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This Holiday Wish Guide feature is presented in collaboration between The Rock Father™ & Positec Group.

When seeking out that perfect holiday gift, I always find that it's much easier to shop for kids than it is for grownups. I even make it hard for my loved ones to shop for me (and they know that they don't have to) because I don't really ask for anything and find it hard to come up with ideas. But since I'm always on the lookout for new products that will be useful and make life easier in new and sometimes unexpected ways, I get excited when I find something truly awesome that could really be great for a lot of people. The WORX Pegasus Work Table and Sawhorse fits the bill - and that's because it's not just great for DIY'ers, contractors and those who work in construction. There's a lot of potential for use by almost anyone, from crafters and model makers to photographers, artists and everyday homeowners who could use a proper work space that's rugged, portable and easy-to-use.

This Tub O' Towels special feature is presented in collaboration with Federal Process Corporation...

It's a rare occasion that it actually happens, but once in a great while, something comes along that becomes so essential, you find yourself wondering how you got along without it in the first place. Even more curious are the times when things manifest themselves as the unintended side-effect of something else. In the art world, Bob Ross might've called those "happy accidents," but in the physical realm I always think of those instances of accidental awesome - like the creation of Silly Putty. Sometimes you set out do to solve one problem and you end up solving something else. That's essentially what happened in the case of Federal Process Corporation and Tub O' Towels. They set out to create a product capable of removing industrial sealant, but ended-up with something so versatile and safe that it can be used to clean-up household messes with shocking ease. Tub O' Towels (available at my affiliate, Amazon) has been a staple of garages for years, but it needs to crossover to the household radar. For parents, grandparents and anyone with kids and pets, I'm here to tell you that Tub O' Towels has become an absolute essential here at Rock Father HQ, and they should be at your house, too!

Wow, building a house takes a lot of work, huh? There are so many plans, people, permits, and who knows what else involved in this process. While your head is busy with the plan, don't forget about some of these essential features.

Central air conditioning

This may be a given, but it's something you really don't want to forget to include during construction. No matter where in the world you're planning on building, there will be at least a few months out of the year where you're going to want to run the air conditioning. Roughly 60% of U.S. homes have central air conditioning, and your new house should too.

Wood floors

When you're selecting flooring materials for your new home, you should consider hardwood as an option. For many people, hardwood floors are significantly better than carpet or other types of flooring because they can handle stress from kids and pets. Additionally, consumers expect wood decor, furniture, and flooring to last almost 15 years longer than other materials.

Energy efficient windows

You're building a brand new home, and it deserves new and efficient windows. With the large and open floor plan you are probably designing, it's going to cost a little more to heat and cool that puppy. Dual-paned windows are two times as effective compared to single-paned windows at retaining air conditioning and heat. So, you won't have to spend as much to regulate the temperature in your new home. The Rock Father™ himself published a four-part series on total home window replacement back in 2015.

High quality gutters

While gutters are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of these other features, they will be enormously beneficial to your new home. Gutters keep water away from your home to prevent any kind of problems. While most gutters function the same way, you want to get the best ones you can for your new construction. Clogged gutters are the number one cause of water problems in the basement; it would be a shame to spend all that time and money building a brand new home theater in the basement to have it ruined by bad gutters.

Luxurious bathrooms

Luxurious bathrooms are often high priorities for people buying and building homes. They want updated showers, new tile, two sinks, an oversized mirror, and more. You get to choose all of those things for the bathrooms in your new home, so don't forget to make them as fancy as you please. Otherwise, you'll find yourself remodeling later, like The Rock Father™ did.

The Rock Father's remodeled bathroom

Electrical outlets

You have probably already thought about putting electrical outlets throughout the house, but have you thought about where you want to put them? It's your ball game this time around, and you don't have to place the bed in a weird spot so your lamp reaches the outlet when you're putting in the furniture. Think about how you want everything laid out, and install as many outlets as your heart desires. Under the windows, in the bathroom, in the kitchen island, and even in the garage are all convenient places to stick an outlet.

Convenient laundry room

You do laundry a lot, and wouldn't it be nice to have it in a convenient location? You can tuck the washer and dryer in a closet in your bedroom, off the kitchen, on the main floor, or wherever you think you'll want to do laundry for the next several years. You get to decide where it goes, so you don't have to drag your clothes down to the basement every time they need to be washed unless that's what you want to do.

Pet accommodations

More and more people consider their pets to be a part of the family, so it only makes sense to keep them in mind while you're building. A built-in dog wash can be a great feature in your mudroom, and a pet entrance in your front door can be an awesome addition for your furry friend.

You get to do whatever you want in the home you build for yourself, and you're probably designing your heart out. While there are some areas of the house that may be more important than others to you, make sure you remember the entire house when you're designing and building your dream home.

Everyone dreams of striking oil in their backyard, unearthing priceless artifacts buried underneath their home, or finding a treasure chest full of loot while out on a hike. Unfortunately, getting rich usually doesn't happen this conveniently. Usually. There are times when unexpected wealth sort of falls into your lap out of the blue. For some lucky people, that's exactly what happened after acquiring the contents of a storage unit. One out of 10 Americans utilize offsite storage rentals, and thanks to reality shows such as Storage Wars and Auction Hunters, more and more people are taking their chances on a stranger's storage unit. If you're considering storage hunting as a new hobby, here are some rare, and possibly valuable, items to look for:

With changing habits and interests, we've been hearing a lot about how retail is moving toward being "experiential." This is also leading many brands to get creative in how they connect with families, and that means creating the experiences themselves. For the folks at Whirlpool Corporation, that meant a fresh approach to their World of Whirlpool in Chicago, now open to the public as a new consumer experience center. At the media preview this week, I had the opportunity to experience it first-hand, and my immediate thought is that this is exactly what companies need to be doing because it's going to allow the general public to learn in ways that have in many cases been limited to media or expensive courses. Whirlpool is going well beyond the typical appliance showroom by teaching "life hacks" and culinary literacy that will help people save time, save money, and most importantly -  improve the time spent with family.

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...

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).

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.

My wife and I have been intrigued by the idea of a neighborhood library for awhile - an interest piqued by the growing Little Free Library movement. Perhaps you've seen them around - little boxes or buildings placed in a yard, each encouraging neighbors to take a book or leave a book for their neighbors to enjoy. Until now, those libraries were either built buy their caretakers or ordered from craftsman - but for inexperienced builders such as myself, none were really simple or affordable enough to make me pull the trigger. Then came some news out of Ohio that the team at The Simplay3 Company were working on a solution - a simpler option "for folks wanting to make a positive impact in their community." Their new Simplay3 Sharing Library is the end result of designers who found themselves inspired by the Little Free Library movement and wanted to get them into as many neighborhoods as possible.

Updated to "Do Not Buy" Status: Our projector has malfunctioned after just three weeks of normal use. While we are awaiting a resolution (if any), in the interest of sharing my true experience, I feel it necessary to update this review. First the motion function failed, and three days later the projector was completely dead. As of this writing (12/11/2016), the projectors had been marked-down on the Deck the Home site from $129 to $79, and as low as $59 on Amazon. We are not alone, as "1-Star Reviews" are stacking up on Amazon.

Every few years there's a "revolution," or more accurately - a super-hot trend when it comes to holiday lighting that everyone wants to get in on. Back in the late 90s, I was working "Big Box" retail when icicle lights first came out, and I remember the frenzy those first two years in which everyone just had to be like the neighbors. Right now the trend is laser light shows, and this is one I've been waiting for the right chance to get on-board with - an easy way to cover a lot of area at once, while finally reaching those high-up spots that I'm too cautious to mess with (pre-kids, I would've climbed all over the place). So while the neighbors may all have starfields of red and green, the folks at Deck the Home have upped the game, presenting the first-ever licensed Laser Light Projector, and they couldn't have picked a more perfect property to do: A CHRISTMAS STORY

Monday, February 29 2016 10:43

A Small Bathroom Remodel - Part I: Preparation

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They say that one thing leads to another... and in the case of our home, that's absolutely correct. The entire #RockFatherRemodel Project was spawned by one major problem - a leaking bathroom that came through the ceiling of our family room/play room. That was just the beginning, as various components of that overhaul led to further projects, and as we sit right now, the process is ongoing. The full remodel of the Master Bathroom was a must-do, and a daunting task despite bringing in professional help for the bulk of the work. If you're like us and live in a modest, suburban home, our projects will hopefully serve as inspiration that a home can improve with age.

As we continue the #RockFatherRemodel project here at Rock Father HQ, many gallons of paint have been used, and color has been taken into careful consideration. While I wouldn't say that my wife and I have paid attention to trends when it comes to our colors, one on-trend choice (or a variation of it) has made Better Homes & Garden's 2016 Color Palette of the Year, and that's Gray. Specifically, we went with the BEHR Marquee "Silent Film" variety from The Home Depot (you'll be seeing it soon when I unveil our new family room/playroom here on the site), but for those looking for what other splashes of color are making waves this year, look no further that the BHG list. The colors pictured above and detailed below are all featured in the third annual Color Issue, which is on-stands now.

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