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Thursday, 29 October 2020

Studio Ghibli Costumes: Satsuki & Mei from Totoro

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you purchase through the links, but it won't cost you any extra.

Another Studio Ghibli costume! This time it's Satsuki and Mei from My Neighbor Totoro along with their adorable Soot Sprites. And some more bad photoshop from me! 

Have you watched My Neighbor Totoro? It's such a sweet movie and my kids love it. I'm sure it has to be one of the all time most beloved Studio Ghibli movies. If you're not familiar with My Neighbor Totoro I definitely recommend that you watch it with your kids. Or by yourself. It's a great movie either way.

The two main characters of My Neighbor Totoro are two young girls, Satsuki and her little sister Mei who move into an old house in the countryside with their father while their mother is in hospital. Their house has been empty for some time and is filled with fuzzy little Soot Sprites just like the ones we made. Nearby is a forest which is home to magical creatures including Totoro and the Cat Bus (a giant cat that is also a bus carrying passengers inside of it). It's all super cute and very Japanese. 

Totoro costumes are pretty easy to come by (you can find lots of them here) so I decided to go with making simple costumes for Satsuki and Mei.

Let's take a look at Satsuki first...

What you'll need:

For Satsuki's costume I dressed Lola in a pale yellow t-shirt and orange skirt. Satsuki's skirt has suspenders but I knew that I wouldn't be able to find any to match so instead I took orange ribbon and pinned it to the skirt with safety pins to make suspenders with criss-crossing at the back. As Satsuki has quite short hair I tied Lola's hair back in a low ponytail. We added a red umbrella and a cute Soot Sprite to finish the look.   

And now let's take a look at Mei...

What you'll need:
Red sleeveless dress (I used a short sleeved dress and tucked the sleeves up)
Red hair bobbles (we made small pom poms

Mei's costume requires a few more items that Satsuki's. The base of the costume is a red sleeveless dress with a white shirt underneath. In the past I've been able to buy simple sleeveless dresses from both and Hanna Andersson, but neither store has them at the moment. Instead I took a short sleeved dress and tucked the sleeves up. As the dress was layered over a white t-shirt the tucked up sleeves stayed in place. I then took a small brimmed straw hat and added a red ribbon around it. You can easily attach the ribbon with a hot glue gun, stitch it in place or even just tie it around. I then added a brown crossbody bag from my closet. I tied Mathilde's hair into two piggy tails and tied small red pom poms around each one to look like hair bobbles. 

And you're done! Shoes are a probably a good idea too if you're going outside. 

My favorite thing about simple costumes like this is that the kids can wear the clothes any time they like. These items are all staples in their every day closet. 

More Studio Ghibli coming up. Next it's Ponyo!

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Studio Ghibli Costumes: Sen from Spirited Away

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you shop through these links, however it will not cost you any extra.

A few days ago I shared a DIY for making Soot Sprites from Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Today I'm back with another Studio Ghibli inspired post, and this time it's an easy last minute costume for Sen, the main character from Spirited Away.

If you're not familiar with the movie Spirited Away, it's about a young girl called Chihiro who gets lost while moving home with her family. She finds herself in a sprawling bathhouse complex in the world of spirits, where she is put to work and given the name Sen. In the boiler room of the bath house she meets Kumaji and the Soot Sprites that help him keep the fires burning. Throughout the movie Sen is helped by various different characters (both human and spirits) to help her save her parents, who were turned into pigs, and return to the human world. It's a great movie and one that my kids will watch to ask over and over. 

For this costume we went with Sen's uniform at the bath house. It's a pretty simple outfit made up of a tunic top, shorts with ribbons tying it all together.  

What you'll need:

We used a pair of joggers and a short sleeved dress for Lola's Sen costume. To shorten them I simply tucked the bottom of the dress into the waist band of the joggers and shaped it to sit evenly. I then scrunched the joggers up above Lola's knees and let them blouse over a little to look like knickerbockers. Isn't that a fun word? Shorts or leggings would work just fine for this outfit too. 

I then took a length of red ribbon and tied it around Lola's waist.

The white ribbon was wrapped around Lola's shoulders and across her back in an X shape. I then tied a big bow on the back. I used 8 feet of ribbon (which was the entire roll I bought) to wrap around Lola. 

For the finishing touch I tied Lola's hair into a pony tail and tucked the ends under the hair band to make her pony tail both shorter and fuller looking. For a more authentic look you could go with a wig, but I wanted to keep this as simple, and affordable, as possible. 

We then added a few of the Soot Sprites that we'd made earlier as a fun accessory. 

And you're done! 

What I love about costumes like this is that the components can be used over and over again. You may recognize the dress that Lola is wearing here from her recent birthday party pics. I love that there's no waste. 

I'll have a few more Studio Ghibli inspired last minute costumes coming soon so stay tuned!

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Pumpkin Patch 2020

Halloween is less than a week away! Can you believe it? Wasn't it March just yesterday?

Like most people, our pumpkin patch visit looked a little different this year due to Covid. Originally I wasn't even sure if we would make it to a pumpkin patch, but we did and while there wasn't all the fanfare of previous year's visits, I'm so glad we were able to have a little normalcy - even if it wasn't exactly "normal". 

With the fires here in Colorado and the terrible air quality from the smoke, I'd put off visiting a pumpkin patch. I'd also been trying to avoid visiting on a weekend to reduce the number of people we came into contact with, but with snow forecast for today I knew we had to visit a pumpkin patch before the cold froze the pumpkins. 

So Saturday we put on our masks and headed to 7th Generation Farm right here in Louisville. It seems that half of Louisville had the same idea as the place was pretty busy, but with everyone in masks and being outside I felt like we were safe. There was no corn maze, no haunted house, no zombie paintball, no corn pits, no pumpkin blasters, no face painting, no bounce house, no cheesy photo props, but there were pumpkins, and that's what we were there for after all.   

Saturday, 24 October 2020

DIY Studio Ghibli Soot Sprites

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you shop my links I will make a small commission but it won't cost you any more. 

Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli movies? We're big fans over here. We have a box set of Hayao Miyazaki movies and they get played on heavy rotation. 

My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are two of the kids' favorite Studio Ghibli movies and one thing they have in common (apart from being great stories) is Soot Sprites. These cute little black balls of soot appear in both of these movies and the kids think they're absolutely adorable. 

So, for Halloween, or really any time of year, we decided to make our very own Soot Sprites. They're super easy to create with just a few materials and they look adorable. I'll have some Studio Ghibli inspired costumes on the blog in the next few days, and these little Soot Sprites made the perfect addition to the costumes. Lola and Mathilde are dressed as Satsuke and Mei from Totoro below. 

Now, the Soot Sprites in My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are slightly different. Totoro's Soot Sprites hide in corners and in the shadows in groups. They scurry away together as if picked up by the wind. They don't have legs, arms or personalities. They're just balls of soot with eyes. In Spirited Away, however, the Soot Sprites have legs and sometimes arms, and they use these to carry coal for Kamaji, the six armed man who runs the boiler room of the bath house. So we made two different types of Soot Sprites, some with legs and some without. They're pretty much the same with just one pipe cleaner for the difference. 

Here's how we made our Studio Ghibli Soot Sprites...

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Lola's 10th Birthday

This past weekend we celebrated Lola's 10th birthday (10 - eek!) with a small birthday party at home.

Now, when I say that it was a small party, I mean small. Slightly bigger than Mathilde's party back in April, but only one person bigger. We celebrated with just our family and the girls' friend who lives next door. 

We did, however, have a special visitor at the start of Lola's party. As a special surprise I organized for Denver based pastry chef and drag queen, Chocolatina the Pie Queen to deliver home made pies and quiches along with a song! Lola knew there was a surprise in store for her birthday, and thanks to a few clues she guessed it may have something to do with a drag queen, but she never guessed just what it would be. It was definitely a surprise when Ava called out "The surprise is here" and Lola ran out the front to see Chocolatina making her way up our drive way to the sounds of "Dancing Queen"! 

After delivering the pies and quiches (which were divine) Chocolatina serenaded Lola with a song for her birthday. Nope, not "Happy Birthday", but rather "Copacabana"! Much better! We then posed for some photos before Chocolatina made her way to her next delivery. 

Sunday, 11 October 2020

My Favorite Halloween Books for Kids

October is my favorite month! I love everything about it. The leaves start changing color, the weather starts cooling down, we have Lola's birthday, and we finish the month with my favorite holiday of all: Halloween!

If you're anything like me then there's a good chance that you've been celebrating the spooky season all month long too. Who am I kidding? We celebrate all things spooky all year round! October is when we ramp things up though. Our front porch is decorated with skeletons, spooky lights and my googly eye wreath (you can find the DIY here), we've been watching our favorite Halloween movies, and we've been reading lots of spooky books.

Speaking of spooky books, Today I thought I'd share some of my favorite must have Halloween books for kids. I've been collecting Halloween themed books for the kids over the years so some of our favorites are classics that we've had for a long time, while others are new to us books this year. One thing they all have in common is that they're spooky good!

Here are Mathilde's favorite spooky books at the moment. These are books that we've been reading on heavy rotation. 

The Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea
This cute book combines several of my favorite things: spooky characters, cute illustrations and bright colors. This one is definitely Mathilde's favorite at the moment. Along with the cute illustrations the book has a nice tactile feel to it with the ghost character being slightly raised and glossy. He's covered in finger prints from Mathilde and Lola touching him so many times!

Seriously, how adorable are the illustrations in this book? The illustrations are definitely what caught my eye at first (aren't they always) but the sweet story is what keeps us reading.  

We have a few books in this series and I love the simplicity of them. The kids love that I have to say funny words while reading them!

This gorgeous book is an anthology of 50 scary folk tales from around the world. I love that it includes the story of the Bunyip from Australia. Fun fact; when I was in high school I played the  bunyip in my school musical! 

This one's not so much a Halloween book but rather an all year round badass alphabet book. E is for elephant or egg? I don't think so! E is for Evil that lures and entices!  

All three of my kids have enjoyed these I Spy picture riddle books over the years. Lola is especially a fan of them. This particular book features all sorts of spooky items to be found within the illustrations.  

Ghostbusters Little Golden Book by John Sazaklis
You can't go past Little Golden Books for the classics, right? Did you know they have a whole series of classic movies as children's books too? We have a few of them and Ghostbusters is definitely a favorite for Halloween. We have the original Ghostbusters movie book, but the recent remake is available as a book too.

It's impossible not to sing this book when I read it! It's written to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas, but with far spookier gifts. Two headed snake, anyone? This book has been a Halloween favorite here since Ava was Mathilde's age. 

Looking for more book ideas? I've got you covered! Head over to the Little Hiccups Amazon Storefront where you'll find a list of over 65 Halloween themed books for all ages. Board books for a toddler? Check! Picture books for young kids? Check. Chapter books for tweens and teens? Check! Activity books? Check!

Do you have any favorite Halloween themed books? I'd love to hear what they are! 

Friday, 9 October 2020

Gut Health for Active Kids

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from Moms Meet ( to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided. ese statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

With the weather cooling down a little and the smoky air clearing the kids and I have been getting outside riding our scooters and bikes a little more. Ok, a LOT more! If you've been following my stories on Instagram you may have seen that Mathilde is finally riding her "big kid" bike after 4 years on her trusty balance bike. Woo hoo! We've been visiting local parking lots to ride our bikes around (the streets around us are too hilly for Mathilde just yet) and we've been exploring skate parks for extra fun on our scooters.  

After months of being stuck inside for much of the day, especially with the kids home learning it's so nice to be out and about again - while taking precautions, of course. One of the issues I was finding with the kids being inside for much of the day was that they were feeling sluggish and would tire easily. All this extra physical activity is definitely helping, but another thing that has helped has been focusing on their gut health.

Gut health is something that we tend to overlook when we're not feeling 100% - unless there are obvious gut related issues. But let's not go there! We tend to look for other reasons why we're not feeling well. Something a little more obvious that seems to fit in with how we're feeling. So often though, it all comes down to our gut. Our gut health is so much more important than we give it credit for. Did you know that 70% of our entire immune system is found in the gut? I had no idea until recently. 

A healthy intestinal microbiome is an important factor in children's growth and development as well as their ongoing health. Adults too. But how do we look after our gut and keep that microbiome balanced? Obviously eating well and keeping active are super important, but let's face it, we all slip up from time to time. Pizza is just too good, am I right?  

In order to keep their gut health in check I've been giving the kids Gut Connection Kids by Country Life supplements. This range has something for everyone with supplements for Digestive Balance, Cognitive Balance, Sleep Balance, and Immune Balance. Each one of these has been scientifically formulated to connect gut health to individual issues and contains clinically studied functional ingredients. A whole food prebiotic is at the core of each supplement and this reinforces the immune system's first line of defense. And it does it fast - like, within two hours fast! 

We've mostly been taking the Digestive Balance supplement to help with occasional tummy problems (let's face it, we all have them from time to time) and the Cognitive Balance supplement to help with concentration and staying on focused which is proving to be a little tricky with home learning. 

Gut Connection Kids supplements come in tasty flavors that kids will be happy to take. A supplement is no good if kids hate the taste and refuse to take it, right? The Immune Balance, Cognitive Balance and Digestive Balance supplements come in the form of sweet and sour flavored chewables. The Sleep Balance supplement comes in a chocolate flavored powder that can be mixed mix your child's favorite drink. Mmm... chocolate milk!

Gut Connection Kids by Country Life products are suitable for children aged 4 - 12. They're perfect for adults too. To learn more and to purchase supplements visit Little Hiccups readers can save 20% when ordering direct from Country Life. Simply use the code MOMS20 at the checkout to save!

How do you take care of your gut health? Is it something you've focused on in the past or is it new to you too?

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