Monthly Archives: October 2012

Inspiring Mom Awards: Globetrotter

Inspiring Mom Awards

This month Tea wanted to celebrate the inspiring moms in our community with the IMAs and recognize their accomplishments.  We have received over 110 nominations of mothers who you said inspire you.  To help us narrow down our semi- finalists, we gathered a panel of model citizens who we thought embodied the values.  Meet two of our model citizens today from our globetrotting category- Stella Ma and Caren McCormack.  We thought it would be fun to get to know our model citizens a little bit better, so we asked them a couple of questions to see what inspires them.

Stella Ma one globetrotting model citizen.

Stella Ma is a Bay Area native who Co-Founded Little Passports, a great way to introduce the world to your little citizen.  Each month your little citizen will be sent a suitcase bursting with information about a country’s geography, history, culture, and language. You can discover her amazing company here: http://www.littlepassports.com/

Stella Ma: Globetrotter
1. How do you maintain a healthy work and home life balance?
Running a start-up while trying to raise a family is definitely a challenge. I’m driven to work hard but it’s just as important to me that I’m there for the family.  We always have dinner together, and I make sure to take time to be there for my children whether it’s attending field trips, helping with homework or taking them to extracurricular activities/classes.

2. What’s your favorite aspect about being a mom?
I love all the wonderful small moments and experiences that I get to share with my children. At pick-up last week, my younger son told me that I was his best friend.  A few weeks back, my older son told me that he’s going to work for me when he grows up because he loves Little Passports.

3. Do you have a piece of advice for moms everywhere?
I’m trying very hard to live in the moment and not worry about the next thing on the to-do list or schedule.  I can’t say that I’m very good at doing this yet.  It’s so true that our children grow up so quickly.  I want to make sure to take the time to enjoy them as they are now.

4. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
I love green tea lattes.  They’re my pick-me-up!

5. Who inspires you?
My mom is the inspiration in my life.  She immigrated to the states from China not speaking any English and she worked incredibly hard, sometimes working multiple jobs simultaneously, to make a life for our family here in the US.  I now love seeing how my children have a wonderful relationship with their grandmother.  When one of my children was asked in his English homework who inspires him, he answered “Popo” (“grandmother” in Chinese).

Caren McCormack one of our model Globetrotters.

Caren McCormack one of our model Globetrotters. Caren McCormack worked to co-found the Kilgoris Project, a nonprofit that feeds and educates children in a remote Kenyan village.  Each year Caren travels to Kenya with her family (husband and two daughters) to work closely with the organization. Karen was previously also a Foreign Correspondent for Tea and was able to travel to Kenya with a suitcase full of Tea then came home to share her travel experience on our blog, Studio T.  We invite you to read more about the Foreign Correspondent program (http://www.teacollection.com/gothere) and discover Caren’s amazing non-profit here: http://kilgoris.org/

Caren McCormack– Globetrotter
1. How do you maintain a healthy work and home life balance?
Tame the technology. On the work/life balance front, I’m challenging myself to really be present when I’m present. When I’m helping with homework, I’m not also looking at emails. At dinner, I’m not checking texts. My kids appreciate it, and I’m saner.

2. What’s your favorite aspect about being a mom?
The best part of mothering is also the biggest challenge. I love watching my daughters change with each age, blossoming more and more as individuals. The problem? They keep changing! Just when I think I’ve figured out how to best parent them, they’re on to a new stage.

3. Do you have a piece of advice for moms everywhere?
Love the ones you’re with. I’m not sure this is advice, as much as it is cheering on the sisterhood. It’s all we can really do as moms. We just keep showing up and loving our kids as they are, for who they are.

4. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
I’m tempted to give a deep answer here. But let’s be realistic—coffee.

5. Who inspires you?
The Kilgoris Project staff in Kenya! I get to work with such terrific people. Their passion for education, community and possibility makes my jaw drop.

October 23, 2012

Beijing to Shanghai: Part II

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Cindy Young, the manager of technical design at Tea, recently traveled to China. Read on about her adventures!

In addition to all the Mid Autumn festival excitement, there were other highlights of my China trip that I am eager to share.  Since it was a short trip, I did not plan any big excursions to the Great Wall or Forbidden City (for I’ve also had the fortune to have toured those places back in 2006), instead I decided to engage in more normal activities to appreciate the locals’ everyday lifestyle.

Every morning, I went out for a run around the neighborhood or nearby park to experience the locals’ daily activities. Roaming through local neighborhoods and parks in both cities, I discovered pockets of street vendors, food trucks and pedi-cabs.  There were a wide variety of street vendors serving up fresh-made dim sum and steamed buns, scallion cakes, meat and fish balls and other interesting delicacies.  I couldn’t resist and had to sample some fresh steamed veggie buns for breakfast.  They were so tasty and only $1 RMB ($.15/each), irresistible!

A big part of any culture is food, and the Chinese cuisine is anything but boring.  Peking duck is a popular specialty, and only at the finest restaurants will you experience the proper taste and texture of such a dish. They are delicately carved with choice of crispy skin or not (my recommendation, try with skin) and served in sandwich style between steamed buns or roll style with a thin crepe.  Complementary plum sauce and scallions or pickled condiments completes this delicious dish.

Due to the high population of Buddhism in China, vegetarianism is very prevalent.  I am not a vegetarian but I love vegetarian dishes and was able to enjoy a remarkable lunch at Elaine’s Vegetarian Restaurant and Bar, a beautiful little restaurant that sits beside the Luoma Lake in Shunyi, a suburb of Beijing.

Aside from the extensive culinary experience, both cities are shopping meccas in China.  I did not have enough time to visit all of them but did enjoy some fun shopping at the Solana Mall and Sanlitun Village in Beijing, and Xintiandi in Shanghai.

The Solana Mall is similar to an outdoor shopping center in Southern California.  It houses more than 1,000 international brands, with dozens of retail shops (Esprit being the largest store there), restaurants, a sage cinema, an ice rink as well as a lively bar and club strip.

The Sanlitun Village consists of 2 sites, The Piazza (Village South) and The Deck (Village North).  The Piazza features 140 mass brand stores and dining outlets, while the Deck houses high-end designer brands and a core selection of art galleries representing avant-garde and contemporary Chinese and international artists.

More interesting than the shopping, I stumbled upon a boutique hotel, The Opposite House, situated in the heart of the Sanlitun village.  It has a vibrant mix of traditional Chinese and contemporary elements.  The stunning tall ancient wooden doors at the entrance resembled an old design back from the Dynasty eras, but as soon as you entered, you’re greeted by a state-of-the-art drape display that signifies modern creativity and technology.  There is an art gallery on the ground floor that were showcasing a women’s traditional “qipao” (long dress) and men’s mandarin collared jacket made out of porcelain chips from bowls and plates, hundreds and pieces of them.  They were masterpieces of fashion.

Xintiandi “New Heaven and Earth” is an affluent car-free shopping, eating and entertainment district in Shanghai. It is composed of an area of reconstituted traditional shikumen (“stone gate”) houses on narrow alleys, some adjoining houses which now serve as book stores, cafes and restaurants, and shopping malls. Xintiandi has an active nightlife on weekdays as well as weekends, though romantic settings are more common than loud music and dance places. It is considered one of the first lifestyle centers in China.

Last but not least some other highlights to sum up the short yet culturally-enriching trip:

>798 art district, a thriving artistic community in Beijing, among 50-year old decommissioned military factory buildings of unique architectural style. It is often compared with New York’s Greenwich Village or SoHo.

>The Bund: waterfront area in Shanghai. The Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, Jin Mao tower and Shanghai World Financial Center (aka the world’s largest bottle opener), are extraordinary projects worthy of appreciation.

Shanghai Towers & TV Pearl Tower

October 22, 2012

Beijing to Shanghai: Part I Mid-Autumn Festival

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Cindy Young, the manager of technical design at Tea, recently traveled to China. Read on about her adventures!

On my recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai, it was the week before the Mid-Autumn festival and National Day holiday. Both cities were in the midst of preparing for the festivities; displaying good luck lanterns everywhere and selling an abundance of moon cakes and a vast variety of treats and gifting merchandise.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar.  The Chinese government listed the festival as an “intangible cultural heritage” in 2006, and it was made a Chinese public holiday in 2008.  It is also a public holiday in Taiwan.  This year it was on Sunday September 30th, and National Day occurs on October 1st every year.  The double holiday is one of the Golden Weeks in China where seven consecutive holidays can be taken to allow long distance family visits and promote travel activities (although only 3 days is Paid).

Historically, the festival was strongly associated with the legend of Houyi, an archer and his wife Chang’e. Upon completion of an important task to Emperor Yao (2200 BCE), Houyi was rewarded a pill to eternal life but he was to wait a year to be able to take it.  However Chang’e discovered the pill one day and took it herself, therefore she became immortal.  As a result, the couple became estranged and Chang’e escaped to the Moon while Houyi stayed on Earth.  Houyi built a palace near the Sun where he visits his wife once a year on the 15th of the eight month, hence the reason why the moon is so full and beautiful that night.

Traditional Mooncake

Traditional Mooncake

Traditionally, family and friends gather in the evening to celebrate, eat festive food and moon cakes.  After dinner, a visit to a public space, such as a park or shoreline, may follow for, literally, “appreciating the moon”.  Importantly, lanterns and candles are lit, to enhance the ambiance and festivities.  They come in different shapes and sizes with unique details but most often in red and gold colors as they symbolize good luck.

Non-Traditional Mooncakes

Traditional practices are given a modern twist, most often for marketing purposes. For example, the traditional moon cake with lotus seed or red bean paste and egg yolk is now available in alternative fillings, such as green tea or chocolate or even in the form of characters from the popular Angry Birds game.  My favorite is the mixed nuts filling without egg yolk but also love the green tea and taro fillings.  The salty egg yolk provides an interesting mix of flavors, as the sweet and savory flavors complement each other. Those with the double yolks are considered as more generous gifts with double the luck J.

Since my family immigrated to San Francisco three decades ago, much of the Chinese traditions have diminished as we have assimilated to the American culture, but my father still preserves the tradition of making moon cakes every year, especially now to share the experience with the grandchildren.

 

October 19, 2012

Activity Page: Dot the Mammoth

Have you ever seen a woolly mammoth? Now is your chance to see him before he disappears.  Connect the dots to see just how big he really is.  Did you know he can grow to be 10 feet tall?

Connect the dot woolly mammoth

Connect the dots to see the mammoth

Download your copy here of the Woolly Mammoth.

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

Catch your own mammoth before he goes extinct with our Woolly Mammoth tee.

 

Tea's Woolly Mammoth Tee

Catch them before they go extinct!

October 17, 2012

Culture Shock in “Asia-Lite” Singapore

Today we’re featuring guest blogger Linh Tran, who recently moved to Singapore with her two kids, daughter age 3, son age 6.

Travel with Kids

Our family lived in the San Francisco Inner Sunset neighborhood where numerous Asian-Americans live.   Stroll down Irving Street, pass 20th Ave and see store fronts with names and banners in both Chinese and English.  You’ll hear people speak in different languages intermingled with English.  It’s much the same here in Singapore compared to the Sunset.  Perhaps that is why some people refer to Singapore was ‘Asia-Lite’.

travel with kids to singapore

Early in my career, I conducted cross-cultural training programs for families who were about to move abroad on an international assignment.  The night before each training, I would take a glass bowl and put a few large ice cubes in it.  “Culture is like an iceberg,” I used to say, “On top the surface of the water are all the things we can easily identify that are different between the U.S. and your new home.  What might be different could be food, language, buildings, clothing, transportation, and people.”  I warned them at some point during their stay in X country, they’ll experience culture shock- that’s the larger piece of the iceberg that is below the surface that is not so obvious and will make you ask the question, Why.

Travel with Kids

Some claim that children adapt quicker and easily to new environments compared to adults.  My children don’t seem to shocked by many things so far here in Asia-lite, but they have certainly asked a lot of why questions:

Why do have I have to take my shoes off (at a public play structure)?

Why do they sell small packets of tissue (at a hawker stall)?

Why did you call him (the taxi driver) uncle?

Why is there no mac-n-cheese?

Why do they have Christmas lights up? Is it Christmas?

Why is do they look in my mouth with a flashlight?

Why are there octopuses with hats on the taxi?

Why is that leaf so ginormous?

travel to singapore with kids

To foster their curiosity whilst helping them through their temporary states of culture shock, we encourage them to be news reporters and ‘interview’ locals to get the answer to their why questions before using the internet.  Being only 6 and 3 years old, they usually get me to doing the questioning and do the internet search themselves  but I don’t mind because we do it together they are learning how to satiate their curiosity.   Hopefully, when we move back to San Francisco the signs in Mandarin will be less foreign to the kids and their experience living abroad fosters their global citizenship.

Travel with Kids

October 15, 2012

Activity Printout: Fantastic Flowers

As fall makes its way upon us, bring some colorful flowers into your life!  Create your own little garden today.

Flower coloring page

Create your very own modern flower garden today!

Download your very own printable copy here: Fantastic Flowers

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

You can bring your modern flower garden to life in our Moderni Banded Dress.

Moderni Banded Dress Outfit

 

 

October 14, 2012

Chic Cycling in Copenhagen

Biking in Copenhagen

Image courtesy of thecityfix.com

What can you see on every street in Copenhagen?  A bike!  That’s right everywhere our designers looked – right, left, up, down- they spotted bikes.  That’s why our Nordic collection was dotted with bikes on girls tees and boys hoodies.  Cycling is an integral part of Danish life and even has its own blog capturing cycle style, Cycle Chic. For many, it may be their only mode of transportation.   Did you know more people bike to work in the greater Copenhagen area than in the entire United States?  Urban planners in Copenhagen wanted to make cycling easy not an uphill battle for their residents.  Many factors contribute to Copenhagen’s biking success, one being that they have a relatively flat terrain and specialized cycle tracks that criss-cross the city.  Slowly but surely, progressive American cities are becoming more bike friendly like San Francisco where bikes lanes are being widened and free bike valet is offered at major events.

Cycle Chic Tee

Be a fashionista in our Cycle Chic Tee!

October 12, 2012

Activity Printout: The Fox and the Forest

Catch them if you can!  Look at those foxes race through the forest.  Color them before they run away.  Maybe in pops of neon!

Foxes in the forest activity page.

Slippery foxes in the Finnish forest.

Download your copy of The Fox and the Forest.

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

Dress your little guy up in our Forest Foxes Tee.

Forest Fox Tea outfit

Fox Tea outfit.