Category Archives: Discovery and Exploration

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 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

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.


10 Things the Kids Love about Kenya

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 two of their adventure.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jennifer Fletcher

While we involve our kids in service travel for the noblest of reasons—developing empathy and discovering the joy of helping others—I love how their experience remains uniquely childlike.

From the mouths of the four cousins, ages six through ten, their favorite things about Kenya:

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jennifer Fletcher

1.  Squealing at baboons on the side of the road- Driving from Nairobi to the rural Transmara area often brings flashes of a safari, including sightings of baboons, gazelles, giraffes and zebras.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Mike Knowles

2.  Stopping for Kenyan fast food- Roadside vendors sell fire-roasted ears of maize from a coarse, starchy type of corn. It tastes like popcorn on a stick.

3.  Saying good morning to the happy sisters- We stay at a convent-turned-guesthouse run by a lovely group nuns from the Little Sisters of Saint Joseph order. Their smiles and morning singing are a joy.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jon McCormack

4. Sleeping in our “cousins room”- At the guesthouse, we turn a conference room into a dorm, with a bed for each girl. It has the feeling of a month-long sleepover.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jennifer Fletcher

5.  Playing with the neighborhood kids in the afternoons- The guesthouse lawn makes a natural playground. Neighborhood kids drift in after school for pickup games of Frisbee and soccer, twirling hula hoops and chasing bubbles.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jennifer Fletcher

6. Picking passion fruit straight from the tree- The kids love the sour pucker and the availability of quick snacks.

7. Brushing our teeth with sticks- Fibers from branches of salvadora persica, known as the Toothbrush Tree, form bristles when chewed. The sticks have a spicy taste and contain a natural antiseptic.

8.  Drinking soda- Some of our usual healthy habits get relaxed for travel. Rural Kenyans often serve soda, a store-bought treat, as an honor to guests. The kids know it’s polite to indulge.

9. Seeing weird, creepy things- A tourist jaunt to the Karen Blixen home, a Nairobi Museum, showed the fruits of old-style safari hunts. The décor included mounted horns, tiger- and cheetah-skin rugs and an elephant’s foot stool. Parts of the classic movie “Out of Africa” were filmed there.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jon McCormack

10. Being silly with the little kids- Our kids often help the preschoolers when the service team is leading stories and crafts. Drawing and gluing often lead to making goofy faces and tickling.

Travel with Kids

Photo by Jon McCormack

September 1, 2012

The Unexpected Benefits of World Travel with Kids

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

Non-profit work in Kenya makes world travel a regular part of my life. The office is in California; the groundwork happens half a world away.

Unlike some working moms, I often get to take my children with me on business trips. Since my work is service, there are great lessons for them to learn from my efforts.

Yes, I want my daughters to know about a big world beyond suburbia. And I want them to care about the less fortunate in it. But there are some unexpected perks that delight me every time we haul ourselves around the globe.

Here a few benefits I noticed on this trip:

Free play—There’s a freedom to rural childhood that my kids get to taste for a few weeks at a time. Maasai kids don’t have playdates; they just play.

Travel with Kids

They wander in fields with cows and sheep. They build houses for stick dolls under palm trees. They play catch outside after dark. My kids easily fall into this rhythm, and I love the creative play that ensues.

Family bonding—My two sisters-in-law also happen to be colleagues. They bring their children on our longer business trips, too. So the cousins, who live across the U.S. from each other, get more time together abroad than at home.

Travel with Kids

The younger girls all sleep in the same room. The older ones give piggyback rides and help tuck in mosquito nets at night. They giggle and fight, sing and annoy each other, tell inside jokes and make rabbit ears above each other’s heads. I’d like to think these growing bonds will keep them well connected when they’re older.

Cultural comfort—The more we travel, the more I see my kids at home anywhere. They’re learning to take language barriers and different customs in stride. They played peek-a-boo with a Pakistani toddler on the plane. They remembered to cover their arms in Dubai. They offered their heads for Kenyan elders to pat.

Travel with Kids

In years past, not understanding a local language or being presented with unfamiliar food would have thrown them more. But now they’re rising to new occasions.

On this trip, we visited a possible new school site, so remote that many local children had never seen Caucasians.  They took the curious touching of their skin and hair in stride. Soon they were jumping rope with new friends. I love when my kids inspire me like this.

Travel with Kids

World travel with children can be stressful, but I’m blessed to be able to do it. The great surprises outweigh any obstacles.



August 22, 2012

Discovering Wales & England

Guest Blogger Alyson shares her experience of traveling to Wales and England with her husband (Craig), kids (Eric, five and Abigail, three), Alyson’s parents (Adele and Paul), her husband’s dad (Dave), and her grandmother (Debbie).

Travel with Kids

The kids loved having extended family along – Grandma and Grandpa brought lots of great snacks and activities, and there were plenty of people to interact with and play with during long drives and at interesting spots along our journey. This was particularly helpful on the first day in the U.K.; a full day of touring following the children’s first “red-eye” flight. Eric and Abby didn’t let it phase them, engaging themselves with the interactive exhibits at the Roald Dahl museum and exploring the gardens at Anne Hathaway’s House.

Travel with Kids

Eric and Abigail particularly loved areas where they could run and play – along a short walk, at an old Roman coliseum. Actually, they are able to turn any venue into an opportunity to run and play. That’s why this journey through Wales was great for our kids (and their mom and dad). It was short on traditional museums and long on interactive experiences. And they loved exploring old castles, climbing the historic towers where 800 years ago the soldiers of King Edward I guarded the fortress, and racing along the tops of the ancient stone walls surrounding the magical village of Conwy. We also got to explore part of the vast canal system of the U.K. that helped propel England’s industrial revolution, and the kids loved helping Grandpa drive the boat.

Travel with Kids

Eric and Abigail made other important contributions to the group, including helping us navigate through the maze pathways traversing the gorgeous Bodnant Gardens.
Travel with Kids

Our children love trains; who doesn’t? The narrow gauge train ride up and down Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, was a big hit, despite the rain and dense clouds at the top – typical for Snowdon’s summit.

Travel with Kids

The rolling hills of Brecon Beacons National Park dazzled our senses, and we loved seeing the numerous sheep roaming around and even crossing the road!

Travel with Kids

The dying art of slate cutting was introduced to us at the National Slate Museum as the master slate cutter demonstrated his skill splitting a ¼ inch thick 1 foot square into two 1/8 inch squares, with a mallet and chisel. Abigail was delighted with the perfect heart shape made in seconds by a few strikes with a broad knife.

Travel with Kids

Toward the end of our trip, we reconnected with some old friends now living in Surrey, England. We were invited to a nursery school to explain to approximately 20 three- and four-year-olds the significance of July 4th. Ultimately the children all understood that this was the birthday of our country. After playing for hours with his British contemporaries, Eric could effortlessly switch into, and out of, a great British accent!

This was only the second time we’d taken our kids out of the country, but the first time where we truly got to immerse them into another culture; what a gift.

Travel with Kids