Review: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash - Pink Grapefruit Facial Cleanser

9:57:00 PM mandy 11 Comments

Product Description:
With an uplifting blast of grapefruit plus vitamin C, this unique formula clears blemishes and blackheads. Eliminates oil and dirt without over-drying.

Places to buy:
✻ Drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, RiteAid, etc.)

Comes in a 6 fl oz. bottle with a pump. It works well for the type of cleanser this is. However, when I first started to use the product a lot of the cleanser would squeeze through the pump base edges. It doesn't look very appealing but after some product clogs that area the spillage stops.

✻ (From bottle) Cleanse twice a day. Wet face. Apply to hands, add water and work into a lather. Massage face gently. Rinse thoroughly.
✻ (What I did) Sometimes I cleansed the way Neutrogena suggested. Other times I pumped some product onto my foaming net and created a foamy lather to wash my face with. Either way is fine but I just like that I get more foam to work with when using a foaming net. It also isn't as runny when I do it the latter way. I found that liquid consistency cleansers tend to make a runnier lather which always ends up sliding down my arm and creating a mess on the countertop and floors.

Lathered with hands

Lathered with foaming net

✻ Affordable (and Neutrogena is on sale often at the drugstores!)
✻ Available locally
✻ Can last a long time if you don't use a full pump for each usage
✻ Did not break me out
✻ Helped control my breakouts quite well but it isn't a miracle product! I still got occasional pimples here and there
✻ Did not make my face feel dry and tight after using it
✻ Isn't a very harsh cleanser but my skin still felt clean
✻ Skin felt very soft after using this cleanser
✻ Doesn't have parabens

✻ Has sulfates, color, and fragrance
✻ Doesn't help much with blackheads

Yes! I had many good skin days while using this cleanser. After finish this cleanser and I moved onto something else, I noticed I had so many more breakouts and they just wouldn't go away. I cannot say that this cleanser was definitely the direct reason why I had clearer skin but I like to think it played a big part. As strange as this may sound, I missed this product! Mostly because I know it did well for my skin. Too bad I was sucked into the cleanser deals while hauling from Cosmetic-Love or else I would have definitely bought another bottle to help fix my skin.


4.5...a very close 5 though! I'm going to reserve that for HG status products. This one isn't quite there yet but I did enjoy using it very much and after finishing it I actually missed how my skin was while using the product.

Disclaimer: These are just the results I had while using the product. Remember, everyone else's skin is different!! What may have worked for me, may not work for you & what may not have worked for me, may work for you. Try the product at your own risk! I bought this product with my own money and am in no way connected to the companies mentioned. This is my honest opinion!


Dolly Wink Inspired Nails - French Manicure

7:11:00 PM mandy 2 Comments

After a few months of having naked nails, mine finally recovered from their weak and brittle state. I wish having my nails all pretty didn't come at such a cost! Or maybe I just need to take extra care of them if I want to paint them? What do you think? Anyways...! I couldn't wait to play around with nail polishes! I was even able to do swatches and take photos for 3 polishes and try a nail tutorial.

I've done this particular Dolly Wink french mani tutorial a couple of times in the past but that must have been a good year or so ago. Back then I followed the tutorial from I Love Nail Polish and I was kind of successful. The problems I had then were the same I had this time as well.

The most difficult of course was doing the French tip portion. Normally I would have used tape to get a perfect tip but with this particular curvy styled tape is out of the question. But I think that a little bit of practice could help get it perfect!

Here I used Essie Mademoiselle for the base and Essie Marshmallow for the tips.

Marshmallow is a very tricky polish to use. Too light a coat it'll be sheer and streaky like above. I found that putting on a second layer of the white doesn't look very good either.

Mademoiselle on the other hand is a lovely sheer and natural pink shade. It isn't anything special on its own and looks as you have nothing on...probably best for those who work in a more conservative setting but still want something on their nails. But it makes a great base for a french manicure. For these attempts I only put on one coat of Mademoiselle.

Since the first attempt didn't look too hot, I decided to redo it (ahh the perfectionist in me...!). This time I tried to use a thicker coat of white to do the tip and made sure not to touch it again after I applied. This way there is a thicker layer but as the polish dries down it does get flatter and won't have the streaks and patches like before. I used a dotting tool for the dots, but I think that toothpicks may work as well!

Does anyone have any tips to perfect this look even more? Are there any tutorials you've been eyeing to try?


Homemade or Store Bought?

2:55:00 PM mandy 14 Comments

It's been a few years since I last did any DIY project quite as intensely as I did recently. Bestie C came over last week with some DIY bracelet materials and taught me how to make these particular bracelets. If I remember correctly, she said these are called square knots bracelets?

Right when I saw the example she did, I thought it looked exactly like the cobra lanyard pattern I learned as a kid. (Those were fun times! I still have tons of those lanyard boxes, cobras, butterflies patterns!) The steps are a little different but the overall look is similar.

I got a lot of Hemp rope from her to make these bracelets with the intention of doing these throughout the upcoming HOT NYC weekend. But I was so into the routine that I made all 8 of them all in one night. No doubt my fingers felt very raw and tender afterward but a good night rest healed them right up! Maybe you could tell from the photo but the first few (green, pink, and grey) bracelets were the first three that I made and they didn't turn out perfect. As I did more, it ended up looking better and better! What an accomplishment [at least I like to think so]!

After the whole DIY session, I suddenly had such an urge to start wearing accessories again [particularly bracelets]. I was able to go to the city the other day to walk around and made a stop to an H&M and Forever 21. Then I saw these beauties! For whatever reason, I usually don't pay much attention to the accessories sections of the retail stores but I'm glad I didn't pass them this time around. Individually each wasn't too pricey...probably around USD$6-7 a piece/set. However, I had such a big impulse to buy bracelets and bangles in particular that my haulage ended up adding to be a lot. Hopefully, I won't be paying for what their price is worth because I'd love if these lasted for a while!

Set of gold and turquoise bangles from H&M

These aren't anything special individually but I recently bought a couple of tops with some turquoise/blue color that'll match these very well. I shall post the outfit & accessories together soon! I think it'll look great together. The problem is...maybe it would look a little tacky with so many things being matchy-matchy?

From H&M

These two were not a set! I was so drawn to both when I saw them. I have no idea when I could wear the white bangle just by itself but it looks a bit more wearable with the gold bangle, don't you agree? The only strange thing was I thought there might be some kind of functionality to the lobster clasp on the gold bangle but it is really just for show. I tried to open the clasp and it wouldn't even snap back into its former closed state like a working lobster clasp should. The only way to reclose it was to force it shut. Originally, I thought I broke the clasp but soon realized it probably supposed to be that way because it wasn't designed to be opened and closed! It felt kind of pointless in my opinion but aesthetically I do have to say it is a nice touch.

From Forever21

I love going to the Forever21 in Times Square. It has one of the biggest in-store selection, of course since it is a flagship. In particular, their accessories section at this location is massive! Usually, it only is a little corner or wall of a Forever21, but in Times Square almost half of a level is full of accessories! Bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, hairbands...all the works! To be honest all the choices available make it a little overwhelming. I was almost going to leave the store empty-handed until I spotted these two gems sitting in a plastic bowl. I was so torn between which one to get that I just decided to make my life easier and just got both. I could probably wear either or both very often anyways. In fact, I've worn the pink one two days in a row already! I love how subtle the spikes are yet still can make a great statement piece.

From Forever21

This doesn't fit the overall bracelet theme of this post but I felt I couldn't leave it out of my accessories post. I've been into bow items for a while now but always couldn't find a nice one that had a good chain length in any store. I've been wearing this for a few days and could hardly even tell that I had it on. Not too long that it's dangling around the cleavage area but not too short that I feel like it'll choke me if I'm not constantly bringing it back to its original position. When I had these kinds of bling-ed items in the past, the major minus was the rhinestones would fall out after a while. But for the price (~USD$3), I won't feel as upset [unless I get attached to it for whatever reason...].

It is quite impossible [at least I think so] for me to DIY bangles such as these. So I can justify getting a few here and there. Plus, it'll be a nice variant when I do make more bracelets in the future. Only bangles arm candy can get heavy, clanky, and boring! I did a small google search and found a handful of DIY tutorials that I really want to do. Hopefully, the beads supply stores will have what I need or else I'll have to enlist the help of Bestie C once again to help me order the materials! Here are a few of the tutorials I currently have my eye on (I am not in any way affiliated with them!): Gold Tube Bracelets, Macrame Bracelets, Braided Bead Bracelets, and Wrap Bracelet. Some of the techniques needed are similar to what I learned from Bestie but they incorporated a few different and smaller details which make all the difference!

Is anyone else also interested in DIYing? If so which tutorials have you tried or bookmarked for future experimenting? I'd love to know!


Swatch Comparison: Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream No. 27 & Maybelline Fit Me Foundation 210 Sandy Beige

11:10:00 PM mandy 6 Comments

I received an email from a blog reader a couple of days ago. I've gotten one or two way back when, but haven't gotten many recently. But this was so exciting! I know many of my readers are silent readers [I am too!], but if there is anything you're interested in knowing right away just ask! I don't bite. Especially not since we're communicating through the internet, of course. :] If I can answer you, I definitely will!

In her e-mail, asked about a base product shade comparison, as you probably already saw the title of this post! I wonder why I haven't thought to do this earlier...Before I even think about buying a foundation or any base product at that, I search high and low to compare swatches all the time! I remember I had a difficult time finding photos of Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream No.27 too (but this was when Missha had introduced this shade maybe a short while before I got the product).

I got this last September/October during Missha's Labor Day event. I already tried a sample of their BB Cream in No.23 and felt it was too gray and pink for my skin & at the time No. 31 had been out a while and judging from swatches/videos it seemed way too dark for my skin. Luckily they came out with the No.27 - Honey Beige. It seemed like the best option for me. However, when I went to Google...I really didn't come across any swatches of the then new shade. I was even more surprised when she mentioned she had no luck finding swatches to compare either and it is a good 6+ months later!

When it's all spread out like this, there is a pretty clear difference between the two products. One is clearly peachier and the other more yellow/golden.

However, when it is actually applied and blended, I could hardly tell the difference. I'd say that Maybelline Fit Me Foundation in 210 Sandy Beige and Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream in No.27 Honey Beige are very similar in color. It isn't spot on identical though. But, of course, no one will be wearing the two [if they have both] at the same time on different sides of their face on a regular basis. This is just to show how similar they are in color! I've never been shade matched at MAC Cosmetics for their NC/NW color system so I'm not sure how these two compares to a MAC foundation per say. If anyone knows their MAC shade and also uses either or one of these two products, I'll add it to the post for future readers!

I cannot really give a review of the two base products because honestly, I have quite a lot of BB Creams and foundations in my collection and I don't wear them all the time. So I don't have many opinions on either...yet!

I haven't swatched all the base products that I have together yet but it will be another task for me this summer! Especially since I don't review my makeup items as often as I should be, at least leaving swatches for my readers is the least I could do! Again...If there is anything you're interested in just let me know. Don't be afraid to ask! I know how that feels too!


Kate Spade Lemmings

11:05:00 PM mandy 7 Comments

I've said this before but there are times when I see things online and want to get it immediately. A handful of the times I may be able to actually make the purchase. Yet the other will just go straight to my bookmarks list. Especially when it comes to designer items, more than likely my wish list items will fall into the latter group. [At least I hope it will only stay this way for now! Must study hard and get employed in order to shrink my wants list!]

I haven't heard too much about kate spade or her products. The name does pop up here and there, but to be honest I haven't really ever looked through her collection until tonight. I usually don't like to browse through designer/high-end websites because I end up with a million and one things I want to buy but do not have the ability to. [Does this happen to anyone else?] However, looking doesn't hurt...right? At least now I know where I could look toward to get the style of wallets and bags I like!

Of all the wallet choices in kate spade's collection, I really love her "continental" style wallets. They have a zipper closure and look pretty roomy. This is the exact style I like for a wallet. These are harder to find on the more affordable end of the spectrum, either you have to sacrifice the price or its looks. Why can't the world be perfect? *sigh*, For now, this will be first on my wallet list when I can afford to upgrade mine. Do you think these are worth the hefty designer price tag?

Mikas Pond Lacey in Gold

Palm Groves Lacey in Natural/African Violet

These two caught my eye from the current collection. Although I do like some of her wallets in the black color, it seemed a bit boring to me. Since I tend to play it safe in the colors I wear, it'll probably be wise for me to play with the colors of my accessories like a wallet. I do hope that there will be similar ones available when I upgrade my wallet!

If designer wallets are a dream for me right now...let's forget about even dreaming of bags! Still...I couldn't help but look through her handbag collection after seeing what was in her wallet section.

Cobble Hill Small Leslie

The others didn't look very appealing to me but then I saw this at the end of the page! I'm not a big fan of the all black handbag but it is classic [at least I think it is] and easy to pair with outfits. Right now, my preferred bag style is one with both a shorter handle and a cross-body strap and this fit my list well. Similar to my favorite kind of wallets, I found that these type of bags that look great and doesn't break the bank are so difficult to find! Of course, I can't be so hasty and say I love it already because some things look better online than in person, particularly the actual size is always something to consider.

Gold Coast Janine

This type of bag isn't a necessity for me, but something about it grabs me towards it. I absolutely love the quilted design to this laptop bag! It kind of reminds me of the Chanel bags' designs...don't you think so?

Skinny Mini Bow Bangle

I've been trying to change my style lately. Especially with what I wear, clothes-wise and accessories-wise. I used to wear bracelets all the time when I was younger and now the only thing that ever sits on my wrists are my hair-ties...What happened Mandy?! Anyways...! I knew that her jewelry was probably as expensive [for me] as her other products are but I still looked through it. She has some amazing pieces! In particular, I love her bows incorporated items. Maybe I'll be able to find one similar to substitute? I obviously cannot even consider DIYing this bangle!

Has anyone purchased anything from kate spade before?
Is there anything you recommend in particular? Or tips on when I can score these on sale? :P


June Happenings

8:25:00 AM mandy 9 Comments

June has probably been the most eventful month for me. Before going through all these photos I felt like I didn't do much this month that was worthwhile with the few exceptions of when I went out with the besties. This month was filled with a number of firsts in my life! I hope I can keep this up for the rest of my summer if I really do end up not being able to find a summer job.

The [kinda] artsy fartsy photos first!

Our bathroom mirror was replaced at the beginning of the month because the original one was damaged the first time around. I wasn't trying to do anything artsy...really! I just wanted to take some photos as a keepsake since this is probably the first and only time I'll ever see all this glass/mirror shattered. heh I'm weird...I know!

Other than the bathroom mirror, I also got a full-length mirror in my room for the first time in my life. When we were in our old house I had a wimpy mirror attached to my door that would always slide out of their plastic holders (good thing it wasn't a heavy mirror!). Now I'm on the other end of the spectrum with a heavy mounted mirror. It felt quite odd with such a big mirror and now I understand when people say mirrors make any space look much bigger! This particular part of my room feels so large and empty now...On the plus side, if I ever wear any interesting outfits, I finally have a mirror that I can use to snap a picture and share with everyone :D

Since we've moved into our house last October or was it November?...Anyways! Since we've moved in my mom has been having lots of dinners with my parents' friends and our relatives because they're all curious...and want to see our new house. More and more people gift us wine and alcohol yet the funny thing is...we don't drink, except for the occasional beer my dad has! Ironic much? All these bottles will just sit there and look pretty.

Speaking of dinner parties, one of my mom's friends brought over this very pretty cake. Apparently, these types of cakes are very expensive, particularly due to all the fruit? It tasted alright. I'm still not a big fan of the Chinese bakery's fruitcakes. But a fruity outer layer is definitely better than the standard whipped cream one.

Lunch at Cha Chan Tang in Chinatown

I've been wanting to go ever since I saw lilladylife's photo of the special HK Style Tea! Even though she didn't post the name of the restaurant, it wasn't difficult to find. Yelp has become a very close friend of mine this month! I haven't been to Hong Kong nor have I seen how a real cha chan tang looks like but this would definitely be a more modern version compared to those I see on TVB shows. The food tasted alright. Nothing too special. Even though the four of us ordered 3 dishes to share and we still felt pretty full at the end (then again some of us are light eaters). I think the star of this restaurant is definitely their special HK Style Tea! I've become a convert. Regular milk tea is more of a drink that is milk with a little bit of tea and definitely much sweeter. This was the opposite...tea with a little bit of milk and definitely has a bigger caffeine kick to it. Also, it isn't too watered down because the bottle sits in an ice bucket. It came in a pretty big bottle and only one straw so I assume it is intended to be for only one person. 3 of us were going to share but I ended up having to drink the whole thing myself. Along with eating bottle was way too much for me.

Egg Waffles! I call them Dan Go Jai (蛋糕仔) but apparently the correct name is Gai Dan Jai (鷄蛋仔). I loved these as a kid and still do. These used to sell for 20 pieces for $1. Now some sidewalk carts in Chinatown sell them at 15 for $1. Unfortunately, those that are, still sell 20 for $1 only have the outer shell and the inside is completely hollow. Yuck! Good ones IMO have a brown outside and crispy edges with a soft and cakey inside...YUM!

More guilty pleasures...!

In my opinion, TenRen has the best bubble tea. Their milk tea is probably in between milk stained with tea and tea stained with milk (if that makes any sense). Their ratio is just right for me. Not too much milk and still has some caffeine taste with it but isn't too strong. Their tapioca is also very chewy but not overly soft. Delish! I don't even need pudding or grass jelly.

My favorite froyo combos. Green tea with brownie bites, graham crackers, watermelon, mango, and mochi bits. Not the healthiest but that's why it's an indulgence!

I tried this fish shaped ice cream for the first time. I've seen similar ones in k-dramas and thought they looked cute. But the real thing wasn't very enjoyable. The fish shell was just a normal ice cream cone in a fish shape. The bad part was a soft ice cream cone. Ugh. I absolutely despise soft and hard to bite off ice cream cone. The actual ice cream portion and red bean were just average. I know better! :X

June weather has been very bipolar. Some days it was bearable, 70-80s. Other days it was very rainy...thunder, lightning, high winds and all. Then the rest was unbelievably hot, 90s+! This particular day it was rainy and sunny at once. It's fascinating seeing the storm clouds move away!

The ULTIMATE highs of my June were definitely...a Raymond Lam concert and having a Manhattan outing with the besties.

Bestie S and I were so excited about this concert. We bought these tickets a month earlier and even then there were only far seats left! This was the first time I paid to go to a concert, let alone going to a casino in New Jersey practically by myself in the middle of the night. Good thing there are always those buses that go to and from the casinos! I was so tired by the time we reached home...It was a fun experience nonetheless! In the area that the two of us sat in were full of older ladies and their husbands with a few fans (our age). So the atmosphere was pretty dead where we were during the entire concert. I was probably the loudest person in the back! It was a little disappointing that Raymond Lam couldn't make his way back to us because everyone rushed towards him even when he asked them not to *sigh* If I hadn't brought my DSLR and my longer lens, I probably wouldn't have been able to see him that clearly! My camera acted as our binoculars. I only listen to his slower songs (mostly from his first album and a couple of OSTs he sang for TVB shows) so I was a bit clueless through half of the show. The other half was one of the most exhilarating moments of my life...okay...maybe I'm exaggerating a little heh. But the feeling of being able to hear him sing live and follow along the songs I knew was amazing! I envy the fan that was chosen to go on stage to be a part of the act! She was probably sitting pretty close to the stage...*double sigh*

I have a very small number of friends that I am very close with (yet we still have a lot to learn about each other). Since besties and I don't go out often, we ran out of (well more like we do not know of any more) ideas to do for our hangouts. Most of our outings are usually just for half a day, but we recently planned an entire day outing for the first time.

We decided to start from the Upper East Side and end in Lower Manhattan. Our first stop was Laduree. None of us had ever tried macarons before and Laduree apparently was THE place to go for them so why not try their macarons first? They had so many macarons on display it was a little overwhelming. Especially when the least expensive box option allows you only 6 macarons. It was hard deciding, so I ended up choosing mostly on color and name. I think I chose Orange Blossom, Raspberry, Pistachio, Rose Petal, Blackcurrant & Violet, and Caramel with Salted Butter. Of the six I got, I much preferred the non-berry macarons. For me, the jams (I'm assuming) in the macarons were way too sweet for my tastes. Even though these tasted really good, I don't think I'd buy them again any time soon. $20 for a box of 6 is pretty expensive (keep in mind I got the special edition Hello Kitty box...I'm not sure if a regular box costs less or not). Maybe if I'm in the area...and in a few months? I wouldn't make a special trip there just to get them though.

From Laduree we walked our way toward Central Park. We saw FAO Schwartz and went in to take a stroll around. I love all their stuffed animals!! Even though I should be growing out of them...I can't seem to wean myself from collecting them. If only their stuffed animals weren't so expensive!

The main event of the day was to bike in Central Park. We were originally going to haggle prices with the bike renters but we ended up getting our bikes from an actual shop and not the independent guys so there wasn't much bargaining we could do. I believe the prices were $15-1 hr, $20-2hrs, $25-3 hrs and this included a lock and a basket...which was great because we all had a bag in tow. We chose to do 3 hours and it was just enough to satisfy our biking desire. However...we did only go around the entire park once and around half of the park three times. If you're a better biker (faster and can handle tall slopes) you might be able to go around the full park more times than we did. It was a great day and had just enough wind to keep us cool while biking. Boy did I get tanned, even a little sunburnt! It's a good way to see Central Park. The bad part is you will miss everything that is off the bike path. If you plan to bike, don't be scared by the more professional looking bikers! They're usually very understanding and go too fast anyway. The only thing you do have to be careful of are people who cross and sometimes cars in certain areas of the park.

After biking we walked from Central Park (maybe 50th or 55th street) down to St.Marks (9th Street) for dinner. Number-wise it seems like a lot of walking, but when you're with friends and trying to cool down from a biking workout (if you can call it that) the distance doesn't seem that bad. Especially when you stop by stores and walk around. Then again, this is coming from a New Yorker who is used to walking. Definitely not a day for anything but comfy shoes! We had dinner at a Japanese BBQ place called Yakiniku. It is very similar to Korean BBQ. I think the difference is just the way the meat is prepared/marinated? I'm not too sure because I've only done Korean BBQ once before. Dinner was more exciting than I thought. Mostly because some of the meats we chose had some fat and it ended up setting little flames/flares. We had our own little fire show at our table! haha The beef was delicious and definitely worth going back. If anyone else wants to go I recommend going on Mondays or Tuesdays because of their special. Certain cuts of meat are cheaper. (Before a 6PM they also have a Happy Hour special.) We ordered 10 plates of meat (1 was a combo, 2 were regularly priced, and the rest were the special priced) and it came out to a total of just $25 each (including tip) for 4 people. We probably could have gotten more but we felt like they'd look at us four girls weird for calling so many plates of meat! It was a lot less expensive than we expected. The only complaint I guess would be the small portions of meat. Each plate had about 8-10 pieces, whether it was regular price or special. It kind of forces bigger groups to order a lot. If meat isn't your thing but you're with a group, they also have other dishes that they prepare as do your normal restaurant but I'm not too sure if there were any vegetarian dishes, I wasn't looking closely at the other pages of the menu book.

Onto the kitchen highlights of the month...

I finally whipped out the waffle iron my aunt gave me because I had a big box of Bisquick mix. Not the healthiest food to make but I was on a cooking kick this whole month, probably because I've been watching the Food Network channel a lot lately haha...Trying to get the batter to not spill out of the machine was definitely the trickiest part. Ah, the negatives of my own mess!

Nothing too special. Just blended watermelon! In Chinese, it's called 西瓜冰 or watermelon ice if translated literally. Not really a smoothie since it doesn't have any milk in it. Is there a more correct English term that I just can't think of? Anyways! I LOVE watermelon, but I just don't like the seeds. Even those small white ones that are okay to eat. Since I had my Magic Bullet out already anyway, I decided to just blend the fruit up and drink definitely took care of the seed problem hehe~

After watching maangchi's makkalbi 막갈비 recipe on youtube I really wanted to try it! Especially since it wasn't a spicy recipe (my family can't handle spicy), I could boldly ask my mom to make it. She finally bought the ingredients when we were stuck inside a supermarket due to a sudden rain shower. I just didn't catch the part where she wanted me to cook it until we got home. I've never handled raw meat before because I cannot stand all the blood and soft squishiness. But since the only way I could try makkalbi was if I made it and in order to not waste the ingredients we bought, I had to suck it up and make the dish. It didn't turn out bad at all. Even without a food processor or blender, my little Magic Bullet did the blending trick! In the end, the meat wasn't as tender as I thought it would be but that could also be because the cut of short rib we got was a little different than what maangchi used in her recipe.

Ever since I've been home and watching Food Network shows, I keep having a cooking and baking itch. Then after having the macarons from Laduree and seeing just how expensive those were, I Youtubed some How-To videos. I saw one from yoyomax12 for Earl Grey Tea Macarons and thought the process didn't look too difficult. So off I went to the grocery store to buy some ingredients. The recipe calls for almond flour/ground almonds, but the supermarket didn't have anything but whole or chopped almonds. I did the next best thing and grounded the nuts myself with my Magic Bullet. (No I am not sponsored by Magic is what I have at home and it worked for what I didn't expect it to so I am mentioning it!) The process was a little nerve wrecking because apparently over blending the almonds would make it almond butter and under blending would give big chunks of almond which is no good for this recipe. Just sifting and blending the nuts took at least an hour...Everything else after that was much easier than I expected.

On Saturday morning I woke up early to bake these little sugary treats. The first batch of macaron cookies I made turned out average...many were under par. I used wax paper to line my trays and the cookies stuck to the wax paper and the wax paper stuck to the was a huge mess. Just trying to get the macarons off the wax paper was a pain because they were so delicate and so easy to crack! A lot of the macarons ended up ripping from its base/feet and it was just a pile of empty shells (what is shown in the lower left). The left batch was actually what the macarons were supposed to look like color-wise and the right batch was baked for too long and turned brownish. I was so disappointed with how they turned out so I decided to ground some more almonds to make another batch that afternoon. Talk about being impatient and a perfectionist hah!

Of the ones that didn't break, the macarons didn't turn out that bad if I do say so myself! :] The outside was crunchy and the inside was soft and kind of gooey. The only thing negative was they were a little too sweet for my taste but I'm not at a comfortable point where I'm willing to stray away from the recipe. Maybe after a few more tries!

For the second attempt I was actually going for a red but it became a pink instead. I was wary of adding too much liquid to the batter so I didn't add more food coloring (maybe next time). Compared to batch number 1, I mixed a little less and the batter was just slightly thicker. The circles of batter held their shapes much better this time around...which is a good sign! I also tried to bake these on aluminum foil and let me tell anyone who plans to try this at home...DO NOT USE IT! You will not be able to remove the macarons at all...At least on wax paper, if you're slow and steady enough you can rip the wax paper from the bottom of the macarons. Also, I recommend baking these in the middle of the oven so it doesn't get burned/browned easily. I actually made all of these in a little toaster oven!

I believe ^^ this is how the macarons SHOULD look like. The bottom is flat and hard enough so it doesn't crack on you, the outer shell is crunchy and not cracked at all, and the macaron has the frilly edge (apparently called feet?).


I think for a first timer and someone who hasn't really ever baked from scratch...these macarons came out pretty well! Maybe I'll try a more complicated recipe next time when I can actually get a hold of a BAG of almond FLOUR and not have to ground almonds myself xD

How was your June?
I'm sure they were probably more fun and interesting than mine was though! These were just a handle full of days out of the whole month :X
Does anyone have any suggestions for any more hangout ideas? lol
Do share! I'd love to hear :]