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Friday, October 31, 2014

Get in the Christmas Mood with Junior Claus {Giveaway}

As we wind down the year, the one thing we look forward to is Christmas. Get in the mood this year with the Singapore Repertory Theatre's latest production: Junior Claus!

In the North Pole, things are in disarray. With less children believing in Santa, the Belief-o-Meter falls to a dangerously low level, causing Santa to fall into a deep sleep. This allows Grumpo, the greedy elf to seize power as the Chief Inventor in Santa's workshop and put into action his sinister plan to ruin Christmas forever! Junior Claus, the rebellious heir to the immense empire in the North Pole is the only one who can stop Grumpo and save Santa, but will he do it? And will he be able to rekindle the Christmas spirit? Find out in Junior Claus, a musical production which promises to be heartwarming and a lot of fun!

JuniorClaus

Ticketing and Show Information

Season: 31 October to 14 December 2014
Venue: DBS Arts Centre -- Home of SRT
Performance Times: 
Ticket Prices: Weekdays $35 (Cat 1), $32 (Cat 2), Weekends $45 (Cat 1), $42 (Cat 2); There are also family packages available. 
Recommended for: 5 years and above
Duration: 1 hour 30 mins
Booking: At Sistic counters, at sistic.com.sg or by calling 63485555

GIVEAWAY!

Yes, we have a giveaway! Win A PAIR OF TICKETS to Junior Claus on 8 November 2014, 11am! 

To enter this draw to win a pair of tickets, you have to complete the following steps:

1. Like the Singapore Repertory Theatre Facebook Page

2. Like the Life is in the Small Things Facebook Page

3. Comment on this Facebook photo telling me why you want to watch this show, AND Tag a friend!

You have to complete all 3 steps to qualify so don't miss any out! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to indicate that you've done the above. You can also get additional chances by completing the rest of the steps.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  • This giveaway ends on Tues 4 Nov 2014, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only. 
  • Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. 
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. 
  • To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.
  • Tickets can be collected at the box office at the DBS ARts Centre an hour before the show.

Good Luck!

JuniorClaus2

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Play, Eat and Shop at ToTT Bistro

When it comes to shopping, nothing gets my heart beating as quickly as a kitchen and homeware store. It's true -- just ask my husband, the one who hastily tries to steer me away from more pots and crockery and gadgets that we don't have the space for!

So, as you can guess, ToTT is one of my favourite places to browse. It's huge and because you can find everything you need under one roof, I've made many impromptu stops there to pick up baking essentials, crockery, party serveware, containers and other bits and bobs over the course of the past four years.

One thing that I've always been a bit disappointed with is the Bistro which I felt could serve a wider variety of food, given its location in such a food haven! Fortunately, the good folks at ToTT have realised this and have given the menu a recent revamp. The kids and I went down for a food tasting session recently and the children gave the food the thumbs up. They literally wolfed down the first few dishes! Here are some of our favourites:

Tottbistro1Chicken Cottage Pie ($8.90++) 

With creamy mash covered with a layer of hot, gooey cheese, it was not surprising that the Chicken Cottage Pie was a hit with the kids. Cottage Pie is comfort food, and while I usually prefer beef, the chicken mince in this version is quite good too. I would order this again if I come with the children as it's really easy to feed them and they enjoyed it.

Tottbistro2Tucking in to the Chicken Cottage Pie.

Another dish that the children really enjoyed was the Steak Sandwich and Fries with Coleslaw

Tottbistro3Steak Sandwich and Fried with Coleslaw ($14.90++)

Noey, my sandwich and burger lover really dug this, and of course, both children cleaned up the fries. I found the steak a bit on the thin side, but juicy and pretty decent for the price. I rather liked the coleslaw, which the kids left to me, as it contained raisins and pineapple which added some sweetness to the mix.

Tottbistro4Prawn Noodle Soup ($12.90++)

The dish I liked best was probably the Prawn Noodle Soup. I'm an Asian girl at heart, and the big crunchy prawns in this dish won me over. I think I would have preferred a greater depth of flavour in the soup which was a bit light but I would imagine this would make for an easy lunch on most days.

Tottbistro5Sugar-dusted French Toast with Strawberries ($9.90++)

We all agreed that the Sugar-dusted French Toast with Strawberries was our favourite dish for the night. Light and non-greasy, the toast pieces were absolutely yummy. With the dusting of sugar and the strawberries, I didn't find it necessary to eat this with syrup, though my kids happily did! I only wish there were more pieces on a plate since I only got to take a few bites before my kids finished everything! 

I guess the bottom line is that the ToTT Bistro serves decent food and reasonable prices. While I would not deliberately journey a long distance to eat here, I would certainly keep this as an option for a meal and a spot of shopping when I'm in the area, especially when I have the kids in tow. I like that there are Western and Asian options available for every palate, and of course, the far that it has a little play area is a big plus.

Oh yes, it has a small playground -- did I mention that? There's a room off the Bistro with a climbing/sliding structure that I imagine would be a hit with the under-5s. Then again, my 6-year old was having plenty fun there!

ToTT is also currently celebrating it's 4th anniversary with a SALE -- 10 % off storewide till 31 Oct so this is the time to head down, if any!

ToTT Bistro
896 Dunearn Road,
#01-01A Sime Darby Centre
Singapore 589472
Tel: 6219 7077
Web: www.ToTTstore.com

*We thank ToTT Bistro for the invitation to try their new menu selections! All opinions remain our own. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Melbourne 2014: Great Ocean Road

When the husband and I decided to bring the family to Melbourne, we decided that a Great Ocean Road (GOR) road trip was a must. The only problem was that the GOR lay on the west of Melbourne, and everything else we wanted to visit lay on the east. We were fortunate in that we had time, so we were able to fit in a couple of days of driving. And it was well worth it.

Our itinerary for the GOR wasn't intentionally child-friendly, like most of the rest of our holiday was. Instead, this portion of the holiday was for us -- it was us bringing the kids along to see what we wanted to see. So we skipped the farms and what we got were scenic sights as we did a short trek to a waterfall, a lighthouse visit, and visited some awe-inspiring rocks. Not what we usually do with kids in tow but I dare they they enjoyed it. The best part for me was road tripping with my husband next to me as I scrolled through his devices for music that we could all sing or bop along to as we drove. THAT was just like old times. Some of our best holidays were enjoyed on the road when we have the luxury to chat and it was good recapturing some of that on this trip.

GORBlog5Road tripping with my sweetie!

GORBlog4Someone wants is ready to take over the wheel -- I think not, little lady!

It's my turn on petite travellers and I've shared more details about our GOR road trip there, so do hop over to read it if you haven't! Here's the link: Great Ocean Road: A Piece of Victorias Natural Beauty.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures to share.

GORBlog6Erskine Falls.

GORBlog7Obligatory family shot to prove that we made it there!

GORBlog10This way to Teddy's Lookout.

GORBlog11Endless sea on the left of the lookout.

GORBlog8We tried going up the road towards Kennett River to see wild koalas but we encountered were sweet little wild wallabies instead.

GORBlog9Beautiful and serene Cape Otway Lightstation

GORBlog13Some of the treacherous rocks off Cape Otway.

GORBlog14Mei shows me how to work it!

GORBlog12The Twelve Apostles (some of them at least!)

GORBlog15My kiddy models, looking like angels.

All in all, a fun road trip. I hope it will not be another 26 years before I visit the GOR again!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Brings A Midsummer Night's Dream To Singapore! {Giveaway}

Shakespeare fans, you're in luck. 

It isn't everyday that a world famous theatre company comes into town to stage one of the bard's best known plays in its full glory -- and I have TICKETS TO GIVEAWAY!

MSND

As I mentioned in my previous post, come 13-16 November, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre will be performing A Midsummer's Night Dream at the Esplanade Theatre. Promising to be visual treat with stunning Renaissance costumes and staging, this production, directed by the acclaimed Dominic Dromgoole, will be a re-working of the Globe's award winning 2013 version.

If you are not familiar with the story, A Midsummer Night's Dream is the comic tale involving four young lovers and a group of amateur actors, and their interactions with a band of fairies in the forest through which they wander. Hermia loves Lysander and Helena loves Demetrius -- but Demetrius is supposed to be marrying Hermia… When the Duke of Athens tries to enforce the marriage, the lovers take refuge in the woods and wander into the midst of a dispute between the king and queen of the fairies. Throw in a group of amateur actors rehearsing the play for the Duke's upcoming wedding and some mischief and magic, and what you get is a glittering, hilarious and inventive play about the world's favourite past time -- falling in love. After all don't we all know that "the course of true love never did run smooth"?

MSND2

Ticketing and Show Information

Season: 13 to 16 November 2014
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Performance Times: Thurs and Fri 8pm; Sat 3pm and 8pm; Sun 3pm
Ticket Prices: $148, $128, $118, $98, $78 (Matinee tickets are $10 less)
Duration: 2 hours 40 mins + 15 minute interval
Booking: Sistic at sistic.com.sg or calling 63485555

I am tremendously excited to be catching this show in the coming weeks, and even more excited to be able to share that with you as, thanks to our generous sponsors, I have TWO PAIRS OF TICKETS to be given away! These tickets are for the following performances:

1) 1 pair of tickets for Saturday, 15 November, 3pm (Matinee Show)
2) 1 pair of tickets for Saturday, 15 November, 8pm (Evening Show)

To enter this draw to win a pair of tickets, you have to complete the following steps:

1. Like the ABA Productions Singapore Facebook Page

2. Like the Life is in the Small Things Facebook Page

3. Comment on this Facebook photo telling me which show (Matinee or Evening or either show) you'd like to win, AND Tag a friend!

You have to complete all 3 steps to qualify so don't miss any out! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to indicate that you've done the above. You can also get additional chances by completing the rest of the steps.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

  • This giveaway ends on Fri 7 Nov 2014, 11.59pm and is open to Singapore residents only. 
  • Winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. 
  • All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. 
  • To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.
  • The winners of this giveaway will be informed of the ticket collection details closer to the date and will have to collect the tickets at the times and locations stipulated, failing which the tickets will be forfeited. 

Good Luck!

(If you missed it previously, do check out our post with recommendations for Shakespeare stories for kids!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Tennis Action at the WTA Finals

The WTA Finals are in town this week and since we recently got Noey started on tennis, I thought it might be fun to bring him bring him down to catch a match or two. I figured watching a match live, by court side, being played by some of the best players in the world might give him a better appreciation of the game and maybe inspire him a little.

And ok, I wanted to watch some matches! It isn't everyday that THE BEST female tennis players in the world stroll into our neck of the woods to play top level sport. I'm not a huge tennis fan but I watched enough television sports with my Dad to know the rules and enjoy most sports. (Just don't ask me about cricket.) So I don't do any sports any more but watching, that's still fun.

After identifying affordable tickets -- the day tickets for the round-robin matches -- I persuaded my dear ol' Dad to join me with the children for an afternoon of tennis action. On the schedule were Maria Sharapova v Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki v Petra Kvitova. I was excited.

It was my first time watching tennis live, and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. It was a Friday afternoon but lots of people turned up and there was a good buzz around the stadium. I can only imagine it would be even better in the evening when I assume more people would turn up. The kids were excited too as I tried to give them a run down on the players, the game, and who the various persons standing around were (ie. the linesmen and ball boys!). Noey was also very amused by the signs being led up by supporters, in particular the one when words flashing in hot pink, asking "Maria, will you marry me?"

WTA1Sharapova serves...

WTA2Excited to join in the cheering!

Well, unfortunately (or fortunately, if our objective was to get our monies worth) the game turned out to be an epic 3-setter with a really tight first two sets! We watched Sharapova take the first set 7-5, then reel off most of the points to race to a 5-1 lead. At that point the kids started being rather restless and I told them that it was going to be over soon and we could go outside to play at the Fan Zone. Except that I was so wrong. Radwanska started returning everything and despite there being a few match points, Sharapova just couldn't finish to take the set. Radwanska staged an incredible fight back and unbelievably managed to take the set 7-6 (7-4). It was exciting for me but not so much the kiddos.

WTA8When Radwanska started pulling back the points.

WTA3Little Miss restless and tired.

Lots of good tennis but I must confess that throughout the entire period the one thought that kept running through my mind was that Women's tennis has the best outfits! I mean, with badminton, table tennis, squash (well, if anyone even plays squash any more) it's mostly shorts and tees, but tennis! Radwanska was wearing a dress with colourful butterflies on it which I couldn't help but keep staring at. It wasn't exactly my taste but I was just fascinated by the fact that they have options like that! As good a reason for me to pick up tennis as any, no?

WTA10Agnieszka Radwanska concentrates on the job at hand, unlike me -- I'm staring at her dress!

We left after the second set and didn't stay for the tie-breaker since it was already 2 hours and 20 mins of sitting still and the kids really couldn't take it any more. Naomi fell asleep near the end of the second set, so it was only Noey who had a go at the Fan Zone.

WTA4Out like a light! Luckily for me I had my Dad to help with the carrying!

If you're in the area over the weekend, I would recommend that you check out the WTA Fan Zone, which is located next to the Singapore Indoor Stadium, in the area right outside Kallang Wave Mall. It is open to all and both you and the kids can try your hand at a number of activities like trying to clock the fastest service, bouncing on a trampoline while trying to hit balls being served to you by a ball machine at a target, and hitting a tennis ball covered with paint at a wall to create art work. You can also access the social media wall and learn more about the players and their game stats, as well as see computer generated replays of the game. There are also autograph sessions with the stars at certain times.

WTA5A different kind of paint ball.

WTA6They take a photo for you and e-mail you a free soft copy.

WTA9Jump tennis!

WTA7That's the closest we get to the trophy!

We had a great time wandering around the Fan Zone, the experience enhanced by the many friendly hosts in the zone, who were lovely and helpful and very happy to talk about tennis. The Fan Zone will be open for the duration of the tournament which ends on Sunday.

Despite all the complaints, when their Papa asked them how the event was after he returned home, both children told him they enjoyed it! Hur hur. Well, since Singapore will be hosting the WTA Finals for the next 4 years, I dare say we'll be back again next year.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being There To Listen

I must admit that on most days, by the time bedtime rolls round, I am eager to pack the kids off to sleep. Already my kids sleep way later than they should -- so late that I'm embarrassed to tell you what time that is! So by the time they get in bed after the reading is done, I'm usually in a hurry for them to just go to sleep already. It's lights out, prayers, and no more talking, thank you very much. I get annoyed when they roll around, ask for water again, and try to prattle on about something.

Then recently, while sorting through my iPhoto library, I stumbled across something I had just about forgotten. It was a recording of a conversation I had with Noey when he was 2, nearly 3 years old. It was actually a video, but there was no picture as it was pitch dark: I had recorded it while chatting with him after lights out at bedtime. And, my goodness, it was the cutest thing. I had forgotten his baby voice, and how he used to refer to himself in third person all the time. I burst out laughing at the sound of his voice gleefully telling me that "Noey wants to beat Lincoln because he is a naughty boy". It was in fact one of the night chats that I used to enjoy so much with him in times past.

It made me stop and wonder how that slowly evolved into today's hurry-hurry-be-quiet routine. Was I missing out on something valuable by not allowing my kids to talk to me at night?

I know I have to make some changes, I must. Before they stop talking to me altogether. I would loathe the day when I would miss out on silly conversations like this:

Impish

Me: Noey, did you know that when I was younger I thought I would name my son Ethan?

Noey: Why?

Me: Because I liked the name Ethan! Though not so much now.

Noey: Did you think you of naming Meimei Weethan?

Me: Weethan?

Noey: Yes, because she needs to go to the toilet all the time!


My son. He's growing up to be quite the comedian. And I want him to be having such funny conversations with me as he does just that.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Read :: Shakespeare Stories

Shakespeare is, to my mind, one of the greatest storytellers there ever was. I think few would disagree with that! There's a certain magic in his use of verse and turn of language that makes him one of the most quoted writers in history. 

My first encounter with Shakespeare was through my mother, who was a literature teacher for a season, amongst the various subjects that she taught in the course of her teaching career. I don't remember why or how it came up in conversation, but through repetition, I have her favourite quotes burned in my memory. She was fond of Macbeth, the result of which is that stirring pots, whether filled with soup or bubbles would automatically make "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble" ring in my head. (Also because I'm geeky like that!) Till today, Macbeth remains one of my favourite literature texts because my mother made it come alive for me.

I intended to introduce Shakespeare to my kids at some point of time, and came across an unexpected opportunity when I chanced on these Shakespeare stories by Andrew Matthews while browsing in, err, a toy shop in Tanglin Mall.

ShakespeareStories1Twelfth Night and Hamlet.

Sitting innocuously on the shelf, I was drawn to the Quentin Blake-esque illustrations. (The illustrator is actually Tony Ross.) I took a flip through and liked what I read -- concise re-tellings of Shakespeare's stories, well-written and paced, which succeeded in bringing across the dramatic and figurative themes of the plays. Since I am incapable of only buying one book at a time, I picked up six titles.

Noey plunged into them straightaway, and after coming home and reading them, I immediately regretted not picking up everything. Especially when I realised that at $4.90 each at this shop, they were a real steal! When I went back to the shop to get more, they were sold out.

I read through a few books with Noey and I thought it did a good job of explaining the sometimes complicated story lines in a way that was understandable to children while conveying the true (and sometimes dark and gruesome) essence of the story. What matters most is that he found them interesting enough to read all the books I bought. Each book starts with an introduction to the characters, the story, followed by a couple of pages with a summary of the themes and some additional background to the tale. Right at the end there is two pages on Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre, where most of Shakespeare's most famous plays were performed.

ShakespeareStories2

ShakespeareStories3

Altogether a good read, recommended as a first introduction to Shakespeare for 7 to 9 year olds. While surfing on Book Depository, I noticed that they sell these Shakespeare Stories as collections of 4 stories, which look to be more value for money. I might have bought these if I didn't buy the individual stories already.

ShakespeareStories5Shakespeare Stories: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Anthony and Cleopatra
More Shakespeare Stories: A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Tempest, Hamlet, Henry V

I also chanced upon Mr Shakespeare's Plays and Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare!by Marcia Williams, which I immediately snapped up because these are Shakespeare's plays presented in the form of comics, something which I think Noey is going to love. I'll update about this after it arrives.


Mr Shakespeare's Plays and Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare! by Marcia Williams.

Of course, the best way to enjoy Shakespeare is on stage. In this regard, I am particularly excited about the fact that this November, Shakespeare's Globe -- yes, the theatre company from the modern incarnation from THE Globe Theatre of Shakespeare's time -- will be staging A Midsummer Night's Dream, right here at the Esplanade Theatres in Singapore!

This play is one that I did study and know (or at least used to know) fairly well. I've watched the movie version and seen it performed in the park. But this version promises to be a treat for the senses, as the set will be a miniature version of the stage at the Bankside Globe, complete with the iconic pillars, balcony and hand-painted detailing!! I'm super excited about that, plus the Renaissance-style costumes and staging, which would, I think, give one a glimpse of what it might have been like back in Shakespeare's day. Unfortunately Noey's a little young for this (kids 6 and under would not be admitted), plus I doubt he would have the stamina to sit through a 3-hour long Shakespeare play. So I won't be bringing him but if you have older children, it's definitely worth considering. 

MSD Globe 2

MSD3 Small

Ticketing and Show Information

Season: 13 to 16 November 2014
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Performance Times: Thurs and Fri 8pm; Sat 3pm and 8pm; Sun 3pm
Ticket Prices: $148, $128, $118, $98, $78 (Matinee tickets are $10 less)
Duration: 2 hours 40 mins + 15 minute interval
Booking: Sistic at sistic.com.sg or calling 63485555

Which was your favourite Shakespeare text? Do you have any Shakespeare story book for kids to recommend?

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