Author Archive: Mz

Tips for Maximizing Piano Practice Sessions

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, in order to improve your skill of playing piano you need to effectively practice on a regular basis with consistent efforts. For making your practice sessions more effective, you would need make it more organized and disciplined. If the practice sessions are not pre-planned, it would rather be difficult to motivate yourself to regularly practice with dedication and commitment. Each day, you would need to dedicate some time, energy and efforts similar to what Olympics athletes do. Dedication is the only key to success as a pianist. Thus it is important for a pianist to know the direction and essence of practice and you will be able to maximize from your practice time.

Tips for Maximizing Piano Practice Sessions:

  • Selecting your Teacher: You should look for a qualified professional piano teacher who would be able to guide and support you well. In order to locate a professional teacher in your locality, you can contact a professional body like Incorporated Society of Musicians. You will be able to find teachers who are expert in teaching piano to kids and there will be others who are trained for teaching adults. A teacher would encourage you whether you are a beginner or someone with prior knowledge of playing piano.
  • Commitment is Key: Practicing regularly is important and you should not give excuses to skip practicing. You may be really tired or may not feel like practicing someday but don’t break your commitment and consistency. No matter what, spend the time for practicing as committed. Be consistent and regular. Trying to learn everything in one day and overdoing practice would not work but rather do it as regularly as possible and ideally everyday would be best if it is feasible for you.
  • Pre-Plan: Learning to play piano is not simple, it has various aspects that you need to learn including scales, chords, learning by ear, sight reading and other technical aspects. So if you don’t plan your practice, you may end up wasting a lot of your time. The best idea is to concentrate and maintain a practice chart with tasks and lessons planned for each practice session. Make sure you organize your practice sessions at a place that is away from noise and other distractions. No phone calls should be attended during a practice session. Give your complete concentration to a piece that you are trying to learn in a practice session and stick to it.
  • Proper Fingering Practice: Every time you practice, you should focus on your fingering and hand movements. Fingering that is proposed in lessons or books are just suggestions and it is possible that you may develop different fingering while playing a score opposed to the ones mentioned in printed sheets. Every time you practice, possibility is that you will stick with the same fingers and over time you will not need to remain conscious about it. Your fingers will automatically move to play a score. But this would happen over time with consistent practicing.
  • Go Slow with Practice: Nothing can be attained overnight especially when it is about learning a skill, it would take time and the learning process would rather be slow and steady and in small sections. Similar is said for piano practicing and learning sessions. You would need to break your goals in to small sub-goals and sections and learn separately and slowly. Becoming an expert at playing a score or tune is all about correct practicing and repetition. Repeating certain bars or notes multiple times would make you more familiar with it and eventually your results will get better. As you will work and practice at a slow pace, you will be able to gain more comfortably. Try to become your own trainer.
  • Correct any Wrong Habits before you ingrain them: As you try to play through a piece with the aim of learning quickly, you may end up playing some wrong notes. You may be adopting bad fingering, posture and other similar mistakes. As you will repeatedly make mistakes soon they will become your bad habits. Bad habits once developed are like bad foundations for your music and it may become really difficult or almost impossible to correct them at a later stage. This is why it is important to practice slowly and carefully as there will then be reduced chances of mistake. Even if you make mistake, correct it then and there and try to avoid it in future.
  • Identify Areas of Trouble: In a musical piece or score, you may have some areas that become trouble areas. These areas in your musical piece must be marked and you would need to give some special attention to them and additional practice time. When you feel that you have completely mastered on these areas, you can remove markings and can continue with the score again. If these trouble areas become difficult to deal with during a practice session, you can take a break for some other activity and it may help. Every day your practice sessions should not begin with the beginning of a musical piece or otherwise you will end up being improved at the initial sections whereas endings may lack the charm. Rather break the piece in to small sections and every time begin from a different part.
  • Goals should be Realistic: Setting goals for your piano practice session is important however these goals should be short-term as well as realistic. These goals would tell you what you want to achieve from a practice session. Your short-term goals may be session goals, week goals or others. Your short-term goals may also depend upon your ultimate goals such as you may be practicing for a piano exam or for a live performance or so on. So set your deadlines and goals accordingly.
  • Step out of your Comfort Zone: Be an eye-opener to yourself and you must try and step out of your comfort zone. There may be areas and places that may be inspiring but you fear stepping in those zones just because you are not familiar or are not comfortable playing in that style or period. Don’t be an isolated musician rather be as versatile as you can and it will definitely prove rewarding at the end.

Mandolines for Cutting

Having meals and drinks alone or with others in the comfort of your home is something everyone enjoys, and for this an orderly and well-equipped kitchen is a necessity. Mandolines, are some of the more useful cutting appliances.

Mandolines, also known as produce or meat slicers, are useful for difficult slicing tasks. These tools slice food in various ways more readily than knives, such as cutting evenly sliced thin strips of meat. Some models can make crinkle and waffle cuts of potato and vegetable dishes, others are good for shredding or dice jobs. And the Kitchen Byte even make it easier.

Most feature either straight or diagonal cutting edges made from stainless steel or ceramic materials. Much like planed graters, mandolins inset a sharp blade in the base of a sliding platform, where ingredients are pushed to slide along it to result in consistently sliced portions. Handheld types are flatter and thinner for easy storage, while others are mounted on stands to keep steady at proper angles. Slice thicknesses are adjustable, and blades are swappable for different jobs.

The edges of the cutters must be very sharp to make quick work of food items, but as a result these pose a real hazard to your hands when operated, adjusted, or cleaned. All safe models include a hand guard for use when pressing the food against the blade, which must not be removed to avoid the risk of hand injuries. It is vital to be alert and methodical when using a mandolin, and to choose one with a good hand guard design and blades which are easy to swap.

Types

Basic slicers feature hand guards of varying comfort, stability, and durability on a relatively thin platform. Thickness settings are standard but not all are easily adjusted on every model. Many models include blades which can be swapped for various jobs.

Professional slicers are more flexible tools preferred by professionals, but their hand guards designs tend to less stable and secured as a result. To be efficient, many chefs decline their use, but in home kitchens this behavior increases the risk of injuries and is not warranted.

Meat slicers are specifically designed to slice jerky or meats particularly from roast cuts, or to cut large cubes out of cheeses, items which slicers designed for fruits or vegetables cannot do well.

Spiraled slicers are intended to produce cuts which mimic noodles, or produce fancy strings or ribbons of various thicknesses out of green items, for salads and other side dishes as well as garnishes.

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Information about Aromatherapy for Dogs

Using aromatherapy for treating dogs is very popular and it is being done ever since it has been discovered that they are good for this purpose as well. Aromatherapy is able to relieve your dogs from skin irritation, ear infections, flea/tick infestation, hyperactivity, and other things that cause your dog to be inconvenient. Through the years, using aromatherapy to handle certain dog health problems is becoming more recognized as a very safe treatment alternative to certain conditions that is experienced by your dog. There is also aromatherapy oil diffuser that you can buy from online or stores which can help in treating your dogs.

It’s more than just making them smell good

Since essential oils are 100% pure, their therapeutic and medicinal properties are the same if you know how to use them properly because they can be very effective in treating certain dog health problems. You will be able to treat certain skin irritations and even motion sickness. They are also known to treat behavioral problems in dogs because of their calming effect. Certain oil blends are also used to create a synergized effect.

What is aromatherapy for dogs all about?

This pertains to using 100% pure essential oils and hydrosols for a safer treatment when it comes to behavioral and physical problems in dogs. This goes to show that aromatherapy isn’t just found in grooming products that have essential oil contents. There is more to that because it is about using 100% pure essential oils for treating your dog. Avoid buying low-cost essential oil because they contain synthetic properties that can be harmful for you and your dog. You will not get a complete effect and the synthetic properties can do more harm than good because of their chemical substances. Also check out the best fish oil for dogs reviews.

Hydrosols and essential oils

Essential oils are evaporative substances found in glandular hairs, sac, or veins that come from different parts of plants. These are the leaves, bark, roots, flowers, fruit, or even seeds. It is the essence of that particular plant that gives a unique smell to the plant. When essential oils are extracted, several methods are used. They perform steam distillation, solvent extraction, manual expression, and carbon dioxide extraction. In contrast to common misconceptions, these essential oils do not feel oily at all due to their high-concentration and should be diluted before use. Essential oils do not have the same properties and when it comes to scent, color, healing effects, and chemical components. If you are going to look at essential oils in a physical aspect, they are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, good for detoxifying, and anti-inflammatory. If you will consider its emotional aspect, essential oils can either stimulate or make you sleepy.   (more…)

Meyer 5-star Cookware Centers

Meyer Corp has created an overall marketing identity for its five cookware brands. Meyer is marketing the brands under the name Meyer 5-Star and is encouraging retailers to display the products in their own space centered around a video kiosk. Meyer 5-Star includes the brands Circulon, Circulon Commercial, Steelon, Steelon Professional and Anolon, all of which were previously under the LeCook’s-Ware division. This is the first time that the brands have been marketed under a collective name.

Meyer Corp. is bringing its brands together

It has created an overall marketing identity, Meyer 5-Star, for five high-end cookware brands and is pitching retailers on the idea of displaying those brands in a new cookware center, which is built around an interactive video kiosk.

The brands–Circulon, Circulon Commercial, Steelon, Steelon Professional and Anolon–had been under Meyer’s LeCook’s-Ware division, but have never before been marketed under a collective name.

In the Pot

* Anolon: Hard anodized aluminum with advanced reinforced Du Pont nonstick coating; glass lids, phenolic handles, lifetime warranty; suggested price point $249 for an eight-piece set

* Circulon: Hard anodized aluminum cookware with distinctive high/low patented nonstick surface; stainless steel lids, phenolic handles, 10-year warranty; suggested price point is $229 on an eight-piece set

* Circulon Commercial: Heavyweight, hard anodized aluminum cookware with Circulon high/low surface coated with Du Pont’s Autograph nonstick; heavy-duty stainless steel lids and cast stainless steel riveted handles, lifetime warranty; suggested price point $399 for an eight-piece set.

* Steelon: 18/10 stainless steel cookware coated with Du Pont’s Autograph nonstick surface finished in a grid high/low pattern; glass lids, phenolic handles, 20-year warranty; suggested promotional price point $169 for a seven-piece set.

* Steelon Professional: 18/10 stainless steel cookware coated with Autograph nonstick in grid high/low pattern; glass lids, stainless steel handles, 20-year warranty; suggested retail price $199 for eight-piece set.

* New promotional price points (more…)

Juicier Home Kitchens

 

For enjoyable dining at home, a well-designed kitchen with good appliances is a necessity. One of the more useful food accessories is the juicer.

Juicier Home Kitchens

Juicers are designed to separate juices in fruits and vegetables from their pulp. The best extract more amounts of tasty juice than the rest and also easily discard the remains. Juicing may or may not be necessary or even that healthy, and there’s no question that “drinking” your produce is no substitute for eating them whole with most fiber intact. Drinking a lot fruit juice does lead to much sugar consumption, so health-focused users should produce their juices more with vegetables than fruits.

That said, drinking juices is an efficient way of increasing nutrient intake. Some users add back some of the pulp and even use it for cooking. Vegetable juice mixes also tend to taste better than most vegetables as is.

Types of Juicers

Manual juicers are basic tool for when you need to extract a little lemon-lime or orange juice at times but don’t care to store bottles of the stuff. Many are handheld models which you place fruit in and then squeeze, others are countertop units with a small bowl into which the fruit is manually pressed. The pricier models tend to be more efficient and durable. These types are great tools for home bars as they are ideal for customizing mixed drinks.

Electric citrus juicers have small electric mechanisms which scour juices out of most citrus fruits. The better designs can handle the load of multiple batches, but even budget models can produce enough fresh orange juice or lemonade for a family. Many are not built for heavy use and none will work for juicing non-citrus fruits, but most do have built-in strainers.

Centrifugal juicers are the most popular type, for they can handle a large variety of produce most quickly and efficiently. The best models are easier to use and clean and are better at extracting more juice with less waste. Centrifugal units are more expensive and noisier than other types, though.

Masticating juicers are designed to extract juice from tough vegetables. Most can be also be good for grinding nut butters, spices, baby foods and even extruding pasta. The advantage they have is their crushing process, which slowly extracts every bit of green juice without need for heat. Many believe the extended process helps to keep enzymes and nutrients locked in.

Features

  • Versatility. The type of juicer needed will depend on whether it’s intended for mostly juicing wheatgrass or other fibrous greens, or for processing more varieties of fruits and vegetables. Masticating juicers do often perform other duties normally assigned to centrifugal juicers, and can be a great value.
  • Wider feed tube. A wider opening minimizes the amount of slicing or dicing needed before juicing, saving much prep time.
  • Dishwasher-ready. Parts which can go into the dishwasher are more readily cleaned down to their slits and crannies, where leftover pulp tends to get stuck.
  • Multiple speeds. Centrifugal juicers with extra speeds at slower rates can make juicing greens more efficient.
  • Stable base. Some inexpensive models are known to vibrate enough to “walk” across counters when running big jobs, and a heavier base helps prevent this.

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Sharper Knives for Sharper Kitchens

 

For enjoyable dining, a well-equipped home kitchen is a necessity. It’s usually the most visited place other than the bedroom, a station where we have meals and drinks alone or with others. One of the most useful appliances a cook could own is a Sharpener.

These tools are used to hone and also the reshape blades to produce new burrs. Most home sharpeners can do both to a degree. Redoing the edges of knives before they get scratched or too dull saves time in repeating the procedure and helps to preserve their material. All units work by drawing the metal repeatedly across an abrasive. These come in tungsten carbide, ceramic, steel or diamond surfaces, which are used to reshape blades. Most models have at least two surfaces, one with coarser grit to remove metal, and a finer one to smoothly polish edges.

Different models come with different compromises. Simpler hand tools are more compact and cheaper, while fancier models allow more control of their operation but also require more practice to master.

Types

  • Sharpening machines provide less control but are easier and quicker to use. Most are large units meant to be used on the counter. The knives get pulled slowly through slots, and motorized abrasives inside the work. The way in which these are positioned is set by internal guides which keep their blades inserted at proper angles, but certain models accommodate multiple angles to suit various styles. Most have blade styles angled at 20 degrees, but “Asian” ones are usually angled at 15.
  • Manual sharpening tools come in many versions. A common type is a handheld tool with two ceramic rods set at certain angles. Knives are stroked against both in sequence, which takes some practice but is effective.
  • Sharpener rods are great for honing but not for reshaping really dull material. As there’s no base, the tool is gripped in one hand while the other pulls the knife across.
  • Slot sharpeners pull knives repeatedly through a guiding slot like that of electric models. But this takes longer as the abrasive surfaces are not motorized.
  • Whetstones like flat Japanese water stones are manual types which take a lot of practice to master, and if used incorrectly can further dull a blade. The type is not popular with users and usually not recommended.

Features

  • Good performance. The most important consideration is the ability to produce a consistently sharp and polished, unscratched edge.
  • Hard abrasive. Diamond is the hardest and fastest-sharpening material, followed by tungsten carbide and polished ceramic. Higher grit numbers indicate abrasives with finer surfaces.
  • Adjustable angles. Some types let inexperienced users keep the blade at correct angles, but others need more practice to use. The best accommodate various angle standards such as 15 and 20 degrees.
  • Operating stages. Coarser material is applied to reshape the edge, while finer material is used to touch-up and polish while saving steel.
  • Safety features. Good manual models place a barrier between fingers and the blade for safety. Electric models employ slots or rails as guides.

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A Kitchen Designer’s Kitchen

WHEN TROY ADAMS RENOVATED HIS OWN L.A. KITCHEN, IT WASN’T ABOUT BIG, SPLASHY, OR OVER-THE-TOP. INSTEAD, HE USED A CAREER’S WORTH OF CLEVER, PRACTICAL TRICKS OF THE TRADE. LUCKY FOR US, HE AGREED TO SHARE HIS SECRETS.

TRICK OF THE TRADE USE LIGHT FROM MANY SOURCES

Lit from within, this overhead cabinet is a light fixture, too–frosted-glass doors conceal cabinet contents and help shed ambient light. Recessed fixtures underneath provide task lighting, while track fixtures and a pendant provide ambient as well as task lighting.

TRICK OF THE TRADE GO FOR A BIG SINGLE SINK (INSTEAD OF A DOUBLE)

One deep, wide sink takes up the same amount of space as a divided one, but it does what a double sink can’t–provides enough room to fill a 16-quart stockpot, rinse voluminous bunches of greens, or soak a turkey-sized roasting pan.

WITH 24 YEARS OF DESIGNING KITCHENS AND AT LEAST 1,000 PROJECTS UNDER HIS BELT, L.A. KITCHEN DESIGNER TROY ADAMS KNEW JUST WHAT HE WANTED WHEN IT CAME TIME TO REDO HIS OWN KITCHEN: BLEND THE EFFICIENCY ANY GOOD COOK CRAVES WITH THE STYLE AND ORIGINALITY ANY GOOD DESIGNER LOVES.

He began with a novel idea. “Instead of wallpapering the room with cabinets and appliances, as in a conventional fitted kitchen, I wanted each element to have its own presence, like separate pieces of furniture.” Sounds impractical and space-hogging–especially in this long, narrow 10×30-foot room. But it’s not: Thoughtfully conceived work zones make for a kitchen that’s as snug as a ship but feels spacious.

One key decision was keeping overhead cabinets to a minimum so that the room would have a more open feel. “I’m not a fan of overhead storage,” he says. “You only use the bottom shelf, because getting to the top one is usually really hard.”

A beautiful and eclectic mix of materials warms up this sleek room. But each has a specific reason for being there. A red enameled lava-stone countertop offers a juicy pop of color and is heat-, stain-, and scratch-resistant. Durable soapstone countertops take on an appealing patina over years of use, and the slate backsplash is shot through with colors that tie the room together. The butcher-block work island is a freestanding cutting board that’s always ready for action and looks great with the bamboo floors, which are both practical and green. Troy points out that bamboo, a renewable resource, is also a grass and handles moisture even better than a wood floor.

TRICK OF THE TRADE KEEP THE WORK TRIANGLE TIGHT

The uninterrupted path between work zones is a design concept called the work triangle–conventionally, the imaginary line from sink to cooktop to fridge. But for best use of space, there are actually two triangles: the line from chopping block to fridge to sink, and the one from chopping block to sink to cooktop. However you configure it, “each leg of the triangle should be at least four feet and no longer than nine,” says Troy. “If the distance is too short, you’ll feel cramped and want to spread out to another surface. But if it’s too long, you’ll be hiking across the kitchen for everything.” One of the secrets to this small space’s workability is that the island–where Troy spends most of his kitchen time–is the nexus of the kitchen. (more…)