Ducky Diaries: December 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

From our family to yours

I love the Holidays!
I love the decorations, being with my family, cooking, eating, drinking, watching little children open presents and enjoy traditions, dressed in the Christmas best.

I loved the Holidays myself, especially as a child.  It was such a magical time.  I fondly remember walking down town and seeing all, and I do mean ALL, of the store fronts decorated and lit up with all the beautifully colored lights of the season.  Sitting on Santa's lap and telling him I just wanted 'peace on earth'..... 

Now, I sit on my husbands lap and tell him I just want 'peace and quiet'.....  Wink wink. 

I also LOVE learning about other cultures and how they celebrate their holidays.  Again, I stand my ground when I say it is a magical time. 

And in honor of this magical time I will be signing off for a few days to enjoy time with my family and friends.  So, while I am away making memories and traditions with my small children, I hope you will be doing the same.....

From our family to yours,
Happy Holidays! 





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Monday, December 16, 2013

D.I.Y. #4 - Bringing back Hard Tack -


I'm not sure why but I wound up in a tizzy a few days ago with the dire need to learn how to make Hard Tack candies.   Maybe it's the time of year, the nostalgia of pretending I had the power to eat stained glass, the babies (who can't even eat any), the need for traditions?

 I don't know but I wanted some and had no idea where to find it, so off to the cook book and grocery store I went. 

As with "most" things I go about doing for the D.I.Y. category, I found that this was surprisingly easy to make.  I figured I would fail miserably, but I only botched my "practice" batch.   And now I have a Tupperware full of Strawberry and Root Beer hard tack and am planning on making enough to hand out as mini Christmas gifts.   MmMmMMMmmm   

I'm going to share the recipe with pictures here.  I hope you all enjoy this blast from the past!   

Happy Cooking. 

First things first, your ingredients!  

2/3 Cup of KARO syrup
2 Cups of White Sugar
3/4-1 Cup of Water
Powdered Sugar (optional)
Food Coloring Dye (optional)
Lightly Greased foil lined cookie sheets
Dram of flavoring oil (1 Dram per batch)
*Helpful hint*
 If you're having trouble locating Flavor Oils, check with the pharmacy. Many stores keep them there. 
You can also use flavored Extracts for in place of your flavor oil, but you will need about 9-10 mL of flavoring to compare with 1 Dram of flavor oil which is only a little over 3 mL.

Candy Thermometer  (If you're a beginner, a candy thermometer will be your best friend for this recipe).
or a cold glass of water and a timer.
Metal stirring spoon







 
 


LET'S START COOKING!!!

Combine your 2 Cups of white sugar, 2/3 Cup of  Karo syrup, and 1 Cup of water in your (medium to large) cooking pot.  Set your stove top to Medium.  If you have a gas stove you want a nice Medium flame! If you're using a candy thermometer you want to place it in your pot now. Hang it over the side of your pot, you want the thermometer in the liquid but NOT touching the bottom of the pan.

 You're going to STIR your ingredients until your sugar has dissolved.
 
IMPORTANT! ONCE YOUR MIXTURE BEGINS TO BOIL DO NOT STIR.  (if you're using the cold water test and NOT a candy thermometer this is the time you want to set your timer for 20 minutes)
 For those of you using your candy thermometer, you're going to drop your food coloring dye into the boiling mixture once your temperature reaches 260 degrees. 
DO NOT STIR.
Let the boiling mixture distribute the coloring.
 
If you're using the cold water test, drop your coloring dye in around the 11 minute mark on your timer.

FINISHING TOUCHES:

At 300 degrees remove your pot from the flame. 

**Cold water test- Take a spoonful of the mixture at around the 17-20 minute mark and drop the mixture into your glass of cold water (which should be set aside).  You want the mixture to instantly harden upon touching the cold water. After a few moments in the water you should be able to take your mixture into your hands and it should "crack" or break  apart fairly easily.   Take your pot off the flame when your mixture has reached this stage. ** 

A fun mini science experiment to do with your children is to drop a spoonful of mixture into glasses of water throughout the cooking.  They will see each stage of the sugar cooking. 
 "thread stage (liquid threads)"   "Soft Ball (mixture will form into a soft pliable ball)"  "Hard Ball ( Mixture will form into a hard non pliable ball)"  "Crack (mixture will crack and break easily)" 

WHEN MIXTURE IS NO LONGER BOILING:



You are going to now pour in your Flavoring oil Dram or 10 mL of extract.
Keep your face away from the pot.  Flavor will cause a big cloud of steam and flavor to rise.   ** When using cinnamon or peppermint it may be best to take your pot outside and add your flavoring. **  Flavoring is quite strong. 

Stir the mixture and then pour into your lightly greased foil lined cookie sheets.  





 
 
Your mixture should start to harden and set pretty quickly. I will occasionally throw mine into the fridge or place it out in my garage (we have cold temps) to speed up the "setting"
process.

Once your mixture has set and hardened you should be able to pull it out of your (lightly greased) pan with no problem.

Now the fun begins!!!!   

 

Grab your hammer, screw drivers, or anything hard and give your candy sheet a WHACK! 

Whack away *snicker snicker* until you have all your desired pieces.   

Don't forget to add your powdered sugar at this stage (if you like).
Store your candy in an air tight container and Enjoy often!  




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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eliminating the 'shame game'

I often hear how formula feeding women are made to feel ashamed of the choices they make, but what I don't hear is the other side.   Which must be because it doesn't exist. Or does it?   What if I told you I am a breastfeeding mother and am often 'shamed' or bullied, sometimes even by my own family?   

Well I am.  

The bullying is not cruel, and not even seen as bullying.  It is seen as love, and advice to help me.  However it doesn't 'help' me.  It makes me feel defeated, frustrated, and as though I'm doing something wrong.   I live in a society that is vastly misinformed about breastfeeding.  Even my own husband is ..... ignorant.....    He sees breastfeeding as something my child is 'addicted' to and needs to have taken from her.    I hear often how she needs "broken from the boob" and how I'll learn my lesson when she gets teeth. 

I have even had an incidence in public when walking through a store feeding my daughter under a nursing cover where two grown men followed me around attempting to somehow magically see through or around my cover.  

I often hear disgust in voices when people realize I breastfeed....  Most of the time it is accompanied by the reason they don't. Even though I never ask. 

Family sees the hard work I put into a constant cycle of pumping and feeding and lovingly push me towards formula rather than support me in my decision.  Yes, breastfeeding is hard, but it is MY choice and I do still have a choice, right? 

Don't we all have a choice?  To feed and raise our children in the ways we see fit?  So long as we are not bringing them harm and are feeding them healthy, fortified meals? 

Why is there not a balance? Why are we not given all the information and allowed to make decisions we see as the best ones we can make?  Why are we not accepting of both sides.  I have plenty of friends that have chosen to formula feed and I love them. They are fantastic, loving parents.  Who am I to say one negative thing to them?   I  also have many friends that support my breastfeeding and think I am a fantastic, loving parent. 

I don't understand why we bash one another.  Or make either side of the formula vs. breastfeeding feel as though they should feel ashamed.  It's ignorant.  Completely.  

In my opinion, we're all doing the best we can to raise our children into healthy, functional, caring adults. 

Enough Said....

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Give me the crazy

Recently I've been listening to what is being said around me....  
As in actually listening, not just hearing, what fellow mom friends are saying. Are they talking about their weight? Kids? Husbands?  Surprisingly no.  

They are coming out...... 

Yes, coming out.  Coming out of the repressive "perfection" closet.

A good friend admitted to telling her husband that after she met me she was going to hide her crazy and act normal.  Another mommy friend confessed that she isn't perfect.  One confessed to swearing. Another mommy said she liked me because I say the things other moms are afraid to.

I love it!   I sincerely do. 

Why? Because I am. NOT. a Stepford wife and neither are YOU. 

 I love wine, and it doesn't make me an alcoholic.  I swear sometimes, because I am not perfect. And because I get really mad.  I call my children "C.B.'s" (short for cock blockers) because, let's face it, they are.  My husband and I have some really nasty fights sometimes, because, we piss each other off.  We have money struggles and the occasional relationship struggles, but he is literally the great love of my life.  I don't go to church, yet I believe in God and Jesus,  I'm just not a church person. Sometimes I hate my body, sometimes I think I look super sexy.   

I say really inappropriate things, and do inappropriate things.  I am just me.  And I wouldn't change that.  At all.  Because literally e.v.e.r.y. part of me, is ME.  You want me in your life, you get the whole package.  Everything.

This may sound ludicrous but,  I  want your crazy to.   I really do.   I love when people are themselves around me.  That's what bonds you.  The real you.  It bonds you to other people. Imperfect, messy, beautiful, people.

And aren't we all imperfect, messy, beautiful, people? 

Call me crazy if you want to, but there's something to be said about a friend that knows everything about you and is still willing to help you hide the body. 
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Rest is for the childless

So, I have been absent for the better part of a week..... 
I've been sleep training effing myself in the ass, or at least attempting to.  I-am-so-tired. 

Hey guys, remember when we were young and went out to bars or parties and we would come home at the crack of dawn and barely get any sleep before work and we would weigh the option of being fired or puking at work all day?  And then ultimately go to work and swear we'd never do any of this shit EVER AGAIN! Only to do it all over again the next Friday night?!!!  Remember, huh? Do ya? Huh? 

Well sleep training is kinda going like that...  Except my boss is under 3 feet tall and I never get the pleasure of being fired from my job. I only ever get to finish half a glass of wine, and minus the puking.... But the staying up till dawn is fairly accurate. 

Zo-zo is putting a hurtin' on me.   She's pissed and I get it. I mean, now that she's 6 months old D.i.c. said she had to get out of our bed.  Which kinda makes me happy but also makes me really sad.. She is the ULTIMATE snuggle buddy.   I miss it, but D.i.c. and I  actually spooned, like for reals spooned the other night and I realized how much I miss that as well....  Sigh.....

So anyways, while we're transitioning her to her pack and play right next to our bed (training for the crib) we've began attempting to sleep train as well, because, she literally will nurse on me all night l.o.n.g.  Which means that my 6 month old still sleeps like a newborn whos got her days and nights mixed up.  I'm like a fish out of water, because I have literally zero idea what I am doing....

 I, me, holy granola co-sleeping, attachment parenting, ME, actually tried C.I.O. the other day. And by try I mean standing outside the bedroom door and going in every 45 seconds, which I'm no genius here, but I think makes the whole process mute. I think it lasted about 6 minutes before she convinced me to give her my boob.  

She's sneaky like that.  So now, we're kinda doing this thing where we have a little routine of snuggles, a nursing session, then once she's out I put her in her PNP.  Then if she wakes up I try the binkie and more snuggles.  It's not exactly fool proof but last night she slept in her own space from 12:45 a.m. to 6:10 a.m. (HELL YES!) and she took her 2 naps without a fight today.  Right now she's finally asleep after steps 1 and 2, so hopefully I'll have another night like last night.

Fingers crossed.

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