I clean down everything that will touch the egg whites and sugar and I use fresh egg whites. I get the mixture to around 150'ish; the sugar is definitely dissolved. Then I use my hand held mixer to whip up the meringue........and I whip.....and I whip......and I whip.....*sigh* . Today I whipped that meringue for probably 25 minutes BY HAND! It gets to the glossy stage just fine, but it never whips UP, it just hangs out at the bottom of the bowl. If you pick some up it just falls back into the bowl making little ribbons. What gives!?! Needless to say, I add my room temperature butter anyway and it comes together, but I'm thinking I'm not getting the volume of icing that everyone else is and that my buttercream is too buttery. I can probably get 2 cups using 3 egg whites and 1 3/4 cups sugar and 2 sticks of butter. Maybe that's the right volume for that much ingredients?