The Belle Dress

For my daughter’s 3rd birthday and trip to Walt Disney World (our favorite) she asked me to make the two different dresses Belle wears in Beauty and The Beast. I love to sew but this is a major project for any seamstress. I try to make her something for every trip to Disney but this was a bit extreme. Through Etsy I found two different pattern makers to make (what I call) Belle’s Blue Dress and Belle’s Yellow Dress.

Gianna & Mama
Model & Dressmaker

The Blue Dress I purchased was just the pattern with written instructions which was somewhat difficult. It’s a wonderful pattern with good instructions. The dress is finely tailored and absolutely beautiful. It was designed by PaperScissorsFrocks who makes amazing costumes and turned out exactly like the film.


The Yellow Dress (a lifetime sewing goal for me) was designed by Marina at Frocks And Frolics who has not only a great pattern and written instructions but an academy as well online with broken down instructional videos for each section. It was so much fun to watch and make. I honestly can’t wait to make my next one with her.  Even the Epcot Akershus Princesses and everyone at the Be Our Guest restaurant at Magic Kingdom complimented her dress and she was so proud. The finished product was exactly what she dreamed of and we couldn’t be happier!


I even ended up making a matching bib from another pattern (Yuzu & Pear that I altered) so we didn’t ruin her beautiful dress while eating all her birthday treats at Walt Disney World for our Be Our Guest dinner at Beast’s Castle & our Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Princess lunch at Epcot.

Birthday Cake
Birthday Princess Bib

Both dresses and bib were made on a Brother SE625 and many of the items I made them with were bought locally in The Bahamas or on Amazon. See the photos and video of our trip to Walt Disney World and her beautiful dream dresses and let me know in the comments if you decide to make either of these. I would love to see them! Send me your ideas of what we should make next. 💖




The Minnie Van

Before I had a baby I wasn’t too excited about a Minivan. Recently at Walt Disney World that all changed.  Together with Lyft Disney has created a very fun ride called the “Minnie Van”. It is a collaboration with the ride share service and available for guests of the resorts around the parks. You can arrange a ride in a private Disney car right from your phone. A Disney cast member drives you, so you know you’re in good hands, and they can take you anywhere around Walt Disney World Resort. The service holds up to 6 guest with two available car seats (versatile car seats that can be either forward or rear facing or even a booster seat) for little guests.

Minnie Van
The Minnie Van on our most recent WDW trip

On our last two trips to Walt Disney World we have had the opportunity to try the Minnie Van. One time from the Caribbean Beach Resort and once from the Polynesian. If you currently use Lyft you probably know how it works but additionally we had to ask for an activation code at the front desk to use the Minnie Van service.

WDW Minnie Van
Gianna loving the Minnie Van at WDW

On both trips the Disney cast member drivers were wonderful and so helpful and accompanying. The ride is $25 flat for a one way trip. Although this seems a bit high compared to normal ride sharing apps or the free transportation options WDW offers, when you are pressed for time or don’t want to deal with the bus service or other options it is a great time saver! Also being provided by Disney there is a feeling of additional safety and the provided car seats make it great for families.

The Minnie Van drops you off right where you need to be at the parks!

For us, we had a half day after travel to spend at the park so the time saved was well worth it. Disney music was playing during the trip which my daughter loved and it was so much fun to see her light up as she recognized a song. Both of our drivers have been so helpful and knew answers to any questions we have had.

On each trip, our Minnie Van was equipped with Graco 4ever car seats and Gianna loved them so much that we ended up getting one ourselves as her new “big girl” car seat!

Graco 4ever
Her new “Big Girl” car seat at home

If you are staying at a WDW property and are looking for a way to add a little special touch to shorten your trip to the park or ease to your day, make sure you try a Minnie Van. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks from our adventures at Walt Disney World in upcoming posts and follow us on Instagram @ATinySuitcase!




A Horse Of Course

Yesterday we attended a horse show and fundraiser barbeque for The Rotary Club of New Providence here in The Bahamas. Gianna had never met a horse up close before so it was a great chance for her to see them and make new friends in the process! We are trying to experience new things here and this was definitely one.

We had a great lunch of bbq steak and all of the sides thanks for the Rotary Club and it was a beautiful day to get outside. We love to see how many amazing hidden gems are here in The Bahamas. Camperdown Stables is a not for profit location for riding and boarding horses. If you love riding horses and are visiting Nassau make sure to check it out!

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Tru Tru Bahamian Festival

While in the Bahamas we have been trying to see more than the normal tourist things you might see on a day in Nassau from a cruise stop. Doing this has been really fun because it’s forced me to think outside of what Trip Advisor (although great) offers and find other events and places you may only hear about from locals.

Our family recently went to the Tru Tru Bahamian Festival at the John Watlings Distillery  in Nassau.  It is an annual event put on by the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association in Partnership with the Ministry of Tourism.

Tru Tru
Tru Tru Bahamian Festival – Nassau Bahamas

It was a great event with something for the whole family! Food, music, crafts, games for kids, information about local events and museums and even a “History of the Bahamas Runway Show” featuring some of the local pirates who once lived here. We purchased both conch and cod fritters, local Bahamian Limeade and candied nuts from The Nutty Bavarian (they were really wonderful!).


It is an annual event so if you are lucky enough to be visiting Nassau when it is going on make sure to check it out and learn about real Bahamian culture and local fun!



The Girl with Seven Names

I finished this book – The Girl with Seven Names – last night and it opened my eyes to a world Westerners and even others in Asia will never fully know. This woman’s story (Hyeonseo Lee) is an inspiration to us all that we are one world. We may be taught hate by leaders but always think for yourself and let your own experiences guide you. Love prevails. Never forget that. Treat others with respect and know that faith in the good in people can change the world ❤️✌️

Her TED talk was said to be the best ever (even by Oprah) if you don’t believe me



A Model Baby

When Gianna was just over one year old (exactly a year ago actually) she shot her first product packaging and print job as a model for the company Lulyboo. She had a great time doing it and enjoyed her first day in front of the camera at a professional photo studio.

I have worked as a model since I was a teenager and it was amazing to see her so comfortable on her first photo shoot (I know I wasn’t!). The whole team was so wonderful and knew just how to work with a baby and make her feel at ease. We shot in San Diego, California and she had a great day.

Here is her ad for their Shopping Cart & Highchair cover. It is perfect for travel and even has a place for a tablet or phone to keep kids busy while you shop or dine if you choose to. You can purchase it on the Lulyboo website, at Amazon, ToysRus, Walmart, BuyBuyBaby, Bed Bath and Beyond and many more retailers.

(Photos from Lulyboo’s website)

 Since then she has done more shoots and enjoys playing to the cameras (and all of the attention) but this was her first professional modeling job and we will never forget it and the wonderful crew she worked with at Lulyboo.



Avocado aka Pear

In the Bahamas I have had some of the most amazing local food I could imagine.  The freshness and quality of the seafood is unmatched as well as much of the local produce.  Since it is a group of islands, things take time to get here (produce and meat not grown locally), but you can find some wonderful food right on the islands!

Having Endometriosis and a special diet because of it, I try to eat organic, hormone/pesticide free fresh food as much as I can.  I also try to feed my daughter and family this way. I am in luck because there is a lot available.  One major difference is my favorite (and my toddler’s) – avocados 🥑.  They are incredibly good for you and quite popular, especially lately.  Locally in the Bahamas, they can be known as “Pears” instead.

Being from California I was confused at first, but when I was told by friends what they were, I was excited to try them.  The local “pears” are roughly three times the size of American or Mexican Hass avocados naturally (much easier to make guacamole with! 😜). They are beautiful and smooth with a buttery creamy texture inside.  The flavor is a little more mild than Hass or Bacon but they can be used the same way (guacamole, on toast, with salad dressing, eaten alone, made into ice-cream or milkshakes, etc).

It is a good lesson for us all to give something new a chance (what I try to teach Gianna) – even with a different name – because you never know just how good different things can be, especially while traveling!



Miami Adventures

This week my family took a quick trip to Miami. We stayed in the financial district in downtown known as Brickell at one of our favorite hotels – SLS Brickell. It is perfect for doing business (many international consulates, financial and corporate offices are there) shopping, dining at amazing restaurants and it’s just a quick trip to the beach. The Brickell area is just over 1.19 square miles so everything is quite close.

The hotel is well situated and walking to the Brickell City Centre for some great shopping is easy (even with a two year old and a dog). The staff is amazing and so helpful.

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While we were visiting we found two wonderful restaurants fairly close by that have quickly become favorites. One of which is The Salad Box that is a perfect lunch spot (especially for the health conscious). You choose all of the ingredients you want to put into your salad (or wrap) and it’s incredibly fresh and healthy. They also serve soup (both daily specials were great) and smoothies. Perfect for a quick bite and even takeout or delivery.

Our other amazing find was Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe. They have a huge selection of gourmet Italian delicacies as well as a beautiful restaurant with a wonderful outdoor patio (with a wishing well Gianna was obsessed with). They serve fresh bread and a fantastic bruschetta and even have organic options available. We ordered the Penne Pomodoro (which they switched to angel hair for us because they are amazing!), “Gigi’s Eggplant Parmigiana” (and Gigi thought it was named for her), and the daily special of Ravioli Stuffed with Mushrooms and a Marsala sauce which was fantastic as well! The atmosphere is wonderful and a nice oasis in the middle of the city.

We did some shopping in the Brickell City Centre which has a great variety of shops and something for everyone. My favorite is Diptyque for candles and fragrance (their new Rose Delight for Valentine’s Day was a must for me – see my previous post about my love of Rose smell & a less expensive rose candle!) and a customary trip to Victoria’s Secret for their after holiday sale. Even as a Mom, sometimes we need something just for us! There is a Zara that has stylish clothes for kids (and adults alike).

Deciding what to order from room service on our patio at SLS Brickell

I have never seen such a dog friendly city.  There were so many furry friends of every shape and size. Multiple Starbucks, grocery stores and pharmacies (Publix, CVS, Walgreens, etc) are located within walking distance and between that and the numerous restaurant options a car really isn’t necessary. Between walking, Lyft, Uber and the automated MetroMover (the hotel also offers a house car for close trips for guests) everything is incredibly accessible.

If you are in the Miami area make sure to check out Brickell for a whole new kind of family travel adventure!




Monkeying Around

Some of the hottest toys for Christmas this last year were the Fingerling Monkeys. They are small little toy animals that make sounds and reactions based on your actions. They giggle, blow kisses, coo, and even fart and burp. Kids obsess over them and parents and other adults do too! Fingerlings are small so they are portable (great for travel) and have an on/off switch in addition to going to sleep after 5 minutes of not being played with.

When I saw these toys I set out to get one for my daughter for Christmas. I thought they were pretty fun, but I had NO IDEA how much she would love them! They truly are the toy of the year! Check out our new friends Bella & Finn!

Finn & Bella


You can get your own here and see how many fun actions and noises they will do!





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