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Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 | 5 comments

Keeping It Simple: Small-Space Coffee Makers

Keeping It Simple: Small-Space Coffee Makers

In small kitchens, with counter space at a premium, it feels so good to do away with clunky appliances. But when you have a deep love for coffee, what do you do with the coffee maker? Here are two ways we have found to enjoy our morning boost of caffeine while keeping the space-hogging drip coffee maker off the countertop for good. In Leslie’s kitchen: For a nice strong cup of espresso, I use the Bialetti. Mine makes about four small cups but you can buy bigger ones. I pull out the grinder from the cabinet and fill up the filter, put water in the bottom part, screw on the lid, and then let it brew to perfection on the stove. For mornings when Matt and I both want big mugs of coffee, we use the French press. We keep the teapot in the cabinet and bring it out just to boil water for the press. In Katie’s kitchen: The perfect cup of coffee starts with fresh ground beans. I use the Anrik coffee maker I found...

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Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 | 0 comments

A Valentine in the Shape of a Latte Foam Heart

A Valentine in the Shape of a Latte Foam Heart

If you visit a coffee shop today, maybe you’ll get a latte or hot chocolate with a foam heart for Valentine’s Day. I know I’ll be the happy recipient of one at Buzz Bakery in Alexandria if barista Matt is manning the espresso machine. And not just on Valentine’s Day and not because he’s sweet on me. Every single latte he makes comes with this artistic flourish. Making latte art requires dedication and hours of practice as I learned from chatting with Matt at Buzz one afternoon. He was kind enough to welcome me (and my daughter) behind the counter to watch him make several perfect foam hearts in quick succession. Matt says it took him about six months of daily practice to learn to make the foam heart consistently. He competes in barista competitions and clocks many hours of practice pulling shots at night (and working on his latte art) when the coffee shop is closed. That’s not to say, he assured me, that you won’t have success...

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Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 | 0 comments

Eight Ways to Entertain in a Small Space

Eight Ways to Entertain in a Small Space

With the holiday party season about to go into full madness mode, DIY Del Ray wondered, how do people entertain in small spaces? We interviewed a few local folks, and here’s how they make it work: 1. Mitigate bottlenecks Basically everything is spread out throughout the room so that there is no bottleneck traffic.  People can either congregate to the couch or the bar/kitchen. 2. Keep it simple, low-key My small townhouse, and having small children underfoot, limits the ability to throw large dinner parties.  So when I do have people over, it is generally for a birthday party, a soup exchange, or something else that feels low-key.  I generally put finger food on the dining room table, pull the chairs away from the table and allow a free-flow between the dining room and the living room. 3. Stack it up I fill the dining table with all the hot foods while I put the nibbles on the coffee table. I provide little square white plates for eating because...

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Posted by on Sep 22, 2011 | 1 comment

How to Make the Perfect Backyard BBQ: Interview with a Local Aficionado

How to Make the Perfect Backyard BBQ: Interview with a Local Aficionado

My husband Matt makes a mean BBQ. On Labor Day, while enjoying a pulled pork sandwich hot off the grill, DIY Del Ray editor Katie urged Matt to share his backyard BBQ knowledge with our readers. (Much more exciting, I think, than the post I was contemplating on Matt’s DIY handiness in the house with regard to hemming drapes, sewing buttons, and ironing.) DIY Del Ray: What ingredients are needed? Where’s the best place to buy in the area? Matt: Good quality meat and hardwood charcoal are the basic ingredients. Del Ray’s Let’s Meat On The Avenue butcher shop is great; they’ve got great, fresh local meats, and can order whatever they don’t have in stock. Whole Foods’ meat counter is also pretty good. Everyone should make friends with the guys at their local Whole Foods meat counter. You can get hardwood charcoal almost anywhere they sell charcoal. Avoid charcoal briquettes, as the binding agents tend to impart a bad taste in a long cooking process. DIY Del Ray: Can...

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