My plan was to live blog tomorrow (Saturday) because we had no real plans and I wanted to slow roast a couple of ducks the way I did back here 5 years ago. 5 years already??!! Wow, that's insane.
However we have now been invited over to the neighbour's on Saturday afternoon for a birthday spit-roast so I'm going to have to figure out roasting the ducks around that, swimming on Sunday morning and a kid's birthday party on Sunday afternoon. Mom has volunteered to cook them for me but I wanna do it *wah*!
My freezer is too small to get 2 ducks into, and anyway we have plans for next weekend... So I'll probably mostly cook the ducks on Saturday and then finish them off after the party on Sunday. I hope they turn out okay.
So how about I "live blog" from now until then and you watch the chaos unfold? LOL. Comment if you're watching.
My alarm goes off and dredges me up from a deep sleep and an odd dream. It is very dark, but happily the heating came on an hour ago so the house is warm in spite of the frost on the ground outside. I am alone, because Milord has slept on the sofabed in the study. We prefer to sleep together, but when one of us is ill or boozing then they snore like crazy and annoy the other one and it just works out better to have separate sleeping places.
Earlier this week Milord had minor surgery to remove a skin cancer on the bridge of his nose next to his left eye. He is rather unhappy and uncomfortable with a large chunk of his nose bridge removed and the rest stitched together. He looks like he came off worst in a fist fight actually, with swelling around his left eye and bruising under both eyes. He's being brave about it, but is hitting the booze quite hard and so slept in the study last night. I can still hear the snoring through the wall, but at least it doesn't keep me awake!
I shower and do my hair and makeup and dress, interrupted twice by King and then Princess coming in for a wee. Princess is night trained at last, but King still needs a nappy at night. In summer we will try night training him again, but I am not interested in dealing with a wet bed in the middle of a cold night!
As it is Casual Friday I dress in jeans and comfy shoes and a soft blue floral top. The jeans are a bit tight, but not as tight as last week... either I have dropped a bit of weight or they're just stretched from being worn once already since washing. I did make it to the gym twice this week, so maybe...? Ugh, who am I trying to kid?!
I walk into the living room and greet Milord who is watching the news, and Mom who has also just showered and dressed. A cup of Nespresso coffee is waiting for me - yum. We love our coffee machine! I make Mom a cup of tea while she starts herding the kids off to get dressed for school and daycare. In the fridge are several prepackaged salads and packs of sliced chicken and smoked salmon, which I gather up to take to work. Also a ready-to-heat chicken pho noodle soup... mmm maybe I'll have that for lunch today!
Normally Milord would hop in the shower now, but he is staying home today because he's not feeling 100%. Poor bloke - the surgery really knocked him around. They did it under local anaesthetic and he found the whole experience quite traumatic. Yesterday he was worried because both of his arms were aching, and we figured out it was because he'd been clenching his fists so hard during the procedure!
Kiss everyone goodbye, put on my scarf and coat, and walk outside to the battered little blue car. It is covered in ice. Damn, I forgot to start it earlier! (I usually start the car as I leave my bedroom in the morning to give it 10 minutes to defrost) Start the car and scrape the ice off the side windows. The ice on the windshield is too thick so I sit in the car for several minutes until it warms up enough to melt and be wiped away. Finally, I drive off.
My drive to work is quite lovely, with views of the hills and distant mountains, passing though stands of pine and eucalyptus, past a meadow with cows and kangaroos, and along the shores of a huge lake with mist rising from the water in the still morning air. 2 hot air balloons hover near Parliament House in the bright dawn sky. It is hard to believe we live just 20 minutes from the center of town! I love living in Canberra.
I park in the multi-storey carpark and step out onto the street. As it is Friday I shall treat myself with another coffee! I pop into the very trendy tiny coffee shop and order my skinny flat white (that's an espresso shot topped up with skimmed milk). While waiting I exchange smiles with an extraordinarily tall and slender woman in a tailored beige suit and red pixie cut. She compliments me on my brooch, and I say that Princess gave it to me. A lot of people compliment me on this brooch... I wonder if it is because women don't really wear brooches any more? I sometimes feel like I've stepped out of the past with my blue wool coat, blue silk scarf and brooch! Hopefully I look cool and retro rather than out of date and frumpy? Yeah, who am I kidding, again?!
I walk through the revolving glass door into the foyer of my office block. I love this building, it is so new and airy. I swipe my security pass to get through the barriers, then press the number of my floor and get told which lift to catch. I can't do this without remembering the first time I encountered this sort of lift system and having to smile.
As I walk to my desk the overhead lights progressively turn on as they sense movement (I am the first here in this section). I remove my coat and scarf, plug my security card into the keyboard and log in to start my day.
My team has all wandered in. I'm still not used to working for the government - I can't get over how lackadaisical everyone is about start and end and lunch times. Especially after my last workplace who micromanaged your comings and goings! I am usually in by 8 and I leave at 5 - with an hour's lunch break that's 8 hours a day that I bill. People here drift in an hour after me, disappear to the gym at random times and go home before I do. I don't mind, but it is odd.
I have done a bit of work since I got in, but I am having trouble with my mojo. For the first 2 months that I worked here there was literally nothing for me to do (I got hired to use up budget going into the end of the financial year), and I spent all day reading blogs in a small window in the corner of the screen. Now that I actually do have work to do I am having trouble getting motivated. It doesn't help that I have no non-verbal specifications. The last time I asked for a written spec with workflow and screen design and use cases I was told they don't do that, and that I should keep the business analysts up to speed with what I was developing so that they could write the specs based on the delivered product. *sigh*
I'm hungry. Hmm, I seem to have forgotten to eat breakfast! That second coffee filled me up and I didn't think about breakfast until now. I wonder if you could just drink coffee all day - would you lose weight or is that too much milk? You'd have to switch to decaf at midday too I suppose. *googles coffee + fasting* Lots of people fasting on black coffee and water, but I can't see anyone fasting on white coffee. It's probably a bad idea anyway! I eat a low fat yogurt and couple of carrots.
My gym is just 10 minutes walk away - a Fernwood ladies gym. I like it a lot, it is always clean, the staff are friendly and it is never very busy. I've been rather slack about gymming lately, but I am trying to get back into the routine of going 3 times a week at lunchtime. I did the cross-trainer on Monday and Wednesday, so today I'll go on the treadmill.
I spend half an hour doing intervals on the treadmill, then do a set of of situps, and then spend some time stretching while I cool down. Glance at the clock:
Gee time flies at the gym. I wish I had longer to work out, but it just doesn't... wait, what? 1:45?! Aargh I have a meeting at 2pm! Run to changeroom, dive into shower, throw on clothes, dab powder at my still red and perspiring face, and dash out the door. Speedwalk back to the office carrying my coat - thank goodness it is cool outside. Zoom into the office and get to my desk... wait, why is everyone still at their desks? Log in and check calendar - the meeting is on Monday. Oh. Huh. Guess I'll have some lunch then.
Read instructions on chicken pho soup (Vietnamese style chicken and noodles in a clear slightly spicy chicken broth) - "add water and microwave for 5 to 6 minutes". Set microwave for 5 minutes and plug details into Weightwatchers app - 7 points, not bad. Check microwave at shortly before 5 minutes - the soup has boiled over! Awesome. Note to self: the office microwave is Very Powerful. Mop out microwave. Taste soup - ow shit that's hot! But tasty. Carry soup very carefully to desk and wait 15 minutes before it cools down enough to eat. Yum, very nice.
My digital photoframe changes the picture every hour. Right now it is showing me a photo from our New Year's beach holiday last summer. I miss the beach. *sigh*
Leave for home. The sun has just set and it is a crisp clear evening.
Arrive home. Walk inside and chat to Milord. After about 10 minutes I suddenly realise Mom and the kids are not home yet (on Fridays Princess has aftercare and they get picked up late, then come home via McDonalds drive-thru). I dash outside to move my car out of the way, just in time as Mom pulls in. The kids eat their happy meals while the grownups have a glass of wine and I start dinner: butterflied marinated lamb roast with a baked potato and veggies. Both kids have a bath, a small chocolate frog and a yogurt, then it is time for teeth cleaning, bedtime books and lullabies.
The kids are in bed and I get to sit down for a bit in front of the evening news with more wine while the dinner finishes cooking.
Dish up, and we all enjoy our meal in front of "The Second Best Marigold Hotel". Good, but not as good as the first movie. More wine... then a couple of ice cream cones (Cornetto style)... oops.
I lift both kids for a toilet trip, then everyone heads to bed. Milord is on the sofabed again - thank goodness as I can hear the snoring through the wall within minutes!
Princess arrives at my bedside and wakes me up. The kids both have special clocks that change colour when they are allowed to get out of bed, which is at 7am. On a school day Princess and King quite often sleep late, but on a weekend they always get up the instant they can. *sigh* It is still quite dark, and Princess climbs into bed next to me. After about 5 minutes she fetches her own pillow and her iPad.
King arrives, and also fetches his pillow and iPad. I get up and head into the living room - my bed is not exactly comfortable any more! It is a cold and misty morning, 2C and damp and gloomy. I make coffees for Milord and myself, and Mom appears and makes a cup of tea then heads back to her room. On weekends Mom likes to avoid the chaos... I'm jealous!
I ask the kids what they want for breakfast and Princess wants a toasted cheese sandwich and King wants melted cheese on toast. Pop bread in the toaster and start the sandwich toaster heating. Mom comes along to make another cup of tea and proceeds to unplug first the toaster and then the sandwich machine when I complain... Finally I make a toasted cheese sandwich and a melted cheese on toast. During the unplugging nonsense the toast got a bit overdone and King won't eat it. *growl* Throw it away (one of the first things I had to learn as a mummy was not to eat the kid's leftovers - they make you fat[ter]).
Make another cheese on toast. Now Princess won't eat her sandwich and wants a cheese on toast instead. *GROWL* Throw it away (sometimes I wish we had a dog or chickens or a compost heap). Make another cheese on toast and threaten them both with dire consequences if they don't eat them! Feeding children must be one of the most thankless tasks ever. Milord makes me another coffee. I change the sheets on the sofabed and set a load of laundry washing.
Take the ducks out of the fridge and wash and dry them and snip away extra fatty bits and the wing tips. Dig around in the fridge and pantry for stuff to put in their cavities... garlic, onion, ginger, chillis, star anise, peppercorns and rock salt. Tie their legs together to try and hold it in. Preheat oven to 150C.
Pop ducks in oven and set timer for an hour. Give the kids a snack of rice crackers and a banana, then get them dressed. Mom sets the first laundry load tumbling and pops more in the washing machine. The kids are watching a slideshow of our photos on my computer... King starts being a right menace and ends up dragged to his room by Milord for a 10 minute timeout. When King returns he is back to normal - timeouts work like magic in our house thank goodness. I head off to scrub the en-suite bathroom and take a shower. Milord cooks himself bacon and eggs, and Mom has some biscuits for her breakfast.
All is clean and the kids have gone outside to play in the sandpit and trampoline. Mom has folded a load of laundry, set a load tumbling and set another washing. Having a live-in-granny is awesome!!! I sit down to catch up on blogging...
The timer goes off and I get the ducks out of the oven. Turn them over, drain the fat (they have rendered a cup of fat already!), pop back in the oven and set the timer for an hour. Milord is watching golf and Mom is reading in her room while I sit at my computer in the study. I'm hungry, maybe it's time for my breakfast?! Eat a muesli bar and drink a glass of water.
The kids want to play with walkie talkies. Find the walkie talkies but they are not working so I replace the batteries. Then Milord, Mom and I play walkie talkies with the kids around the house. This is not as much fun as it sounds and thank goodness they get bored after half an hour! Milord sets up a movie on the computer and projector in Princess' room for them.
The timer goes off. The ducks are starting to smell amazing, and as I turn them over their skin crackles. Another cup of fat has rendered out! I open a Savannah Dry cider (we have just discovered that a shop near us stocks South African items! Very exciting). The sun has come out at last so I hang the most recent load of laundry outside and set another load washing.
Mom emerges from her sanctuary and offers sandwiches to everyone. Milord and I are fine, but the kids are hungry so she makes them lunch - did I mention how a live-in-granny is awesome?!
The timer goes off again. I take the ducks out and wrap the whole lot tightly in tin foil - I'll finish them off tomorrow evening. The house smells divine and I am quite disappointed that I am going to have to wait! I hang out another load of washing and set a load of towels washing. Weekends are quite laundry-intensive because I wash towels and bedding then in addition to the normal loads of clothing. I make myself a cheese sandwich and settle down to read rubbish on the internet for a while.
In about 3 hours we will be heading next door for their spit-roast party. It should be fun, I hope... at least I can just come home if things turn pear-shaped!
We all head across the road to our neighbour's party. They have a large covered patio in the backyard with a very smokey chiminea and a gas space heater for warmth, and very small spit roast over a charcoal barbeque. It's so smokey though that we end up standing well away from any warmth and I'm glad I thought to wear my ski jacket! There are quite a few kids and mine are having a ball, while we introduce ourselves to the neighbour's friends and family and chat while the sun sets and Venus and Jupiter sparkle brightly in the cold sky. There are plenty of nibbles set out so I don't worry about my kids normal dinnertime as they are grazing. Plenty of wine gets consumed.
The spitroast is ready and I have a portion of pork and crackling, and a roasted corncob. All the kids are watching a movie indoors.
It is well past my kid's bedtime and King turns feral. I gather up our stuff and the kids and head back across the road while Princess howls because she wants to stay! Wash hands and faces, brush teeth, into pyjamas and we settle down to read a bedtime book. Mom arrives home and helps me settle the kids into bed.
Mom and I change out of our stinky smokey clothes, then sit in the lovely quiet warm living room with a final glass of wine. I fold out the sofabed and get it ready for Milord, with his pyjamas laid out. Drink a lot of water and put myself to bed.
I am asleep, although I am vaguely aware when Milord arrives home much later.
I wake up just after midnight for a wee and a drink of water. Tiptoe through the study where Milord is snoring and lift Princess for a wee too. Snuggle back under the covers.
King arrives at my bedside and wakes me up - I wish his clock had a weekend setting! King has a very chesty cough and I decide to skip swimming today. He snuggles with me for half an hour until he wants breakfast, then we tiptoe through the study where Milord is still asleep, and I make myself a coffee. Princess wakes up too and Mom appears for a cup of tea. I make both kids melted cheese on toast and they eat the lot without complaining for once in front of the TV. I make myself cheese on toast too and another coffee and read my book while the kids play.
Milord surfaces - he is not very well. He drank an awful lot of red wine last night! I go for a shower and finally get the smoke smell out of my hair. Mom sets a load of washing going. It is going to be a lazy day... the only thing on the agenda is a kid's party that Princess is invited to at 2pm.
I have a tin of smoked tuna slices on multi-grain crackers and a glass of wine while reading my book, then browse the internet for a while. Wrap a present. Get the kids dressed. Do some laundry.
Princess and I head to McDonald's for a birthday party. The mum in charge tells me I don't need to stick around so I get a coffee and go and sit in the car with the engine running for warmth, and read my book and listen to the classical channel for an hour an a half. Bliss!
Home again. I take the ducks out of the fridge and put them on the side to warm up while we all watch kid's movies and the grownups drink wine. The movie "Strange Magic" is awesome!
King eats dinner (Princess isn't hungry after her McDonald's). Preheat the oven to 150C.
Uncover the ducks and put them in the oven for an hour at 150C. Peel parsnips and potatoes and cut them into bite size pieces, then cover them with cold salted water and bring them to the boil. After 5 minutes of boiling drain them, then add a tablespoon of duck fat and some salt and pepper and toss until well coated. Tip them out into a roasting tray. Prepare a bowl of hoisin sauce, honey and dark soy sauce to glaze the duck. Prepare some baby brussels sprouts for steaming by trimming off any woody stem bits.
Both kids have baths and I wash their hair.
Remove the ducks from the oven, turn breast side up and set aside (this would be much easier with 2 ovens!). Turn the oven up to 200C. Slide in the tray of potatoes and parsnips and cook for at least 30 mins until they begin to brown on the edges.
When the potatoes and parsnips start browning turn the oven down to 150C, then brush the glaze liberally over the ducks and slide them into the oven.
Milord and I brush the kid's teeth and read bedtime stories and sing lullabies and tuck them into bed.
Set the brussels sprouts steaming for exactly 9 minutes (any more and they get soggy). Bring the ducks out of the oven. Phwoar!
Dish everything up... Wow. Seriously wow! Resting for a day has not been a bad thing at all for the ducks, they are moist and falling apart and so so so good. The root vegetables are soft and slightly crispy and delicious, and the lightly steamed baby brussel sprouts make an excellent fresh taste next to all the richness.
We watch another movie - Cinderella. I enjoyed it but I can see why my kids don't like it - it is very slow compared to most modern kid's movies.
I am in bed, much too full and a bit tipsy. Life is good!