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January 8, 2018 |

Archive for » January 8th, 2018«

Mercedes X-Class goes camping with new concept accessories

Mercedes has set out to prove that its new X-Class is versatile, and to that end the German marque will present its new pick-up truck in camper van form at the Caravan, Motor, Touristik (CMT) show in Stuttgart next week.

With assistance from caravan specialists Tischer, The X-Class can now sport a detachable cabin, mounted in the loading bay and extending over the roof of the truck. The alcove over the roof is a sleeping area 1.5 metres wide, while the main compartment boasts two metres of headroom. Three seats are inside, which can be converted into a second bed too.

Best pick-up trucks 2018

Though there aren’t any photos of the cabin’s interior, an integrated bathroom is part of the cabin, with a foldaway wash basin and swivelling toilet unit. With the two stowed away, there’s enough room for a shower, and a simple three-burner stove makes up the kitchen.

Mercedes X-Class campervan - hob

Alongside the X-Class camper module, a second X-Class camping concept will be presented, which was developed by VanEssa mobilcamping.

It’s a heavy duty, fully equipped kitchen. The pull-out module features complete cooking and washing up facilities, including a sink, coolbox, drawers for cutlery and crockery, as well as an all-important burner. It weights in at a hefty 250kg, and is protected by a yacht-deck inspired load cover.

Does the X-Class strike you as a useful camping tool? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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5 Ways to Make Your One-Wall Kitchen Feel So Much Roomier

Rental kitchens are arguably one of the most commonly neglected (and frequently accepted) scourges of the apartment experience. Worse yet: the dreaded one-wall kitchen found in many an otherwise-lovely rental apartment. If you find yourself with a rental that happens to feature the saddest one-wall kitchen you’ve ever seen, don’t give up hope. First, look at the bright side: One-wall kitchens can be great from an efficiency perspective, since they’re not going to take up too much room in a tiny floor plan, and you’re rather unlikely to ever misplace anything in such a petite space. The flip side, of course, is that they’re so small (read: storage crisis) and can often appear tacked-on rather than like a finished room unto themselves. Plus, in a rental you can’t exactly gut the space and put in something better.

For a one-wall kitchen that blends cohesively with the rest of your home and features more storage than you’d ever expect, consider the following tips:

1. Use the wall space above the counter for additional storage.

Sky’s the limit, or at least your ceiling is, when it comes to how much storage you can add on to a wall. You can create an incredibly efficient storage system with shelves for glassware, hooks for mugs, pegs for pans, and a rod for frequently used utensils without taking up much space at all.

2. Invest in kitchen supplies you don’t mind showing off.

If your kitchen is in the same space as, say, your dining and living room, set out colorful and well-designed pots, pans, kettles, and dinnerware right on the stove or counter (or even on that weird shelf created by the tops of your cabinets) when not in use.

3. Realize that anything can become a pantry.

An old locker found at an estate sale then repainted? Yep, that’s your new pantry. Double points for adding a magnetic knife strip to the side and/or magnetic spice jars for even more storage that doesn’t take up counter space.

4. Mount your dish rack.

If your rental isn’t blessed with a dishwasher, spare what little prep area you have on the counter of your one-wall kitchen by adding a shelf above the sink for air drying—even better if it’s actually a designated dish rack that props them upright.

5. Add cozy accents that make it feel more like a real room.

When you have a kitchen that is really just the wall of another room, adding proper overhead lighting and warm accents like a good rug can make it feel more cohesive, a room you actually enter into rather than just a wall you have to visit to make tea.

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CES 2018: Kohler’s New Sensate Kitchen Sink Faucet and DTV+ Shower System Will Support HomeKit

Kohler at CES 2018 this week has introduced a collection of new smart kitchen and bath products based on its new Kohler Konnect platform, which itself is based on Microsoft’s Azure internet-of-things cloud solutions.

A spokeswoman for Kohler told MacRumors that its Sensate touchless kitchen faucet and DTV+ shower system will be the first of the Kohler Konnect products to support Apple’s HomeKit platform for smart home accessories.

Kohler’s Sensate faucet allows you to turn the water on and off or dispense water to a measured volume, such as an eight-ounce cup or a large pot, with simple voice commands or touch-free motion-based interactions.

The faucet also monitors your water usage and lets you track the consumption using an upcoming Kohler Konnect companion app.

Meanwhile, the DTV+ showering system enables homeowners to create and automate personalized showering experiences. The Kohler Konnect app allows you to, for example, create and manage presets for sound, water, steam, and lighting.

With an optional bridge, you can use voice commands to access those presets, or use the system’s wall-mounted interface, to adjust water temperature, and control shower heads, music, lighting, steam, and shower duration.

HomeKit compatibility should enable both products to be controllable with Siri or Apple’s Home app for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Kohler’s other new smart home products integrated with its Kohler Konnect platform include its Verdera mirror with built-in Amazon Alexa, Numi intelligent toilet, PureWarmth toilet seat, and PerfectFill technology for bathtubs.

Kohler said the Verdera mirror with Amazon Alexa will be available for purchase from March 2018 in the United States. The other new Kohler Konnect products are planned for release later this year. Pricing has not been disclosed.

The Home Depot sells Kohler’s existing Sensate faucet and DTV+ shower system sans Konnect for $523 and $794 respectively in the United States.

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Local musician Terry Johnson plays on Rachael Ray show

A local musician played guitar on The Rachael Ray Show this morning, showing of a guitar he made from one of the celebrity cook’s signature frying pans.

Local musician Terry Johnson played guitar on The Rachael Ray Show this morning, showing of a guitar he made from one of the celebrity cook’s signature frying pans.

Johnson, from the village of Poland, is a member of the local band The Swamp Drivers, which is known for playing instruments made out of everyday objects such as brooms and trashcans — and now cookware.

On the show, Ray autographed Johnson’s orange frying pan guitar before letting him play into a commercial break near the end of the hour-long show that aired at 11 a.m.

A video of him playing the guitar at home also can be viewed on the band’s YouTube Channel.

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MUJI Moves Into Hospitality With New MUJI Hotel and Restaurant

If you’ve ever made the proclamation that you wished you could live inside one of MUJI‘s stylishly minimalist stores, now is your chance—sort of. The wildly popular Japanese lifestyle and home brand will be opening the first MUJI Hotel in Shenzhen, China, on January 18 as an experiment in fusing the hospitality and retail industries to create the ultimate brand experience.

MUJI Hotel is designed around the premise of wellness, specifically getting a good night’s sleep. “The hotel has been designed to reflect an anti-gorgeous, anti-cheap concept,” says the brand in a press release. “MUJI Hotel seeks to provide a physical experience of the MUJI philosophy through the texture of the towels, the placement of the outlets and light switches, menu and venue of the restaurant, and more.” With its core principles in mind (think simplicity, function, minimal-to-no branding), MUJI called upon its in-house design team at Ryohin Keikaku to create a space that promotes relaxation and rejuvenation for Shenzhen’s business travelers and tourists alike. Using recycled wood flooring and extracted pillars and walls from traditional Chinese homes in the interiors and courtyards, coupled with hidden lighting and firm mattresses that accommodate any sleeping position, the space is serene and simple, perfectly echoing the brand itself.

This MUJI Hotel is not a one-off experiment; two other locations are set to open in Beijing and Ginza, Tokyo, in March 2018 and Spring 2019, respectively. The Shenzhen location occupies five floors of the city’s new UpperHills complex, which was designed by Skidmore, Owings Merrill. Guests are invited to step wholly inside MUJI’s world: The rooms are outfitted with the brand’s products ranging from furniture and bedding, to bathrobes, toiletries, and more. And if you’d like to purchase something you’ve used upstairs in your hotel room, you can do so in the brand-new store that occupies the first and second floors. The ground floor also boasts a new MUJI diner, where guests can enjoy healthy, local food that draws inspiration from around the globe—and is served on MUJI dinnerware, of course. Other amenities include a gym, meeting rooms, and a library with over 650 volumes available for loan, free of charge.

MUJI Hotel is a subtle, yet powerful, move for the brand in an effort to position itself as an all-encompassing wellness lifestyle brand. By inviting guests to spend the night with its products, the brand is taking the “try before you buy” philosophy to an entirely new level.

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How Bad Off Is Sears Holdings? Worse Than You Think

Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) CEO Eddie Lampert has maintained a brave face and a positive message as his company has steadily declined around him. He has insisted that Sears has a viable plan as it has shrunk from 2,601 stores in Q3 2012 to 1,104 (and shrinking) in Q3 2017.

Through the first three quarters of 2017, the retailer, which owns Kmart and Sears, had lost over $1.6 billion. That followed a $2.2 billion loss in 2016 and a $1.1 billion loss in 2015. The chain has also gotten to the point where its $12 billion in debt exceeds its $8.1 billion in assets.

Sears Holdings is experiencing death by a thousand paper cuts while it’s also dying from more grievous wounds. Lampert doesn’t see it that way, but his attempt to highlight the positive is a bit like someone with terminal cancer learning that his athlete’s foot has cleared up.

The exterior of a Sears store.

Sears has been closing stores and losing sales. Image source: Sears.

More stores are closing

As retail changes due to the rise of the internet, a number of struggling chains have decided that smaller is better. That strategy has yet to be proven successful, though there are some signs that closing some stores has worked for Macy’s, which reported comparable-store sales growth of 1% in November and December.

Fewer stores seems to make sense for a chain like Macy’s, which often had multiple locations in the same area. For Sears, however, getting smaller hasn’t driven business to other stores in the chain or online. It has simply made the money-losing company smaller and that’s continuing with the company telling employees in early January that it plans to shut 64 more Kmart stores and 39 Sears locations in March and April, CNBC reported.

The company has once again tried to explain this as being part of a plan.

“We will continue to close some unprofitable stores as we transform our business model so that our physical store footprint and our digital capabilities match the needs and preferences of our members,” the company said in a statement.

There is no happy ending

Having fewer stores would make sense if Sears had shown that customers are flocking to its Shop Your Way (SYW) digital platform. The company does not break out its digital sales, but its steadily declining overall numbers suggest that customers are not flocking to the service.

In Q3, same-stores sales dropped 17% at Sears, 13% at Kmart, and 15.3% across the company. Overall sales fell from $5 billion in Q3 2016 to $3.7 billion in the same period in 2017, a 26% drop. The company claims that over half of that came from stores closing, but that doesn’t mean things are looking up.

Sears is a ship full of holes that’s taking on water and the captain’s plan is bailing out with thimbles.

You need customers

Getting smaller may work for brands that still have a devoted customer base that will drive to a new location or shop online, but it’s hard to see Sears fitting that bill. The company no longer owns its Craftsman tool lines and the company lost its long-standing relationship with the company that manufactures Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, and Jenn-Air appliances.

As the company has shrunk and sold off assets to survive, it has lost much of its identity. There’s no reason to join SYW because Sears no longer offers any sort of unique shopping proposition. That’s not going to improve as it slowly continues its march to zero stores.

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Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles brings Southern comfort to Cleveland (photos)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – “Chicken and waffles” has a long history in American cuisine.

But until last year, the Southern classic was hard to find in Cleveland. Chicken and waffles arrived downtown, by way of Chicago, in December of 2016 with the opening of Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.

“Southern cooking has similarities with many other cuisines, including European,” owner Tonya Johnson told The Plain Dealer at the time. “You know, chicken and waffles goes back to the 1700 and 1800s in the South, and it took off after jazz musicians embraced it in Harlem in the 1920s.”

It was the third restaurant for Johnson and her husband, who own two Home of Chicken and Waffles restaurants in their hometown of Chicago. They were smitten with Cleveland on visits to see her husband’s family.

“I’ve been watching it develop and grow,” Johnson told the paper. “You know, our Chicago restaurants aren’t located downtown — but we’ve been seeing all these things happening downtown and decided this would be the place.”

Since opening a little more than a year ago on Prospect Avenue downtown, Chicken and Waffles has been a part of the city’s urban growth. From breakfast through dinner, and then as a late-night hangout, it’s become a hot city destination.

We visited the sleek and chic restaurant — lots of cool leather and chrome and midcentury-modern lighting — on a recent weekend at lunchtime, but ate breakfast foods, which are served all day here. Chicken and Waffles has a wide-ranging menu of Southern comfort foods, from omelets to skillets to sandwiches and “Soul Food Specials” and “Down Home Faves.”

We had to have the signature item, of course, so two of our group ordered chicken and waffles. I opted for Monique’s Love, a fried-chicken breast served with a waffle and syrup ($10.50). The huge breast was succulent and tender under its crispy coating, a perfect complement to the fluffy waffles. My companion opted for The Saint Carol, dark meat (a quarter-chicken) served over more fluffy waffles ($14.50). Both were a great choice on a frigid winter day. His sides of flavorful rice and beans and rich and deliciously creamy macaroni and cheese completed the indulgent meal.

My other companion went with a breakfast option, too — one of Chicken and Waffles’ fantastic omelets. He chose Evelyn’s Eggstasy ($11.50), a five-egg veggie omelet filled with cheese, spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. It was both creamy and fluffy — rarely have I tasted such perfectly done eggs. Ditto for the velvety scrambled eggs that came with my 10-year-old’s Bern’s Biscuits and Gravy ($8.95). Her biscuits were also a delight, hot out of the oven and topped with rich gravy.

A shared Mario’s Catfish Sandwich ($9.95) was also excellent, with the crispy fish topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato and served with zesty, crisp waffle fries.

My 10-year-old loved this, too, as did her grandfather. We were one of multiple tables of families in this restaurant, which successfully balances being for all ages during the day and a chic date spot late night. To that end, the adults at our table sampled some of their craft cocktails, including a kicky Chicago favorite, the Mamie Taylor, made with Dewar’s, lime juice and ginger beer ($10), and their version of a Long Island Ice Tea, the Verdict ($10).

Both drinks were handmade by our wonderful server, Jessica. Chicken and Waffles was unexpectedly slammed the day we visited, and Jessica was called in on her day off — to our benefit. She was a great server, friendly, knowledgeable and very efficient (even making the drinks when the bartender was too busy). She made us feel like family in this all-ages favorite that’s brought a new cuisine and energy to downtown. Our verdict: We’ll be back.

Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles.

Address: 1144 Prospect Ave.


Phone: 216-600-8600

Hours: Restaurant hours, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 9 – 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday. Bar open till midnight Monday – Wednesday and Sunday; 1 a.m. Thursday; 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Prices: Chicken and waffles and catfish and waffles, $10.50 – $20.50; omelets, $9 – $13.95; entrees, $12.25 – $20. Kids plate, $7.

Reservations: Recommended on weekends.

Credit cards: All major.

Cuisine: Southern

Bar service: Full bar with creative cocktails, beer, wine.

Cleanliness: Very clean.

Kids: Small children’ menu, plus children will like much of the main menu.

Quality of service: Very warm and welcoming.

Accessibility: Fully accessible.

Rating: * * *

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