Monday, 30 September 2019

Malaville Dolls

Malaville Toys

Malaville Toys is the creation of South Africa based model Mala Bryan. A doll collector herself, Bryan was frustrated by the difficulty in finding a diverse - and affordable - range of black dolls. In early 2016 the first four dolls were officially launched: Maisha, Mala, Malina, and Mhina.

In 2017 they were joined by Alexa, the world's first doll with albinism, Lola, Imani, and Viv. Most are still available directly from Malaville Toys' website, with prices ranging from $32.99 to $39.99 each.

There were also plans for a line of collector dolls, beginning with Oshun, but I'm not sure if she was ever actually released.

Here she is! Our goddess, #Oshun Information from Wikipedia: Oshun (known as Ochún or Oxúm in Latin America) also spelled Ọṣun, is an orisha, a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Ifá and Yoruba religions. She is one of the most popular and venerated orishas. Oshun is a Nigerian Yoruba deity of the river and fresh water, luxury and pleasure, sexuality and fertility, and beauty and love. She is connected to destiny and divination. She is the patron saint of the Osun River in Nigeria, which bears her name. Oshun is honored at the Osun-Osogbo Festival a two-week-long annual festival, usually in August, at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove on the banks of the Osun River, Nigeria. Oshun is syncretized with Our Lady of Charity, patron saint of Cuba, and Our Lady of Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil. In Trinidad she is associated with St. Philomena and the Hindu deity Ganga Mai or Mother Ganges. #fashiondoll #blackdolls #blackdoll #blackgirlmagic #blackdollsmatter #dollcollectors #dollsofinstagram #dollstagram #blackhair #dollcollector #dollstagram #afrohair #curlyhair #dollphotography ✔Dolls are available for purchase in link in bio ✔ **Please note that dolls on the site are the only ones available for purchase. Extra accessories, hairstyles etc are for entertainment purposes. We encourage lots of imaginative  play with your #malavilledolls
A post shared by Malaville by Mala Bryan (@malavilledolls) on

Malaville Alexa

Alexa - box front / back.

'Alexa’s name means “to defend”, and she will be that friend who will always be there for you. She is a budding artist and already has some of her work on display at the local art gallery. On weekends, she volunteers at the children’s hospital where they’re always eager to have their face painted with her fun and colourful designs. ... Alexa is Malaville’s first doll with albinism. Because she loves being outside in the sun, she uses sunscreen to help protect her beautiful sensitive skin. Albinism is a condition in which a person lacks melanin, the pigment that normally gives color to the skin, hair, and eyes. People with albinism are from every race. Animals and even plants can have albinism.'

Malaville ImaniMalaville Limited Edition Imani

Imani - box front / back.
Limited Edition Imani - box front / back. This collab with Foschini hit stores in August 2017.

'Imani means “faith” in Swahili. She is the editor of Malaville Magazine and a journalist for The Malaville Journal. She is amazing at her job, and her love for reading and writing helps quite a lot. Imani is also the proud owner of “Bookworms Bookshop”, try saying that three times in a row!'

Malaville Lola

Lola - box front / back.

'Lola is a flight attendant and she gets to fly all over the world with her job. Her name is of Spanish origin meaning “strong woman” and that she definitely is. Lola with her beautiful red curly hair and a face full of freckles is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.'

Malaville Maisha

Maisha - box front / back.

'Maisha is always on the go and always upbeat! Her name means “life” in Kiswahili, and Maisha lives hers to the fullest. One of the most positive and outgoing people you will ever meet! She brightens up the room with her beautiful smile, so when you’re around her there is no way you can feel down.'

Malaville Mala

Mala - box front / back.

'Mala has an Indian name which means “necklace of flowers”. Mala is a fashion designer that never seems to run out of ideas! She has an eye for beautiful printed fabrics and that makes her fabulous outfits extra unique.  Mala is the very picture of confidence and self-assurance and she seems to have a way to pass that on to everyone around her.'

Malaville Malina

Malina - box front / back.

'Malina means “calming” or “soothing” in Hawaiian, and the name fits her personality perfectly. When this fashion model is not jet-setting around the world on photoshoots and strutting her stuff down major fashion designers’ runways, you will find her curled up with a good book.'

Malaville Minha

Mhina - box front / back.

'Mhina’s name means “enjoyable” and “delightful” in Kiswahili. Mhina is an interior designer that really takes time to get to know her clients, and that is something everyone loves about her. She soaks up motivation from all around her and is able to incorporate the most gorgeous textures and colors into her work. Nature inspires her, and reflects greatly into her work.'

Malaville Viv

Viv - box front / back.

'Viv’s name means “to live” in French creole. Viv is a photographer and loves capturing beautiful pictures with her camera. She enjoys taking pictures of birds and flowers, so she spends lots of time outdoors.'

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Sunday, 29 September 2019

This Week: 29/09/2019

Carpe Diem

This week was quite busy. We had a seminar at work on Monday to go over Torfaen's education results. Welsh Government has vastly reduced the amount of data they publish this year, as part of their rejection of 'league tables' and comparing schools, so instead of tons of figures it was just anonymised scatter graphs showing where we are compared to the rest of south east Wales.

It was full council on Tuesday - I posted an overview of it HERE - and then Marianna and I took Molly for a little walk after school before my school governors' meeting. I'm the chair now so there's no way out of it! On Wednesday I chaired Children and Young People Committee - webcast - looking at social care's plans to change the way child protection referrals are made in Torfaen.

There was a housing summit on Thursday morning I meant to go too, but I woke up feeling like death so I stayed home. We had a Labour Branch meeting in the evening; Marianna insisted on coming along and drawing everyone pictures. :) I ended up volunteering to be minutes secretary this year.

Anthony had to go to Cardiff on Friday, so my mum went with me to an activity morning at the school, teaching parents the literacy and numeracy frameworks they're using with nursery and reception pupils. E.g. they're using FRED talk to teach how sounds are blended together... so somehow I've agreed to get Marianna her own Fred the Frog puppet because that's obviously the most important aspect...

On the blog I posted a guide to Disney Attractionistas dolls, a list of books about Cwmbran, a Mini Mart review of Sixth Scale Studio, my top five films of the 2000s, and a review of Fantastic Female Adventurers by Lily Dyu.

Song of the Week -

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Fantastic Female Adventurers

Fantastic Female Adventurers

A few weeks back we were contacted by Shrine Bell, the youth imprint of Vertebrate Publishing who specialise in outdoor adventure, to ask if we would like to review their new book, Fantastic Female Adventurers.

Written by Lily Dyu, Fantastic Female Adventurers chronicles the achievements of 14 remarkable women, with the aim of inspiring girls to think: 'I can do that too!' In the book's introduction, Lily describes her antipathy towards the outdoors as a kid. It was too muddy, too scary, and she couldn't imagine ever actually wanting to go out and explore. I could really relate to that because, although my own dad tried very hard to instil a love of the outdoors before his accident, it never quite worked.

It's only as an adult that I've started to appreciate the natural world around me!

Fantastic Female Adventurers Review

I was excited, then, to find out what Marianna would make of it being smack in the middle of a princesses, sparkles and unicorns phase. She loved it! Ann Daniels' tale of arctic exploration lead to excited chatter about Anna's journey through the snow in Frozen, and Beth French's swimming exploits made her a real life mermaid.

Marianna's favourite chapter was on Ellen MacArthur. She loved the illustrations of the birds and, building on cash based numeracy activities, was especially taken with how Ellen saved up for her first boat while still at primary school.

My favourite was the story of Mira Rai, a Nepali trail runner who won her first race against all the odds , and we were both inspired by Helen Sharman, the first Briton in space. The book is aimed at ages 8+ and I was impressed with how child friendly the text was, even for younger kids, from the questions peppered throughout (e.g. 'would you like to live somewhere like that?') to explanations of measurements (e.g. 'less than ten metres away - closer than the length of three cars'). I was a big fan of Chellie Carroll's artwork too.

Fantastic Female Adventurers by Lily Dyu

Fantastic Female Adventurers is due out this October. It is available in paperback from the Shrine Bell website for £10.99 at the moment, or you can pick up a Kindle version at Amazon.

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Reviews from Babi a Fi - food, fashion, beauty, baby, toys, books, tech, days out, and more!

Friday, 27 September 2019

Friday Five: 2000s Movies

Friday Five


My favourite five films from the 2000s... This was a weird decade to do because I watched so many films in this decade. I was old enough to have cash, young enough to have nothing important to spend it on, and yet of the hundreds of films I went to see most of them were just 'meh'...

#5. I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

Black comedy starring Ewan McGregor and Jim Carrey as inmates in love. It might sound like a punchline to a joke, but it just works.

#4. The Ring (2002)

It's hardly the best horror film ever made. It's not even the best of the 2000s. But, oh man, this film terrified me so much. I had to sleep with the light on for weeks.

#3. The Princess and the Frog (2009)

My favourite animated Disney film of the decade - and definitely the one with the best soundtrack!

#2. 13 Going On 30 (2004)

I'm always a sucker for body and life swap films, and this cute rom-com does it perfectly when main character Jenna goes to sleep in 1987 and wakes up 17 years later...

#1. Enchanted (2007)

This is such a feel good film, I always feel happier after watching it. <3

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Friday Five

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Books about Cwmbran

Books about Cwmbran

Books about Cwmbran! I'll link all the titles up to review posts about them, eventually. For now here's an (incomplete) list...

Cwmbran History and Mystery - Carol Ann Lewis (2013)

Cwmbran Vol 1. - Gareth D. John and Graham Lawrence (2007)

Cwmbran Vol 2. - Gareth D. John and Graham Lawrence (2009)

Rebuilding a Valley: History of Cwmbran Development Corporation - Philip Riden (1988)

 The Trains don't stop here any more: A pictorial history of Cwmbran from the 1930's to the present day - Village Publishing (1991)

 Victorian Cwmbran - Carol Ann Lewis (2013)

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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Mini Mart: Sixth Scale Studio

Sixth Scale Studio

Supplier: Sixth Scale Studio
Website: Etsy Store.

Retro style 1/6 scale dining tables, coffee tables, chairs, etc. I needed a table to replace the 1960s Sindy drop leaf table and chairs I had in the doll house kitchen - it looked great but was a little unsteady for photos and stuff. So I sold it and used it to get this one which is abuot £20. (I say about because, you know, exchange rate is all over the place at the moment.)

SixthScaleStudio on Etsy

Post and Packing: £20+ to the UK. Then, of course, I got hit by customs on top reminding me why I never buy anything from the USA. :/

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Mini Mart - Reviews of Dolls and Scale Miniatures

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Full Council - September 2019

Flag Raising at Torfaen Council

We had a flag raising ceremony this morning before full council, in memory of our fallen soldiers. We even had a visit from Fusilier Shenkin IV, the Royal Welsh's regimental goat. (The only pic I could find uploaded so far was this one from the South Wales Argus Twitter feed with a disconcerting view of Shenkin's backside!)

Then at 10am we began the meeting proper. You can watch it on webcast HERE.

#1. and #2. Attendance and Apologies for Absence.

#3. Declarations of Interest.

#4. Confirmation of the minutes of full council meetings from 18/07/2019 and 23/07/2019.

#5. Updates on Actions.

#6. Receipt of Petitions.

Ms Louise Kirby presented a petition signed by over 800 people asking the Council to stop using glyphosate in weed control.

#7. Public Question Time.

Again on the issue of glyphosate, there was one question today: My question is mainly based on the discussions held during the 'Torfaen Council Democracy and Scrutiny meeting titled Cleaner O&S and dated 14 November 2018' – is TCBC now willing to re-assess the use of glyphosate in Torfaen?

Cllr Fiona Cross, executive member for Neighbourhoods, said a review will be carried out to look into alternatives, etc. I think the main issue is cost. You can control weeds without using glyphosate, but it means utilising different treatments - glyphosate is non-selective meaning you can use it on most everything - and carrying out treatments more regularly. I suppose it comes down to public appetite for more weeds because you just won't be able to control them as effectively on the allocated budget.

#8. Announcements from the Leader and / or the Chief Executive.

#9. Youth Council Presentation.

The chair of Pontypool Community Council's youth council gave a really effective presentation on the issues facing local young people, particularly the contraction of youth club provision and frustrations with CAMHS limitations. From a personal point of view, it's awesome to see young people getting involved in politics and working for change. When I was elected in 2012 I was the youngest councillor Torfaen had ever had. Seven years later and I'm still the youngest councillor there, but at 31 my youth credentials are long gone!

#10. Cabinet Member Changes.

Cllr Alan Jones has had to step down as executive member for business, tourism, leisure and culture due to personal reasons, though will retain his roles as Armed Forces and Heritage Champion. Replacing him on cabinet is Cllr Jo Gauden.

#11. Amendment to the Executive Decision Making Scheme of Delegation and Changes to the Constitution.

What it says on the tin; basically it was increasing the value cap on asset management decisions which can be taken by individuals.

#12. Capital Programme 2019/20.

Nigel Aurelius, Assistant Chief Executive, presented the report outlining additional allocations of funds for various purposes - eg. an extra £50k for Streetscene, which covers things like bins, benches, and play parks.

#13. Motions on Notice.

Cllr Janet Jones presented her motion to council, asking that Torfaen asks Welsh Government to reconsider plans to increase the bus pass age from 60 to 65. There was some general discussion then about public transport - and its outrageous costs. (£6 return from Cwmbran to Pontypool now...) It was agreed that prices for other age groups were something to be looked into further, and the motion was passed unanimously.

#14. Members' Question Time.

 - 1. Good progress, they'll come out of special measures when Estyn et al say so.
 - 2. Yes, but he'll still be supporting Nick Thomas-Symmonds.
 - 3. Agreed.
 - 4. Meeting statutory obligations is already included in the general Neighbourhoods budget.
 - 5. Yes.

#15. Cabinet Decisions from 10/09/2019.

These were noted.

#16. Exclusion of the Press and Public.

The webcast was turned off at this point and the public gallery vacated so council could deal with a confidential item from the Ethics and Standards Committee.

#17. Outcome of Complaint Under Local Resolution Protocol.

The report was presented by Justine Cass, the Deputy Monitoring Officer, and Council duly acknowledged the decision of Ethics and Standards.

#18. Date and Time of Next Meeting.

22/10/2019 at 10am.

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Council Business Explained

Monday, 23 September 2019

Disney Attractionistas

Disney Attractionistas Dolls

Disney Attractionistas are fashion dolls based on Disney Park attractions. There were 8 dolls in total, standing 12" tall with basic articulation.

Disney Attractionistas Dolls 2015
The first four dolls were released in 2015.

★ Celeste (Space Mountain) - box front / contentsback.

★ Gracey (The Haunted Mansion) - box front / contents / back.

★ Pearl (Pirates of the Caribbean)box front / contents / back.

★ Maddie (Mad Tea Party) - box front / contents / back.

Disney Attractionistas CarrieDisney Attractionistas Nellie

Later in 2015 another two dolls joined the line up.

★ Carrie (Carousel) - box front / contents / back.

★ Nellie (Jungle Falls) - box front / contents / back.

Disney Attractionistas BriarDisney Attractionistas Holly

The final two dolls were released in 2016, with Holly being especially sought after today.

★ Briar (Splash Mountain) - box front / contents / back.

★ Holly (The Tower of Terror) - box front / contents / back.

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Sunday, 22 September 2019

This Week - 22/09/2019

Be Brilliant

Marianna has given me the inevitable back to school cold, so my head has felt like it's stuffed full of cotton wool all week. :/ Still, I've been busy rearranging and organising stuff; I feel an IKEA shop coming on... We've been trying to get into a good routine too, now Marianna's at school.

Monday - Party Night, aka playing music and having sandwiches for tea.
Tuesday - Walking Molly Night.
Wednesday - Park Night, aka an hour at a play park of Marianna's choice.
Thursday - Craft Night. We had a Toucan Box this week.

Friday - Library and 'Old McDonalds'.
Saturday - Unplanned.
Sunday - Movie Night.

Hmmm, trying to think of anything else out of the ordinary we did... On Wednesday all the reception parents were invited into school to have lunch with their kids. It inspired me to go googling about school dinners around the world - there are some way out lunch options out there!

I won a Dr Who 50th Anniversary CD which Anthony immediately stole as his own. He has succeeded in brainwashing Marianna into the fandom to the point she asked for today to be a 'Dr Who Day' where we watch episodes from each Doctor's tenure. Two/Jamie remain my faves. <3

Two and Jamie

On the blog I've posted a guide to Monsieur Z dolls, a miniature giveaway, how to put a blogger rates sheet together, and my top five films of the 1990s.

Song of the Week -

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This Week - Weekly Overviews

Friday, 20 September 2019

Friday Five: 1990s Movies

Friday Five


My favourite five films from the 1990s...

#5. Soldier (1998)

Okay, so it was a critical and commercial failure. But I was ten and totally imprinted on it.

#4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)

Jar Jar Binks aside, this was the film that sold me on Star Wars. <3

#3. Clueless (1995)

As a pre-teen I thought this was the coolest film ever made.

#2. Mulan (1998)

By '98 I was starting to think myself too old for animated Disney films, then Mulan came out and convinced me otherwise.

#1. Mrs Doubtfire (1993)

The sillier it gets, the more I love it!

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Friday Five

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Blogger Rate Sheet How To

Blog Rate Sheet How To

Once you have a media kit for your blog, the next step is to create a 'rate sheet' - aka your blog price guide.

What you need to include:

Why is yours the blog for the job? This can include your blog ethos, social media statistics, influencer scores, awards you've won, brands you have previously worked with, etc, etc. Whatever is most relevant to your blog. (Dependant on whether or not it will be sent with your media kit, of course.)

Contact Details. If there is no way to get in touch with you, there won't be much work resulting from it! (As I don't actively pitch I just went with my blog header - my main aim was to make it easier to respond to PRs who approach me.) Continuing with the theme, make sure you save the file with a useful name for whoever's opening it. Eg. My Blog Name Rate Card - 2019.pdf.

What you offer... and how much it costs. If you want some guidance on how much to charge, check out Social Bluebook which suggests monetary value of social media posts based on how many followers you have and how much engagement you get.

Additional Details. Totally dependant on what makes sense for your blog - it might be stipulating how you want to be paid, how long the work will take, or requests you won't even consider.

Here's one I made earlier...

My media kit and rate sheet -

Babi a Fi Media Kit
Babi a Fi Rate Sheet

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Blogging Guides

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

School Dinners Around the World

School Dinners Around the World

All the reception parents were invited along today to eat school dinner with their kids! Marianna had a bit of an 'I don't want it' fuss at first, probably because I was there and it's one of her staples, but she quickly settled down and ate her roast dinner with welsh cake for afters.

Most primary schools in Torfaen use the local authority's 'Funky Menu' for dinners, which cost £2.30 for infants or £2.40 for juniors. (If you earn under £7,400 your kids are entitled to free school meals.) Marianna's school has an afternoon snack on offer for 30p, plus there's the free school milk scheme for nursery and infant pupils, and free breakfast clubs funded by the Welsh Government.

Torfaen Schools Funky Menu

Around the world governments provide 370 million students with school lunches every day, with March 14th designated as International School Meal Day. Read on for a sample of school dinners around the world...

JAPAN's school lunches are heralded as the best in the world. For Japanese students, lunch is as much of a learning experience as any other part of the school day. They learn about the nutritional value of their food, as well as its cultural importance - all while they themselves prepare, serve, and clean up afterwards! Although the menus are varied, with different dishes each day, there is no choice and children are expected to clear their plates. Schools tend to charge about half the actual cost of meals, so around ¥250 (£1.85).

Free school dinners in EGYPT are vital to combat malnutrition and improving school attendance. In 2018 the Egyptian government upped the budget to provide 50 grams of biscuits for pre-school children and 80 grams for primary students, served with two pâtés, a halva bar and a date pie. The Food Safety Authority is tasked with inspecting schools to ensure the food they serve is fit for human consumption; thousands of students across  the country come down with food poisoning from their school dinners - in fact, school dinners had to be temporarily suspended in 2017 when over 3,000 children fell ill within weeks of each other.

Although ubiquitous here, not all countries have a tradition of school dinners. In ROMANIA children often attend school in morning or afternoon 'shifts', something which originated to deal with overcrowding and quickly became the norm. The system means children eat dinner at home, though younger kids are provided with a free snack to keep them going.

Romanian State School Snack

In AFRICA there is an annual Day of School Feeding to celebrate and co-ordinate school meal programmes across the continent. The African Union recognises not only the health benefits of providing kids with school dinners, but also the economic benefits of spreading wealth and creating employment. Eg. NIGERIA launched their free school meal programme in 2016; it now feeds 7 million children a day and employs 72,000 cooks. UK kids might not be that impressed with what's on the menu however, just check out this plate of fufu and caterpillars served up in the Republic of Congo. Yum!

Congo School Lunch
Image from the What's For School Lunch? blog.

Meanwhile some kids are being treated to gourmet lunches, day in and day out. SWITZERLAND's Institut Le Rosey is the most expensive boarding school in the world with tuition fees starting from £100,000 a year - and its pupils are fed accordingly with top class chefs and a formal dinner every evening. Back in the UK pupils at Harrow (a snip at £38,550 per annum) can expect nothing but the best:
Harrow School Menu

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Family Life

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