason for the fiasco? The occasional unintended creature (bird or bug) may get stuck on the TrapStik. Personally, that's a risk I'm willing to take.

Last year at Blogger Bash in New York City, I got an early look at Sentiments' first Disney Pets Collection - a series of dog beds and bowls based around the iconic look of Mickey Mouse. Now comes word that the line was a success, and with that they're expanding line - and with Spider-Man: Homecoming hitting theaters this month, it's appropriate that their first foray into the Marvel realm is a collection aimed solely at canine fans of a certain NYC-based web-slinger. Can your dog (or cat) be a Disney or Marvel fan? I don't see why not...

When you think of Step2, chances are you immediately think of play kitchens, outdoor play houses, swing sets and that type of stuff. What many don't realize is that they've also made home & garden products for many years (we have a Step2 mailbox), but that's never really been front and center. That might be on the cusp of changing, though, as Step2 has been working on some pretty innovative new products for the lifestyle space, one of which was recently sent to us for review - the StoneFront Patio Collection Cooler & Storage unit. Being so big into outdoor living, I was really excited to see this become a reality, as it was something hinted at when I last visited The Step2 Company's headquarters in Ohio back when I was working with them as a brand ambassador a couple years back. This is something that adds some real flair and function to any outdoor space.

I tend to be notoriously hesitant when it comes to crowdfunding efforts*, but once in awhile something hits my radar that I'll share here on the site. Tertill: The Solar-Powered Weeding Robot for Home Gardens is just such a project, and it's one that sorta breaks two of my barriers - crowdfunding and home robotics. I have no interest in owning a Roomba to vacuum for me, and when it comes to lawn-mowing robots, that's just terrifying (they look like Battlebots, so I figure they'll attack children) and of no interest since I love mowing my lawn. One thing I don't like? Weeding our gardens. In our raised beds here at Rock Father HQ, we have a major weed problem, and the girls and I can't keep it under control. It's a huge pain, and that's where a little guy like Tertill can come in. Check this out, and watch the pitch video below.

Monday, May 22 2017 10:43

Getting DIYZ: Replacing Rotten Deck Boards

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The Rock Father™ has collaborated with the DIYZ® app and Life of Dad for this Home Improvement feature. All tools and materials have been chosen by The Rock Father. Opinions are that of James Zahn. #GetWise

As I am writing this, my wife and I have now owned our house for seven years. In fact, after twelve moves in my life, the home that has become known as “Rock Father HQ” will soon become the one that I’ve lived in the longest. With homeownership comes some challenges, and while we’ve tackled many with the #RockFatherRemodel project (the goal is that the house will get nicer as it gets older), others have been more daunting. Often they’re projects that don’t need to be.

This feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™, Cub Cadet and Life of Dad.

Over the past week or so, I’ve largely neglected my normal work. With April having been such an unusually rainy month (“April showers bring May flowers”) here in Northern Illinois this year, the sunny, albeit cool days of early May have been pretty inviting in terms of getting outside to explore one of my real passions: working the yard. I’m usually eyeing the outdoor tasks by February, when I start taking a good look at the depressingly drab and battered landscape that the winter has left behind, with plans of creating a lush, green suburban oasis when the weather breaks. I’ve already been trimming, fertilizing, weeding and caring for the landscape - I do mean the entire picture. A proper yard is more than just a “lawn,” but the total package of everything surrounding it. I do have #LawnGoals, though - and this year the girls and I are working not to meet them, but to exceed them in every possible way. Here’s the rundown on what’s been done so far…

Wednesday, May 10 2017 08:30

Ceremonial Placement of The Garden Jawa 2017

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It's become a tradition, one that first began in the summer of 2010 when we moved into what would become "Rock Father HQ." The Ceremonial Placement of The Garden Jawa is a special time - when our little friend from a galaxy far, far away returns from the sands of Tatooine to watch over our garden for another season. This little scavenger is not interested in stolen droids - she (determined to be a girl by The Rock Daughters™) has one goal, and that's to help ensure a lush landscape and a bountiful harvest. Armed with a garden hose and a set of tools, our little friend has started to look pretty weathered (can't tell from the pictures), despite being brought inside for the winter months.

Twist and Seal first hit my radar a few years back when their first weather-resistant cord protector started popping up at retailers around the holidays. Now, the Twist and Seal family of products includes four unique items, each with a specific application that helps to achieve the same end result: protection of electrical connections from the elements. Personally, I've dealt with wet plugs and moisture issues for years, and here at Rock Father HQ, it's always the holiday season that's most painful. Christmas lights are notoriously fragile, with tiny fuses that aren't water-proof, and wet connections constantly tripping our GFCI outlets. Add the recent blow-up characters and laser shows into the mix, and there's more chance for irritation. That doesn't mean that other seasons are devoid of hassle, and with summer approaching, we'll also have our DynaTrap and some outdoor lighting that will need protection, and thanks to Twist and Seal, there's a solution for that as well. The folks at Twist and Seal - located right here in Illinois - sent over some items for review, and in the video below, I'll walk you through them...

With Arbor Day marking the mid-point of spring, there's a focus on urban/suburban forestry and the importance of planting trees. Here at Rock Father HQ, we have two trees in our yard - the biggest of which is directly in the center of our front yard. That tree was pretty small when we moved here seven years ago, and with care (I prune it regularly and have fertilized it), it's now taller than our house. Planting a tree is a pretty easy way to revamp a yard, and it can add value to your home - but there should be some planning involved. My friends at Davey Tree have put together a helpful guide to assist homeowners in planting the right tree in the right spot.

You may have already seen the headlines - an unusually large boom in ticks throughout the Midwest this year, all due in large part thanks to a relatively mild winter. The lack of a solid deep-freeze kept the tick population from dying off during their dormant state, and warm, wet conditions this spring are bringing them back en masse. We've lived in this house for seven years, and while I'd found the occasional tick while doing yard work (never bitten), we've never had an issue until now - and we've got kids and dogs. Two weeks, two daughters, two different species of tick - and last night we had an ER visit.

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