DIY Back to School Meal Plan Printables

Is your little one starting school this year? Or are you struggling plan what to give your kids for school? I may have a solution for you at or at least some inspiration.

My daughter is starting prep this year and I was a bit anxious about what I am going to give her for lunch. Until now she has spent most of the time with me and a couple of days at kindy, where all the kids are served the same kid-friendly meal. At home, she is pretty good at eating just about whatever I give her. However, when we eat out or she’s not with me, she’s very picky. So I thought we could create a meal plan for her, so she has a good breakfast in the morning and healthy meals throughout the school week. When I approached her with the idea she was really excited about it. Especially since she is excited to use her new Yumbox (bento lunch box) and Thermos lunch jar.

So one afternoon we sat down together and talking about foods she liked and what she is most likely to eat by herself at school. We browsed lots of pictures of lunchbox, kid-friendly foods and recipes. From that, we came up with a variety of breakfasts, lunches, sides and snacks that interested her. From there we looked for pictures that represented the foods and easy recipe that I could meal prep in advance. Next, I made up an A4 poster for breakfast and an A3 poster for lunch, as well as another document with a collection of pictures of the foods we planned to use. Lastly, I had my posters and food images professional printed and laminated.

So this is the template that I came up with:

And this is the result of our template. I attached the pictures to the poster, with velcro tap, but you could also use blue tack. My side dishes and snacks are missing from my poster currently. I will probably attach them next to the main dishes with blue tack since I didn’t want to add more velcro strips.

If this is something you would like to try out with your little people and would like a copy of my meal plan templates simply private message me on my Live Eat Colour Facebook page or my Instagram page and I will email you the documents directly. You can feel free to alter the colours, font and meal breaks for your child’s school. Just note that I will be on holidays until the 26th of January, so I may not be able to send them until after that date.

If you want some recommendations for non-toxic lunch bags, lunch boxes and accessories, please see my previous posts:

Happy New Year!..looking forward and back at 2019

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday celebration and start to the New Years. I can’t believe its already 2020, it seems like just yesterday 2000 upon us. When we think about the people we were and the world we lived in, it completely mind-blowing. I’m feeling pretty optimistic about 2020. Not just for the world but also for myself.

Whats coming in 2020

So before I look back at the past year this blog, I thought I would do an update on what’s coming up in this year.

So my baby boy is coming in late May. I am 20 weeks today! I just had my 2nd-trimester ultrasound, which went really well. It made me feel better seeing that he’s still alive in there because he either kicks me for hours or is completely still. He was quite well behaved for the sonographer and she was easily about to capture all his important bits. He is kicking quite a lot now and finally hard enough for my family to just feel him from the outside. I’ve had quite mixed feelings about this pregnancy because I know exactly what to expect in terms of birth and all the sleep recently gained is going to be clawed back off me. But I’m also excited about meeting the little guy and having lots of fun baby time. Things will also be so different now that I can drive, have a few more parenting hacks up my sleeve and more confidence as a mother.

Before the baby comes I wanted to do another little trip with my family. So in a couple of weeks, we are heading to Tasmania! I’ve never been before, so I’m super excited to see what’s it all about and taste all the fresh produce.

I’ve already put together the itinerary for our 7-day road trip. It will begin and end in Hobart. But every day we will stay in a different town and visit others along the way. Some of the stops include Queenstown, Cradle Mountain, East Devonport, Launceston, Campbell Town, Oatlands, Richmond and Port Arthur. So it’s going to be quiet a fast pace road trip, with plenty of sites to see and cafes and restaurants to try. I won’t be able to do any hiking as I had originally hoped. This second pregnancy is a bit more difficult and I can only do 2 hrs walks in an air-conditioned shopping centre at this stage. But who knows, my usual travel boost may power me up so I can go for longer. Normally when I travel I only sleep 4 hours a night and don’t feel like I’ve had a great day unless I’ve been walking for 10-14 hrs. But it’s a lot different carrying a baby in my belly then in a baby carrier or in a pram.

As for the rest of the year ahead, I have no idea what is going to happen. I intend on being focused on my family, doing lots of activities and outings for the kids and trying my hand at meal prepping and new recipes. I’ve already been trying many new recipes from my Christmas present, Dinner: Changing the Game, by Melissa Clarke. So far I’ve made Black Bean Skillet Dinner, Sesame Chicken with Cashews and Dates, Zucchini Corn Cakes with Mint Coriander Pesto, Pomegranate Quinoa with Crunchy Chickpeas, Stir-Fried Tofu with Summer Squash, Basil and Coconut, and Fusilli & Roasted Cauliflower with Capers. And yes, they all taste just as amazing as they sound. Many are similar recipes that I have put together before, but just have that extra kick of flavour. So far my family have been a huge fan of all the recipes. Especially the Sesame Chicken, which has been requested to return weekly. I also really loved the Black Beans Skillet, which is so easy to put together and really satisfying. I recommend this book for you or as a present for any of your foodie friends. Its definitely going to be my go-to gift for upcoming birthdays this year.

The last big thing for 2020 will be renovations. At the end of last year, we completely re-tiled downstairs and began renovations on the downstairs bathroom/laundry. It’s pretty much complete, except plaster from the top cupboards to the ceiling and finding a mirror. The toilet, shower and barn door are also done. Marco did quite a bit of work by himself for this renovation. He removed the existing attachments, walls and floor tiles, sprayed the bronze windows black and painted and attached barn door. His father also did the electrical, which also saved us a bit.

Next, we will move onto my en suite and walk-in-robe, the second upstairs bathroom/toilet and lastly the kitchen. I’m most excited about getting a new kitchen, which I have been waiting for nearly 7 years. Since its the most expensive renovation and will have to outsource most of the labour, we may not do this until 2021. But I’m optimistic! We will use the same Carpentry business who did our laundry. They offer exactly the style that I wanted, use good quality materials and do an amazing job.

Look back at 2019

In 2019, I was a bit all over the place with blogging, especially towards the end of the year. The first half of the year was dedicated to my museum internship and the second half I was suffering 1st trimester morning/all day sickness. But I thought I would give you the highlights of all the major posts I wrote, in case you want to go back and check them out.

For the Live section of my blog, I continued writing about our Nordic trip. This 3-week trip took me nearly a year to write about in my off-time because we covered so much. I then began writing about my travels to the USA. It was a few years ago, but it is the only major trip that I hadn’t documented. I haven’t finished this, so I will continue writing about it this year. So far you can read about my first 6 days in New York and some of my older posts Eating through…each city, we well my Tips and guide for the Florida Disney parks and each Disney park in Pictures. Other things I covered this year was my Ancestry DNA results, which have since changed, so I intend to write about this in the future. And also O’s Unicorn Party.

For the Eat section of my blog, I mostly included posts from my travels and a few new recipes. I was pretty lazy in terms of recipe development in 2019. I found myself cooking a lot of the same old meals week to week. They were healthy but also familiar to my difficult child. Here are some of the recipes I did post:

For the Colour section of my blog, I was also quite slack this year. Although, I did spend a lot more time on the pages I coloured and I have improved a lot. Below are some of the book reviews I did with completed pictures and video flip through, as well as my special seasonal colour from a variety of my books.

9# Life update: Christmas and travel

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day with your family and friends and got spoilt.

My Christmas was relatively quiet this year since most of my family are having an icy Christmas in Europe. Meanwhile, large parts of Australia has been burning. Luckily where I live there are no bush fires and the last couple of days have cooled down and been quite rainy. So I only had to set the table for five and food preparations were much less stressful for this pregnant mama. Despite the limited number of guests, our tree was taken over by large amounts of presents this year. Anything we needed for school for the new year or items we needed and found on sale went under the tree. So you can imagine for a 4 year old, opening all those gifts first thing on Christmas morning was very exciting.

I won’t shock you with how much stuff O ended up. When we lined everything up to take a photo with her I was kind of shocked how much she accumulated from her grandparents, aunts and uncles, us and Santa. But I will show you what I received. So everything was handpicked by me except for the Braun Multi Quick 9. I told Marco I wanted a stick blender so he researched the best one he could find. It was a nice surprise to get a model with some many different features.

There are still a couple of presents that are on their way. The first is the Seed & Sprout Eco Starter Kit which came as a free gift with the Braun Multi Quick 9. It includes 1 x Organic Cotton Pocket Tote, 5 x Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags, 6 x Reusable Stretch Lids, 1 x Plant Fibre Dish Brush with replaceable head, and 1 x Reusable Straw & Cleaner & Carry Pouch. I’m pretty excited about this since I don’t have of these reusable items, except for the straw.

The second thing is the e-book Erica Adler’s The Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep, which is being released on the 2nd of January 2020. I recently discovered Fresh Erica on Youtube on the Goodful channel. She is a professional meal prepper in New York city. I just love watching her videos and seeing how she puts together the most delicious-looking dinners and lunch for her clients. I’ve never been into meal prep since I have plenty of time to make everything fresh, but I’m getting interested in this since I know I have another baby on the way, as well as school lunch to prepare for next year. I’m sure Marco will also be excited to have something more interesting for his work meals.

On Christmas Eve, O and I made some Scandinavian Christmas cookies. They were Pressed Butter Cookies from the Beatrice Ojakangas’s The Great Scandinavian Baking Book. I have never made pressed cookies, but I did buy some cookie presses. I didn’t expect the cookie dough to be so soft and sticky. After about the 8th cookie, O and I got into a good rhythm of dusting the cookie presses with lots of flour before filling them with dough and pressing out the cookies. They aren’t perfect but they were homemade.

This year Santa got one of our Pressed Butter Cookies, a glass of our favourite Vitasoy soy milk and one carrot for his reindeer. I figured we didn’t want to overfill him or his reindeers, since they would be eating something similar in every other house they would be visiting.

On Christmas day we started with these delicious Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Rolls (minus the raisins) from Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli. I have made her Pumpkin scrolls a long time ago, but this was the first time for this recipe. They were so delicious! All the evaporated cane sugar and cinnamon that I used in the filling caramelized inside and on the bottom of the scrolls, making them that much more decadent. I was able to make them the day before and bake them first thing in the morning. This is much easier and gave us time to open presents and make an early start on lunch prep.

My lunch menu was very simple this year. It was centred around a Pork Loin stuffed with apples, rosemary and sage that I bought from my local organic butcher. It was served with Thyme roasted vegetables of garlic, carrots, celery, and onions; Maple roasted brussels sprouts, Hassleback potatoes and sweet potato with homemade breadcrumbs and Pecorino; and simple cut salad. Everything turned out pretty good. My only issue was that my pork loin didn’t have any crackling. None of my knives were strong enough to break the skin, so I wasn’t able to score it. I really should have called my brother, who is a chef to ask him what to do. We spoke later that day and he gave me some tips for next time. Everyone was a huge fan of the hassleback potatoes and brussels sprouts, which is not something you would normally see on a Serbian dinner table.

For dessert, I made a Summer Berry Pie à la mode from Chloe’s Kitchen. I made the dough the day before and let it warm up prior to putting it together. I also defrosted and strained the frozen berries, since they are moist enough without added juices. My latticework was a bit rushed so it didn’t come out as pretty, but I don’t think anyone noticed. Everyone loved it, especially my borderline diabetic father-in-law and blackberry hating child. It wasn’t very sweet since I had used Evaporated cane sugar in the dough and none for the filling. But with a scope of vanilla ice cream, it was sweet enough.

So that was my quiet little Christmas. How was your Christmas this year? What did get? What did you eat?

Oh, I nearly forgot. I’m going on a trip in a few weeks to Tasmania! I’ve never been to Tasmania, so I’m super excited to explore this island state. I’ve heard the food is amazing and the scenery is gorgeous. We will do a seven-day road trip from Hobart, to Queenstown, Launceston, Port Arthur and back to Hobart. There will also be a few other stops in between of small towns. So excited to do my last trip before the baby comes.

Pumpkin Pikelets

I’ve got quite a stockpile of root vegetables in my pantry at the moment, and its way to hot to make soups and heavy starchy foods. I’m the only pumpkin fan in my house, so I thought I would infuse some of that pumpkin sweet flavour into our morning breakfast. Little O was really not interested, so I made these after taking her to kindy for Marco and I. We both really enjoyed them and they were a nice change to our mundane morning routine of avocado on bread. I did try them with the little one later, but she still wasn’t a fan. Unlike other children, she despises sweet vegetables, like sweet potato, corn and peas. Zucchini pancakes and broccoli frittata are much more welcome on her breakfast plate. Perhaps, next time I can sway her with some maple syrup, since she still loves sugary condiments. Anyway if you’re open to the deliciousness of sweet pumpkin, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with these pikelets.

Pumpkin Pikelets

Ingredients:

1 small butternut pumpkin

Olive oil

sea salt

1 cup organic plain flour

1/2 cup plant milk, plus more

1 large egg

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4-1/2 ground cinnamon or pumpkin spice

coconut oil, to cook

real maple syrup to serve

Method:

  1. First, you need to roast your butternut pumpkin, which should be done ahead of time. Just chop the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in 180-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is soft. Then scope out, mash and allow to cool in the fridge, until your ready to use. You should have at least a 1 cup of mashed butternut pumpkin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add mashed pumpkin, flour, milk, egg, coconut sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk until combined and add more milk if the batter is too dry.
  3. Heat your hot plate or crepe pan on medium heat and drizzle with coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, drop the batter into a pan, using a 1/4 cup measuring cup and try to flatten it out a little. Cook on one side, until you start to see little holes appear on the top, or when the sides crisp up and then flip and cook on the other side. They only take a couple of minutes to cook in total. Continue until you have used all of the batter.
  4. Enjoy the pikelets with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Makes 10 pikelets.

Italian birthday feast (with recipes)

It was my Marco’s birthday today! The three of us had a little lunch out to celebrate and saw the new film, The Addams Family in the cinema. However, we celebrated with the family a couple of days ago at home. I wanted to make something special for his birthday lunch like I do every year. I was far too tired to do something as epic as my Feast of Seven Kingdoms, which I did a couple of years ago. And we only had a couple of extra guests. But since it was a special occasion, it was still a good excuse to get out my pasta machine and gnocchi board. I don’t make fresh pasta very often in my day-to-day life. I really should because it’s super easy. When I know I’m making a special meal though, I like to treat my guests (and myself) to some fresh pasta. Gnocchi I do make a bit more often whenever I have too many potatoes piling up in my pantry.

So on the menu today we had Sausage and Basil Lasagne, Gnocchi with bacon, mushrooms and sage, Panzanella salad and Sauteed Kale with raisins and almonds. I was inspired by Joy Behar’s famous Lasagne recipe, which was recently featured on an off-air video on The View. You can also find the find recipe here. My version was similar, but a little different. I made fresh pasta, some of the ingredients varied a little and I didn’t include ricotta and egg in for my cheese layer. To be honest, I totally forgot to include those ingredients when I was planning it out in my head. However, my lasagne turned out pretty good and very similar to my old Abruzzese neighbour’s version. Hers is also amazing and doesn’t include any bechamel or ricotta. As for the rest of the menu, it just evolved on the day, from ingredients I had on hand. I have included all the recipes below. Hope you like them!

Sausage and Basil Lasagne

For this lasagne, you can totally use store-bought lasagne sheets and pasta sauce. Just make sure you heat your sauce with some water added, before layering the lasagne. My lasagne was about 8 layers, but you don’t have to make yours as high. I just made a lot of pasta with 500g of tipo 00 flour and 4 eggs. I really recommend slicing your own fresh mozzarella and grating your own Pecorino or Parmesan, because it really makes a difference. It will taste better and it won’t have any anti-caking agents or preservatives.

Ingredients for fresh pasta:

500 grams tipo 00/organic plain flour

4 eggs, cracked into a bowl

1 tbsp olive oil

chilled water

Ingredients for sauce:

Olive oil

1/2 white onion, diced

1 celery stick, diced

1 medium carrot, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 can Italian diced tomatoes (I used Anna Lisa Italian Diced Tomatoes with basil and oregano BPA free)

700g Italian Passata (I used Mutti Passata)

1-2 tbsp Tomato paste (I used Mutti Tomato Paste Double Concentrate)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Layering ingredients:

10 Italian pork or plain pork sausages (free-range/organic)

350g Mozzarella cheese ball, thinly sliced

1.5-2 cups freshly grated Pecorino/Parmesan

couple handfuls of fresh basil leaves, torn

Method:

  1. First make your pasta dough, either by hand or with a stand mixer. The following instructions are for a Kitchen Aid, so you will need the dough attachment and the lid. Add the flour and place on speed 3. While the mixer is running, add the eggs one by one and then add the salt and olive oil. Mix until a dough stands to form, if the dough a bit dry, add some chilled water, one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough. Lastly, shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel or cling wrap and place in the fridge for 30 mins.
  2. Once pasta dough has rest, you can start making pasta sheets. First, attach the pasta attachment to your stand mixer or set up a manual pasta machine, and put some flour on a large chopping board. Cut the dough into 6 pieces and leave the remaining dough under the damp cloth to stop it drying out. Roll the small piece of dough into a bit of flour onto the board, if it is too sticky to work with. Set the setting on the pasta attachment to 1 and speed on the mixer to 2. Run the pasta dough through, fold over and put through again and repeat. Then increase the pasta settling to 2 and put through the machine. Continue to increase the pasta setting and put the dough through, until you have put it through to setting 6. By this stage you will have a long pasta sheet, so you will carefully cut it in half on the chopping board and then trim them into two lasagne sheets. Depending on the size of your tray, you may need to cut the second piece in half to fit. Place these sheets into a flour-dusted tray/baking dish and place paper towels on top. Continue to make the pasta sheets until all your dough has been used and have been layered between the paper towels, to stop them sticking. Set aside until you are ready to use the pasta sheets, on the bench or in the fridge.
  3. Now its time to prepare the sauce. Heat a medium heavy-based pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then add the diced onions, carrots, celery and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until the ingredients are lightly fried. Add the diced garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Lastly add the crushed tomatoes, passata, 1/2 cup of water, salt and pepper to taste. Let this simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, heat a medium-size sauce saucepan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add the sausages. Cook for about 10 minutes on low-medium heat, until they are all cooked through. Remember to rotate them while cooking. Once they are done, chop the sausages in round slices.
  5. Now its time to put the lasagne together. First, preheat the oven to 190 degree celsius and take a large baking dish. First put a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the dish, to stop the lasagne from sticking. Next layer the lasagne sheets across the sauce, top with more sauce, scatter pieces of sausage, torn basil and lastly top with sliced mozzarella and grated pecorino. Continue layering the lasagne this way, until you get to the last lasagne sheet, which will just be topped with sauce, mozzarella and pecorino.
  6. Cover the lasagne with aluminium foil, carefully not touching the top of the lasagne. This will help it stay moist while cooking. Place in the oven to cook for 20 minutes. Remove the aluminium foil and cook for a further 10 minutes to brown the top.
  7. Allow lasagna to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Gnocchi with bacon, mushrooms and sage

This gnocchi dish is really simple to make. You can omit the bacon if your vegetarian and use Cashew ‘Parmesan’ and dairy-free butter if your vegan. I made my own gnocchi, which is quite easy to do. For the dough, I just used of steamed dutch potatoes, that have been placed through a potato ricer and cooled, plain organic flour and salt. The more you make gnocchi, the better you will get at judging the correct feel of the dough, so that they cook into puffy little clouds. I also recommend freeze-drying the gnocchi on a tray for at least 30 minutes before cooking, because they cook a bit firmer.

Ingredients:

500 gr fresh homemade or store bought gnocchi

1 tbsp olive oil

250-300 gr free range nitrate-free bacon, diced

8 white mushrooms

2-3 cloves garlic, diced

6-8 sage leaves, roughly chopped

2 tbsp salted butter

sea salt

1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add salt.
  2. While the water is boiling, take a large frypan and heat olive oil. Add the bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, until it starts to get a bit of colour.
  3. Add the mushrooms and sea salt. Continue to cook until the mushrooms have released any liquid.
  4. Add garlic and sage and cook until fragrant and then turn off the heat
  5. Cook the gnocchi, until they rise to the surface. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add the butter and cooked gnocchi to the frying pan. Place on medium heat to allow the butter to melt. Sprinkle most of the grated cheese on the gnocchi and gently stir it through with the other ingredients.
  7. Serve gnocchi with and garnish with the rest of the cheese.

Simple Panzanella Salad

I recently made a Panzanella salad for a dinner party that I hosted and everybody loved it. Marco requested it again for his birthday. Although this one was thrown together really quickly, it was still a big hit. When I first came across this salad in an Italian cookbook it said to soak fresh bread in water. I didn’t like the sound of this so instead I toasted the bread and then let it soak up some of the vinaigrette prior to serving.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 sliced of sourdough bread, sliced into cubes

sea salt

2 punnets of baby truss/cherry/grape tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced

1/4 red onion, sliced

handful of basil, roughly sliced

Method:

  1. Combine the extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in a small bowl.
  2. Place the bread on a baking tray and toss with some olive oil and sea salt, until coated. Grill for 3-4 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.
  3. Place the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and basil in a large mixing or serving bowl.
  4. Coat the salad with sea salt and then add the dressing.
  5. Add the toasted bread to the salad and mix through.
  6. Serve the salad after 30 minutes or preparing, allowing the dressing to marinate the ingredients.

Sauteed Kale with raisins and almonds

This is one of my favourite warm salads to serve. I love the salty wilted kale, the sweet onions and raisins and creamy nuts. Its not Marco’s favourite because he doesn’t like the raisins or any dried fruit in savoury food, but he was happy enough to leave them out of his serve.

Ingredients:

1/2 red onion, sliced

1-2 tbsp olive oil

leaves from one brunch of curly or tuscan kale

sea salt to taste

1/3 cup nitrate-free raisins

1/4 cup sliced almonds or pine nuts

Method:

  1. Heat a fry pan with olive oil and then add the red onion. Cook the onion for 4-5 minutes, or until it starts to brown.
  2. Add the kale with a good pinch of sea salt and allow it to begin to wilt.
  3. Add the raisins and almonds and continue to cook for another few minutes or until the kale is completed wilted and the raisin have puffed up.

6# Throwback Travel- New York: Rockefeller, Top of the Rock and Little Italy (day 6)

Day 6 was our second last day in New York and another busy day. On this day we visited the Rockefeller Centre, saw the view from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, visited the Natural History Museum and had dinner in Little Italy.

The Rockefeller Centre

Before visiting the Rockefeller Center, O and I had breakfast just around the corner from this attraction. The Bouchon Bakery Rockefeller location is one of a few Bouchon Bakery, opened by Chef Thomas Keller. The first was opened in the Napa Valley in 2003. You can also find other locations at the Columbus Circle in New York and Las Vegas. They offer fresh-baked pastries and viennoiserie, cookies, cakes, sandwiches, quiches, soups and salads. Since they are known to have some of the best pastries in New York, we just had to try it.

I ordered a few items to share, including a Wild salmon bagel, Plum and raspberry Croissant, soy cappuccino. The bagel was so fresh and delicious and the croissant was probably one of the best filled pastry I have ever had. Coffee was also pretty good.

To top it off, we met a nice elderly New Yorker, who serenaded us with a beautiful broadway song. It was just one of those spontaneous unexpected experiences. He didn’t ask us for anything, just sat down and had a chat, sang a song and left. He reminded me of the actor Wallace Shawn.

Unfortunately during our visit to New York all the late-night shows, the Radio City Rockettes show and NBC Today show were on holidays. I had planned to go really early by myself to be one of those tourist standing outside the Today show. However, while I was in New York they were airing in a different location. I guess for that reason, and also because we were there so damn early it was pretty quiet.

Before going up to the Observation deck on the top of the Rockefeller Centre, we began on the lower level of the and read about the history of the Rockefeller family and this building. You can read more about it here.

Top of the Rock

I know most people go to the Empire State building to see the elevated view of New York, but we did the Top of the Rock instead. I can’t remember exactly why, but it may have been because we wanted to also see the Rockefeller Centre. If your not sure what to do, see this article by Our Escape Clause, Empire State Building or Top of the Rock: 9 Crucial things to know.

The Top of the Rock observation deck offers a 360 degrees view at 70 floors. The view is just spectacular and if you go early enough you won’t find many other tourists to obstruct your viewing pleasure. It was so windy up there though.

Natural History Museum

Our next stop was the American Natural History Museum, on the Upper Westside. I took so many photos, so I will do a separate post for this. It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip for the nostalgia and the amazing Human Origins hall.

After visiting the museum, O and I relaxed back at the apartment, while Marco and Sally went to see another Broadway show. They won the tickets in the Broadway Lottery. They saw On Your Feet!, which is the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. They really enjoyed it and I was a little jealous. I had already seen two shows, so I had to be happy with that.

Little Italy

In the evening we visited the famous neighbourhood of Little Italy in Lower Manhattan. It was nothing like I imagined, but then we did go on a quiet night. I just loved the hanging street lights and wide streets lined with Italian restaurants. Its definitely somewhere I would have to revisit.

For dinner, we went to Rubirosa Pizza, since I heard it had some of the best pizza in the city. They are an Italian-American family-run restaurant and pizzeria. The owner was the son of the well known original Joe & Pat’s in Staten Island. He has continued using old family recipes and added some of his own creations. For dinner, they offer Pizza, handmade pasta, soups, traditional appetisers and sides, as well as hearty main meals. You can also do lunch and brunch here.

We ordered Lasagna (mozzarella, tomato, sausage and meatball filling), Tuscan kale with fried onions and the Fresca pizza (mozzarella, tomato and basil). The pizza was enormous, but tasted just as good as it looked. The lasagna was the ultimate comfort food and the kale was a taste and healthy bit of vege, we really needed. The restaurant itself was a little pokey, which made us feel like we were having a delicious meal in someones dining room.

Tomorrow is our last day in New York. We will be seeing Grand Central Station, Central Park, visit the MET, walk down 5th Avenue.

5# Throwback Travel- New York: Animal love in Central Park and Eataly (day 5)

Day 5 in New York was another full day in the heat of summer. We took a magical journey on horse and carriage through Central Park and visited the animals at Central Park Zoo. This was followed by a Broadway show, dinner at the amazing Eataly and visit to The LEGO Store.

But first, breakfast. As I mentioned previously I had been doing mamma-daughter breakfast dates out instead of eating the mass-produced food at the hotel. Today we visited Le Pain Quotidien again. O and I shared a big bowl of organic steel-cut oats and berries. It was really wholesome and satisfying.

Organic steelcut oats and berries, Le Pain Quotidien

Central Park

Our first activity of the day was a horse and carriage ride around central park. We found our coachman on 59th St, across from the Plaza. I can’t remember exactly how much it cost, but I’m sure it was around $60-80 for 30mins. I think if you book it is more expensive, but then I wasn’t visiting in high season. It included commentary by the coachman, of the history of the park and sites of interest. It was a lovely experience and a nice way to get an overview of the park in small time frame.

After that, I was a little hungry, so I stopped into The Plaza Food Hall. There are so many different delicious food options for a quick lunch. I’m not sure why I didn’t take any photos inside, but you can see a video of the food hall (see link). I had a prawn roll and seafood chowder from Lukes Lobster Red Hook, which hit the spot.

Central Park Zoo

Next, we visited the Central Park Zoo. I’ve always dreamed to visit this zoo since it’s so famous. It is probably the smallest zoo I’ve been to, but it had a nice variety of animals and is the perfect places to take little kids. Within the zoo, you can also find the Tisch Children’s Zoo, which offers children the opportunity to pet small farm animals.

Broadway

Afterwards, Marco and I went back to Broadway to see An American in Paris. We actually won the tickets in the Broadway Lottery. We entered the lottery every day and won twice, so Marco and Sally also saw another show. If your going to enter the lottery you do have to be flexible with your itinerary. This play was in the most beautiful and historic Palace Theatre. As for the play, I hadn’t heard of it or the original film. I really enjoyed the story and the performance. It would of well been worth paying full price.

Eataly

For dinner we visited the Italian market hall, Eataly. It is the brainchild of Oscar Farinetti, who opened his first location in Torino, Italy. He has since opened more across, Italy, the USA, and in various other countries. Eataly offers various coffee and dessert bars, deli, fresh food, pasta, seafood and meat markets; as well as speciality restaurants, retail, classes and events. This was the first Eataly that I have visited, but I have since come across another in Stockholm last year. I hope an Eataly will open in Australia in the near future. I also wish to visit the Eataly Bologna Ambasciatori, which is meant to be like a foodies theme park.

There are two Eataly’s in New York, in the Flat Iron and Downtown district. When we visited the Flat Iron location had just opened. I didn’t know what to expect, so I was blown away by the amazing food and wished I could try one of everything. Since I couldn’t cook in the apartment I just bought some beautiful exotic organic fruits, that I hadn’t tried before.

Since we were here for dinner we look for a restaurant that could accommodate us. There were four restaurants, including Le Verdure, Manzo, La Pizza & La Pasta, Il Pesce, La Piazza. Since my visit, it appears that Le Verdure was closed and replaced with Il Pastaio di Eataly and Serra D’autunno by Birreria was added. Anyway, on this particular evening, there was only room at Le Verdure, the vegetarian restaurant. I was pretty excited about this since I was looking forward to trying some traditional dishes inspired by vegetables.

We ordered a few things to share, including Pizza Fritta with Stracciatella, tomato & basil; Fritto Misto, Gnocchi alla Romana con Bolognese di Verdura and Cannelloni con spinaci e pomodori. This was one of the most amazing dinners we had in New York. The food was just so well made, crispy, crunchy and full of flavour. After dinner, I also tried a Pumpkin Tiramisu from the dessert counter and Marco had a Nutella crepe from Nutella counter.

The LEGO Store

On my walk back to the hotel, I came across The LEGO Store, in the Flat Iron district. This was the first one I had ever been to, so it was more exciting at the time. It was pretty packed considering it was nearly 8pm. Luckily my toddler was too tired to get out and want to play with everything she saw.

Tomorrow, we visit the Rockefeller Centre, see the view from the Top of the Rock Observation Deck, Natural History Museum and have dinner in Little Italy.

4# Throwback Travel- New York: Lower East Side, West Village and High Line (day 4)

I’ve been a little unwell the past month but feeling better today. So I can continue with Day 4 in New York City. We were finally done with our tours, so now it was time to check out some of the hipster neighbourhood in Lower Manhattan. We did breakfast on the Lower East Side, lunch in the West Village, walked the High Line and did a low key dinner with a friend. It was a pretty low key day, but boy did we do a lot of walking.

Lower East Side

One of the places you have to visit when in New York is the famous Katz’s Delicatessen. If not for the movie nostalgia and its history, definitely for their pastrami sandwich. This historical kosher-style delicatessen was founded back in 1888 and has been featured by numerous food shows. I have never been to a kosher eatery, so I was pretty excited to see what they would have on offer.

We arrived pretty early in the morning and there really wasn’t a lot open on the Lower East Side. Katz’s Delicatessen was open, so we took our time reading about their history and getting accustomed with the menu. Its a pretty lay back place, so we didn’t feel rushed to figure out what we were going to have. The menu is massive, consisting of hot and cold sandwiches, traditional Jewish dishes, breakfast omelettes, soups, salad platters and cakes.

We ended up going with the classic Pastrami Sandwich, which was chock full of freshly cooked pastrami, with mustard on fresh bread. We also had a side of half-sour and full-sour pickles and plate of Potato Latkes with apple sauce and sour cream. I’m don’t usually like cold cut meat sandwiches, but this hot pastrami sandwich exceeded my expectations. The meat was so juicy and satisfying. The sour pickles really complemented the sandwiches and the potato latkes were nice and crispy.

After breakfast, we took to the streets to see what the Lower East Side was all about. The buildings on this side of town aren’t highrise, so it has much more of a neighbourhood feel. The area has quite a few contemporary art galleries and home to many artists and creatives. It is also known as a place for night life and live music, so we probably should have visited later in the day. At this time of the morning, it was pretty quiet. None of the shops were open and it seemed most people were still in bed. We did find a few coffee shops open. In Australia, coffee is a pretty big thing and our coffee is a lot different from American coffee. So we were hoping to find something more similar to what we were used to.

We visited Ludlow Coffee Supply and their coffee was pretty good. Their barista/server was pretty rude though and I am not quite sure why. I don’t quite understand why anyone would be rude when they relying on tips. In my country, we don’t get tips, but its still unacceptable to have a bad attitude. Anyway hopefully they have nicer staff now. Other then that, it has a pretty trendy interior and was a pretty popular place for locals.

West Village

Afterwards, we walked over to the West Village, which took about 20 mins on foot. For us quite a bit longer with a toddler and a grandmother. We stopped at a local park and let O have a bit of a play. It was so unbelievably hot, so we hung out here for a while. The West Village has so many amazing cafes and restaurants in this area, as well as vintage stores and galleries. Its was probably my favourite neighbourhood in New York.

Pretty soon it was time for lunch and we visited another one of my must-visit eateries in New York. I have been a huge fan of Chloe Coscarelli for years, so I couldn’t wait to visit her first cafe. I have already reviewed this By Chloe on Bleeker Street, which you can see here. The food was amazing. It looked and tasted just as delicious as the food in Chloe’s cookbooks. Unfortunately, since our visit, Chloe was ousted from By Chloe. You can read about it here. To be honest I am not sure I would want to return to By Chloe given the chance. It just feels wrong after the way they treated her, and continuing to profit off her name and food genius.

The High Line

After lunch, we walked up to High Line, which begins on the north-eastern tip of Greenwich Village and continues through Chelsea. The High Line is an elevated public park, that runs along a historic freight rail line. It offers great views of Manhattans West Side and Hudson River, and features art installations and 120 different flora species. It runs about 1.45 miles (2.33 km) and a great place to take a relaxing stroll.

Friendly Catchup

After all that walking on the hot sun, we took some time to rest in the hotel. For dinner we met up with a friend of mine, who was air hostess and stopping overnight in New York. I really wanted to go do Momofuku Noodle Bar or John’s of Bleeker Street. However, it was so hot and nobody wanted to go so far away. Instead, my friend suggested the Olive Garden near Time Square. Marco was much more keen then me to try this Americanized-Italian food and I was a little curious.

Olive Garden at Time Square is a huge restaurant and is extremely popular for tourists. We had to take a buzzer, but it didn’t take too long to get a table. The menu is also massive, consisting of pastas, meat dishes, soups, salads, desserts, etc. It was quite overwhelming, we kept it simple with the Bread sticks, Famous House Salad, Angel Hair with Shrimp (no cream) for me and Meat cannelloni with meat sauce for Marco. The meals came out and were just massive in size. Mine looked a bit better than Marco’s dish, which looked a mess. My pasta wasn’t too bad, bit also wasn’t really flavoursome. Marco wasn’t such a fan of the taste of his. On the bright side the salad was fresh and the bread sticks weren’t bad. This would have been the perfect place to take your family if they love lots of options, big serves and have no dietary restrictions.

That brings me to the end of day 4. Tomorrow we do a horse and carriage ride through Central Park, visit the Central Park Zoo, see a Broadway show and dine at the amazing New York Eataly.

3# Throwback Travel- New York: Lady Liberty to Uptown (day 3)

On day three in New York, we continued our Big Bus tours, cruising to the Statue of Liberty and exploring the fancy side of town. We lunched on the Upper East Side, at one of the most amazing and elegant vegan restaurants, saw a Broadways show and had a cheeky late-night premium burger in Hell’s Kitchen. All in all, a pretty great day.

River Cruise to Lady Liberty

We had to get up pretty early this morning for the NYC Sightseeing River Cruise, which was part of our 2 day Big Bus pass. For breakfast, I went to a little hole in the wall bagel store near our apartment, which I can’t remember well and didn’t photograph. From memory, it was a pretty average. After, that we took a car down to the South Street Seaport in the Two Bridge area, where we took the Hornblower Cruise. It appears that this has been changed to a port off Hell’s Kitchen now.

The cruise went for about an hour and took us along the East River, passed the end of the Hudson River and into the Upper New York Bay. We got amazing views of the Financial District, Brooklyn, Governors Island, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. During the cruise, there was a recorded commentary and we could explore the top deck and the inside cabin. There wasn’t anything very exciting to eat or drink, just snacks. So I happy we had breakfast first.

This cruise didn’t get too close to the Statue of Liberty, but it did provide a great opportunity to take photographs of the entire island. It was pretty surreal seeing the lady of liberty in person. I did see many people exploring the island and I don’t regret not visiting it. I think we got a better view of the statue from the cruise than we would have below the statue.

Uptown and Harlem loop tour

Next, we took the Big Bus Uptown loop, which we got on from Bryant Park (20). It took us up through Time Square and the Broadway district, where we could see the outskirts of the Rockefeller centre. Then up to the Columbus Circle (southern left point of Central Park). From here we got off and onto the Harlem loop, which took us through the Upper West Side and up to Harlem. Harlem is a pretty hip area, with an amazing history, particularly for African Americans. As we passed through the Upper West Side, our guide pointed out the celebrities residents of the massive apartment building and important churches. The bus then took us back down to Columbus Circle, where we took the Uptown loop again up as far as the MET Museum. Here we got off to explore and have lunch. We didn’t have time to see the MET today, but I did return a couple of days later on my own.