Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Souls Don't Die...A Miscarriage Story

In August of 2013 I gave birth to my beautiful little girl Olivia. She was a perfect little angel. I went through my entire pregnancy without one hitch. It was textbook perfect. Labor was long (26 hours long) but not unusual for your first child.

When I was pregnant with Olivia I already knew then that she would not be an only child so by the time she was just over 2 years old I was pregnant again with our second.

I was so happy. I immediately scheduled my first prenatal appointment with my family nurse and of course I told all of our family and friends that we were expecting a little brother or sister for Olivia. Usually I would wait until after the first 3 months to pass and the dangers of miscarriage are mostly gone before telling too many people but I remember thinking 'my first pregnancy was so perfect why would this one be any different.'

So, I went to my see my nurse, we started my chart and she scheduled me for my first ultrasound so we could find out exactly how far along I was. I was relaxed and happy as I left my appointment to go home.

My ultrasound was scheduled for about 9 weeks along. I was about 5 weeks when I found out I was pregnant using a home pregnancy test so I had about a month to wait to get in for my ultrasound. At first I was so excited to see my little girl or boy that I could hardly contain myself.

"I started to get this dreaded feeling deep down that something wasn't right. I ignored it, and of course blamed paranoia or anxiety." Tweet: I started to get this dreaded feeling deep down that something wasn't right. I ignored it, and of course blamed paranoia or anxiety. 

After a week or so passed I started to wonder when the morning sickness would start. I hadn't had any signs or symptoms that I was pregnant, but it I thought it's still pretty early and everything is probably fine.

Another week passed and still no morning sickness. No sore breasts, no cravings for the usual things I crave when I'm pregnant. I started to get this dreaded feeling deep down that something wasn't right. I ignored it, and of course blamed paranoia or anxiety. How could I possibly know if something was wrong?

As time passed and it got closer to my ultrasound that feeling of dread just kept getting deeper in my gut. When it was finally time for my appointment I still had not felt any symptoms of pregnancy at all but I also hadn't had any symptoms of miscarriage either. As I laid on the hospital bed in the ultrasound room I tying to control my thoughts I studied the technicians face for any signs of good or bad that she might be seeing on the screen. It was taking an excruciatingly long time for her to finish her exam. Then she looked at me and said " I will be back in a minute I just have to check something with the doctor." 

My heart dropped. I laid on that bed for what felt like an eternity waiting for her to come back. She came back with a senior technician who then proceeded to do their own exam moving the wand around my belly. She looked confused and would talk to the other technician once in a while but not saying anything that would give me any clue as to what was going on. I felt like I was going to burst! This was MY baby after all, in MY body so it felt very insulting to be left in the dark this whole time.

"I swallowed hard and then said "Is there a heartbeat?" Whatever she said to me at this point would..."Tweet: I swallowed hard and then said  

Finally they finished, she turned the screen towards me so I could see my precious little creation and there was that perfect little shape. I could see that tiny little heart beating on the screen and for a moment I felt relief. Then I took a deep breath looked at the technician and asked what she had talked to the doctor about. Of course I got the standard answer of "I'm not allowed to give you your results  but your doctor will be in touch with you." She wouldn't tell me anything. I knew something was wrong.

I went home and immediately called my nurse to explain what had happened at the appointment. She was confused at why they wouldn't tell me any information but she pulled the results of the ultrasound that day and called me back. My babies growth was almost 2 weeks behind. I was 9 weeks pregnant but my baby was showing 7 weeks in size. The good thing was there was a heartbeat. She scheduled me for another ultrasound for the next week just to check to see if the baby had grown. The chances were 50/50 that the baby would grow or the heart would just stop, there was no way of telling which way it would go. So I waited.....in agony for a week.

When it was time for my ultrasound again I went in already knowing the answer. My baby was gone. I knew this time to trust my gut and my body. I still showed no signs or symptoms of pregnancy and I was 10 weeks along at this point.

The technician did her usual straight faced evaluation of my belly and baby. This time she didn't take as long before she left to talk to a doctor. She came back and said the results were being sent to my nurse, but she didn't offer to let me see the baby this time. I knew what she would say if I asked her what was wrong so I asked one very specific yes or no question. I swallowed hard and then said "Is there a heartbeat?" Whatever she said to me at this point would reveal the answer to that question unless she lied which I'm pretty sure isn't allowed. She actually answered me..."I can't see one." Then she very quickly left the room.

Although I knew that would be the answer to my question actually hearing those words were just as devastating as if I hadn't been expecting this to happen at all.

"I must be a horrible Mother to be able to feel so happy about this new pregnancy when..."Tweet: I must be a horrible Mother to be able to feel so happy about this new pregnancy when 

It took a week for the miscarriage to physically happen. The pain emotionally and physically was excruciating but thankfully the whole ordeal was over pretty quickly. Now all I had to do was tell all those people that I had told previously that I was pregnant what had happened. It was like reliving the entire thing over and over each time someone asked how my pregnancy was going. It was weeks of well intentioned comments and advise. People don't really know what to say but feel they have to say something so you get a lot of the generic "time heals all" and "at least it happened early on and not later". Although all of these things are true it doesn't help at the time when you feel like you are being swallowed into a deep dark hole in the Earth right beneath your feet.

Eventually though, time did pass and it did seem to get easier. I didn't ask myself the self blaming questions as often any more. Why did this happen? What did I do wrong? If only I hadn't done this or that. When in fact miscarriage is most often something entirely out of your control. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn't my fault at all.

The Second Hurdle

This all happened in January of 2015. By the end of the summer I was feeling much better and had gotten back into the swing of things. Then in September I found out I was pregnant again. Of course I wanted this. I didn't do anything to try and avoid it happening. I was happy in the initial moment of finding out that I was pregnant. Then the fear set in and the what if's started to flood my mind. Could I go through this again? It would kill me if the same thing happened. These I'm very sure are normal reactions after one has had a recent miscarriage but the big one I wasn't expecting was the anger and guilt.

The day I had found out I was pregnant again was days before my due date from the previous pregnancy would have been. I was supposed to be meeting my baby now not starting over having another one like the last never existed or wasn't important enough. I felt so guilty and so angry with myself.

I didn't know how to feel excited or plan for this new baby without having the guilt in the back of my mind that I must be a horrible Mother to be able to feel so happy about this new pregnancy when I should obviously still be grieving for the last one. This was irrational I know, but at the time it was the overwhelming thought in my mind.

I wasn't until my husband stopped me one day and said..." Souls don't die...there was something not working with the body of our child and so God took back that soul and when there was a better body he sent that soul back to us." I believe my baby was born that September. She was born inside of me. My daughter is due in 3 weeks from the time I write this. I am so excited to meet her. The feelings of guilt have subsided and most of the what if questions are gone. I will always think about the one that was lost but I then think about what my husband said to me and it helps give me peace. 

Join Our Email List

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Win A $20'000 RESP For Your Baby With Parent Life & More

As you probably know by now I am expecting my second baby girl very soon! My Facebook wall has become a message center for friends sharing ideas, tips and all other sorts of baby related posts.

This morning a friend posted a contest from Parent Life Network on my wall called Canada's Luckiest Baby.

They are running a contest right now that started on January 22, 2016 and runs until June 5, 2016. They have a bunch of different prizes you can enter to win for you and for baby. 

I was surprised to learn that there is no purchase necessary to enter the contests but I knew of course there had to be a catch somewhere right?

Entry Qualifications

- Live in any Canadian province
- Create account at Parent Life Network by May 31, 2016
- Have children under age 4 or be expecting

All you have to do is create an account on their website and select the prizes you want to enter for. After that you can complete extra little tasks to earn additional entries like joining their Facebook group or liking their Facebook page.

Prize List

- Chance to Win a $2,000 Shopping Spree for Your Baby

- Chance to Win a $5,000 Gift Card For Your Home

- Chance to Win an LG Tech Bundle from Rogers

- Chance to Win 15,000 AIR MILES® Cash Miles

- Chance to win a Dyson Small Ball or Dyson Cinetic™ Upright      Vacuum

- Chance to Win $5,000 in Cash to Treat Yourself

- Chance to Win Up to 3 Diono Radian RXT Car Seats

- Chance to Win A Springfree Trampoline of Your Choice

- Chance to Win a Nuna MIXX Stroller

- $20,000 RESP

- Chance to Win $2,000 for Toys From Bright Bean Toys.

- Win Kitchen Appliances Worth $5,000+

I have signed up for many of these since my first daughter is only 

2 1/2 and I have a second on the way this month. Check it out and good luck!

Join Our Email List

Friday, April 8, 2016

Top 5 Infographics To Get You Through Pregnancy

1. Staying Active During Pregnancy

This doesn't mean that you should go out and run a marathon. However, doing light activity that stays within your trimester limits is a great way to stay healthy and keep off those extra pounds over and above the normal extra baby weight. 

It will help you to stay energetic and keep your muscles toned to better deal with the extra weight you will have to carry throughout your term. 

Below is a great infographic explaining safe activities for each trimester and some of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy. Remember though that everyone is different and if you were not active before you got pregnant you should take that into account when choosing activities while you are pregnant. If you aren't sure talk with your doctor or midwife.

Weight Training Program Safe for Pregnant Women
Image via: Weight Training Program Safe for Pregnant Women

2. Sleeping During Pregnancy Is Tough

It's tough to get a good nights rest while pregnant no matter what trimester you are in. In the beginning you are dealing with fluctuating hormones, nausea and the constant need to go to the loo. 

The second trimester is usually better and things in general get a little bit easier. You have more energy, the nausea has usually subsided by now and you have that wonderful pregnancy glow you keep hearing people talk about. Although it is a happier time during pregnancy the second trimester still has its cons when it comes to slumber.

Then there is the third trimester. Just when you thought you were feeling better. The third trimester brings its own set of woes and even brings back some from the first trimester. The first trimester exhaustion hits again, and frequent trips to the loo will be all too familiar. You are heavier at this point making sleep difficult. 

You may notice that your legs are restless (called RLS or Restless Leg Syndrome) when you lay down making it hard to fall asleep. They may cramp while your sleeping and wake you up. The size of your bump may make it difficult to get comfortable which doesn`t help with the extra aches and pains that are happening right now. This trimester is the worst one for sleep troubles but there are ways to get through it.... and remember the outcome is worth it in the end.

This is a handy infographic detailing some sleep issues for each trimester and tips for how to deal with them.

From Visually.

3. To Eat or Not To Eat?

I hesitated a little bit when adding this infographic to this post. We really have enough to worry about while pregnant as it is, without having to worry about what we eat. Sometimes people can go overboard with what to eat and what not to eat while pregnant and I don't like feeding peoples fears & anxieties. Ultimately I decided to include it because there are some very useful points. I agree that consuming un-pasteurized milk while pregnant and eating raw fish isn't the best idea. 

To be very honest the risks of eating certain foods while pregnant don't change for when you aren't pregnant. The issue is that illnesses like salmonella and listeria while they will make you very sick they can cause harm or even death to an unborn baby. 

That being said I am 8 months pregnant with my second child. I eat my eggs runny and with my first child hot dogs was a staple craving for me. The idea is to make sure your food is clean and cooked properly so limit your risk of illness.

So take a look at the infographic below. It is a fantastic guideline to use along with your own feelings and common sense and remember if you are ever unsure you can always ask your doctor or midwife.

From Naturalon

4. How Big Is That Baby In My Belly?

This is one of my favorites. I loved checking every week to see how much my baby was growing and what they were doing and able to do. It helped me connect better even though I couldn't physically see her I had an image in my mind of what she looked like on that particular week. After she started to move I needed less of a mental image since it was clear to me what she was doing in there! This infographic is a complete list showing growth, symptoms & little tidbits of information week by week all the way up to 42 weeks.

The Bump and the Grind - An Infographic from uCollect Infographics
Embedded from uCollect Infographics

5. Travelling During Pregnancy

I didn't travel much during either of my pregnancies. The furthest I went was a 6 hour car ride to visit my mother in Nova Scotia but there are still things to consider if you are going to be away from home while pregnant. Always let your doctor or midwife know you are planning to travel. They will know based on your history and how your pregnancy is going whether or not it is a good idea to travel.

If you do decide to travel here is a great infographic with some tips on preparing for your trip and how to make travelling a little more comfortable.

Travelling During Pregnancy #infographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How To Cook The Best Easter Ham Ever!

Happy Easter Everyone!

This year for Easter I decided to cook my usual brown sugar glazed ham. It's always a hit with everyone and it's not that I've ever had anyone say that my ham was dry or not good but you know how it is.....you notice things about your own cooking nobody else seems to notice. 

More times than not I'm pretty sure I over cook most meats that I am preparing. It mostly comes from being paranoid that it's not cooked enough and I don't want to make anyone sick if I get it wrong so I always err on the side of caution and cook it just a little bit longer.

This year I decided to dig out my meat thermometer that sits in my kitchen drawer and never gets used and give it a try. I looked up the proper internal cooking temperature for ham and was surprised to find that my fairly large ham was fully cooked in about 2 1/2 hours. I usually cook it for 3 - 4 hours. The difference was amazing. It cut beautifully but didn't fall apart and there was enough juices left in the ham to give it a really nice mouth watering flavor. This year my ham was an even bigger hit than usual.

That said I then started to use my meat thermometer every time I cooked. I've used it on chicken breasts, meatloaf, whole chicken and now I can't live without it.

It got annoying though to have to look up the internal cooking temperatures for what I was cooking each and every time I made supper so I created this cheat sheet which I now keep in my kitchen to quickly reference the temps for what I'm cooking at the time. 

Here is the link to the free PDF for download or print. I hope you get as much use of this as I do.

<3 The Tactical Housewife

Also, Click Here for complete list of all my free resources and printables.

Sign Up for Email Updates.

Don't forget to sign up for my email updates to get the latest updates & free downloads.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Rant Alert : Chocolate And Candy At The Store Checkout!

Okay so rant alert!

My daughter has just reached the age (2.5 years) where she now understands the concept of "I want it". This has made shopping with her increasingly difficult and frustrating. It's really not so much that she wants everything she sees but when she does see something she wants she will kick, fuss and scream until I either give in or we leave the store. We have all had this problem at some point and thankfully most people that are out shopping understand that it's not really your fault that your child is causing a scene but it can still be embarrassing and frustrating.

The problem is really how the stores are laid out. Candy and chocolate are at kid eye level not the parents eye level. It's all wrapped up in pretty princess packaging and bright colors which of course makes the child want it even more. I can get through most of the store without a hitch but when we reach the cash...that's when the nuclear explosion starts.

Every store I go to has chocolate and candy at the checkout...and not on the counter or behind the counter, it's under the counter right in the face of each and every child that walks through the cash. I know what they are thinking, "Let's put the junk where the child can see it and that will make the parent buy it and we'll make more money!". This is so frustrating because I am trying to teach my daughter that she can't always have everything she wants when we are shopping. I of course buy her a treat from time to time but that doesn't deter the lay on the floor of the store, kicking her feet tantrum when I do say no.

It has been especially bad lately with Easter just past. Now all the chocolate is on sale and it's everywhere! I had to stop taking my daughter to the store with me because her tantrums were just getting ridiculous. This is really not the course of action I wanted to take because she really does love to go shopping with me but I am at a loss of what to do to stop the tantrums and the temptation right in front of her is just too much for the poor little thing. When I figure out the solution to this problem I will write a post and let you all know but for now I guess I will just have to deal with it.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

25 Things You Can Do To Relax At The End Of The Day

Why I Chose To Be A Stay-At-Home Mom

I have been a stay-at-home Mom for 2.5 years now and with another new baby on the way I will be home for a few more years yet before both kids are in school for the day. When my first daughter was born I was working sales at a clothing store in the mall. I took my parental leave not sure at the time if I was going to return to work or not. I loved my job and the people I worked with so leaving was a hard decision for me.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that it is a bad thing to choose to go back to work while your kids are young. It really is a personal choice. What's best for one person may not be best for another and I had my own personal reasons for wanting to stay home with her.

Putting my daughter in daycare was not something that interested me. I'm sure the ladies there were wonderful people but I was worried about my daughter learning her morals and values during her most critical years from someone other than me and my husband. So came the decision to stay at home with her.

My husband works on a ship and so he is gone for 30 days and then home for 30 days, so when he is home life is great and I can relax. Having both parents at home 24 hours makes life with kids seem like a piece of pie, but then there are those 30 days where I am basically a single Mom which are more like cutting hard toffee with a butter knife.

One of the many pros of being at home with my daughter is that I have spent everyday of her life with her. I've watched her every little success and failure. The first time she crawled I was there, the first time she walked, the first time she spoke a word, the first time she fell...you get the idea. These are key moments in her life that I might have missed had I been working outside of the home.

It's a busy job to be a stay-at-home Mom. There is housework, yard work, shopping, cooking meals, making sure bills are paid and everyone has what they need and of course taking care of those beautiful little children. It's a full day and I can't say I get anymore time to relax doing this than I would if I were working and I don't get paid for it but I do get to spend more time with my daughter, which is reward enough for me.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that it is a bad thing to choose to go back to work while your kids are young. It really is a personal choice. What's best for one person may not be best for another.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

10 Easy And Harmless April Fools Day Pranks

Get ready for it...tomorrow is April Fools Day! Don't let everyone else get the first laugh, or the last one for that matter. Try these simple pranks to trick your friends, co-workers & family. Have some fun and Happy April Fools!

1. Cover the mouse laser with a post it note! 

Need I say more?

2. Bug in a Lamp

I'll be very serious here, this might be a funny joke for some but I think I would actually faint if someone did this to me.

3. Mirror on the Stairs.

Oh I like this one. ALOT!!

4. Googly Eyes in the Fridge.

This one is great for kids. It's not scary or traumatizing but sure to get a giggle from them.

5. Cheese Please!

6. Beware this one may cause angry friends so use with caution.

7. Meatloaf Cupcakes with Potato Frosting. 

Mmmmm, Cupcakes! Apparently they actual do taste pretty good though.

8. This one is just creepy. Seriously.

9. Place a Helium Balloon in the Toilet. 

This one is pretty harmless and could be played on kids.

10. Paint a Bar of Soap with Clear Nail Polish. 

The soap won't lather.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

4 Things Nobody Tells You About Pregnancy

Here are some things I learned throughout my first and second pregnancies that nobody explained to me when I got pregnant. Everyone is so busy being happy for you that they forget to tell you the big important stuff. Or maybe they don't tell you because they are worried about scaring you. Pregnancy has it's ups and downs but is still well worth it in the end.

1. Labor hurts, and so does post labor!

The birth of a baby is a beautiful thing don't get me wrong, but the truth is labor hurts! Most women will tell you that yes it's painful but don't worry, once you see that little baby you will forget all about it.

When I had my first daughter and she was placed in my arms for a split second I forgot about the pain and nothing else existed then except for her and I but once that moment was over I can't say that I had forgotten all about the pain.

After you've given birth you still have to deal with the pain of not being able to sit properly for weeks especially if you've torn during delivery. Would I do it again? Of course and I can say that since I am 8 months pregnant with my second child as I write this, but this time I know what to expect.

2. It's OKAY to have an epidural. 

This one is a follow up from the first point I posted. The big thing lately is that epidurals come with risks and you should do everything possible to avoid them and have a natural birth. The fact that epidurals have risks is not shocking. Everything we do has risks...taking medication, driving a car, crossing the street etc. The idea is to weigh how severe the risks are before you go ahead.

When I was pregnant with my first I decided I didn't want an epidural. I told my husband that no matter what I said do not let me get one. I was convinced that if I couldn't handle the pain of labor without drugs then in some way that meant I was weak.

I went through a 26 hour labor almost entirely without pain relief. Finally it was my husband that convinced me to get the epidural. I gave in after 23 hours of no sleep and constant contractions. After the pain subsided I was finally able to get some rest while waiting for my cervix to dilate enough to start delivery. Nothing bad happened, my daughter did not have any issues or birth defects and I actually believe that without the epidural I would not have had the energy to push her out myself, which would definitely have result in a cesarean.

Moral of the story, if you feel you need it there is nothing embarrassing or shameful about asking for pain relief.

If you want to learn more about epidurals you can read more about it on Baby Centre. This is a website that I frequently visit and find their advise is very practical and well written.

3. Morning sickness doesn't just happen in the morning.

Don't let the name morning sickness fool you! Morning sickness can happen at anytime of day or night and for some of us unlucky Mama-to-Be's it can last all day.

I had morning sickness all day long with my first pregnancy up until 8 weeks. With my second I had it all day and all night right up to almost 16 weeks. During my second pregnancy I was prescribed a medication call Diclectin to help alleviate the symptoms since I was not able to eat or do anything except lay on the couch which is not conducive to having a 2 year old toddler running around. On the other hand some women experience none to very little morning sickness.

4. The big "Gush" of your water breaking mostly just happens in the movies.

Only 1 in 10 women experience their waters breaking before contractions and labor begins. Most of the time your waters will break towards the end of the first stage of labor.

It is also normal to have to have your waters broken manually by the doctor in the delivery room. This is something that happened to me during my first pregnancy. You may not feel that "gushing" feeling that is often shown in the movies, it might just be a slow trickling feeling.

If you think that your waters may have broken before labor begins there are steps to take. Baby Centre has a great post explaining what happens if your waters break and what to do if they break early.  http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a1053562/when-your-waters-break

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

6 Home Organizing Ideas I Have Tried Myself And Love

Here are 6 organizing ideas that are popular on Pinterest right now. I have tried these myself and still use them. They work for me and so hopefully will work for you too.

1. Keep Brown Sugar Fresh with Marshmallows. 

I store my brown sugar in a recycled sealed margarine container but after time it still gets hard. I added 2 large marshmallows to my last freshly opened bag and it has stayed fresh ever since. See The Pin  

2. Store Cupcake Liners in a Mason Jar. 

I wouldn't have it any other way. They are always together in one place they don't get crushed or lost in the cupboard. Why didn't I do this sooner? See The Pin.

3. Pin Sandwich Bag Boxes to Inside of Your Pantry Door.

I did this one almost 2 years ago and they have never moved from the inside of my pantry door. Even my husband loves this one. I rip the tops of the boxes off before pinning them up to save myself space but either way you will appreciate doing this the next time you need a sandwich bag. See The Pin.

From The Chic

4. Use a Magazine Rack to Store Tinfoil and Plastic Wrap Boxes.

Usually I only post things that I have actually tried myself so that I know it works, but I figured since # 3 worked so well for me this one should work just as well. See The Pin.

From Listotic

5. Use Shower Hooks to Hang Tank Tops and Save Closet Space.

This one is great. When I had my own closet I used to keep all my tank tops on separate hangers. Now that we are having our second child I turned my dressing room into the nursery and of course now have to share a closet with my husband. There wasn't nearly enough room. I didn't want to fold them and put them in a drawer since my dresser is already full, so this little trick did wonders for saving space and I still get to hang up my tank tops! I also hang my extra purses and scarves this way. See The Pin.

6. Hang Baskets in The Bathroom For Extra Storage.

This one adds extra storage which is great for a small bathroom and it looks really nice too! I hung two wicker baskets. I stored rolled up face cloths in one and toilet paper in the other. Bonus is that you can store things on top of the baskets too. I put hand towels on one and my toddlers face cloths on top of the other. It looks clean, put together and saves space under my sink. See The Pin.

Best Homemade Foot Soak For Dry Rough Feet

How many foot treatments, diy remedies and scrubs have we all tried to get those perfect sandal feet for summer? The internet has a plethora of diy "recipes" for soaks, scrubs and treatments for us to try.

If I had more time to spare I would probably treat my feet to the amount of pampering they deserve. Since time is not a luxury for me between housework, cooking, kids, and the pets I needed something that would work quickly that I could do once in a while when I had time.

After trying several different soaks that I found while surfing on Pinterest I finally came across this one. 3 simple ingredients that most of us have in our homes all the time anyway and it worked! It really actually worked....the first time I tried it. This isn't something that needs to be used on a regular basis before you see results, the results are clear after the first time. I admit using it more often would probably make more of a difference but I'm happy with the one time results.

1/2 Cup Listerine
1/2 Cup Vinegar
1 Cup Warm/Hot Water

Just mix the ingredients in a large basin or bowl and soak your feet for about 15 - 20 minutes. The actually soaking of my feet didn't feel much different than anything else but afterwards my feet felt so amazingly clean and soft. Most times I just towel my feet off which removes the dead skin and that is more than enough but when they are particularly rough I use a lava stone to help remove some of the extra dead skin midway through my foot bath.

This is now my go to foot treatment and since summer is creeping up on us I will be using it a little more often now to get ready for barefoot weather. If you give this a try come back and leave a comment to let us all know how it worked for you.

Monday, March 28, 2016

How To Make The Most Amazing Caramel Candy EVER!

Pinterest is full of wonderful looking recipes but one thing I have learned that just because the picture looks delicious does not mean that the recipe actually tastes good. I've tried a lot of bad recipes that looked fantastic and turned out to be tasteless. 

That being said I've also tried many recipes that have made it into my family's recipe book as favorites.

This recipe for caramel is one that has made it into my top favorite recipes. It has been a hit with everyone each time I have made it. I usually cook the caramel so it sets a bit harder but if you like softer caramel you can cook it a few degrees less. 

At the harder consistency it tastes almost identical to Mackintosh Toffee, just a little creamier.

Some things I learned while making this recipe:

1. If you cook the caramel too long it will set really hard and will     be impossible to cut. You could just break it into pieces if you wanted but I find by doing that you end up with sharp edges.

What I do after it's set is put it back in the oven for about 1 min in its tinfoil lined pan. That will usually soften it just enough to be able to cut. You will have to do this quickly though because the caramel will cool down fast. If that happens just pop it back in the oven for a few seconds to re-soften. 

Just remember to watch it carefully it doesn't take long to melt caramel too much in the oven and then you will have to wait for it to set again.

2. Another thing that has happened to me is not cooking the caramel enough. At this point you just have a pan of caramel syrupy mess. It's a delicious mess but not good for making candy. I have actually just taken the caramel put it back in the pot and reboiled it to get the proper temperature. 

3. A good candy thermometer is definitely a must for this recipe but if you don't have one there are other ways to judge whether or not your caramel is at the proper temperature. 

Other Tips : 

The cold water test is one really good way to test for readiness if you don't have a candy thermometer. 

For this recipe you want your caramel to be at about 250 degrees F. If you want a harder candy you will need to heat to about 255 degrees. 

If you are using the cold water test you are looking for your caramel to meet the description for the firm ball or hard ball stage.

You can also find the written recipe and video tutorial here http://www.joyofbaking.com/candy/Caramels.html 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did and I would love to hear from you about how yours turned out and if you have any extra tips to share that you learned while making this recipe. 

Sign Up to receive updates on more recipes, free resources, tutorials and tips.