Macaron Perfection

My mom and I have started a new tradition. For quite some time she has been telling me that she wants us to spend more time together. As a full time working mom and 2 little boys time is not something I have in abundance. However, creating memories with her and finding that time is important to me.  So for her birthday last year I purchased a cookie decorating class for us at Sur La Table. I have never taken a cooking class there, or anywhere for that matter. 

We had so much fun that I decided for Christmas I would find another class for us to go to. She has mentioned several times that she would like to learn to make Macarons. While scrolling through the classes I saw a Valentine Macaron class and thought it would perfect for our next morning together.

I picked her as usual and we headed to a little breakfast place where she had pancakes and I had a mimosa. It is the perfect start to a mother daughter adventure. After that we headed on over to Sur La Table to get started. I have to admit, I was nervous, I didn't know much about macarons. I had seen them before, but I had actually never even tasted one. What I did know is that they are hard to make.

Now I know my way around the kitchen. I am not a chef by any stretch of the imagination and I am not a star baker so I was worried about these finicky little cookies.

Macarons are pretty basic when it comes to ingredients. The cookies themselves only require almond flour, powdered sugar, egg whites, a little white sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar. Then you add whatever gel coloring you like (never liquid coloring). Seems very basic and easy, right?

The essentials

The essentials

WRONG! These little cookies are so fickle that you have to actually WEIGH all of your ingredients instead of measuring them as you do with most recipes. We had to measure things down to the gram. There is very little wiggle room if you want them to rise and have the little feet (scalloped edges). There is a lot of hand stirring required. There is a specific pattern suggested for that stirring and the consistency has to be just perfect.

My beautiful mother from whom I inherit all of my love for baking.

My beautiful mother from whom I inherit all of my love for baking.

Just when we thought it was good - nope more stirring. At least my arm got a workout that day.

Stir and stir and the stir some more. 

Stir and stir and the stir some more. 

The batter has to be just the perfect consistency - this is finicky baking!

The batter has to be just the perfect consistency - this is finicky baking!

Now our macarons would have been a complete disaster if it wasn't for our magnificent teacher, Sabrina. She used to make these little creations all day every day - God bless her. She is a macaron expert! She made me believe right from the beginning that I was going to succeed. See how the batter has to fall off of the spoon just right to know its ready for the piping?

Meet Sabrina - our amazing teacher.

Meet Sabrina - our amazing teacher.

The perfect consistency for Macarons - not too thick, not too then

The perfect consistency for Macarons - not too thick, not too then

The tricky part is not over once you have the perfect batter. NOPE! Then you have to pipe them just the right way. You have to have the right pressure and the right speed. That's right if you push to hard or too fast you're ruined. Basically your macarons live or die right here at this step.

Heart Macarons for Valentine's Day

Heart Macarons for Valentine's Day

Once our pink hearts were in the oven. we moved on to some green tea macarons - a staple in the macaron world.

Just before the oven

Just before the oven

Now once your macarons have cooled then you get to pipe in the yummy sweet center. On this day we filled our hearts with champagne icing and it was GOOD! Believe me these little cookies will definitely satisfy anyone's sweet tooth.

Now for the yummy center

Now for the yummy center

Where all the magic happens

Where all the magic happens

We had an amazing time together and most of all we made great memories. I am happy to say we even came home with some awesome looking (and tasting) macarons. My boys (the two little and daddy) certainly all approved when I brought my goodies home. I can't wait to decide what class we take next!

The Beauty of A Second | February 2017 | Holly Springs NC

What's the big deal about a second?  Not much happens in such a short amount of time. 

There are so many little moments I do not want to forget but my mind and heart simply aren't enough to hold these treasures forever. I will surely forget that sweet toddler voice as it fades into distant memories. I will struggle to recall that precious chubby face as it grows into a man. I will be unable to open my heart in a way that allows my precious boys to see and hear the memories for themselves as they prepare to welcome their own little ones. 

For this and many other reasons as 2017 approached I decided it was a priority to start a video project. I am extremely dedicated to documenting our days with pictures that show our "real" and our everyday. Yet, I wanted more - I wanted to hear and relive those memories. I didn't want to just tell stories to my grandchildren, I wanted to preserve these moments in a way that allowed me to really share them. 

I am only in my second month of this project but it is already so near and dear to my heart and I cherish the sights and sounds I have already preserved. My typical Saturday starts at 6:30 am when my 5 year old comes bounding into our room a total ball of energy and they end around 11:00 with some quiet moments on the couch with the love of my life. That means I am surrounded by my "now" for 17 hours. That means I have 61,200 seconds of memories to try and hold onto. Now let me say not all of those memories are sweet and happy, some are maddening and loud. There is fighting, tears, timeouts and exhaustion but there is also joy, love, tenderness and giggles. I want to cherish them all. 

This project has taught me that every second can be beautiful and special. That's amazing to imagine isn't it? I mean most of us don't give a second thought to just a second - how much can happen in a second? Well this project has made me slow down - see the seconds - appreciate the mundane - and I am glad I have found a way to preserve them. It reminds me to stay present and soak it in. 

So here it is..... The Beauty of a Second | February Edition. Enjoy and thanks for watching. 

Make sure you follow along this month’s blog circle. There are a some amazing photographers and videographers participating in the one second a day project around the world. Up next, go check out Jenn Rusby at Jenny Rusby Photography!

Want to book your own family film? Email me here!

 

EVERYDAY MOMENTS | HOLLY SPRINGS FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER

This year I have committed to 2 personal projects with my family.  This means I will either have an awesome collection of memories from my family or I will need to be committed. I am participating in a 365 project which means I take one picture a day (or a hundred and pick one)  of my family that tells the story of a moment from that day. I will share those weekly in a blog post entitled "everyday moments." 

The second project is "the beauty of a second" - more on that later..... you will just have to wait and see :) 

Here is a glimpse of our week - Enjoy

Daddy was gone all week for work - those make for some long days! So when he got home mommy escaped to the tub for a little me time and relaxation while he caught up on wrestling time with the boys. Peace among the chaos.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

The boys received a brand new transformer super hero toy from a friend of mine and they LOVE IT! It has been a big hit. This is Jack and he sits like this all the time when he is playing. My mom tells me that my grandfather used to sit like this often as well. This is certainly a little piece of you I don't want to forget from this age.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

The boys have started Awana's again after a little break over the holidays. I am so very proud of both of them. Each week they amaze me with learning their Bible verses as they work through earning their badges. This week Liam completed 2 parts of his required New Testament books memorization. He can now say 19 books - only 8 more to go before he can say them all!!!!! (and those are some BIG words)

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

I am very fortunate that my boys were potty trained at a very young age. However this is still the way I spend a good 20 minutes each day - with this view. The youngest just wants someone to talk to during his bathroom time. 

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

My little busy explorer! Jack doesn't keep still for one second. He is a very curious little boy and the outside of our stairs is the perfect access to all those goodies on the counter - like daddy's keys.  He just knows we hide all the good stuff up there on purpose.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

I don't even know how you both fit in the tub with all the toys that have to be in there.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

I waited a long time for such a good man to call my husband! I love the little things he remembers to do for me - this is a little chalk board we keep in our bathroom so we can leave each other surprise "love notes"

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Daddy is teaching him by example and he is learning - learning to be sweet, kind and thoughtful - especially to mommy. He has grown so much! Now he drags the stool over to the coffee counter, gets a cup, makes my coffee (he knows just how I like it) - and he brings it to me while I'm getting ready. Melts my heart every time he does it. He has seen his daddy do this for me since he was born - it is nice to be the only lady in a house of boys - I am a very lucky lady.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

For Christmas the boys got Taekwondo lessons - the adventure continues.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

This week included a trip to the dentist for me and Liam. Our dentist, Better Dental, is amazing and sings to the kids to make them feel more comfortable. I love this dentist - it is like going to the spa. They have hot coffee and fresh hot chocolate chip cookies. It is the best.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Unfortunately Liam had a cavity so we had to go back the next day to get it filled. He was a little nervous at first, the laughing gas helped. He did great and was such a brave boy!

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

We ended the week with a mini vacation to a local hotel. We just wanted to get away for as a family for a few days One of our favorite things to do is use Jon's massive amount of Hilton points to check into a hotel with an indoor pool and hot tub, free breakfast and room service. The boys think they are in Disneyland. They LOVE staying at hotels, swimming and laying in bed eating dinner while watching cartoons. Mommy doesn't mind the hot tub either. 

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Liam is growing up and getting less anxious about the water. This trip he was doing the cannonball without any fear.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

We also visited a few children's museums while we were there. The Greensboro Children's museum was amazing - it had real size emergency vehicles, a plane cockpit, race car and SOOOOO much more. We had a lot of fun.

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Saturday we spent the day at the Greensboro Science Center - they had penguins, sharks and all sorts of other animals. It was a really great place to visit.... oh and a dinosaur room that two little boys had a great time enjoying. 

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

Family Photographer | Holly Springs

And that's a wrap to an amazing week. Stay tuned for what the Smiths are up to next week. Moments matter and I want to remember them all - small and big, extraordinary and ordinary.