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My Dolce Gusto Piccolo machine died earlier this year after a couple years of regular use. It was a birthday gift and I loved it to bits. The Piccolo design is cute, and doesn’t take up much space on my kitchen counter. There’s a lot of fun flavors to explore (including non-coffee ones like Chai Latte and Nestea Peach). The capsules are really cheap and available at the supermarkets I frequent. I don’t like taste of the powdered milk pods that come with some of the flavors, but that’s okay, I usually take my espressos with a few drops of real low fat milk.

I got a Nespresso Inissia for my birthday this year. The Inissia is a beautiful, compact machine with sleek lines. Footprint-wise, it is less wide than the Piccolo, but sits deeper. There’s a removable container within the machine that stores about 10 used capsules, so compared to the Piccolo (where you have to dispose off the used pod before you could use the machine for the next capsule), it’s ever so slightly more convenient. Funny story: I forgot to remove 3 used pods from the holder before falling sick and not drinking coffee for 2 weeks, and when I finally opened the chamber, the capsules had some healthy green sprouts on them! Euw!

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The Nespresso system comes with over 20 Grands Crus. When a brand uses fancy terms such as “grand cru” to describe a coffee bean blend or flavor variation, you anticipate it to be a premium product. Per capsule, the Nespresso pods are indeed more expensive than the Dolce Gustos. I was happy with the Dolce Gusto capsules, and now I’m happy with the Nespresso Grands Crus. What can I say, as long as I can get my espresso fix fast and relatively cheap, I’m a happy girl. Coffee connoisseurs, are you cringing right now?

Anyway, I don’t like my espresso too fruity, acidic or overly dark. My go-to capsule for a midday pick-me-up is Livanto, which I feel is closest to the Dolce Gusto espresso. Sometimes I go for Vanilio, which has a pleasant vanilla-ish aroma. After 6pm, I switch to Decaffeinato or Decaffeinato Intenso. Some other flavors that I like are Indriya from India and Roma.

My only pet peeve, and this is a major one, is that these Grands Crus can only be purchased through a Nespresso boutique (you can also send used capsules for recycling at the boutiques, which is nice). These capsules are also available for purchase online, however there’s a minimum order before delivery is free. Ugh.

If you’re in the market for an affordable automatic espresso maker and don’t mind hunting for the elusive Grand Cru, get this lovely little machine. The Nespresso Inissia also makes a great birthday gift or thoughtful Christmas present for coffee lovers.

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Oops! I started writing this post to announce the new 2014 limited edition Nespresso flavors, but ended up with a lengthy review of the Inissio. Ha ha. 

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Recently Nespresso launched three limited edition Livanto Grand Cru variations with dessert-inspired flavors. They are the delicious-sounding Apple Crumble, Chocolate Mint and Hazelnut Dessert. I’ve tried Hazelnut Dessert straight up but despite wanting to love it, I can’t because of the very fake hazelnut flavor (almost cough-syrupy, or like fake almond flavoring, which I hate). I’ve yet to try the other two.

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Aren’t these pretty pastel macaron trinket boxes by Two’s Company the loveliest thing since, er real macarons? These ceramic limoge boxes come in a set of 12, in 6 colors Rose, Light Pink, Peach, Light Lavender, Light Yellow, and Pistachio. They look good enough to eat and are a great way to store earrings or other small knick knacks. Perfect for Mother’s Day or even as wedding favors?

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More macaron-shaped goodies… set of bath fizzers and scented soaps.

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(Christmas Tree with Luxury Gifts) Christmas gifts shopping ideas: luxury designer brand edition

A Christmas tree filled with some of the most luxurious presents money can buy? Sounds deliciously decadent doesn’t it? Here is one I thought up, bearing a selection of luxury Christmas gift ideas ranging from the cool and cute to the timelessly stylish. Note that in real life make-up sets and chocolates in pretty packaging make me enormously happy but if you’ve got money to burn this Xmas, you are more than welcome to get me one (or more) of these:

From top, left to right: Hermès Pilotari silk twill scarf $410;

Alexander McQueen leather tassel skull key rings $310 each, Oscar de la Renta enamel painter flower necklace $995, Alexander Wang leather bear with shearling chest $225;

Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline eau de parfum spray, Cartier art deco Panthère foutain pen, Chanel perfume bottle shaped evening bag with interlaced chain, Louis Vuitton Tapage bag charm $440;

Louis Vuitton Monogram Map square silk twill scarf $460, Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia collection $100, Miu Miu matelassé top handle handbag $1750,

Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Croisillon bracelet. $30,000, Oscar de la Renta champagne Crown Goa clutch $2250.

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