5 Jul

How to Choose a Sewing Machine

Firstly think about what stitches you may need, if you are a basic seamstress then you do not need too many.  If you are looking forward to doing more complicated stitches like embroidery then you will need a more functional machine.

Consider things like warranty, ease of finding replacement parts, flexibility, comfort and sound.

My buyers guide

Some of the less expensive models out there may not offer the right long term investment.  It is far better to think of it as an investment for your hobby or if you want to make it a business, repairing or producing original designs you will want your machine to last a long time.

k2-_3d6fd9f4-4609-4b8f-84d3-c634377b2507.v1.jpg-dba3c4a3b98c8bee7cf21391a82c91c92915e306-optim-450x450Parts and warranty

  • A good machine will come with some spare parts as standard
  • Check the spools, non-standard spools can be hard to find
  • Make sure the tools are all high quality
  • Check the warranty for replacement parts, do you have to pay for them?
  • A good machine should have a good warranty

Flexibility and comfort

  • mainIf you are planning on making clothes, think about how you are going to go about fiddly sewing of sleeves etc.
  • Look for a wraparound feature for making neat sleeves
  • Find out how comfortable you feel sitting at the machine
  • Check how to change spools
  • Check how easy it is to thread
  • Check the tension of the stitches
  • A good machine comes with a good instruction manual, have a good look before you buy

Buttons and bobbin holders

  • Check up and down needle holding positions, check for stability
  • Have a look at the bobbin cotton holder, make sure it strong and looks durable (not cheap breakable plastic)
  • Traditionally bobbins are on the top, new designs have them at the back
  • Have a look at the bobbin all set up ready to go, does it look sturdy?


  • Some are noisy, no good if you are going to burn the midnight oil and keep everyone awake!
  • Make sure you try a demo model and don’t forget to try the foot pedal for both noise and comfort


  • Automatic threading is easy when you know how, so make sure you do know how!
  • You may prefer to use traditional manual threading, that is a choice to be made

Check for overlocking

Blind hemming

  • Saves so much time and will give a much more professional finish on clothes and curtains

Backward function

  • Another time saving feature, make sure turn direction quickly and easily

Cabinet or stand alone

  • Cabinet sewing machines are great for convenience if you want your machine set up all the time
  • Free standing models are easier to put away when not in use

Don’t let a sales person over sell to you, giving you options that you will never use.  Stick to your guns, and go for the machine that looks sturdy, has a decent warranty and all the functions you need.

A few words on Maintenance!

Regular cleaning = every time, ok, well at least at the end of each project. If you are doing piece work clean it as regularly or as often as you can.

Begin with your tools

  • The manual if you have it or check online for a download
  • Screwdrivers
  • Small lint brush
  • Sewing machine oil (clear oil, not expensive and available in your sewing shop)

Don’t forget

  • Naehmaschinen_TeaserTo unplug
  • A can of compressed air
  • Don’t try anything you are unsure of
  • Take out the needle and the presser foot first

Clean the feed dogs

  • Remove the feed plate screws
  • Use the lint brush, use the compressed air
  • Remove the shuttle assembly and clean that


  • Check the manual to find out where the oil should go
  • When you oil the underside and the shuttle hook and turn the handle wheel to spread the oil
  • Put it all back together and wipe it all down with a soft cloth
  • Before you start anything run a few stitches to make sure it is not oily


  • singer-multi-stitch-sewing-machine-large_7cb2c69549474358b228384bba934c42Keep it in a dry place, a leaking shed or garage is not good

Now you know the basics on what to look for and how to keep it going with regular maintenance of your sewing machine, there is nothing to stop you.

Except for one thing, if even with the manual you are a little bit baffled about cleaning, oiling etc. get some professional help.  It may even benefit from a service after a few months of regular use.  Make sure you know the best place to take it.

If you have a friend with many years’ experience keep in with them, they may be able to help your first time efforts.

3 Jun

How to always look cool

If you’re someone who struggles for hours in the bathroom and in front of the mirror every day, trying to look as cool as possible but convinced you never get it right, it probably infuriates you to see others seemingly fall out of bed and straight into the awesome realm of coolness without even trying.

Never fear, help is here. You, too, can find the secret to always looking cool with the minimum amount of effort. All it takes is a little preparation.

One of the things people fret about way too much is their hair. You might spend hours in the morning shampooing it and adding all kinds of exotic product that you’ve seen advertised by your favorite stars. Then even more time blow drying, spraying and curling it, and then restyling it over and over until you simple have to get going.

What you should know is that those very same Hollywood celebs who get paid to sponsor those hair products, probably never us them. It’s a badly-kept secret in celebrity circles that if you want awesome looking hair, don’t wash it the night before you style it. That’s right, they all have greasy hair, which is then styed as it retains its shape much better than dry, freshly washed hair. So, the next time you have a big date, remember not to bother washing your hair – just give it a bit of shape and relax. People will notice the difference and won’t guess how oily your scalp is at that moment.

Another easy tip for dealing with awkward hair is simply to cover it up. You don’t necessarily have to wear a wig – although a good wig in a style based on your natural hair is definitely an option. Sometimes all you need is a baseball cap. Everyone who wears a baseball cap looks between five and ten percent cooler than they did without it, so just wear it whenever possible.

Similar in function to baseball caps are sunglasses. Sunglasses are cool for two reasons. Firstly, they are worn all the time by people who live in places which have sunny climates and sound cool, such as Pacific Palisades and Bodega Bay. Even if it’s winter and you live in Minneapolis, there will be a hint of a suggestion that you might either be going to or coming back from Bodega Bay. The second reason is that major celebrities wear shades all the time to reduce their chances of being spotted and hounded by the paparazzi. You, too can pull off this look, mastered by groups as varied as the Chinese nouveau riche and the Russian mafia. Just walk around Walmart with your shades on and people might assume you’re a celeb in town for a shoot and you wanted to pick up some Cheetos or some toilet paper on your break. Make sure you choose from the most fashionable options for the look that’s best for you.

The surest way to really look cool, though, is to look confident. With enough confidence and a haughty strut, you can transform yourself from Stan Hardy into Razor Ramon or from Ugly Betty into Lady Gaga. Put your shoulders back. Don’t rush around. Strut around as if every step had a deliberate meaning. Don’t make eye contact with people unless you mean to interact with them. Pretend that you haven’t heard people so they have to go out of their way to get your attention. This reinforces the impression that while you haven’t even noticed them, all they can think of is somehow getting your attention for just a second.

Obviously your clothes and footwear say a lot about you and you’re not going to be considered cool by the ballers if you show up wearing a pair of old gym shoes. You have to have a wardrobe for every occasion. If you have no hope of fitting in with a certain crowd, it’s better you stay away from them. Even if they don’t laugh in your face and start throwing food at you, they won’t know how to interact with you. The cool cheerleader look isn’t going to win you any friends in mosher circles any more than wearing gang attire would make you popular with the math club.

30 May

Following Your Dream

Like most ambitious individuals, I have gotten where I am today through perseverance, dedication, and a commitment to strive for the goals that are most important to me. My plans for the future are quite specific and I have always felt that I was very lucky to know what I wanted to do with my life from an early age. While many children have no clue what they want to be when they “grow up”, I was the child who was always asking questions, discovering new and exciting things from my own unique point of view, and kept on working and wanting to know more. I wanted to be a musician. As far back as I can remember, I loved music. I had an affinity for it and explored genres that children my age weren’t listening to with any kind of piqued interest. I was into Clapton when my friends were listening to bubblegum pop on the radio. Classical music fascinated me, I was big into punk rock and ska, the kind of bands that the older kids liked. That got me in with them and I was running with an older crowd, the 8th grader hanging out with juniors and seniors.

I feel the personal attribute that is most important to me is my sense of curiosity. It has been the driving force behind just about everything I have set my mind to accomplish. When I had a question, I didn’t just ask for it to be answered, I wanted to know more and do the research for myself. I learned how to play songs by figuring them out on my guitar, note by note. Eventually I started to buy songbooks and learn how read music. My mother was thrilled that I had taken such a big interest in music, my father on the other hand, not so much.

For centuries, curiosity has provided the spark for unlocking some of the greatest mysteries that have stumped some of the most brilliant minds who ever lived. I think that if you are not curious you are not alive and I credit my own inquisitive spirit for empowering me with this love for music that has stuck with me for much of my life. I couldn’t imagine a life without my curiosity, my speculative spark that has inspired me to do some amazing things and experience events that many other kids my age likely haven’t had a chance to witness in their young lives. To be curious is to seek knowledge, gain acceptance of the things that simply are, and seek out ways to improve them in a way that only certain individuals are able to achieve. This is not to suggest that only a certain few have the skill and ability to become the true pioneers and trailblazers to usher in the future. I feel that every one of us has the potential to offer the world the next groundbreaking idea, the next classic piece of music that generations of people will appreciate as timeless art.

Now I am proud to say that I have been able to turn my love of music into a lucrative career and I’m here to tell you that you should never give up on the dream. Go after it with all your heart and passion and keep that curiosity alive. It’s never too late to pick up an instrument and learn how to play it. You can start by visiting http://www.theinstrumentreviewer.com/ and reading reviews of some of the best guitars and headphones currently on the market. There’s nothing like the feeling of your first guitar in your hands; feeling the neck, the strings, the raw power that can come from it. Music is an amazing outlet for one’s creativity to be unleashed and there’s no more powerful symbol than the electric guitar. Those who can dream it, can be it and you’re never too old for dreams.

28 May

Do you rate rowing?

Everybody’s time at university is different. Some people go for the social aspect, some for the education, and some go just to delay having to get a job for a few more years. It doesn’t matter what your reasoning is, the main point about going to university is ensuring that you had fun in the process. Students are famed for their nights out and wild activities, but one of the most social and fun aspects of the system as a whole is the huge number of clubs and societies which are on offer. Many universities all over the world have any number of weird societies. The one in Keele in the United Kingdom has a Harry Potter Society, one of the universities in London offers a zombie survival society. Long story short, there really is something for everyone to do if you do go to university.

This really does beg the question as to why when my time came to go to university that I took up one of the most physically demanding challenges there is. I could have gone to the sewing society to learn a new skill, or the gentle jogging one if I wanted to get my fitness up but no. I went down a different path and chose one which I thought would be able to do both. I decided to try my hand at rowing…

Now normally rowing would be considered my ideal sport. It is done by slightly posh people in the UK and they seem to spend their days lazily floating down the rivers, enjoying the scenery that is passing them by. That is definitely not the reality of being in the rowing club. The hours were awful, the strain on my body was horrific, and there was the sudden realisation that there are no nice and clean stretches of water in the area where my university was based. I was that far behind from the start that I considered looking at the best rated rowing machine online, buying it, and then setting it up in my room before I realised that I didn’t have the space or dedication to do this either. It turns out that you have to be incredibly strong to row a boat, and when you look at the two twiglets I have for arms I should have been able to tell that we were going to have issues from the get go. The club make me get up at 5am in the summer to practise as their always seemed to be a competition just around the corner and they have targeted me as the weak link. The first couple of times this happened I was not ok with it. I was bleary eyed and probably a danger to the ducks on the river as I couldn’t see where I was going in the slightest, however after a few morning of getting up like this….I still hadn’t got used to it and hated it.

The only redeeming point about the rowing club was the social aspect. It was probably the reason for my complete lack of ability in the boat, but one thing I could do was drink and drink well. Getting a pint of beer inside me posed no problems at all for me and I am 95% sure that this is the only reason the club kept me on as a member. My social skills were a hell of a lot better than my rowing ones. I could already hear social secretary calling me as a role and if I could just work out how to do this fun bit of the club without having to do all of that hard rowing stuff I would be laughing!

As much as I moaned about elements of the rowing club I would not have changed a thing. I loved my time in it and would certainly do it all over again. I may just go to the gym slightly more often that I did the bar but that’s another story for another day!

23 May

Chunky Husband

There was no doubt about it. Every time I looked over at my husband there was more of him to love. He seemed to be putting on weight by the second.

Don’t get me wrong, I love him so much. I was concerned for his health, not the way he looks. He always looks gorgeous to me, but I had to do something to help him to lose weight and stay healthy.


I wasn’t sure where to start, so I decided to go online. I thought I could find some healthy recipes that we could all enjoy as a family and then I looked at exercise regimes. There are some great classes online, some free, some not. I bought some fitness DVD’s and invested in a recumbent exercise bike with the help of http://www.fitnessshopper.us/best-exercise-machine/. This meant my husband really had no excuse, I would cook healthy meals for him and the family. He could workout at home and lose weight in the process.

It wasn’t going to be easy, he sure loves to eat.

1st Step

I did a massive supermarket shop and unloaded it into the kitchen cupboards and fridge and donated all of the stuff we didn’t want, or rather shouldn’t eat to a homeless shelter. I did feel a pang of guilt, filling homeless people with all of that junk food, but throwing it away just didn’t seem right either.

Breaking the News

Believe it or not, at this point, I hadn’t even told my husband what was happening. I decided to cook him an amazing and tasty meal and break it to him over that.

I cooked Thai food, lots of fresh fish, home made low fat sauces and a low calorie pudding so he wouldn’t notice that anything.

He was suspicious. We were always so busy that sit down meals of any kind were rare. Let alone an exotic, fancy meal like this one.

I explained the reasons behind it. I care about him and I was worried, not just about him, but about all of us. We needed to get our diets back on track and become healthier as a family.


We soon became more active together. We started going out for walks and doing the small things,like taking the stairs instead of using the elevator. I would sometimes get a cab to go two blocks, no more, I would put my sneakers on and walk or jog everywhere.

My husband was really embracing the change and he was doing so well. In a week he lost 8 pounds.

He is a very masculine man so I didn’t think he would be keen on the aerobics DVD, but he loved it. He was doing the DVD 4 times a week and coupled with his exercise bike, the weight was dropping off him. He looked incredible.


We all had so much energy, we were so active. I noticed a distinct change in everyone’s moods.

The kids fought less and seemed happier in general. They embraced the new healthy regime. They didn’t fight it, which was great and it was making a profound difference to all of our lives.


Unfortunately, I noticed a difference in the shopping bills. It is no wonder people eat junk, it is certainly cheaper than buying fresh food all the time. Our shopping bills had doubled, but it was worth it. We had changed as a family so much and we had lost 40 pounds between us in two months, it was incredible.

We were definitely reaping the rewards and we were so much healthier as a family, it was great! I was worried that our new fitness regime may have been somewhat a ‘fad’ but we all stuck with it. I am so proud of not just me, but the whole family. While our shopping bills have increased, we now save money by going on family bike rides or doing outdoor activities instead of expensive trips to theme parks or the cinema.
Who would have guessed that healthy lifestyle could bring us together as a family, but it has…long may it continue!

10 May

Emigrate for a better quality of life

If you’ve started thinking about running a marathon or doing a tough mudder, when hitherto you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle, or if you’re planning on rocking some drastic new hairstyle or blowing your savings on a Lamborghini Countach similar to the one in the poster on the wall of your childhood bedroom, then you’re most likely going through your very own mid-life crisis. Even if none of the above really appeals to you, but you’ve been feeling uninspired by work and life in general, if every day seems to run into the next, you’re probably going through the same thing.

You may be feeling depressed and bored and not even going through a mid-life crisis, too. You might have a stable job a big city that pays well, but after you’ve deducted your rent or mortgage payment, taxes, utilities, transport and food, there’s nothing left. You might wonder why you bother trying hard – were you born just to exist this way, paying taxes, rent and having just enough to eat?

These situations might make you look around for another place to live or another way to live. Just because you were born and raised in one country, doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire life there. Of course, pretty much everyone is every country is told that their country is the best and that they’re special and lucky people. So how can that be true if you’re not happy? Should you be trying harder? Or is this just not the right place for you?

Some might say wanting to emigrate is a symptom of having a mid-life crisis and to get over yourself. However, it might just be that if you’d emigrated earlier, you wouldn’t be having a mid-life crisis at all.

You have to choose somewhere that’s a good fit for you. If money is a concern, think about your budget. Can you work remotely or will you have to search for a job in your new country? Either way, you’ll have to ensure you get the right work – most countries don’t allow those entering on tourist visas to work. If you’re not sure what skills you have to offer in order to gain employment, you might be able to teach your native language (if you’re moving to a foreign-language country). If you’ll live from a pension you might need to take advice as to whether it can be drawn overseas or not. Also, most countries do not tax their citizens on income made overseas but the US does and pursues those who try to avoid paying.

Take into consideration the type of lifestyle you want to live in order to narrow down your search for a new country to live in. If you want to spend your weekends snowboarding, you can rule out Saudi Arabia straight away. If you want more bang for your buck, you’ll struggle in Norway. Security is often a concern – join some expat online forums for the countries you are considering and read up on what people say about safety and security. Some places which until recently have had nasty reputations, such as Colombia, have settled down a lot and are attracting foreign investors who can live “rich” lifestyles for relatively little. Some countries which may have appealing lifestyles have surprising drawbacks – South Korea, for example is one of the few countries in which racial discrimination is legal. That means, if you’re not Korean, you should be expected to be discriminated against and accept it as part of your life there.

Before you go out and purchase those fancy sunglasses (essential if you’re planning somewhere like the sun-drenched Andes, where you always need clear vision, especially when driving), you might want to invest some money in language lessons, perhaps stock up on things you’ll find more expensive overseas (electronics are usually more expensive in developing countries than in developed ones. Countries like China consider many cosmetic products and perfumes to be luxuries and tax them accordingly, causing them to cost a lot more than you would expect). Sell off or give away things you’re not going to take with you. Pack as lightly as you can – you’ll find stores and markets in your new home are replete with the things you need to live well there.

7 May

How To Toilet Your Baby

There comes a moment in life when you simply have to restart schooling yourself. When about to get a baby, you need to learn as much as possible about this adventure. You have to determine what babies need, identify your little one’s personal necessities and figure a few tips and tricks to make this venture as pleasant as possible. The preparation should begin before the baby actually steps into your life. This way, you can come up with your own baby care guide even since your baby is still inside the belly. Apply various treatments overtime and figure what truly works for yours.

Compared to a few decades ago, there is plenty of information at your disposal these days. Just get online and you will be surprised by how many free guides you can find. Reach to a library store and there are dozens of baby care books available on every shelf. You do have to understand your baby’s essential needs though. Otherwise, you exaggerate and overwhelm them. You do not want to treat your baby like an experiment, so read as much as you can and filter the truly useful information.

So, what are the main rules in baby care?

Toileting Your Baby

Eyes represent some of the most exposed parts of your baby, so they require special attention. Just like for your own eyes, you have to be cautious when cleaning your baby’s eyes. Use sterile compresses only. You can also rely on physiological serum. As for the actual movement, go from the inside of the eyes toward the outside (from nose to ears). This way, you practically eliminate all the harmful particles.

The nose is not to be overlooked either. It is essential for your baby to have a dirty nose, only to be able to breathe accordingly. This is a real challenge for many parents, yet it is not impossible. Use physiological serum, as well as a syringe. Some parents rely on seawater, which is just as helpful. Ear sticks can be damped into serum and used as well, not to mention nose vacuums. However, most nose vacuums are inefficient, so you better get something with a perfect reputation.

What about the mouth? At an early age, babies tend to develop some sort of fungal infections on the tongue. These infections are not harmful, but it is still worth clearing them. Use simple glycerin for maximum efficiency.

As for the ears, rely on ear sticks. Some of them are particularly developed for babies, so they have some protective measures. These margins are not necessarily needed if you are careful enough.

The bellybutton is worth a little attention as well. Plenty of dirt gathers in there because it is almost always protected. Besides, during the first weeks, you should avoid getting the respective area in touch with water or other substances. It is still an open wound after cutting the umbilical cord. Once this initial time frame is over, use sterile compresses and specific powders.

Finally, when it comes to the buttocks, it depends on the case. Babies with rash must be cleaned with anti-irritation creams or zinc oxide. You can take them through an “air bath” on an impermeable blanket. Powder is mandatory once the cleaning procedure is over. Bran is a common solution too. Boil a fistful of bran in one liter of water, then add the respective mixture into the bathing water. Filter the water and keep the bran out of it. Babies without rash can be cleaned in a traditional way, with water and a specific powder.


As a short final conclusion, babies are quite demanding. You need to wash them on a daily basis as well, but you also have to feed them all day long and change their diapers whenever they need. It might happen up to 10 times a day. It is your responsibility as a parent to ensure a healthy and vigorous growth.

Not all the tips and tricks you hear from others or you read in magazines can help you out. Sometimes, you have to identify your baby’s necessities before making a final choice. It is obvious that what works for some people does not work for everyone else.

15 Feb

Pampered Pooches

Ever since I was a girl, I have always loved dogs. I love all dogs, big ones, small ones, long haired, short haired, girls or boys, I really don’t care, I cannot get enough of them.

We always had lots of family pets and when I was growing up, we always had a minimum of 2 dogs but from what I can remember, it was usually 4 or more.

Our dogs were always treated as full on members of the family and had the run of our house and garden. So it was no real surprise that when I became an adult and bought my own house, I filled my home full of dogs.


I have 4 dogs, 2 large, short haired dogs, an Alsatian and Rottweiler and 2 small long haired dogs, a Bichon Frise and a Shih Tzu and each one has a large personality and are such fun.

As you can imagine, having four dogs in my home is chaotic, they are all lively and loud and such a joy to have around.

I also have two kids, so my life is a bit crazy. I am always busy caring for, feeding and walking both my kids and my dogs and that was without being a wife and my job as a busy hairdresser too.  I certainly had my hands full.


As time is short, being ultra-organised is so important. I have calendars, to do lists and pre-prepare everything.  My kids are slightly older, 7 and 9, so they put together their own lunches for school and they only get pocket money, if they do household chores, keep their respective rooms tidy and help to look after the dogs. Another time saver is instead of going to my hairdressing salon, I always cut my family’s hair at home. I have everything I need to do this and it is quick and easy.  My kids love having their own stylist at home and they have started following fashion, so they always ask me for the latest trendy haircut.

Hair Cuts

I also trimmed my dog’s hair too. I am lucky with my dogs, they love having a wash and blow dry and are real pampered pooches.

Eventually, I started to experiment with my dogs’ haircuts. It was fun, I would use the clippers and my scissors, bath them, cut and blow dry their hair and generally make them look very beautiful.

My dogs were always hilarious when I was blow drying their coats. They liked opening their mouths and playing with the air, they loved the warm air and would even fall asleep sometimes.

Blow Dry

You can buy specialist hairdryers for dogs but I have always used my own.  I did buy a more powerful one, as it was quicker to blow dry my bigger dogs’ coats.  I always use a website called Oomphed! for advice on hairdryers, it has reviews and hairdryer best picks.

When I was out walking the dogs, people commented on what lovely dogs they were and how beautiful their coats were.  I always said that I cut their hair myself and how easy it was to do.

It wasn’t long before people started asking me if I would cut their dogs coats.  I loved doing it, so I always agreed to do it.

It wasn’t long before my week was full of pampering people’s pooches.  I reduced my hours at my hairdressing salon and took on more doggie clients at home.

I was in my element.  I was using my hairdressing skills to work with people’s beloved dogs and started to really hone my skills.

It got to the point where I had to stop cutting hair in my salon completely, I did love that but I loved my new job more.  I handed over the reins to my assistant manager, who would run the salon daily and I would stay at home and pamper dogs on a full time basis. It was crazy!

New Business

The business was huge and my house was becoming a mess, I had leads and bowls and animals everywhere.  Having so many dogs in my home became a bit disruptive to my every day family life. So, I thought I would branch out and looked into buying premises for my new business and ended up buying a Pet Salon.

I now have more than 30 dogs coming into the salon daily. I am now thinking of branching out to groom longhaired cats, rabbits and any other animals that need grooming and pampering.

I am so lucky, I have found the perfect job for me, combining my talent with my passion. Amazing.

20 Jan

The Top 5 Kitchen Tools You Simply Cannot Live Without

With our modern lives becoming busier and busier, any time saving device or gadget is always welcome. Here is a kitchen gadget top 5 that will help you to find the best labour and time saving machines that are essential for all of your kitchen needs.

  1. Artisan 5 Series – Tilted Head Stand Mixer 

Key Features 

  • 20 Colour Options
  • 15 optional attachments available.
  • 5-Qt. stainless steel bowl
  • 59-point planetary mixing action means 59 touchpoints per rotation
  • The tilt-head design allows clear access to the bowl 

Don’t be daunted by the fact these mixers can be expensive.  If you buy one, they have been known to last for a decade or more.

They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, old fashioned and modern. They are so versatile they really are a ‘must’ for the modern kitchen. If you’re not a big baker and don’t have one, you need one, they will cut your preparation time by half. These machines are popular because what they do, they do perfectly. Fresh whipped cream couldn’t be easier to make, making cookie dough is turned into an almost hands-free process, and your back will thank you when you see how nicely these things can knead dough.

Baking simply becomes easier with them and they’re worth the investment even if you only use it once or twice a month.

2. Cuisinart SSB1U Soup Maker

Key Features

  • 500W motor and 1000W heating element
  • Non-stick cooking plate that cooks and simmers
  • Can also be used as a normal blender 

If you love soup or you need something to warm you up during the winter, then a soup maker is a great way to make delicious and healthy meals. This Cuisinart model is truly outstanding. It makes up to 1.4 litres of soup in twenty minutes.

You can cook, blend and simmer your ingredients in the jug and it features a non-stick heating plate.

This machine has three heat settings, ranging from 80 degrees C to 110 degrees and there are four speed options. It works just as well as a normal blender, so you get plenty of features and flexibility for your money.

  1. Tefal Optigrill

 Key features:

  • Keeps meat moist
  • Cooks from frozen
  • Large cooking surfaces for big batches
  • Easy to clean

In terms of design, the Tefal Optigrill is beautiful, yet practical. The grey and black machine design is absolutely huge, but this allows you to grill more items at a time on its 600cm2 cooking surface. It has removable, non-stick cooking plates which have deep grooves and are as easy to clean as the dripping tray.

The large handle holds the control keys (defrost options for burgers, chicken, bacon, sausages, steak and fish, as well as a manual button and OK) and a very handy LED indicator, which displays the various stages of the cooking process, from pre-heating to well-done, and bleeps when each different stage is reached. With so many features you will need to keep the instruction manual a while to familiarize yourself with the settings.

It cooks steak, chicken breasts and fish steaks brilliantly, producing succulent results.

It also cooks really well straight from frozen too. 

4. Nespresso Lattissima EN520 by DeLonghi

Key Features:

  • Produces tasty coffee
  • Removable milk dispenser
  • Easy to use

The DeLonghi Latissima is a user-friendly coffee machine, even if you are not technically minded, it doesn’t matter, anyone can use it. This machine is simple to operate; it has an in-built bin where all of the used coffee pods end up. The milk dispenser heats and froths the liquid, is removable, so you can conveniently store it in the fridge when it’s not in use.

It may seem a little expensive for a fairly casual-use coffee machine, and the Nespresso pods aren’t exactly cheap, but the drinks it produces are fantastic, it really is well worth the money.

  1. Smoothie Maker – Ninja Master Prep QB900B 

Key Features:

  • Quad blade technology
  • Blender function features large 48-ounce container
  • 2-cup processor
  • Includes a 45-ounce master prep pitcher and 16-ounce master prep bowl
  • Blends from frozen

The beauty of this smoothie maker is its portability. The body of the machine is small but it still has a reasonably large capacity. You don’t just have to keep this in the kitchen, you can transport it wherever you go as it comes with a portable, universal adapter. It blends smoothies without chunks and does this efficiently, quickly and quietly. It is definitely the best smoothie blender in its’ class and price range.

18 Jan

Top 3 Espresso Machines

There is nothing quite like a good cup of coffee, but with our modern day lives becoming busier and busier, we don’t always have time to go to a coffee shop and have our coffee made professionally. This means, more and more of us are making coffee at home.

Of course, you could look for an espresso machine review yourself, there is a lot of information out there on the internet but to make things easier for you, here is a Top 3 guide to some of the best performing coffee machines on the market. This should make your choice a little easier.

Number 1

Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine


  • Coffee/espresso machine with 72-ounce removable water reservoir
  • Stainless-steel housing
  • Brass porta filters and group head for temperature stability and longevity
  • 17-1/2-bar pump with high-voltage boiler; hot-water dispenser; frothing wand

Why Number 1?

This is a classic, best-selling coffee machine. One of the reasons why it is so popular is because it is made with forged brass components. This means the machine can withstand heavy use and handles like a commercial coffee machine but is very economically priced. It is quite compact in size, it has a powerful 17 bar pump and comes in brushed stainless steel, so it would make an attractive addition to any kitchen.

Number 2

Krups EA8250001 Espresseria


  • Thermoblock system ensures consistently hot coffee from the first cup
  • LCD display for easy recipe selection
  • Steam nozzle for creamy cappuccino/latte drinks
  • Large 1.8-liter/60-ounce removable water tank with empty water tank detection
  • Bean hopper to prepare several delicious drinks in a row.
  • Easy cleaning. Automatic auto clean/rinse cycle
  • 15-bar high pressure pump
  • 2-year worldwide warranty

In the Top 3 because…

It has some nifty touches. It has a Stainless Steel milk frothing bottle that comes with it, this means the froth is less likely to make a mess and from a safety point of view, the steam is directed into the bottle, which means it is less of a hazard, in terms of burning yourself. It has an auto clean/rinse cycle and only needs complete cleaning once every 360 cycles and has a modern and sleek black look. For those of us with busy lives, less cleaning is always a bonus. Also, very compact in size for an espresso machine, so it won’t take up much room on your countertop.

Number 3

Breville 800ESXL

  • 15 bar Italian pump
  • Purge function that automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature
  • Triple prime pump releases 3 bursts of hot water to moisten the ground coffee resulting in greater build-up to extract the fullest flavor
  • Thermoblock heating system
  • 75 Fl.oz (2.2L) removable front-fill water tank
  • Durable stainless-steel housing

Best Entry Level Machine

Not the most robust of the machines but you do get a lot for your money. This machine has as many features as some of the more expensive machines. It is easy to use, no complicated manuals or working out the grind for your coffee. Everything is standard. A quiet coffee machine, that is compact and nice to look at. A very good machine if you are a novice coffee maker and don’t want the hassle of having to work out scientific calculations before you make a cup of coffee.