Month: December 2013

Foreign Correspondents: A Whirlwind Voyage


We are a family of experienced travelers – having visited more than 20 countries, from Canada to Jordan. On our far-flung jaunts, we enjoy immersing ourselves in the local culture, language and cuisine, experiencing the locals’ lives.

Our latest voyage was our longest – 3 weeks, 7 countries, from Copenhagen south to the D-Day beaches of Normandy and back again.  This time, our itinerary was carefully planned with the tastes of our 12-year-old son Michael in mind. Michael, with his zeal for ancient history, medieval weaponry, seafood, and chocolate, and strong opinions to boot, sets the tone for our activities. As always, he did not disappoint.


Leaving Copenhagen’s Kastrup Airport in the morning, we began our GPS-aided foray into downtown Copenhagen on an unseasonably warm day. Although temperatures hovered in the high 20s Celsius, low 80s Fahrenheit, the lack of humidity was summer time bliss for us, natives of Washington, D.C.’s  sticky suburbs.

Our first stop was Amalienborg Palace, where we enjoyed the sun-splashed morning and jostled with tourists of various nationalities as the changing of the guards unfolded. Soon, our jet lag caught up with us. We craved rest, finding welcome relaxation amidst a fountain and flower garden. Michael inspired our second wind, styling with my Tea Collection FashionABLE scarf.

After our car’s GPS led us astray a few times in the capital city and around Copenhagen’s teeming crowds of bicyclists, we found the Nationalmusset, home of the new Viking exhibition, featuring the Rothskilde 6 – the world’s longest surviving Viking ship. Michael enjoyed the exhibit’s interactive computer program, where he lived the Viking life. Not surprisingly, his pillaging, negotiating, and trading earned him the title of Viking.


After several wonderful days in Denmark, we headed south. Our destination was the Netherlands, through Germany via the Autobahn. While my husband Bruce enjoys life in the 130 plus km/hour lane, I take things a bit slower. After watching dozens of German drivers zip past me on the left, I wanted a break for lunch. Finding an Autobahn rest stop, we toasted each other with German bottled water, cheese, chocolate, and fruit.

The soaring cathedral, marvelous architecture, and canals of Utrecht, Netherlands, warmly welcomed us that evening. Utrecht is a university town, with its share of cyclists admirably navigating the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets. After the bicycle overload of Copenhagen, Michael noted that Utrecht’s two-wheeled denizens were much fewer in number, although no less brazen while driving through pedestrians and forcing cars to avoid them.

Our early morning Utrecht departure was marred by heavy rain. Fortunately, our rainy drive to Ghent, Belgium was short. Michael was excited about Ghent’s 12th century Gravensteen Castle, with its “Museum of Judicial Objects.”  These torture instruments, racks, handcuffs, and knives, were used to extract confessions. If no confession flowed from the persuasion, the guillotine awaited. We eyed the castle’s own guillotine, pondering its gory past. As the rain continued pelting us, we found salvation in our hotel and a bag of Belgian chocolates.

Les Andelys, France (2)

Sunshine marked the next morning when we drove to France for nine days. We all eagerly anticipated croissants, baguettes, cheese, and much more.

From our wonderful gîte in Caumont l’Evente, we drove the narrow Norman roads to the magnificent Bayeux Tapestries, cathedrals, abbeys, and chateaux, highlighted by the stunning Chateau de Carrouges and William the Conquerer’s birthplace in Falaise. Everywhere we went, monuments, flags, and markers reminded us of World Wars I and II, and of course, D-Day, June 6, 1944.

My great-uncle from Pennsylvania came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day and was killed in action. Michael wanted to know more about what his ancestor did that day so we visited D-Day beaches, inspected German fortifications, talked about the allied landings, and gazed somberly at the starkly white grave markers of the American military cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer. While walking among the American graves, Michael quietly noticed the number of soldiers killed on D-Day and those who died during the war’s final days.

We topped off our last day in Normandy with a fantastic dinner at Chateau d’Audrieu, a marvelous 18th century abode and a one-star Michelin restaurant. C’est magnifique!


Wrapping up our journey, we headed east, visiting Alsace-Lorraine. Michael enjoyed the many Roman artifacts we saw. While my husband and I marveled at the Roman Empire’s ancient reach, Michael shrugged, assuring us that this was old news to him.

Driving through Germany on the way back to Copenhagen, we stopped in Cologne. There we visited the city’s magnificent cathedral and our priority – the Schokoladenmuseum. Michael loved learning how chocolate was made, enjoying a Willy Wonka-esque sample.

Three weeks later, we returned home with great memories, wine, chocolate, jam, crackers and tea that will keep our trip alive for a long time!

A Peaceful Sanctuary in Mexico

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).

Tami, one of Tea’s creative guru’s, took a week to herself to indulge in a simple, quieter way of life.

I recently became intrigued with the idea of a yoga retreat in an exotic locale far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My initial research came up with options in Bali, India, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Mexico.
I chose to go to a retreat center, Prana del Mar, in Baja, Mexico because of its amenities and convenience (a short 3-hour direct plane ride from San Francisco). Close to Los Cabos, Prana del Mar a far cry from the wild party scenes of Los Cabos. It’s located in the middle of the Mexican desert with the mountains to one side and the ocean with a private beach on the other. Run completely off the grid and on solar power, it’s an eco-conscious slice of heaven that doesn’t skimp on comforts.
Baja Mexico
In addition to the location, the retreat itself was really made special by the trip organizers, Alchemy Tours. Silvia was the yoga instructor, meditation guide and general life guru. Jake coordinated all the activities, assisted in yoga and was always ready for any question with a great sense of humor. The two of them eased any fears I had of traveling on my own to practice yoga with a group of strangers.
Soon enough, those strangers became friends. We got to know one another pretty quickly as we practiced 2-3 hours of daily yoga/meditation and explored Mexico on the many planned excursions. There were lots of firsts for me on this trip: first time surfing (glorious fun!), first time horseback riding (scary at the beginning but so peaceful by the end), first time ocean kayaking, first time holding a puffer fish while snorkeling (adorable–it looked like a Japanimation character!) and first time whale-spotting.
We were also able to visit a small, sleepy artist town called Todos Santos. Full of artist galleries, shops, cafes and restaurants, it was a nice chance to get a taste of Mexican culture beyond its stunning nature-inspired activities.
Baja Mexico
With the perfect balance between solo nature time and group activities, this trip was truly a relaxing and mindful experience for which I am so thankful!

Passport to Posh Baby


 Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers.  This month we caught up with Natalie,  founder of POSH Baby in Oregon.  Learn about her store philosophy below.


Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

Posh Baby: I have been in business since 2003, I did not start out with plans to open a retail store. I had a wholesale line that was sold to about 300 stores across the globe and having all that inventory, it seemed natural to have a storefront as well. I started out with a tiny store, it was probably about 100 square feet in size. After about six months, a leasing agent approached me about opening up a much larger store that was when I took the leap! Unfortunately, I signed the lease and days later my husband received deployment papers to Afghanistan. That period of my life was very difficult. I had an 18 month old and no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it all. The store was about 1600 square feet, so I decided to not only sell my own line but other lines as well, plus maternity clothing. Two years later we outgrew that space and moved across the street, and three years later we opened our second store. Last year we moved our original store to an even larger space and I vow to never move again. We are now more of a one-stop shop with everything… clothing toys, gear, furniture, essentials, you name it – we have it.

What is something that your customers would be surprised to learn about you? 

I was born and raised on and English Island called St. Helena Island. It is one of the most remote islands in the world with a population of about 5,000 people. It is also where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died! And yes, we had electricity and did not wear grass skirts. Someone actually asked me that once! Another thing about me is, going into this I had no experience in wholesale,  retail,  sewing or business… nor money to do it! But I started small and slow and grew when I could. Lastly, I always wanted to be a Spy! I’m still waiting on the CIA or James Bond to come calling for my services.

What is your favorite part of your day at the store?  

When the proud parents bring their babies in for the first time. I love having that special relationship – seeing my customers pregnant, being a part of their journey and sharing the excitement, and then having them come in with their new babies!


We know how special and unique all of our stores are, what makes your store unique?

We focus on the customer experience and personalization. We feel it’s important to allow customers to take strollers outside for a walk to test drive, hold frequent giveaways, have Facebook trivia questions with prizing – all things aimed at creating a fun and rewarding experience.

At Tea, we “Go There”, how do you share in that mission at your store and/or in your life?

Coming from another country and having family that is literally scattered around the world has led to a rewarding life of travel and exploration.  I truly am a citizen of the world! I even have a dual citizenship so “Going There” resonates with me and brings the wonderful diversity and flavors of the world into the products.


What is the biggest trend you see right now in either shopping or kid’s fashion? What are people coming in for? 

Well I’m not sure if it is much of a trend as it’s always consistent; Parents and kids want easy comfortable, high-quality clothes that are easy to mix and match. Tea falls perfectly into that category and we have a very large Tea following here.

What do you do in your “spare” time? Laughable right? 

As a business owner you know you don’t have much spare time and over the years you tend to not prioritize yourself, you put the business (and everything that comes with it) first! So recently, I have decided to refocus on myself both on my mind, body and spirit so I try and do things that fall into place with that. I have discovered spin classes and am really enjoying that. I fit them in before or after work.  My husband is excited as he is a cyclist and thinks this may lead to some touring together.

How do you balance it all? What tricks can you offer us?

Turning everything off when you walk in the door. Being present and in the moments of home life are key to work life balance. I don’t check my computer or email at night unless I know I have something urgent or pending. At the end of the day, everything can wait until the next day!


More than 100 Tea Favorites on Pinterest!

Pinterest Holiday Board


We’re pinning our holiday favorites on our new Pinterest board Holiday Gifts for Kids, come join us!

Things we found and want to share from this past week:

Nelson Mandela, Inspiration to World, Dies At 95

Sweet Paul’s Icelandic Silver Coin Cookies sound like the perfect addition to our holiday baking list!

Design Sponge rounded up 25 of their favorite holiday cards – too many great ones to pick a favorite.

These prints from Eloise Renouf featured on Design Mom are lovely, a minimalist’s take on nature!

Join the conversation! The Barefoot Book club is featuring The Miracle of the First Poinsettia this month. 

November’s Activity Book Winner

November Activity Book Winner

Interested in entering the contest for next month? Take a picture of your child’s completed activity book picture and send it to us at [email protected] with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line.  We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate.

Download a few of our activity book pages by visiting our Inspiration page.