Top Ten Toys- Twincess Tested (Part 10: Scruff a Luvs)

It’s the last Friday before Christmas! That means it’s the final post in our Top Ten Toys series. For this last post, we’re deviating slightly in that the toy isn’t yet Twincess Tested. It will be, in 4 days time as I have two of these patiently waiting under the Christmas tree.

Ever since a fellow blogger’s Facebook post went viral, I’ve been intrigued by Scruff a Luvs.

Inside the colorful box lies an animal that is matted and “ugly”, and with a bit of TLC this animal cleans up to reveal a puppy, kitten or bunny that just wants to shower you with love forever.

Quite simply, the concept is something that resonates very strongly with me (and I’m sure most parents will agree). Teaching a child to rescue rather than shop, to look beyond the appearance to what lies underneath… are all wonderful qualities that every child should posses.

The best part is that you are teaching a child that just a little love and care goes a long way and when it comes to rescue animals, will be reciprocated with loyalty and love.

And this lesson is well learned as it comes across while “doing” instead of just getting a lecture about rescuing animals. Kids are immersed in the extreme makeover from start to finish.

I’m in love with the idea of this toy. I can’t wait for the girls to open it on Christmas morning and see their reactions! I’ll be sure to capture and share.

Merry Christmas to all my followers and readers. Thank you so much for supporting our humble online space this year! May your festive season be happy and blessed xx

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Top Ten Toys – Twincess Tested (Part 9: LEGO Duplo)

I don’t know a single child that doesn’t love building LEGO. My kids are no exception. Earlier this year I bought them their first LEGO Duplo set after being drawn to the bright colours and large blocks in store.

For those who may not be familiar, Duplo is a brand of LEGO that is specifically designed for preschoolers (1-5 years). Duplo bricks are twice the length, height and width of traditional Lego bricks, making them easier to handle and less likely to be swallowed by younger children. But despite their size, they are still compatible with traditional Lego so your kids are still able to continue enjoying them as they grow older.

I picked up the Duplo number train as the girls were busy learning numbers at the beginning of the year. They really enjoy playing with this set and manipulating the blocks in different ways to achieve different results.

And because LEGO is such a fantastic toy to improve fine motor skills, problem solving techniques and lateral thinking, Santa has bought the girls two new big boxes of LEGO Duplo for Christmas this year.

First up, they will receive the Duplo My Town series which contains sets from popular “city” places such as the airport, office, park, pizzeria etc.

Additionally I also bought them a big box of blocks to ensure their imaginations are never limited.

I’m pretty sure the girls are going to be thrilled with their LEGO Duplo presents.

If you have a fidgety toddler on your hands, I’d urge you to grab a box of Duplo from your nearest toy store. It’s bound to keep them interested and engaged for hours on end!

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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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Top Ten Toys -Twincess Tested (Part 8: Disney Princess Dolls)

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!

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Top Ten Toys Twincess Tested – (Part 7: Hasbro Board Games)

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.

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Top Ten Toys Twincess Tested – (Part 6: Play Doh)

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!

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Dining Options at The Oyster Box Hotel

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 and a parmesan wheel to 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 and extensive 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.

 

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We were warmly welcomed when we arrived and shown to our table. We marveled over the vibrant artwork and the intimate setting. Our sommelier helped us pick out a lovely white wine from the extensive and well curated wine cellar (we both decided 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.

 

 

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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 Bea Tollen works 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 and world-famous cocktails. 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.

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Top Ten Toys: Twincess Tested (Part 5: Julia Donaldson Gift Sets)

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.

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Top Ten Toys – Twincess Tested (Part 4: My Little Pony)

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.

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Top Ten Toys – Twincess Tested (Part 3: LOL Surprise)

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.

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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.

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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).

img_8379Players 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!

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img_8382The concept of the game – matching – is both fun and educational, and simple enough for toddlers to grasp easily.

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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.

 

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