How to Make My Own Espresso

I love when a daring plan comes together! Since I am a real novice I spent a lot of time researching and finally decided this has to be the best espresso machine. Man, was I right. All the instruction videos helped make me familiar with the Barista Express right out of the box and before I knew it, we were brewing. Just that simple. So now that I no longer “fear” the damn thing, its time to start experimenting and I expect that will be a fun journey in the days ahead. I’m very happy I decided to purchase!
espresso machine reviewHere is how I dial in a shot with a new type of bean. Once dialed I don’t need to repeat this. Note that you should flush water through the machine before pulling a shot to get everything up to temp. ALWAYS!

1. Put the portafilter on your scale and tare it.
2. Set grinder at 5 to start, and keep the grinder set for the single shot with the grind time set around “noon” or less. (double seems to more than double the amount coming out for some reason?)
3. Grind in the single shot amount, then tap the PF and very lightly tamp the grounds to help distribution and free up some room for the second bit of grinding. Maybe this “midway” tamp is sacrilege – but my shots are great, and this helps keep grounds from overflowing and spilling out everywhere.
4. Grind in the rest, smooth it out keeping all the grinds in in the basket, and tamp it hard. You actually can’t over tamp – once the air is out that’s it, your grounds can’t compress any further. Tamping further just wastes energy, but for now go harder than you think you need to. Once tamped, the metal part of the tamper should “just” disappear below the edge of the PF.
5. Put the PF on the scale and weigh your coffee. Make a note of this weight.
6. Put the scale under the spout, and your cup onto the scale and tare it.
7. Pull your shot manually, by programming the double shot button. Watch a couple of things. First – the pressure gauge. You want the needle right at the end (highest part) of the dark area. NOT in the middle! There is a very small range that seems perfect. If pressure did not hit correctly I don’t worry about the next step which is weighing the shot – I just end it when it seems okay and dump a bunch of milk in it if I plan on drinking it, haha. Or throw it out. If pressure is low, click the grinder one step finer, and do the reverse if it is too high. Remember the grinder needs to run while you move the wheel – don’t skip that!! Then repeat the above steps 3-7, but you’ll need to adjust grind time to get the right amount of grounds (so the tamper metal part just disappears when tamped)
8. Assuming the pressure is now correct, keep an eye on the scale. You want to put roughly double the weight in liquid as was in your PF – depending on the beans and your tastes of course. But double is where you should start. So if you weighed out 17.5 g into the basket, you want to pull 35 g of espresso into the mug. Hit the button again to stop the flow when the weight is about 2 grams short of your target – scales are often a little slow to read and a bit more liquid will come out. If your weight is exactly double you nailed it, but honestly “close enough” is okay in my opinion. Now your double shot volume is set.
9. Drink it and freak out. That’s it. Now your grind time is set for a consistent dose, and your extraction time/volume is set for the beans and grind. As long as you keep using the same beans and they are fresh, there is no need to touch volume settings or weigh anything. I just flush – grind – light tamp – grind – full tamp – double shot button. Very consistent shots, and easy to do in the morning when I am groggy. If I want to play around with doses and extractions the “manual” operation is always available without messing up my programmed settings.

Do you ever read espresso machine reviews? It’s time to read some and get that espresso maker. For more tips, read this.

How to Choose Cabinets

The kitchen is the heart of your home and the most important room for most homebuyers. It’s also the most stressful room to try to upgrade or remodel, thanks in large part to the seemingly countless options you have for countertops, cabinets, and flooring materials. Let us walk you through your choices.

When I bought my house, a fixer-upper, I knew we’d have to remodel the kitchen eventually. The kitchen layout is awkward and wastes space, floor tiles are cracked and uneven, and the laminate countertops are peeling. Besides fixing those problems, a remodel will make the kitchen work for my family better, with hopefully more room for storage and distinct cooking zones. And kitchen upgrades have a great return on investment so hopefully when it comes time to sell, buyers will appreciate the improvements and the value of our home will be greater. As excited as we are to have this done, I’ve found that having too many choices—quartz or granite? porcelain tile or hardwood? maple or birch veneers?—can be overwhelming. However, when you break each down into their pros and cons, it’s easier to make a more confident decision.

Kitchen Cabinets

The biggest expense in a kitchen remodel tends to be the cabinets, which makes sense, since most of the space in your kitchen is probably going to be taken up by them. Whether they’re custom built, semi-custom, or stock cabinets, the construction materials will play a large part in how much those cabinets cost, what they look like, and how durable they’ll be in your kitchen.

Cabinets with all solid wood doors and cabinets are rare and expensive these days. Most cabinets look like they’re made of wood, but, for cost savings, they’re actually usually constructed with a different material for the base layer (or substrate) and then covered with wood veneers or plastic laminates. Also, cabinet makers will often use a less expensive material for the sides or backs of cabinets and then use solid wood or a higher grade material for the doors and drawer fronts.

Read also: Best Pots and Pans for Your Kitchen

Particle board, MDF, and plywood are engineered wood products (a.k.a. “composites”) that are used most often behind wood veneers, laminate, or vinyl film to keep costs down.

If you’re on a budget: Particle board is your best bet. It’s the most popular cabinet material and an inexpensive option often in stock cabinets, particularly for base cabinets and shelving.

Pros: Lightweight (easy to work with), inexpensive
Cons: Can expand or discolor due to moisture
If you want the strongest and most durable cabinets: Look for plywood. Plywood is made up of sheets of wood veneer and used for cabinet doors, shelves, and boxes. Cabinetmakers use it in their higher-end cabinet lines as an upgrade to MDF or particleboard.

Pros: Stronger and more durable than other options (not susceptible to cracking, shrinking, or warping), supports heavy countertops, easily stained or painted
Cons: costs significantly more than other options
If you want something sturdier than particle board but less expensive than plywood: Consider MDF cabinets. MDF (medium density fiberboard) is similar to particle board but denser and stronger. It’s manufactured by gluing small wood fibers together at high temperatures.

Pros: resists warping and stands up to heat and humidity, smooth surface makes it easy to paint
Cons: Also susceptible to moisture problems and can’t be stained, like particleboard (Addicted 2 Decorating calls MDF “basically glorified particle board”)
Costs: According to Old House Web, plywood can cost you 12 percent more than particle board on average (ranging from 7 to 20 percent higher). So for $7,000 cabinets with particle board, the same with plywood could cost $7,700 to $8,400, and MDF cabinets would be in between. If you choose from a budget line of cabinets or from a high-end range, you might not have a choice in the base layer material, but it’s good to know the benefits and disadvantages of what you’re getting.

Continue reading here.

The Top 5 Knives You Can Buy

A cook’s knife is a firm, large bladed, all-purpose kitchen knife. It is surprisingly versatile and will assist you in the kitchen with all sorts of jobs, from finely chopping herbs and nuts and the preparation of meat and hard vegetables like squash or red cabbage to the precision cutting of vegetables and baked products. If choosing a quality cook’s knife, and you look after it, it will last you for years, and become a treasured possession. To keep it in good order, sharpen the blade frequently if it is made from steel and always cut on a wooden or plastic board as hard surfaces like glass or granite will damage and dull them. Also avoid using them to cut bone or frozen produce, as this could cause the blade to chip.

James Martin 20cm cook’s knife

This well priced cook’s knife has been exclusively designed by chef and TV personality James Martin. In our tests we thought there was a good weight to this, making it feel solid and well balanced for chopping and slicing, with a good edge to the Molybdenum steel blade. The black handle is from an anti-slip moulded compound. Also available with a 15cm blade.
£10.99, from Captain cooks

Robert Welch cooks knife

We liked everything about this best chef knife, from the good looks and tactile handle to the balance and sharpness of the blade. The blade is made from a marriage of German steel for strength with a sharp Japanese-style edge, but it is also thoughtfully curved to help you with the rocking action essential for easy chopping and dicing. The black handle is smooth and moulded over a full tang (the part of steel that extends into the handle) to ensure strength, comfort and balance. And if you normally find cook’s knives are too small or too large to use comfortably, there are six to choose from, starting from 12cm (£36) to 25cm (£58).
From £36, Robert Welch and selected cookshops and department stores

Cerra black ceramic cook’s knife

If you want a dramatic looking cook’s knife that won’t look out of place in a funky modern kitchen, and you don’t want to sharpen it, this will appeal to you. Ceramic blades are one of the hardest cutting edges available, apart from diamond, ten times harder than carbon steel yet much lighter. The blade of this is made from an advanced black zirconia ceramic with a silver, non-slip brushed steel handle. Put through its paces we found that we had to apply slightly more pressure than a razor sharp steel knife, but the results were still excellent.
£45, from Stellar Cookware (check online for your nearest stockist)

io shen cook’s knife

If you are looking for the sharpness of a Japanese blade, but prefer a heavier Westernised handle, look no further. This quality and amazingly well priced knife is the only Japanese brand to combine these two features in one. The blade uses triplex steel technology, which to you and me means the hardest, highest grade Japanese steel. This would normally be too brittle but is cleverly sandwiched between softer layers to protect the core and cutting edge. This blade glides through meat, root veg as well as delicate tomatoes with hardly any pressure. The decorative pattern on the handle is also part of the tang, which strengthens and balances the knife. An engraving service is also available if you are giving this as a gift. Available in five sizes from 16.5cm to 30cm.
£99.95, from I.O.Shen (visit the website for stockist locator)

SHUN 20cm chef’s knife

Made in Japan and inspired by the art of the Samurai sword this chef’s knife will appeal to both professional and hobby cooks. The blade is made from hard damask steel with 32 layers and a hard core, creating a hard blade with a razor sharp edge. It also creates distinctive and attractive wood-like markings on the blade that literally glides through ingredients as though they were butter! The round, Oriental-style handle made from fine laminated pukka wood has a full tang for balance and strength. This knife is sharp, comfortable to use, but also visually very pleasing. Although expensive this will appeal to a serious cook who enjoys the pleasure of preparing food with the best tools.
£128.57, from Russums


Help a Brother Out!

So, my four younger brothers and I all arguing over something; I forget what it was but I know it was smaller than a tick’s fingertips. Regardless of whatever the issue was, the debate was ended by a dare than neither one of us could last a full twenty four hours out in the wilderness. (No one in my household has ever been camping so it sounded more sketchy to us than anyone could imagine). Eventually it was settled that none of us had the cajones to even ADMIT we were too scared to sleep where lions and tigers and homeless raccoons thrived, and we commenced a grandiose ass kicking in Super Smash Bros.


One Saturday however, I figured what better way to spend a work-free weekend than to surprise/scare the living crap out of my younger brothers with an impromptu nature journey? Two main questions buzzed about in my head: where would we go? And which is the best tent for camping? The first hurdle was jumped pretty quickly as I almost immediately recalled a sign for a family camp site adjacent to the family reunion picnic site we’ve frequented for years. The second, much more of a hassle. I had no idea what was the best tent for camping. I didn’t realize tents were that different! My luck prevailed when I ran into an extremely patient (and attractive) Walmart employee later. She saw my over-packed “survival” rations and deduced I was a first timer. We talked, shared a few laughs, and she eventually pointed me in the direction of what she considered were the best tents for camping in stock.

Afterwards, we exchanged numbers and made my way home to initiate operation Tell-the-Boys-We’re-Going-to-a-Party-Then-Drive-Straight-For-the-Woods, but when I got home, no one was there. I found out later that I missed a pretty cool movie date, and right after, I was asked about the equipment in my car. With the surprise ruined, I shrugged and pulledthe phone number I received earlier to set up a movie date of my own.Still would’ve been nice to know if I had truly bought the best tent for camping though.

My Fitness Gadget

There are varieties of elliptical machines for training. These machine are readily available in the market and mostly in the online stores. Among the many; only few have outstanding performance and of high value. These few are the top rated and highly preferred by people who value quality and excellence. That is the reason as to why they are top picks in the best elliptical machine reviews 2015.

A few of the available machines can be classified under this category since only a few may exceed customer expectations. For the case of this review; they include

1. Schwinn 430 Elliptical Trainer

This model is an amazing model especially under the price of $1000. It is a high quality machine which is study enough to hold weight of up to 275lbs. in addition the machine is quiet that means you can conduct your workouts in the house even when the children are asleep. The price is good and affordable for many. In comparison of the services and the price, many clients says that it is worth the price.

2. Sole E55 Elliptical trainer

This machine is slightly heavier than the E35 though sturdy enough to hold weight capacity of up to 375lbs. it is just like the gym machine with a flywheel of up to 30-pounds. Compared to E35; this machine is sturdier than the E35. This machine is better suited for people with bigger build and might be challenging for skinny people. For those intending to use the machine as a couple; it is advisable that the wife test it first.

3. Sole E35 elliptical trainer

This is another great machine that falls under the category of best brands and models. It has a fly wheel of up to 25 pounds with unique oversize foot pedals and also with a slightly sloped inward pedals to reduce ankle and knees stress.

Memory Triggered by an LED Flashlight

It was a weekend and I was bored to tears, so I turned on the computer just to browse around. Suddenly a website all about LED flashlight review caught my eyes and brought me back to the memories of the past…

going to college
going to college

When I was just about to enter college, before I leaving for school, my father gave me a LED flashlight, I moaned about it and said:” What a measly present.” He smiled while telling me:” You’ll find it useful in your later years and I want you to keep in mind that always be like a flashlight to light up the way whatever darkness you are faced with.”

It turns out that the LED flashlight really plays a big part in my life. Sometimes it was inconvenient to attend the lectures in the night, especially when I was new there. With the flashlight, I never got a wrong classroom. I’ m in deeply love with reading, so my favorite activity at night was to look for books to read in the library. I was unwilling to quit even when the lights went off occasionally, and I don’t have to worry about it with the flashlight. I still remember it was a very cold life when I had a good time going to classes at night, discussing academic contents and life with my friends as well as taking exercises in the evening with the help of the flashlight.

What impressed me most was that one time when we were attending an outdoor activity. It was a day when my friends and I were climbing a mountain. While we came across a stream, I suddenly slipped and fell forward, so much pain hit me when an arm reached me. I raised my head, a tall and gentle boy stroke my eyes. ” Are you OK?” He asked softly. Then he helped me up and suggested we have a rest there.

It was getting dark and we had to go back to our camp. Just when I was feeling regret for leaving my flashlight behind, the boy took a LED flashlight out of his bag. Just with a gently flick of the switch, the road ahead came into our sight. We talked all the way along with the warm light of the flashlight, from hobbies, morals to ideal life, I couldn’t help smiling every time I recall it.

I Do Yoga in the Comfort of My Home

I spent five years of my life trying to decide whether or not to develop a yoga practice- I just wish I decided sooner. I was torn between attending studio sessions or having it from the comfort of my home. However, I think what pulled me back from the beginning was the constant fear that yoga wasn’t meant for me and I would eventually tire and abandon it altogether. I hate to begin something and then just give up- perhaps this is why it took me almost forever to make one of the wisest decisions I have ever made in my lifetime of 31 years.

Well, when I finally made up my mind, I decided to attend classes for a few months, learn a little and then start practicing at home. One of the major reasons why I wanted to do yoga in my house is because my husband and I are on a budget because we are saving money for a house. Secondly, I never have enough time on my sleeve and making it to classes would eventually prove almost impossible. Lastly, I simply wanted to enjoy yoga in the comfort of my living room. Well, I have decided to share with you some important details if you intend to do yoga at home. Whether you are a complete beginner or even an advanced yogi who wants to quit studio sessions, you will want to know essential tools you need to successfully practice yoga at home.

First and foremost, a yoga mat is a must have if you want to have perfect moments in your home during yoga time. If you are already aware, these mat types are very useful for comfort, stability and prevention of accidents. They are available in the market in different sizes and types. I usually recommend going to thick yoga mats, especially if your body isn’t particularly small in size. Try reading the best thick yoga mat reviews and learn the advantages they provide during your yoga practice. Personally, I started with a thin one- it served the purpose yes, but I cannot compare it with the one I am using presently, in terms of comfort and the amount of support it offers. Basically, the right yoga mat is nearly everything you need to start doing yoga at home.

However, it is advisable for you to create time for yoga and make it as sacred as possible. Failure to do so will make you abandon this incredible practice gradually. Therefore, decided on the most appropriate time for yoga, ensure to eat light meals before yoga and to drink water during the practice.

Different types of yoga – Mind Body Green