Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blossom Bliss 2017 at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Rewind to Feb 2011. I was delirious with excitement having meticulously planned a much anticipated holiday to Japan. I was counting the days till our 8-day visit to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima during the "sakura" or cherry blossom season the following month. The exquisite beauty of the Japan's national flower and scenic vistas draws flocks of tourists to the country and I was among those who had fallen prey to their charming allure. I had listed down all the prime spots for cherry blossom viewing (called hanami) and spent most of my days dreaming about quaint paths and enchanted gardens dotted with the ethereal white and pink flowers. Well, if you are acquainted with the history of that time, you will know that my dreams were washed away in the calamitous tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster that occurred a few days prior to our intended travel. Needless to say, our holiday plans were cancelled immediately and in the face of the tragedy that had struck Japan, all thoughts of sakura temporarily left my mind.

It has been 6 years since but I am determined that I will someday visit Japan to cross off cherry blossom viewing from my bucket list. Cherry trees are grown throughout Japan. They start to blossom in the warm, southern islands of the country, and as the season moves north, they peak in late March and early April. Cherry blossoms are a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life. Their life is very short. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, the blossoms start to fall.

Image source: www.nsiderjourneys.com.au




i
There is good news for sakura enthusiasts like me. Until I can actually set foot in Japan, I can appreciate the beauty of the blossoms at our very own Gardens by the Bay in Singapore!

March denotes a month of excitement and anticipation, as the wait for blossoms to come into full bloom begins. These beautiful and transient flowers, known for their unpredictable blooming, are back in the Flower Dome with the “Blossom Bliss” (粉色之恋) floral display.

Not to be one to miss such an opportunity, on a weekend morning, I set off with my troops and reached the Flower Dome at 9:30am. The tickets were based on a 2 hour timed entry so we felt like it was a good idea to reach there as early as possible to beat the crowd. 



The first thing that struck me as I entered the cooled conservatory was that we hadn't managed to beat the crowd 😆  and the second was of course the stunning sakura which were in full bloom for the most part. Yay!

This year, the pretty hues of pink and white are showcased in a Japanese-inspired landscape that features a picturesque tree-lined pathway and traditional rickshaws for the perfect photo opportunity.



Apparently, this year, there are more trees spread out around the conservatory, as well as new varieties that will be on display for the first time. Besides cherry blossoms, peach blossoms are also in bloom.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Recipe of the month: Strawberry, Blackberry & Vanilla Overnight Oats

I've become a bit obsessed with overnight oats lately. If you went through my previous post on Chocolate Peanut Butter Raspberry Overnight Oats, you will be aware of it 😀

A quick recap - overnight oats are a no-cook method of making oatmeal. Which means, you don't have to cook your oats on the stove with the liquid of choice. All you do is mix rolled oats with liquid and other add-ins in a clean mason jar and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Easy peasy? You bet!

Overnight oats are heaps better than those sugar-loaded cereals or granola bars for a quick breakfast fix. It is way more nutritious, tastes infinitely better, can be customized to suit your preferences and keeps you satiated for long.

Twice a week, I go for afternoon exercise classes conducted by my University and on those two days, a hearty breakfast is an absolute must for me. Can you imagine walking into to a high-intensity Zumba class with a rumbling or worse, empty stomach? On the flip side, going just after a heavy lunch is a terrible idea too! So in such instances especially, a substantial serving of overnight oats becomes my saviour and keeps me going till the end of the class 😊

This Strawberry, Blackberry & Vanilla Overnight Oats  is another one of my favourite combinations. I love the medley of vanilla, cinnamon, banana and fresh berries. And the addition of chia seeds give it such great texture. There are only two ingredients in common between this recipe and my previous one - the rolled oats (obviously!) and banana (coz I love 'em). All the other components vary so this overnight oats does taste completely different. I promise! I have another pumpkin spice overnight oats recipe that is seriously delicious but I'll share that recipe at a later time lest you think I'm eating nothing but oats off late 😝

As is the case with any breakfast oats recipe, you could switch up the ingredients any which way you want. Almond milk, cashew milk or thin coconut milk would be great substitutions to whole or skimmed dairy milk. Use whatever fresh or frozen berries you like, add in nuts of your choice or sprinkle some granola over it for extra crunch. The sky's the limit really!

Okay that's enough of my yackety-yak for now. Set aside 5-10 mins of your time tonight and in the morning you have a pudding-like porridge that is both delicious and fulfilling!