Review: Yumtable app

I've always loved dining out at restaurants; it is wonderful to socialise over good food and wine. When Alexander was born, dining out became a bit of a rarity as I was just too tired to bother. But now that he is nearly two and has a well established sleep routine, I have started to dine out again and schedule regular catch ups with my friends. So when Yumtable asked me to trial and review their new app in exchange for a meal at one of their restaurants partners, I gladly agreed!

Yumtable is a free app that gives diners exclusive offers and savings – no vouchers needed. The app itself was easy to use; just register using Facebook or an email account. The hard part was choosing a restaurant (there are so many!). For this excursion, I invited my best friend Liz along. Neither of us had a preference for cuisine so we decided to pick something close to home. The app listed all the restaurant partners in my area that had tables available. There were restaurants that I didn't even know existed even though they were right in my neighbourhood. What a great way to get acquainted with my suburb!

In the end, we decided on Argo Restaurant, which serves up Modern Australian food, an easy ten minutes drive from home.
To make the booking, I simply selected my preferred date and time and within a couple of clicks, my reservation was confirmed. I even had the option of sending a confirmation email or text message direct to Liz, saving me the hassle of sending her all the details myself.
And now for the fun part! We arrived at Argo restaurant and was chuffed to find there was live music on offer - a really talented one man band kept diners entertained with his soothing voice and soulful tunes on his guitar. He was really good.

For starters, Liz and I ordered some mussels and deep fried stuffed zucchini flowers to share. I can never pass up on a chance to eat zucchini flowers as they're seasonal and not always available and it did not disappoint. They were crispy, wonderfully seasoned with a light ricotta stuffing. That said, the mussels were the star of the night - cooked in a tasty and well balanced tomato based sauce. Dare I say they're the best mussels I've tasted in a very long time. For mains, we ordered barramundi and Atlantic salmon, both of which were cooked to perfection.
By the time it came to desserts, we were both pretty full so we decided to share the Earl Grey pannacotta, served with dates, raisins and a scone biscuit. The delicate flavour of the pannacotta was perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the dates and raisins and the biscuit gave the dish was an extra texture and crunch.
Food images via Argo
All in all,it was a very lovely evening. Liz and I had such a wonderful time chatting away that we didn't realise for quite some time that we were the only customers left!

When the bill arrived, we were most pleasantly surprised to see that the total cost of our meal plus drinks was just under $100, thanks to the $40 discount that was automatically taken off our bill - simply because we'd booked with the Yumtable app. It was the perfect way to end the evening.

Disclaimer: I was provided with $100 credit to cover the costs of the meal however all opinions are my own.

A collaboration with paPetal

Earlier this month, I mentioned that I was working on a few creative projects, of which the most exciting was to create a mini bridal collection with my friend Jen from paPetal. Here's a little sneak peek at our first project together...
Using beautifully hand crafted flowers that Jen had made in various shades of white, I assembled them by sewing and hot gluing onto a plain fabric clutch bag and then added pearl and gold embellishments to create a one of kind flower bag created with a romantic, flower loving bride in mind.
I love how Jen has styled the bag; the blue background is remisnicent of the clear sky on a sunny day and really makes the bag pop!
Image credit: paPetal
Jen and I have a few thing other things up our sleeves, so watch this space for more updates!

PS: paPetal is now open for business, check out her Etsy store for her amazing handcrafted flowers

Takeaway date night

It started one Friday evening when I was sick and Stu came home exhausted; neither of us had the inclination nor the energy to rustle up some dinner so we decided to order takeaway. And it was wonderful!

There were no pots to wash, no greasy stove top to wipe down, the food was delicious and brought back fond memories of when we used to go out on a regularly to try out new restaurants in those carefree pre-baby days. From that time on, we decided to make Friday nights our weekly takeaway date night and we haven't looked back since.
We have been ordering our weekly takeaway using my sponsor EatNow, a Sydney CBD Food Delivery and Takeaway service that is free to use. I like the ease of using the site and how there is a large selection  of restaurants available to choose from. Most of all, Stu and I love how we can pre-order in advance for a time that suits so we don't have to wait ages for our food to arrive even during peak times.

EatNow has a wine pairing Infographic which I'd like to share with you today. We like to have a glass of wine with our meal so I just have to refer to this guide to determine which wine to serve, which is very handy indeed.

Do you and your partner have regular date nights too? What do you usually do?

While walking #5

I can't believe it has been well over a year since I did one of these "while walking" posts. Only up till recently, Alexander had been at the age where he'd get upset if strapped up in a pram for too long yet at the same time he was still too young to take a walk with me. I mean we tried, but it was awful with him refusing to hold my hand and constantly trying to run out onto the road where a car could hit him. Or he would just walk a few steps and then demand "up" and wait to be carried. And trust me, it's not fun walking with a 12 kg load in my arms!

But last week, I tried again. I reasoned, and I explained, I pointed out the many cool things we could see; a pebble, a stick, some red berries growing on the neighbour's tree...and then, I finally got Alex to go for a walk with me in a manageable fashion. So with a bucket in one hand and a spirit of exploration, we walked (and we stopped a lot) and we collected these little bits and pieces of 'treasures'.
It took us all of 30 minutes to talk to the bus stop and back (what normally would only take 5 minutes!) as there were too many interesting sticks to examine. But it was fun and I loved watching him discover and learn about nature. What a wonderful lesson to teach a little child!

Have you been out for a walk lately?

Simple ways to bring the outdoors in

As the days get colder and shorter, Alexander and I have been spending more time indoors than we would like to. Being cooped up with a restless toddler is not much fun, so to lessen the doldrums of winter, I've been making special effort to enliven the house with a bit of nature so as to cheer ourselves up. Here are a few ideas on how you can bring the outdoors in.

Potted indoor plants - I used to work in a gloomy basement office where I'd spend hours without even a window to look out of. I remember how the mere presence of an indoor office plant on my desk would made a difference to my work day. Indoor plants are an instant way to cheer up any indoor space and are also great for reducing air pollution and improving creativity. I love having a variety of flowering and non-flowering indoor plants to add colour and interest.
Herb/ flower wreaths - I like to hang a herb wreath in the kitchen during the winter months so I have them handy for cooking with (instead of having to run out into the cold dark garden to cut some!) They also smell and look amazing. Flower wreaths are fun to make, so pretty to look at and add warm, colour and texture to any indoor space. Be sure to check out my tutorials so you can make your own herb wreath and flower wreath.
Botanical wall art - I do love botanical prints; they are elegant, pretty and a lovely way to bring a bit of nature in. Scour thrift shops for unique vintage posters or if you're feeling creative, why not make your own botanical print with my easy tutorial here.
Decorate with nature elements - Every time I go for a walk, I can't help but come home with lovely bits of nature that I've collected along the way. I'm talking seed pods, interesting branches, pebbles, pine cones and nuts, which I place in vases, bowls, glass jars to decorate my home with. In fact, there's a tangly seed pod from an old palm tree hanging on my living room wall that doubles as my alternative Christmas Tree every year.
How do you bring the outdoors in?