Let’s go to… the Singapore Garden Festival 2014

One of my friends had texted me a few weeks ago to ask if we were interested to visit the Singapore Garden Festival because they had a couple of tickets to spare and thought of us. How sweet right? I thought since I haven’t seen this friend in a long time, we arranged to go to the festival together on the 1st day.

image

image

We saw all sorts of flowers that day. Rare flowers, common flowers, big flowers, teeny tiny flowers and even Old Flower Eyes (老花眼. Chinese translation of Presbyopia). I was told many of the exotic flowers were specially flown in just for the event and designers from top garden shows around the world were invited to create special themed displays during the festival as well.

image

Visitors were especially attracted to the Orchid Extravaganza which housed several award winning orchids in the Flower Dome. Everybody wanted to get closer to the orchids and take multiple macros of the same bloom in the same position. They were also waiting to get into the 10-metre column which I heard had a nice surprise insideThe line into the special area was so long that we had to give it a miss. I mean, we can still see it from the perimeter. Just not close enough to take nice macro shots of the gorgeous blooms. All of these special blooms were on loan from private collectors and external vendors. There were even medals and plaques displayed quite prominently next to the flowers. Next to these medals and plaques, you will see Do Not Touch signs. In fact, these signs can be seen all over the Flower Dome. Even the hardy succulent zones had signs to remind visitors not to pelt the poor plants with the stones that were scattered around them. People don’t understand these cactuses can DIE one. I saw a kid threw some small stones at the plants for fun and his parents did nothing. So irritating.

image

You would think at the Orchid Extravaganza area with so many ‘caretakers’ and signs people will understand right? Nope. I saw a guy trying to pull some orchids closer to his wife so she could use her puny iPhone to take shots of it. Come on. Don’t act blur when told you are not supposed to touch the flowers ok? A simple Sorry or Ok is good enough. Don’t pretend and say “Oh I nair say the sign” or “I was just taking photos” or worse “No, I nair touch!” You so big size, how not to see your big burly hand tugging on the delicate flower leh? Look! It was still swinging from side to side when you suddenly let go of it lor. *rolleyes* Luckily, the ‘caretakers’ were very polite and friendly, unlike me, so there was no drama after minor confrontation.

image

We were wandering around the tents in The Meadow and came across some students showcasing their works made from recycled materials. One in particular caught our eye and we went closer to take a look. While we were watching the student demonstrate how she used a plastic bag to make into a flower, a lady decided she NEEDED to record the entire process on video with her camera. She shoved Xan (who was standing right next to me) aside saying “I want to take a video of this.” HARLOW? I told her “Hey! He was here first, don’t shove him around!” It was as though I was invisible because she didn’t seem to care at all. I wanted to tell this auntie her camera has this thing called the Zoom Lens and that if she looked down she will realize she has feet and can use them to move around my child to take her video. Why must be at that particular spot leh? Wah lau. *grumblegrumble*

I wished I was able to spend more time to see all the flowers properly especially the 10-metre column. It would’ve been nice to take a picture of the inside. Oh well. Kids and babies are not made for long walks in crowded spaces. Maybe next time I should go on my own. It is impossible to take clear photos with a wriggly baby strapped in front of you.

Today is the last day of the festival and in case you decide to go take a look (I highly recommend you should), here are some tips I want to share with you:

  1. Try not to bring your strollers. It will be very crowded and trying to manoeuvre your tank through the sea of people will be tricky. If you simply have to bring it, bring lor. Don’t say I never tell you ah.
  2. There are very few resting spots at the festival so if you are bringing your elderly parents (such fillial chewren you are! *clap clap*), go slow and seek refuge inside the air-conditioned tents frequently.
  3. Bring a hat and sunglasses because it might get really hot and sunny.
  4. Limited carpark lots. You might be better off taking public transport.
  5. Don’t touch the flowers if they tell you not to touch them! Some of the plants are very sensitive to the oils on your hands and will DIE! Admire the flowers with your eyes and cameras only please ok?

Do hop over to Cheekiemonkie and Princess Dana Diaries to read about their experiences at the festival.

_____________________________________

Venue: Gardens by the Bay (in case you didn’t know)
Show Opening Hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Conservatories Opening Hours: 9am – 10pm daily

SGF 2014 Ticket Pricing

Baking memories

I remember one particular morning when I was probably in K1 or K2, I woke up to the smell of pineapples simmering in a pot on the stove. I watched my mum and my Darjie (eldest sister) chatting, sweating, peeling and slicing countless pineapples in the kitchen. They spent the next few hours hovering over the huge pot, making sure the pineapple mixture doesn’t get burnt. looking back, it’s amazing how many pineapples you need for a few tubs of pineapple tarts. So what role did I play? I would popped in between television programmes to “help” make sure the pineapple paste was up to standard, maybe helped to roll a few small balls to decorate the tarts and sometimes egg wash the tarts before they pop the trays into the oven. Since I was too young to do very much, I mostly parked myself in the living room with my pal TeeVee.

Gradually over the years, all of us grew up, moved out, became busy with our lives and we stopped making the treats together. Getting everyone to have dinner together at the same time is already tough, baking treats is the last thing in everybody’s mind. Oh we still bake, just not together.

Last year, I asked my favourite niece if she wanted to come to my house to make some pineapple tarts with me since she said she had some experience with my Darjie some time ago. We had a really good time nudging each other out of the way in my tiny kitchen and managed to whip up a few tins of goodies of acceptable quality.

This year I wanted to attempt to make some on my own because I thought my niece would be busy with her projects and I didn’t want to bother her. Not difficult to make mah. I even bought a small gridiron to use with my Happycall pan. Yah! You can make pineapple tarts with a HCP you know? Cool right? But then the HCP is so small, I figured I bake until the next day or break my back also cannot bake finish so I ditched the idea for another day. So anyway, Darjie suggested since she was also interested to do some baking, why not head over to her place and use her spanking new appliances instead? While we were there, if the younger kids get bored, her kids can help to entertain them. Brilliant idea!

Xan was excited to be able to help make the treats this year and insisted we make the chocolate rice crispies again and so we did with a few improvements. We used some fancy sprinkles this time. Not bad huh?

It’s not that I don’t want to share our recipe with you. I found that all the recipes on the internet were essentially the same with a few variations here and there. We adapted one but made several changes like omitting sugar in the dough, increasing the measurement for the flour, etc. Darjie didn’t measure anything, everything was done by “feel”. Darjie said “Ah Ma (grandmother) made the best nonya style pineapple tarts and she made them from memory never a recipe book. She always measure everything by hand and all her tarts always come out perfectly buttery and never dry. If she feels the dough texture doesn’t feel right, she will scold us and make us throw the entire batch out because she doesn’t like to waste time on substandard quality.” Phuwah! Scary mary… We tried to mimic her pastry recipe but with store bought pineapple filling because it was just so much easier that way. Thankfully it turned out great. SLURP!

Here are some simple recipes you can try:

Munchministry.com – Open Face Pineapple Tart

Bake King – Nonya Pineapple Tarts

Beanie N Us - Pineapple Tarts

The little ones got bored waiting for the tarts to be ready so they took a quick dip in the pool with the other cousins. As soon as he was dry enough, Xan climbed back up to the counter to continue to help us.

Since everything was either too hot or too messy for the boy, he was given the great responsibility of pasting the stickers onto all the containers. Very important step you know?

We couldn’t finish baking everything in one day so we went back to my sister’s place the next day to continue. This time we went prepared with an apron for Xan but he was more interested in swimming than baking that day. Can’t blame him, it was really hot and humid that day.

The whole point of the 2 days to me (and my sister) wasn’t about baking the treats or how good they tasted. My sis spent the most time doing the baking since my bad back didn’t allow me to stand or bend over for too long. It was the precious family bonding time we had while rolling and moulding the pastries. I was never close to Ah Ma (she passed away when I was 9) so the stories my mum and sister share with me about the time they spent with her before I was born are very special. My memory of Ah Ma has always been that angry face whenever I *ahem* smack her favourite grandson around.

Nothing beats homemade goodies and gossips with family. I hope we do this every year.

 

Linking up with: