Category: Across the Globe


Our grandparents in Belgium, live near the “kattekensberg” or the “cat mountain”. In the 19th century the inhabitants of the city of Antwerp, were attracted to this beautiful green region with its prairies, birch woods and sand mountains, to relax. My cousin and I play in our camp in the forest of the cat mountain and afterwards eat my Grandad’s pancakes!

foreign correspondents

My brother and I explore Tarragona, a city in the north of Spain where the Romans (200 BC) built impressive “bread and circuses” infrastructure to please people, we came across this statue of a mommy wolf. We have heard stories of bad wolves chasing pigs or red riding hood, but this one seems to be feeding two little brothers. We would not want to exchange our mom for a wolf. But we are pretty good at building stuff, like these two brothers boys Romulus and Remus who eventually built Rome.

A Guided Tour of Rural Crafts in India

We were very luck to find Gouthami for our trip to India. Before she started her own travel company – Travel Another India – she spent 20 years working in social development and had made many great connections with craft people all over India. Gouthami introduced us to so many artisans and we had the pleasure of meeting many President Award winning craft people in remote villages. Here, she shares her knowledge on crafts in India with our readers!

From Gouthami:

Craft is the second largest employer in rural India after agriculture. In most villages you will find some form of craft – the potter, the weaver, the basket maker. It is still a way of life rather than an art to be practiced for its own sake.

Photo 1 Woman in Nuapatna

In this picture you see just that. I visited the village of Nuapatna in the state of Odisha in Eastern India with the Tea Collection team.

Nuapatna is famous for its intricate Ikat weaving. In the background you can see the spindles of yarn casually stuck into the pile of sand, while the woman in the picture is wearing a hand-woven ikat sari as she goes about her daily chores.

Holy Cow!

Sacred Cow

In Hinduism, the cow is a symbol of wealth, strength and abundance. Mahatma Gandhi was once quoted on the subject, explaining that “one can measure the greatness of a nation and its moral progress by the way it treats its animals. Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of all that lives and is helpless and weak in the world. The cow means the entire subhuman world.”

Holi Festival Giveaway

We’ve teamed up with papaya+post to bring you a Holi festival giveaway fit for a party! As we kick-off the giveaway, we’ve asked Mugdha and Avni, the brilliant ladies behind the brand, to help explain the history of Holi and share their favorite ways to celebrate the colorful festival.

papaya+post At papaya+post we believe in “Traditional, with a Twist”. Basically celebrating the world’s festivals in a way that respects age-old roots but that adapts them to our modern lives. Holi, the Indian festival of color, is one of our very favorites. 

Marigold Flowers: A Symbol of Celebration

marigolds 1

A garden of marigolds…. orange, yellow and rust,
Bright, soft and rich, touched with golden dust.
Quiet and regal, sun kissed and fair,
Basil – citrus fragrance that mellows the moist air.
A thousand smiling marigolds, a thousand smiling suns,
Sweet nectar, ambrosia, for natures gentle ones.

Woven into garlands, yellow with tips of red,
Woven into memories with many a words unsaid.

-A poem by Nishu Mathur

Trip to a Ginger Farm

Ginger 2

Ginger (or adrak in Hindi) is grown on farms throughout India. On our trip, we came upon a ginger farm and stopped to take a look. The landscape was very vibrant and green – the leafy green stalks of the ginger are reed-like and can reach up to three feet tall. We saw the farmers harvesting ginger rhizomes (the underground root part of the plant) and piling them up. It was amazing how much was harvested!

Jiuqian Music & Arts Center – The Global Fund for Children Grantee

Leigh Rawdon

We’d heard that the Jiuqian Music & Arts Center was just 15 minutes from our Shanghai hotel. But the Chinese-speaking driver just kept driving and driving… An hour passed and we were officially very, very far from the urban, international city of skyrises.

The driver slowed down, checked his map, then pointed out at a field, and looked at me with a very puzzled look. “I’m beginning to think this is a wild goose chase.” Adam, my 7 year old son asked, “What’s a wild goose chase?”  I assured myself that this would be a story to tell for years to come. But I also couldn’t stop thinking about how much my family needed a bathroom after a long day out and about in Shanghai. We turned around, nearly giving up but then we saw the address posted on a small gate into a set of four industrial buildings. I’m pretty sure the driver was disappointed we weren’t headed back to Shanghai, & that he was stuck with us out in the middle of nowhere.

Destination: Germany

Tea Collection

Every thread of our new collection was inspired by the art, color and energy of Germany. We travel from the blue harbor of Hamburg to the bold and bright streets of Berlin, from the fairytale feel of the Bavarian forest to the steep slopes of the German alps. Sparkling snowflakes and gilded opulence, cozy fireplaces and Bauhaus color theory – we brought it all home in classic silhouettes, primary colors, vintage prints and modern style.

Keep an eye on our inspiration page throughout the season. With each new delivery, we’ll update this page to share the stories behind the designs!

Leigh’s Family Is Traveling to Asia, Share Your Tips!

What Should We See & Do in Thailand and China?

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 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!