Category Archives: Toys

Educate, Enrich and Engage With Toys from Owl Bliss + 20% OFF Promotion!

Anyone who knows me well enough will know this, that I don’t spend on loads of things for the children but I would be happy to part with my hard-earned monies for good-quality clothes, toys and wonderful reads. For instance, I’d rather splurge on one well-made toy that would last and entertain the children for a long time, than to buy a variety of cheaper knick-knacks of inferior quality, which are likely to fall apart or even fall out of favour with my children. I also lean towards getting toys that educate, enrich and engage during play.

Owl Bliss is an online store based in Singapore and it brings in THE most beautiful toys, nursery decor and children’s lifestyle goods. It is, in a nutshell, a store after my own heart, one that could potentially bleed me dry because EVERYTHING (not exaggerating here) the store stocks appeals to my sense of aesthetics. I consider myself to be very lucky to have the store owner ask me if she could send me two of its latest offerings from Moon Picnic. Beautiful, enriching and educational? YES, PLEASE!

I picked out one toy each for my kids, as you do when you want be fair.

Cross Stitch Friends is perfect for F! She is 5 years old and has always been good and intuitive with her fine motor skills (she figured out how to tie her hair and use the chopsticks on her own at age 3), but I thought this would take that inclination further as cross-stitching requires her to visualise the pattern, plan the steps needed to make that pattern and execute her plan by getting her to work those little fingers around a needle and thread. Prior to receiving the Rabbit from the Cross Stitch Friends range, I had not planned to get her started on cross-stitching anytime soon as needles are sharp and way too tiny for her to work with. This is why her newly minted Cross Stitch Friend is perfect; the needle is large, made of plastic, blunt, and this makes it safe for children her age to work with. Check out the embedded video to watch her first attempt.

F loves it so much that she does it almost daily, and now that she is getting used to the idea of cross-stitching, I am going to get yarn in different colours for her to create new ‘sweaters’ for her Friend! That should motivate her to come up with new designs but it’s really Mummy’s secret plan to get her to exercise her brain a little on how she might want to get the new patterns done!

E, who is 2 years and 5 months old, received a very well-made board with detachable and moveable features that is Make A Face.

At this age, E is learning to categorise emotions and explicitly doing so with words. “Ethan angry!” “Ethan is sad.” “Ethan happy!” You get the idea. I thought it’d be a great way to get him to work out facial expressions and match them to an emotion using the Make A Face board. It is also excellent for toddlers to work on their fine motor skills in prying the pieces out, flipping them over and rotating them. I love that it is well-designed, looks good (both in the kiddy and adult corners of our home) and extremely sturdy (it is made of wood). F loves to get in on the action as well when we try to explain how people may feel using the board, and how categorical emotions can have their nuances as well.

I see these two new toys going a very long way in our home. I like that they aren’t just a bunch of toys that have got lots of buttons for one to jab, and that they are truly interactive (between child and toy, and between child and adult as the adult guides child through using it), educational and enriching. I have my eye on the Pom Maker next; it is a to-die-for-CUTE donut-shaped pom-pom maker that is absolutely perfect for people who love to craft! I don’t do much craft but if you see the pom-poms that people have been making with it at #welovepommakers, you’d want to get one too!

You may shop online on Owl Bliss. Take 20% OFF STOREWIDE with the coupon code PLEASUREMONGER (valid until end of September 2017)!

*I was given two toys of my choice and I was not obliged to write a review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and no other monetary compensation was received.

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A Super Fun Play Book That My Kids Love + Promo Code! 

I love toys and books that give us good mileage because (a) I don’t want my home to be cluttered with things as seasons change, (b) we save money in the long run, and most importantly (c) the kids learn not to hanker after the next flashy toy they see and learn to explore the same object in different and creative ways.

I am in disbelief at how well the third point has worked out for us but I am beyond glad that it has. The kids, especially F who is 4 years old, have no problem leaving a toy store without throwing a tantrum. Yes, they would be fascinated by all the knick-knacks calling out to them from the shelves, but they are perfectly happy to leave the store with minimal persuasion as they have learnt (with our guidance and then on their own) that they have sufficient open-ended toys at home that are always fun-enough for them.

One thing that I really like is a good quiet book that grows with the child. I have been looking for one since E was born as I had hoped for the book to keep F busy whilst I nurse E to sleep in the evenings. One can get really useful ones online, some of which you can personalise with pages that you like, but holy moly, those can cost USD10 per page and I just can’t bring myself to spend more than $100 for a busy book with sufficient content, no matter how well-made or interesting they are. I managed to work out a way to keep F quietly busy eventually when my secondborn winds down for bedtime, but when the very active E was due to go on his second flight, I searched for one that cost about $60, bought it on impulse, and regretted the purchase because it was completely uninteresting and none of my kids liked it.

When Sapna from Smarter Concepts approached me to give My Super Fun Play Book a try, I was skeptical at first but having taken a look at the book and the company’s vision in detail on the site, I was sold.

The company is committed to sourcing materials ethically and works closely with seamstresses and handicraft producers to ensure good workmanship. Smarter Concepts cultivates homegrown talents, develops skills of underprivileged women in the Philippines, and promotes their welfare by maintaining fair labour practices, and purchasing the play book is an amazing way to support this vision. The book has also undergone stringent tests and conforms to the European standards of EN 71 and ISO 8124, and it is good to know that the book is safe for my kids to play with.

 
I am glad to report that the play book is highly sought after in our home. F and E love to take it from room to room (it’s super portable as it’s made of fabric and not the least bit heavy) and they sit down quietly to go through the activities on each page. The only time when they make a peep is when they fight over it…which is pretty often because the book is fun for kids of various age groups! E is about 22 months old and he loves sorting colours, playing with the finger puppets, brushing the dog’s teeth, or simply taking the accessories off and sticking them back on the pages. F particularly enjoys a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, loves making pizza (and Mama gets a go at teaching her what a balanced diet is using the different ingredients available) and she is very keen on learning how to tell the time, braid hair, tie shoelaces, etc. Have a look at the time-lapse video I have taken of F playing with the book and you will see that it really is a book that grows with the child.

The workmanship of the play book is excellent too. E can be pretty rough with things in our house but the play book is so impeccably sewn that it has survived his vicious tugging on some of the accessories on the pages! The stitching and attention to detail is evident on every accessory on every page and this has me wondering how this book of 12 pages can go for less than USD4.80 per page (even cheaper if you use my discount code)!

The book is really affordable for its quality and mileage, and gives even the best quiet book I have seen out there a run for its money. I am planning to bring this book with us for when we travel in a few months’ time; this way, the kids get something (they love) to do other than vegging out in front of the telly onboard!

You may purchase this book over here. Don’t forget to use my discount code thepleasuremonger to get USD10 off the book (that works out to only USD48!) when you check out (valid until 31 January 2017, so HURRY).

*I was given the play book for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Heartfelt Makan: Well-Made Felt Food Toys At Its Cutest + Promo Code!

I am usually quite self-restrained when it comes to buying toys for the kids, limiting my purchases mostly to open-ended toys such as wooden building blocks. Most of the other toys that F and E have were gifted by friends and family. But throw me a cute play pretend kitchen and I go weak in the knees. That was how we ended up having a Kidkraft kitchen. Dangle those pots and pans and cake mixer and food toys in front me, and I salivate like a Pavlov’s classically-conditioned dog, complete with hearts shooting out of my lids.

Now, most of the food toys we have are wooden, and I love the quality and durability of these pieces. I don’t have much affinity for plastic ones because they don’t have a good weight to them and the cheap paint and labels often peel, but I have been eyeing felt food toys for a while now, having seen some really gorgeous ones on Etsy. But of course, felt food items are hand-sewn and really quite expensive; I managed to stay level-headed, and resisted the temptation to purchase them. There was no way I was paying $70 for a tiny tart that I can’t eat (or can eat…)!

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I was wondering what I should get my kids for Christmas when Santa swung by early. Heartfelt Makan, a local maker of felt food toys, contacted me and asked if they could send me a set for F and E to play with. I had a look at their social media profiles and their website and practically screamed, “YES, I, err, I mean my kids would love to receive them!”

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Aside from cooking up a storm in the international felt food scene (like the quintessential English breakfast or sarnie essentials or even a roasted chicken with moveable parts!), Heartfelt Makan does lots of makan true to our local food heritage. Chwee kueh, siew mai, char siew bao, potong ice cream, pineapple tarts, just to name a few! All these toys are handmade with high quality felt and polyester fill, and the stitching is solid to the point where the toys don’t tear at the seams even after some seriously hustling by my destructive toddler over the past few weeks.

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F pleaded to have a go at the felt food toys we were sent as soon as they arrived but I told her she had to wait because I would like to have the first personal encounter with them and to style them first. She was sorely disappointed but she stole a sneak peek and was dying to dive into the bamboo steamer to get to the dim sum nestled within. A few days later, I let her go wild with the toys and E snuck up behind her to stake a claim too. There was quite a bit of whinging because nobody wanted to share, and l was pleased as punch to see that nobody wanted to share a few weeks later. It’s proof that these felt food toys have longevity to their purpose. F and E have been playing with them, and this lucky mama has been served breakfast, lunch and dinner EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now, if only those are edible.

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You’d be pleased to know that the felt food toys are holding up well with my grubby toddler; they are in pristine condition, are not discoloured or dirtied, and the felt has not fuzzed.  I love that these toys add a different texture to their play pretend kitchen, the kids love to squish them and mix and match with their wooden food toys. They are really well worth the price and the local makan items are a great way to getting our kids acquainted with our heritage. I do hope to see Heartfelt Makan expand their range to include more of the different cuisines we have the privilege of enjoying with different ethnic cultures in Singapore, so fingers crossed on that!

Lunar New Year is just round the corner, and if you are keen to get those pineapple tarts for your children, or any of the other toys for that matter for someone’s birthday, simply spend $50 or more and take 10% off with the promotional code TPM10. The promo code is valid until 4 Feb 2017. Happy shopping!

Like Heartfelt Makan on Facebook to stay updated on products and promotions.

You can shop online at Heartfelt Makan.

*I was given a set of toys for the review. No additional monetary compensation has been received. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

Shopping, Mummy-Style, with Agape Babies

[*SPONSORED POST] I have said it before and I will say it again, that I LOVE online shopping. I didn’t care for it before I became a mother though; I much preferred taking a walk, running my grubby hands carelessly over the terrain of merchandise on display, and feeling the thrill of actually bagging items upon checking out at the cashier.

BUT. Becoming a mother has changed my lifestyle on many fronts; I have to be careful about spending, and I have neither time nor energy to lug kids (who seem to choose to be exceptionally cranky when I need them to be un-cranky) to the stores.

I have been shopping online at Agape Babies since just before I had Faith four years ago. My very first purchase was the Medela Freestyle breast pump set, which I bought for 50% off the retail price and remains an incredible steal now. Since then, I have found many more fantastic deals for products that are crucial to our parenting needs. I have saved so much money on Laninsoh nursing pads, California Baby products, Melissa & Doug toys, books, you name it, and I hardly go to brick-and-mortar stores for things that the kids and I use. It no longer makes sense to go through the hassle of lugging the kids through the crowds when I can save tonnes of money shopping online at Agape Babies in the comforts of my own home.

This time round, I managed to stock up on the Laninsoh nursing pads (been using them for as long as I have been breastfeeding), California Baby Bug Repellant (our go-to spray when we are out and about), and carted two Handwriting Practice books from Letterland for F as she has been asking me to get them. And I did all this on the mobile phone!

For an avid user of the mobile phone like myself, the mobile-optimized website makes for a great shopping experience on the go. I don’t have to power up my laptop, and all I have to do is do quick searches and cart the items on my phone, even as the kids are pulling at me or glued to my hips. Major win.

Fans of Jujube, the poison of many mums, will be glad to know that Agape Babies has
expanded its brand & product selection to include more hot brands like said poison and 3M. Agape Babies now carry over 250 brands and 6000 products in over 10 categories at incredible prices, so it’s really a no-brainer for parents, newly-minted and seasoned alike, to shop on the site.

If you are a first-time customer, you get to enjoy $10 off your first purchase on top of getting a free gift. VIP customers get to enjoy special price reductions and also lifestyle privileges. If you’d like to save on shipping, which isn’t costly by the way, you can opt for the one-click self-collection from 3 convenient locations – Newton, Sengkang and Old Airport Road. Smaller parcels can be picked up from 72 locations across the island as well.

To sweeten the deal for you, Agape Babies is giving my readers 5% off all items except milk, diapers, wipes, Jujube, Medela breastpumps, sale and clearance categories. All you have to do is to enter the coupon code pleasuremonger5% upon checkout (valid from 22 Aug to 12 Sep 2016).

I am not sure what else I should say to convince you to give Agape Babies a shot in changing your mummy-and-me shopping needs, but seasoned mums who have tried will tell you that shopping at Agape Babies is a lifesaver, as it has been for me all these years!

*I was gifted shopping credit and paid for excess amount incurred from the items I picked. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

A Reason to Love Shopping (and Saving!) for the Kid

As a mother, I am always on the lookout for quality clothes, toys, books, foods and other knick-knacks for my daughter; ‘I Have My Eye On‘ is a collection of these finds.

Growing up is a tough act but parenting is hard work too; I believe that mummies and daddies need some lovin’! Whilst I am not busting my budget on the little one, I like to sniff out things that make our new routines a little easier, or sometimes, just a little prettier.

In this series ‘We Need Some Lovin’‘, I share some of my favourite things for us big people.

[SPONSORED POST*] I have a confession to make. I’M AN ONLINE SHOPPING ADDICT. I don’t like prowling through physical stores all that much, I mean, why do that when I can pop my favourite things in the cart whilst still wearing my pyjamas? Of course, this addiction was so not going away with the birth of Faith.  If anything, motherhood simply accorded me the license to shop without getting quizzical looks from the husband (‘It’s for the baby, honey……’). I don’t shop without a conscience though; if you must know, I am quite the bargain-hunter. After all, M is the sole breadwinner and works really hard to provide for us, and we do what we can to stretch our dollar without severely compromising on our lifestyle.

Enter Agape Babies, one of the first online stores that I fell in love with before I even became a mother. I was pregnant with Faith when I made my very first purchase from Agape Babies. Back then, I had done lots of research on the kind of breast pumps that may help with our breastfeeding journey, and badly wanted the Medela Freestyle, which retails close to (an insane) S$1000 in stores island-wide. I was not working then, and there was NO way I would plonk a grand on a breast pump even if I were, no matter how good the pump may be. I was a little disappointed that I would have to get something else when my cousin-in-law told me about Agape Babies and its incredible prices for Medela breastpumps. I promptly carted the Freestyle at a neat S$530, almost 50% off the retail price! And there was no looking back. Soon, I was shopping for all sorts of things on the site, including our favourite California Baby products (also generously discounted, as compared to other stores) for Faith, who suffers from eczema.

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The crazy number of brands that Agape Babies carry!

I have been shopping at Agape Babies for more than two years now, and I have always enjoyed the experience. It is easy to cart the items I want and shipping is quick. From the small(er) store that it was two years ago, Agape Babies has now grown to carry a huge range of products, with over 100 brands and 2000 products. Agape Babies continues to specialise in California Baby products, and they now carry diapers and milk formula of brands such as Huggies, Mamypoko, GOO.N, Friso, Similac, Gain IQ, Pediasure and more! The items are very attractively priced, and it helps that the store currently offers free courier delivery with a minimum of $80 spent and a free Disney stationery set given with every purchase of S120. I’d say it’s a pretty good way to shop for the essentials and not have to lug the items back home on your own! There is more reason to love shopping at Agape Babies now, too, as it has recently partnered with The Sunshine Kids, a kids fashion company to build a multi-store. This means that customers can shop between both stores and check out in just one shopping cart! Talk about saving time with the check-out process! How many times have we struggled to cart the items we need, only to have our kids thwart our efforts and demand for our attention NOW, just as we are short of paying for the items? With more stores & products to be added soon, Agape Babies aims to grow into a one-stop shop for all parents to create a super-easy and convenient shopping experience. This online shopping addict here can hardly wait!

Just to share some of the California Baby products that we recently purchased (this time with shopping credits gifted) from Agape Babies.

P9244281The California Baby Try It Kit (retails $49.70 but costs only $32.70 on Agape Babies) is one of my absolute favourites! Yes, I first bought it to try the different products out on Faith, who is prone to eczema flare-ups, and they work so well to keep her clean/well-moisturised/mozzie-bite-free whilst caring for her sensitive skin! They come in the perfect size for travel, and I have brought these items to quite a few countries on our holidays with Faith. I still have some leftovers from the first kit that I bought when she was only 3 months old, so a little really goes a long way, especially when it comes to the bath products and the bug repellant! I’d highly recommend this set, although there are other starter packs that may better suit your child’s needs, depending on whether you want to focus on suncare, treat sensitive skin, etc.

P9244280The California Baby Calming Hair Conditioner (retails S$28.90 but costs only $16.90 on Agape Babies) is a new product for us. Faith’s hair is getting longer now and I thought to give this conditioner a shot at keeping her locks luscious and smooth. The scent is incredibly lovely and (yes) calming! I’m tempted to steal this from her and use it on my hair!

(Can you tell we looooove California Baby already?! Especially when they are so heavily discounted on Agape Babies…)

PROMOTION FOR MY READERS:

Agape Babies is offering 5% off all purchases (except breast pumps, diapers, milk and sale items) for the readers of The Pleasure Monger. Simply enter the promotional code thepleasuremonger (valid for 4 weeks from 25 September 2014 to 23 October 2014) when you check out. Happy shopping!

*I was gifted shopping credits from Agape Babies to purchase the two sets of California Baby products photographed and paid remaining sum out of my own pocket. No additional monetary compensation has been received and I do not stand to gain any commission arising from sales using the discount code given to my readers. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and written according to my experience in using the products/services. Sponsors have been notified that I am not obliged to write a review upon receipt of sponsored service/items, should I find the products/services unsuitable.

You can now shop online at Agape Babies! Like Agape Babies on Facebook and sign up for the newsletter for updates on promotions, contests and giveaways!