Review: LOL Surprise Dolls

I have heard about the LOL Surprise craze sweeping the nation, but never really understood what all the fuss was about.

Then we received some of the latest LOL Surprise Doll items to review and I saw the sheer joy and excitement on my kids faces!

For those who aren’t in the know, the LOL Surprise Dolls are little dolls that come wrapped inside a surprise toy ball. Each ball has different layers that contain stickers, secret messages, mix and match accessories until finally- you unwrap the doll. You don’t know which doll you’re getting until you get to the last layer. The fun lies in unwrapping and discovering the surprises along the way, and in collecting all the dolls in the series.

The LOL Surprise Under Wraps is the latest offering that includes 15 surprises! The girls used their spy glass to unlock secret codes which finally revealed their doll.

The LOL Surprise Bling Series is a limited edition series with extra bling for your buck! With 7 glittery surprises, the girls finally revealed their super sparkly doll who I’m told is called Pranksta. Kitted our in pink and turquoise I must admit she is one of the cutest LOL dolls I’ve seen.

We also received the LOL Surprise Lil Sisters ball and the LOL Surprise Fashion Crush. Lil sisters is also a collectible series with a – you guessed it – little sister for your LOL doll and an accompanying handbag. The Fashion Crush ball had a new outfit and other accessories hidden under layers of jelly!

As a parent I can certainly understand the excitement around the LOL Surprise concept. The unwrapping, the surprises, the need to complete a collection… it has all the elements of a successful toy series. There is however a huge amount of plastic waste that is generated in the unwrapping process, and in an effort to be more earth-conscience perhaps the creators of the LOL Surprise Dolls should look into using more recyclable options in the products.

I am quite surprised to say that a week later, the girls are still very into their LOL Dolls. They carry them around in the Under Wraps case and create little stories as they play. I would have expected them to be bored of the little dolls by now, but I suspect the unwrapping process gives them a sense of ownership that has allowed them to be a little more invested in their dolls.

With that, I can safely say: the LOL Surprise craze is here to stay.

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Review: Little Tikes Music Series

We always knew that music would be an important part of our children’s lives as they grow up. We encourage music classes at school, expose them to a wide range of musical choices and ensure they get to go to local music shows at least once a month.

Which is why we were so thrilled to receive some of the Little Tikes musical instruments to review.

The Tap-a-Tune Xylophone is perfect for letting your child explore sound and movement. It’s even suited to smaller kids as the design is chunky and sturdy with a tough plastic backing that will withstand most knocks and falls. The Little Tikes Xylophone would make a great toy for OTs as it improves hand/eye coordination and boosts fine motor skills.

Older toddlers will also love this instrument, as they are introduced to different musical notes, pitch and rhythm. The Twincesses love banging out a tune on their xylophones and the bright colors and flawless design is irresistible.

What’s more, it comes with wheels and a carry-handle, and the mallet is attached by cord (short, so minimises hazards) so it’s easy to take along wherever they go.

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We also received the Pop Tunes Keyboard which is such a hit with my girls. I don’t know if it’s the light up keys, or the pre-loaded songs which they sing along to, but the love it!

It’s obvious from the video below that they still need extensive lessons… lol, but just the fact that they are being introduced to music and notes at an early age makes me happy.

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The Little Tikes keyboard comes with fully functioning major and minor keys and the volume button doubles as the power button so it’s pretty simple to use, and easy to start playing right out the box. Again, the material is study and durable, which means it’s built to last.

These Little Tikes musical instruments would make perfect birthday gifts, or a special gift for parents wanting their child to be more exposed to music and the joy and wonder it brings.

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Review: Our Generation Dolls

There is something to be said about empowering girls. And that’s exactly what Our Generation is on a mission to do.

They believe we are raising an extraordinary generation of girls, each different and each with a unique story to tell.

An Our Generation Doll is more than just another doll for girls to play with. They are dolls that inspire girls to be who they want to be, giving girls their own unique voice, in a generation where there are increasing pressures for girls to be a certain way.

I love the ethos behind this brand, and as a mother of two little girls myself, I cannot be happier about the message they are promoting!

It helps too, that the products themselves are flawlessly made and of the highest quality. We took the girls to Toyzone and let them pick out their favorite doll. Fair warning, the choice is extensive! There’s a doll for every little girl out there, something about the dolls character or unique clothes that will speak directly to her.

In the end Harper chose Alexa because the ballerina doll resonated with her. Avalon went for Holiday Hope, loving the carefree, spirited clothing choice that was girly yet bold.

The dolls are beautiful! Standing at over 45cm tall, they make the ideal companion for the Twincesses. They have the softest, almost life-like hair, which I find doesn’t get into tangles and knots as much as other dolls do.

They have fully moveable arms and legs which make changing their clothes fun and easy. Speaking of clothes, the outfit accessories are almost as abundant as the doll choices! There’s everything you could ever imagine, clothes for parties, specific careers, horse-riding, swimming, sleeping… the range is extensive!

The accessories include cars and scooters, home playsets, and a selection of horses and equestrian products.

We got the girls the Dream Bunk Beds which is a beautiful addition to their room. Fully kitted out with mattresses, duvets and pillows, the bed is easy to install and comfortably fits both dolls. You can often find Alexa and Hope tucked in and fast asleep while the girls are in school.

I find that because they’re able to dress their dolls up differently, and have various different accessory options, the girls don’t get bored with their OG dolls. They can spend hours playing independently, inventing different scenarios and letting their imagination run wild.

Definitely an investment in imaginative play!

We just love the Our Generation brand. We love what the brand represents and we love the quality of the products. I would highly recommend these dolls as an investment into your child’s development and imagination. After all, an extraordinary generation of girls deserves an extraordinary generation of dolls.

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Afternoon Tea at the Oyster Box Hotel

Afternoon Tea became popularized in the 19th century when the Duchess of Bedford and her ladies of leisure would sit down with tea and cream scones to fill the long gap between meals. 

Today Afternoon Tea is an elegant experience to be savoured. I have had Afternoon Tea (sometimes referred to as High Tea) at some five-star venues around the world, but for me personally, nothing compares to traditional Afternoon Tea at the Oyster Box Hotel.

Tea is served at Palm Court, which is the heart of the Oyster Box’s dining scene. The venue is drenched in natural light and surrounded by lush palm trees. Four magnificent chandeliers set the ambience while live piano music cascades and mingles effortlessly with the leisurely conversations. 

The waiters are ever attentive, and that first glass of champagne materializes almost as soon as I sit down.

The palatial surroundings and the beautiful piano sounds just give you a sense of glamour and grandeur. The tables are laid with fine porcelain and a handwritten card to add a touch of personal charm. 

The centre console is laden with mouth-watering pastries, cakes and scones. For those who have less of a sweet tooth, and may prefer the savoury aspects of life, fear not. There are quiches, finger sandwiches, samosas and even sushi on offer.

The atmosphere is elegant and refined, yet totally relaxed. Groups of people enjoy sipping and chatting, not a care in the world. There are people celebrating all sorts of special occasions. 

Indeed, Afternoon Tea at the Oyster Box makes the perfect backdrop to celebrate everything from a baby shower to birthday, bachelorette party to graduation. 

Of course, we were celebrating our ten-year wedding anniversary, and were pleasantly surprised with a special cake from the team. 

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The selection of teas and coffees are as extensive as the food choices. We lingered over cheese plates and smoked salmon sandwiches before moving on to blueberry scones with clotted cream and preserves. 

The experience is a treat in itself, the opulent surroundingsand delicious delicacies will ensure you have an experience to remember. Worth every penny in my opinion! 

I would highly recommend Afternoon Tea at the Oyster Box Hotel whether you’re a local in Durban or passing through our beautiful city – put this one your bucket list! The experience would also make a special occasion/ celebration that much more memorable.

At the time of publishing this post, the Afternoon tea at the Oyster Box Hotel is R365 per person, and includes a glass of bubbly, tea/coffee selections and the all you can eat buffet of sweet and savoury offerings. I would highly recommend booking well in advance, especially for special occasions. 

 

Sample menu can be found here.

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The Chocolate Garden turns One

Yesterday we drove to De Charmoy Estate in Canelands to celebrate the first birthday of the Chocolate Garden.

For those not in the know, a Chocolate Garden is a garden inspired by chocolate; including chocolate colored plants, chocolate scented flowers, chocolate mint, chocolate sunflowers and vines.

The chocolate garden at De Charmoy Estate is Africa’s very first, and was planted in early August 2017. All the plants selected were chosen with great care, balancing water needs, selecting non-invasive plants and bearing in mind the climate in KZN.

The delectable menu at The Chocolate Garden has guests coming back week after week. I for one, cannot get enough of their brinjal fries.

The weather held out over De Charmoy Estate this Sunday as a small crowd gathered over cocktails, canapés and an array of sweet delicacies to mark the momentous event.

We found ourselves at the heart of the The Chocolate Garden’s new party venue, the setting was informal and intimate. Children delighted over milkshakes and candy, while their parents were treated to welcome cocktails, and savory delights.

A Gin Bar tended by the effervescent Siyabonga was a hit, as were the individual cheesecakes and chocolate mousses.

The showstopper of course, was the birthday cake: spectacular chocolate (what else?) brownie layers with a cookie dough centre, topped with Ferrero rochers, chocolate chunks and chocolate buttons. (Did I mention the chocolate? Lol)

Seriously though, the cake was beyond delicious.

It was a beautiful moment when the staff came out to join Lauren and we all sang Happy Birthday.

Afterwards we headed to the beautiful stretch tent area were the ever-able Zama performed her magic in the form of a neck and shoulder massage. Harper even got a turn!

We spent the rest of the afternoon mingling with the other guests (many of whom I’ve come to know from Instagram!) and enjoying watching our children play and have their faces painted.

The Chocolate Garden is such a stunning venue to host a party – big or small. The restaurant is one of my favorite places to spend the day: with great food and really good coffee. There’s a spa offering a much needed break from the daily grind, and more importantly, theres a lovely kids play area to keep the Twincesses thoroughly entertained!

Here’s wishing The Chocolate Garden a happy first birthday. May it grow from strength to strength. Thank you to Lauren and her wonderful team for hosting us. We had such a wonderful time, and will be back soon!

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The Twincesses Turn Three

My girls are 3 years old!

As the girls (almost) share a birthday with Grandma, we whisked the whole family away to the Lake Eland Game Reserve in Oribi Gorge for a weekend celebration. They were thoroughly spoiled with presents from family and friends, as well as their besties at school.

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We enjoyed game drives and cool afternoons at the pool.

The girls got up close and personal with a few friendly giraffes and created memories that I hope will last a lifetime.

Lake Eland is very family friendly, with lots to offer in terms of activities and sights.

There are high-octane sports like ziplining and bungee jumping, as well as a suspension bridge for daredevils. Game drives can be booked via the hotel, but we opted for self-drives as the roads are fairly tame.

There are shallow kiddies pools available, as well as a lovely, large play area. There is a restaurant on site serving delicious light meals for breakfast and lunch. All this only 1.5 hours from Durban.

Of course, no birthday would be complete cake!

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Ballerina themed Party Ideas

The Twincesses turned 2 and we celebrated them with a beautiful, and very girly, ballerina-inspired party.

Think shades of pink and glittery gold, wafts of tulle and ribbon, dainty details and pretty textures… The themed was whimsical and perfect for any little girl.

We once again reached out to Tricks and Treats (our go-to event decor experts) to put together the party of our dreams!

Below are some of the awesome and intricate details that made my girls celebration so spectacular!

So if you’re looking for inspo on throwing your own ballerina themed event… look no further:

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First Birthday Parties: Yay or Nay?

Many of the moms in my local baby club have refrained from throwing their babies a huge 1st birthday party.

For me, the thought of NOT celebrating a year of surviving with a newborn (let alone 2!) just wasn’t gonna fly.

What struck me, was that many of the moms who chose not to make a fanfare over a birthday party were not first-time moms.

Is it true? Do second or third babies get a raw deal?

Or is it that BTDT (been there, done that) moms are that much the wiser?

I can totally understand the reasoning.

– Birthday parties are ALOT of stress on the organizer (typically, mom).

– Your kid won’t remember if the balloons matched the tablecloth. They’ll see the pictures of a lovingly baked cake and will still get all the feelies.

– You can never please everyone, and there is bound to be that one annoying person that complains about something (too much sugar for the kids, the jumping castle isn’t supervised enough, etc, etc)

– Parties, even the simplest, cost a lot!

But then, I thought about the past year with the Twincesses… The ups and downs, the tears and triumphs, and I knew it was something I wanted to celebrate. For me, as much as for them.

So with the help of a sweet little company called Tricks and Treats we came up with an amazing candy buffet and picnic set up in a dazzling Ladybug theme to celebrate my 2 Love Bugs.

We celebrated with a picnic in the park (bless Durban’s magnificent weather), and the Twincesses were surrounded by people they love, as we laughed and sang and shared baskets of picnic goodies.

Admittedly, we did all get a slight sugar buzz by the time we left, but it was well worth it as the red velvet cake pops were to die for!

All in all, I’m so glad I celebrated their first birthday in style. The Twincesses received lovely gifts and time spent with friends and family was priceless.

I doubt I will go overboard for their next birthday. Hahaha! Yeah right!

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