23 on 23 – A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

They call this the Golden Birthday.  I am turning 23 on January 23rd.  Apparently it’s also referred to as the Lucky Birthday.  I was considering this the other day as I was looking in the mirror.  Really looking in the mirror, not just a quick glance to check my hair or makeup.  For the first time ever, I didn’t see a child, a dependent, my parents’ daughter.  I saw an adult, someone who finally looked roughly her age, a person in her own right.

I saw a girl who straightened and whitened her teeth and highlighted her hair to feel better about her looks even when not in glam mode.  A girl who might be a little too into makeup and looks and nail polish, but one who is finally growing into her looks.  One who thinks a little too much about exercise and eating healthy and fitness and food, but one who takes comfort in feeling healthy and knowing exercise helps her through the day.

Unfilled Macarons

But then I looked deeper.  I saw a girl who has never felt like she fits in and wonders if she ever will.  The girl rejected at school, sitting silent at lunch with a table full of people who preferred not to speak to her turned into the woman who still feels rejected, unpopular, the last choice.  One with big dreams and no tangible way to make them come true.  Hopes and dreams filling her mind most of the time, she only wishes they were reality.  One who knows she has something special in her, but doesn’t know if others will ever see it.

There’s a kind young woman who wants a friend.  A best friend.  A friend she can call in the middle of the night.  A friend to go shopping or to events with when Mom and Dad don’t want to go.  A wingman.  A partner in fun and fashionable crime.  She also wants to be swept off her feet.  Or at least taken on her very first date by a gentleman, a guy who opens doors and pulls out chairs.  To know what it feels like to be cared about by someone other than her parents.

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

The person I look at is sometimes tortured by worry.  Allowing fears, mostly over germs and getting sick, to control her life.  It sometimes stops her from going out, having fun, sometimes causes her to shut down, but she makes it through.  She tries to push it out of her mind, tell herself everything will be okay.  And in the moments she can actually accomplish this, she is filled with happiness.  Luckily, she also appreciates a really simple day at home, where TV and movies will always trump books.

This woman is so far from perfect.  She makes mistakes, says the wrong thing, so often goes against the rest of the crowd.  But she relishes in imperfection and the fact that no one is perfect.  It is how we fix mistakes and right wrongs that makes us strong, that makes us better people, that makes it okay to be imperfect.

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

She’s a dreamer, knowing what she wants and that she will achieve it . . . she’s just not sure when.  She knows she’s lucky to have parents whom she loves unconditionally and provide the same love right back to her, supporting her through thick and thin, allowing her to chase those dreams.  She is filled with passion for writing and loves sharing that with the world (or at least a very small part of it).

Hope for the future gets her through the days where uncertainty over said future brings her down.  Hope propels her through life.  Hope that tomorrow will be better.  Hope that her dreams will come true.  Hope that all it takes is one break and amazing things can happen.

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

And then I take a deep breath, processing all the thoughts that just rolled through my head, and I see me.  Plain old me.  But I’m happy with the person I see.  The me that has grown and changed.  The me that has achieved so much.  And most importantly the me that has the potential to achieve so much more.  The Golden Birthday, here’s to hoping it leads to a golden year.  Twenty three, it’s you and me.  Let’s make some great things happen.

To celebrate, I whipped up some French macarons.  No, they are not perfect, but for my first try, they were incredibly easy to make and came out remarkably well.  Less than 20 minutes of simple prep, then some waiting time, before they go in the oven and magic happens.  The delicate pastries have an equally delicate flavor, lightly sweet with a hint of almond.  They melt in your mouth.  I filled mine with American Spoon Blackberry Spoon Fruit, but we all agreed that the macarons were almost better plain.  The main reason they weren’t all totally perfect is my weird oven.  It got completely cool leaving the door cracked as the recipe stated, so it threw off the baking times and didn’t allow them to bake and rise properly.  I will try again, trying to outsmart my oven, but until then, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday.  Thanks for reading!

23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons

4.9 from 7 reviews
23 on 23 - A Golden Birthday Celebration with French Macarons
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¼ cups, plus 1 teaspoon, confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 6 tablespoons egg whites, from about 4 large eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Blackberry Spoon Fruit or preserves for filling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and almond meal until it is fully combined and there are no lumps.
  3. Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high until foamy. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar. Continue mixing on high until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Sprinkle the almond mixture over the whipped egg whites and gently fold in using a rubber spatula.
  5. Using a pastry bag with a plain tip or a zipper bag with the tip cut off, pipe the macarons onto the baking sheet. (I used the zipper bag). The macarons should be about 1 inch in diameter and about 2 inches apart. Allow the macarons to sit on the sheets at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, until the top is dry to the touch with a thin skin and no longer shiny.
  6. Bake with the oven door slightly ajar for 15-20 minutes until the top is completely dry to the touch and the macarons have puffed, rotating halfway through if necessary. Cool completely on baking sheet. Once cool, very carefully peel them away from the parchment. They are very fragile. May be stored at room temperature 1 day or in the refrigerator for 2 days. I do not recommend freezing them.
  7. Fill the macarons as close to being served as possible. Place about 1 teaspoon of jam on 1 macaron and sandwich another of equal size on top.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

 

Comments

  1. Tamara says:

    Happy birthday!! This is a lovely post. I can relate to a lot of what you wrote, especially thinking back on when I was 23… let me assure you that, in my experience, things will only get better! I’ll be 45 in March and I’m happier, healthier, and feel more alive and filled with purpose – and confidence – than ever. Hugs and enjoy your special day!!! xoxo

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much, Tamara! I have been thinking about this post a long time and it means a lot that you enjoyed it. I do think things have already gotten better from a few years ago, so I do believe they will continue to do so.

      • Tamara says:

        Absolutely! I’m so glad you feel that way, because I truly feel that our thoughts and beliefs influence our outcomes. You have so much to offer and you’re only beginning to shine. :)

  2. Dad says:

    The Macarons were great (I would have liked a different filling). And by the way, happy birthday!

  3. Jessica says:

    Happy Birthday Laura! Don’t fret, everything is going to work out wonderfully. I remember 23, I felt so confused and lost and stumbling my way through it. It all starts to even out and you begin to feel much differently about almost everything. This will be a great year for you!!!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Jessica! You always offer such great support :) I am for sure hoping it will be a great year!

  4. Is 23 the lucky birthday?? Huh. Doesn’t feel lucky. I developed eczema and found wrinkles under my eyes *sigh* :P

    In other news I’ll totally be your bff and you can call me in the middle of the night. I’m for serious.

    And mmmmm these macarons look great and the perfect way to celebrate! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!!!!!!!!!

  5. Jeff says:

    Happy Birthday Laura!! Hope you have a great day and thanks for all the great treats your Dad brings.

  6. Happy GOLDEN birthday Laura! How super neat!
    I really enjoyed reading about your imperfections, dreams, and fears… which I can totally relate to. I really admire your strength and determination. And I truly believe all those things you wish and dream of will come true and happen for you.
    May you celebrate many more and more years! I always look forward to reading your posts and seeing your yummy pictures! And I am so impressed that you made french macarons! I’ve always wanted to make them but they seem so complicated. Good job!

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much, Ruby! It was a hard post to write, so it means a lot that you liked it :) The macarons are pretty easy to make. This recipe didn’t call for sifting or anything. I had the most trouble with cooking, but they came out pretty well for my first time making them. I highly encourage you to give them a try!

  7. Hank says:

    Happy Birthday Laura! I hope you are having a wonderful day and opening many presents. Those French macarons look sooooooo good.

    Hank

  8. Arturo says:

    Happy Birthday Laura! Although I usually reserve comments for your confections, today I would like to complement your confessions. I think this particular post is your strongest work to date. It was unflinching, heart-breaking, and honest. It has the making of something really special, a voice that often goes unheard , a silent cadence that is slowly finding its rhythm. Great job, and besides I have no idea what the heck a Macaron or care what nationality it is. Happy Birthday, Again.

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Art, and thank you so much for the kind words about my post! It means so much that you enjoyed it :) If you get to try a macaron, you’ll change your mind about them.

  9. Natalie says:

    Happy Bday! Your macarons look lovely! I still haven’t got around to making my own but it’s at the top of my list of new recipes to try!

  10. Lendon says:

    Happy Birthday Laura! Hope you had a great day. The macarons look very good hopefully there’s one left over for a more in depth review. :-)

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Lendon! I’ll be sure to send some macarons your way the next time I make some. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

  11. Erika says:

    Happy belated birthday Laura!! Lovely post. I can totally relate to a lot of things you wrote about, especially the worrying and wanting a best friend. I haven’t had real, close one who lives near me since my sophomore year in college! But you definitely strike me as someone who is going to make her dreams come true and get that big break, don’t worry :) And macaroons are definitely yum, no matter how they look!

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much, Erika! It is so hard to find really good friends. They make it look so easy on TV and in the movies!

  12. Carol says:

    Congratulations on your 23rd Birthday! How wonderful that life is just beginning for you.You have so many things to look forward to. Just remember, you must like yourself before others can like you. If you are confident in yourself, you can accomplish anything. Stay positive, move forward and let today be the 1st day of your great future. We wish you well in your writing career, and Stan says you’ll always be a great cook!

  13. Debbie Eccard says:

    Hello Laura,
    Great writing and as usual, you express yourself so well. I just want to say that although we don’t get to see each other very often, I love you unconditionally too. I do worry that you won’t experience all that I want you too and that you want to yourself, but just remember that although you are a bit different from other young women your age, they have a their own set of problems. Not the same ones as you but everyone has unfulfilled hopes, wishes and dreams especially when we are young. We all have to just find our way and do the best we can. I think you are doing a very good job at trying to persue your dreams and that your parents are so supportive. When your mom and I were growing up, we didn’t necessarily get to persue our dreams, we just had to find a job to help support ourselves. And I didn’t find my soul mate until I was 34! So just keep looking forward and thinking positively. All my best to you. Love, Aunt Debbie

    P.S. The cookies look amazing. Wish I had one with a cup of tea.

    • Laura says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Debbie :) I agree that everyone has their own problems. One of my grade school teachers once told Mom that, and I never forgot it. No matter how awesome things seem for other people, they are probably dealing with something. These cookies would be great with tea. Just don’t dunk them, I think they’d dissolve!

  14. Happy Birthday!!!
    You are such a young thing…am I allowed to be jealous?! My golden birthday was many moons ago at 26 : ) You are so introspecitve and elloquent with your posts. I always enjoy reading them. Hope you enjoyed your day!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks so much! It means the world to me that you enjoy my posts. You seem very young when I read your blog. I thought we were probably about the same age. You are only as old as you believe and behave. I’ve met people the same age as me and some of them seem like little kids and others like old people. A lot of it is in the mind.

  15. Happy Birthday Laura! I was 27 on the 27th last year. :)

  16. Jackie says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Laura!! I have had a lot of internet issues so I couldn’t get in here to send you happy wishes the other day. :(

    You share a birthday with my big brother!! Oddly enough – he had some serious issues at 23, already married and getting a divorce. Well, let me tell you – he is WAY better off now – happily married now for 17 years with a daughter that is a amazing. So…I just know that you will look back one day on this birthday with pride at all the you accomplished since then. Good luck in all you do!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Jackie! I’m always happy to keep the celebration going :D I know that things will only get better from here. I already look back on previous birthdays and see how far I’ve come. Thanks for the support!

  17. sal says:

    HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY LAURA,HOPE YOU HAD A GREAT DAY.

  18. Happy Birthday! We’ve all been there – you are not alone! You are smart and a go-getter, and I know you are destined for truly great things. You’re also a braver woman than me! I’ve always been to scared to make macarons, but I think this post has inspired me to give them a try (as soon as I can go out to get some almond flour).

    • Laura says:

      Thank you, Sydney! Your kind words mean so much :) I was shocked at how easy it was to make the macarons. This was a really simple recipe, so that helped. When I was planning to make them, I kept telling my mom they probably wouldn’t turn out. But then they did. I was so excited! Go for it!!!

  19. Happy Bday, Laura! My golden bday was when I was 12. I got to get my ears pierced :) My daughter…she wanted them when she just turned 5 last year. And I was like…sure thing. Didnt want to make her wait like I had to! Back to you…sorry that things seem less than ideal; you seem filled with longing, wanting, and hoping for more. And it will all come. All you can do is just take one day at a time, keep up your great attitude, and bake macarons. Which look delish! It’s something ive never made!

    • Laura says:

      Thanks, Averie! I think it’s great your daughter got her ears pierced. Once I got old enough to understand that it involved a needle and hurt, I couldn’t go through with it, so I wear clip earrings. When you’re 5, you are pretty much fearless. I think you are right that I am filled with longing, wanting, and hoping for more, and I certainly hope you are right that it will come. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment :)

  20. Mrs Deer says:

    Happy Birthday Laura!
    I’m French and I love Macarons, your site is very beautiful!
    Thank you for inspiration!

    • Laura says:

      Thank you very much, Mrs. Deer! Your kind words mean so much. I can’t wait to make more macarons to improve my skills.

  21. Joanna says:

    I married your Dad when I was 30 and you were born when I was 34. 23 is so young!! You are a beautiful young lady and I am so proud of you. You are very unique and special. Everyone has problems and has to figure them out and go on with life. I hope all your dreams come true.

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much! I always appreciate your love and support :) I know things will work out, it’s only a matter of time.

  22. Victoria says:

    Happy super belated birthday! Today’s actually my golden birthday, I’m 25. Just want to say that macarons are my favorite dessert but absolute divas to make! Keep your head up! And keep the posts coming! :)

    • Laura says:

      Thank you so much Victoria, and thanks for visiting! I hope you’ll visit often! Happy golden birthday to you :) I have to give macarons another try. This recipe really was quite easy to make.

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