Easy No-Sew Vampirina DIY

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Woooah-oh-OH!  Vampirina!  Just in time for the Halloween Season, Vampirina is now meeting guests at Disney California Adventure!  I put together this easy No-Sew DIY using clothes basics from www.primary.com.  I also created another bat costume look that requires some basic sewing skills and No-Sew bat headband accessory.

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Vampirina DIY Costume

Skill level:  No-Sew

Materials:

“the Dress” in black from http://www.primary.com

“the Jersey Slim Tee” in azalea from http://www.primary.com

“the Legging” and “the Long Sleeve Classic Tee” in Slate Blue from http://www.primary.com (this is optional but great if you live in a colder climate around Halloween)

-small piece of black felt (you can buy a felt square and use the extra to make a bat headband)

-tube of fabric paint (I chose purple glitter, but glow-in-the-dark would be fun too!)

-tube of black matte fabric paint and paintbrush

-hot glue gun

-scissors, ruler, and a metallic sharpie that will show up on dark colors

Directions

1.  We are going to paint the spider web design onto the dress using the fabric paint.  I like to start by making “guide dots” using the metallic sharpie.  If you’re nervous about painting straight lines, place your guide dots closer together, then it’s just like doing a dot to dot!  I first measured out where I wanted my 3 vertical lines on the top of the dress, and drew guide dots along where I wanted my lines to go.

2.  To make the “frowny face” arch of the web, I made an additional guide dot in between the lines where I wanted the top of the arch to go.  This way, it was easy to plan out where to make the arch line.

3.  Paint the vertical lines first, then connect the lines with the “frowny face” arch.

4.  Extend the lines down to the skirt portion of the dress using the ruler and the guide dot method.  Since the skirt flows out a bit, your guide lines will be angled out at a diagonal to ensure that they are evenly spaced.  Use the same guide dot method to measure out your arches.

5.  Since the skirt has gathers and pleats, you will need to spread apart the fabric to ensure that the paint gets on the entire surface of the dress.  Don’t forget to put a piece of paper in between the fabric layers so the paint won’t bleed through!

6.  Vampirina’s pink shirt has a black collar, so you can paint the collar of the shirt black.  I used regular computer paper to put in between the shirt and under the shirt so I wasn’t painting on my work surface.  I also painted the inside of the collar to give it a more finished look.

7. To create the skull detail, I drew a skull shape on to the felt.  After you cut it out, you can flip the skull over so your pen lines don’t show.

8.  Hot glue gun only the top of the collar to the shirt so it can hang over the dress.

 

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 Bat Dress DIY Costume

Skill Level:  Basic Sewing required

Materials:

“the Dress” in black from http://www.primary.com

-about 12″ of black fleece

-about 12″ of purple fabric (I used shiny satin)

-about 12″ elastic

Directions

1.  Measure your child’s arm span to see how long to make the bat wings.  Using the “computer paper method”, draw out a bat wing in the length of your child’s arm.  You will need to tape two pieces of paper together.  This will be your template

2.  Using your bat wing template, cut out the bat wing on the fold of your black fleece.  You don’t need to cut it out of the purple fabric.

3.  Sew the black bat wing fleece piece onto the whole piece of purple fabric.  PRO TIP:  I don’t cut out the purple fabric before sewing because there is a lot of shifting when you sew a thin piece of fabric to a big piece.  Don’t worry, it will all look okay in the end even if it shifts!

4.  Cut the purple fabric so it matches the black wing shape.  Cut a slit in the center of the wing and flip inside out.

5.  After you flip it inside out, topstitch all the way around the edge.  “Topstitch” is just a fancy way of saying “sew right on top”.  You can also sew lines where you think bat veins and bones would be.

6.  Sew the bat wings to the center of the dress, and tack down the top points of the wings.  “Tacking” is a fancy way to say “sew a little stitch”.

7.  Measure the wings on your child and see where you might need to put an elastic for their arms.  For my child, I put loops of elastic where her elbows hit, but you can also put finger loops in too.

 

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Vampirina Accessories

Skill: gluing and optional sewing for the gloves and faux sock

Materials:

-black felt

-headband

-glue gun

-pink ribbon

-turquoise and pink jersey fabric for the gloves and socks (sewing required)

Directions

1.  Using the “computer paper method”, place the headband on a sheet of paper and sketch out a bat wing shape.  This will be your template

2.  Using your template, cut out the bat wing shape on the fold of the black felt.  This means you will fold the back felt like a sandwich and cut both layers together.  Do not cut them apart.

3.  Hot glue the bat wings together around the headband, and glue the wings into place.

4.  Wrap the pink ribbon around the base of the bat wing a couple of times and glue in place.

5.  To make the arm bands, wrap the fabric around your child’s arm to see how wide around to make it.  Simply stitch up the side, no hemming required!

6.  I couldn’t find pink socks, so I made faux socks to stick into her boots.  Fold the fabric in half hotdog style and wrap around your child’s ankle to see how wide to make it.  Stitch up the seam, and shove them in her boots like an anklet.

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Vampirina is currently meeting guests daily at Disney California Adventure.  As of now, she is located near the Little Mermaid Ride, but check with a Cast Member for her times and location.  To see the full DIY tutorial in our instagram story highlights, you can find them here.  You can also see the full DIY tutorial on our YouTube Channel.

 

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LittleGray’s First Audition with Encore!

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I’m so excited to announce that we are now apart of the Encore! Family!  I first found out about Encore! when we saw their productions of Mary Poppins and Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I noticed that they have kids in their productions and inquired about their performing arts program.  What I liked about Encore! is the small family feel and that it is a non-profit organization.  I grew up dancing with Oakland Ballet Academy and enjoyed performing on a professional Nutcracker stage with the Oakland Ballet Company (anyone remember when the Nutcracker was at the Paramount Theater in Oakland?).  I had a hard time finding a program in our area where kids could share the stage with professionals.  Even though the rehearsals and performances are in San Pedro, which is over an hour away from where we live, I figured the once a week rehearsals would be worth the overall experience.

We looked over the Fall shows and chose Peter Pan because it is open to all people ages 4 and up.  The first step is the audition process which can be really intimidating.  LittleGray has only had a small stint with dance classes when she was 3 and has never done an audition.  My friends who work with children’s theater asked me what her audition song was and my eyes went wide like a deer in headlights.  I’m telling you, this kid has no previous acting or performing experience!  My anxieties were eased when I got an email from Encore! saying that the audition process is more of a placement process, and all kids are cast in the show.  We didn’t need to prepare an audition piece, but they did ask for a photo (which I promptly forgot in the printer tray at home, go figure).  I didn’t even know what she should wear, so she went with a simple Peter Pan bound provided by our good friend Genevieve.  The only instructions were to wear close toed shoes, so she just wore her $3 shoes from walmart.  Our bow from Mina Loves Bows was the perfect touch to allude to Peter’s red feather.

When we arrived at the audition, it was apparent that these talented kids have done several shows together.  It was so sweet to see them excited to see each other and give hugs all around.  Even though we were one of the very few new families, the kids came over to LittleGray and included her in their chatter and games.  The other Encore! moms were friendly and welcomed me with open arms.  The founder, Summer, conducted the audition in a very lowkey and unassuming manner.  A good part of the audition was a question and answer period to get the kids used to each other and to the Encore! staff.  During this time, Summer was gauging their attention, focus, and ability to follow directions.

The audition we attended was for kids age 4-13.  Older kids and adults had a different audition process after we left.  The entire audition process was done as a big group and the kids didn’t have to stand up by themselves alone in front of a panel of adults.  They played a few performing arts games and it felt more of like a workshop than an audition.  To see how comfortable they were with dancing, the kids took turns leading the group in improvised movement–all of them coudln’t wait to be picked as the leader!  Summer taught them the “Tender Shepherd” song and demonstrated how using facial movements and connecting with the audience made a big difference.  The kids all took turns singing the song as a group and individually, but in a way where the pressure was taken off of them.

At the end of the audition, LittleGray was told that she got the role of a Little Indian!  There were only a few girls around 6 and under who all got cast as Indians, and they were jumping up and down with excitement.  The older kids stayed for further callbacks to be cast as Lost Boys, Indians, and the main roles like Wendy, Jane and Michael.  Before the auditions, Summer had a pep talk with the parents how to talk to their kids about dealing with disappointment if they didn’t get the role they want.  It was a good reminder for us to teach our kids that they don’t always get what they want, but to also be a supportive friend and cast member.

As for costs, being part of a production can be very pricey.  Tuition alone is $525, not including co-op and ticket fees, but this does take you all the way through the performance in February.  The way I see it, it’s roughly $130 a month which is roughly what dance classes would cost.  Additionally, we are getting the experience of being in a professional stage production in a theater.  Since Encore! is a non-profit organization, the funds are all going back into the company.  It costs over $118,000 to run a show like Peter Pan and the tuition fees don’t even make them break even.  We are so supportive of our family and friends who want to get tickets to see LittleGray perform and local business who want to support the performing arts.

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I will be documenting our entire journey through the Encore! Peter Pan experience!  Rehearsals are once a week leading up to performances at the end of January and early February.  And if you want discounted tickets, you know where to find me.  It’s not too late to register to be in this show!  For more information and to sign up, go to Encore! online.  Follow our journey on instagram and through our stories!

Kid’s Guide to Hollywood–Throwback Movies at El Capitan Movie Theater

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We were definitely feeling like Giselle from “Enchanted” when she steps out into the big city for the first time!  Even though we live in Southern California, we have never taken LittleGray and LittleSage to experience Hollywood.  We were invited to check out “Enchanted” which is part of El Capitan’s Throwback Movie Month. Disney Cast Members voted and selected their favorite throwback movies which will be shown at the historic Disney movie theater in Hollywood from August 30 through September 23.  “Enchanted” has always been one of my favorite movies and I was excited to share the cinema experience with the girls!  My husband and I used to quote this movie verbatim so it was so nostalgic seeing my daughters laugh and dance along to the familiar songs.

Throwback movie prices at El Capitan are only $10 and include popcorn and a drink.  Our reserved seats were in the third row of the balcony.  I was a little worried that the screen would be too far away or people would be blocking the girls, but it felt like the perfect viewing distance away.  The ushers provided the girls with boosters so they were able to see unobstructed, but I have a feeling that they would have been able to see without them.  Both of them felt like queens on a throne and sat in their seats the entire time.  Throughout the movie, I would look over at them and I will never forget the smiles on their faces as they cackled with laughter.

After the movie, we went to the Disney Studio Store and Ghiradelli Chocolate and Soda Shop.  I had heard about this place when I was really into pin trading–they are known for their limited edition pin releases that you can only get at the ice cream shop.  We got the Pin Trader’s Delight which included a sundae and a “PTD Pin”.  For $15.95, we got a double scoop of chocolate ice cream, butterscotch topping, whipped cream and Mickey Sprinkles, and the girls chose the Bolt pin featuring Penny holding a chocolate ice cream cone.  The store also featured some Disney merchandise as well as the world’s famous Ghiradelli chocolate squares.

Lining the streets of Hollywood Boulevard are the classic pink stars.  The Disneyland Star was right outside the door of the Disney Studio Store.  The girls loved looking at the familiar names to see if it was anyone they recognized.  Across the street is the Chinese Theater which is the home of the famous handprints and footprints.  It is free to look around the front area, and you can also sign up for a paid tour of the iconic IMAX theater.

A note about parking:  per El Capitan’s website, I parked across the street at the mall parking lot.  The lot was underground and very secure.  I was alone with the girls and I felt very safe.  El Capitan will validate parking to $2 for the first 4 hours.  I ended up paying $6 because we spent some time after the movie exploring the shops around the theater.  The mall also has a ton of great restaurants and fun shops.  There are also a variety of Hollywood souvenir shops dotting the main boulevard as well.

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Here are the upcoming Throwback Movies offered at El Capitan Theater:

  • September 13th Double Feature night at 7pm: The Absent Minded Professor + Flubber
  • September 14-September 16th: Flubber
  • September 20-September 23rd: Up

Coco” is also coming back to El Capitan from September 27 – October 7!  The Mariachi Divas and Ballet Folklorico performers will be there on stage before the movie on select dates.  To celebrate the Halloween Season, “Hocus Pocus” will be showing from October 11-21 and “Nightmare Before Christmas” from October 22-31.  Tickets can be purchased here online or by calling the box office at 1-800-DISNEY6.

 

 

 

Our “Yes” Day at the Circus Alegria

When was the last time you had a “yes” day with your kids?

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To be honest, I don’t think we’ve ever had one!  The girls hear “no” so often that they’ve become really good sports about it.  We had an open Friday evening after a full week of school and work so we decided to try something new.

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“How about ice cream for dinner?”  The words came out of my mouth before I could really think.  Baskin Robbins was celebrating its $1.50 scoop night and frankly I just wanted ice cream.  The girls squealed excitedly especially after hearing that they were each getting their OWN cone–typically we get a bigger size and split it among the family.  They carefully chose their own flavor and we sat around the table and simply enjoyed each other, even when it took LittleSage ten minutes to eat her scoop with the tiny spoon provided.

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The Circus Alegria was in town, and I was gifted tickets.  I didn’t know if it would work with our schedule, but we decided to surprise the girls with a fun night out.  When my husband and I were dating, we went to San Diego on a whim and stumbled upon our first mall lot circus.  It was such a fun, out of the ordinary date, and we would find ourselves singing the theme song to the circus even years later.  For less than the cost of a movie, we had a unique experience that has stayed with us to this day.

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One of my most vivid memories from my childhood is when my mom took me to the circus.  Being the youngest of four children, it was rare when I got to do something fun just with my mom.  I don’t remember why my siblings weren’t there, but I still remember how the circus worker came around to take our picture just as my mom was fixing my pony tail.  It was such a special day for us that my mom bought me the souvenir photo keychain.

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When I first heard about the circus, my cynical mom brain immediately thought of the cost, how long it would take to get there with traffic, and whether it would be worth our time.  I personally love the circus, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  When I plan out events, I worry if people are having a good time.  As the show started, I saw my girls light up with excitement as they clapped and danced along.  They laughed out loud at the clown’s skit and snuggled up next to us.  I saw my husband with his arm around our oldest as he looked down at her with love and admiration.

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It was then that I realized that we weren’t really spending time at the circus.  We were making memories.  Time is the biggest thief, and it’s going to be all too soon when the girls will be “too cool” to want to hang out with mom and dad.  They will think the circus is for babies (spoiler alert:  it’s not!) and they won’t be impressed by a scoop of ice cream.  There will come a time where they won’t want to hold hands or ask to sit on our laps.  Until then, I will relish the fact that they take joy in a simple night out to get ice cream and will gladly get them tickets to the circus.

The Circus Alegria will be at Westminster Mall until September 3.  Visit their facebook page for discounted ticket rates! 

Back to School with Li’L Woodzeez–a lesson in Diversity

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Can you believe that this one is going to start school soon?  The new Li’l Woodzeez Woodland Schoolhouse is the perfect back to school gift and I love how it’s giving me all the Knotts Berry Farm vibes.  The classic red schoolhouse is so beautiful and all the little accessories have led to countless hours of imaginative play. We had a couple of weeks of overlap where LittleGray was in school and LittleSage was at home with me.  Our summer was so busy that I almost forgot how wonderful it was just to sit on the couch and watch her play.  Her favorite thing to do is line up all her toys and take a picture.  I even have a highlight up on our instagram of her #saltypineapplephotography.

This is the Li’l Woodzeez Bobleez Bobblehead Collection series 4.  There are 28 bobblehead characters in this series with 5 rare animals available.  There is one mystery Bobbleez in each colorful acorn.  In our pallet, we only ended up with one double (Bagel the Bulldog) and one rare animal (Puck the Polar Bear–he had a golden hat!).  The completist in me wants to run to eBay to round out our collection, especially since there is an ultra rare Dotty the Dachshund to match our very own Parsnip the Dachshund.  If you’d like a chance to win the entire series 4 Bobbleez set, head over to @lilwoodzeez on instagram to enter their pet lookalike contest.  Upload a photo of your Bobbleez and the corresponding pet and use the hashtag #bobbleezgiveaway on your post on instagram.  Winner will be announced on September 12!

The girls also received a couple sets of Li’l Woodzeez Famileez–the McBristly Porcupine Family (this set came with a book) and the Tailfeather Cardinal Family.  Each set comes with a Mom, Dad, big sister, and a baby in a diaper.  This would make the perfect big sister present or present “from the baby”.  The mystery acorn Bobbleez has the perfect middle sized child if you are looking to create a 3 kid family unit.

Something unexpected happened when I was searching high and low for the “Dad” cardinal.  I realized that I was looking at all 5 cardinals, except the two biggest birds were both wearing dresses.  Unbeknownst to me, LittleSage had taken it upon herself to switch the clothes.  The biggest porcupines were both wearing shirts and pants, and the Cardinal family had two presumably female parental figures.  This opened up a conversation about how all families look different and don’t necessarily need one mom and one dad.  If I were to create the family that I grew up in, I would need a mom, dad, and a grandmother figure.  My best friend was raised by her mom and her aunt.  Our friends have two dads in their family.  Some families are beautifully blended, or come together through adoption where the baby doesn’t look exactly like his or her parents.  It was a wonderful teaching experience that I got to share with my daughters and a great reminder that they are learning to live their lives with open hearts and open minds.

Li’l Woodzies Playsets, Famileez and Bobbleez are all available at Target.  You can find out more information about the entire series at www.woodzeez.comThank you, Li’L Woodzeez, for sending these to the girls for review!

 

 

 

 

Kids Guide to Exploring the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks and OC Parks

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My favorite part of living in Orange County that you can be exploring the mountains in the morning and be wading in the ocean in a matter of hours.  The Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks covers the OC Parks, City of Irvine and City of Newport Beach.  They offer FREE outdoor programs for all ages at a variety of times and locations.  Their winter programs are going to be released soon on their website www.letsgooutside.org and you’re going to want to set your alarms to sign up!

 

Wee Wonder:  ages 2-6

The Wee Wonder program is perfect for your preschooler!  These daytime events happen during the week on site at a local Orange County trail.  We had a chance to preview the Wee Wonder Walks Insects program.  Our trail leader started off with the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, followed by a cute caterpillar craft!  She then showed them different insects and talked about which ones are local to our land.  This is a great way to get out of the house with your preschooler–and free!  Current sessions are already full, but you will be able to sign up for sessions through December at the end of the month.

 

Animal Tracking:  School Age

We also got a chance to preview the Animal Tracking program which happens on Saturday mornings on local trails.  The website says this program is suitable for kids ages 8 and up, but my 3 and 6 year old both enjoyed this one the most.  It is up to your discretion if you think your child can keep up on the nature hike.  The instructor will go over some tracking techniques and look for evidence of scat–poop!  The girls loved making their own paw imprints to take home and they’re proudly displayed by our front door.

 

Native Seed Farm Harvesting:  ages 8 and up

Did you know there is a native seed farm up in the hills off Jeffrey?  Irvine Ranch opens up the farm occasionally for public harvesting where you can give back to the community by tending to the farm.  We got to see real sage and other plants that grow in this area.  You can also help by bringing these wild flower seeds and replanting them in other parts of our community.  Since there are real working tools involved, the minimum age to enter the farm is 8 years old.  There is also a similar wildflower garden exhibit in Bommer Canyon that is open for all ages.

 

Wilderness Access Days:  fun for the entire family

Every Saturday, a different trail is open for exploration on a day called Wilderness Access Day.  You can use the trails to hike, ride mountain bikes, or even bring your horse in for a ride.  It was explained to us that every time a trail is opened to the public, it has to be completely shut down for 3 days so the animals return back to their natural habitat.  You do need to register in advance to explore the trails, but there are plenty of spots open.  You also need to check in the day of to get your day pass to enjoy the trails.

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Additional Guided Hikes, Mountain Bike Tours, Equestrian trails, and Kayak Tours

There are assorted guided activities that happen every day!  It is recommended to sign up as soon as you can, but there are still open spots for several hikes during the week.  Sign ups close 4pm the day before the event.  To find out what events are available, you can pre-register here.

We had a great time learning about all the free outdoor programs that happen right in our back yard!  All of these trails are located about a 20-30 minute drive away which makes for the perfect family outing.  We definitely are going to sign up for the bat cave tours as soon as they’re available!  Don’t forget that you can register on their website.  I also did a full instagram story takeover with a detailed look at the map of the local trails over on our Instagram @littlegraythread.  You can find it here.

A Complete Guide to “Christopher Robin”

When I was little, I loved the classic A. A. Milne Winnie the Pooh stories.  I enjoy  live action remakes of Disney classic movies so I was intrigued when Christopher Robin was announced.  This movie begins when Christopher Robin leaves his family cottage and the 100 Acre Woods to attend boarding school.  You see him grow up and slowly loose sight of what was once important. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin rediscover the joys of family life, the value of friendship and to appreciate the simple pleasure in life once again.

As an adult constantly trying to balance work and fun, this movie hit particularly close to home.  As with most live action remakes, I feel like this film was geared more towards adults, even though both of my daughters thoroughly enjoyed it.  There were several times where I was the only one laughing out loud in the theater!  I particularly related to grown up Christopher Robin who is torn between work and family balance.

I loved the interpretation of Winnie the Pooh and his friends.  Have you ever heard the theory that each childhood friend represents a different mental illness:  Winnie the Pooh hides his feelings into food, Piglet has anxiety, Eeyore suffers from depression, Tigger has troubles controlling his impulses.  Watching this movie from this perspective helped me see how people live with these mental illnesses and how their friends love and embrace them regardless.  This won’t give away any spoilers from the movie, but seeing these characters come to live in a new way gave a fresh perspective on how we can work towards peoples strengths despite their shortcomings.

My girls love their stuffed animals, so they fully understand the connection between a human and a toy.  They were tickled pink to see the toys come to life and fell in love with Piglet and Eeyore.  We’ve been doing Christopher Robin themed activities and even visited Pooh at Disneyland.  LittleSage was excited to show Pooh her new Lipsmackers Pooh lipbalm and it almost looked like Pooh wanted to try some for himself!  I recently made Pooh shaped high fiber high protein pancake mix cookies using Bob’s Red Mill whole grain pancake mixes.  The recipe was super simple and it was really easy to shape them into bear shapes.

Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber High Protein Pancake Mix Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill High Fiber Pancake Mix
  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill High Protein Pancake Mix
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup water

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Scoop little balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (arrange into bear shapes if desired)
  • Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.  Take out the tray and flatten the cookies slightly using the back of a spoon.  Put back in the oven for a few more minutes until the edges are brown.

I made these dresses in honor of Christopher Robin and they are some of my favorite hot weather costumes!  I’m thinking about adding the Pooh sundress to our etsy shop (it is empty now).  I will let you know about a dress drop over on our Instagram account.  LittleGray and LittleSage are literally wearing the same dress so you can see how it will grow with your child throughout the years!  The adorable Pooh donut ears are from Enchanted Honeybee.

I hope you get a chance to see Christopher Robin and fall back in love with these beloved childhood characters all over again!  Christopher Robin is in theaters everywhere starting August 3.