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.
New arrivals are here just in time for the first official day of spring! In the heart of the Marrakech medina (the old city) sits La Mamounia, a palatial hotel that dazzles with hand-cut tiles, ornately carved columns and handmade lanterns.
When we saw La Mamounia, we knew it was the perfect inspiration for our special occasion styles. Bring a little Moroccan magic home with you – the lighthearted prints, intricate embroidery and fresh colors are perfect for all your springtime celebrations.
Saturday, March 22, 2014 // 10AM-2PM Nordstrom // Days to Delight World of Tea Collection Moroccan Art Party
Create artwork inspired by Morocco (we’ll give you some fun facts to get you started) and we’ll turn it into a magnet for you to take home. Young Picasso’s can enter a contest to have their art transferred to a real canvas. Find a Nordstrom near you and don’t miss out on the fun!*
In the Bay Area? Nordstrom Walnut Creek will host our co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Emily Meyer. Emily will share the story behind the Spring 2014 Morocco collection and join in the Morocco-inspired drawing activity from 12-2PM.
*Event will be hosted in Nordstrom Kids’ Wear department, while supplies last.
In our new series, Through the Eyes of, you’ll hear directly from children; Children who have a story to tell. They’ve lived abroad and visited a new city for the first time. They’ve traveled hours by plane to meet their grandparents for the first time and traveled ten minutes by car to visit their local museum for the fifth. They live in Italy, Denmark and Michigan. They’re the little citizens of the world experiencing the everyday magic that surrounds them and they’re sharing their stories with us here.
You may know their mother, Gabrielle Blair. She is a designer, Design Mom blogger and ALT Summit co-founder. After 8 years in New York and almost a year in Denver, they moved their family to France to experience another culture and learn a new language. After 2 1/2 years abroad, we knew Oscar and Betty would the perfect pair to help us kick off this series!
My name is Betty Blair, and I am 7, almost 8. I have 5 siblings, and my favorite color is turquoise. A board game that I really like is Clue; I like to read a lot, right now, I’m reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Right now I’m on page 133.
My little sister is 3 years old. My brother is 9, my big sister is 12, my biggest sister is 14, my oldest sibling (brother) is 16. I like reading together with my family, and playing games, and jam sessions where we all sing songs and play music together—I only sing, I really love to sing. We also film videos, the series is called Olive Us. It’s basically about the kids in our family having fun adventures.
Tell us what life was like living in France.
A regular day, we went to school, it was a French school. On the drive, we would always pass by a church that was built in like 1400 something, and we would all shout: “Eglise Saint Germain d’Argentan!” That was the name of the church. At school, we worked on reading and writing and math and other subjects. Sometimes we would walk to a nearby pool and swim there. That’s where I learned to swim. Sometimes, we would walk to a ping-pong center and learn how to play ping-pong. When school was over, my Dad would pick us up. While we were waiting, we would play on the playground. I started in pre-school, it was called Maternelle, then I went to Kindergarten, it was called Grande Section, and I went to 1st grade, it was called CP. In Kindergarten, we learned to write our name in cursive, in CP, we really learned to write in cursive. The school lunch was SO good! I liked it better than school lunch here.
I really liked it in France. Sometimes I still wish we lived there because I had a lot of friends, and everybody was really nice. I also really liked our house in France, we had a big open back yard, and the house was really fun because it was like 300-400 years old. We also lived out in the country, by a lot of small farms, so we could buy eggs from our neighbor, and milk from our other neighbor. The bread was really good, and I also really loved cucumbers, and I loved the butter and milk. We also got fresh creme—called creme cru, kind of like sour cream, but yummier, and I really liked it.
Also we lived close to Paris, it was only 2 hours away, there was a really yummy ice cream shop that we would always go to when we went to Paris. It was also really exciting to see the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe whenever we went to Paris.
What was it like moving to a new country? I was sort of scared when we first moved—I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t really know how to speak French. Then we arrived, and I learned French, and now I’m fluent. It took maybe 5 months for me to feel comfortable in French, and after maybe a year and a half, I was fluent—so I could do all the school assignments, and I could ask the teacher if I had any questions. I was the only English-speaking girl in my class.
Where did you hang out with your friends? A few times, I had a playdate where a friend came to our house, or I went to their house. Sometimes there was a festival in the town where I would see my friends.
What is your favorite memory from living there? Some of my favorite memories were going to the bakery and getting mini tarts. I also really liked picking wild blackberries down the street from our home—there were lots of berries, and all the neighbors would pick the berries at different times and put them in their pails. I liked eating the berries while I was picking them, and also eating them with cream after. Yum! I also liked picking wild flowers by our home in the Spring. Every spring, the hillsides by our home would be like bursting with yellow spring flowers, and we would pick them and make bouquets. I also liked going on trips with my family to different parts of France or Europe.
I’m Oscar Blair, and I’m 9 years of age. I like adventure, like climbing trees, nerf gun fights, and I like Mine Craft. My family has 8 members, my Mom and Dad and there are 6 kids. I’m number 4. I like to hike and go swimming with my family.
Tell us what life was like living in France.
For breakfast I would usually have Nutella toast, or jam toast. We had Nutella all the time, and I really miss it. I know we can get it here, but we just don’t. I would go to school, the school lunch was really good. My favorite thing was the fries—they were just good for some reason. Another thing that was good was the cake. Who doesn’t like cake? School was all in French. It was really hard at first, but I got used to it.
There weren’t that many toys to play with during recess, just jump ropes and balls. School felt shorter there, even though it was actually longer. We never had school on Wednesdays, and we had a two week vacation every 6 weeks.
What was it like moving to a new country? It was hard to understand French for a while. It wasn’t scary because we thought we knew French even though we actually didn’t. People were really nice and helped me a lot, even when I didn’t speak French. Early on, my teacher would speak English to me to help, but she would speak with a big French accent. Eventually, I learned to speak French fluently.
Where did you hang out with your friends? I was too young to hang out, but we would play a lot in the recess area. We would play a lot of different tag games.
What is your favorite memory from living there? One of my favorite memories was getting baptized in a freezing cold river by our home. I loved going to the local swimming pool too. It had the best slide ever, and a very shallow place for the kids, and we couldn’t wear regular swimming shorts, we had to wear like speedos. I liked stacking the wood for our fire place and helping to start the fire.
I loved the pastries! I loved creme puffs (they were called tropeziennes, but we called them creme puffs). I also loved picking strawberries and raspberries from our backyard. Apples were really popular in our area, and I loved going to see apple farms and drinking apple juice. And I loved the crepes!
I also loved traveling to other places in France and Europe, a favorite memory is jumping off a high dive into a lake near Berne, Switzerland.
Each month Studio T features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Rebecca and Brea, the amazing duo behind Little Star in Franklin, Tennessee.
Have you always lived in Franklin?
Rebecca: I’ve lived here for 21 years. Grew up in Tampa. Ended up back in Nashville because I love the people, the scenery and the pace of life here.
Brea: I have lived in the area for almost 13 years now. I married a musician and we followed the music here from Kansas where I grew up! And now it’s just home, we love it and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
How was your business born?
Rebecca: We saw a need in the area for a modern contemporary baby and kids store. We were both new moms and didn’t feel the traditional southern style fit our families!
Brea: Rebecca and I have been in business together for almost 8 years. We originally owned a maternity store and then opened our kids store, Little Star, next door to it 4 years ago.
Tell us a little about your family history.
Rebecca: 4th generation Irish/German and I love all German food. I love traveling and exploring my roots. My Grandmother was an amazing cook. Favorite recipe passed down would be homemade noodles.
Brea: I’m a farm girl from Western Kansas where I learned a lot about hard work and making business go through growing up on a 3rd generation farm as one of six kids. My mom and all of my aunts were the best cooks and were always so resourceful. They could make anything work, I have definitely picked that up from them! My favorite recipe is from my full German Aunt, everything she makes is divine, but she taught me to make her homemade sauerkraut, it is unlike any other… So, so good!
Where is the last place you traveled?
Rebecca: Our last family trip was to Disney World and it was amazing! Wonderful time of wonder with our kids, Samantha, 6 and Mack, 5. Next big trip on the radar – Penang, Malaysia to visit dear friends that are missionaries there.
Brea: My last big trip was to Napa Valley California with my husband and our 6 month old little girl! It was for “Live in the Vineyard” which is a music festival and wine tasting experience weekend all together and it was dreamy! I know that doesn’t sound dreamy to most, but when you have 3 kids only taking the smallest and easiest one is delightful and quite easy, really!
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?
Definitely take them to the Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin, love the local food and the people watching! Then I would take them shopping downtown Franklin, stop in to Savory Spice Shop which is a fun, everything-you-need spice shop. Then I would recommend a Nashville must see, Loveless Cafe, their biscuits and preserves are amazing! After lunch, I would bring them over to McEwen South for great local boutique shopping. For dinner, I would head into downtown Nashville to stop at Patterson House for a unique drink. And lastly, of course down to Broadway to see some good ole fashion Honkey Tonks or the Bluegrass Inn to catch a songwriters round and hear the amazing musicians that write the hits you hear on the radio, share the story behind their songs.
What advice do you have for local mothers?
My nugget of wisdom is find a friend who is going through what you are going through, it makes it so much better! Comparing stories, giving advice, love on each other – we are not alone! Also, there are so many resources for events for moms to get involved in and honestly that can get a little overwhelming, my advice is to try to get time to yourself everyday, it makes you a better mommy!
What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique?
We are about to start a regular mom’s night out event! Mom’s desperately need breaks and time with girlfriends so we are thinking we will have wine and cheese and different events going on! We also love to keep in touch with our moms over Facebook, it’s easy for them and for us! Facebook is also a place moms can ask us questions and we can help them before they even make it into the store!!
What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
Brea: Most people don’t know that I used to travel around in a bus as a “roadie” for my husband’s band, for years! I did everything from book shows, manage merchandise, load and unload gear, make food, do accounting and a million other things! We traveled all over the U.S., it was such an adventure to say the least! It was truly the hardest and most fun job ever, besides being a mom!
We asked you to use #teacollection in your Instagram photos and we were so excited to find that you did! Each month we’ll round up 12 of our favorites and share them with you here. Now, it’s possible that your #teacollection photos may end up be on teacollection.com, so show us how your little citizen’s wear Tea and don’t forget to use our hashtag! See our new gallery here: http://www.teacollection.com/static/tealook.html
We’ve heard that three of the best Moroccan cities for street food are Fes, Marrakech and Essaouria (pronounced es-uh-weer-uh); coincidentally, we visited all three during our stay in Morocco. The best time to visit the food souks? Between 6 and 8 PM – this is the time Moroccans stroll and snack, before heading home for dinner around 10.
Rghaif is a flaky, layered flat bread that’s common throughout these souks. Although the dough may be stuffed with a variety of fillings before it’s folded and fried, plain rghaif are most popular served simply with honey or syrup made from butter. With only 4 ingredients, you can easily make this Moroccan flat bread at home!
What you’ll need:
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm water
white cheese (preferably a bit salty) – optional for filling
How to make:
Combine flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl. Add water slowly and knead mixture for 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil, set aside for 10 minutes.
While your dough balls are resting, warm a cast iron skillet (or similarly heavy pan) to medium heat.
On a clean surface, roll each dough ball out as thin as you possibly can. Get started with a rolling pin and then carefully lift and stretch the dough by hand. The thinner, the better.
If you’d like to fill your flat bread, now is the time to do so! Once you’ve placed your filling in the center of the dough, fold the dough into a rectangle or square and place in the heated pan that’s been lightly coated with olive oil.
Cook for a total of 6 minutes, flipping the bread every minute or so – making sure each one is cooked evenly.
Best served warm with your favorite jelly or honey. Add a side of sliced meats and enjoy!
I fell in love with Thailand nearly 15 years ago. My husband and I had a six week trip bopping around Southeast Asia & the South Pacific the summer before we started business school. We visited Buddhist temples and rode elephants and ate our way through the country.
And now we return… with our kids! Maybe it won’t be as romantic, but I have a feeling there will be a ton of falling in love. This time we’ll get to see the Buddhist temples, elephants, and delicious food through the eyes of our 5 & 7 year old boys.
After a week in Bangkok and Hua Hin, we’re heading to China! We’ll visit Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Yangshuo — and we want advice! We have our flights and hotels booked, plus lots of time planned with our beloved Tea vendors. But there is a lot of open time for sight-seeing and digging deeper into the culture.
So please share any must-see sights or must-do activities! I have loved reading through advice on Oh Happy Day and Design Sponge — what other blogs are out there with insider tips, especially with perspective on family travel?
Preparing The Kids For The Experience
I think a lot about preparing my kids for life. Education, manners, planning ahead, keeping an attitude of gratitude, etc, etc. Of course I like to think that I have a huge impact on their lives through all of the thoughtful preparation, but sometimes I admit to myself that I am just here for the ride. Every day is a new world and new discovery for a kid.
I remember my first trip to Manhattan. I arrived via the train, then transferred to the subway with a friend from Long Island. We came up the subway escalator and I just kept looking up and up and up. I was in college and I had seen a thousand pictures of New York, but when I came out of that subway station, I FELT it. I felt the height, the energy, and the life of New York. I was in love to the bone.
So, no matter how many maps and documentaries we show our boys, I have a feeling that I can never fully prepare them for the size, energy, and life of Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
Of course I still have to try. So here is the plan (and I welcome your feedback)…
We have a huge world map on the wall in the boys’ room. That helps a little with the context. At least I think so!
David found a great documentary from 2008 about China. It is certainly dated and the population numbers are probably 20% higher now, but it is well done and riveting for all four of us. I keep wondering if it is stealing the power of the first impression…. and then I remember my escalator ride up from the subway in NY for the first time.
Adam takes Mandarin at school four days/week. We are trying to use common phrases for familiarity: thank you, hello, and my name is…
We order in Thai food regularly. Does that count?
I’m researching ways the kids can take pictures & blog on their own. Maybe Kidblog.org? I would love to see what pictures and captions they would post. Plus, their friends could write questions and comments, which could create a fun conversation.
Of course we have to expedite passport renewals. You can see from these pictures that not only are the passports expiring, but the photos are a little out of date!
Traveling with Kids Overseas
I have been asking globetrotting families for advice about the travel itself. Here are the tips I have received so far:
iPads. How did parents travel before Apple? The trick is that the kids really like to stream videos on Netflix, which won’t be possible for much of our trip. So I need tips on apps–both educational and entertainment. I am just not sure Star Wars Angry Birds will get us from SFO to BKK!
Adjust clocks when you board the first flight. Easier said than done of course. We depart at 1:45pm which is 4:45am in Bangkok. So do we get on the plane and I try to convince the kids to sleep?? When I fly to Asia each year for work, I usually try to sleep as little as possible so that when I arrive at midnight at the hotel in Bangkok, I can crash — even though my body will think it is 4pm the next day. I’m hoping those iPads are REALLY entertaining.
Snacks. Snacks are actually the cure to many problems wherever we are! I’ve heard Clif Bars, Tic Tacs, and soy sauce packets have gotten many families through China. Rice is available almost anywhere and with soy sauce, we should be okay.
What else should I keep in mind? Leave a comment below — I welcome all feedback & suggestions and can’t wait to hear from you!