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.

7# Throwback Travel- New York: American Museum of Natural History

On day 6, one of our stops was the amazing American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on the Upper West Side. It was established back in 1869 and is the largest natural history museum in the world. If you haven’t heard of it, you probably recognise it from films like Wonderstruck and the Night in the Museum trilogy.

The AMNH has several permanent exhibition halls, as well as special temporary exhibitions. The halls include Biodiversity and Environmental Halls, Bird and Reptiles and Amphibians Halls, Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls, Fossil Halls, Grand Gallery, Human Origins and Cultural Halls, Mammal Halls, Rose Center for Earth and Space, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial and the Discovery Room. Each of the halls has one to six specific exhibitions within them.

If you would like to visit this museum you can find Ticket prices are quite reasonable and are cheaper for students, seniors and children. Within the museum, there are also a variety of cafes and food courts, but you can also bring your own food. The museum also offers Sleepovers for children and adults, as well as a range of public and self-guided museum tours. To see the layout, see the map.

Our biggest interest to visit the museum was to see the fossils of dinosaur, animals and human species, as well as geographical cultural and animal life-like displays. So you can see the photos I took are mostly from these sections. We didn’t get around to see all the permanent exhibitions in a few hours. So you plan on seeing it all, make sure you have the entire day. Its unforgettable experience, especially if your a museum junkie like me.

My favourite halls were definitely the North American Mammals and Human Origins species. The halls vary in terms of standard of displays. Some were better lite and detailed, others were a little bland. However, when you compare this with other museums, it’s pretty spectacular as a whole. I did have trouble photographing with the dim lighting and hundreds of other visitors, but I tried as best I could. If you would like to know what I actually photographed, just press the pictures, as I have meticulous labelled most sections.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall (Entrance)

Fossil Halls

Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs

Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs

Hall of Primitive Mammals

Hall of Advanced Mammals

Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Orientation Center

Hall of Vertebrate Origins

Mammal Halls

Hall of North American Mammals

Hall of Asian Mammals

Birds and Reptiles and Amphibians Halls

Hall of Birds of the World

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall

Human Origins and Cultural Halls

Northwest Coast Indians

Hall of Mexico and Central America

Hall of South American Peoples

Hall of African Peoples

Hall of Asian People

Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins

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.