Jessie tweets & chats her days away working in the social media and public relations departments of Tea. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Jessie moved to New York after college to work in the fashion industry. Still new to San Francisco, she's constantly discovering new sushi spots and hidden boutiques. She's still dreaming of her last trip to the Caribbean and hopes one day soon she can play on the beaches of Thailand.
I have been a fan of Zid Zid Kids for a long time, admiring the work of Julie and Moulay. They create beautiful items for play and home, all made in Morocco by hand. I find the pieces and overall aesthetic to be so charming.
Moulay and Julie live in Morocco and speak French, Arabic and Spanish to their children daily – so it was only natural that their next endeavor would be a creative hands-on language program for children! Petit Zarafa is a play-based multi-language learning subscription website for little citizens ages 2 and up.
My children have Chinese flashcards that they play with when their grandmother visits from Taiwan, but we haven’t picked them up in a while.
The combination of the activities with learning lessons, grasping different sounds with familiar tasks, is inspiring to me. My kids love playing with games and are currently learning letters & numbers at their own schools – it will be interesting to see what they gravitate to most with this program. In general, my kids love listening to stories… I’m sure my mom, a former French language teacher, would love to teach them French stories. It would be magical if they could speak a little bit of French when we visit my sister in Europe this summer.
Are you teaching your children a second language? What do you find works best? I’d love to know!
Warm weather opportunities are popping up all over. But with the possibility of April showers, there are a number of indoor activities to plan for eager (and antsy) kids. Here are few crafts that can build excitement and enthusiasm for the season. Plus, they’re perfect for nannies and sitters looking for more hands-on projects to engage kids.
Bath time is often a struggle. Make it a little more fun with double-duty bunnies. You can create these little rabbits out of brightly-colored washcloths that can later be used in the bath. Check out this example.
Using plastic eggs and hot glue (kids will need help with this!), there are a few fun filled ways to create festive headdress. Encourage their creativity by allowing them to add whatever accessories please them. Here are some images to jump start your creativity.
Here’s a project you haven’t done since preschool, but perfect for an Earth Day lesson. Grab a pinecone from the yard; tie about a 12-inch piece of yarn or ribbon in a tight knot around the top so that the ends hang evenly (these will then be tied around a tree). Spread peanut butter or honey all over the pine cone. Then pour bird seed onto a plate and roll the sticky pinecone over it. Hang the pinecone on a tree — and tie another knot. Gather around and wait for the birds to come.
Re-create the World
Who doesn’t love an excuse to make marshmallow rice treats? Your kids will love sculpting a globe out of the yummy dessert and covering it with green and blue sugar. As a sweet bonus, try putting some gummy creatures on the earth too! Give a little planetary talk, discuss the amount of water versus land and explain how we need to take care of these elements… And then dig-in!
Whether it’s your front yard or a neighborhood eye-sore that needs a little sprucing, nothing helps decorate more than flowers. In honor of Earth Day, head down to your local garden center (preferably by bike, it’s Earth Day, after all!) and buy some blooms. Then get planting. Tip: A perennial flower will allow your kids to see their hard work year after year.
Matzo House Here is an April-version of the wintery gingerbread house! Encourage your children to play with their food (finally!) by creating this Matzo house that is fun to make and actually tastes good too.
Inspired by Studio Deseo‘s designs seen in our spring and summer, we came up with this DIY to help you create your very own tassel necklaces.
Gather materials. We’ve got your pom pom and tassel tutorials here and here.
Step 1: Pull a 50 inch piece of thread through one of your needles. When your thread is halfway through the eye, knot the double strand at the head of the needle. Thread and knot the 2nd needle with the two loose ends. You should now have one double stranded piece of thread roughly 25 inches long with a needle at each end.
Step 2: Take six 8 inch pieces of yarn. Knot the yarn into the thread about 8 or 9 inches up from the needle. Braid the yarn and thread together until you’ve come to the end of the yarn, knot together again. It’s okay if the sides are uneven!
Step 3: Thread a pom-pom through each needle, pull pom-pom all the way up, touching each side of the braided yarn.
Step 4: Thread glass beads through both sides. After roughly 2 inches of beads, attach a tassel. (Do so by pushing your needle through the top of the tassel)
Step 5: Continue stringing beads, then string another tassel.
Step 6: String more beads, then attach a pom-pom. (Do so by pushing your needle through the center of a pom-pom)
Step 7: Cut the double strand at the head of the needle to divide your thread into two separate pieces on each side.
Step 8: String beads through each piece of thread (4 strands total) ending each with a different colored bead, leaving about an inch and a half of thread.
Step 9: Thread a needle and attach a tassel to each string to finish off your necklace. Knot each string to make sure each end is secure.
Step 10: Enjoy!
We styled this necklace by leaving it open and layering it with multiple Peppercorn necklaces. You can also gently tie the two sides together (just after the first two pom-poms) for a more traditional necklace look.
A traditional Moroccan cake is referred to as Meskouta in Arabic. Most often made with either orange juice or yogurt as the main ingredient, you’ll typically find them served plain with no frosting. The recipe will vary depending on which family you ask and while it’s most commonly baked in a bundt pan, this cake is much lighter than any other cake you’re used to seeing in this shape. We think this is the perfect dessert to make with your little ones – only 10 minutes to prep and out of the oven 40 minutes later!
What You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
zest from 2 oranges
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Or, you can go by these “Traditional Moroccan Measures” we came across when making this recipe…
1 level soup bowl of sugar
1 tea glass full of vegetable oil
1 heaping soup bowl of flour
2 sachets of baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tea glass of fresh orange juice
zest from 1 or 2 oranges
1 sachet of vanilla sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside. Juice and zest fresh oranges. Beat together eggs and sugar. Gradually beat in oil. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and orange juice. Mix until smooth, adding the orange zest and vanilla.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until top is brown and cake tests done (toothpick should come out clean). Allow cake to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn onto a rack to continue cooling.
Have you always lived in Chapel Hill?
We moved to Chapel Hill in 2011 shortly after our third child was born. After 8 years in the Bay Area we decided to relocate our family to the East Coast and attempt to slow things down a bit. Although we love (LOVE) California, our careers were all consuming and we had very little time to enjoy the wonderful things around us. Chapel Hill is a vibrant, small town with so much to offer. It is family focused and we spend very little time in our cars, which makes a huge impact on our quality of life.
How was your business born?
Glee Kids opened in 2008 by a local mom who, after spending years in California and New York, saw the need for a modern children’s boutique in Chapel Hill. In 2012 she decided to move on and sent out an email to her customers about the closing sale. As a customer, I was heartbroken to hear this news and contacted her to see if she was willing to sell the shop – three weeks later we were business owners. This didn’t exactly follow our plan to “slow things down”, but we were and continue to be excited about Glee Kids and our involvement in the community.
Where is the last place you traveled?
The last place I traveled was New York, which was supposed to be a quick trip to finish up our fall buying for the store. But thanks to a snow storm, it turned out to be five glorious days alone (yes, my husband was stuck at home with all three kids), in a pretty hotel, with a coffee shop below and plenty of great things to see and buy. I read a book, made lunch and dinner reservations, stepped in lots of melted snow puddles (lesson learned) and recharged.
Your best friend is visiting your city for the first time and only has 24 hours to explore—what would you tell them to do?
Oh wow, to narrow it down to a single day – too much pressure! Well, after waking up at the Carolina Inn, you should step outside and take a nice long walk around the University of North Carolina campus. The weather here is quite nice and should make for an enjoyable morning. After working up an appetite, I would suggest grabbing something delicious from Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen and taking it over to Caffé Driade to devour with a great coffee. Although Glee Kids is in Chapel Hill, we are but a few short miles to Durham and Duke University, so a visit to the Duke Gardens is a necessity. It’s incredibly beautiful and always full of visitors and families. Since you are already in Durham, you should have lunch at Nana Taco and don’t forget to order the Mexican Chocolate milkshake…spicy. After lunch, you can head back to University Mall in Chapel Hill where you will find Glee Kids, Kidzu Children’s Museum and many other local shops. Southern Season is not to be missed and you can find the perfect gift at Peacock Alley. And since you somehow scored tickets to the UNC/Duke game you can take a shuttle and get a taste of some great North Carolina basketball. After the game, head over to the bar at Lantern for great drinks and food and then walk back to your beautiful suite at the Carolina Inn.
What advice do you have for local mothers?
One of my favorite parts of working in the store is hearing all the wisdom I get from our precious grandmothers. They always have such great perspective and remind me to relax and stop putting our children’s lives under a microscope. Someone recently passed on a piece of advice – “if it isn’t dangerous or mean, let it go”. Invaluable.
What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique?
We try to have fun in store events, facebook promotions and partner with our neighbors. Sometimes we have the fairies come in to do “fairy hair”, other times we hand out balloons at Kidzu Children’s Museum and we always offer our GG’s (Glee’s Grandmas) 10% off their purchase.
What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
Hmmm…I talk too much so our customers probably know everything! Some of them might be surprised to find out that I am software consultant for a California based company. Or they may find it funnier that I twirled a baton as a kid!
When we were getting started with Tea, we met Braden & DeNai Jones, the founders of Petunia Pickle Bottom, at a New York trade show. We connected instantly – fellow entrepreneurs building great products for mamas. Emily and I returned to our office in San Francisco to find a (surprise) floral arrangement from our new friends at Petunia! The crush was mutual.
Our paths continued to parallel not only through building our businesses, but also in building our families. Braden & DeNai also have two boys: Sutton (8) and Miller (6); just a year ahead of my two boys! I have enjoyed keeping up with their families these past few years – especially when they packed up their kids and took them to visit their vendor partners in Asia.
Now, it is my turn! Once each year, I travel with a few members of our production team to visit our partners abroad. It just so happened that my husband’s calendar opened up around the time of this year’s trip, so we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for a family vacation! Our boys are very excited about an extra long spring break.
As soon as we started planning the trip, the first call I made was to Braden & DeNai for advice, which was beyond helpful. I felt selfish keeping their suggestions to myself, so read on for the full details of my conversation with the Jones’ and get tips for your own kid-friendly trip abroad.
Leigh: David & I are concerned about jetlag for the kids. It’s one thing for adults because we can just push through as long as we have an extra coffee. But that doesn’t work for kids!
Braden: I try and put the family on a sleep schedule during takeoff to give us a jump on the time zone we are traveling to, before we arrive. That tactic seems to help the boys with jetlag.
Fun things to do in Hong Kong when you aren’t working?
Braden: There are some great activities we do to get the boy’s legs moving; we like the Tian Tan Buddha, we visit the HK Zoo or ride The Peak Tram up the hillside. Ocean Park was a big hit with the boys too. Most of the time we just enjoy walking the streets, exploring temples, and browsing markets and other nook and crannies of the city.
How about the food? My kids like some Asian food, but they tend to rely on their go-to favorites like Pad See Ew and avocado sushi – does that even count as Asian food or sushi for that matter?
DeNai: Our boys usually enjoy trying new foods, but for those times when they aren’t feeling as adventurous, Cup Noodles is always an option. You can get these just about anywhere or bring them with you. I also like to bring granola bars wherever we go as back-up. When I can find western grocery stores, I’ll stock up there on things I know the kids will like.
I’m excited to take our 7-year-old to our factory outside of Bangkok. I can’t wait to show him how clothes are made! Plus, we have known our partners and their families there since Adam was born. I think it will feel like a family reunion! Our partners in Hong Kong have invited my family to join for dinners too. It will be a pretty amazing “take-your-kids-to-work-day”! Any tips?
Braden: Honestly, it’s an amazing experience for everyone. We first brought our boys along so that we could work for several solid weeks without having to be away from them for too long. It’s a very family centric culture, so bringing our kids really enhanced our relationships with our colleagues, friends, factories and staff. The boys join us for work, dinner and entertainment, and our partners love to see Miller and Sutton grow over the years. As hard as it is for them sometimes, I will tip my hat to my boys for being along for the ride and being great sports about it.
The Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Shanghai airports are a lot bigger than San Francisco… Not to mention the number of people and languages! Do you have any practical tips?
Braden: A time saver I suggest, is to grab a stack of Customs Cards (Arrival or Departure forms) and fill them out before you are in the customs line. It’s much easier to focus on keeping the family together when you’re not fumbling with the papers and passports. I also memorized all of the passport numbers, saves time for border access and if you lose a passport.
How about hotel recommendations? Any specific kid-friendly, designer-y hotels? You two always seem to find the perfect stylish hotels!
Braden: Finding a room with multiple beds in HK is hard, but it can be done. Most websites only allow you to add one child (not two) when you make your reservations. I suggest making the reservation with one child and then explaining (with a smile) that you need a hide-a-bed for your second or third child once you arrive. On the Kowloon side we tend to stay at the ICON Hotel. It’s new, modern, has every amenity for a great price. On the Hong Kong side we have stayed at the Hotel LKF right above LAN Kwai Fong. At this hotel you are right on top of the party street, restaurants and activities. Other child-friendly hotels we have visited in Asia are: The Racha Hotel in Phuket, Thailand, the Osaka Hilton in Japan, the Lotte World Hotel in Seoul, South Korea, and the Hotel Majestic in Vietnam.
Tips for packing? We’re gone for more than two weeks and I can’t bear the thought of packing enough clothes for such a long stretch! I’m not worried about clothes for the kids because Tea has that covered! Always easy to mix & match, comfortable and great looking. Next time you go, promise me you will call so I can send some Tea for your boys – I would love to see your Instagram pics with your beautiful sons in some Tea!
DeNai: We always pack a lot of black and gray clothes for the kids because they hide the messes and can easily dress up or down. We tend to bring about four to five days of clothes and use the laundry service at hotels to refresh the selection. We’d love to dress Miller and Sutton in Tea next time!
How about emergency kits? And I mean all types of emergency: medical, long layovers, sleepless nights….
DeNai: I usually pack my Petunia Pickle Bottom Wistful Weekender for traveling. It has plenty of storage space and I have a handful of emergency-type items stored inside for the boys: everything from a thermometer and Dermabond (liquid stitches), to small toys and a travel art set to fight boredom. Oh and Cleanwell hand spray is the best germ spray out there!
We’ve partnered with 4Moms, Care.com, Minted, Petunia Pickle Bottom and Plum Organics to bring you one amazing prize package for baby. You have two weeks to enter and receive special offers (get $10 off your tea order of $50+) when you sign up for mailing lists. So, just what will you win?
From decorative garlands to decorative pillows, tassels seem to be hanging everywhere we look. We came across tassels of every size in Morocco and you’ll see them all throughout our catalog. Now, you can make your own tassels!
To get started you’ll need embroidery thread, a 2 x 2 inch piece of cardboard and a pair of scissors. If you’d like to have bigger tassels, the size of your cardboard should be increased.
Wrap your embroidery thread around the cardboard 35-45 times. The more you wrap, the thicker your tassel will be.
Take a 5 inch piece of thread and loop it through the top. Tie a tight knot – This will help you attach your tassel in your final project.
Cut the opposite end’s loop and set cardboard aside.
Take an 8 inch piece of thread and knot it around the top of your tassel. Wrap the top of the tassel with the remaining length of thread on either side, knotting once more when you’ve come to the end.