Baking French Macarons

I once saw a sticker that said, “men think it’s every woman’s dream to find the perfect man, when every woman’s dream is to eat whatever she wants without getting fat”. Last month, I took a class at Gourmandise School LA located in 3rd Street Promenade that taught me how to make French Macarons. Four hours later, I left with over 100 tiny treats that I quickly consumed in a weekend’s time. Amazed by my pretty little cookies and the button bursting from my pants, I’ve decided these are the perfect gifts for birthdays and best finger food at functions. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

90 grams of almond flour ♦ 125 grams powered sugar ♦ Pinch of salt ♦ 2 egg whites ♦ 1/4 teaspoons of cream of tartar ♦ 2 tablespoons of sugar with vanilla beans
Preheat oven to 350°F
 
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Preparation

→ Begin by sifting the almond flour, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor. Keep on for about 60 seconds or until all the ingredients are mixed.

→ In a bowl on a mixer, whip the egg whites adding the cream of tartar until you reach a soft peak stage. Soft peak state means the egg whites are foamy and a look similar to a mountain peak. The cream of tartar will help stabilize the whipped egg whites and as you continue to beat, will bond together to create a medium and stiff peak stage. Add the sugar and continue to beat until you have the stiff peaks.

→ Begin sifting the dry ingredients until the first third of the powder is in the mix. Rather than stirring, you’re going to use a folding technique. If you’re unfamiliar with folding, you can watch the YouTube tutorial below.

Continue pouring in the dry mixture a third at a time. Use about 12-13 folds or until a ribbon forms. If you want to dye your batter, add color now. Gel food dye yields the best results!

→ Once your batter is ready, pour it into a frosting bag. Place parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and begin piping the batter onto the tray as if you were frosting a cake. Try to make sure you have consistency with your shapes, this will be very helpful when you’re putting the cookies together.

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You don’t need to stick to traditional circles, feel free to do hearts, squares and any other pattern you find interesting.

Once you have filled the sheet, let it dry for about 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll know the cookies are dry because they’ll have a matte color to them. When you’re ready, lower the oven temperature from 350°F to 300°F and bake for 15 minutes.

→ Let the cookies cool before removing the parchment paper from the cookie sheet. Flip the parchment paper upside down and begin peeling backwards until the cookies are no longer attached. Once the cookies are free from the parchment, you can insert the filling.

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For recipes and classes go to http://thegourmandiseschool.com.

DIY Drink Coasters

Spent all your money this past holiday, yet still need to give more?  No worries!  DIY Drink coasters is one of the easiest ways to make a cheap gift and a fun piece of decor.  Whether you use classic movies, NFL teams or a simple color scheme, this is one way to add color and save your coffee table.

Supply List

1. Mod Podge- there’s half an isle dedicated to this at Michael’s, don’t get overwhelmed, just take the clear one

2. Sized photos, the best part is you can print these right off of your computer using regular paper.  My Vogue inspired coasters were taking right out of the September issue

3. Tiles- choose any shape or size you want, for the most variety, go to a home improvement store like Home Depot or Lowe’s and buy 9 for 3 dollars

Action!

Coat your tiles with Mod Podge and let dry for at least 20 minutes.  While they’re drying, cut your photos and scale them to the tile.  Sometimes making those favorite photos fit is easier said than done.  Cover the tile in a quick coat of Mod Podge and then place your photo on top.  Slowly brush Mod-podge onto the photo and I mean slowly!  If you get to aggressive here the paper will crumple and sometimes tear.  If the background is white, make sure to use the Mod Podge sparingly as it can make it transparent and who wants to look at an ugly tile?  Let it dry for about 30 minutes before giving the entire tile another coat.  It’s up to you how many coats you do, I recommend 2-3, just remember, the more coats the shinier the appearance.  Easiest gift and fun to make!

For other DIY ideas click here.

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Flake by Jack Johnson

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I really can’t tell you how much flaky people annoy me.  Why bother to make plans or verbally commit if you know you’re not going to follow through.   Are you good for anything if you can’t keep your own word?  I really want to affirm my anger by italicizing words to insure my point gets across.  In fact, I am so fed up with a certain person that I changed his/her name to Biscuit in my phone because she is flakier than a home-made, butter milk biscuit.

I would love to get into specific stories, but apparently, a lot of people read my blog!  So in the interest of good internet shaming, I’m only going to mention vague flaky-related conversations that annoy me.

  1. Friends from out of town who say they are going to visit.  Stop telling me that you hate your cold winters and will visit Cali, only to not come and to continue to complain about the weather.  You had your chance.  You made your choice.  Cab your ass over to the airport or can it.
  2. Guys who can only communicate via text message.  Listen up, if we can communicate in person ie spend more than 7 minutes conversing with one another, I think you can manage a phone call.  I know things got weird on that last date when I described my beanie baby collection in agonizing detail, but don’t blow up my phone only to flake. I’m all for the “let’s hang out” text.  Thoughtful.  Nice.  Interested.  Until I read “next week”.  Are you so busy that you need to make plans at least a week in advance?  Are we automatically eliminating any free time in the next 7 days?  Is your secretary aware that you’re trying to pencil me in?  Obviously you have some sort of personal assistant if you are so important that you make plans weeks in advance.  Let’s not beat around the bush, you just say so it appears you made effort, but really are just hoping I’ll forget about it.
  3. People who say they will pick me up. I am still waiting.  This is also frustrating because I could have come to you and secondly, where are you?  If it’s inconvenient, just let me know.  I have other things I need to do like walk around my house with no pants.

It’s not that people back out last minute that bothers me, because we’ve all been there.  It’s the feeling that you weren’t important enough for someone to simply level with you that it just wasn’t going to work out.  It only takes 5.2 seconds to write a text, or Heaven forbid, call and say listen I’m sorry or if you’re a decent person ask for a rain check.  Also, it doesn’t rain in southern California so we need to work on that one.  Don’t give me the excuse, my phone died or we didn’t go out because news flash, I have Instagram too.  Maybe don’t suggest we hang out in the first place.  Honestly, you would not be hurting my feelings  and it’s very likely the feeling would be mutual.  Please don’t waste my time and more importantly please don’t get my hopes up.  I spend time getting ready and usually pump myself up for the night.  The real killer, might just be that somewhere, deep down inside, I was a little excited  and now feel disappointment and a little rejection, but just a little bit.

Here’s me having fun without you.

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DIY Jewelry Organization II

The quest for organizing my jewelry seems as antagonizing and painfully drawn out as the 3 Hobbit movies.  The more I organize, the more rearranging I want to do and the more jewelry I want to buy.  Why can’t I be satisfied?! Part of the reason is I don’t know.  I don’t know which arrangement will be easiest to keep clean, which assortment will be asthmatically pleasing and which arrangement I will absolutely hate.  So as the holiday’s approach and my room turns into a bigger disaster than the Postman (remember that movie?), some serious organization is in order.  Sorry guys, this one will totally bore you.

Rings. Displaying my rings has made me realize how atrocious my collection is.  There are only two rings I wear and one of them isn’t pictured.  Yet, buying this simple ring holder at a Michael’s, has made me realize that I can have fun with the pieces I own while simultaneously help me decide which pieces need to go.  I think you can guess which one’s I’m throwing away.

Bling rings

Bling rings

Costume Jewelry.  I actually love the recent fad of costume jewelry and will continue to wear it long after the trend has gone 6 feet under.  I’m not a fan of the paper used in the background, but the framed cork-board is amazing!

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Jewelry Dish. Use a jewelry dish as an accent piece and a way to organize by storing basic pieces in the bathroom.  Put earrings that can go with any outfit in there to make your morning hustle a little faster.

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Make sure during your morning chaos that you pick matching earrings.

Fancy Smancy Perfume.  My absolute favorite and least functional piece is my grandmother’s perfume dispenser.  I don’t use it because I’m not sure if I’m supposed to break my perfume bottles and empty their contents into this or what.  I also fear mixing two nice smelling perfumes (using one and when its finished empty another one not actually dumping both in at the same time) into this dispenser and having one odd smell.  Like models, I often feel that the prettiest things have no use.

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Le Grand Finale.  Note the many Clorox bleach wipes that were used in this process.

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Baby steps towards the next featured bathroom in “Home & Garden”.

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How to Open Wine Without a Cork Screw

Screen Shot 2013-11-23 at 10.25.10 AMA delicious bottle of wine, good company, the mouthwatering aroma of a dinner that’s not ramen noodles, all that’s missing is the cork screw.  And that, my friends, can cause a lot of problems.  It’s such a common tool in the house, that you’re surprised when you don’t have it handy. I personally own 6 of them.  I’ve seen people use a cutting knife to slice off the neck of the bottle, but let’s be real, that will end up with me murdering anyone within 10 feet of me and more wine on the floor than in my glass.   Use these “cork-y” tips and as Thanksgiving and those other holidays approach, may the odds of good wine, be ever in your favor.

1. The old screw driver trick.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  You take a screw driver, stick it into the cork, then twist the cork out.  It’s actually a lot easier and more graceful than it looks.

You're not screwed!

You’re not screwed!

2. The old nail and a hammer trick.  Take a nail, or two, or three, or however many you feel comfortable hammering into the cork.  Then use the back of the hammer to pull the nail out.  Hopefully the cork comes out with the nail.  Hopefully after all your trouble, you get nailed.

3. The old hit the bottom of the bottle until the cork pops out.  This is time consuming and loud.  We all saw that Modern Family episode where Claire pops the cork out by hitting the bottle against a wooden beam in a tree house.  Just a reminder, in real life, things never goes as smoothly as they do on television.

4. The old bike pump trick.  This one makes me laugh because there is so much room for error and failure.  Make a hole in the cork and put the top of pump into it.  Pump away! On a serious note, watch out for flying corks as one could poke your eye out.

5. The old bang a pen into the cork with a shoe.  Effective, but you will definitely break the pen and will likely have to push the cork into the wine.  So long as the ink doesn’t leak and turn the wine blue, you’re fine!

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This is one way to impress your co-workers!

Mozel Tov!

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DIY – Jewelry Organizaiton

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 10.19.39 PMPinterest has been known to give me two things: amazing ideas for DIY crafts, cute outfits and panic attacks.  The later happens quite frequently while pinning.  I realize I’ll never frolic in fields of grass with my sexy cowboy boyfriend.  How do people go on such extravagant trips to the most beautiful, and largely unheard of, places in the world?  And why hasn’t the “7 Steps to a Perfect Abs” given me a perfect abs?!  Countless hours were spent finding the perfect way to organize my jewelry.  I’m not completely satisfied, but here’s what I got so far.

1. Hang up those necklaces!  I realized my jewelry box was where beautiful necklaces went to die.  I bought a shadow box, hung up those necklaces, and when that looked to sparse, pushed in my earrings like tacks and hung up the rings below.  Simple, easy to look at and confused the hell out of guys cause “it was all just like, hanging”.  Well put.

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A way to organize your jewels from the ears to the hands.

2. Stack your bracelets on a vase.  This idea popped into my head when I wondered what the heck I was going to do with the vases I made in my ceramics class.  Since humans no longer require hand crafted pots made out of clay in order to survive, it made perfect sense that I didn’t hallow out the inside of my “vases”.   Even though they were useless, I couldn’t part with them, so I turned them into a jewelry display.  They much more interesting to look at and was fun deciding which bracelets complimented each other when stacked.  It makes accessorizing in the morning that much easier.

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3. If you’re preppy and you know it clap your hands.  I wouldn’t describe myself as preppiest person in the room, but by California standards, you might as well call me Lilly.  I have tons of Vineyard Vines koozis, Lilly Pulitzer croakies and a few hair bows.  It took me forever to discover a solution that allowed me to display these items in an organized fashion, until I found a wide mouth vase.   Throw in a few decorative rocks at the bottom and arrange a way!

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This isn’t practical, but man did it get a lot of re-pins!

When you’re all done, you might have something that looks like this!

d2c44f70d46e11e193761231381b7339_7-1More to come!

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