Closet Reno Part I

Happy Monday Everyone!

I hope that everyone had a great weekend.  I had my first official away Girls Trip with my mother and sister.  Babydoll hung out with us also (Stan had to work), but it was the best time all around.  It was my sisters birthday weekend and we just took a jaunt up to Chicago for some shopping and eating.

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I know I said I would post at least once and week and failed to post last week, but I had begun the first phase of my closet reno.  It didn’t happen as quickly as I thought it would, mostly because I was crazy intimated by this first part because it is where the majority of my clothes are being hung; and for that reason, I second guessed myself.  A LOT.  I listened to too many people at the hardware store giving me advice about how to hang my brackets and I didn’t go the way that I learned was best from doing my Babydolls closet.  My older brother came and helped me out, but it didn’t come together until I received a pep talk from God about trusting in myself and doing things the way that I know and to stop listening to others.  At that point things came together and five days later than I expected it to take, I had something that I loved!.  Everything is hanging up there without any problems and I’m just super proud of myself and extremely grateful to my brother for his help in using his strength to get those screws in the wall.

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The first step to getting this completed was removing all my clothes and placing them in my bathtub.  I then struggled my way through taking the wire closet shelf out of the wall.  This took some time and a lot of elbow grease.  I then patched up the holes with this awesome spackle I purchased at Menards. 

I already had a can of white paint handy that was used downstairs.  Stan didn’t like the fact that is was a semi-gloss, but my theory was it was in the house, we didn’t have anything that it was slated to be used for anytime soon and I didn’t have to go buy paint.  I painted the wall after I sanded the spackle.  At that point I started putting together the drawer section of the closet.  It took me two days to get this right because I was trying to set it up without using the wall bracket to hang it.  I was told that I didn’t necessarily need the bracket with this system.  But it wouldn’t stay up, and I was afraid I was going to break what I had put together because they kept tilting.  I had them propped up with some stair treads we had hanging out in our loft. Like I said, it took me two days to come to my senses and get the bracket and hang the thing up that way.  After that, things started looking up. 

I lost another couple of days trying to hang by pole brackets up for the longest pole, the top pole, because again I listened to another fellow at the hardware store who suggested I not use drywall anchors but anchor the brackets into the studs.  This would have been great if we hadn’t encountered something that blocked us from actually being able to screw into the studs.  My brother and I were sweating like it was 110 degrees and scratching our heads in frustration at why we couldn’t get those screws to go into the wall.  Finally we settled for toggle bolts and got it done. 

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At that point I was still missing three large drawers that will go with the middle cabinets, but I’m adding a drawer a week so that I don’t bankrupt myself.  School starts in a few weeks and I’m currently getting Babydoll ready for school at the same time working on a few other things.  I purchased a drawer last Thursday and put it in there, so now I’m only two drawers short.

This week, today actually, I’m working on the shoe wall.  I’ve taken out the shoes and took down the Rubbemaid wire closet shelf.  Can I say that those things are evil.  I can’t figure out why someone would put them in the closet.  Honestly it would be better to hang a wooden pole and and shelves than to put those systems up.  If you are ever thinking of a closet system to get, I implore you to not do that to yourself of the next person that gets your closet.  If they decide to take the system down and do something different they are in for a world of hurt and frustration.  Don’t do it! 

I’m waiting on the spackle to dry so that I can sand and paint.  I have shoes all over my bedroom floor so, I have got to get this set up today.  So I better get to it.  If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see more of this adventure.  Everyone have a great week.

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Another project

Happy Monday everyone!

This weekend is was a super busy one for me. My family got together on Saturday to celebrate the graduation of niece number 4. Chaunsey-bear graduated in May and will be leaving in the fall to go to Graham-Webb in North Carolina. I’m super proud of her and was looking forward to celebrating with her because I missed the graduation and open house due to scheduling conflicts.  I also had my monthly book club meeting on Saturday.  This weekend I also started on my closet remodel. This is something that I knew I would get done by the end of the year, but had no intention of starting it this soon. My husband and I talked about projects that we had coming up (him moving back into his office – can some join me with a big WOOHOO; and we wanted to get closets setup – he took the guestroom closet and I kept ours; and eventually we will start on the master bathroom upstairs flooring project). As I said I did not plan to begin my closet reno so soon because I’m in bill payoff mode. We completed our downstairs renovation right before last fall which included the kitchen, new flooring throughout the first floor, painting all of the rooms, new modeling, and custom window shades – I hope to give a tour and description of the transformation, but that will be a post that is several post long. Anyway, completing everything required me getting a new kitchen table and especially a dining room set (because I HATED the one we had – 6 months my eye.). I host Thanksgiving every year, so I needed to get my set before my family descended upon my home. I was able to find the kitchen table quickly from Wayfair.com and got the chairs from World Market. The dining table took some searching…I knew what I wanted in my head I just had to find that in a store. I found it a week before Thanksgiving 1 WEEK before Thanksgiving and they just happened to have delivery two days before. The chairs were purchased from JossandMain.com. I love my table and chairs, but I paid for it a significant amount more than I had set aside…hence the payoff mode I’m in. But man do I love my dining room.

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The lighting wasn’t too great here…the table and chairs are gray and the wall color is gray and light silver. I’ll have better pictures when I show the complete renovation. Ok, I’m getting off track…the closet.

You know how sometimes (a lot of the times), your plans do not coincide with the plans the God has for you. Apparently my timeline for my closet reno was different than the one that God had and He let me know Wednesday morning when He told me to design my closet now; and then gave me a modification to my design while I was driving to pick up Babydoll that afternoon. I partially designed it and thought this would give me an idea of what kind of budget I needed and how much money I needed to save. Thursday morning, I had an urgency that could only be God-given to look at Menards website for the list of items I need to put my closet together. Since I hadn’t completely gotten the design set, I didn’t know where this was going. I found an online program that I used to get an idea of a design and the cost of the things I would need. The total was close to $800 and that didn’t include my REQUIRED shoe storage and the second section of drawers that God told me I had to add to my design. $800 was not disposable money that I have hanging around – payoff mode remember?

I was an obedient child and took some time to look at Menards website after I completed my study that afternoon and low and behold I lot of the items I needed were clearance. I couldn’t wait to get to Menards before someone else found out and bought everything I needed. I got to the store after work and was trying to use the clearance items but they were all in cherry and I want my closet to be white (I already have three shoe bins that are white). So I kept walking around the area and started pricing another system by Dakota closets. I ended up purchasing everything I need for the long wall with the exception of four large drawers and the side poles for bottom hanging area because they didn’t have them in stock. I spent $130.07. Can I tell you that this wall was the most expensive one of the $800 design? Can anyone else attest to being obedient to God? He is the design for the major wall.

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The blue lines are the hanging poles – the top pole will hold my tops, jackets/blazers and pants and skirts will be on the bottom portions. I will have shelving over the top that will have baskets for my purses, that is represented by the thick gray line. I’ll have six drawers – two 5” deep drawers and four 10” deep drawers. I’m putting drawers in the closet because I don’t believe in dressers in the bedroom because they always manage to become cluttered; currently my bedside table are clutter central. I originally thought that wall was 96” long but found out it is actually 116” when I brought the top pole into the closet to make sure it was too long. I’ll be returning it and getting to adjustable rods that will need to connected. The extra inches has made it easier to find the poles for the bottom hanging areas because I thought I needed to find 24” poles (wasn’t happening either) but now I can get the 30”-48” adjustable poles for that area.

Here’s a picture of the closet in its current state – don’t judge.

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It has gotten to the point where I’ve given up on organization, plus my husband just abandoned items. He hasn’t come back to get the clothes so I’m going to presume that they are up for donation.

I’m going to be doing this in phases, because I can’t fathom taking everything out of the closet at one time. I’m already feeling some anxiety about the clothes that still in the master bath tub. The pressure was definitely on to complete it by the time I return to work tomorrow and that didn’t happen; so how much longer is it going to take me?  I’ll keep you guys posted. Keep an eye out on my Instagram page, for some updates.  Has anyone tackled a project like this in a weekend and succeeded? Send me some comments of encouragement, I can sure use them.

Hope you had a great weekend.

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Let’s try this again

When my blog url came up for renewal this year I thought to myself, “you’re paying for this domain name and you have this blog, why aren’t you doing something with it?”  I immediately came up with the excuse that my life is too busy and hectic to be able to sit down daily and compose a blog.  I thought about it more and more and decided that I use my name Red Oven Creations for a lot of things; Twitter, Instagram, my business; I should take the time to be proactive about my blog page.  So here I am once again deciding to post.  There will be a few changes; mainly I will not be posting every day; but I will strive to get a post out every week.  I’m also going to keep my post shorter.  I think when I do a longer post I tend to get bogged down and never finish or get it out there.  And finally, I know that people are visual and don’t seem to click with a post unless there are photos involved; but let’s face it, sometimes a photo does not apply.  So if there isn’t a photo in the blog, please forgive me, but I’m not going to stress out trying to include a photo for your adult mind.  I would love to hope that my audience has grown beyond “picture books”.

So to sum it up, my goal is to post weekly, post shorter blogs (if it needs to be long, you guys are getting multiple parts blogs), and include pictures if it’s required or relevant.  I think I’ve got an interesting point of view of this life I’m living and I hope you stick around to read about it.

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A vanity for creating my face

I may have mentioned in a previous post that one of my loves is make-up. I can get lost in a MAC or Sephora store or even the cosmetics aisle in Meijer or Walgreens. My passions seem to really run along the lines of lipsticks/glosses/stains, lip pencils, and eyeshadow/eyeliner/mascara. I wear glasses and I think it is very important for my eyes not to get lost behind the frames. I didn’t always wear glasses and my eyes were one of my big features; I like to make sure that that feature is still emphasized and highlighted. I don’t play around too much with my foundation – I’ve been using MAC for years, since I stopped using Clinique and tend not to stray although I just bought a Black Radiance a couple months ago and it is really good; but I’ll most likely only use either it or my MAC. I use one eyelid primer, Urban Decay Primer Potion – I’ve tried others and I just go right back to Urban Decay so I believe I’m done trying unless someone gives me a REALLY good reason to try another again. I’m still looking for the perfect face primer (although my mother swears by the Urban Decay DeSlick which she says they do not sell in stores anymore) so I currently switch between the E.L.F mineral face primer and NYC face primer (I know they are not high end, but I haven’t found a high end one that pops my panties and these inexpensive ones work really well.) I haven’t found a blush, bronzer, or contouring product that I absolutely love, so I pick those up when I see a color that I feel will complement my darker skin (although I’m new to contouring so I don’t have a lot of those yet – actually I don’t have any).

After giving this run down you’re probably wondering what is my point. Well, I have begun to acquire quite an eyeshadow collection and although I’ve upgraded my makeup case from the sexy Caboodle train case to a lavender tool box that I converted to a makeup case I’ve run out of room again. I also was getting fed up with where I was applying my makeup daily. I had been standing in my bathroom after lotioning up and use the small 3x magnifying mirror that I had attached to the side of my vanity mirror. When we travel, the hotels all have the nice magnifying mirrors that can be used for makeup application and I actually liked being able to sit down and put on my makeup with these.

I began searching online for new makeup storage solutions and ran across several you tube videos where ladies had a room dedicated to their makeup. I was like, WHAT?!?!?!? A room just for makeup. I was fascinated and a little intimidated by what I was watching. I can easily imagine a room for my shoes and having the finances to fill it, but not an entire room for makeup. I started thinking about it and one day I thought I could include a small makeup alcove in my office. I could have a place to sit and apply my makeup, be able to take it out of the tool box (no more lugging it from under the cabinet each morning, and at the same time acquire a little more room from my growing eye makeup collection.

After watching many YouTube videos, it seemed that the majority of the makeup room owners had some form of IKEA furniture to house their collection, either in the vanity or the storage drawers. I love IKEA, like the next guy, but the closet one is 2 ½ hours away. When we go there it is a well-planned all day event that includes a trip to Jungle Jim’s. I had gotten a burr up my bum and wanted to get my new makeup vanity done asap and inexpensively (cause I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but we were in phase one of my kitchen remodel and the final phase of the basement renovation not to mention the holidays were coming up – there was not a lot of excess money floating around). My internet search for ideas only resulted in a need for an IKEA trip. A trip to the thrift store was not promising and I’m currently on the hunt for a new kitchen table (I’ll post about that at a later date) from the thrift store so I didn’t want to become distracted. I needed to get this setup for around $50.

Looking at images of the vanities online I realized that the depths of the vanities were not too large; about the size of a shelf or desk. I then came up with the brilliant idea to use a shelf for my vanity top. I went to Home Depot and bought a 12”x36” black shelf, 2 – 10”/12” grey shelf brackets, a package of drywall screws, and bracket screws. The total was $13.79; I couldn’t have done better finding something at a thrift store (because I would have had to invest in paint, sandpaper, & such to get to the look I wanted).

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I did go to Goodwill to look for glassware to use for brush holders and such, a lamp to use for lighting and anything else that caught my eye. I found these pieces during my first trip that cost me $8.52 with tax.

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I bought some rice to put in the bottom of my glassware and decided to tint it blue with food coloring to keep in the color theme of my office.

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I decided to paint the lamp in shades of blue, again to stick with room color theme (I’m not going to use a lamp shade because I want the light – I may even buy another lamp to have one on each side). I picked up some acrylic storage containers on the clearance table at Meijer (does anyone else always check the clearance sections at Target and Meijer every time they go into those stores?) to put my everyday used products.

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Then I realized I still had a lot of stuff still inside my toolbox. I needed a place to store it – preferably something with drawers. The only thing was it needed to be slim-lined (the area I had to work with was 9”x33”) and I really did not want to go the plastic route. I thought a slim bookcase would be the perfect size, but I want drawers or more shelves than a bookcase would allow. Can you add pull-out shelves to a bookcase? How about adding additional shelves? This part of the project was going to be my most expensive part of the project, I could feel it; but I still had $26.69 in my $50 budget. I was getting nervous. I still wanted to purchase some more acrylic containers and I knew these could get pricey even if I found them on sale/clearance. More inquiry online gave me the thought of using a bathroom shelving unit as my cabinet. Just finding the unit in my budget…

Then this past weekend I was in Michael’s (not to shop, but waiting at the front of the store waiting on Babydoll and Stan) and noticed a customer buying a HUGE amount of MDF storage units. It looked like she was about to set up an awesome craft station. One of the boxes she had looked exactly like something I was looking for. I located the area of the store where those items were and headed over there. Wouldn’t you know it, they were having a 40% off sale on all of their storage units and I had a 25% off entire purchase coupon. I bought one of the 3-drawer units. After putting it together, I realized that I could use 2 and still have plenty of room. The units were still on sale for 40% off and I could still use my 25% off coupon. I’m got both units for $38.52 including tax (the units are originally $39.99 each). I know that I’ve gone over my $50 budget, but not by much. This is how it looks.

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Since this was taken, I added a 11×14 mirror that I found at the Dollar Tree.  I still may add another lamp, but for right now, I’m happy and I have more than enough space to store my makeup. I’m not going to show you what’s in my drawers because 1) I don’t have it organized completely; and 2) There are tons of pictures/videos/blogs where people are showing their collections. I’m discussing the acquisition of a vanity space in my office not my makeup collection. This is more about having the space that I love coming into in the morning and turning on the radio and listening to the Tom Joyner Morning Show while I put on my face. It’s the little things that can make for great amounts of peace. Do you have a place that you’ve made that allows you to complete an everyday task? Did you complete it at a bargain price or did you go all out expense wise?

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Basement Remodel, part deux

In the second post about our basement remodel, you get to see the actual layout of the basement.  It went from the blank slate that we began with – concrete walls and floors with two crawlspace entrances to an actual room.  Although phase 3 was another part of infrastructure.

PHASE 3: we were still in infrastructure mode. This included the wiring for the electronics his speakers, the projector, the screen, the components, the networking all of the stuff that sounds like the adults in the Charlie Brown cartoons when it is explained to me (whamp-whamp-whamp, whamp-whamp-whamp). We had this done another two or three months after we finally finished the electrical.

PHASE 4: this would be the insulation and drywall. A lot of people could not understand why we decided to insulate the basement. They didn’t see the entire “infrastructure” Stan had installed for his picture and sound. Nor did they hear him talking about it. The rest of the house needed some insulation against all of that. I strongly suggested we get some long sleeve shirts and jeans, gloves and face mask and get to stuffing some insulation. This would save us some money ( I was starting to feel some anxiety about the electronics he had plans for and what that was going to do to the budget). Stan did not share my enthusiasm and wanted no part of possibly getting fine bits of fiberglass from the insulation in his cloths. He drove around several home construction sites and found an insulation guy. They came over on a Sunday and finished the job is less than six hours. We got a higher grade insulation than we would have purchased ourselves and still ended up with a better price had we purchased that grade ourselves. You have got to love tradesmen when they give you a fair price.

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This was the bar area. The black tank is the plumbing for the shop and bar sink.

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This was the theater area. The layout ended up getting switched around later; with the screen being on the right and the projector on the left.

Drywall was a long and messy process. I was very pleased with our drywaller. His crew consisted of him and occasionally his son. It took longer, but the work is exceptional. I would not have traded him for someone with a larger crew that could have finished in a shorter amount of time. There was some dust that came about due to the work, but it could have been SO MUCH worse. He had HUGE dry-vacs that he used to get the dust up each day, he had a sticky pad that they stepped on when they came out of the basement, and the cleaned up each night before leaving. It took us about three weeks. When he was done it was amazing…we had a basement that we could now really see what the final product would look like.

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The ceiling in the theater area is angled. Almost like a cove ceiling.

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After we got the drywall finished, it was time to pick out paint and flooring.  We had walls, now it was time to get started on the making it beautiful.

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Basement Remodel anyone…

As promised I am going to give a rundown of our basement remodel. I want to say ahead of time that I began writing this post a couple of months ago and thought I had begun the process of posting it; but looking back on some former post I realized that I had not.  I went back through my files and found all of the writing and now I begin again.  At the time of the original post the bar area had not been completed yet because 1) we felt it would require custom cabinets and we aren’t quite sure how we want to design this; and 2) my husband was tired of the project. Although it is his baby, he said at one point it took something out of him mentally to think about it anymore.

We are DIY’ers, but for this project we contracted out all of the work. Sure we could have laid the floor or painted the walls or even done the insulation (we discussed these projects thoroughly); but our schedules just didn’t allow for it. Stan’s business is doing well and sometimes I feel like I am a chauffeur for my Babydoll (I can’t figure it out). If we had of done more work on this project, I would not be showing/telling you about this project because we still would have been working on it. So let me begin…

We started a over a year ago, in May of 2013. We had several contractors come out to give us estimates to have it done by one company/person.  After some pretty amazing presentations we decided we were going to contract this out ourselves. Why, you ask? Because 1) Most if not all, of the estimates were coming in at around $25-30k and that did not include the electronics (I knew we were going to spend major bucks on the electronics because anything else was NOT going to fly with my husband, no way, no how would that fly); 2) the finishes weren’t included in that estimate (finishes are the really nice trim work, high end mini fridge, furniture, etc.); and 3) we decided we wanted to pay cash for as much work as possible, if we went with a company they would have finished within 3-6 weeks (yeah!!) but a deposit would have been needed at the beginning – $12.5k/15 – and final payment at the end (booo!). So we broke it up in phases.

PHASE 1: Framing – Stan’s side business puts him in contact with all types of construction trades. One day while doing a job he came across a framer. They had a conversation that lead to him coming buy and giving us an estimate that we didn’t feel cheated over – because he is used doing larger jobs, he was able to get a lot of the material for less – so we set it up. They came over on a weekend and we ended up with a framed basement. This lead up to what Stan termed the infrastructure phase but I called it phase 2.

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PHASE 2: Plumbing and Electrical – the basement was not plumbed for any type of bathroom or sink; hence we had no drain. I knew that I was going to add a very small salon in a section of the basement and we wanted to have sink in the bar area. I DID NOT want to have them bust up my floor to put in a drain because that was going to be an extra expense. We did some research and found that there is a drain system that you can purchase that shoots the water up. I’m not explaining this too well, I’m not a plumber, but it shoots the water up. There is probably a better explanation that Stan could probably give you, but he isn’t writing this, I am and all I can say is the water goes up with the help of some pressure. As far as electrical went, we needed a lot of outlets installed. Stan’s theory was it is better to have too many than not enough. We had tons of lighting, lighting for the bar area, the salon, the theater area, the equipment area, and the small area off to the side of the theater. The plumbing and electrical were done about 3 months after the framing was completed. This phase actually took us several months because the electrician we found (thanks soooo much to a coworker for recommending him, he is the best) was so awesome that we ended up having him install lighting for the patio along with electrical outlets on the patio.

I have no pictures of this phase because it was plumbing and electric.  It took us a minute to get it all done, but pictures of the end work would really make no sense to you.  Trust me when I say it made us very happy. Smile

Because this can be a really exhausting post, I’ve decided to break this up into a multi-part series.  Stay tuned for more post.

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Macarons

Last weekend I took the Megabus to see one of my best friends in Chicago.  We were celebrating our birthdays; although our birthdays were last month.  My travel/vacation schedule last month and I wasn’t home long enough for her to come down or me to go up so that we could celebrate.  But anyway, I was there and she took me to the French Market for lunch.  We had noodles for lunch and on the way out, I had to stop at this patisserie that I saw on the way in.  I decided to get some macarons and got some for Sylvana also. (It was the perfect snack for Sylvana, because she has a mostly gluten-free diet now).

After having my wonderful macarons on the bus ride home (I got lemon, lichen, green tea, salted caramel, and vanilla.); I decided that I was going to try my hand at making some.  I had been very hesitant to make macarons in the past because I was afraid of failure.  I had received this book of macaron recipes as a gift.

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I had read it and drooled over the pictures, but was just too chicken-butt to make them.  I spent some of my free time this week looking at different recipes and reading other write-ups on macarons and decided I was ready.  Failure or no, I was making macarons this weekend. 

I was going to purchase almond flour because I wanted to make sure that all my ingredients were top-notch; but the price for a 16 oz of almond flour was close to $10.  One of the websites that I had read suggested you make your own almond flour because the price of the flour is pricey; after seeing the price, I ended up taking her advice.  I bought a 2lb bag of blanched almonds for $6.97.  Yeah, enough said.  I pulsed them in my food processor until they were ground up fine.

I decided to make three types of macarons; lemon cookies and vanilla, almond, and purple vanilla. I decided to make a strawberry cream cheese filling for the purple vanilla, and a plain almond filling for the lemon cookies and vanilla, and almond with blackberry jam smear for the almond. NOTE:  as I was making the almond I decided to forgo the almond and added orange extract instead.  They were delicious anyway I made them.

From everything that I read online and in the book, the time that your macarons sit to “dry out” is important.  If you let them sit for the right amount of time they will get the shiny look and the “feet” will form when you bake them.  We had had a lot of rain that morning and it was humid; I read that if it was humid outside, you were to let them sit for about an hour versus the 15-30 minutes normally suggested.  While I made the second batch (the purple vanilla) I let the first set form the skin on the first batch. 

I baked the first batch at 350 degrees in the convection setting of the oven.  This turned out not to be a good idea.  They seemed to cook too fast and my “feet” didn’t turn out so great. 

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I decided to turn the oven down to 325 and had better success. 

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I went to make the strawberry filling and discovered that I didn’t have any strawberry gelatin in my pantry; but I DID have some peach.  So I made a peach cream cheese filling instead.  Babydoll tried one of the purples and fell in love.  I’m so proud of my macarons. 

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I promised some to my coworkers and I hope they like them also.  I figured out the process (I ended up using my Magic Bullet to puree the confectioners sugar and almond flour to a super smooth consistency), and Babydoll loved them; so my confidence is way up there.  I’m going to do it again soon.  I’m thinking about making some for my girlfriends as part of their Christmas treats.

Have any of you made macarons?  What flavors have you made? 

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PS: I am going to write something real soon about how AWESOME my Magic Bullet is.

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