Gardens by the Bay: Garden Rhapsody

After visiting the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest, we made our way to the SuperTree Grove, in Gardens by the Bay. This area features 12 Supertrees (out of 18) and is located in the center of the park. These special trees are man-made vertical gardens that are designed like large canopies. They give shade during the day and come to life during the night.They measure between 25- 50 meters, the tallest being 16 stories high. You can take a trip to the top of one of the trees or walk along the OCBC Skyway for an 128-metre aerial walkway. The trees contain up to 162,900 plants of over 200 species, including  bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.

 

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Gardens by the Bay: Cloud Forest

After visiting the Flower Dome, we made our way to the equally amazing Cloud Forest. This dome features a 35 metre tall mountain, shrouded in tropical highland plants and ferns. Spilling from the peak of the mount is the worlds tallest indoor waterfall and a cloud of mist. This dome is 0.8 hectares, making it a bit smaller than the Flower dome. Within the dome there are nine unique zones, which can be enjoyed as you make your way to the top and back down again.

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Gardens by the Bay: Flower Dome

After a big day of shopping Downtown at Marina Bay Sands and Marina Square, we made our last stop for the day at Gardens by the Bay. This is nature park is adjacent to the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (boat building) and is convenient attraction to see when  your in the area. We were recommended to visit the Gardens after 3pm, so that we could take our time enjoying the variety of gardens and the Domes and be finished in time to see the evening show, Garden Rhapsody.  Due to bad weather we didn’t get to see everything the Gardens of the Bay had to offer, but enough that I have to cover this attraction over a few posts.

Gardens by the Bay is a  multi-award winning horticultural park, which covers 101 hectares. The park is divided into two areas, the Bay East Garden, along the waterfront promenade and Bay South Garden, which is the bulk of the garden and is shaped like a orchid. This part includes a Heritage Gardens, Supertree Grove, the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, the Canyon, World of Plants, Sun Pavilion and Children’s Garden. Gardens by the Bay is free to visit and the majority of the gardens are open from 5am until 2am. The Domes and the OCBC Skyway, are the major attraction, which operate 9am-9pm and do cost a fee.

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Book Review: Colouring Heaven Mystical Beauties Special

This review today is actually not from a colouring book, but rather an issue from the colouring magazine, Colouring Heaven. I recently discovered that Colouring Heaven is available in Australia from a select retailers. I have actually never purchased a colouring magazine before. I have so many great artist colouring books that I never felt a need. Plus I had no idea Colouring Heaven was available in Australia. However, when I saw that Colouring Heaven was dedicating a special issue to the artist Zan Von Zed, I had to get it. It took a couple of months for this issue to arrive in Australia. So this purchase was only very recent. I have done a little review, coloured a few pictures from it and done a flip through. If your in Australia and interested in this book, I recommend getting out to find out asap, while stocks are still available. If your elsewhere in the world you may be able to still get a copy online (see end of this post).

First I thought I would tell you a bit about Colouring Heaven. This colouring magazine is one of many great magazines by British magazine publisher, Anthem Publishing. They offer a wide range of magazines, such as Vegan Food & Living, Music Tech, Italia!, and Ultimate Dot2Dot. Colouring Heaven is one of their newer editions, which has been running since 2015. Each issue is delivered monthly, offering different themes, and presents 40 images on good quality single sided paper. Previous editions have included themes of fairies, dragons, Halloween and showcased artists such as Kanoko Egusa, Jasmine Beckett-Griffin and Selina Fenech. The issue that I will be reviewing today is Issue 32, which I was able to get in May 2018, however in the UK you can currently order Issue 35. I’m looking forward to upcoming issues dedicated to artists Kanoko Egusa (Menuet de Bonheur), Desti (of Collateral Damage Studios), White Stag (Misfits) and Hannah Lynn (Whimsy Girls).

Zan Von Zed is an multidisciplinary artist, based in Australia. She was originally from Poland and spent much of her youth visiting medieval castles and museums with her art historian parents. Her drawings, paintings and clay work primarily features beautiful strong women with distinctive noses, often wearing elaborate medieval gowns. If your interested in reading the best and only interview with her, see Beautiful Bizarre’s The Royals of Zan Von Zed: Interview or check out her artwork on Instagram.

Zan Von Zed has already illustrated three colouring books that are available on Amazon. These include Ladies of Leisure: A Coloring Quest, Ladies of Leisure II: The Quest Continues and Ladies of Leisure III: This time it’s personal. Each book features 20 greyscale and line art drawings on single sided pages. Flip throughs a of all three books were recently uploaded on the YouTube channel Les coloriages de Gribouilleuse. So if you miss this Colouring Heaven issue, you still have the opportunity to colour some of Zan Von Zed’s amazing art.

The Colouring Heaven Mystical Beauties Special issue, features 40 line art, on single sided paper. There is also a code given in the inside cover of the book that gives you access to 5 greyscale images that you can print at home. Only a few of these drawings are the same design as the line art in the magazine. The majority of the artwork in this issue have been taken from her first and second colouring books and only two from her third colouring book. However, these draws are not all completely the same as some were originally greyscale and were only replicated as line art in the magazines.

When I first looked at a Colouring Heaven magazine I wasn’t impressed with the paper, which is quite thin. However, I bought it anyway because I was already had Zan Von Zed colouring books on my Amazon Wishlist. Once I started colouring in this magazine I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed the paper. Although it is a bright white thin paper, it has quite a nice tooth to it and takes pencils extremely well. It is good thing that the images are on single sided though, because it the pencil does leave some shadowing, so of course markers would bleed through. I doubt that watercolour would work on this paper. I assume that it would become quite wrinkled. That didn’t bother me though, since I prefer to work with coloured pencils and pastels. Just note that this magazine doesn’t offer a title page or a tester page to test your mediums.

Below are I have included a flip through of this magazine issue, which includes the five printed greyscale images and four pictures that I coloured. I have also included all of these completed pictures in this post with some commentary on what I coloured them with and my thoughts.

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Miso Noodle Soup with Hoisin Tofu

Just when I thought I picked up all the kindy bugs, I just got another one this week. I was feeling pretty terrible today and was thinking of ubering some Japanese ramen. But I was so hungry I didn’t want to wait 40 minutes for delivery. I really wanted soup but I have ran out of stock. So while I was scouring the pantry, I found some Instant miso soup that I had bought in Singapore. So my lunch crisis was solved.

This noddle bowl for one was inspired by Vegan Ramen bowl from Chloe Flavor: Saucy, Crispy, Spicy, Vegan. The soup base is a lot different and quicker to prepare. I did cook my tofu and vegetables in hoisin sauce and add it to the soup last, similar to Chloe’s recipe.  This dish only took me 15 minutes to prepare and gave my insides a warm hug. 

 

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Downtown Core: Marina Bay Sands and Marina Square

I’ve been busy with uni (and colouring) recently, so  I haven’t had a chance to continue the rest of my Singapore Adventure. We are up to day five, when we visited the Downtown core. We did some window shopping at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and some real shopping and lunch at Marina Square. Later on we also visited the Gardens by the Bay, but since we covered so much there I will write another post dedicated to that.

On this day we got up bright and early visit the spectacular Shoppes and have breakfast. The Shoppes houses the largest collection of luxury and premium brands, including a huge range of stores dedicated to luxury children’s wear. We didn’t come just to gawk at the beautiful shop windows, but also to see the amazing architecture of Marina Bay Sands. Below are some of the photos we took as the shopping centre began to open,  as well as a few later at lunch time. The food court is quite large and offers a huge range of hawker stores. We didn’t eat here since we were between meals when we saw it.

 

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Orecchiette with Tofurky Sausage and Broccoli

Orecchiette is one of my favourite pasta since I was a child. It actually means ‘small ears’ and originated from the Italian region of Puglia (the heel of the boot). It is traditionally paired with rapini (Orecchiette alle cime di rapa) or a tomato based sauce with horse meat (Orecchiette con ragu’ di cavallo). However, since these ingredients are rarer and/or not appetising, I often see it paired with sausage, broccoli and chilli.

This is a veganised version of a recipe by Jenn Segal of Once Upon a Chef, which was adapted from Lidia Bastianich’s recipe found in  Lidia’s Italian TableI used Tofurky Sauage in place of Italian sausage as well as a salted organic vegan butter and vegetable stock. Jenn also uses Pecorino Romano, which is my favourite Italian cheese, but I held back, as I’m trying to go completely dairy free right now. There is plenty of flavour in this dish, so you really don’t need cheese or even a vegan cheese substitute. Of course, I tested this recipe on my meat and dairy loving partner, who approved of the flavours and didn’t add any sneaky cheese when I wasn’t looking. This recipe is quick and easy and of course delicious as well.

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Book Review: Escape to Wonderland

For Christmas, I had a fair few books on my wishlist and Escape from Wonderland was one of the books I received from my partner. It’s taken me four months but I finally got it out to colour a couple of pictures. I enjoyed this book so much that I just keep colouring my way through.

Escape from Wonderland: A Colouring Book Adventure is illustrated by the Good Wives and Warriors. They are a collaboration between two English artists, Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell, who have been working together since 2007. They have illustrated numerous colouring books, including Escape to OZ, Escape to Christmas Past, Escape to Shakespeare, Exotische Urwald and To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again: The Longest Colouring Book in the World.

Escape to Wonderland is very small in comparison to other colouring books and it is the same format as the other Escape to..colouring books by Good Wives and Warriors. This book is only 18.4 cm square, so its perfect to travel with. The soft cover has a collage of line art, which can be found inside the book and is decorated with blues and bronze-gold foil. The inside cover folds out revealing a blue and white line art of an intricately decorated garden. Inside the book, there are 96 pages to colour which are double-sided. There are many double-page spreads, which do creep into the spine but can be pushed down with a little pressure. The paper is light cream in colour and is a medium quality. In my experience, it takes pencils very well, as well as water-based pencils. I will discuss this more below.

This book offers a beautiful array of line art that varies between classical, quirky, realistic, fanciful and intricate. The artwork is also in chronological order that the original story takes and many pages offer a quote from the book. In this book, you will see many different depictions familiar characters, such as Alice, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, the Queen and King of Hearts and more.

I am not a huge fan of storybook colouring books, where you are colouring the same characters on every page, just in different positions. What I love about this book is that each image is been drawn so differently. There’s no need to use the same style and colours schemes on every page since the style of the illustrations differ so much. This is actually my first Alice in Wonderland colouring book, other than a few images of Alice in my Disney books. Although I’ve been a huge fan of the Disney movie and the original book since I was little, I had little interest in other Alice inspired colouring books. This one is so different though and I am now yearning to get some more of the Good Wives and Warriors colouring books. Another great aspect is the small size because you can work quicker and of course take it on the go. In regards to the paper, I have heard mixed reviews about it, but I am very happy with it. My pencils blended beautifully on it and as you can see below I tried a few different brands.

Below is a video flip through of my book, which includes my completed pictures. If you have trouble viewing it I have another video on my Instagram. My YouTube video had some issues so hopefully it will be available soon. I have also included each completed picture in this post, with more details on my thoughts and what I used. I will also update the gallery, Escape to Wonderland with new pictures as I colour them in the future.

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Ginger Anzac Biscuits

Last Wednesday we celebrated Anzac day in Australia and New Zealand. This day commemorates and remembered the soldiers fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It also celebrates all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Biscuits originated from WW1, as these biscuits were originally made by women’s groups and wives and sent to the soldiers. They were specially made with ingredients that would travel well, which typically included rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda, boiling water, and desiccated coconut. It still remains a tradition to make Anzac Biscuits for this national holiday, but they are also popular to consume throughout the year as well.

Anzac biscuits are usually quite hard. I have never been a huge fan of them, as I prefer softer biscuits that don’t break a tooth. Homemade Anzac biscuits are a little softer then the hard commercial ones, but they do have chewy whole oats, which I’m also not a fan of. Most people do love them though, so I guess its a preference for me.

I never make Anzac biscuits myself, but we were having a BBQ with the family for the day and I really wanted to make something sweet. My intention was to use up the Buderim Crystallised Ginger, which I bought by accident when I was looking to replenish my Buderim Naked Ginger snack stash. I have been addicted to dried ginger since Marco’s Feast of the Seven Kingdoms. They are a great substitute for late night chocolate cravings and nobody likes them except me, so win win. I asked the kids if they prefer muffins or cookies and cookies won, so when I was looking for some inspiration I thought why not spike some Anzacs with a ginger infusion.

My recipe is a little different to the original. Most modern recipes call for butter, whole rolled oats, boiling water, golden syrup or treacle, and white or brown sugar. I wanted mine to be soft and chewy, but without raw oaty flavour and overly sweet taste. So I grind the rolled oats, skipped the golden syrup and traded regular sugar for coconut sugar. I also added some ground ginger and crystallised ginger, which gave a pleasant ginger flavour, that even the kids liked since the baking took away the ginger burn. These are also vegan, which is you can share with your vegan and dairy intolerant friends. I’m pretty happy with this recipe so I think this will be a tradition that I will continue every year.

 

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4# Colouring Update

I recently bought some amazing colouring books and new pencils that I wanted to share with you guys today and also let you know what I have been up to on my colouring table.

New books and Supplies:

Very recently I have received some happy mail from across the world that I am estastic about. All of which are high quality and beautifully presented products and books from Asia. I can honestly say that every one of these things went above and beyond my expectations and I can’t wait to get stuck into using them.

Firstly, I received my belated Valentines present, Holbein Artists Pastel Tone Colored Pencils 50 Colors from Japan. These high-quality Japanese artist pencils are part of a 150 set, but I bought the 50 pastel colours since I am missing these tones across my other pencil sets. We bought this set on eBay, but you can also find them Amazon Japan.

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Coriander Pesto Noodle Bowl

We aren’t huge fans of coriander in my household. It’s not a herb we cook with a lot or use as a garnish. One way that I do like to use it is when I make Coriander Cashew Pesto, to serve with potatoes (eg. Roasted Potato Salad with Coriander Pesto Aioli). Something magical happens when you blend it with cashews and the taste transforms into something really different delicious. Another way I love to have it is with noodles and sauteed vegetables.

This is a delicious 15-minute meal that you can make when you hangry and need to get some healthy greens in your body asap. I whipped this up last night after my toddler was put to bed and I finally had some peace to make something without complaints. After it was made and eaten I figured the rest of the family would probably have enjoyed this too. I just won’t mention its coriander next time…

You can make this dish gluten-free, by changing the noodles. I really like the crunch of green beans and bok choy, but you can use any quick cooking greens. If you don’t have cooked or can chickpeas,  swap for tofu or some whole cashews. The Coriander Pesto can be made ahead of time. I also used this batch for in a chicken schnitzel and salad sandwich, on top of brown rice crackers and dollop on homemade veggie pizza.

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Mini Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Jam Frosting

For Octavia’s 3rd birthday this year, I made some special cupcakes for her big party, with her favourite fruit of the moment, blueberries. These mini cupcakes are a great size for little people and dessert tables with a few options.

This recipe is similar to the cupcakes I made last year for her Trolls 2nd Birthday. This year I changed the fruit, shrunk them down, used less sugar in my frosting and organic butter inside of Nutlex. I found that the butter did better in the heat since Nutlex seems to melt and separate. If you have a better dairy-free butter alternative in your country then feel free to make them vegan. If you can’t get a good quality vegan butter then an organic grass-fed butter is the healthier option if you really want to include the frosting.

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