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Customer Reviews: 72
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Davey Williams "davey williams" RSS Feed (los angeles)

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Swheat Scoop Multi Cat Natural Wheat Cat Litter, 14 Pound Bag
Swheat Scoop Multi Cat Natural Wheat Cat Litter, 14 Pound Bag
Price: $13.49
10 used & new from $13.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Great litter, October 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like this far better than the traditional litter we used to buy. It's lighter...by A LOT. And it clumps really well. It also smells vaguely like cereal.


Scratch Lounge II
Scratch Lounge II
Offered by MoreQualityLessMoney
Price: $24.17

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid scratcher our cats love., October 2, 2014
This review is from: Scratch Lounge II (Misc.)
This is...for no reason I can discern...our cat's favorite thing of all time. They therefore requested a five star rating. Our bengal is in a habit of sitting in it with her front arm draped along the side, which always looks as though she's both lounging and about to impart something particularly important. I think she's worked out a unified theory of physics, but is trying to figure out how to dumb it down to our level.


Petmate Top Entry Litter Pan
Petmate Top Entry Litter Pan
Price: $23.86
15 used & new from $19.69

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just the thing for the kitties who bring the fling (ba da bing), October 2, 2014
So one of our kitties developed fling-itis. Which is interesting in that she digs and buries for a full three minutes, somehow managing to (with our old box) get a full cup of litter all over the floor, where only like one single granule is on the actual poo. She's either totally incompetent or messing with us or just having fun. Or all three.

I digress!

So this box solves that, nuff said. It's deep enough that the only litter than makes it out is the few granules on their paws. Most of this ends up on the lid, which is easy to detach to drop stray litter back into the pan.

Like other reviewers point out, there's a lip on one side on the bottom. This is a handle on the outside, which is nifty, but wet litter packs into a 1/2" x 4" space on that side. At first this was annoying, because even with a study scoop it's hard to get out completely. Thus, in Silence of the Lambs fashion, it gets the hose monthly.

This is essentially an overpriced rubbermaid bin, but because it works really well I have no problem paying the premium.


Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum, SD20005RED
Dirt Devil Scorpion Quick Flip Corded Bagless Handheld Vacuum, SD20005RED
Price: $26.72
41 used & new from $16.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Great (loud) little vacuum., September 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great little vacuum. I got this to clean up around the litter box (dang messy cats) and this does that with aplomb. The pros are massive suction, a long electrical cord and an easy to clean dirt chamber and filter. The only con is the fact that its corded (which is why its so powerful) and the fact that its a loud little monster. The cats give it minus five stars for the noise, but I'm the one that has to sweep up the little flecks of litter they leave on the bathroom floor, and being able to suck these up daily in ten seconds warrants the high rating.


Cuisinart FP-12DC Elite Collection 12-Cup Food Processor, Die Cast
Cuisinart FP-12DC Elite Collection 12-Cup Food Processor, Die Cast
Price: $199.00
39 used & new from $148.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Great machine, with one fatal flaw., September 2, 2014
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This is a great food processor, don't get me wrong. The high-powered engine is a true workhorse, capable of grinding, chopping and pulverizing most anything. I use it regularly for pie and pastry dough - the included plastic blade processes my pie crust into a ready-to-chill disc every time. Cheese grating...veggie chopping...compiling sauces, salsas, hummus or most anything else in that area...awesome.

That said, this machine has one fatal flaw that leads me to knock it down to three stars (all the way from 'must buy' to 'awesome purchase' to 'hum...maybe). The bowl lid has a permanent seal that is intended to prevent leaks. The problem is that bits of food get stuck up between the seal and upper surface of the lid. Cuisinart has included a little tool for working food out of this predicament, and there are 6-8 small air holes in the upper plastic that allows water (somewhat) to flush the area. The problem is that food still gets stuck up there, and can be a pain to dislodge. Last weekend I made a red pepper puree, and at least a dozen little flecks were up in the lid, which took about an hour to get out using the tool and a stream of water from the faucet.

This represents an unacceptable risk of food-born illness. I have an immune system compromised transplant patient in the house, so we watch for stuff like this. If I were grinding meat for hamburger, fleck of raw meat up in this chamber would be a massive problem. And cheeses, oils and other foods aren't much better. I am not a germophobe, but having bits of food stuck in an appliance is NOT GOOD.

Therefore, I would recommend this only if you don't have very young children, elderly or illness-prone individuals in the household, and I would not recommend using this with raw meat or other high-risk foods. It's too bad...as an amateur chef I love the power and capabilities of this little machine, but the seal issue prevents me from giving it a very positive rating.


Jiffy 5311 10-Count Seed Start Pots, 3-Inch
Jiffy 5311 10-Count Seed Start Pots, 3-Inch
Offered by Gatzies
Price: $4.13
15 used & new from $1.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay...but just okay., June 16, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I tried these for some seedlings. I've purchased larger plants from the nursery in these peat biodegradable pots before, and wanted to try them for the plants I'd started.

The biggest issue with them, I think, is that they're a little small. The plants I planted became root-bound because they were a little too small to be strong enough to break through the pots once transplanted. Some seedlings I'd simultaneously planted in plastic containers of the same size did much better upon transplantation. I think these work great in larger pots in a nursery setting, but for seedlings I sprout I'll stick with plastic reusable pots.


Tahitian Island Cooking
Tahitian Island Cooking
by Jean Galopin
Edition: Hardcover
16 used & new from $4.92

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, but outdated., June 16, 2014
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This is a thorough examination of Tahitian foods...circa the 1970's. As such, while totally authentic, most recipes in this book are not up to date with modern tastes. For example, one will find things like jellied fish molds on olive and orange ceramic platters. The dishes run a bit heavy, and don't tend to be as "fresh" as modern cooking. However, if you're an aspiring chef or avid culinarian, this does comprehensively cover Tahitian cuisine, and most recipes can be updated or experimented with in order to pull off a more modern interpretation. And Chef Galopin certainly knows Tahiti.

This is a straight-up cookbook. Other than a brief forward, there's not a lot of information about the Tahitians or their food other than brief blurbs with some of the recipes. But the instructions are well-written and laid out intuitively.

I enjoyed this as part of my island cooking collection...I like playing with tropical and Polynesian ingredients. But I can't imagine many people sitting down and making the recipes from this book as-written, which is something to consider before buying.


Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
Offered by Premium Selections
Price: $1,229.12
17 used & new from $996.66

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty solid espresso machine (a pragmatic review), May 15, 2014
I write reviews solely to provide the best info possible for potential buyers. I am not a Breville "fanboy," nor do I have a grudge to settle. I am NOT a coffee snob. This review is from the viewpoint of a home espresso and latte maker who wants a solid machine that is a decent value. I used the Breville 900xl Dual Boiler for 3+ years, and moved on to the 920xl recently. I'll try to cover the info that I think is pertinent to a potential buyer.

So here's the first point - this machine, the 920xl, is a slightly upgraded version of the 900xl. Breville has added the ability to drain the boiler for shipping and at-home descaling to this version, plus a few minor other tweaks. Therefore, the reviews on the 900xl are still applicable, with the exception that you can now descale locally. There are a ton more reviews there, which you may want to check out since this is basically the same machine.

Overall

Pros: Great machine in this price range, great espresso, pretty easy to use, pretty consistent, GREAT features, good customer service.

Cons: Some components a little cheap. This is the BIGGEST DRAWBACK...read more about it in the construction section below. And it's a BIG machine with a high counter clearance. It's also a bit of a power hog.

Why only three stars? I'd go 3 1/2, but the tendency for these machines to fail for me is a pretty big ding. I don't mind some maintenance costs once it's out of warranty, but I don't want a $1200 paperweight.

Construction/Build

So here's my top complaint, and it applies to most everything Breville builds. The engineering is well thought-out, but it's not the highest quality. It's not exactly cheap, but I'm not convinced that Breville builds things to last.

To be more specific, my first 900xl lasted about a year and then the pump slowly lost power so that the machines maxed out at five bars. Not good. I called Breville, and their customer service was AWESOME. I got a rep within two minutes, and they swapped the machines out. No worries.

When the 920 came out, I upgraded. Then a few months later, a plastic piece around the group head failed, chipping so that the machine could no longer maintain pressure, and sprayed hot water and grounds everywhere. To be as specific as possible, the portafilter has the two metal notches that slide into the group head to lock it into place. There is a black plastic/rubber piece that sits between the metal group head and portafilter. This cracked and shed a small, 2 mm section, rendering the machine unusable. Again Breville shipped out a replacement asap. That one encountered a similar problem and they send a third, which is working fine.

So here's my dilemma - I love this machine and its features. However, I feel like Breville has opted for cheaper internal parts and components to keep this thing in this price range. I am not sure that any of these units are going to be in operation in ten years. For my next espresso machine, I will definitely do some research and see if I can find a solidly-constructed alternative that might feature fewer nifty perks, but which might last much longer. I'm not a fan of large applianced failing once a year, then having to go into the shop.

That said, Breville says that the 920xl resolves some of these issues - a new portafilter design and a few other changes probably speak to their experience with the 900xl's. For example, they new include "THE RAZOR" (cue dramatic sting music), a gold-colored metal piece you run over the loaded portafilter in order to ensure your dose isn't too large. Since the group head still seems to include the cheapy plastic, THE RAZOR (dum dum DUM) should help users extend the life of the machine by not putting undo pressure on that piece.

Okay, so that covers all the "bad news" with this machine, which represents to me the worst drawback. For those still interested in this machine, which is indeed an espresso powerhouse, let's move on to other features.

Coffee Making

I find the Breville easy to use, generally, and it makes great espresso. I think coffee snobs might say more, but anyone wanting espresso that looks and tastes just like "what I had in Italy" should really move up to $3000 machines (or move to Italy). In this price range, the Breville reigns as a machine that can consistently put out shots that are 95% as good as those Italian cafe espressos.

In general, we've found that this machine handles about 80% of the roasts we've tried well. This probably has more to do with the coffee than the machine, and this 4/5th figure is not at all a complaint...some roasts are just going to brew better. The "rejected" roasts might be a new blend we try from Kuma Coffee or a local roaster, and then find the crema is a little thin or the flavor flat. When this has happened, moving to another roast has always been successful. When trying a new roast, I can usually find the right dose/grind/tamp in three tries, and once this is established the Breville will almost always hit the 9-9.5 bar "sweet spot." And this is important - unlike some machines, I find the Breville to be more consistent. If you pay attention to what you're doing, it's going to pull a good shot every morning.

Steaming

I like the steam wand; it produces nicely textured milk. And I can get a nice foam on 1% and soy milk, which I think is an accomplishment. The steam is a "drier" steam, so that the machine doesn't dump a lot of water into your milk.

The steaming does run a little slower than some machines, which some reviewers complain about. For me personally, because this is a dual boiler I find I can start the steaming while I tamp and grind, and it doesn't really slow me down. It's probably about a minute to steam milk from fridge to 150 degree micro foam.

Features

I've owned several Breville appliances, and I find that one of the most unique aspects to their design process is that they really think a machine through. This holds true in the Breville Dual Boiler 920XL, and the features combined make this a fun little machine to own. You can read Breville's advertising for comprehensive info, but these are the features that I personally appreciate when I'm making espresso:

Dual boiler: you really can pull shots and steam simultaneously, and when I'm making after dinner espressos/cappuccinos/lattes for a dinner party the Breville brews and steams as fast as I can grind and tamp, ha.
Large water reservoir with rear and top loading.
Programming features: I use the auto-on timer every day and it's great. I also use the programmable shot volume and adjustable brew temperature.
Hot water spout: I didn't think it would be as big a deal as it is, but at dinner parties I turn the Breville on and my guests pour their own hot tea all night.
Others: the magnetic tamper is a great feature, and I absolutely rely on the locking wheel rolling feature, which makes cleaning the machine and counter ten times easier.

Size and power consumption

This section doesn't contain complaints so much as an FYI to potential buyers. First, the Breville 920xl takes up a fair bit of counter space. It's also quite tall for an espresso machine. Make sure to measure before buying, ESPECIALLY if you want to take advantage of heating cups on top of the unit. You'll need a lot of clearance. That said, the height has advantages. A full-size mug easily fits under the portafilter during brewing, so I can pull a shot right into the drinking cup and then add milk for a cappuccino or espresso. This is kinda nice, since you lose crema if you pour a shot from a shot glass into a mug (or at least I do).

The Breville is also a power hog...something I find to be true of every Breville appliance. The product info says 1700 watts...which is quite a lot. This isn't a concern so much in terms of total power consumption for me - I turn it on, use it and turn it off, and the fact that it heats so quickly probably saves energy in the long run. And it does have a power save "sleep mode." However, if I turn my 920xl on at the same time I'm using my Breville Smart Toaster Oven (also awesome), I KNOW I'm risking a blown breaker, ha.

Compared to other Breville espresso machines

Personally, I think this is the best in the Breville espresso line. I do not like the lower end models, and find the better quality and features of the 920xl to be totally worthwhile.

Oddly, I also prefer the 920xl to the Breville Oracle Dual Boiler, just out summer 2014. The Oracle adds some nifty features - in-machine grinding and auto-tamping, a nifty high-tech wonder-steaming wand and some other stuff. I went to use the Oracle a couple of times to see if I wanted to upgrade, and I don't find it worth the extra money, honestly. I felt like the in-machine grind and tamp helped make the process cleaner, without the inevitable coffee ground mess, but I also felt like I lost a lot of control. There's no way to adjust the dose, so you get what you get. However, if I learn that the Oracle is somehow constructed with better parts than the 920xl, I'd take another look at it.

Overall

If you've read this far, I hope the review helped. The Breville 920xl is a great (not so) little machine, capable of pulling great shots and performing pretty consistently. I've used my 900 and 920 to pull about six shots a day for years (not all for me, ha) and it's a fun, efficient machine to use.

You bottom-line pros are that it makes great espresso via a powerful dual boiler, and then all the features. This sets it apart in this price range. The only true con is that I'm not sure it's built to last, so if you're a buyer who'd rather have a machine that last years and years with fewer features, you might look elsewhere.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 1, 2014 9:56 AM PDT


Juice Concentrade passion fruit - Maracuja concentrado suco 16.9 floz
Juice Concentrade passion fruit - Maracuja concentrado suco 16.9 floz

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurricane inbound!, April 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a great way to get passion fruit juice as a mixer, perhaps most notably for that New Orleans Classic, the hurricane. It makes great juice...utter passion fruitiness. I usually divide it up and freeze 2 oz. blocks in order to have it on hand for tiki drinks all summer long.


New Balance Men's MT320 Trail Running Shoe,Grey/Yellow,10.5 4E US
New Balance Men's MT320 Trail Running Shoe,Grey/Yellow,10.5 4E US

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Striving for an informative review - solid runner, good quality, February 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The other review for this item is nonsense...I'll try to be thorough and informative for those considering this product.

How I use them: 1-3 mile running sessions, usually concrete or gym treadmill. I underpronate, and require a wide shoe.

The product:

Fit: like most New Balance shoes, these run true to size. I wear an extra wide shoe, and the 4E option fit was consistent with other NB shoes I've had. On a scale of 1 to 5 I would call the amount of "padding" a 2 (how substantial the lining is...I find a lot of internal lining might tighten the shoe, requiring a larger size). There is plenty of room in the toes, a problem with some brands. At first I found the heel to be a little wide, causing minor slippage. An adjustment to the laces took care of this, but if you require a tight fit around the heel you might take note of this.

Weight/Feel: they call this a trail runner, which I've never opted for before. The construction is a little more solid and the materials are a little more substantial over NB's straight runners. This results in a bit more weight, but I can see how this would be preferable in cooler temperatures or on a more rugged surface. I should note that the additional weight is minor...this is still a runner...and these are nowhere near as heavy as hiking or trail shoes.

Construction: as always with NB, good solid build. Materials are solid...stitching very good...built to last. I checked areas prone to wear...such as the interior of the heel. The build is very good, and I doubt any problem areas will develop over the next 200 miles with them, which is about what I get out of a runner before it's time to sacrifice them instead of my knees or joints.

On the trail: as mentioned, these are designed as a "trail runner." I wouldn't try running through a swamp with them, but they're thick and insulated enough that one should be able to run in a light rain, slightly wet conditions or other inclimate weather without getting cold, wet feet, which happens with my other runner. But I wouldn't know...it hasn't rained in LA in months and we've had an 80 degree winter, so I haven't had a chance to test these on a cold or wet morning.

Overall, these are great shoes, particularly for amateur runners. I'll turn to these when I'm running outdoors, particularly in cooler weather. So why only 4 stars? This is a great shoe, but I reserve five star ratings for utterly superb shoes that I'd buy three dozen pair of in order to have them forever. This is a great runner, but not quite that great.


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