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.
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.
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.
Anyway… can you believe we’re just about ten weeks away from the silly season?!
Since having a kids, Christmas has always been filled with such excitement for me! Searching for the perfect present and watching their faces light up with joy, makes me happier than I could have ever imagined!
In the spirit of the season (sharing is caring), I would like to kick off a series of blog posts showcasing our Top 10 Toys. These products have been tried and tested, and are 100% Twincess approved!
And since today’s marks exactly 10 Friday’s left before Christmas, I’ve decided to showcase one special toy each week in the run up to the big day!
So read on for a comprehensive look at what we’re loving this year.
First up: Peppa Pig selection
You’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard of this feisty little pig! Together with her family and other animal friends Peppa Pig has created a formidable following. Earlier this year the Peppa Pig Live Show swept through S.A. leaving audiences enthralled and wanting more.
Prima Toys has a large select of Peppa Pig goodies to spoil your little one this season.
My girls absolutely love the posable figurines. The figurines can be bought in packs with just the main characters or as part of a playset: Home and Garden playhouse, Outdoor Swing And Slide, Classroom And Day at the Zoo, to name a few.
For those who enjoy board games, there’s a Peppa Pig puzzle and Peppa dominoes… guaranteeing hours of fun!
The Twincesses particularly love the Peppa Pig Sing and Learn microphone which plays music at random and even has a button you can press to have Peppa join in and sing along with you!
There’s a Peppa Pig Camera that’s very popular with kids and has all the effects you’d expect from a real camera including a revolving lens.
Savvy savers will love the Peppa coin box while everyone will appreciate the Peppa lunch tin.
As you can see there are endless products to choose from in the Prima Toys – Peppa Pig range. If you have a Peppa obsessed little girl or boy in your home, head over to any of your leading toy stores and arm yourself with gifts they’ll absolutely adore!
On Saturday we were invited to share the magic of Equestria and the Mane 6 in a brand new live production tour of My Little Pony.
The performance was bursting with song and dance, taking children on a journey of friendship and kindness.
The show featured all six ponies and their Equestria girls as they took us through a story, a fashion show and a game.
It was completely interactive and the kids loved being part of the magic.
The venue was the Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Casino which I really like due to its laid back atmosphere. There’s a small food menu and a well stocked bar. Kids are free to run around and the vibe is very family-orientated.
Special confectionery at the show was in the form of slush puppies and popcorn at only R10 each.
There was also a dedicated Toys R Us stand selling My Little Pony merchandise.
We were lucky to have Meet and Greet tickets so we got to get up on stage and chat to the Equestria Girls whilst giving the ponies lots of cuddles. I found the Meet and Greet a little chaotic due to the kid’s over-excitement… which I guess was to be expected!
However the girls came back with beautiful memories of one of their favorite shows. Ask them who their favorite pony is, and it changes daily!
The horror that fills my thoughts at the mention of yet another missing child in SA has me seriously considering ending my blog.
I share our lives online. For various reasons: For the pleasure it brings me to share great products and new finds. For the cathartic release it gives me to talk about Motherhood in all its trials and triumphs. For my family overseas to follow along and gather snippets of our doings and happenings. Because I choose to.
But am I making a terrible mistake? These thoughts contribute to insomnia that seems to come more and more frequently in these troubling times. The horrifying disappearance and subsequent (unconfirmed at the time) murder of Miguel Louw hits way too close to home.
Hoax Whatsapp voice notes and Facebook posts only fuel the panic and terror parents are feeling.
I’ve also been contemplating moving our family back to France. It would be devastating for the relationship between my family in SA and my girls, but it’s something I’m thinking about.
The constant paranoia and looking over my shoulder is really getting to me.
I try to think rationally. My children are too young to be engaging – themselves – with people online so the grooming and luring that happens online is still a worry for future me (as if that’s any consolation!)
Kidnappings tend to be crimes of opportunity… in most cases. A preoccupied parent, an unsupervised child… a recipe for disaster.
I find it difficult to find information on how many toddler-aged children are actually spotted online and subsequently followed and kidnapped from information gathered on social media. Whatever the statistics, even one is too many.
I’m not sure what my decision will be yet. But for now, I’m seriously considering death by social media.
To be honest, I have had this blog post in “draft” status for more than 2 weeks now. And in the past few days fellow Mom bloggers who I really respect have been posting similar thoughts… which only leads me to believe that this is an issue I really need to delve into and think about carefully.
How many of you out there are feeling this push? Is it just me??
The beloved Gruffalo is a bedtime favorite at our house. Followed closely by Room on the Broom. In fact, Julia Donaldson may be our most favorite person on the planet!
So imagine our delight then, since subscribing to Showax, and finding our favorite books have come to life!
Beautiful animation is surpassed only by outstanding narration- The likes of Helena Bonham-Carter, James Corden, Martin Freeman and Jennifer Saunders.
It’s truly quite hard to choose a favorite, the girls obviously adore The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom as mentioned. I just love the tale of Stick Man and get totally wrapped up in the story each time we watch it. Dad is a big fan of the Highway Rat, while The Gruffalos’s Child is becoming a family favorite.
I’ve watched them many times already and I don’t seem to mind them playing on repeat. Maybe it’s the beautiful way Julia Donaldson writes. Maybe it’s the lovely animation… I’m not quite sure, but I don’t find myself getting annoyed at rewatching like I do with other kids TV shows.
And now, the bedtime story requests have been all about Julia Donaldson!!
Readers Warehouse has recently had a Picture Book Promotion where most of the Julia Donaldson titles were selling at R45! An absolute steal for these gems! I made a point of getting the titles we didn’t have yet to add to our collection and now our fingers are crossed that these animated versions come to Showmax soon!
I’m leaving for a 20 day Euro Trip in exactly a week’s time.
And while I’m somewhat excited, I’m mostly consumed with guilt. You see… I’m a terrible mom. I’m going without the kids. Whaaaat?! Yep, you heard correctly.
I’m flying off on a fun-filled holiday, and I’m leaving my kids at home. I can’t even use the guise of “business trip”, because honestly, there isn’t going to be any work.
We fly into London via Dubai and spend 5 days exploring the city. My sister is heading there for a Taylor Swift concert, but the days will be filled with touristy activities and pub lunches. I’ve been to London many times but I never tire of the city’s energy.
We then board a Eurostar train for Paris and spend the next 2 weeks in my old home town. I haven’t been back since we moved to SA when the Twincesses were 2 months old! So it will be wonderful to catch up with my friends and family and meet old colleagues again.
We plan to hit the museums and shop the biannual Paris “soldes” (Paris’ world famous sale), that just happens to coincide with our trip… imagine that!
We’ll walk along the Seine and eat baguettes unapologetically each day.
On our last weekend there we will steal away for a whirlwind trip to Amsterdam. I’ve only been to the Dutch capital once before, so it will awesome to see the city again. But I solemnly swear… I’m NOT riding a bicycle in traffic again. I choose life.
So as you can see… a whole lot to look forward to… but the nagging guilt just won’t go away. I’ve tried to ignore it, but today I find myself questioning, analyzing it. Why? Why do I feel guilty?
My kids are probably too little still to appreciate the trip, never mind the cost of traveling to Europe on the ZAR. They’re not on a regular school term schedule, so they’d miss a chunk of school stuff.
But more than the various practical reasons… why shouldn’t I have this? My girls are three years old and it’s the first time I’ll be away from them for an extended period of time. I’ll miss them like crazy… but I need this! I want this! I deserve this!
So here’s to new adventures in the great beyond… and coming back home to where my heart will always reside.
We love collectibles. There – I said it. We collected all the Stickeez and the Mini Shop items. We collected Super Animal cards, Angry birds and McDonald’s happy meal toys. It’s a sickness, really.
The only problem with our OCD collection skills, is that several tiny toys and more than a few cards, are now sitting at the bottomest bottom of the toybox, never to be seen or played with again. And the plastic – so much plastic. It’s not really good for our planet, now it is?
So when Checkers recently announced their new collectable campaign … I was pleasantly blown away! Here’s 10 reasons why the Twincesses and I love, love, LOVE the Checkers Little Garden:
1. It’s eco friendly: The materials used in the Little Garden seedling kits are compostable or recyclable: the pots are all biodegradable, made of wood pulp and peat. The seeds are all natural and the soil pods are made of coconut husk. Isn’t that amazing?!
2. It promotes family time: We just love that this initiative will encourage kids and parents to spend time together when tending their seedlings and the eventual garden that will result.
3. It encourages outside play: Anything that gets the kids excited about being outside, away from the TV or their tablets is a good thing, our humble opinion.
4. The accessories are seriously cute!: From little watering cans to petite wheelbarrows, the accessories that accompany the Little Garden campaign are a shrewd marketing move from Checkers. Parents will not be able to resist the miniature rakes, spades and garden shears in bright, bold colors.
5. It’s sustainable: Unlike the tiny plastic toys that have been long forgotten, the Little Garden promotes growing flowers, herbs and vegetables that should continue to flourish seasonally if tended well.
6. It’s educational: The concept promotes knowledge about growing your own food and food sustainability.
7. Gracie Greenfingers is the coolest kid on the block: The Little Garden mascot and master gardener is witty, sassy and seriously hip. She’s there to offer advice to budding gardeners and she could not be any cuter if she tried!
8. It promotes a new hobby: Gardening need not be reserved for the older folks anymore. With this initiative, kids can maybe find a new, unexpected hobby.
9. It’s water wise: The entire program encourages consumers to save as much water as possible. Some of the seedlings are drought tolerant and others will need just a little bit of water to flourish.
10. It’s effectively free: While the campaign will have you choosing Checkers above competitor stores just so you complete your collection, the seedling kits are free and you’ll receive one for every R150 you spend in store.
We can’t wait to complete our collection and for our seedlings to sprout!
Are you loving the Little Garden as much as we are? Let us know in the comments.
Prima Toys is one of the leading toy distributors in Southern Africa. They represent some of the most famous toy and character brands in the world, so it was excitement all round when they sent us some beautiful Peppa Pig Toys for the Twincesses to review.
“In recent years Peppa Pig has become a firm favourite amongst pre-school children. Some may even say that she has become somewhat of a celebrity with many fans the world over. So it is no surprise that the new Peppa Pig range of toys are set to become an essential part of the toy box!
Inspired by the TV show, the new playsets, characters and themes are iconic and instantly recognisable by children and their parents. The toys are great for role play and encourage children to use their imaginations by making up lots of Peppa Pig stories.”
If you’ve been following our journey, you’ll know the girls have been more than a little Peppa obsessed lately. The minute they saw the box, their eyes lit up… but when they realized it contained Peppa Pig goodies… I can’t explain the joy!
We received 3 lovely different toys from the PrimaToys Peppa Pig collection.
The first was the Fancy Dress 5 Figure Pack. The collectable pack includes five favorite Peppa Pig characters in fun dress-up costumes. There’s Princess Peppa, Danny the Pirate, Pedro the Clown, Candy Witch & George the Dinosaur. The figures have moving arms and legs and provided hours of fun for the girls as they created their own storyline with each of the characters.
The second item we received is Harper’s favorite: the Peppa Pig Sing And Learn Microphone.
Kids will instantly recognize the tunes from the TV show, and when they press the “Peppa” key, Peppa Pig will sing along with them! I’m normally not a fan of toys that make a noise, but this one is just adorable! Chunky, yet sturdy enough for little hands, its sure to be a hit in our household for a long, long time!
We also received the beautiful Peppa Pig Classroom Playset – but I’m saving that one for another day as the girls have been so spoilt already! They get to play with one of their all-time favorite characters and bring the stories to life in their own words, using their imaginations.
“Peppa Pig personifies childhood adventure and joy. She loves to play with her brother and with her friends, and she always provides a positive underlying message such as co-operation, playing together and the importance of family and friendship,” says Chiquita Patrizi, spokesperson for Prima Toys. I couldn’t agree more!
The Prima Toys Peppa Pig collection spans puzzles, figurines, a camera, microphone, games and a coin bank. We received these toys for review purposes, but all opinions remain 100% honest.