GPK Erina Fair

GPK (Gourmet Pizza Kitchen) is, as the name suggests, a pizzeria located in the Hive at Erina Fair. GPK also serves pastas and alcoholic beverages; and is conveniently located near Hoyts, if one wishes to follow food with a trip to the movies.

Food

I ordered the Bacon & Mushroom pasta. I thought the meal was average. While it wasn’t bad, the pasta lacked the oomph that would have made it delicious.

My friends, who ordered a variety of pizzas and pastas, also found their meals to be bland.

2.5/5.

Drinks

I ordered a piña colada.

I thought the drink was thicker than other piña coladas I’ve had in the past, however I still enjoyed the taste of it. Despite the piña colada containing white rum and myself being a bit of a light weight, I never felt even the slightest bit tipsy, which does make me wonder if they forgot to add the alcohol… but, hey, maybe I was just having a heavy weight kind of day *shrug*.

Meanwhile, a friend of mine, who considers herself a piña colada connoisseur found the drink lacked the pineapple-y taste that usually characterises piña coladas, and she agreed that it was a bit thick.

2.5/5.

Service

We were served by the owner and we found the service exceptional!

My friend had a voucher for two free pizzas… and we somehow ended up with four free pizzas! One of these extra pizzas was due to kitchen forgetting to leave off an ingredient. They caught the mistake themselves, so the pizza wasn’t brought out to us before they offered to give it to us anyway. A friend that joined us later in the evening ended up eating this pizza rather than buying one for herself. The other extra free pizza was because a friend went home sick… His leaving had nothing to do with GPK, yet they offered us a free pizza anyway!

On top of this, the owner was funny (or as funny as you may find some lame dad jokes). He made the night enjoyable for our group.

5/5.

Overall

While we found the food and drinks to be very average, GPK’s service was some of the best I have seen. Altogether, I rate GPK 6.6/10.

The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria are a beautiful floral themed space, located in a 1920s Industrial area. This history has been absorbed into the design of the Grounds, creating a unique, rustic, and quaint space. The Grounds include The Café, open for breakfast and lunch; The Potting Shed, open from 11:30am until late; and, The Garden, a variety of takeaway style eateries, namely The Garden Bar, The BBQ, and The Pizza Silo. 

The Grounds are well known for featuring a changing theme. The current theme is Disney’s Maleficent. 

“As a beautiful young woman of pure heart, Maleficent has an idyllic life in a forest kingdom…”

One way in which The Grounds have incorporated the dark beauty of Maleficent into their garden is as you walk down the main walkway, you are flanked by hedges decorated with black roses, crow feathers, and wispy dead leaves. These additions stick out haphazardly yet in perfect harmony. This pathway is truly stunning, if not dark. The effect is that you feel as though you really are entering the horned fairy’s dominion.

Halfway down the walkway, there is an opening to the right where you can enter into the courtyard of The Grounds; the centrepiece of which is a beautiful water fountain. The backdrop, an archway of fairy lights, looks as though it continues eternally in an ethereal fashion. This area is particularly picturesque at night. I felt as though this space would be perfect for hosting a wedding reception.

There is also plenty to do here, with a kid’s play corner containing a rocking horse, both a cow and a pig seat, a large connect four game, and more… All to keep the little ones entertained while you browse the gardens. There’s a pig pen for The Grounds’ resident pig Harry Trotter, as well as a pen of hens + Russel Crow the Rooster. All of these areas keep to a farmyard theme and are ultra fun additions to the venue.

The rear side of the courtyard connects to The Garden, where the aforementioned takeaway shops are located. This too is beautiful to walk down, and if you take a left here it also loops back to the main walkway.

Design 5/5.

The Potting Shed

Luke and I had a dinner reservation at The Potting Shed for our third anniversary. We arrived half an hour early, yet the staff were willing to seat us and begin service upon our arrival. There was a line up, however, to get a seat and only one lady on host, so in saying this, we did have to wait about five minutes in line before we were eventually seated. We also found the service throughout the night a bit slow.

We were seated directly under a large industrial heater. Our waitress offered to turn the heater off for us if it became too hot, but we found it comfortable in light of a slight chilly breeze.

We were handed a drink menu and two food menus. The food menus came on a heavy metal clipboard, once again tying in to that industrial history of The Grounds.

We read through the drinks menu and I immediately fell in love with the description of a cocktail The Casual Encounter at first sight. “Save a dance for this belle of the highball – the glassiest drink in the gin joint. A thirst-quenching kiss of elderflower, Tanqueray Gin, peach and rose syrup.” The drink itself looked better than the water-colour illustration in the menu and it tasted equally as satisfying.

We ordered a Grounds Garlic & Herb Baguette to start. We found it quite bland. There was a twig of rosemary on the side; while this appeared aesthetically pleasing on the side of our bread board, it would’ve added more to the taste of the baguette if it had been baked into the bread.

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On its arrival, I ordered my second cocktail, The Fluffy-tiki. “Dedicated to our feathered friend, Fluffy. Delightful Captain Morgan Spiced Rum with pineapple and chased by citrus. Cheers Fluffy.” The Fluffy-tiki is served in a parrot mug. No, I’m not joking… Yes, it looked awesome. I didn’t realise this on the night, but you have the option of buying the mug from the restaurant for an extra $17.

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Our food arrived next:

1x The Shed Cheeseburger for Luke

ground brisket, onion rings, house sauce, pickles and melted cheese with chips; and

1x The Potting Shed Game Sausages for me

with colcannon mash, burnt onion and thyme gravy (gf) 

While the dinner could have been ever so slightly more tasteful, particularly for how much it costs, I otherwise couldn’t fault it.

Drinks 5/5.

Food 3/5. (-1 not as tasteful as it could be; -0.5 price; -0.5 understaffed).

Amenities

I have never seen bathrooms that look as nice as the ones at The Grounds. So much thought and effort has gone behind the design of these bathrooms and I loved it. To sum up how pretty they are, I have to point out: How often do you have the urge to take a picture of a bathroom?

5/5.

Overall

The Grounds of Alexandria have, within me, inspired a love for nature, beauty, and the rustic. I will definitely be going back in the future.

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My overall rating for The Grounds of Alexandria is 9/10!

Sweet Surprises Terrigal

There’s a new sweet shop in Terrigal called Sweet Surprises (and it was actually a surprise for me since I didn’t know about its arrival!)

They have an amazing range of international foods and otherwise interesting lollies… I felt like I was in heaven visiting!

I bought some pickle-flavoured Pringles (honestly, who knew that was a thing?!) and some Lucky Charms, which I’ve wanted to try my whole life.

The shop is set out nicely, it’s neat and well-faced (apart from the boxes in the above photo lol), and the staff are friendly. The location is convenient: located right on the esplanade of the beach; making the shop a great stop for some cheeky snacks on your day out.

I would definitely recommend visiting if you are on the Central Coast!

5/5 stars.

The Oodie

I knew I was going to fall in love with The Oodie the moment I saw the ad for the wearable blanket and I was not wrong! 😍😍😍

What is it?

The Oodie, with interior made from warm sherpa fleece and exterior soft flannel fleece, is the cosiest piece of clothing and the only thing helping this insomniac sleep through the cold, winter nights. It comes as a one-size fits all, which I find is very roomy. The cuffs wrap onto my wrist, locking the heat in, yet the arms are also big enough that I can keep my hands in the Oodie for extra warmth. If you’re worried about cold leggies, The Oodie also sell their own trackies!

You have the option of buying The Oodie in your favourite colour or in a cool design. For example, the selection below shows some of their available options. I own both the Cat Oodie 🐱 and the Navy Oodie and couldn’t be happier with either.

Your Oodie arrives to your house delicately wrapped in a ribbon like the gift to your life it is. It feels as though Christmas has come early as you unveil it. 🎁

If you already toddle around the house cocooned in a blanket then the Oodie is perfect for you. Being a wearable blanket, you don’t have to hold it up yourself. This frees up your movement so you can get things done while staying warm. The bonus? It has pockets!

I completely love my Oodie (and so does our puppy Maddie!) 🐶

What makes The Oodie extra great?

They have a 30-day refund policy if you do have any issues with your purchase (you won’t!).

🇦🇺 It’s Australian-made 🇦🇺 . Therefore, you’re supporting local when you buy your Oodie. (But they do ship internationally 🌍 too!)

The Oodie are cruelty-free. 🐑

You can purchase using Afterpay. 💵

Your Oodie is machine-washable.

Rating

5/5 stars.

I could not recommend The Oodie more. I initially bought my Oodie for our trip to Melbourne because I knew how cold it would get as we went south – and I have loved every moment of owning it! I even had to buy a second one so Luke would stop stealing mine!!

🤑 Save, save, save 🤑

Use code COSYXT8 to save $20 when you buy your Oodie today!

Albury Railway Station

Our Albury Airbnb host recommended we visit the Albury Railway Station before leaving the area.

The heritage-listed station, built 1880-1, is well-known for the length of its platform. As the terminus for trains at the NSW/ Vic border, the length of the platform is due to incompatible track/ train designs between the two Australian states, wherein commuters were required to transfer trains at the station.

Still in use, the station’s historic design makes you feel as though you are boarding a train through time.

Complete with waiting rooms, the station is truly stunning. The inclusion of a modern TV screen, an anachronism that blends the past with the now.

Here’s an interesting read: A newspaper article on the opening of the station, published on the 5th February 1881.

Looking for things to do around Albury-Wodonga? View Days 2-3 of my itinerary here for ideas!

Photo credit: Pictures not taken by me were taken by Synchronous Photography & Editing

Raiz

What is it?

Raiz (previously named Acorns) is a micro-investing platform. Raiz operates both online and through a downloadable app on both the Apple Store and Google Play.

Raiz is perfect for those who are new to the share market and don’t yet fully understand how investing works, as well as those who do not have thousands of dollars to invest in one go (hence, Raiz is known for its micro-investing!). This means Raiz is perfect for young people, as we often fit both of these categories.

Features

Round Ups

A setting that you can toggle on and off, Raiz Round Ups literally rounds up the spare change of purchases you make using a connected bank account to the nearest dollar figure. The idea is that you generally won’t miss a few cents but man do those few cents add up. In 6 months, I have invested just over $280 from round-ups alone.

Raiz Rewards

There’s a list of brands on the app that, if you shop through their online websites, will invest a certain percentage or figure back into your Raiz account. The great thing about this is there are plenty of brands on offer, many of whom you probably already shop through – so, why not gain a little back every time you splurge!

I’ve already made some money back from Raiz Rewards through brands like Book Depository, Boohoo, Lacoste, Priceline, and Sephora. Since Raiz has a massive range of brands on their list, I always find it rewarding to check before I buy anything online because I’m usually not disappointed.One example of how Raiz Rewards would work is if you were to buy a DNA test from MyHeritage, Raiz would invest 7% of your purchase price back into your account.

Recurring Investments

While lump sums are also available, the option to invest on a regular basis is what truly makes Raiz rewarding for me. You have the option to set up a savings goal, which tells you how much you need to invest to reach that goal depending on if you’d like to invest daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.

Knowing what amount I invest regularly works great with their portfolio predictions. If I were to invest $300 weekly ($1,200 monthly) using the moderately aggressive profile, I can see I would have over $200,000 accumulated in ten years and approximately an additional $60,000 in returns!

 

Profiles

While we’re on the topic of profiles, Raiz offers 6 options: conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, aggressive, and emerald. These options mean you can err on the side of caution (conservative) or you can choose to have your finances fluctuate depending on the market for a quick return (aggressive) or you can choose somewhere in the middle, or you can even choose a long term option and make the maximum in returns but over a longer period of time (emerald).

In saying this, while there is always a risk of losing money with shares, that risk is minimised with Raiz as they invest their money in various EFTs (Exchange Traded Funds). Generally, your money will rise in the long-term though there may be short-term setbacks.

The images below show how much you will save + market returns depending on how much you invest per month. You can drag the graph up/down within the app to adjust the amount invested/ results. I have used $1,200 monthly for consistency.

My Finance

Raiz shows how much you spend every month, your average, and how you are tracking for the month. I tend to ignore this feature because it shows where I waste money… #guilty

Other features

Raiz also offer their own Super account and a kids account. However, I haven’t explored these myself and don’t know a lot about how they work so I can’t really comment on these.

How safe is Raiz?

I was initially dubious about handing over my bank details and money to an app. However, there are many facets of Raiz that I have learned through research that allow me to feel more secure about entrusting them with access to my money.

Firstly, Raiz is a public company trading on the ASX (ticker ‘RZI’). This means there is a lot of disclosure about the company. In fact, when you first open a Raiz account, they provide their PDS (Public Disclosure Statement) for you to agree to. I also found it quite reassuring to learn that Raiz is an Australian company operating out of New South Wales with an Australian Financial Services licence, and is overseen by ASIC.

If Raiz were to go bankrupt or be wound up, Raiz customers wouldn’t be left out of pocket because the Raiz deposits are transferred to ETFs, which are overseen by an independent custodian.

There is also always the possibility that cybercriminals could hack into Raiz and steal customers’ money, however Raiz is alert to this threat and has consequently implemented a “robust information security program.” In other words, this risk is very similar to that of having your money in a bank, which is something most people don’t worry about.

Professional opinions on Raiz.

In summary, the professionals think that due to account fees (which are only $2.50 a month for balances up to $10,000 and 0.275% for balances over $10,000) there are ‘cheaper’ methods of investing money. However, these cheaper options are often inaccessible to the main demographic of Raiz, young people, therefore Raiz is a great option for new investors.

My experience using Raiz

I love it!

I’ve only been using Raiz for six months, but I’ve already seen my savings grow exponentially; and not because of market returns, but because Raiz offers me an account to put my savings in that is hard enough to access that I won’t splurge but easy enough that I can draw on my money when needed (withdrawals are processed in 5-7 business days).

In terms of market returns, my account is currently sitting at +4.47% (while my partner’s is about 13.4% for the past year), which just goes to show how much you can make through market returns. I’ve additionally loved making additional money through dividends and Raiz Rewards.

I can’t recommend Raiz enough! It’s been the best thing for my savings!!

Interested in making your own account? Join Raiz today and both you and I will receive $5 straight into our accounts.

Lazerpig, Melbourne

Lazerpig is located in Collingwood and in a great area to go bar-hopping if that’s your desire.

We went to Lazerpig for dinner in-between Parts I and II of the Cursed Child at the nearby Princes Theatre.

We nearly gave Lazerpig a miss due to some bad reviews online, however since Lazerpig was recommended by a friend, we decided to give it a risk. And we did not regret this decision.

We arrived just before 5pm, so their restaurant wasn’t actually open when we got there. However, we were able to order food, so we sat in the bar area to eat and drink.

Atmosphere

It wasn’t busy but it was only off-peak.

Music was at a good volume.

Beautiful, dim lighting. Really made the bar look alive.

5/5.

Drinks

I bought and drank the Rhubarb Pie Cocktail while I waited for my food. The drink comprised of sfumato rabarbaro, sazerac rye bourbon. jameson, tasmanian leatherwood honey, lemon, cassia bark, and came with a strawberry garnish. I was shocked at how similar it tasted like Rhubarb Pie. It was also warm, so made for a great drink on a cold winter evening.

I could really see that a lot of love had gone into making my cocktail. 5/5.

Food

My Ronny J pizza came quickly, coming only after about ten minutes. Some reviews we read said the food took up to an hour to come out, so perhaps we got lucky since we went to Lazerpig at an off-peak time.

I expected my pizza to be hot from the jalepenos but I could barely taste them (I mean you know it’s not hot if Luke can tolerate it because he’s weak af for hot foods). On the other hand, the honey gave a lovely undertone to my pizza that I really enjoyed… It was tasteful in such a way that the honey was subtle yet added a unique twist to the pizza.

Though unique, my pizza could have been a little more flavoursome. 4/5.

Ammenities

It was a bit of a maze to find the toilets but they were clean.

3/5.

Overall

I had a great experience at the Lazerpig. I loved their drinks, they definitely had some unique food, their music was good, and the design was great.

I’d love to return!

8.5/10.

Check out Days 3-5 of my itinerary here to view other things to do in and near Melbourne!