Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Rainy Day - Slow Roast Duck

I'm going to try a "live blog" entry, where I update as I go. This is inspired by a favourite post over at Amuse Bouche where she slow roasts a duck.

On the forecast the other day I saw it was going to rain a lot this week so I got in some slow cooking ingredients. Today: Duck.

7am - Milord wakes up. It is gloomy and rain is in the air. Princess would usually have woken us before this but on overcast days she often sleeps in a bit. Heavenly!

7:15 - Milord leaves for work. I lie abed for a little while then get up and make a cup of tea and tidy the kitchen.

7:45 - Princess wakes. I get her up and bring her into my lap on the couch for a bottle in front of the morning news on telly. She drinks half of it, then plays on the floor for a bit while I check email and put on a load of laundry.

8:30 - Princess finishes her bottle then cuddles for a while - she is getting sleepy.

9am - Princess goes back to bed for a nap. Laundry into tumble dryer. I realise our muck-diverting-downpipe-thing that keeps dirt out of the rain tanks is blocked and get drenched from the knees down while clearing it. Then I have a cup of coffee and 2 slices of toast while downloading photos from my camera and writing a blog post.

10am - Some more materials for the shed foundations arrive. I stand in the rain talking to the delivery man who wants to debate the merits of store-bought vs home-grown tomatoes. Then my elderly Greek neighbour pops out of his front door and discusses Milord's plans for a spit-roast bbq on his birthday in a couple of weeks time... at least I can stand on my porch out of the rain at for this chat!

10:30 - Princess wakes up. I bring her into the lounge room and she plays on her mat with dangly jingly things. Finish blog post.


I take the duck from the fridge, remove the packaging, wash it and pat it dry with paper towels. I place it on a rack in a roasting tin and put it back in the fridge, uncovered, to dry the skin further so that it will go crispy when cooked. I should probably have done this last night. Oh well.


11am - fiddle on the computer. Princess complains that she can't see me so I drag her mat over to where I am blogging...

Todo in the next hour or so: Fold laundry, wash dishes, dye hair roots, shower, dress, feed Princess, vacuum and mop floors.

****

12:30pm - Hair done, showered and dressed. I pulled Princess' mat in front of MTV on the telly while I was in the bathroom. Bad mummy. Then I made her a bottle and she fell asleep on me drinking it. When I got her up on my shoulder for a burp she fell asleep there too... not like her at all. I hope she isn't ill. I put her to bed and she went to sleep immediately.

Google a few duck recipes. Eat 2 apples and drink a glass of water. Preheat oven to 150C (300F). Back in a bit...

****

It is now 1:30pm - Can't find any recipes I like, so I shall make something up. Send a couple of emails.
Assemble ingredients, realise kitchen bin is niffy, empty it. Still raining so I leave the bags of rubbish on the front porch - I'll take them out to the bin later. Princess grumbles as I go by so I comfort her back to sleep. Wash dishes. Wash kitchen bin. Line with a plastic bag... now where was I? Oh yes.

Roughly chop ginger and garlic and the bulb end of some spring onions. Quarter a lime. Stuff everything into the duck cavity and tie the legs together to keep it all in. Pierce the duck skin all over with a sharp skewer thing, without piercing the meat.

Cooking without a glass of wine feels very wrong, however not only am I determined not to drink during the workday, but Milord and I also have a new pact to not booze Monday thru Thursday. For health and economic reasons... *sigh*


Princess is calling - pop duck into oven, set timer for 1 hour, go and get her. She's smiling and wriggly and happy to see me. Put her on her playmat and turn off MTV, turn on radio instead. Good mummy.

Still todo in the next hour or so: Fold laundry, prepare some solid food for Princess, vacuum and mop floors.

****


2:30pm - (1 hour) flip duck over, set timer for 1 hour.

Peel one small potato (quartered) and one carrot (julienned) and a chunk of pumpkin. Pop into steamer with a couple of brocolli florets.

Fold one load of laundry, but when I go to fetch the next lot from the dryer I find I must have got sidetracked earlier and it is still in the washing machine. Crap. Bung it in the dryer.


When soft mash potato and brocolli together with a little butter. Mash pumpkin. Open a can of peach slices and cut a slice of banana. Hoik Princess into highchair - bolstered with towels because it is too big. She loves the brocolli mash, is not sure about the pumpkin, and only eats the carrot because she wants to please mummy. The fruit gets "thbbbt" so I clean her up and we go for a walk through the house to settle the food.

Stand on the back porch looking at rain falling on the devastation in the backyard. After a good burp go to put Princess down - she grumbles. Change her nappy, but she still grumbles. Zip her into her sleeping bag and put her to bed - she goes straight to sleep. Huh, she's really tired today, I hope she's not ill.

Stream XFM London off the internet - I really miss UK radio. It is first thing in the morning there and really cold... I don't miss that!

3:30pm - (2 hours) flip duck over and prick skin some more, set timer for 1 hour. It is starting to smell awesome! I could murder a glass of wine. *sigh* Have a glass of water and make a chai tea.

4pm - I am going to sit down with my book and my cup of tea and relax for a bit.

Still todo in the next hour or so: Fold laundry and vacuum and mop floors. Maybe I'll just sweep the floors quickly instead... this blogging thing takes a surprising amount of time!

****


4:30pm - Flip duck. Drain fat from roasting pan and set aside. It looks as good as it smells!


Princess wakes. I give her a small bottle of milk, then settle her in her rocker where she can see me in the kitchen.

5pm - prepare side dishes. Peel potatoes and carrots. Slice carrots and zuccini and get ready for steaming. Peel and eat a carrot...

Cut potatoes into roastie size and pop into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 min then remove from the heat and drain. Heat a decent glug of duck fat with a crushed garlic clove and a sprig of rosemary in the same saucepan - when it's just starting to sizzle add the potatoes and take off the heat. Put the lid on and shake frantically until the potatoes are well coated, then tip them into a roasting pan.

Mix honey, balsamic and soy ready for basting.



5:30pm - flip duck. Drain fat from the roasting pan again, then pour over the honey mix. Return to oven and set timer for 15 min.

5:45pm - baste the duck. Set timer for 15 min. Try to figure out why my blogpost has gone spazzy... Prepare Princess' bath.

6pm - turn everything off. This could be a very bad idea, but for the next hour I'll have my hands full and I can't be in the kitchen... Bath Princess and give her her bedtime bottle (Milord would usually help with this but he's carting a heap of gravel from the front of the house to the back. In the rain).

7pm - put Princess to bed - luckily she falls asleep easily tonight. Take duck out of oven, pop in the potatoes and turn oven to 180C. Hopefully this works! Milord is starving and snacks on crisps...

Aha! Running the spellcheck kills my embedded photos - don't touch that button again!

7:20pm - put duck back in oven. Baste again.
7:25pm - Set steamer going under carrots.
7:30pm - Add zuccini to steamer...
7:35pm - turn everything off!

Phwoar...


Succulent and falling off the bones...

Dish up half a duck each and drizzle with pan juices. Serve with roast potatoes and steamed veggies.


This was delicious (although it would have been even better with a crisp dry white wine. *sigh*)! The only possible criticism I have is that the duck skin and the potatoes were not crispy, but that's probably because I had to pause everything for an hour right at the end.

I could only eat half my duck portion in spite of eating very little all day in expectation of a blowout dinner. Having simple steamed vegetables balanced the richness of the duck and potatoes.

8:15pm - clean up. Stack dishwasher and wash up what doesn't go in it.

8:30pm - Now I just have to tidy up the baby bath stuff in the bathroom and I can relax. I never did fold that last load of laundry or clean the floors... maybe tomorrow.

I'd love a glass of wine right now. *sigh*
I'll put the kettle on for a herbal tea...

It is still raining and Princess is fine by the way - sometimes rainy days just make her sleepy. She was full of smiles and happiness watching me in the kitchen and in her bath.

9pm - I'll go and join Milord in front of the telly. Nighty night.

7 Months

In 2 days time Princess will be 7 months old. She is thriving and happy and gorgeous.


She rolls a lot now, although she still gets stuck on her tummy and has to be rescued, sometimes a couple of times in the night... as she is fast asleep even as her back touches the mattress I can't complain too much!

Lots of chatter noises and raspberries. A constant vocalisation this week is a sort of gargle with a tune behind it: "gggggGGggglaargleggggggggGGgl". I do it back to her and we have a conversation! Milord can't join in because all the soft bits of his throat got taken away during his sleep apnoea treatment...

video
(that's rain in the background)

Food is going fine, although I think I might be overfeeding Princess at night. Twice now I have ended up wearing the regurgitated bedtime bottle, evening solids, and a little extra milk and solids from earlier... yuck. I've never worn someones vomit before - I guess it's a mummy thing, eh? And it won't be the last time, I'm sure!

I don't think it's been gastro because Princess is quite happy afterwards, goes straight to sleep and sleeps well until morning with no further vomits or poos. I start the next day's feeds with water to rehydrate her and she's just fine thereafter. So I have to move the solids to earlier, or give less solid food, or give a smaller bedtime bottle. Or all of the above!


Princess' motor skills are developing marvellously. It's a delight to see her shakily reach for an object and carefully pick it up. And put it straight in her mouth of course! She likes to feel our faces - usually quite gently, although if she gets a good grip on a nose or ear it gets a thorough twist. When carrying her against my shoulder she grabs a fistful of hair for balance... or a handful of neck skin - ow. Necklaces and dangly earrings got packed away a long time ago!

Princess is a bit more clingy these days - she likes to know where I am and to see me if possible. Some days I have to bring her into the bathroom during my shower and the bedroom while dressing etc to keep her happy. At naptime she tries to go to sleep wrapped around my arm, which is adorable but not really practical! I have recently introduced a small soft toy into her cot - "Skinny Bunny" - who gets a good cuddle and suck during naps.



I'm still loving the mummy thing, and it just keeps getting better. "Thank god for that!" says Milord.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Park Life

The past week has been gorgeous. Sunny days that are not too hot (around 26C)... Princess and I have taken a walk in various parks every day.

Monday - Boot Camp. Eish, the trainer nearly killed me! No photos from this one, but Princess was an angel during the class, then drank her bottle and had a snooze while I went for a walk to stretch my aching body.

Tuesday - Long walk by the river. Here is Princess having a stretch under a tree. She is not asleep but it's a bit bright and she is squinting.


Wednesday - Walk to a park near the river. Princess' first time in a swing! She was more interested in nomming on the swing though - erk. "Germs are good! Germs are good!" (Still squinting, mummy keeps forgetting to bring along the baby sunglasses)


Thursday - Mums Group meetup in another park. Princess doesn't much like her sunnies but if enough is going on she'll forget about them for a while...


Friday - second time in a swing. Either this swing is a different size or she was more into swinging. Wheee!

video

The housework slipped a little because we were out so much, but who cares! The weekend has been rather hot and sticky, but from Monday we'll have cooler weather again and I'm looking forward to it. No weight loss which is a surprise, but I'm feeling very bloaty so maybe it's pending?

In other news, Princess is getting the hang of rolling, after a topsy turvy week of needing to be rescued from her tummy during the night. Mummy is a bit knackered and Princess has taken to sleeping on her side. She still gets stuck on her tummy but I reckon we are close to her figuring out how to roll back again...!

Latest foods: tuna (tinned): indifferent; apricot (tinned): yum; avocado (fresh): yum; peanut butter (mixed with a little rice): yum; chicken and rice meatball: indifferent (maybe too dry); cheese (cheddar, mature): yum.

I've searched the net and I can't find any consensus on peanuts. Some studies say if you are allergic it makes no difference when you try them, and others (mostly laymen) say leave it until age 3. I reckon peanuts are so ubiquitous in our society that I'd rather know asap if Princess is allergic, so we're giving it a shot. No affects so far although she gave us a scare shortly after bedtime with a screaming fit... seems she may have poked herself in the eye perhaps as she calmed down and went to sleep once Milord and I both ran in and checked her all over!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Smug Mummy

I am so proud of my Princess! She is coping admirably with my decision to skip puree and to start her journey into the world of food with lumps and chunks. It's not true "Baby-Led Weaning" because I do hand-feed Princess, with the exception of anything from a spoon. Spoon stuff I load onto the spoon and then hand the spoon to Princess... with messy results but she seems to enjoy the autonomy and I reckon about half gets inside her. The rest she wears!

video

The added bonus to the route we have taken is that I don't prepare special meals for Princess. She gets what we are eating (before I add salt and spices). We had pasta bolognaise the other night and so this was Princess' dinner the following day: Bolognaise in spelt pasta shells (we are avoiding wheat until 9 months) with steamed carrot batons and garden peas, tinned peach slices and mummy-peeled grapes, and a mini fromage frais yogurty thing.


She ate almost all of it (the pasta shells were not appreciated) finishing with the yogurt. Princess smelled like a strawberry for the rest of the day, even after her bath!


I am the smuggest mummy in town! I have friends with much older babies who can't/won't eat lumpy or whole food, and my clever girl gobbles it all down...

Oh yeah, and the nappies are way smellier now. I don't mind because they are less explosive and easier to clean up!

Un-Friendly

I am cursed with enormous empathy. Sad people make me sad, angry people make me anxious. Happy people make me joyful... but how many happy people do you actually know? When I was a lot younger I spent a lot of my energy trying to fix people, cheering them up, calming them down, taking their troubles onto myself.

It is exhausting! When a girlfriend cried on my shoulder for a weekend over a broken heart I was in a state of collapse after she left. An evening with an arguing couple leaves me tense and irritable. I pick up on nuance that others may be oblivious to: a few years back Milord and I had dinner with friends of his. On the drive I home I said I couldn't believe how toxic the atmosphere had been. He hadn't noticed. They divorced shortly thereafter.

Being sensitive to atmosphere can be a good thing - I have been the person to ask "Are you alright? You seem down" when a good friend needed someone to notice the place she was in. I can tell when Milord needs a bit of space, or not.

At other times it's like being run over by a bus.

I won't say too much here because she may still be lurking on this blog, but I recently spent time in one of the most toxic households I've ever been subjected to. Angry disrespectful parents. Angry disrespectful children. I spent a lot of time avoiding everyone because the ambient rage was eating into my soul.

Although I never said anything specific to the person concerned she must have picked up on my discomfort because she un-friended me on facebook after spewing bile at my wall (if you are not a facebook junkie this is a very very public way of sending a message - ridiculous when you consider she has my email address).

Lady, I have 4 words for you:
Anger Management.
Marriage Counselling.

Soon. Before you damage your babies forever.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Birthday Week

Wednesday was my birthday - I am now 38. Milord keeps trying to tease me about approaching 40 but to be honest 40 holds no terrors for me. I was a lot more bothered about 30 than I am for 40 - probably because my 30's have been so very good. New country, marriage, baby, house... I have not been this happy in decades and so my birthday is a true celebration!

It's been a lovely birthday week. I've have had friends over a couple of times, had family and my BFF call me from overseas, and been inundated with emails, local calls and facebook birthday greetings. We organised a babysitter on Wednesday and Milord took me out to a posh restaurant in the city: Cafe Sydney, where the tables on the balcony overlook the bay bounded by the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Princess has been an angel since Wednesday - our babysitter didn't get a peep from her while we were out, and last night I got a full 10 hours sleep while Princess slept for 11 hours!

Awesome. Simply awesome.

As for pressies, Milord bought me the next book in the fantasy series I am reading, and he says I may book myself a massage at a spa. He also cooked me dinner on the night before my birthday. My mum's group got me a pedicure voucher. I feel very spoiled!

It's been lovely and cool for the past few days too, as the prevailing winds are coming up from Antarctica. Just cool enough to wear jeans and sleep under the covers after a very sticky week last week. While Princess is too little to hit the beach or public pool I am very happy with a bit of coolth!

The week in pictures:


Princess cuddling with Daddy before bedtime.


Princess later that same night, unable to sleep. Mummy is forcing tummy time until Princess finally wears herself out! Mummy's fault for allowing a late afternoon nap...


Mum's group over at our house for birthday cake and champagne.


Someone is not allowed cake...


If mummy has a new book I'll have one too.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Post Preggy Body Update

Princess is 6 months old. Therefore, I have had 6 months in which to get my body back in shape and I should be back to at least where I was before getting pregnant, right?

Well, no.

I love eating and my baby loves sleeping so mummy is a bit sedentary and I have every last kilo of baby weight riding on my hips and bum. I am 76.5kg and steady...

I've decided to stop stressing. When Princess stops sleeping every 2 hours and wants to be out and about then we can play chase in the park or go for long walks and even maybe take up jogging with my super-expensive jogging pram!

No, I'm not giving up! I still keep an eye on what I'm eating and I do use my cross trainer several times a week and I attend a boot camp on Mondays. We eat almost no junk food and no takeaways and very little fat. My problem lies in portion control and wine. I do track my intake in Weightwatchers and I chomp/drink a good 10 extra points most days. *sigh*

Oddly enough, I have attracted a number of unsolicited compliments from my girlfriends recently. I was out for (OMG my first since Princess was born!!! Squeeee!) a girls night last week, and was told I'm looking great. I laughed of course, thinking they were just being nice. But no, seems I carry my weight well and the exercise I am doing has shaped it into curves. "Your butt looks fantastic in those jeans!" said a friend.

I'll admit, I cracked a week or so ago (when I wrote that rant about hating my body) and went shopping for a few clothes that actually fit. Jeans that don't muffin-top. Bras that don't cut. Shorts that don't gather up in the crotch. Yes, I went up a dress size for a few items... and how nice is it to have things that don't hurt to wear?! My Mom brought me a bunch of good-quality M&S cotton t-shirts that I can wear with anything and which suit my shape, and I look... ok.

Phew.

Apart from weight, where is the post-preggy-Saffa-body?

I can sneeze on a full bladder!
I can suck in my tummy and most of it obeys.
My feet still hurt most of the time but they're getting better. Luckily they are still the same size as before.
Boobies have shrunk and perked up back to where they were before pregnancy - Milord is thrilled.
My hair is a bit odd. I shed like fury during December and January, and now I see I have a thatch of new growth coming through about 1cm long.
Princess' milk feeds don't take long at all so the terrible neck-back-ache I used to have from holding her just so for the breast or bottle for half an hour at a time has eased.

So yeah. All pretty good. I'm in a very good place right now!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Solids - more photos

You're going to get sick of these, but I'm having too much fun experimenting on the baby to resist!


Note to self - if the baby is hungry start with her bottle if you don't want a frustrated meltdown as she can't get solids in fast enough to be satisfied...

So today we started with a few spoons of (jarred, organic) pumpkin mush mixed with rice cereal to make it thicker and stickier on the spoon. Princess would be quite happy to be spoon-fed but we're trying to be baby-led so I load the spoon, get her to hold it, and she rams it in the general direction of her mouth. Between lack of coordination, trying to lick the food which knocks it off the spoon, and trying to bite the spoon which sends food everywhere she ended up wearing most of it! The mess OMG the mess! I won't be doing anything spoon-based in public any time soon! She seemed to like the pumpkin taste and was keen for more but was a bit frustrated with the spoon so we moved on to finger food.

I'm still feeding these to Princess as she hasn't quite got the grasp-and-bring-to-mouth-and-bite thing happening yet. In theory I shouldn't be giving her these bits until she can manage them herself but I'm having fun, so... bad mummy!

The tinned peaches and tinned pear were a big hit. The pear goes down easily as it turns to mush fast, although she prefers the taste of the peach. Carrot sticks (nuked until soft) are very popular. I thought she was just going to suck and squish the carrot and then spit it out but she she nommed a whole 1 and a half sticks! I was stunned! Grapes (peeled and hung onto fiercely by mummy) were nommed and sucked and swallowed with great delight.

Rice cakes were not a hit. They got sucked a bit and spat out. I tried dipping one in yogurt which got it a longer suck but she's really not keen! Maybe when she starts teething she'll like biting them.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Solids - photos

I have cheated a bit by putting the food to Princess' mouth (very non-baby-led), but she was totally in control. She sucked and nommed steamed carrot sticks, steamed brocolli and canned peach pieces. When she had enough she spat them out. Almost no gagging - I am so proud!

Carrot...


Brocolli...



I have no pics of peaches because she ate them completely! The nappies are getting interesting!

Bye Bye Financial Crisis

Ok, so the GFC is still apon us, but my own personal financial crisis is improving!

A week or two ago Milord spoke to his company about resigning. He's been on part-time employment since June last year, and we are struggling. It was ok when I was still in work - we just scraped by - but since I stopped to have Princess 6 months ago we've been in dire straits. Our income barely covers the household bills, and things like mortgage and renovations were coming out of our credit cards to the tune of about $4K every month. We have over $20K in credit card debt now, and it's giving us sleepless nights!

So anyway, Milord's company decided to let someone else go and took Milord on as a permanent full-time employee, starting today! Phew... we are still going to struggle to pay off our debt but at least it shouldn't be escalating every month. And being perm Milord will now get paid leave, sick days and public holidays - bonus!

I'm very chuffed. Sadly, Milord isn't... he doesn't like being permanent and his company is not that great to work for. He's been a bit depressed, poor guy.

He's a wonderful husband and father. My hero!