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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Top Ten Toys – Twincess Tested (Part 2: Hasbro Collectibles)

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 your collectibles 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 stocking fillers!

Hasbro collectibles are available from all major toy stores, Takealot and Loot.

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Top Ten Toys – Twincesses Tested (Part 1 : Peppa Pig)

I love alliterations – can you tell?

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.

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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!

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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!

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For more on these Peppa-tastic toys, read our full review here: Peppa Pig Toys Review

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My Little Pony Live Show

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!

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The show takes place in Durban from 28 September to 2 October and then moves to Johannesburg for shows from 3-6 October. Tickets can be purchased from Computicket.

Thank you Hasbro for this wonderful opportunity!

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Book Review : Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson

Another charming, witty tale by our favorite author Julia Donaldson, creator of the beloved Gruffalo.

Baby Monkey is lost in the jungle. With the help of a friendly butterfly, they set out to find his mommy.

This endearing tale draws children in as Butterfly takes Baby Monkey to animal after animal, not realizing baby monkey’s mommy looks just like him!

After a series of mishaps… they eventually find Daddy monkey who reunites Baby and Mom who is waiting with big cuddles for her little one.

Another winning partnership with with illustrator Alex Scheffler brings the story to life in vivid colors.

I find the girls enjoy this book especially when we dramatically lead up to which animal they meet next … the girls obviously know the order by heart! So much fun for bedtime reading.

The book teaches us the value of helping others, even with no benefit to one’s self, and the recurring theme of communication comes through at the end… if Baby Monkey has just told Butterfly that his mommy looked just like him… it could have saved him a lot of trouble!

Thank you Pan Macmillan for another winner!

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Is this the end of my blog?

Child trafficking. Kidnapping.

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??

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Introducing Awe-thentic Clothing

We are thrilled to announce that we have partnered with a gorgeous new clothing design brand! They are called Awe-thentic Clothing and are based in Durban, South Africa. They produce beautiful, unique kids clothing catering for ages 6 months – 5 years.

The range currently extends to girls apparel, but plans are already underway to include a boys range, as well as a Mom & Me range.

The brains behind the operation is Jaydeen West, – Mom to two gorgeous little boys – whose passion is in both business and the empowerment of women. Awe-thentic Clothing allows her to fulfill both of these passions.

What I love most about the brand is that all items are completely handmade by women who would be otherwise unemployed and have no resources to start a business however, they do possess the skills to make a quality product- in turn providing them with a small income and most importantly allowing them to feel empowered again.

Jaydeen tells me: “Our brand name was born from the words- real, genuine & true.

We are a women-owned business that produce boutique clothing- carefully sewn together with loving hands. Currently, our range is small- consisting of an off-the-shoulder girl’s top, in four different fabrics. They say all great things start out small. Our plan to expand the range is underway & we can’t wait to broaden our market to include Mom’s wear and boy’s wear.

No doubt- we are a business that strives to produce a great product, at a reasonable price, with amazing service.”

As ambassadors for this beautiful new brand, the girls got to try out some of their stunning off-the-shoulder tops. I must say, I have been most impressed with the quality! The fit is genuine and very flattering. It’s easy to see the love and care that went into the production of the garments. There’s a careful attention to detail around the little shoulder sleeves, ensuring the fit is comfortable enough for little girls to play and be themselves in.

The colors are vibrant and bright, perfect for Spring – just a few short weeks away!

We cannot wait to see more from this unique new startup. To find out more about the range visit their website: www.myawethenticproducts.com or check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/awethenticallyme.

If you’d like to order your very own off-the-shoulder top be sure to give them a call on 081 409 6619 or email myawethenticproducts@gmail.com.

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Julia Donaldson’s Enchanting Bestsellers on Showmax

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!

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