Category Archives: Discovery and Exploration

October 22, 2012

Beijing to Shanghai: Part I Mid-Autumn Festival

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).

Cindy Young, the manager of technical design at Tea, recently traveled to China. Read on about her adventures!

On my recent trip to Beijing and Shanghai, it was the week before the Mid-Autumn festival and National Day holiday. Both cities were in the midst of preparing for the festivities; displaying good luck lanterns everywhere and selling an abundance of moon cakes and a vast variety of treats and gifting merchandise.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular lunar harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people. The festival is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is in September or early October in the Gregorian calendar.  The Chinese government listed the festival as an “intangible cultural heritage” in 2006, and it was made a Chinese public holiday in 2008.  It is also a public holiday in Taiwan.  This year it was on Sunday September 30th, and National Day occurs on October 1st every year.  The double holiday is one of the Golden Weeks in China where seven consecutive holidays can be taken to allow long distance family visits and promote travel activities (although only 3 days is Paid).

Historically, the festival was strongly associated with the legend of Houyi, an archer and his wife Chang’e. Upon completion of an important task to Emperor Yao (2200 BCE), Houyi was rewarded a pill to eternal life but he was to wait a year to be able to take it.  However Chang’e discovered the pill one day and took it herself, therefore she became immortal.  As a result, the couple became estranged and Chang’e escaped to the Moon while Houyi stayed on Earth.  Houyi built a palace near the Sun where he visits his wife once a year on the 15th of the eight month, hence the reason why the moon is so full and beautiful that night.

Traditional Mooncake

Traditional Mooncake

Traditionally, family and friends gather in the evening to celebrate, eat festive food and moon cakes.  After dinner, a visit to a public space, such as a park or shoreline, may follow for, literally, “appreciating the moon”.  Importantly, lanterns and candles are lit, to enhance the ambiance and festivities.  They come in different shapes and sizes with unique details but most often in red and gold colors as they symbolize good luck.

Non-Traditional Mooncakes

Traditional practices are given a modern twist, most often for marketing purposes. For example, the traditional moon cake with lotus seed or red bean paste and egg yolk is now available in alternative fillings, such as green tea or chocolate or even in the form of characters from the popular Angry Birds game.  My favorite is the mixed nuts filling without egg yolk but also love the green tea and taro fillings.  The salty egg yolk provides an interesting mix of flavors, as the sweet and savory flavors complement each other. Those with the double yolks are considered as more generous gifts with double the luck J.

Since my family immigrated to San Francisco three decades ago, much of the Chinese traditions have diminished as we have assimilated to the American culture, but my father still preserves the tradition of making moon cakes every year, especially now to share the experience with the grandchildren.

 

October 17, 2012

Culture Shock in “Asia-Lite” Singapore

Today we’re featuring guest blogger Linh Tran, who recently moved to Singapore with her two kids, daughter age 3, son age 6.

Travel with Kids

Our family lived in the San Francisco Inner Sunset neighborhood where numerous Asian-Americans live.   Stroll down Irving Street, pass 20th Ave and see store fronts with names and banners in both Chinese and English.  You’ll hear people speak in different languages intermingled with English.  It’s much the same here in Singapore compared to the Sunset.  Perhaps that is why some people refer to Singapore was ‘Asia-Lite’.

travel with kids to singapore

Early in my career, I conducted cross-cultural training programs for families who were about to move abroad on an international assignment.  The night before each training, I would take a glass bowl and put a few large ice cubes in it.  “Culture is like an iceberg,” I used to say, “On top the surface of the water are all the things we can easily identify that are different between the U.S. and your new home.  What might be different could be food, language, buildings, clothing, transportation, and people.”  I warned them at some point during their stay in X country, they’ll experience culture shock- that’s the larger piece of the iceberg that is below the surface that is not so obvious and will make you ask the question, Why.

Travel with Kids

Some claim that children adapt quicker and easily to new environments compared to adults.  My children don’t seem to shocked by many things so far here in Asia-lite, but they have certainly asked a lot of why questions:

Why do have I have to take my shoes off (at a public play structure)?

Why do they sell small packets of tissue (at a hawker stall)?

Why did you call him (the taxi driver) uncle?

Why is there no mac-n-cheese?

Why do they have Christmas lights up? Is it Christmas?

Why is do they look in my mouth with a flashlight?

Why are there octopuses with hats on the taxi?

Why is that leaf so ginormous?

travel to singapore with kids

To foster their curiosity whilst helping them through their temporary states of culture shock, we encourage them to be news reporters and ‘interview’ locals to get the answer to their why questions before using the internet.  Being only 6 and 3 years old, they usually get me to doing the questioning and do the internet search themselves  but I don’t mind because we do it together they are learning how to satiate their curiosity.   Hopefully, when we move back to San Francisco the signs in Mandarin will be less foreign to the kids and their experience living abroad fosters their global citizenship.

Travel with Kids

October 14, 2012

Chic Cycling in Copenhagen

Biking in Copenhagen

Image courtesy of thecityfix.com

What can you see on every street in Copenhagen?  A bike!  That’s right everywhere our designers looked – right, left, up, down- they spotted bikes.  That’s why our Nordic collection was dotted with bikes on girls tees and boys hoodies.  Cycling is an integral part of Danish life and even has its own blog capturing cycle style, Cycle Chic. For many, it may be their only mode of transportation.   Did you know more people bike to work in the greater Copenhagen area than in the entire United States?  Urban planners in Copenhagen wanted to make cycling easy not an uphill battle for their residents.  Many factors contribute to Copenhagen’s biking success, one being that they have a relatively flat terrain and specialized cycle tracks that criss-cross the city.  Slowly but surely, progressive American cities are becoming more bike friendly like San Francisco where bikes lanes are being widened and free bike valet is offered at major events.

Cycle Chic Tee

Be a fashionista in our Cycle Chic Tee!

September 24, 2012

Behind the Design: Fire Brigade Tee

Fire Engine in Helsinki

Inspiration for the Fire Brigade Tee

Ever wonder why our Finnish fire engine tee says sisu?  We didn’t make up that word.  During our inspiration trip, our designers noticed the word sisu on many service trucks.  It turns out that sisu is the name of a Finnish truck company started in 1931, and it has been producing fire engines and armored vehicles ever since.  In Finnish culture, sisu means having resilience, perseverance, and determination- all qualities that I would want in a fire fighter.  Some Fins might describe it as “having guts.”  Parents have grown so fond of sisu that they have started naming their sons this.  Like all cultural phenomenons, it will slowly spread to the rest of the world just like the word sauna has.  I bet you didn’t know that was originally a Finnish word.

Fire Brigade Outfit

Fight fires in your own sisu Fire Brigade Tee.

 

 

September 7, 2012

DIY backyard Olympics

Olympic Rings London 2012

2012 Summer Olympics

Feeling lost without the Olympics?  We were feeling a bit lonely as well.  Never  fear, backyard Olympics are here!  On a recent family vacation, we had our own Olympic fun.  Since everyone can’t be Michael Phelps or Gabby Douglas, we played games from Minute to Win It.  This was a great way to introduce the real spirit of the Olympics to the kids while literally laughing our socks off.  The Olympics are not only about winning medals and breaking records, so much more lies behind the five rings than meets the eye.  While the spirit of competition is palpable across the world, many forget about the sense of unity and respect amongst the nations that partake in this grand ceremony.

To play, we had the kids pick teammates and countries to represent.  As soon as we had the kids pick their country of choice, I could see a light bulb went off in their heads.  Things started to make sense.  No longer were the Olympics only about winning the gold medal but about representing your country with pride.

We played a total of 4 games: homemade Ring Toss, Face the Cookie, Shake your Tail Feather, and a Hop Off.

Diy Ring Toss Game

Team United Kingdom's best effort at the Olympic Ring Toss.

The ring toss was so simple to make. I used an empty paper towel roll, wrapped it in colored tape and attached it to a piece of cardboard.   I cut the rings out of paper plates and painted them in Olympic fashion.

Face the Cookie Olympic Challenge

Tyler concentrating on getting the Oreo into his mouth.

Face the Cookie was by far the funniest game.  All you need is a few Oreo cookies and a chair.  Have your contestant tilt their head back in the chair.  Place the Oreo on their forehead and begin.  The object is to move the Oreo down your face into your mouth using only your facial muscles all in under a minute.

 

Shake your tail feather game

Shake the ping pong balls out as fast as you can.

Shake your Tail Feather required a little more preparation.  Save those empty tissue boxes and attach a belt to it and fill it with ping pong balls.  Attach the box-belt concoction to your waist just above your rear end.  The object here is to shake out all the box’s contents as quickly as possible.

Hopping on one foot

Which country can outlast the rest ?

Last but not least, our Hop Off displayed each country’s ability to stay hoping on one foot for the longest.

Winners of our diy Olympics

Olympic Medal Ceremony

After four games, Botswana won gold, France won silver, and the United Kingdom came in third with bronze.

September 6, 2012

Win a Nordic getaway with Tea Collection + Jetsetter

Sweepstakes with Tea Collection + Jetsetter

Has our Nordic Collection tickled your interest?  Did you want to see our inspiration for the Copenhagen tee in person?  Or did you just need a vacation?  Now is your chance to win our grand prize of a $500 Tea gift certificate to pack your bags and $1000 in Jetsetter credit.

Entering is as easy 1, 2, 3 and will only take a moment from your busy day.  Submissions must be received by September 24, 2012.

Click here to win!

September 5, 2012

How to finger crochet

Blair Stocker is a mother to Ian and Emma, wife to Peter, and maker of things, living in Seattle, Washington. She believes that the best of days involve making something and enjoying the process whether it be sewing, spray painting, cooking, or creating things with her kids. She blogs about her creative pursuits at wise craft.

How to finger crochet

diy finger crochet tutorial

I’m so excited to share a project today on Studio Tea! This is an easy project for kids of all ages (and adults too).  When my kids were smaller and we were out and about, I would use this to keep their little hands occupied if we were waiting in line and had time to spare.  All you need to finger crochet is a ball of yarn. In fact, the hardest part is choosing a yarn color.  My daughter and I did this the other night and found the whole process very meditative and enjoyable. Give it a try!

Print out your own Finger Crochet tutorial.

My daughter and I used lengths of finger crochet to create a necklace (try adding large beads or bells). We also held 2 yarns at the same time to crochet new shoelaces. See what you can come up with.

 

 

Activity Printout: Let’s Color Copenhagen

Get your crayons ready to color your own Copenhagen cityscape.

 

Activity page of Copenhagen
Color Copenhagen your way.

Download your free Copenhagen Cityscape Activity Page.

Once you’re done, submit your creation to blog@teacollection.com for your chance to win a $100 Tea gift certificate! Every month, Tea staff will pick one artistic little citizen to win!  Honorable mentions will also be uploaded into their own featured blog post. Let your creative juices flow and show us your inner artist!

This activity was inspired by our Copenhagen Tee.

Boy in Copenhagen Tee

Sport your own Copenhagen tee.

 

September 4, 2012

The Kilgoris Project

Travel with Kids

The Kilgoris Project educates and feeds the children of a Massai village in southwest Kenya. They partner with the community to operate schools, provide daily food and clean water, and foster economic development. Tea was lucky enough to learn of this great organization through the President and Co-founder of the Kilgoris Project, Caren, as she left with her bags full of Tea to set out to Kenya as one of our Foreign Correspondents.

To help this great cause, Tea donated activity books and art supplies to the school Caren and her family volunteered at.

Travel with Kids
Learn more about The Kilgoris Project and how you can get involved at www.kilgoris.org.

September 3, 2012

Travel Sanity Tips from an Insane Travel Mom

One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Caren and her family traveled to Kenya this summer for a service trip. Caren is the President and Co-founder of The Kilgoris Project, a non-profit that runs schools, medical programs and economic development efforts in rural Kenya. We outfitted Caren’s family 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

Photo by Jennifer Fletcher

You’re crazy! That’s the usual reaction I get to traveling halfway around the world with kids.

Once I flew solo to Sydney with a two year old, while limping along with my own foot in a boot cast. This year I brought two elementary schoolers for a month in Kenya sans husband.

These might sounds like prescriptions for the loony bin. But having taken kids to every continent, except Antarctica, I’ve developed a few strategies for getting home without losing my mind.

1) Build in unscheduled time- Flights, meetings, tours and museums don’t run on child-friendly schedules. And there’s always a temptation to pack in whole cities in a day. Grown ups may be fine with this. However, kids need more breathing room. Fight not to fill the days. It’s ok to horse around in a hotel room for a couple of hours or just watch an iPad movie during a layover. The world will still be there when you’re done.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jon McCormack

2) Find ways to play- The moving parts of travel bore kids and adults alike. And buses, trains and taxi don’t offer space to work out any wiggles. But if you’re willing to look silly in public, you can create fun anywhere.  Take turns finding yoga moves that fit into economy class seats. (This is far easier for the kids.)  Play Follow the Leader at an airplane gate. Make up ballet dances while the tour van fills the gas tank. I’ve done them all.  My kids are happier for it. And I often find the release helps me, too.

3) Relax the rules, but not too much- Travel days are never going to run like days at home. So it’s ok for the rules to shift a little to compensate. Pringles and peanuts will keep a child alive for a day. Everyone can stay up until 11:00PM for a few nights. Just go easy on the anarchy. If you create a free for all, you’ll pay when you need control. Sometimes you do need to lay down the law: No, you cannot pinch your sister during an immigration check. You’ll wear your seatbelt for take off and landing. And yes, you’ll be quiet when the tribal elders speak.

4) Give kids a little control- My children are much happier traveling when they feel like they make some of their own decisions. It helps to balance the powerlessness they feel at the structure of getting from A to B. We start trips with each girl having a stash of sugar-free gum to be chewed at any time. They have their own packs of markers and magnet dolls. And as their ages allow, they get to hold their own boarding passes.

5) Put your own oxygen mask on first-The airlines are on to something with this one. None of us can be in top form all the time. It doesn’t happen at home. And it’s even less likely happen when you’re jetlagged. Do what you can to carve out a little alone time, even if you can’t physically leave the kids. Take a bath. Walk hotel hallways on your floor with the room door cracked. Put your headphones on. Pretend to sleep on the plane. Just do something for yourself.

These tips, combined with humor, prayer and few deep breaths, keep me sane as I lead my kids to become citizens of the world.