Save Bucks Making Espresso At Home With Espresso Machine

delonghi espresso machine
I bought a Delonghi Magnifica six years ago and I used it at least once a day. Not to thread jack my own thread but it has been a workhorse and has consistently delivered a latte which has been superior to a Starbucks drink in many ways. Fast forward to three years ago when I was introduced to a REAL latte. I felt cheated. I still used the Delonghi but I also sneaked in some real lattes on a weekly basis. Fast forward to a year ago when I discovered an awesome “craft” coffee shop near work. I have been drinking their lattes every day at lunch. My taste is now so spoiled that my home lattes will not do. Moreover, I really need to cut down on those lunch lattes.

So about two years ago I searched around for a machine which could produce a great latte. The closest I could find without venturing into expensive or “esoteric”, pretentious Italian-ish brands was the Breville Dual Boiler. A PID temperature control was now a must-have feature. Unfortunately the price was a little steep at just over $1200. It also required a separate grinder and apparently it would have to be an expensive one. So I waited for a couple years and made the most of the Delonghi which was still producing a decent latte.

I use this machine daily and have had no troubles with it. At all. It lights up with a “clean me” light when it needs to be cleaned, the tools come with it. You can buy powder cleaner or tablets to clean the portafilter just about anywhere. The grinder does a pretty decent job and is adjustable. I clean the grinder and the hopper 1x a month or whenever I use an entire bag of espresso up. Just brush out the grinds, wipe it all down, and be sure not to put the hopper back into the grinder with any water left n it. Most likely this was the best espresso maker I have ever bought and has saved me hundreds (I kid you not) of dollars by not going to coffee houses every day for my fix. Being a former barista I can tell you what comes out of this machine tastes exactly like the drinks you would get at the place with the mermaid logo. It just takes practice getting to know your grind and make sure your using a good espresso. The one drawback is it does get a little messy when grinding but not enough for me to take it down a star. Hope you enjoyed my review, check out other espresso machine reviews as well before you buy!

Time for a ‘New’ Kitchen!

kitchen and cookware
An enamel farmhouse sink with a drainboard provides space for washing and drying plus elbow room to cook. This one is in the Queens, New York, kitchen of Aesthetic Movement founders Jesse James and Kostas Anagnopoulos (the cafe-au-lait bowls are from their housewares line Sir/Madam). Source a vintage sink from a salvage dealer near you, or consider the 42-Inch Cast-Iron Wall-Hung Kitchen Sink with Drainboard, $995.95, from Signature Hardware.

For sink-side hand drying, the roller towel on a wooden rack is ideal for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. Shown here, Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen’s Wood Towel Holder ( £28), and Roller Towel ( £28 for two) from Labour and Wait in London. Ancient Industries sells a similar Wood Towel Roller for $45. See Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen Air Their Dirty Laundry.

Work-of-art vintage stoves are the ultimate hearths. And they’re often scaled to fit small kitchens. This one is at the Hudson Milliner, a B&B in Hudson, New York (see Steal This Look: Hudson Milliner Kitchen). Reconditioned vintage ranges can be sourced from Savon Appliance in LA, which specializes in Wedgewood and O’Keefe & Merrit (Julie once lived with a vintage O’Keefe & Merrit and loved it). Antique Appliances of Clayton, Georgia, is another source. For a list of vintage range dealers across the country, go to Retro Renovation.

Having the right tools for the right job is essential to cooking simpler and smarter in the kitchen. They’ll make your life a whole lot easier and allow you to cook with ease. There is no need to start with everything on day one, but the cookware and tools you need to help you out in the kitchen can be built up over time.

Use the Right Knife

kitchen knivesDo you know what it is to julienne? Can you chiffonade?

We won’t mince words here: These terms describe how a particular food should be cut. And the key to doing so is using the right knife.

Because of their shape, edge or blade length, certain knives are best suited for certain tasks like deboning meat or poultry, mincing garlic or cutting carrots julienne-style. Knowing which knife to use and how to use it will make prep work safer and easier. It will also show in the dishes you make. Foods that are cut uniformly look nice and cook evenly.

Prices for knives vary greatly, depending on the materials they’re made with. At Sur La Table, resident chef Steven Delidow says a chef’s knife there can cost as much as $140.

Generally, a knife made with high-carbon stainless steel costs significantly more than one made of basic stainless steel because its carbon content helps keep it sharp.

Here are five cooking knives every cook should have in their kitchen:

Serrated knife

It’s best used for cutting breads and other baked goods. It has a long blade with a serrated edge. It also works like a charm for cutting fruits and vegetables that have a firm skin but a soft inside. The serrated edge cuts through the skin without harming the inside.

• Tips: Use it in a sawing motion; there’s no need to apply pressure. Use a serrated knife to cut chocolate or slice tomatoes and eggplant.

• Price: $10 at mass retailers to $70 at a specialty kitchen store.

Chef’s or French knife

It’s considered the most important, go-to and versatile knife to have in the kitchen. It comes in several lengths, but an 8-inch is a good standard size to have. The blade is wide at the heel end (near the handle) and tapers to a point. A common style of chef’s knife for home use is the Santoku, says Shawn Mac, executive chef at Holiday Market in Royal Oak, Mich. The blade is usually shorter and has a row of grooves near the sharp edge. “It’s more manageable and is a size people are more comfortable with,” Mac says. Use a chef’s knife to chop, slice and dice just about anything.

• Tips: Place your thumb and forefinger on the blade at the heel end for greatest control. Use the tip for delicate work, the center for general slicing, and the heavier heel end for slicing foods that require more pressure such as the end of a stalk of celery.

• Price: From $16 at mass retailers to $190 at some kitchen stores.

Slicer or carving knife

This knife is best used for cutting big pieces of meat like a roast or whole turkey. The blade is typically 8 to 10 inches long, but its width can vary. A wider blade allows you to slice the meat and then use it as a serving tool. “The thinner the blade, the easier it is to get thin slices,” Delidow says.

• Tip: Don’t use a sawing motion. Instead, place the tip on the food to be cut and draw the knife toward you using downward pressure.

• Price: $20 at mass retailers to $140 for high end at kitchen specialty stores.

Related: How to Maintain Your Kitchen Knife

Boning knife

It’s used for deboning chicken and meats, trimming down pieces of meat and removing silver skin, sinew or pieces of fat. A boning knife has a thin blade about ½ inch to 1 inch wide and 5 to 6 inches long. It narrows at the tip. “The narrow tip is what makes it easier to get closer to the bone,” says Jim Buckley, meat manager at Holiday Market. “The narrow tip helps make exact cuts easier.”

• Tip: Practice, practice, practice with this knife and you will debone a whole chicken in no time.

• Price: $40 to $115 at specialty kitchen stores.

Paring knife

Use this for small, intricate or detailed work, such as peeling thin-skinned fruits and vegetables or trimming them. The blades are thin and short, about 2 to 4 inches long. Ken Coker, general manager of Cutco Stores Inc. in Novi, Mich., says to use a paring knife for “anything you cut while holding it in the air or in your hand.” Use a paring knife for peeling, paring, coring and pitting or removing the tops of strawberries, he says, “or any small slicing jobs as well.”

• Tip: To peel fruit, slip the tip of the knife under the skin and peel in long strips.

• Price: $7.99 for a three-piece set at mass retailers to $60 for a high-end version at department stores or specialty kitchen stores.

Using the right knife –

How My Neighbor’s Dog Ate Their Tent

Tents are supposed to be sturdy, aren’t they?

You take a tent for camping because it’s supposed to keep you dry when it rains, warm when it’s cold, and safe from the elements in the dark night. It can’t do these things when there is a big ripped hole in one side. My friend Amy told me this story. She and her husband Rob were just trying the tent out in the back yard the first night after they got it. This was part of their organized preparation for the following weekend’s first spring camping trip.

The kids were so excited. Maybe that’s what set off their rather large pup to bouncing and bounding … right into the side of the tent. Ouch! I don’t mean ouch for the dog: the dog was fine. He’s a Dalmatian named Reggie, but we’ll call him Ripper for the rest of this story. Ouch for the tent!


Reggie/Ripper was not fully-grown. He had long gangly limbs, big clumsy feet, and sharp juvenile nails. All of these doggie body parts landed in a tangle half under the tent that had just been erected. He hadn’t expected the tent to be there. It wasn’t in the yard when he’d last been out. He didn’t intend to crash land right into it. Imagine the yelping and teeth gnashing as he disentangled himself. And the kids crying as they ran toward him, until they saw their dog was okay.

But the tent was not okay after that. Maybe even the best of tents wouldn’t have withstood Reggie/Ripper’s unintended assault. But maybe it would have. The story made me think about what should go into the makeup of the best tent. Certainly material would be high on my list. I’d want the sturdiest, rip-resistant fabric. Something reflective, so it can be seen easily in the dark. Poles would be next. They should stay in the ground! They should be resilient and bendable, in case dogs or kids or heavy playthings land on them.

The whole tent kit should have replaceable parts. That’s obvious. I don’t know if Amy and Roger have looked into a new tent setup yet. I’ll ask. Shopper that I am, I’ll have to help them.

You might want to watch this guide on choosing a tent:

Do You Use An Elliptical?

An elliptical machine is a workout machine that is geared towards providing low impact workouts which makes it a great option for people who want to workout without necessarily straining their bodies to the extreme. There are elliptical machines for commercial use and there are those that are made specifically for home use.

If you intend to get one for your home gym, it is important that you research on the best unit. One way to get ample information on some of the best models and brands is to check the best elliptical reviews 2015.


Reviews are created by companies or by people who have already used a certain product or services. For this reason, they are the best shot you have when it comes to finding the best home elliptical machine. The reviews breakdown the units part by part and focus on the benefits of the machine and also the disadvantages of certain brands. By looking at the reviews, you will be in a better position to select a machine that will assist you meet your goals.

Using the best home elliptical reviews you can shop better. One of the most important things is to check the weight that the machine can handle. This is because different machines will handle different weights with the home machines having the ability to handle a weight of about 300 pounds.

You also need to check the materials that are used in the construction of the machine. The framework needs to be made of strong materials that are sturdy and durable. The unit should also be flexible and easy to assemble and disassemble. The only way you can know about these qualities is through the use of reviews which are opinions of people who have had a chance to workout using the machines.

Starting a Fitness Routine!


Hey, you guys! It’s been a while. So, I’ve decided to start exercising and eating better for my health. Now, I’m not a very outdoorsy or sporty type of person, but I do know that exercise is very important for keeping fit. I like taking walks and long walks with my dog, but I think it’s not enough, so I’ve decided to start a fitness routine.

I researched online and decided that I want my routine to include mind and body fitness so I’ve decided on yoga. I delved deeper into my research and found that yoga is the type of exercise that fits me and my lifestyle.

Being a total newbie in yoga, I asked my friends who do yoga to tag me along during their next yoga session. And so the next weekend, we went to this place they frequent to and drop me off to the beginner class because I want to go slow and frankly, I’m a little bit scared for some reason.

Let me tell you right now that yoga requires concentration and balance even though it doesn’t look as intense as a gym workout! I seriously fell a few times and became jealous of the people around because I want to look graceful and poised like them!

After the session, I feel so, so, sore. I have muscle pains in places I did not know existed! I feel super charged, awake and unused to the feeling of having my body so stretched. I also need to familiarize myself with yoga terms. I guess I’ll understand the words eventually once I get used to the basic poses.

I’m starting to like yoga and I think I’ll invest in yoga clothes and buy myself my own mat. Do you guys know of the best yoga mat brands out there? Feel free to share it to me through the comments below, I’d love to hear your recommendations!

Sharing some good info :  Art of Living – Improve Your Yoga Practice