We’ve had our eye on the Magnum work collection since it was launched in 2011 and this year they’ve refreshed their lineup of heavy duty work boots to offer a boot for every type of application and occupation.
The Magnum Work Collection features progressively styled, athletically inspired footwear designed for the food service, health care, service industry, construction and industrial occupations.
We tested the Precision Ultra Lite II work boot from Magnum which was ideal for our DIY tasks around the house as well as the occasional trip to the jobsite or lumber yard. We loved it’s lightweight and compact safety toe which prevents the boot from feeling bulky. Boots should be sturdy but not heavy.
This boot features a durable leather upper with gusseted tongue and i-shield treatment as an added barrier against water and oil. An ASTM rated composite safety toe and electrical hazard protection offer peace of mind. The M-P.A.C.T contoured footbed with memory foam wicks moisture and absorbs shock. The slip-resistant, flexible rubber sole with toe traction, heel brake zones and ladder grips of the Magnum Precision Ultra Lite II utility boot delivers a confident footing with every step. Bonus; this boot comes with a back up pair of laces too.
This boot is available in five colors but we prefer the dark chocolate.
We asked Joe and Lulu to share some of their experiences as they upgrade their historic home and he kindly obliged. Thanks Joe!
Hola! Nice to meet you. My name is Joe and this is my wife, Lulu, on our front porch of our home in Richmond’s historic Victorian neighborhood known as “The Fan,” which got its name because of the way that the streets “fan” out in the area just West of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
Within the boundaries of the Fan Area Historic District lies a rich, cohesive collection of historic buildings in a variety of architectural styles including Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, American Foursquare, Tudor Revival, and Spanish Colonial. The district developed largely between the years of 1890 and 1930, while the City of Richmond expanded economically and expanded westward from its commercial center.
Lulu and I, respectively, moved from Mexico City and Los Angeles to Richmond, VA in order for Lulu to work at Sabra Dipping Company, where the company has its Research & Development headquarters. Perhaps some of you know its many flavors of hummus with the red tops from your local supermarket.
Lulu and I met at LAX airport while waiting for a flight to Mexico City. She was on her way home from a business trip and I was on my way to a meeting with an advertising agency in the Mexico’s capital. (I’m a digital marketing consultant, advising my clients on how to enter and communicate with the Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market.) A fun conversation on the plane led to dinner in Mexico City, which led to a long-distance relationship and then…marriage!
Just after moving to Richmond, we started looking for a home. The home we purchased was actually the very first that we looked at that day, among 15 or so, during our first weekend of home shopping. We made our offer the following Monday. The very next day, the sellers accepted our offer. We were pleased, and surprised, with how quickly the process moved forward.
About Our House: Casa Kutchera
Our Queen Anne two-story, brick townhouse was built-in 1905. You can see a plaque alongside our front door in the photo here from the National Register of Historic Places that designates The Fan as a historic district. However fancy this may sound, it thankfully does not require us to renovate the house with any special materials or approvals from local bureaucrats. Historic buildings, not neighborhoods, typically require historic (i.e. more expensive) materials.
We finalized the purchase in October of 2013 and moved into our new home in November. We were thrilled. My things arrived in the moving truck from Los Angeles and we began buying some furniture we needed for our new house. (Lulu arrived with only a few suitcases from Mexico.) And thus, began our moving in and renovation process.
Getting to Know Our “New” Old House
Before we renovated, we wanted to live in the house a while to familiarize ourselves with it. And we’re glad we did. When we moved in, we essentially replicated the way the previous owners used each room. But as we got to know the new Casa Kutchera, we discovered new ways of adapting each space so that the house became our own.
We love our neighborhood, The Fan, as we can walk to local restaurants like the ever-popular restaurant and tavern, Joe’s Inn, and I can bike to my office at the co-working space Marvin Lang. As is typical of neighborhoods developed before the advent of the automobile, the houses are nestled closely together. To the left of our house, we share a common wall with a house that mirrors the façade of our house. And to the right, our house sits only two feet from our neighbors.
We love the front porch, the stained wooden floors, our front parlor, and the back deck. We especially like the exposed brick wall and the open wooden staircase in our front hallway, which leads up to the second floor. Just below that, there is a built-in bookcase that fits the contour of the staircase.
Even with all of these incredible attributes, we quickly realized that our house lacked sufficient lighting. The living/TV room, front parlor, the middle/inner bedroom as well as the back deck, all desperately needed light to liven them up. At the time we moved in, you would have called our guest bedroom, the middle/interior room, a cave. It ranked as our least favorite room in the house. As a result, it became our storage area, where we kept boxes and unused furniture while we settled in due to the lack of light. (The previous owners had used floor lamps.)
In addition, the back deck, alongside the dining room and kitchen, appeared as a kind of black hole on the floor plan. We kept the recycling in this dark corner, which led to the back yard along side of the house and then to our backyard.
Unsurprisingly, the unlit areas of the house pulled down the energy of the house.
Feng Shui: Maximizing Positive Energy
As we adjusted to life in our “new” the house, we began evaluating ideas to renovate and decorate Casa Kutchera, especially the lighting since that effected the energy so noticeably. I encouraged Lulu to learn more about feng shui.
What is feng shui? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it as, “a Chinese system for positioning a building and the objects within a building in a way that is thought to agree with spiritual forces and to bring health and happiness.”
Even though Lulu didn’t believe in it to begin with, we knew we wanted to maximize the positive energy in the house as we settled into our first year of marriage. And as we learned more about it, we adopted its recommendations for furniture placement and design.
We read the book “Feng Shui Step by Step: How to Arrange Your Home for Health and Happiness Paperback” by T. Raphael Simons and hired a local Feng Shui consultant, Bonnie Primm. We learned that feng shui is actually much more complicated than we originally imagined. We needed to provide Bonnie with our respective birth dates as well as the direction that the house faced and the floor plan, in advance of our session.
During Bonnie’s visit, we utilized the “Bagua,” or energy map seen here, to interpret the floor plan of the house. The wall that contains the main entrance, as you can see, is on the bottom of the diagram. In our house, the entrance lies on the left side of the front façade, which is the “wisdom, self-knowledge and rest” sector.
Bagua feng shui diagram used with permission from Dee S. Weir of Columbia Shiatsu.
Our “marriage, relationships and partnerships” area of the house lay in the “black hole” of the back right corner of the house, where the back deck was, without any lighting. Needless to say, we were concerned and wanted to light it up!
Many of Bonnie Primm’s recommendations confirmed our design inclinations, like our desire to add more light in the interior rooms and along the back deck. But others did not. We originally wanted to knock down the walls between the living room, dining room and kitchen to make our house seem more expansive. But, she advised us not to. Since we nourish ourselves and gain energy from eating in the dining room, it needs to be enclosed, so that energy does not flow through excessively.
Bonnie suggested that we light up the corners of our interior rooms and outside deck, which would then lift up the energy and keep it within each room, thus making the corners less “scary.” In addition, she suggested that we convert the middle/interior bedroom on the second floor, which was quiet and cave-like, into our master bedroom.
Check back next week as Joe and Lulu share their plan for renovating their Richmond Home.]]>
I’ve never been a morning person, until I became a parent. Our son has always been a great sleeper but he always wakes up at least an hour or two before we normally would. We’ve found some great ways to adjust and typically it starts off with getting a good nights sleep. Now that he’s in school it’s even more important to start the day off right, so when IKEA approached me about their First :59 program I jumped at the chance.
At First59.com, IKEA has shared the results of their nationwide morning survey which states that 72% of respondents said that a stressful morning affected the rest of their day, and three in four people do not have a regular weekday morning routine. To address this, IKEA has assembled a panel of four lifestyle and design experts (including myself) to provide tips and ideas to help get your day started right.
Here are a couple of my favorite morning tips.
Organize the Bathroom
Mornings start in the bathroom for a variety of reasons, which is why it should be one of the most organized rooms in your home.
By getting a bathroom schedule setup for yourself and your kids, you’ll be more prepared to begin your day. Setting up a morning and night station for your kids is ideal as it teaches them to be self-reliant and helps streamline the process of waking up and going to bed. Make sure their toothbrush and toothpaste are within easy reach, as well as the soap to wash their hands and their own towel to dry off.
We’ve built a storage step stool for our son which is the perfect height for him to reach above our sink, but also store his bath toys other keepsakes that 2-year olds begin to acquire. If you’re not in the mood to build your own, IKEA has plenty of step stool options that will work in any bathroom. I’m partial to the Molger step stool in birch.
No Screens in the Bedroom
I may be a night owl, but when I hit the rack I need an uninterrupted night of sleep. We have a “no-screens” rule in our household which means no TV’s, tablets, laptop or smart phones in the bedroom.
When we finish checking email or watching TV, we leave these devices in the family room or kitchen and keep the bedroom free from distractions. That vibrating buzz or flashing light from a smart phone is too tempting to grab when you get up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. Reading a book is a much better way to prepare your mind for rest and can actually help put you to sleep as opposed to going down the rabbit hole of YouTube or Facebook.
If you can’t bear to be without your gadgets then choose a nightstand like the IKEA Nordli that can easily stow your devices in a drawer, but that has an open back for cords, so you can keep them plugged in but out of sight.
By getting a good night’s rest, you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to start the day.
For additional inspiration, you can follow the dedicated First :59 Pinterest board. You can also share your own morning routine suggestions on social media with the hashtag #First59.
Visit First59.com for more tips and product suggestions to start your day in the best possible way.
Dyson is the undisputed leader when it comes to high-tech vacuums, and there is nothing more futuristic than the new Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum. The 360 Eye is no gimmick as it sports the same cyclone technology that is standard on their regular vacuums, which is famous for maintaining suction power no matter how full the canister gets.
We’ve always loved the pure simplicity of their products and the Dyson DC44 Animal is still our go-to vacuum and our Hot+Cool fan keeps our home at the perfect temperature year round.
According to James Dyson it’s taken 16 years of research and development to build this vacuum and they didn’t want to disappoint. With the 360 Eye they’ve removed one of the most reviled household chores, vacuuming.
Imagine coming home to a clean floor each day without ever touching your own vacuum. Think of how much time this would save!
The camera in the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum takes up to 30 frames per second – enabling the machine to effectively interpret its surroundings. Because the shutter speed of the camera matches the machine’s speed of travel, its position is always accurate to within mm, so it knows exactly where it is in the room, where it is yet to clean and uses infrared sensors to detect where obstacles lie. During the development, the Dyson 360 Eye™ robot prototypes will have analyzed 1.5 billion images.
Balance and navigation: Dyson engineers designed a series of radio controlled rigs that allowed them to test for balance and navigational effectiveness over obstacles. The machine was driven on different floor types at various speeds. Lighting was dimmed and made brighter. All variables were accounted for.
The big question we have is how much might this new robot vacuum cannibalize current Dyson vacuum sales? Dyson hasn’t released a price yet on this unit but we’re sure it will separate the 360 Eye from your standard vacuum cost which will naturally separate the market. We’d also like to see how the 360 Eye performs in a head-to-head competition with the current robot vacuum king, the iRobot Roomba Vacuum Cleaning Robot.
Bin capacity and weight: Holds up to 0.4 liters of dust and dirt, and weighs 5.22 lbs.
Run and charge time: Self-docks and recharges when the battery is low. The lithium ion battery delivers a 20-30 minute run time with no drop in performance.
The Dyson 360 Eye™ robot vacuum cleaner will go on sale in Japan in spring 2015, with the rest of the world to follow later in the year.
You can see a 360 view of the Dyson robot by visiting www.dyson360eye.com.
The Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum
James Dyson introduces the Eye 360 robot vacuum to a captive audience in Tokyo, where the product will first be launched.
Polaris builds high-performance off-road vehicles, that in the past have been geared (no pun intended) to appeal to their hard-core user base. With the Polaris ACE, they have introduced an ATV that makes off-road riding approachable, easy and comfortable.
The Polaris ACE is a sit-in vehicle that is comfortable and easy to use. Automotive type controls, including a steering wheel as well as gas and brake pedals, make ACE the perfect machine for novice or experienced riders. The ACE combines the comfort and secure feeling of a side-by-side vehicle with the smaller size and easy handling of an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Combining these two styles gives riders of all experience levels a completely new way to experience the outdoors.
Features of the new Polaris ACE include:
Polaris offers more than 25 accessories for the ACE including: doors, winches, cabs and storage options to customize and personalize your machine. The new Polaris ACE 570 is available in two colors, White Lightning and Voodoo Blue. The Polaris ACE is available in White Lightning or Sage Green. Look for both models at authorized Polaris dealers starting at around $7,499 USD.]]>
Our little guy is now four months old and one of the best things we did to prepare for parenthood was upgrade our laundry room. We are renting a home and fortunate enough to have the space for a separate laundry area. After living in NYC it was important that we had our own washer and dryer and with a baby its even more vital for comfort and convenience.
Old Utility/Laundry Room
The old laundry room was functional but it was ugly and washer/dryer units we had were at least 10-15 years old. We are all for solid appliances that last a long time but we are also into saving water and energy and the old units did neither. You just set a wash size or dryer time and thats it. Most new washers and dryers are energy star rated and have a lot of built in features to save you energy. We knew we’d be doing a lot more laundry with the little one on the way so it was a no brainer to consider upgrading our units.
We also had a problem with the red tile and faux wood walls. They were just ugly and had to go.
The room itself had also become a bit of a storage area and “catch-all” for stuff that we really had no other place for. This would have to change as baby stuff takes over and is more important so we knew we’d have to reorganize everything to make it work.
The utility room portion has a nice deep sink and we used it often for cleaning our hands, rinsing out brushes and a lot of other home improvement projects. But we wanted to also use this sink to wash our baby in and in it’s current state it wouldn’t fly because of the dirt and grime that had built up.
We also desperately wanted to add a toilet to this room. We knew we’d be having a lot more house guests with the baby and our 900 sq ft home has only one bathroom which is tiny so it’s already a bit cramped.
What We Did
Since we’re on the subject of toilets here is what didn’t happen. The plumbing to the utility room was only sized for washing machine and sinks and standard toilets need a larger outlet for going direct to the sewer line. We chatted with a couple of plumbers and they would have to dig up the yard and run a line and after all was said and done we’d be out at least $5,000. We toyed with the idea of a shower in this room but that brought the cost up even more.
So our dream of adding making this utility room a proper bathroom was squashed. One path we could have taken was a mascerating toilet. These toilets don’t require the larger fittings as waste is “churned” up and will clear existing pipes but there are only a couple companies that sell these toilets and we weren’t totally sold on them. They are often used in basements where it’s tough to dig into a foundation and if we find the right one we still may add it.
We did paint the room which gave it an instant transformation! We decided to whitewash the room and do the walls, floors and ceiling in white. For the walls and ceiling we went with the new Valspar + Asthma/Allergy friendly paint available at Lowe’s. It’s the most kid friendly paint we’ve seen. It’s Zero-VOC, low odor and dries to an antimicrobial finish. It is also mold and mildew resistant. At this point I don’t think we would use any other paint now that we have a little one.
The floors required a different type of paint and we stuck with Valspar and went with their floor and porch paint which was also low-VOC and low-odor. To be safe Laura still stayed far away from the painting but we did have time to goof around and take some fun photos before we painted the room.
We let the room dry for a couple days and were amazed at how much the room opened up with the white. We were really happy with our choice and also knew that white is about the easiest color to decorate with.
The last piece of this makeover was the most important and this involved upgrading our washer and dryer. We knew we wanted an energy efficient replacement that we could stack to save space so they would have to be front loading.
We wrote up another article sharing our experience in choosing and using the Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer.
For now we are sticking with our sink which is nice and deep but we did a very thorough deep cleaning and since baby is so little Laura has been bathing him with her which also creates a nice bonding time.
Before this all came together there were a few things we needed to do.
The door on the dryer unit needed to be reversed so it swung in the same direction (towards the wall) that the washer did. I found some basic directions online and it took me about 20 minutes to figure it out but it just takes a few simple tools and I switched the door around. There have been no problems with it sealing and it’s like it came from the factory.
We needed more storage so we made a quick stop to IKEA and grabbed their EXPEDIT bookcase unit in white and laid it down on it’s side. We already have this bookcase in brown and use it in our son’s nursery and for an IKEA product its very solid.
We had a clothing rack and hampers that we had already purchased from Bed, Bath and Beyond and it still fit perfectly in this space.
We also made our own chalkboard using Valspar Chalkboard paint and a picture frame from Target. We needed a simple message board that we could attach to the side of the dryer and this worked perfectly. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how we made a chalkboard.
Finally we acquired a 10 point deer mount over the holidays and it seemed like the laundry room was the best place for it. We have no other art or decoration so a little taxidermy adds a bit of quirkiness to the space.
We are extremely pleased with our new laundry room space and we feel that the time and effort was worth it. As with any home improvement project its all about balancing your budget and expectations and although we really wish we could add a 1/2 bath to this space we know that sometimes its best to wait and just focus on what is really important to our day to day living.
Nameeks Knief Form Bathtub
The first step in going green is updating fixtures. Swapping out water guzzling toilets, faucets, and shower heads with more efficient models is not only good for the planet, it’s good for your wallet. Complete the update by switching to fluorescent lighting and you could potentially save hundreds of dollars every year. And with the modern styles water-conscious fixtures are available in, you’ll probably end up greatly improving the appearance of your bathroom as well.
Fresca Opulento Grey Oak Modern Double Sink Bathroom Vanity
While you’re improving the appearance of your bathroom, consider replacing your old PVC shower liner with an organic alternative. Not only attractive, organic shower curtains are often machine washable and naturally antimicrobial, allowing them to outlive most conventionally manufactured alternatives.
Next, consider how clean your “cleaning agents” are. Harsh chemicals are bad for you and the earth, and have not shown to be more effective than good old fashioned natural products. Natural cleaners such as lavender, tea tree oil, vinegar, and baking soda can remove mold and water stains, and even disinfect hard surfaces. You can make your own solutions or purchase certified organic and natural cleaners from a trusted retailer.
Lastly, look at your personal care products. Many popular shampoos, soaps, and toothpastes contain known hormone disruptors, skin irritants, and other nasty ingredients. Choose natural beauty products from a trusted source to keep your body clean, healthy, and attractive. But beware: there are no regulations on what constitutes “natural” in beauty products and many companies deceptively use this term to trick consumers. Shop carefully, choosing products with organically sourced ingredients you can pronounce to protect yourself from unscrupulous manufacturers.
Going green is a process that can be done all at once or by gradually replacing items as needed with friendlier and more conscious products. There are a number of internet resources that can help you find fixtures (take a look at a range of bathroom vanities at DecorPlanet.com), accessories, cleaning products, and other eco-friendly items to help make the process of greening up your personal space both simple and rewarding.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by DecorPlanet.com]]>
This year KOHLER announced a couple of “toilet technology” features that we are pleased to see available for home bathrooms.
They pushed the limit with their NUMI toilet, but introduced an ambient LED Toilet Nightlight at this years Builders Show.
But now they’ve gone a step further by announcing KOHLER Touchless Flush Toilet Technology. It’s currently available in two toilet models—including Cimarron, as well as a Toilet Flush Kit that retrofits most single-flush toilets with a canister or flapper style flush.
The new technology means fewer germs to pick up or leave behind. To flush, simply hold your hand over the tank.
The KOHLER Touchless Kit is $99 and installs in minutes.]]>
Last week I traveled to Milwaukee to attend the annual Milwaukee Tool new tool symposium. I love that city and Milwaukee Tool is always a great host. This year we stayed in the new Brewhouse Suites which is located in the original Pabst Brewery which was the cradle of beer from 1904 to the mid-1960’s.
I always travel light, but this three day trip would typically require me to pack a laptop bag and roller suitcase. I can pack a weekend into my backpacks but three days is pushing it. Until I got my hands on the new Griffith Park Deluxe Backpack (BOGD-11-BLACK) from Case Logic. It’s a low profile pack that upon initial viewing doesn’t look like it would hold much, but after easily packing my clothes, laptop, iPad and magazines, I was convinced this backpack was perfect for my trip.
The backpack weighs less than two pounds and has a volume area of 1709 cu inches. That’s surprisingly large for such a light pack.
I chose a black colored pack with green accents which gives it some pop, but if you are really bold you can go with all red. There’s nothing childish or “extreme” about either color scheme and you can easily go from the beach to the boardroom with these packs.
Loaded with all my gear the Griffith Park was extremely comfortable. I always use the sternum straps and the mesh foam padding was light and breathable.
The low profile zippers are a bit hit to me and the nylon pulls on each zipper are a nice touch. There are plenty of pockets but they’ve all been laid out nicely and each serves a unique purpose. The bottom pocket that can hold power cords and cables is awesome and make access very easy, instead of sifting through to the bottom of the bag.
Another killer feature includes a laptop sleeve that can hold a 15.6″ laptop as well as an iPad or table in a separate area. Tech travels with us everywhere and these made it easy to transport in a safe and secure way.
I left Milwaukee with some parting gifts including a Milwaukee Tool Thermos, which fit perfectly in the side pocket as well as inside the backpack.
If you’re seeking a do-it-all backpack that doesn’t sacrifice style or functionality, then consider the Griffith Park, you won’t be disappointed.
More than half of all Americans said having a smart home is important but here are the results of what’s truly on the wish list of most homeowners.