Has our Top Ten Toys series given you some great ideas for your little ones? I hope it has! Our final 3 posts are bringing you some of our favorite products this year, such as the Disney Princess doll series from Hasbro.
If you have a little girl, these popular dolls are sure to put a giant smile on her face come Christmas morning.
The range includes some of Disney’s most loved Princesses; including Rapunzel, Belle, Cinderella, Tiana, Ariel and Snow White.
The Princesses are dressed in their iconic dresses from the story/movie, which will make them instantly recognizable by your little Disney enthusiast.
We received Snow White to review, and the Twincesses were thoroughly smitten with their doll. They began role-playing almost immediately, although neither of them wanted to be the Evil Witch. Lol
Kids will love playing out their magical story moments with their favorite princess. The price tag on these dolls makes them super affordable too! They retail at approximately R149 in toy stores, but Pick And Pay currently have them on special at just R79!
At that price I couldn’t resist getting a few more to add to the Twincesses’ Christmas presents! Can you guess which ones??
Disney is timeless, and there isn’t a little I know that doesn’t dream of being a Princess. Make her dream come true with these beautiful dolls and watch her imagination soar!
We are nearing the end of our Top Ten Toys series. I hope you have enjoyed reading our personally Tested recommendations on toys that have made an impression on my family this year.
In this week’s post, we wanted to share a perennial favorite across households : board games.
Board games make a great gift! They suit a wide age range… everyone from the toddlers to grandma can get stuck in (depending on the game, obviously), they’re fun and timeless.
Hasbro has the widest selection of games available this year, and you are bound to find something you and your family will love! And what’s more, board games are something that can be kept for years and years, making it a gift that keeps on giving.
Let’s take a look at some classics, and then dive into some newer options available this year.
Monopoly: Monopoly games have been entertaining families since 1935, and people love the roller-coaster ride to success. This year pick up the Monopoly World Édition, where you race around the world, gathering stamps in your passport as you buy up the world’s most famous cities. And while you’re at it, invest in Monopoly Junior, which sees the classic game adapted for younger players.
Little ones can buy cool properties such as the pet store, the candy store, and the video game arcade, and easy rules use single dollar bills for simple transactions.
Trivial Pursuit: I loved playing Trivial Pursuit when I was growing up! Confident in my general knowledge, I just loved the challenge and the eventual win – lol! This year, the classic game gets an edgy update with Trivial Pursuit X, which leaves its mark- literally! The loser is the first to be branded with 5 Xs to the forehead after getting five questions wrong! And for millennials, there’s Trivial Pursuit 2000s with all questions being like totally relatable. 🤣
Some of my favorites are the newer board games Hasbro has introduced, one of which is Speak Out. After watching celebrities attempt this hilarious game on the Ellen Show, I have been dying to play it! Basically, you insert a plastic mouthpiece (which looks as funny as it will make you sound), and then attempt to communicate a complicated phrase to your teammates, which they must guess. Trust me, it it hilarious. This one will definitely be under our tree this year. A gift to me!
From classics like Battleship, Risk, Clue And Twister, to modern games like Hearing Things, PieFace, Don’t Lose Your Cool to Toilet Trouble (yes, that’s actually a board game!) – Hasbro has you covered this festive season!
And to ensure you’re able to play anywhere and everywhere, there’s even a Grab and Go series which sees some of the most-loved board games in smaller, travel-sized versions that can be played literally anywhere (think long car trips).
There’s something for everyone in Hasbro’s arsenal of board games this year. I can’t think of nothing better than whipping out a family favorite after Christmas lunch and getting stuck into the fun and laughter.
It’s exactly a month to Christmas guys! The decorations adorn the ship windows, and the malls are belting out Christmas tunes.. it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
We’re in the home stretch of our Top Ten Toys series and this week I wanted to talk about a firm favorite in our household (and most likely yours): Play Doh.
I’ve never met a child who doesn’t luuuurve Play Doh. Have you? The Twincesses have a lot of toys, but bust out a can of Play Doh and the smiles and excitement are second to none!
The beauty lies in the possibilities. What may just be a can of red modeling compound to us, is a rocket ship, a princess castle or a submarine to them.
With Play Doh their imaginations can run wild, creating, playing, and most importantly; learning.
Play Doh has recognized the huge impact they have on helping little ones learn, and have come up with the Shape and Learn series which includes, numbers, alphabets, colors and shapes.
Playing with Play Doh can assist children in growing their curiosity, develop cognitive exploration and enhance fine motor skills by developing and strengthening hand muscles, which encourages pre-writing and other motor skills.
The tactile, hands-on nature of Play-Doh compound can also help encourage development of hand-eye coordination. Play-Doh offers kids a multi-sensory experience allowing them to learn about their world through touch, sight and smell.
Thankfully for parents, the options are endless, and you can choose s can or 2 in their favorite colors for a stocking filler, or opt with one of the larger play sets as a standalone gift. Either way, I can guarantee your child is going to love this gift!
The Oyster Box is South Africa’s number 1 Hotel, and as such you’d expect the food and drink at the hotel to be of the highest standard.
During our weekend away to this legendary establishment, we got to experience some of the dining options, and I’m happy to say, it does not disappoint.
Staying at the Oyster Box, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining. Whatever you choose, it will almost certainly be an extraordinary experience.
The Hotel’s two main restaurants are The Ocean Terrace and The Grill Room.
The Ocean Terrace
The Ocean Terrace is famous for casual al-fresco dining, and is family and pet-friendly. As such, the menu offers perennial favorites such as wood-fired pizzas, burgers, and fish and chip. We enjoyed buffet breakfast in the Ocean Terrace and were blown away by the variety of options available.
The continental breakfast spread was a large table laden with everything you could ever dream of in your wildest breakfast fantasies. Fresh charcuterie, cereals, raw honey, all-butter croissants anda parmesan wheelto name just a few.
The hot selection included bacon, sausages, poached haddock and eggs cooked to order. Guests were also able to order from a dedicated breakfast menu, and I enjoyed Eggs Florentine one morning – cooked-to-perfection medium-poached eggs on wilted spinach topped with the creamiest Hollandaise sauce ever; and Welsh Rarebit the next morning – cooked the classic way, with cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and finished under the grill.
The dedicated pancake and waffle bar proved a hit with kids and adults alike.The cappuccinos flowed freely, and the service was extremely attentive. The perfect breakfast was complimented by the perfect view – looking out across the sparkling pool and onto the crashing waves and iconic lighthouse.
The Ocean Terrace serves al la carte lunch and dinners, and the incredible Curry Buffet is also on offer which includes andextensive selection of curries(meat, fish and vegetarian options), authentic tandoori chicken, naans and side dishes. The curry buffet is so popular they are usually booked out months in advance!
The Grill Room
The Grill Room at the Oyster Box is the hotel’s fine dining option and we got to experience a wonderful dinner to celebrate our anniversary. Steeped in history, the Grill Room is elegantly adorned with chic white linen and pristine silverware, which stand out brilliantly against the navy walls and mirror finishes. Beautiful candelabras give an ambience of old-world glamour and the vibe is one of timeless elegance and class, with a splash of luxury.
We were warmly welcomed when we arrived and shown to our table. Wemarveledover the vibrant artwork and theintimatesetting. Our sommelier helped us pick out a lovely white wine from theextensive and well curatedwine cellar (we bothdecided on seafood mains), while our glasses were topped up throughout the night.
The classic Gueridon service, where food is prepared and presented at the individual diner’s table and the classic Hors d’ Oeuvres trolley transport you back in time to an era of 1920’s glamour.
From amuse bouche to dessert, the beautifully plated and delectable offerings were expertly put together and tantalized our palates.
For my starter I had a Cipollini and Parsely Prawn dish: plump grilled prawns floating in a Chardonnay cream topped with caviar. Martin went for the Foie Gras pâté with red wine poached pear.
For our mains I chose the seared Norwegian Salmon with lemongrass butter (served on the side -so decadent!) whilst Martin explores the Dyad of Lamb: a crumbled lamb shank with minted butter and pan jus.
We both settled on the dessert tasting plates which included passionfruit and elderflower cheesecake, Chocolate custard brownies, green tea mouse, grape jelly and a raspberry macaroon. Additionally, we were treated to a slice of decadent chocolate cake for our anniversary, which was such a special touch.
The Grill Room is fine dining at its finest. The service is second to none and the food is exceptional in every way. The partnership of head chef Kevin Joseph and BeaTollenworks like magic to make any experience at the Grill Room one you will never forget. It is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.
The dress code is semi-formal and no children under 12 are permitted.
Bars at the Oyster Box
The Oyster Box also boasts 3 bars serving light meals andworld-famouscocktails. The Lighthouse Bar makes a wonderful spot to enjoy sundowners whilst watching the waves crash a few meters away.
Private dining can be accommodated in the famed wine cellar which is sunken just below the Oyster Bar(beneath a glass ceiling!) and makes for a unique setting for dinner parties, corporate functions, tastings or special events and offers a Chef’s Table for up to 10 guests. Bespoke menus are created for every occasion and the resident Sommelier will present a selection of wines from the Diners Club Diamond award-winning wine list, which boasts the finest selection of South African and international vintages.
As you can tell from my review, I’ve only just scratched the surface of what this impeccable hotel has to offer in terms of food and drink. Experiences are unique and will be fully catered to the individual tastes and desires of each patron.
All in all, the dining options at the Oyster box are many and varied, the only thing that remains steadfast is the quality of the food and drink, and the impeccable service.
Julia Donaldson may very well be our favorite person. We have slowly built up our collection of Julia’s books over the years and we eagerly anticipate any new release.
Can you imagine our sheer delight then when this blog drop arrived:
Can you think of anything cuter than Julia Donaldson Book and Toy gift sets?
The Gruffalo is perhaps Julia’s most famous story… with the “terrible” but highly lovable Gruffalo making bedtime story-time the world over just a little more exciting. The beautiful box is adorned with the familiar illustrations and contains the book (slightly smaller – but not tiny by any means), and a plush Gruffalo Toy.
I’m almost certain I was more excited than the girls to see the beautiful Gruffalo toy! It’s just SO cute! The attention to detail… it’s all there… from the terrible tusks, to his terrible claws, and the terrible teeth inside those terrible jaws. I could see the that his eyes were orange and his tongue was black; and there were purples prickles all over his back!
The second Book and Toy gift sets we received was another one of Julia’s stories that we have read over and over: Sugarlump and the Unicorn.
This gorgeous gift set came with a plush unicorn, again with careful attention paid to ensure the toy matched the description of the unicorn in the story… right down to her eyes of blue.
I’m really so excited to share these gift options with you. I always ensure I add a few books to the Twincesses’ Christmas haul, but this book and toy combo will make a stunning gift on its own! I truly believe that as parents we should strive to give our children the gift of reading… and Julia Donaldson would be my go-to choice.
Thank you Pan Macmillan for spoiling us with these gorgeous gift sets. They will be cherished for years to come.
Sandwiched between the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean and the hub of Umhlanga, the Oyster Box Hotel sits proudly amidst tropical gardens. Occupying prime position in front of the historic lighthouse, guests who step through the revolving front doors are immediately transported into a luxury experience like no other.
We recently spent a memorable weekend at the Oyster Box to celebrate our 10 year anniversary, and it’s bound to be an experience I’ll never forget.
Check-in was a breeze, with a chilled glass of sparkling wine in your hand. OBH sends out a guest preference card to all guests prior to arrival, so they know exactly how to make your stay special. You can choose your pillows, soap and other amenities even before you set foot on their property.
The lobby is an oasis of calm and luxurious touches. Giant flower installations and sumptuous sofas dotted the area with large collections of art and Art Deco objects drawing the eye.
We were welcomed with a “Good Afternoon Mr and Mrs Dewolf”, and was greeted by this salutation throughout our stay.
Our bags were whisked up to our suite, while we followed, still sipping on the bubbly. The suite was breathtaking, old world colonial charm.
A bottle of champagne sat chilling in an ice bucket on the antique console table. The suite comprises of 2 rooms, one a large sitting area with a flat screen TV, minibar and loads of closet space. There was fresh nougat cookies (made in house), hot chocolate and a Nespresso machine with various capsules.
The bedroom was a focal point with an extra large king size bed, beautiful desk and en-suite bathroom.
The bathroom was large by hotel standards, with a deep-soak tub and his and hers vanities. The shower was separate and had the most amazing rain shower that seemed to melt away the day’s stresses. Not that I expect one can be too stressed when staying at the Oysters Box. I particularly loved the B Africa bathroom products… forget typical hotel minis, the Oyster Box spoils guests with deluxe travel sized amenities… which I’m not ashamed to say I happily brought home with me! – I dare you to find a hotel conditioner that leaves your hair as soft and silky.
Both the bedroom and the lounge led out to a private balcony, equipped with table and chairs and loungers. The view of course, was breathtaking. The waves lapped steadily a short distance away as we stared out onto the famous lighthouse.
The hotels resident mascot, Skabenga graced us with his presence. He recently celebrated his birthday and his party was fit for a king! It seems that he thoroughly enjoys his prestigious status at the Oyster Box hotel… though honestly, who wouldn’t?
We returned from dinner on our first night to find a romantic turndown service.
Rose petals were strewn across the floor, arranged on the bed, and thoughtfully laid around the bath. Together with the bath crystals and bath milk, it was hard to resist!
The hotel has a 24-seat cinema that screens movies on schedule and on demand. The best part? Complimentary candy and fresh hot popcorn is served while you enjoy your movie. You may also order from the bar if you prefer. The plush leather seats and blankets provided by the hotel made for a movie experience like no other!
A total of 14 pools and ponds can be found on the property. All the Villas and a number of rooms have gorgeous garden views and face onto one of the two large fresh-water swimming pools.
There’s a choice of bars and dining options, as well as an award winning spa… both of which we got to experience on our stay… but more of that in another post.
From looking at the prime position, the gorgeous decor and luxury amenities, it’s easy to see why the Oyster Box Hotel is consistently voted the Number 1 hotel in South Africa… but I truly believe that what sets this establishment apart from other 5-star hotels is the staff. The warm smiles are more than welcoming, they’re genuine, and never in short supply. Every staff member went out of their way to greet us, even in passing, and there was never a request that was too big or too small. The warmth radiates through the team and makes every stay at the Oyster Box truly memorable.
I would recommend this hotel to anyone looking to celebrate a special occasion, but perhaps most importantly, to anyone looking to make memories that will last a lifetime.
A huge “thank you” to the team at the Oyster Box for hosting us!
Can you believe it’s just over 6 weeks until Christmas?! I’m kinda feeling like the festive season is sneaking up on us this year… but to ensure you’re not caught unawares… here’s the 4th post in our Top Ten Toys series: My Little Pony.
In our house, My Little Pony has become one of the Twincess’ most loved range this year. It’s probably down to the fact that the Equestria Girls Dolls were released and they’ve had the opportunity to watch the My Little Pony Live show.
Whatever the reason, MLP is on repeat all day every day, and they often role play as different characters from the show.
If your child is as obsessed with My Little Pony as mine are, you’re in luck: there’s a gigantic selection of MLP toys and accessories for you to choose from this Christmas.
First up, there’s the newest offering: the Equestria Girls Dolls. As mentioned in my review when the dolls launched, the Equestria Girls are the humanized versions of the beloved ponies. We received Rainbow Dash to review, but the girls often fought over the doll… and I eventually bought them Fluttershy, Twighlight Sparkle and Pinkie Pie.
The dolls bring endless hours of fun to my girls and the outfits are positively breathtaking, if I do say so myself!
They retail for R299, and is incredible value for the quality and detail you get.
If you’re intent on collecting all the Equestria Girls, there’s also the option to purchase Equestria girl minis. The minis will make great stocking fillers!
For those who prefer soft toys, you can find a whole range of MLP characters in your favorite toy store.
I got beautiful Pinkie Pie And Rainbow Dash from Checkers at just R99 each! They would make a great gift for the younger MLP fans.
If you’re looking for the original ponies with their well known cutie marks, there are various models and sizes available. There are also extravagant play sets, with scenes from the My Little Pony movie in stores to keep your little one engaged.
What I love about My Little Pony is that it teaches children the value of friendship and working together. Each Pony has a particular element or character that is represented in friendship. Be it loyalty, kindness or generosity – these are traits I’m happy to have my girls watch and emulate. I love that this show teaches children something so positive!
If you’ve got a MLP fan on your hands, you’ll be spoilt for choice when selecting a gift. Just be sure to inquire about which Pony your little one loves most and you’re sure to find the perfect Christmas present this year!
My Little Pony merchandise is available from Hasbro at all toy retailers, large chain supermarkets and online. Prices from R79,99.
LOL stands for Lil Outrageous Littles. When launched in December 2016, the line sold over 2,5 million units in the first five months! So it’s safe to say this was, and remains, one of the hottest toy items around.
The appeal lies in the concept of “unboxing”. I don’t know about you, but my kids can watch unboxing videos for hours on YouTube! In the same manner, the LOL surprise balls build suspense as layer after layer is peeled away to reveal the treasures inside.
Each Layer reveals a fun surprise: stickers, charms, shoes, outfit accessories and a collectable doll.
The toy appeals on so many levels! Apart from the unboxing satisfaction, it will appeal to the collector in your child. The very first series had 45 dolls to collect, but since then the range has been so popular, they have added more collections including a glitter series and a pet collection!
To add to the fun, there’s also LOL Surprise puzzles and games.
One of the Twincesses favorites is the LOL Surprise Water Game. With a similar ball shaped look, the game has several brightly colored smaller balls inside, with a centre sponge heart. The sponge should be slightly wet, and players each pick a card (inspired by one of the famous dolls).
Players then take turn to pick a ball, open and set it on the centre sponge. Setting the ball will reveal a picture… and the player then checks if it matches a picture on their card. If yes, the player keeps the ball, if not they return it. The first player to match all the pictures on their card wins!
The concept of the game – matching – is both fun and educational, and simple enough for toddlers to grasp easily.
This range is such a hit with kids, I predict the LOL Surprise Toys will remain a popular choice for the 2018 Christmas lists.
Available from Prima Toys at all major retailers and online.
Ok kids, I’m gonna tell you the story about how I met your father.
It was the Autumn of 2008, and I was living my best life. I had a beautiful little flat down the South Coast (Port Shepstone), where I lived for work. I’d just signed a rental lease for a full year.
I’d been promoted at my job: at 26 years old, I was the youngest senior manager in the company… responsible for an awesome team of 25 employees. Work was wonderfully challenging and fulfilling.
I had just bought a brand new car, drove it off the showroom floor with a big red bow on it. I was surrounded by loving family and loyal friends. I was young, confident and very happy.
10 March 2008- New corner office at work (thanks to my promotion) and a lovely company budget to decorate it.
I’d always wanted to travel… (I was the kind who hoarded Contiki travel brochures, painstakingly mapping my ideal itinerary)… so of course I was going to decorate my new fancy office in a very cosmopolitan way – with classy black and white images from iconic cities around the world.
I had already sourced beautiful prints of New York and Sydney, when I reached out via Facebook to a photographer in Paris asking about the price of his photographs and if he shipped to South Africa.
The answer to my innocent enquiry: “For someone as beautiful as you, I could deliver it personally ;)”
Ok, he was handsome… in that French kind of way (the BEST way)… but I just needed the photographs.
We ended up chatting … on MSN (remember that?!). Days turned into weeks, which turned into months.
By June 2008, we were chatting to each other for literally hours a day. We talked about everything under the sun. Hopes and dreams. Long philosophical conversations and shorter not so philosophical ones.
Until we finally decided: We needed to meet. We needed to know if this chemistry was real or not.
So I said a little prayer, and bought a ticket to Paris!
My friends had been worried sick prior to my trip… fervently trying to talk me out of going, pretty sure I was going to end up murdered and turned into a skin suit for some psychotic serial killer who had obviously watched Silence of the Lambs one too many times.
10 September 2008: Exactly 7 months after our first online conversation, I met your father in a very busy terminal at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. He said “hello” and I said “bonjour”. It was a blistering hot day and I wore 6-inch heels and a strapless tulle dress à la Carey Bradshaw.
I can’t tell you much about the next 20 days, except that it was pretty much a fairytale. Long, long days…. longer than you’ve ever experienced in South Africa. Croissants for breakfast in the tiny garden of your dad’s apartment. Strolling around Notre Dame and picnicking in the shadow of the Eiffel Tour. Lazy cafe dinners at tables that spilled onto cobbled streets… names of which I couldn’t even pronounce. It was surreal for a girl who had never set foot outside of SA before.
Two days before I was set to return to SA, your dad asked me to marry him. (A mere 18 days since we first physically met). There was no getting down on one knee, no ring, no fanfare. Just a matter of fact statement during a particularly lovely pizza dinner. “We should get married”
And my very straightforward answer: “I think we should”.
And just like that, we were ‘engaged’. We scrambled to get airline tickets for your dad to come to SA on the same flight as me (I was leaving in 2 days)… but we did it.
I’ll never forget my mother’s face when they picked me up at the airport on 2nd October 2008… introducing your dad to her… she looking so utterly confused. (My poor mother! I love her so!) I had hinted at a sort of, maybe, might be, romance prior to embarking on my trip… but I don’t think anyone – myself included – would have dreamed I’d come back with a fiancé!
We took a month (A MONTH!) to sort out wedding logistics and got married on 1st November 2008.
I moved to Paris later that same year, saying goodbye to the new job, the new car and taking a significant knock on the cancelled rental lease agreement. Leaving behind the only life I ever knew.
We lived in Paris, in that same tiny apartment for 7 years, making memories, travelling to over 30 cities in various countries around the world (my dream of travelling finally coming true).
We moved back to SA in 2015, just 6 weeks after you two were born… that tiny Parisian apartment definitely too tiny for four!
I wouldn’t call myself a spontaneous person. I’m a planner. I like to think I’ve got a good head on my shoulders. If one of you told me you were flying half-way across the world to meet a guy you met online… well let’s just say it would NEVER happen. The world you will grow up in is very different one…
I took a giant leap of faith that could have easily turned out very differently. What I did was so out of character, so risky…, but also mighty brave, I’d like to think.
It hasn’t been easy, but we’ll be married 10 years this week!
Maybe sometime along the next 10 years my friends will stop mentioning how close I came to being turned into a skin suit.
In our second post of a ten part series where we’ll be sharing the top ten tried-and-tested toys for 2018, we bring you the range of collectibles from Hasbro.
Everyone loves collectibles! There’s the thrill that comes with finding the missing piece to your collection. The absolute excitement when you’ve completed a full set, and of course the fun in sharing the joy with friends as you compare and swap to continue building yourcollectibles empire.
This year Hasbro has left us spoilt for choice with their collectibles ranges.
The ever popular Littlest Pet Shop is back with more to love and collect! There are 24 new pets in series 2, and the blind boxes comes with a teeny tiny pet in his/her own little home, complete with charm and key.
Another collectible range from Hasbro is the Lost Kitties. Lost Kitties is a new line of collectible adorbs cat figures from Hasbro. But these aren’t just kittens inspired by kittens, as all cat lovers know, each cat has a mind and personality of its own. And that’s just the inspiration behind this new line of collectible toys.
The Lost Kitties Blind-Box Singles feature blind-boxed kitten characters packaged inside mini milk cartons (think: the lunch room/cafeteria kind). Kids will have to open it up to find out “who’z hidin’ inside?”
This is series 1, which, for 2018, features 36 different Lost Kitties to collect. There are 8 Lost Kitties kitty squads with 4-5 kittens in each squad. Kitty squads include #Noms, #Cattitude, #Workinit, #Ififits, #Adorbs, #Scaredycats, #Cathletic, and #Notfelineit.
Open up the milk carton, and start digging, quite literally, through the Play-Doh-like compound. Hidden in the compound, you’ll find your blind-packaged kitten, two accessories for your kitten and a sticker of a meme depicting your kitten. The compound also serves as a hint as to how rare your collectible Lost Kitties may be: white= common, brown=rare, and pink=ultra rare.
And finally, for the older kids, there’s Hasbro’s Lock Stars. Kids can lock on with their awesome selves with Lock Stars figures, the collectable lock accessory that’s full of surprises. Each Lock Stars figure includes, 2 keys, 2 charms — 1 hidden inside the belly — and a mystery mini lock pal. Use the key to open the lock and reveal the adorable hidden surprise!
Kids will love collecting all the robots, monsters, animals, and other funky characters that help them express their own individual style. Rock these locks on backpacks, shoes, or other accessories, and look for the “Superstar” lock.
There’s something for everyone in the Hasbro collectibles range this year. Additionally with the festive season around the corner collectables make ideal stockingfillers!
Hasbro collectibles are available from all major toy stores, Takealot and Loot.