Adventure, baby!

Australia

The Gingerbread House; Kid-Friendly Cafes, Katoomba, Blue Mountains

On our first family trip to the Blue Mountains we were looking forward to stopping in at The Gingerbread House which has gained notoriety for its whimsical fairytale setting and its attention to detail in being child-friendly. We chose the Winter Solstice to mark our journey as Katoomba is filled to the brim with people celebrating from all walks of life, a parade down the centre of town and its overall festival vibe.

All I can say is that we are lucky we chose to arrive early at The Gingerbread House because no sooner had we claimed our table in the sunny outdoor courtyard did all other vacant tables evaporate and space was a premium. Jenson and Isla had fun exploring the generous outdoor playground which was exceptionally maintained with a large cubby house and play equipment whilst we waiting for our morning tea.

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Jenson playing in the cubby house, Photo by Katia Barker
The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com
Isla at play, Photo by Katia Barker

Our order of scones (choc chip with a hint of ginger with jam and fresh cream $7.50), fresh baked muffin (raspberry and white chocolate $4.50) and kid’s milkshake ($3) arrived quickly and was mouth-wateringly fresh. The food and drink were demolished quickly so Ross and Isla played outdoors whilst Jenson and I went about exploring the magical candy emporium.

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Ginger & Choc Chip Scones $7.50, Raspberry & White Choc Muffin $4.50 and Kids Milkshake $3.00

Jenson was like, well, a kid in a candy shop, with eyes as big as saucers and was more than happy in helping select a treat for each of us. He proudly carried these off for take-away.

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Candy! Photo by Katia Barker
The Gingerbread House - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Katoomba, #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com
Like a kid in a candy shop, heaven! Photo by Katia Barker

The Gingerbread House is perfectly situated for a long lazy cafe session with plenty of kid-friendly options from toast to sandwiches and those with a sweet tooth are well-catered for with cakes, muffins and ice-creams on offer. We barely took advantage of all the dining options, and skipped coffee this time as we already had our hit but will definitely be back again to sample the delights further.

Last Bite: The Gingerbread House ticks all the boxes for a kid-friendly cafe and should be on everyone’s must do list for a visit to the Blue Mountains.

Highchairs: Yes.
Stroller storage: Yes.
Easy access: Yes.
Change tables: Yes.
Kids’ menu: Yes.

The Gingerbread House
56 Lurline Street (Cnr Lurline & Waratah Streets),
Katoomba NSW
Phone: (02) 4784 2031
Prices: $-$$
Hours: Daily 9am-5pm
Get Directions

Katia Barker
Katia Barker is a 30-something stay-at-home mum to two beautiful (though sleep-adverse) children (Jenson 4 3/4 and Isla 22 months). Pre-baby life rendered a highly organised, efficient and calm advertising professional whose outlook on life was to absorb all of what life would throw at her. Now, all that is being thrown at her is food in its various incarnations. Katia’s new future includes educating and opening her children up to what the world has to offer, including food! and renovating her dream home (oh and getting that haircut which is seriously overdue!).

Date Night in Sydney

On our recent trip back home to Sydney (another post on that coming later) Alec and I had a special night – our first away from E. Not Alec’s first time away overnight, but definitely my first, and our first together. Monumental! And all thanks to my wonderful parents who volunteered to baby sit their granddaughter even though she had a fever that required them getting up through the night and then my mum sleeping with her the rest of the night. Bless you Mum and Dad, you’re the best!

It was so wonderful to have some time with Alec to reset our relationship and to spend a bit of time enjoying Sydney again together. I found a great deal on a hotel we stayed at for my 30th birthday in The Rocks – the Langham (it used to be called The Observatory Hotel). The hotel is a beautiful old-school place, really luxurious and comfortable at the same time.

We kicked our night off walking around The Rocks, picking up treats for later at the Guylian Chocolate Cafe, and then with dinner at Pony, a restaurant that wasn’t there last time  we were in town, and was absolutely amazing. Really delicious food (my ricotta pasta was perfect), kick-ass cocktails, and a fantastic vibe that was upscale trendy without being too try-hard.

Something that really struck me on this trip back is how much the food culture in Sydney has changed. There are lots of really hip new cafes and restaurants around town now – and all throughout the suburbs – which made for some culinary adventures that reminded me of how amazing Australia’s produce is.

After our delicious dinner and potent cocktails, we head back for an early night and rented a movie (we never get to watch movies anymore!).

The following morning, after breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we dropped by La Renaissance Cafe (the place to go for French pastries) to pick up treats for my parents, then head back on home.

One thing to be said for being back home, it’s great to have some more than willing babysitters!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Huskisson Bakery & Cafe, Kid-Friendly Cafes, Huskisson, Shoalhaven, NSW

A trip to Huskisson is not complete unless you stop at the affectionately known Husky Bakery for something delicious. The draw card is the extensive pie menu where you actually get large chunks of meat in the pie – however we stopped in for a quick morning tea in between visits to the beach and the nearby park.

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Husky Bakery Outside, Photo by Katia Barker

On previous visits we got take-out, but today, with nothing much on the agenda we opted for dine in and were surprised at how kid-friendly the Husky Bakery really is! Whilst you can’t really go wrong with a sweets display full of fresh and fun options, the Husky Bakery has really catered towards the younger crowds. There is a long covered eat-in area out the back with several highchairs available for use, but the best bit is the full size playground set – also under cover for the kids to run riot whilst the adults enjoy a coffee or two.

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Half of the delights available at Husky Bakery, Photo by Katia Barker

Our food choices were simple but very fresh and the coffee hot and tasty. Ross went savoury, with a Spinach and Fetta Roll ($3.60) but I could not go past the sweets and ordered a Mini Lemon Meringue Tart ($2.80). Cupcakes were right at child eye-level and it worked, Jenson ordered a bright pink Cupcake ($2.80).

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Spinach and Fetta roll $3.60, Photo by Katia Barker
Husky Bakery - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Lemon Meringue Tart $2.80 and Piccolo Latte $3.00, Photo by Katia Barker
Husky Bakery - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #Sydney via brunchwithmybaby.com
Jenson sat sit for just long enough to take this photo with his cupcake $2.80, Photo by Katia Barker

Isla wasn’t in the mood to sit quietly or still for very long, and we’d run out of our emergency supply of food for her so after our last drops of coffee were gone, and Jenson had descended the slide a few more times we made our exit down one of the two handy ramps.

Last Bite: The Huskisson Bakery and Café is a must stop location for anyone visiting Huskisson with kids, even if just passing through town to head further south. They know what kids like and have well-catered towards their needs, especially with the burgeoning camping crowds in summer when there is a freak downpour! Get in early and claim your table near the playground, as this place gets busy!

Highchairs: Yes
Stroller Storage: Yes
Easy Access: Yes
Change Tables: No
Kids Menu: Not dedicated, but what kid would turn back a cupcake (or lamington) it’s Un-Australian!
Huskisson Bakery & Café
11 Currambene Street, Huskisson, NSW 2540
Phone: 02 4441 5015
Price: $
Hours: Monday – Sunday 6:30am – 5:00pm

Katia Barker
Katia Barker is a 30-something stay-at-home mum to two beautiful (though sleep-adverse) children (Jenson 4 3/4 and Isla 22 months). Pre-baby life rendered a highly organised, efficient and calm advertising professional whose outlook on life was to absorb all of what life would throw at her. Now, all that is being thrown at her is food in its various incarnations. Katia’s new future includes educating and opening her children up to what the world has to offer, including food! and renovating her dream home (oh and getting that haircut which is seriously overdue!).

Pilgrim’s Wholefood, Kid-Friendly Cafes, Huskisson, Shoalhaven, NSW

We decided to take a cheeky mid-week Spring break down to the sunny holiday spot of Jervis Bay for a few days and Huskisson is a family favourite of ours. Finding kid-friendly cafes beyond fish and chips was a new experience we were willing to take on and Pilgrim’s Wholefood was an excellent start. Tucked along a retail corridor the interior of Pilgrims encapsulates a beach side cantina feel with a little bit of Sydney hipness.

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com

Being a devoted meatatarian I was impressed by the modern menu, which is made up solely of vegetarian options utilizing local fresh produce. The wait staff helpfully offered up the most popular choices (both burgers!). Ross selected the Bliss Burger, $11 (mixed grain pattie with fried onion, avocado, cheese, tabouleh, sprouts, special sauce & peanut sauce on a wholemeal roll) and I opted for the Millenium Burger $11 (Curry lentil pattie, fried onion, avocado, lettuce, beetroot, cucumber, sprouts, tahini sauce & sweet chilli sauce on a toasted wholemeal roll). Jenson had a Kids Burger, $8 (mixed grain pattie, fried onion, cheese, sprouts & special sauce on a toasted wholemeal roll).

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
The Millenium Burger
Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
The Bliss Burger $11
Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Kids Burger $8

We all opted for cold drinks and Jensons’ Kids Banana Smoothie, $4.50, was generous in size and arrived first, which is always smart when kids are dining. The adult Thickshakes, $7, each are served in traditional chilled metal cups and hit the spot on a warm day.

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Isla enjoying some of Daddy’s Strawberry Thickshake $7

The adult burgers were both delicious and satisfying and didn’t need any accompaniments such as chips, although they were a little messy. Jenson tried his burger but wasn’t really into the non-traditional flavours. It would be more suitable for a child who is either a little more worldly with their eating, or can accept that a burger can be something other than meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce & sauce! Never mind, more for us to snack on!

Pilgrim's Wholefoods - #kid-friendly #cafes - #Huskisson, #NSW via brunchwithmybaby.com
Jenson and his Banana Smoothie $4.50

Pilgrim’s Wholefood is a little bit of everything with typical breakfast fare in the morning (although still all vegetarian), burgers, wraps, pies & salads and coffee during the day with Mexican cuisine at night. This could allow you to return three times a day and have a different culinary experience each time. The café is spacious with long rustic wood tables built for sharing with a few smaller tables dotted around and has a small retail corner for local designer clothes & art for purchase or browse whilst waiting for your food.

Last Bite: Pilgrim’s Wholefood brings the Sydney vibe to the beachside town with unique vegetarian wholefoods, stylish interior and things to look at and poke around for the kids. Takeaway is also an option if the café is buzzing and you need space with a kid-friendly park directly underneath the shop.

Highchairs: Yes
Stroller storage: Yes
Easy access: Yes
Change tables: No
Kids menu: One or two options, might be best to ask for a custom sandwich or wrap if child is a little picky!

Pilgrim’s Wholefood
Shop 5/57 Owen Street, Huskisson, NSW 2540
Phone: 02 4441 6118
Price: $$
Hours: Mon-Sun 9am-3pm, Thur-Sat 6pm-9pm

Katia Barker
Katia Barker is a 30-something stay-at-home mum to two beautiful (though sleep-adverse) children (Jenson 4 3/4 and Isla 22 months). Pre-baby life rendered a highly organised, efficient and calm advertising professional whose outlook on life was to absorb all of what life would throw at her. Now, all that is being thrown at her is food in its various incarnations. Katia’s new future includes educating and opening her children up to what the world has to offer, including food! and renovating her dream home (oh and getting that haircut which is seriously overdue!).

Raising a Little Aussie

Something I think about frequently is identity, specifically through nationality. The full identity issue is a much larger discussion and blog post than I’m tackling here. My national identity is pretty simple – I’m a Australian – at least fourth generation if not further. No matter how long we live abroad, I will always think of myself as an Australian. My parents are 100% Australian, as was my childhood home and education.

So where does that leave Eloise? Is she American or Australian? Will she feel American because she lives here? If we move back to Australian in a few years, then what will that make her? Technically she’s an Australian born in the US, with dual citizenship. I often wonder what she will feel like as she grows up. As she starts school she will pick up an American accent (nooooo!!!) and identify with her friends more than with us. Whereas Alec and I yearn for things like Cadbury chocolate and Gippsland yoghurt, will she prefer (god forbid) Hersheys and Chobani?.

How do we help Eloise embrace her Australian heritage and nationality so it forms part of her identity? Read her Playing Beatie Bow, serve her Vegemite, make her watch The Man From Snowy River? Will she even care?

The point is we do care, even if she won’t for what will probably be a long time. I hope that by constantly going back home to visit and by surrounding her with global experiences that she will embrace an identity of being more than just an American.

Sydney, December 2011
Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Eloise – Month 4 – 5

Week 18 – Dec 20 – Dec 23 

We had a baby nurse visit us to give us help with Eloise’s terrible sleep habits. Amazingly, we were able to get her to sleep in the crib for two naps during the day – something she had been unable to do up until now. So fantastic. I was also told that I was feeding her too frequently, so have to cut back to during the day, no oftener than every 3 hours, and at night, no oftener than every 4 hours. This means some pain for us as we will have to settle her back to sleep at night when she wakes instead of the easy path of me feeding her back to sleep …

The rest of the week we tried to keep up with the advice, but it was hard when we were going out so much and couldn’t keep on a schedule.

Development-wise, this week Eloise spent a lot of time on her back on the floor happily watching us or amusing herself. Her grip improved dramatically. She now reaches for objects and examines them, usually shoving them in her mouth.

Christmas in Sydney Hyde Park.
Hyde Park 17 wks.

 Week 19 – Dec 24 – Dec 31 

Eloise’s first Christmas! She was spoiled by her family. It was so lovely to celebrate with her – looking forward to the next Christmases as she gets older and can open presents and understand what it all means.

 Santa! 18 wks.

Christmas Day.

Developmental changes this week: Trying to roll from front to back. She lifts her legs and can roll to her side, but can’t quite get over. First finger and thumb constantly in the mouth.

Eloise has also started to develop a pincer grip with these fingers, using them to grab her ear, her nappy, and more. She reaches for us all the time now, particularly our faces. She has also started blowing raspberries! She blows them non stop 🙂

First swim in a pool this week. Eloise really loved the water and was in for over an hour. We also took her to Balmoral Beach and put her feet in the sand and in the water. She didn’t know what to think of it all!

First swim! 18 wks.

At Balmoral Beach.

Week 20 – Jan 1 – Jan 7 2012

Our last week in Sydney. After doing way too much and going out too much, Eloise was finding it hard to sleep, frequently waking up after we put her down to sleep.

The big event for this week was Eloise’s naming day. She was a bit overwhelmed by all the people, but was really good natured and managed to put her toes in her mouth for the first time. It was such a fantastic day, with our friends and relatives coming down from Newcastle, over from Perth and all over Sydney.

Cutting the Eloise cake at Eloise’s naming day.

Developmentally, Eloise is changing so much. She rolled over for the first time from front to back (3/1/12). She is really interested in everything we are doing, especially when we are eating or drinking. She also loves touching our faces and following out voices. She is chatting a lot now – even during the night when I feed her, she happily chats away.

Eloise is suddenly so interested in everything. She reaches for our faces frequently, as well as anything we are eating or drinking.

Last big event for the week was the trip back to New York. A huge 24 hours – 12.5 hour flight from Sydney to LA, a four hour layover, then a 4.5 hour flight from LA to New York. Eloise was pretty fussy and didn’t sleep much on the first flight, but was in a fabulous mood and slept for most of the second flight.

On the Virgin flight from LA to NY.

Week 21 – Jan 8 – 13
JETLAG. This week is all about jetlag. Eloise was hit really badly by it on the return leg and hardly slept for nights.

Eloise is really enjoying putting her feet in her mouth. She is also loving our water bottles and reaches for them frequently. She is constantly reaching for things now, so curious about everything in the world. Her co-ordination is improving as well. She really loves Sophie the giraffe now. The toy is the perfect size for her to grab and put in her mouth.

Eloise and Sophie.

Eloise is trying to roll from back to front. She’s slowly getting there … a great improvement is that we can now put her down on the floor and she happily plays there for a while on her own.

Trying to roll.

Week 22 – Jan 14 – 20
First solid! Organic whole grain rice cereal, mixed with formula. I think she enjoyed it – at least, she was very curious about it, and didn’t spit it back out. (16/1/12).

Towards the end of the week, the jetlag seemed to finally wear off, and her sleeping returned to normal – waking at around 9:39, then 12:30-1am, 4:40, then 6am. Blergh. So tired.

A great first this week was Eloise falling asleep in her stroller, not once, but twice! Uh-mazing.

She is really loving exploring our faces and mouths, particularly our teeth. She is so fascinated with everything we are wearing and doing.

Loving my teeth.
This week was our first outing in the cold.

First outing with Daddy. Minus 2 degrees C.


Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Melbourne Weekend

We had booked a weekend in Melbourne to watch the Australian Open looong before we knew about this New York business. It ended up falling on Alec’s last weekend in Australia, so it seemed to be a good way to see him out with a bang.

Sweltering in the tennis. Don’t be fooled, the clothes are for sun protection. It was boiling.

We also spent a day wandering around St Kilda and the CBD, just hanging out.

St Kilda boardwalk.

Luna Park!

The Victoria Art Gallery. Thumper!

We had such a lovely weekend – the perfect way (bar a weekend at the beach!) to spend our last weekend together for a while. Next time we meet, it will be in New York, baby!
Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Byron Road Trip 2010

We had a fantastic road trip up to Byron Bay over the Chrissie break. After Christmas Day in Stockton, we drove to Shoal Bay for Christmas night. We found a delicious pizza shop open and gorged ourselves on sweet, sweet pizza.
The next morning we met Alec’s dad and his wife for lunch, before drive up to Port Macquarie for the night. An early start had us on the road to Byron. We spent the next five nights in Byron, walking on the beach, eating, bush walking to a waterfall, walking up to the lighthouse and reading. Exactly what we needed after a stressful end to the year.
Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

Birthday in Melbourne: Day 3

My birthday fell on day 3 of our Melbourne trip. We had a sleep in, breakfast in the hotel, and then sauntered off to the Tim Burton Exhibition.  I’ve always admired his films, so seeing his artwork on loan from personal collections was quite amazing. I found it entertaining picturing him as an animator for Disney, seeing as his personal style is quite the opposite.

I felt most inspired seeing the exhibition, as Tim Burton has clearly worked extremely hard to get to where he is. For every success he has had, he’s had more than double the amount of projects go nowhere. His passion and skill have taken him to where he is, also his tenacity. It reminded me to be stronger and not give up on my dreams.

Hello giant blow-up scary person.

“Nananananananana BATMAN!”

My favourite quote of the day, overheard in the exhibition: “Did he do Shrek?” Lol.

After the exhibition we wandered around some more on the river banks until the sun went down.

The Yarra.

Very scenic.

As CBD as it gets.

Pretty bridge makes for nice photos.

Baroo?

It’s my birthday and I’ll pose if I want to.

And make my husband pose too!

Another graffiti wall.

Outside the ACMI building – such a cool design.

I lurve you blob!

Raaarrr!

We didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye, lol.

Run, husband!

Blobs make for handy seats too.

And then SHE said …

After much wandering, we had dinner at the very funky Fifteen. I love Jamie Oliver, so was keen to try his restaurant.

The restaurant was excellent. Stylish, great vibe, fabulous service. The food was really great, interesting recipes rather than the stock standard type, particularly for the veggo options.

What is down the stairs?!

Happy birthday to me! (This may have started out as “happy birrhday” …)

Another year older …

One more pose for the road. Happy, well-fed and slightly tipsy.

Even the restaurant had graffiti art …

I’m on a tram!

Back at the hotel – Alec and the frog, together at last.

I wore out my husband …

Thanks so much for the fantastic weekend away Alec 🙂 xox

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.

31st Birthday in Melbourne: Day 2

Day 2 kicked off with brunch at Di Bella in north Melbourne with an old friend, Dana, and her bf Karl, an ex-intern at Google and who joined our netball team while she was in Sydney. Dana moved back to Melbourne after her internship ended and is moving to Seattle in the near-ish future to join Google there, where I’m sure she will take the Seattle netball team to new heights of victory.

I enjoyed the breakfast at Di Bella immensely, even more so because we were introduced to Dana and Karl’s brunch technique of ordering food, then eating cake while the breakfast was being cooked. Breakfast of champions. Amazing.

Pear and chocolate danish. Divine.

Netball yay 🙂

After brunch (and an unscheduled drive to the bus depo in Footscray to pick up the wallet Alec left on the airport bus – PS Sunshine street is NOT sunny people) Alec and I walked around Melbourne and ate more food.

I’d like a purse THIS big.

I love how Melbourne has random sculptures scattered around it. Like the giant purse. Or the men waiting for a tram.

Like CityRail in Sydney, trams can take a while to arrive. This poor fellow has been waiting a looooong time.

I practice my tram-waiting face while waiting for the tram, of course.

Melbourne also has a lot of graffiti art. I enjoyed the little alleys with oh-so-cool cafes, jam-packed with trendy Melbourne-ites, and covered with bright designs.

Even the dumpsters got the art treatment.

The husband loves a good alley.

The wife loves a good Tiffany store 😉

Lindt gets arty.

Birthday tulips! Thanks husband!

Melbourne Central shot tower in the middle of a shopping centre. So cool.

More graffiti.

Dinner at Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar for home-cooked, simple, Italian food. 

After dinner it was off to Mary Poppins at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Alec was fabulous and booked us great seats with a package that included wine and a goody bag (ooooh more gifts!).

“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag!”

The show was fantastic. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so it surpassed any expectations I might have had. I adored Mary Poppins the movie when I was growing up, so the musical brought back lovely memories. The singing, dancing and set were all fabulous.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.