Adventures in Macaron Making


challenge chal·lenge something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.: Space exploration offers challenge to humankind.

Macarons are a challenge. Which is why I was so determined to give them a try. 

For the last two weeks, I have read recipes, watched YouTube videos, and done everything I possibly could short of flying to France to learn about the technique of making macarons.  Last weekend I felt I was ready and decided it was time to attempt the elusive treat.

As I set out to print the recipe I would follow, I came across a new recipe that was so different from all the other recipes I had read. This new recipe skipped most of the "classical" steps seen in the other recipes such as no aging of the egg whites, no drying out of the batter before baking and not adding the sugar in batches to the egg whites. Since it seemed to have so much success (IE it had such pretty pictures...) I decided to abandon everything else I had read before and follow this new recipe. 

It all seemed to be going well. I made sure to measure out all of my ingredients and tried to pay attention to the batter and "macronage." But I think even before the folding of the dry ingredients with the meringue, I don't think my meringue was stiff enough.  The batter consistency didn't fit the profile of over mixed or under mixed so I continued on. As I filled the piping bag and started piping them out (for which I also used the wrong tip) the batter wasn't runny, but it wasn't holding either. But pipe away I did. I even made sure to whack the life out of the baking pan (to remove air bubbles) and as a result, none of the cookies broke. Plus one for me!

I baked the cookies in about three batches. The first came out resembling macarons the most with little "feet." Batch #2 and #3 well, there are no words for them except HUH?

So on the macaron front, they are an epic FAIL! But on the delicate almond cookie front they are absolutely WINNING because they are delicious! I will surely be attempting macarons again, and this time I will surely be sticking to classical wisdom... 

It's Carnaval!


As the countdown to Lent begins, many places around the world are celebrating with one last party: Carnaval!  It's no secret that I left part of my heart in Nice, so of course the carnival I want to experience the most is the Carnaval de Nice. Sure, Brazil is the biggest and most talked about celebration, but it's a bit too much T&A for me. Nice is the original, and nothing beats the original.

The Carnaval de Nice is comprised of the carnival parade, the flower parade, a parade of lights, in addition to lots of other entertainment from around the world. In looking at pictures from the past few years, it is amazing to see all the effort and work that goes into all the floats and costumes in conjunction with the overall theme (This years theme is "King of Sports" for this years Olympics.) 
*images of the carnival parade, flower parade and parade of lights via

"For over 15 days, the city hums to the rhythm of this genuine, fairy-tale event … get a passport for the celebration and let the magic do its work … come and forget the dullness of winter and take in the sun on the French Riviera!" 

Oh Nice Carvnaval website, how I wish I could...

NYFW Roundup/What I Want to Wear this Fall


I'm always amused at how the fashion "cycle" works. Just as I am craving spring, NYFW comes along and has me looking ahead to fall. This season was a bit different as it gave me a whole lot more to fall in love with and (eventually) look forward to.

There were three things I absolutely loved this season. First off, COLOR! It was really nice to see traditionally spring colors like pastel pink, blue and lavender on the runway, in addition to the fall staples of emerald, royal blue and other jewel tones.

My next love was the return of the turtleneck! I feel like the turtleneck has been shunned in the last few years, and I'm not sure why. I have always thought of the turtleneck (in the right cut and fabric) as one of the most basic wardrobe essentials, as well as the best friend to a great statement necklace (ala Natasha Bedingfield.) I loved Doo.Ri's take on the style in the form of drapey dresses and tops. 

Lastly this NYFW, I absolutely LOVED Christan Siriano's A/W12 collection. Oh me, oh my, it was an absolute dream. Because when I think of my dream wardrobe, it looks exactly like this collection. It's what I want to wear. Everyday. I need every piece in my wardrobe IMMEDIATELY (or as soon as fall rolls around.)

What were you most excited about this New York Fashion Week? 
Diane von Furstenberg
J. Mendel
Alice + Olivia
Oscar de la Renta
Jill Stuart
Cushnie et Ochs
Elizabeth and James
Christian Siriano

*All images via

New Beauty Buys


MAC: Fix+, Hozwat eyeshadow from the Iris Apfel collection, Love Nectar lustreglassAVEDA anti-humectant pomade, ESSIE Winter 2011 Collection 4 Piece Mini (purchased here),  SMASHBOX powder and primer

I have been on quite the beauty buying binge lately. I figured with the new year (it's still new, right?) there was no better time to stock up on some new products.

Some of the above are tried and true products that I have been using for years (like MAC Fix+ and Love Nectar, Smashbox primer) and some are new that I have no idea how I lived with out. One such product is Aveda's anti humectant pomade. The combination of this pomade and my keratin treatments, its hard to believe that I don't chemically straighten my hair any more. The pomade does wonders at keeping  hair straight. 

I wish I could say my beauty binge was over, but I have been planning a trip to MAC all week to check out the "Shop, Cook" collection and NARS just came out with a new tinted moisturizer. See, no end in sight.

BTW: In case you didn't see or hear about it, the FDA published a list of 400 lipsticks that contain lead. You can check them all out here. Since the study was conducted in 2010, I hope some necessary changes have been made...

Music Monday: February


With tomorrow being Valentine's Day, I figured I would share all my favorite love songs for this months Music Monday! And by "my favorite love songs," I simply mean any song with the word "love" in it that I well, love! What are your favorite "love" songs?
 Llove (feat. Haley)

Love Foolosophy

Love is a Battlefield
Pat Benatar

My Love (featuring TI)
Justin Timberlake

This Love
Maroon 5

Lady Gaga

Sweet Love

Magic Love

Is This Love
Bob Marley

LoveStoned/I Think She Knows
Justin Timberlake

People Watching at NYFW


With a few cancelled classes Friday, my scheduled opened up enough for me to head up to Lincoln Center and people watch with Gabriella. In general, I find people watching fascinating, but during Fashion Week it is truly something, both good and bad. The highlight (because there always is one) was seeing Tim Gunn. He was conducting an interview and even when he done, he was so sweet to everyone that came up to him, even though he was "late for work." Yes, I eavesdropped. But that's not the point...

On to the pictures! (click read more below)

Hot Chocolate Blocks


I can't help but laugh how I go from loving the fact that it felt like spring last week, to loving the fact that it's going to snow this weekend. Maybe that's because one winter "activity" I have been missing out on is curling up in bed, wearing over sized flannels and reading magazines all day, with the perfect cup of almost mandatory hot chocolate.

I became curious about these hot chocolate blocks after seeing them pop up on my search for awesome DIY gifts over the holidays. I was so intrigued, I decided they would be the perfect Christmas gift for my sister and luckily for me, there were a few left over for me to give them a try myself. I used this recipe* and as soon as I tried it, I just knew that it was a keeper. It is true chocolate goodness and way better than the powdered stuff. If you are a chocolate lover like me, you may find yourself eating more of these chocolate blocks than actually using them for hot chocolate, they are that good.

Whether or not the snow decides to fall, I will probably still spend the weekend curled up in bed, wearing over sized flannels, reading magazines all day, and drinking a cup of perfect hot chocolate...

*(One tip I'd like to pass on: make sure you mix the heavy cream and condensed milk very well before warming. I did not and the condensed milk started to caramelize and burn! I had to work fast to strain the mixture to remove the burnt bits, but after that, all was well.) 

Shades of Blue.


FOREVER 21 trench and jeans, OLD NAVY chambray shirt, NINE WEST flats, MY ETSY necklace, LONGCHAMP tote

I can't believe just last week the temperatures were flirting near 60 degrees! That little flirtation of spring in the air meant two things for me: wearing a light jacket and breaking out the flats. I forgot just how much I missed wearing flats! It must have been a sight to see, with me in a light jacket and semi exposed feet, and everyone else was in puffer coats/boots/etc. But now that the temps are feeling a bit more winter like, I'm glad I took the chance to embrace "spring" when I did. 

Another thing I am really glad I "embraced" was the look of denim and denim. I have a feeling come spring/summer, this is a look I will be wearing a lot, with different shades of denim. 

What's the first item you throw on when the weather warms up? Try any new looks lately? 

Wanderlust As of Late..


While everyone was prepping for the Super Bowl Sunday, I spent the afternoon on my couch watching Wealth TV. I know the name of this channel sounds pretentious but it really isn't. (I tried to explain this to my mom as a Bentley whizzed by in a commercial...) Wealth TV features great travel shows which is perfect for when the Travel Channel is having a Ghosts Adventures marathon...

After watching shows about Barbados, Italy and Australia, it was LUX Lifestyles that had me captivated with an hour exploring the beautiful Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Greece (especially Santorini and Mykonos) has always been on my "to go" list, but not as prioritized as say, Paris. However after Sunday, it definitely has bumped up closer to the top of my list. As soon this whole debt crisis gets sorted out, Santorini and Mykonos will be a destination for sure...
Santorini, via
Santorini, via
Santorini, via
Mykonos, via
Mykonos, via

Where does your wanderlust have you itching to go? Have you been to Greece?

Gossip Girl's 100th Episode


I cannot believe it's been 100 episodes and 5 seasons of Gossip Girl. Since I am still trying to comprehend much of what happened on Monday night's episode (I won't spoil it in case you haven't watched it yet) I will focus on the the other most talked about aspect of the show besides the storyline: the fashion. 

Being such a grand episode, it sure did not disappoint. From Serena and Blair's opening number dressed as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn respectively, to Georgina's fabulous embellished Burberry coat, to of course, the bride (and bridesmaids) in Vera Wang, it was a hit. 

I love that Georgina wore a Phillip Treacy fascinator, popular by many of the attendees of the Royal Wedding. 
Fresh faced, yet still very Blair with the lip color.
images via: 1&23, 4, 567

If you watched the 100th episode, what did you think? Are you still as shocked as I am??