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Because of You, We Can Help Them

Strasburg Children is a business run by moms. Even though we’re still a small brand, our hearts and inspirations are big. As we attempt to master the work and family balancing act, which is especially challenging in 2020, we make sure we continue to look beyond our family borders. As we raise our children with the importance of taking care of others, it seems only natural that we’d instill the same beliefs in our brand.

Because of the many mothers, aunts, and grandmothers who are so loyal to our brand, we’ve been able to reach out to non-profit organizations in your cities to offer support for fundraising events. We’re so grateful we can financially do this as a way of thanking all of you and helping others where you live.

This typically isn’t information that we discuss publicly, but this time we’ve decided to share an organization with you that needs help from all of us. We’re so proud to partner with the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation as they fund clinical trials focused on developing less toxic, more effective treatment options for pediatric cancer.

As Covid 19 continues to keep us apart to keep us safe, NPCF cancelled nine fundraising events planned all over the country this year, which greatly affects the donations they rely on to fund their research. Cancer isn’t taking a break just because Covid 19 is taking most of the headlines. Each day, 43 children in our country alone are diagnosed with cancer.  September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, and we’re hoping you’ll consider a donation to this amazing organization that works tirelessly to help the children and families facing the tragic diagnosis of pediatric cancer.

 

Learn more about the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation at https://nationalpcf.org/events/fashion-funds-the-cure/charlotte-north-carolina-2020/

August 31, 2020 by Diane Janowak

For the Love of Outdoor Fall Weddings

At Strasburg Children, it’s safe to say that we adore weddings…the craftsmanship of the invitations and décor, the creative and tempting food choices, the stunning bouquets and floral accents, and of course, the flower girls and ring bearers! It’s such a thrill and an honor that we’re invited to be a part of so many weddings.

Even though we’re in the midst of the summer wedding season, which tends to be among the most popular times of year to wed, I have to admit that I’ve fallen for the charm of an outdoor fall wedding.  With its crispness of air, comfort-inspired seasonal food (think apples and pumpkins!), bouquets in shades of stunning burnt oranges, rich reds, and greens, and cocktail hour near a roaring fire, the romance of this season is undeniable. I find the beauty of an outdoor fall wedding irresistible.

What are the elements that have lured me in? Consider these nuggets…

You have a better chance of booking the lovely venue you’ve been eyeing for your reception. The location that is unavailable for the next two years in June thru August is probably open in October…of this year.

Your guests won’t have to work around summer vacations and camps.

You can have a beautiful outdoor wedding without worrying about your guests melting or freezing (in most places). You, and your makeup, won’t melt either.

Your outdoor photos in the sunshine will be amazing with a golden backdrop and you looking fabulous. No need for the small fan to keep the bride from sweating. Your wedding party will appreciate this also.

During fall, as the days get dark earlier and the temperatures begin to cool, there’s a glowing golden light at sunset. Be sure to add this to your photo list, even if it means stepping away your reception for a few minutes.It's the perfect season to wear a classic long-sleeved wedding gown...and longer sleeves for your flower girl. Or add a cozy shrug or shawl over your sleeveless gown. Pull out Grandma’s fur stole you’ve always wanted to wear!

You can wear your favorite boots under your wedding dress. Or you have a great excuse to find a fabulous vintage pair.

Bridesmaids and flower girls can be dressed in beautiful fall-inspired colors or rich jewel tones.

The food! Fall's harvest makes for a warming, wonderfully sensory menu. Think apple cider signature cocktails, a delicious soup course, and donuts for dessert. Pumpkin risotto is in season! Incorporate cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin, apples, squash and more into your entrees and desserts. The switch up from the summer wedding menu and flavors will be wonderful.

The natural textures and colors of the season lend themselves to some incredible bouquets and décor - crunchy leaves, pumpkins and squash, votives, and beautiful branches all make lovely decorations.

So yes, I’m smitten with the sights and smells of an outdoor fall wedding. But really, I have yet to meet a wedding season and location I didn’t love. It’s truly one of the best celebrations we have. So congratulations and good luck to all of you brides-to-be…savor the process of planning your special day whenever and wherever it will take place.

August 21, 2020 by Diane Janowak
What should my flower girl wear?

What should my flower girl wear?

The flower girl dress debate…white or color?

The flower girl dress debate…white or color?Planning a wedding comes with a long list of details. The overall “theme” and color story is usually the first decision as it sets the tone of the wedding day. (Let’s be honest, more than a few brides-to-be have that determined before the diamond ring reaches their finger!)

Once it’s decided what color the bride, bridesmaids, and groom/groomsmen will wear, we get to our favorite detail – the flower girl dress! We like to call this the “sweet spot” of the wedding planning.

But first…what color should your flower girl  wear? The good news, my dear, is that it’s your choice and there’s no wrong answer.

There are two traditional ways to go when choosing your flower girl dress color.

Your flower girl dress can be white or ivory to match/coordinate with your gown, like a mini bride. A flower girl in white historically is a symbol of purity and sweetness. It also highlights the contrast between the bride and young girl as the passage from childhood to womanhood.

Having matching dresses is a popular choice with brides when their daughter is their flower girl, making the occasion special for the little girl as well as her mother.

The second tradition is to have the flower girl wear the same color as the bridesmaids…or an accent color that coordinates with them. One bride chose the colors dusty blue and blush with white and ivory accents. Her bridesmaids wore dusty blue, the flower girl blush.

A twist on this version is to pull out a color from the bridesmaid bouquets, or bride’s bouquet, and find a dress in that color for the flower girl.

One bride came up with a very clever and fun option to coordinate with multiple colors being worn by bridesmaids – her flower girl wore a long tulle tutu that incorporated all of the colors!

Not sure which tradition you want to follow? Then mix them up with a white dress and colored sash, hairbow, or ribbons on a floral crown.

Once you’ve decided the color and style you’d like her to wear, show your flower girl a few options online to see what she likes. Or take her to the bridal salon where you found your special dress to find one for her. (Keep in mind that she might get overwhelmed with too many options.) Having her involved in the choice will make the experience even more special for both of you. 

The good news is that this decision is truly a personal preference for the bride. Choose a dress that will make her feel special and appreciated…and that isn’t itchy inside. If she likes the dress, her confidence walking down the aisle will be boosted and she will love performing the role!

 

July 15, 2020 by Diane Janowak
Top Tips for the Best Beach Family Photos

Top Tips for the Best Beach Family Photos

The Annual Migration to the Beach. With Cameras.

Its that time of year when the flocks start arriving at the beach for warmth and sunshine. We’re not talking about birds coming back to their summer location. Families and photographers are heading to the beach for the family photos in coordinating colors that contrast beautifully with the sand and clear blue water setting.  Think getting away to play on a beach and wrapping up the Christmas card photo early.

The idea of organizing a family beach photo can be a bit daunting for even the bravest of moms, especially when small children are involved. So we checked in with moms and photographers who’ve survived the adventure and put together a list of helpful tips.

  • Many photographers head to the beach in the spring with their calendar full of family photos. Check to see if your photographer makes that journey to work with someone your little ones are comfortable with. If you’re booking with a new photographer, take the time to do some research and read their reviews. Don’t hesitate to call and talk to a couple of them before committing to one.
  • If the photo will take place during a beach vacation, plan it for the beginning of your trip before funky tan lines, sunburns, or over-stimulated/tired small children happen. Or over-stimulated and tired moms.
  • Make your photo shoot list carefully – water, snacks (dry, non-staining), extra clothes, beach towel (someone will get wet), favorite toys to help relax the kids, props such as pinwheels, more snacks.
  • Feed everyone before the photo shoot…in different clothes. 
  • Leave shoes at the edge of the sandbox. Sand was meant for bare feet. 
  • Plan clothes that fit well and have passed the comfy test. Nothing ends a family photo shoot faster than a scratchy tag on a sensitive toddler! 
  • The best time of the day for photos on the beach is early in the morning or late afternoon/early evening. An hour before sunset will give you the softest, most amazing colors. If you go in the middle of the day with full sun, everyone will be squinting and melting. Consider when your kids are at their best and work with your photographer to schedule around naps. You might end up crying more than your child if you schedule during naptime. 
  • Posed group photos are great, so start with that. Consider action photos as well, such as walking toward or away from the photographer. Or in the case of little kids, running or crawling. A handful of sand being tasted by a little one…disgusting at the time, adorable later. Maybe throw in a cartwheel or two! Riding bikes in the sand, building sand castles, frolicking at the water’s edge. Beaches are playful places so don’t hesitate to show that in your photos. 
  • Play around with both black & white photos and color, which will give you completely different looks. 
  • Once you have some great family shots, add smaller group photos like the kids and mom, kids and dad, siblings together, etc. 
  • If multiple family units are being photographed together, take photos with the entire group first. After that, the family with the youngest kids goes next for smaller group photos. Have books, toys, etc. to entertain other children while they wait. 

What to wear??

The options are many, so think about the look you’re going for…crisp and classic in all white to more playful in bright colors and prints? What fits your family best? Do you want everyone matchy matchy or just coordinating? 

 

The classic choices: 

  • Nothing beats all white on the beach.  White dresses, polo shirts and linen pieces are classic and beautiful against the backdrop of the sand, water and sky at the beach. White has a soft, glowy look in the late afternoon sun. 
  • White and khaki/tan. Mix up the pieces in this combo for a twist on the matchy matchy look by adding sundresses and shorts, roll up dad’s pants, add a small pop of color in accessories. 
  • White and denim or white and all shades of blue. The blues look fabulous against the sand and sky, and these combos work great for both matching and coordinating outfits. Give everyone a chance to pick out a favorite white and blue outfit to mix together. Varying shades of aqua, turquoise, and sea glass add punch to this combination and complement the surroundings. 

Or go a bit bold: 

  • Black. Not the first choice for most, but black makes a stunning contrast that’s a bit more formal. To keep the look light plan sleeveless summer dresses for the girls and shorts or rolled up pants for the guys. Bare feet gives a casual finishing touch. 
  • Patriotic colors of red, white and blue scream summer fun, sunshine and fireworks! 
  • Pick out two complementing colors like yellow and blue and mix those colors up within the family. 
  • Pink is often overlooked for beach pictures but is a gorgeous complement to the surroundings. And it looks good on most skin tones. Pink can vary from pale to salmon, and a plaid that includes pink gives the boys a fun option. 
  • Pick a print. Put one or two in a print dress or shirt and dress everyone else in the various colors of the print. 
  • Avoid very bright or neon colors that will distract from the beauty around you and will look out of place. 

Here’s the bottom line I drew from all of these suggestions, so if this is all you remember, you’ll survive. Lots of snacks. Did I mention that we’d love to see the photos of your littles in Strasburg Children attire? And have fun at the beach, which is why its there. Good luck! 

May 28, 2020 by Diane Janowak

Adding a ring bearer to your wedding? Be prepared…for anything!

Wedding bands are an important and symbolic part of the ceremony, representing the bond between the bride and groom and their “circle” of never ending love for each other. They need to be handled with care to assure their safe arrival. Yet some of us insist on putting them in the hands of small boys. How can we be surprised when that plan goes awry?

Ring Bearer and Flower GirlBut first, the best part - choosing his outfit! Some brides prefer a traditional button-on in white or ivory, resembling the English page that started the tradition. Coordinating his outfit with the flower girl dress lends a sweet, innocent beginning to the ceremony. Others opt for a tiny tuxedo so he’s one of the guys. When choosing his outfit, consider how formal or relaxed your ceremony is…and remember to factor in his comfort level wearing the outfit. If he can barely move or the fabric is scratchy, he won’t be happy.

Although the ring bearer has a specific role in your ceremony, his main “job” is to add a level of adorableness. He’ll probably partner with his flower girl in upstaging the rest of the wedding party. He could also cry and scream for photos and refuse to walk down the aisle.

Before the wedding, make a ring bearer plan to help him be a happy and willing part of the party. Consider the following suggestions:

If he’s young, he’ll be more comfortable with a buddy - have him walk with an older flower girl or junior bridesmaid that he’s comfortable with.  He could also walk  with a bridesmaid and groomsman, staying with one of them during the ceremony.

Have him sit with his parents during the ceremony.

ring bearer with shortsIf he throws a fit and won’t be in photos (best done before the ceremony) have your photographer try to capture him alone or with the bride and groom in a more natural, playful setting.  A photo of the wedding “littles” being read to or playing calmly before the wedding would be adorable and more comfortable for them.  Most important – be flexible about whether or not he does anything more than just look adorable for the day. No one wants a crying, frightened ring bearer drug down the aisle so he’s done his job.  Consider his age and let him be that for the day.

If things go awry, go with it and smile, even if that’s low on your list of responses! Our 3-yr old ring bearer dropped the wedding band walking down the aisle, fiddling with the ribbon as he strolled. It rolled under the first pew, past my parents. His father calmly scooted past my parents, slid under the pew, retrieved the ring and retied it to the pillow. Paddy continued on his way with both rings, Monsignor had a good reminder of why he doesn’t encourage small children in weddings, and we had an incredibly charming memory that we giggled about afterwards.

April 30, 2020 by Diane Janowak
Benefits of 100% Cotton Clothing

Benefits of 100% Cotton Clothing

It’s always been cotton for us.

When our company was created in an Alabama Victorian home in the late 80’s, the Southern influence was literally “from the ground up” when the decision for 100% cotton garments was made. The fabric chosen for our heirloom dresses had to be soft against tender skin, breathable so little ones didn’t get too warm (code for crabby), have a beautiful drape as smocked panels fell into full gathers, give pleated skirts and gathered sleeves the right amount of pouf. (We prefer non-technical terms!) There would be no cotton blends, only pure cotton like they grow in the South.

While our designs may seem delicate due to their hand-crafted embroidery and smocking details, don’t be fooled by the soft fabric – cotton is incredibly strong and durable. It holds its own against most stains and is easier to clean by machine or hand, eliminating dry cleaning expenses. It’s also incredibly versatile as it can be knit (our sweaters) or woven (almost everything else) into a variety of different fabrics like corduroy, velour, even lace.

Most of us appreciate a bit of stretch in our clothing and it can be found in designs for all ages. Did you know that stretch isn’t always a good thing? When spandex is added to fabric, it increases the amount of bagging and stretching in the shape of your garment. Our garments wouldn’t become family heirlooms if they lost their darling shape or other details, so we continue to say no to stretch.

For some, the “cotton = wrinkles” equation is not appealing. But we appreciate the wrinkles that come with cotton as they’re the result of our natural process. The only step we add is to have our fabric washed and dried before our dresses are cut and completed – this way the natural shrinkage of cotton is taken care of before your design arrives to you. Some tips to help reduce wrinkling include taking the item out of the dryer promptly after the drying cycle or shortly before it ends to finish with air drying. When prepping a dress, I usually use both a steamer and an iron for the best results.

Last Spring I looked in awe at the crisp pleats of our Blair dress as it hung in our home, waiting for our daughter to wear it to her Holy First Communion. It was a magical day as she proudly stood in front of the congregation staying cool and comfortable and feeling like the princess she is!

 

 

 

 

 

April 16, 2020 by Diane Janowak
Monogram, yes please!

Monogram, yes please!

Few things say “Southern style” more than a darling monogram.

(A large hairbow comes close…and they’re adorable together!)

Personalizing our clothing, bedding, accessories, towels, stationery, jewelry, etc. has become second nature to many of us. What a fun way to add a unique touch to an item by adding letters, in colors fun or subtle, to identify us in the sea of similar items! Monogramming can add a fun spin in bright colors to a swim bag, dance tote, beach towel, sleeping bag, or print dress…the options are endless. By adding the letters in bright coordinating or contrast colors, an item takes on a whole new look. Monogramming can also be an elegant touch added in subtle tones to an heirloom Christening gown or First Communion dress that is handed down within the family.

The monogram style most of us are familiar with is the Victorian format. This places the initials as follows…first initial, last initial (larger), middle initial. You can also put your initials in your normal order…first, middle, last…if the letters are all the same size. Monograms with one initial, your first or last, are also popular. Another choice is monogramming the entire first or last name. Really, anything is an option.

So how did this trend of adding letters to personalize something even begin?

Monograms have been tracked as far back as 350 B.C.! Greek cities issued coins with the first two letters of the city’s name, giving the rulers a way to make sure the coins being used were authentic.

In the middle ages, the monogram became a way for artists and craftsmen to “sign” their artwork, a shortened version of their name. This method of branding isn’t that different from modern day usage of a monogram as logo for many design houses…LV for Louis Vuitton, the mirrored “C’s” for Chanel. The fashion monogram is a clever way for fashion houses to brand themselves and differentiate their products from competitors.

Monograms also have a history of being used as a symbol of status and luxury to represent a monarchy. The monogram was incorporated with a crown to represent power, and typically worn by those in the government. Our favorite monarchy in Great Britain still uses family monograms and crests.

A lovely wedding trend is to combine two monograms into a new one…much as the wedding ceremony joins the two to become one. This version uses the bride’s first initial, then the couple’s last name (larger font), and then the groom’s first initial. If the genders are the same, just choose who gets listed first. An item showing the new monogram is a wonderful centerpiece idea for the wedding reception and can be used on thank you notes. Creating a wedding gift that incorporates the couple’s new monogram is something they’ll treasure.

One of our favorite monogram uses is to welcome a new baby to the family with a personalized blanket, outfit, keepsake rattle, or toy. When my son was born, we received a button-on with a tiny teddy bear and his name hand embroidered on the chest. The size was perfect for him to wear for his first birthday, making the day and photos even more special.

We’re thrilled with the idea of our customers personalizing our dresses and outfits to add a fun and joyful element. A few of our dresses have large portrait collars that we’ve intentionally left plain to give our customers room to add a monogram. Our new Sophia dress looks darling with a monogram on the chest….and matching hairbow! Our boys Bobbie Suit has room between the tiny pleats on the chest for letters. A popular monogram placement on our Christening/Baptism gowns is just above the hem. Monograms can also be added to our bibs and bonnets. The options are endless…and fun to create. This tiny detail adds a wonderful element to keepsake photos and portraits. Enjoy…and send us photos!

“Because if it's not monogrammed, is it even really yours?”    An anonymous Southern gal.

 

 

 

March 26, 2020 by Diane Janowak
A Floral Crown and Garlic for your Flower Girl?

A Floral Crown and Garlic for your Flower Girl?

Wait, garlic?? Why would anyone want to send a sweet little flower girl down the wedding aisle carrying garlic?  The little cherubs dropping rose petals have quite an interesting past!

It began with the Romans.  They chose a young girl to lead the wedding party carrying a stalk of wheat, which symbolized prosperity. Bringing wheat to the ceremony symbolized blessing the bride and groom with a prosperous and long, fertile life together.

Flower Girls and Bridesmaid traditions

Her role took quite a turn during the Renaissance, which gets us back to garlic and the introduction of bridesmaids. In Medieval times, it was believed that evil spirits would try to steal the bride. With the flower girl keeping them at bay with garlic and the bridesmaids confusing them, the bride could safely join her groom!

Fortunately the Elizabethan era brought a more wholesome, lovely role for our flower girls. A path of flower petals would be created from the bride’s home to the location of the ceremony. The flower girl would be the first to walk the path, leading the bride while sprinkling flowers and rosemary leaves from a special cup.

We have the Victorian era to thank for the flower girl traditions we celebrate today – an adorable little girl in a white or ivory dress scattering rose petals to create a path for her bride. Flowers were carried in a decorated basket or floral hoop, which was handmade and symbolized the never-ending love of the bride and groom.

Brides today may want to incorporate elements of this history into their wedding for a vintage touch.  Our sentimental favorite is a darling crown of flowers that evolved from the floral hoop. An historic symbol of never-ending love is always a wonderful touch to add to a modern wedding.

March 12, 2020 by Diane Janowak
Ready for the Easter Parade!

Ready for the Easter Parade!

It was going to church during the 1870’s that started the early Easter Parade tradition that a few cities have held onto until today.  Groups would gather in a certain area, wearing the clothes they kept for special occasions, and walk solemnly to their church for worship. After the services, they would follow the same path back singing songs of praise.  By the 1880s, the procession after church had become a spectacle of fashion and religious observance, famous in New York and around the country, as families would stroll from their church to see other decorative churches. 

Because I live in a city that doesn’t have an Easter Parade, I’ve decided to create one with family, friends and neighborhood children. Beginning at our house to create Easter hats, the kids will then stroll a couple blocks in our neighborhood, ending at a friend’s house for treats.  We’re having our parade the weekend before Easter since many spend the day with family.  Why not create an Easter Parade where you live? 

February 17, 2020 by Diane Janowak
Tags: easter

The Art of Giving

Many of us were raised with the idea that looking out for others and helping those in need was just part of what we did. If someone was sick or worse, it was mere moments before ovens were turned on to make dinners and treats to deliver, farmers stopped planting or harvesting their own fields and headed over to finish the family in need’s crop first,  lawns were mowed, children were taken in until parents could catch their breath.

As many of us move away from the areas we were raised, it’s sometimes challenging to make that connection in our new neighborhoods.  How do we instill the idea in our children of helping our neighbors if we don’t know our neighbors?

Here’s the cool thing about helping others – not only does it raise our children with the mindset that they should  share what they have and look out for others, it’s a great “teaching moment” about how they should be thankful and grateful for what they do have. 

A simple conversation with your children and a small amount of time can make a difference for another family or child. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

As the season becomes cooler for most of us, it’s time for the annual shopping adventure to find warm coats, gloves and mittens, snow pants, boots. In some areas, the list is long! And many of those items that are now too small are still in good condition, minus a few knee patches or so.  Does your church, school, or a local business do a winter clothes drive? Have your children help bundle up the items and talk about how they will help another child be ready to head to school and play in the snow happily because they’re warm and dry. Maybe hide a small toy in the coat pocket for an extra surprise.

A favorite of mine is how we celebrate half-birthdays. In the spirit of the day, we celebrate with a cake that’s cut in half and stacked, complete with frosting and sprinkles. Instead of getting gifts, we give them. We collect the toys that we no longer play with or have outgrown and deliver them to a local non-profit that provides low-cost apartments for families transitioning from being homeless.  The toys can be used in their daycare or can be distributed to the children living there. Sometimes it’s hard to part with old favorites, so we focus on the items that need someone to play with them more…similar to the toys in Toy Story. You can also donate certain toys to an animal shelter to help animals in transition.

With the holidays getting closer, many shelters and churches know of families that could use extra food, gift cards, or gifts. Your family could “adopt” a family and together make a package of goodies to have delivered to them.

The gesture can be small for the effect to be big.

November 12, 2019 by Diane Janowak