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I never really thought about it until this morning, but if I were living in a neighborhood that was constantly being destroyed due to superhero battles involving The Avengers and the assorted villains that they often face, I'd probably want to move. With that in mind, the folks at Quicken Loans just hit The Rock Father™ with news that they've teamed-up with Marvel for a co-branded Rocket Mortgage promotional spot to show that "the mortgage process doesn't have to be a battle." Additionally, they've revealed that there's Rocket Mortgage product placement in the opening scenes of Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War (which I will see at the World Premiere in Hollywood later this month - more on that soon). Product placement helps movies get made, so that's a good thing. Check out the new commercial featuring Iron Man and Doctor Strange below...

Although it's still too cold for my liking here in Illinois, it's spring, and that means that it's time to start thinking about gardening... and our insect friends. There's a lot of helpful bugs that inhabit the landscape, and for years the folks at Insect Lore have been helping kids learn all about the life cycle of butterflies, praying mantises, ladybugs and ants. We've raised butterflies here at Rock Father HQ in the past, and right now I've got a praying mantis egg and some youthful ladybugs hanging out with me in my office. This Friday, April 6, 2018 - you're invited to join The Toy Insider, Insect Lore and The Rock Father™ for a fun-filled Twitter Party in which we'll be showing off all of the fun kits from Insect Lore while giving YOU a chance to win! You must RSVP to play along! Check out the video below to learn more...

Spring is a great time to think about painting projects, and for those who might be fans of Joanna Gaines' Magnolia Home line, now there's paint in the mix as well. Ace Hardware has announced the launch of Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines® Paint, making the brand’s first ever exclusive paint partnership with a hardware co-op retailer. The collection features 150 timeless interior paint colors personally crafted by Joanna Gaines, all of which fall into the "modern farmhouse" style (something I'm personally a big fan of).

Ready for a Chia PREDATOR? While we don't know if that will be a thing, a surprising announcement arrived just before the start of New York Toy Fair this weekend - National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) has acquired the company behind Chia Pet and The Clapper. NECA has taken control of both Joseph Enterprises, Inc. (JEI) and Joseph Pedott Advertising and Marketing, Inc. (JPAM), which join the NECA family of specialty entertainment companies. NECA promises that these are  "poised for cross-company collaboration."

As I type these words, we're in the middle of the biggest snow of the season here in Northern Illinois - another 6" having fallen overnight. Prior to the proper winter season, the last thing we finished outside was the construction of a massive new deck here at Rock Father HQ... but we finished in November, no time to enjoy it last season. Now, looking ahead to warmer temperatures for 2018, it's window-shopping season, and the folks at Char-Broil have just launched a new collection that's caught my eye - a new outdoor modular kitchen, available at Lowes. Outdoor kitchens have been a growing trend these past few years, but they've also been cost-prohibitive for a lot of families. Now, Char-Broil has brought the concept into reach for a much wider audience. Available now, the Modular Outdoor Kitchen includes the 5-Burner TRU-Infrared™ Gas Grill, the Outdoor Stove Top, Refrigerator, and more. Check out a preview...

It's cold here in Northern Illinois, and as a fresh couple inches of snow covers the ground today following a near-60° warm-up just days ago, cabin fever is setting in as I think about spending some time outdoors when spring rolls around. I'm a big fan of lighting (my wife can vouch for my years of trial-and-error), and lately my eyes have been on the "Neo-Vintage" LED movement - modern tech that looks like the Edison bulbs of old. As that corner of the industry continues to evolve, it's interesting to see just how close we've come to LED bulbs that have the appearance of their incandescent ancestors, but the path hasn't been without some hiccups. One such glitch is the flicker - a hyper-strobe effect that usually can't be seen with the naked eye. This is something the LEDs have been known for, and something that's bugged me for years - particularly with seasonal lighting. If you've ever shot video of certain LEDs (Christmas lights are a prime example), you've seen the dramatic effect. Now comes The Burton Bulb, and they're aiming to fix all of that with flickerless Neo-Vintage LED tech.

We've been fans of Playmonster's My Fairy Garden collection since we first discovered them a year or so ago. Having placed a fairy garden outside as part of our landscape every year, The Rock Daughters™ always have a habit of playing with the statues out there, and they're not really made for that since they're not toys. My Fairy Garden solves that problem by providing a real garden environment that kids can play with inside. Each kit comes with everything you need to build and grown the perfect spot for your fairy figures, and there's always room to expand, with a wide array of accessories and additional fairies available. Our original garden, the Magical Cottage, is still going strong, and this fall we added a new one to the mix - the Bean Blossom.

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.

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