Author Archives: Sara

About Sara

Sara works in the marketing and social media departments at Tea. She's an avid animal lover, proud (and slightly crazy) cat owner, and general enthusiast for adventure! A Midwestern born & raised gal turned New Yorker, then Bostonian, and now, finally, a California girl, Sara's loving the Cali sun, mountainous landscape, and taco trucks but hasn't yet traded in saying 'wicked' for 'hella.' She hopes to one day swim with sharks, visit Croatia, and complete a marathon.

August 19, 2012

Parenting, Danish Style

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part four of their adventure.

Travel with Kids

Different parenting styles have been big news in the past couple years, or maybe I’ve just started noticing since I’ve entered that chapter of my life. A couple years ago it was the Tiger Mom, this year it was French parenting. I thought it would be fun to reflect on some of the differences I’ve seen in how the Danes parent compared to American parenting, as viewed through my personal lens.

Travel with Kids
Danish kids nap outside. Rain, shine, sleet or hail, all Danish kids I have ever met nap outside in their giant, beautiful prams. When they start attending nursery school at around a year of age, the prams go with them and all the babies nap outside in a covered area with sound monitors. It is believed that napping outdoors strengthens the babies’ lungs and gives them better health. While I have my personal doubts about whether that claim would bear out scientifically, I do like the idea of outdoor napping and have given it a half-hearted try with my two daughters (without much success, unfortunately). You can always find a parking lot of prams parked outside a restaurant or any public space.

Travel wit Kids
The Danes are famous for their biking, and cargo bikes are an especially popular way to transport the groceries and kids in Copenhagen. Cars are subject to a 100% car tax in Denmark and gas is at least twice as expensive as it is in the U.S., so many Danes choose to get around by bike instead. Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It’s quite inspiring!

Travel with Kids
Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have at least six weeks of holiday a year. These are just a few of the many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report. We find that our friends have an excellent balance between work and home life and while there are arguments against the system, Danes overall seem quite content.

Travel with Kids
We love being outside in the Danish summertime, even if the weather is not always summery. Our friends were eager to show us their sprouting gardens and walk along the newly minted bike path that replaced the old abandoned railroad. The kids were excited to jump on their ubiquitous trampolines and make use of the many play structures. Due to the intense weather during much of the rest of the year, Danes appreciate their summers with enthusiastic gusto. As soon as a ray of sunshine appears, the Danes immediately run outside to soak up the rays, even if it means being wrapped up in a blanket because it’s still cold.


August 18, 2012

These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part three of their adventure.

Travel with Kids

We’ve been going on trips to Denmark every summer for the past nine years, but the last four visits have taken on a new meaning: we’ve had our kids with us. We travel differently now, and enjoy Denmark in a new way.

Travel with Kids
When you live across the world from Farmor (father’s mother), time together takes on a new meaning. We spend a lot of our trip making sure our kids get to be with their farmor. The sight of Farmor’s yellow brick country house nestled amongst the fields of wheat and barley is always an exciting one, but it’s extra special now that we are reuniting our daughters with their Danish grandma.

Travel with Kids

We love visiting the cows that live near Farmor’s house and feeding them grass. They come running over, as the hares and birds scatter out of their way. It’s fun to see that a farm with around forty cows can exist.

Travel with Kids
Shockingly, we go to children’s parks now. The playground equipment is different from what we have at home, so it’s a novelty for our girls. On one of our park trips the skies suddenly clouded over and the rain poured down. Everyone gathered under a covered area, but I didn’t last long there because of all the smoking. There are some cultural differences that are hard to get used to.

Travel with Kids
Reuniting with our friends and all their children is so much fun every year. Our older daughter does well with the Danish, but really kids can make do without a common language. Most of the kids we know have  summer birthdays (you would want a summer birthday, too, if you lived in Scandinavia), so our older daughter has become very fond of the Danish birthday cake: a layer cake with jam and vanilla cream filling  covered with whipped cream.

Family, animals, playgrounds, friends and birthday cake: these are a few of our favorite things.

August 17, 2012

Danish Hygge

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part two of their adventure.

Travel with kids

Hygge is a very uniquely Danish word that has no English translation.

The closest approximation is “coziness.” It’s what happens when it gets dark at 3:00pm in the wintertime, when it’s too windy and cold to enjoy the outdoors, when everyone is forced to be close together inside. Out come the candles, the music, the food and drink, the stories and jokes and laughter. That’s hygge, or at least how I’ve come to know it. To tell someone that your visit was very “hyggelig” (full of hygge) is the highest compliment. Luckily for us, hygge exists throughout the year so we get to soak it up in the summertime during our visits.

Travel with Kids

Danes love their open-faced sandwiches and it’s what we ate for lunch every day. The dark, heavy rye bread comes out first, and then all the toppings: butter, cheese, liver pate, eggs, cucumber, tomato, herring. There are many variations, but certain combinations are acceptable and others shocking. Who knew that liver pate and cheese was such an outlandish mix?

Travel with Kids

Perhaps because of all the time spent indoors enjoying hygge during certain times of the year, Danes care about how the interior of their homes look. Danish design is known around the world as simple, sleek, and light. Our Danish friends furnish their homes with a great deal of thought and intention- always hardwood floors, usually white or off-white walls and furnishings, lots of soft lighting, carefully chosen artwork.

Travel with Kids

It took me a while to get used to the length of the Danish meal. I remember my very first meal on my very first trip to Denmark many years ago; everyone was so lovely and eager to show me their beautiful country, but I was seriously jet-lagged and unprepared for the stamina the Danes have for sitting down and talking. A summer dinner date with friends can easily last seven hours, so it’s a good thing we like our friends.

Travel with Kids

I really love how the Danes make a point to sit down together for a meal. It’s how I was raised and it’s how I try to raise my family.

Perhaps it’s a bit easier for the Danes because they are usually able to get home earlier than the average American, at least in my experience. Nevertheless, the family meal is something I think is incredibly valuable and seems to be at the core of Danish hygge.

 

August 16, 2012

Danes on the Go

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them with a suitcase full of Tea before they left, asking them to share their adventures with us upon their return. Below is part one of their adventure.

Travel with Kids
Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have six weeks of holiday. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, there are many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report.

One of our favorite things about Denmark is the many alternate modes of travel. This is our friends’ Christiania-style bike, where the kids and cargo can all be loaded in the front.
travel with kids
This is how many kids in Copenhagen are transported to school, on errands, or around town, and it’s one way people can manage without a car. Most of our friends went for years without cars, only purchasing them once they had multiple kids and moved out of Copenhagen to the more distant suburbs. Back during the late-1970′s oil crisis, Denmark instituted “car-free Sundays” and there were songs romanticizing biking. Fast forward 25 years and the Danes continue to invest in their bike paths. Along any given road, you are likely to see a parallel bike path, with lots of people using it.

Travel with Kids

We love the Danish rail system! There is an extensive network of speedy, quiet, and frequent trains that is used by many Danes to get to and from work, home, and errands. It’s an easy, although not cheap, way to get around Copenhagen specifically, Denmark in general, and all of Scandinavia. We are inspired to support our own rail systems at home in hopes that they, too, will someday be as efficient, as clean, as quiet, and as used as the Danish trains.

It’s not just the Danish trains that are so worthy of envy- the Norwegian trains are just as beautiful. This is the train from the Oslo airport into town. Our older daughter loves all forms of public transit (thanks to Papa), so she is very excited each summer to go on as many trains and buses as possible.

Travel with Kids
Instead of worrying about car parking, apartment buildings in Denmark have to make sure there is enough space for all the bikes! Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. The mercurial weather doesn’t even stop them- they just tuck their heads down and pedal into the rain, the wind, the sleet, and the snow of short, dark, winter days. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It truly is the way the Danes get around.

It helps that it’s a very flat country.

Travel with Kids

 

August 7, 2012

Guatemala in Color

Guest Blogger Laura shares her experience of traveling to Guatemala with her children.

With summer at its height, many of us find ourselves heading out of town. For some, the beach beckons with its warm and lazy days. Or perhaps a trip to the mountains is the draw, with pristine vistas and fresh air. Wherever we end up, we usually return refreshed and with new memories. This summer, my husband and I chose a different break. After 5 years on American soil caring for our girls, now 2 and 4, I was ready to dust off my passport and hop a plane to somewhere new. The two of us volunteered to help take 25 teenagers to Chichicastenango, a small town in the western highlands of Guatemala. Mainly a service trip, we would be working alongside the indigenous K’iche’ Mayan people there, helping them build homes, make improvements to current structures, and hold a camp for school children. We would also have the opportunity to visit the town market.

Chichicastenango, or “Chichi” as the locals call it, has been one of the main trading centers in the Mayan region since pre-Hispanic times. The market today is the largest of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the most colorful market in all of the Americas, it’s not hard to see why. The traje, or traditional native costumes of Guatemala, are bursting with color and together with their patterns connect locals to specific villages or groups. The vendors dress to sell their wares, which include ceramics, wooden masks, religious items and of course the fabrics. Oh, the fabrics. In the form of clothing, blankets, and so much more, they make the market a true feast for the eyes.

There was so much to see, from the Mayan priests on the church steps burning sacrifices to the women in their traje selling flowers. I took in the sights, the smells, the feel of it all. And of course I shopped. I was tempted to bring back an entire wardrobe for my girls, from the huipils (traditional Mayan blouses) to the wrap around skirts.  I settled for dolls and headbands while they are still so small.

The market was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking teenaged girls on a shopping trip like no other. A far cry from the local mall, they tried their hand at bargaining and came away with some fabulous finds and great memories.

I could go on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And for this experience, pictures tell it all. They tell the story of a people who showed us a glimpse of their lives through what they bring to market each week. Their stories are woven in fabrics every color of the rainbow.

 

August 5, 2012

July’s Activity Book Winner

We were happy to dive right into our new fall season with our Nordic-inspired activity book.  We were even more happy to see all the great photos of our fans enjoying the new activity book! We have to say, this was by far the hardest month to pick a winner. There were so many amazing submissions that were all beyond creative!

This month, we say congrats to Kaili who colored the “Dress the Owl” activity book page.

free coloring book page contestWe love how she added feathers to her owl picture to really bring the page to life!

We also have some honorable mentions we’d like to showcase. How could we not love Rachael’s monster?

free coloring book page contest
Not to mention all the talent in this family! Check out these three siblings (Kinsley, Langholm, and Finnegan) rad pictures.

Free coloring book contest

Thank you everyone for entering and be sure to submit a new picture for August’s contest!

Browse all the entries on our Flickr page.

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 blog@teacollection.com with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line. We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate. We’ll also post all honorable mentions on our blog page and all submissions will be posted on our Flickr page.

Download all of our activity book pages by visiting our activity printouts blog tag.

 

July 31, 2012

Discovering Ireland

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).

Margaret, who works in planning & operations, recently returned from a trip to Ireland. Check out her adventures!

Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara region near Galway.

Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara region near Galway.

Earlier this month,  I traveled with my friends to Ireland for a wedding.  The wedding took place near Drogheda, a small town about an hour north of Dublin.  I had never been to an Irish wedding before, and it was quite the experience! The wedding itself was fairly short – but then the festivities continued all day.  Later in the evening, the “afters” arrived (additional guests who were not invited to the ceremony and dinner, but show up later in the evening ). Finally, at 2am the party broke up – but then there was a wedding brunch the next day as well!  The Irish certainly know how to celebrate!

Racing Boats in Galway

Racing boats in Galway. We just happened to be in Galway for the dramatic finish of the Volvo Ocean Race – an around-the-world regatta that had begun in October 2011 in Alicante, Spain.

After the wedding, we took some time to drive around the countryside. The first challenge was driving on the right-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side, as well as shifting with the left hand. We managed not to crash, but we did have a tire blow out in the windy narrow roads of Connemara.  We were amazed at how many people stopped to help and make sure we were okay, and we were able to get the tire fixed and get back to our hotel in Galway.

Burial Mount at Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne).

Brú na Bóinne, a 5000-year-old burial mound in County Meath. The inner chamber aligns with the sunrise on Winter Solstice.

My favorite site in Ireland was the burial mound at Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne).  It’s one of a series of ancient burial mounds that were recently discovered in Ireland, and is over 5000 years old. Although the Neolithic people are not considered especially advanced, they were able to build this mound in such a way that the sun shines directly into the chamber on the Winter Solstice.

Cliffs of Moher

With my friend Sue at the Cliffs of Moher

Ireland was beautiful (I’ve included photos of my favorite places below!), but it was rather cold and rainy. It was actually quite reminiscent of summer in San Francisco, in fact! So after Ireland, we did hop over to Munich for a few days to enjoy the sun for a few days.

Rathaus in the Marienplatz, Munich.

In front of the Rathaus in the Marienplatz, Munich.