A Treat From My Own Espresso Maker

I bought this machine after becoming very frustrated with my local coffee shop’s drink quality. What once felt like a treat was no longer! Although I have had other machines before (Starbuck’s Barista and Krups), this machine was surprisingly sophisticated. It did require some practice to get the shot quality just right, but the gauge on the front and a very helpful user guide made this pretty self explanatory. The machine is beautiful and the size ideal for my countertop. It’s the best home espresso maker I’ve had yet.
espresso machine
So the good:
It comes with its own grinder. It not the best, but then again its no slouch. It can be taken apart and cleaned. My super never did that. What this means is that as you build up grounds on the Burr, you can pull it apart easily and clean it. It has a hopper that you can remove and place unused beans back in its container, that is just awesome, you can make decaf then switch to a new bean. An espresso machine review gave a good tip that when you first run it, start at the coarse then work it to fine when you start to grind, good advice. I word of caution from me, every different roast of bean will be a new setting for the machine. If you use a oily bean, then you might have to clean the burr a lot in order to get that fine grind. Also be prepared to go through a lot of coffee to figure out the right setting to get that perfect cup.
Temperature control. You can decrease or increase the temperature by 4 degree’s, in 2 degree increments. Doesn’t sound like much, but it can change the taste of your espresso.
Easy to program grind amount, and shot times.
It has a gauge to measure the pressure as it goes through the portafilter. It is a nice touch to be able to tell how things are working, several high price machine you have to feel it out and guess, this you can tell right away if something went wrong and you can adjust.
The steam wand is easy to use, the switch on the side is okay, my super did have a better control knob that you could control the amount of steam that came out, but this one is slow enough that its not that bad to operate.
Clean up is a snap, I really enjoy the fact that I can easily and quickly clean it up.
It has a water filter, where I live we have a high concentration of hard water, so having a second filter to go through is nice.
Parts. Breville has all the parts you can buy to fix your machine if they go out or need replaced. I am talking about new portafilters, rings, hoppers, water reservoirs, ect.
It is pretty, looks really good, makes you want to drink coffee.

The things that are not so nice:
You will go through a lot of coffee. This is most true when you first get the machine and try to figure out how to run it. There is a couple of way things can go down. 1) you drink every cup you make, I suggest you do this alone. Anyone around you will worry you are on something because you will be running at a 1000 mph on that much caffeine, no matter what your tolerance is. You will be wondering why everyone around you is moving so slow. 2) invite people over and watch there reaction to find out well you are doing on making that espresso.
Mess from the grounds. It has a tray, but for some reason my grounds always seem to go further then the tray. I placed a small dish under the grinder it that keeps it contained and its easily cleaned. You can also fill the portafilter, tamp, then fill a little more until you reach the proper level. I place a paper towel down and do the tamp on that, it catches the grounds that fall when tamping.
Don’t expect a piping hot cup of joe. You can get it hot enough, by following their suggestions. I poor hot water in my cup before and do a single shot on a empty portafilter, that seems to do a good enough job.
My latte art is of clouds, mushrooms, cotton balls. I believe that is my malfunction though.

School Camping Trip

campingOur son’s 9th grade class went on a camping trip in the first week of September. It was his first one, and in a sense, Ralph’s and mine as well. Josh (that’s my son’s name) is on the small side for his age, so we had been reluctant to let him go on camping trips when he was younger. But now he’s 14 and there really was no stopping him this time. It was only for a weekend after all. They left for Big Bear on Friday Morning and returned by 4pm on Saturday.

Being a protective mom, I wanted to make sure Josh would have everything he needed. I know he was a bit embarrassed by how much I was fussing over him, but when he got back I was glad to find out it had paid off. Even as he made us laugh with stories of kids who had forgotten their sleeping bags and had to frantically call their parents when they were already halfway to the campsite, I was happy that he didn’t have a similar experience.

Before he left, we went shopping for all the things on the list that the school had given us. The sleeping bag was at the top of the list, of course. We also got him a water bottle, new hiking shoes and a warm fleece jacket. Josh had wanted some snacks as well, but the school had been very specific about the kids not bringing their own food so that the wild life would not raid their cabins. Ralph gave Josh a flashlight that he had been using since his college days as a sort of father-son passing on tradition. I thought it was adorable, but to be on the safe side, I looked up the best rated flashlight brands 2015 and bought one with all the frills. That definitely was worth it, because Ralph’s old flashlight stopped working on the first night!

We dropped Josh off at the school at about 7 am where he got on the school bus that would be taking them to the campsite. When we left him, he was still sleepy-eyed and silent but at pick-up on Saturday, he was boisterous. His hair looked windblown and he was smiling from ear to ear and for weeks afterwards he kept mentioning different details about the trip. Ralph and I are glad he had a great time on this one, and maybe we’ll be more willing to let him go on some more in the future.

How To choose Backpacking Tents For 2

It’s going to be Valentine’s day in a few weeks, so I thought that for a change, I would take my best girl dining under the stars. She’s not the outdoor-type of girl, and prefers to sleep in a bed. She had a horrible time when her family went camping when she was a teenager. I think she just did not have the right equipment. Good backpacking tents for 2 should do the trick.

I don’t plan on taking her on an expedition climb, but I still want a tent that can keep us warm and toasty. Most backpacking tents are built to withstand a little cold, but winter has been harsh the last year or so. I want a tent that is built for winter season. While our winters are not as harsh as further up north, still it can get quite chilly where I plan to take her.


I know that I will be carrying all the equipment, so I need a light one. Most tents for 2 people are between 1-2 kilos. It’s quite a walk to the best campsite, so I need to choose one that I can comfortably carry through the 2 mile hike. But the lighter it is, the tighter the fit inside the tent. I think I can compromise on this.

Price will be a major consideration too. I don’t know if I will be using the tent again since this will just be an experiment. They usually costs around $100-500, so I will aim for the cheapest I can get, but not too cheap that I could not use it again. If all goes well, this will be a regular activity for the both of us. If not, then it will be hundreds of dollars down the drain.

A decade or so ago, camping was a back-to-nature experience. Now, with all the new equipment, you can create a homey atmosphere, as if you did not leave your home. The right equipment will let you do this, so choose carefully.

Most of My Purchase Decisions are Made Based on Reviews

I am usually very keen whenever I want to buy an item- especially if it is bound to cost me a considerable amount of my hard earned money. One of the most useful approaches that I rely on when planning and making purchases is reading several product reviews. For instance, two months ago, I sold the elliptical trainer that was in my house in order to buy a better performing one. Since I wanted a gym quality elliptical for home use, I knew that a daunting and time-consuming task awaited me. After researching the available, affordable yet quality ellipticals available in the market, I knew what to do next. I narrowed down the search and remained with around ten of the best- according to the features and prices that I had in mind.

The next thing I did- which took three-quarter of the time was read several elliptical reviews. The best thing about reviews is that they give the reader an opportunity to learn the experiences of other users. In my case, I prefer reading reviews of users who lead the same kind of lifestyle as mine as well as those who we share particular shopping habits, tastes and preferences. Over time, I have increased the number of reviews I read when I wanted to buy something as well as the time I dedicate to each of them. I must admit that the numerous reviews I read helped me make the right decision. Although it took me quite some time, I finally managed to find an elliptical that I find extremely useful. I haven’t regretted even for a moment since I am getting value for my money.

Apart from the product reviews, it is also advisable to ensure that you know exactly what you want- beforehand. For instance, what kind of features would you care on an elliptical machine? Do you want one with advanced features? It is important to find out as much information as possible about the type of the elliptical machine. There is nothing that gives a consumer considerable power as the beauty of being incredibly informed about the product you are about to buy.

For starters, this means that the seller cannot take advantage of your ignorance. It is also important to establish the price ranges of the product. This will give you an added advantage when bargaining for a better price- depending on where you choose to source the product. This is exactly what I have always done, and I must admit that I have never committed a mistake I can consider regrettable. I am usually keener when shopping for an expensive product such as ellipticals and other home appliances.