Category Archives: We Love…

August 6, 2009

indigo arts: a true love affair

tn_everyday-charm

In our travels, we fell in love with the subtle characteristics of Japanese culture.  We discovered exquisite vintage textiles in a quaint Kyoto gallery. We met a modest artisan who is revered for his heritage, knowledge and talent. And we became infatuated with small, independent design houses featuring clothes for a relaxed lifestyle.  This fall, we’ve created a collection of children’s clothes that expresses the grace and style of Japanese culture, especially the honored use of indigo dye.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved the raw beauty of indigo.  I’ve watched it age, growing richer in its blue hues, softening to the touch, but retaining its strength.  For me, indigo is an emotional inspiration because of its glorious, ancient origins, and how I’ve seen the Japanese render it today into a high quality, casual fashion.
In Kyoto, we visited the Aizenkobo Indigo Workshop where an artist revealed more to us about the dye than I ever knew.  In its natural form, indigo doesn’t burn.  It is rare to find such textural beauty and strength together.  In the 18th century, Japanese firefighters wore indigo-dyed garments because of its protective ability.  One of my favorite travel pictures is Laura Boes in the antique firefighter’s coat from the Edo period. 

Shibori is another traditional craft that is much like tie dye. Cotton fabrics are soaked up to 20 times, or even 40 times for silk, to achieve the deep blue-violet color.  Artists, then, painstakingly string-tie miniscule knots around pinches of the dyed fabric, creating a small-dotted circle shape. Thousands of these knots evolve into a sea of repeating geometric motifs that can cover the entire piece of cloth. 

Because of the arduous and expensive process, most of the world uses synthetic indigo.  However, a few Japanese artists and designers are keeping the craft alive in today’s culture.  We wanted to pay homage to this honored tradition in our boys and girls clothes.   

The Indigo Arts Collection includes great back-to-school and holiday essentials such as the Shibori Girl Dress and Top, Takayama Plaid Top and Dress  for girls and the Edo Firefighter Pullover for boys .  And we are bringing back our iconic Kimono Robe . When I see my son and other little citizens wearing it, I know that they have the softest, most quintessential piece of children’s outerwear for any time of year. 

I wish a wonderful fall season to everyone.  I look forward to your comments and hope that you will share the spirit of indigo with all who inspire you. 

-Emily

August 4, 2009

your child is the star of this book!

my very own name bookRemember all the gifts that flood in after your child is born? There are all the tiny little onesies and the soft Daily Tea. In the midst of the sea of pink we received the sweetest gift that we will keep forever. Olivia’s namesake came up with the ultimate gift for her. A book called My Very Own Name from www.iseeme.com. The title page on the inside cover is printed with a special note to Olivia from Uncle Drake and Auntie Brandi (she’s a fine girl). In the story, the animals are in search of a name for the baby in the bassinet. Each page has an animal that brings a letter to the other animals. For example the Antelope brings an A. One by one the animals choose a name for the baby. In the end it spells out the child’s name and the animals rejoice. The bonus is that the children learn to recognize the letters and spell their names. The bonus for the parents is seeing the pure happiness of your child when they read that the special book is about them. The illustrations are beautiful and now they offer other books which I have purchased for Olivia such as My Very Own Fairy Tale which was signed by the author. I recommend joining their website at www.iseeme.com and watching for specials such as book signings.

April 10, 2009

a worldly bedtime story

Kai’s favorite book right now is a wonderful story written by Karen Katz, Can You Say Peace? Even at 9 months, the colorful characters in the book resonate with him. Kai’s face lights up when I pull this book off the shelf and he laughs with excitement. Without leaving Kai’s room, we travel to 11 different countries and catch a glimpse of each child’s life with their own families. His favorite children in the book are Sadiki from Ghana who says “goom jigi” and Kenji from Japan who says “heiwa”. We have such a good time reading and learning to say peace in multiple languages. It’s never to early to teach our children to wish for non-violence around the world.

Of course, Katz isn’t able to cover evey single country. Here are some other ways to say peace:

Shalom-Hebrew

Salam-Arabic

Amani-Swahili

Hoa Binh- Vietnamese

Kapayapaan- Tagalog

Pyong’hwa- Korean

Shite- Tibetan

How do you say peace in your language?

April 2, 2009

destination dinners

Do you love cooking with your little citizen? If the economy has you eating in more, we’ve found these Destination Dinners- the perfect way to bring food from other cultures home. Each Destination Dinner kit includes spices, a shopping list, cooking instructions and fun information about the source of the meal. Bon appetit!

March 19, 2009

featured tea retailer: fiddlesticks, san francisco, ca

Spring is here, and so is the beautiful Tea Collection – a favorite in our store here in San Francisco… especially because they are local!

Beyond coveting this brand because of their consistent & exceptional quality, as well as the cohesive theme through and through… we wanted to share some of our season’s favorites!

Spring 1 is beautiful with it’s indigo colors. The Kasato Stripe Dress and Shirt, as well as the Heitai Sweater (which has a bit of a hip spin on a classic style) have been so well received by our customers. It’s perfect for a day at the beach…and a definite must for siblings to wear
on those family photo days!

The Santa Teresa dress (in the Spring 2 delivery) is a store favorite because it’s a fantastic “girlie” summer dress and it’s a clever translation to their brazil-samba theme.

And the jeans. The price point is spot on, the quality is present and the fit is slimming. With the increase need for skinny jeans these days.

But of course, we can’t forget Daily Tea. Always a popular grab for both our mothers and those baby shower gift givers! The price point is affordable, the quality always present & the summer styles are sooooooo cute. Especially the wave pattern for boys & ALL the dresses for the girls.

We can’t wait for our summer delivery to arrive, hard to believe it’s that time of year yet again. Hello beach and all those summer getaways….

Hurray to Tea for their consistency, clever designs, & top notch quality!!!!

-Elizabeth Leu, Fiddlesticks

cootie bug solution

Is there not a mother alive that is not simultaneously amazed and disgusted by both the frequency and interval with which a child can touch every surface in a public bathroom? Have we not all experienced saying in our begging yet sing-song voice, “Now honey, don’t touch ANYthing…okay?” while entering the tiny stall of a public restroom and once you are both inside the cramped stall you wiggle-turn around to see your child opening and closing the small “door” on the tampon disposal container? “Baby! I told you don’t touch ANYthing!” “Oh sorry Mommy” is the casual reply while moving on to explore the butt-gasket dispenser. “SWEETIE, STOP IT!”

I discovered I am way too Aries to be having that particular experience over and over. I came up with a solution that has generated many a kudos amongst eavesdropping stall-mates. Often times it was mothers of older children that wished they had thought of it too. When Olivia was very young I would say “Can you touch your eyes?” A young child’s natural response is to put both hands on their eyes. There in lies the beauty of the task. “Can you touch your ears?” Both hands touch her ears. And my personal favorite “Can you touch your elbows?” which was just funny to watch. This goes on and on until we make a clean exit and leave E-coli Central.

Once Olivia learned the names of all her parts, I panicked. The game was over for her and she was now touching everything again. I had to do something and do it quick. Spanish! I began asking “Donde estan tus ojos?” “Where are your dedos?”

Once Olivia learned the names of her parts in Spanish, I again panicked. I don’t know French. What will I do? Anatomy! Ah, thank goodness for Anatomy! I began asking “Where your femors?” Where are your phalanges?” “Honey, where is your mandible? Tell me?”

Now Olivia is 5 and a half and squeezing around in the stall becomes increasingly more like a Cirque du Soleil audition. We no longer have to play the game because she is old enough now to understand. I meet far less new friends at the sink now that we don’t have the neurotic-mommy method to discuss but Olivia now knows the names of her parts in English, Spanish and proper Anatomical terms. That is all a bonus.

March 13, 2009

bento box: a new way to bring lunch

Courtesy of Happy Home Baking

Ditch the bags and go for a box. I’m not talking about your regular American lunch box. The bento box is an option that kids will love for its unique style and cool factor. Your kid doesn’t have to be Asian to carry one either. I know you’re use to eating sushi and teriyaki out of restaurant bento boxes, but sandwiches and veggies work in them too. Each compartment will keep sandwiches, fruit, and cookie in their spot without the use of Ziploc bags. What an easy way to go green!

Bento boxes are a common way to eat lunch around Japan whether in school, on transit, or on a family picnic. Most boxes are beautifully lacquered while others are printed with popular Anime characters.

You can also wrap a furoshiki (pretty small cloth) around the box that can act as a place mat or napkin too.

Where to get a box:

Lunchboxes.com

Cooking for Monkeys.com

Any Sanrio Store

palaces and playgrounds

Does it get more difficult to travel with kids as they get older? Are there certain ages that are more difficult to travel with than others? How much more difficult will it be to travel with two kids than with one? Since our first fabulous trip to Europe with a then 9-month-old Zoe (which I blogged about here several months ago) we have been asking ourselves all of these questions. On that trip some friends told us that we should enjoy it while it lasts because once she started walking she’d no longer be happy to go along with our activities and travel would become much more difficult. But we haven’t found this to be the case. We’ve found it nothing but pleasant to travel with our now 18-month-old. Now people are telling us that our travels will end this summer when we add another little one to our family. Yes there have been challenges (mainly the flights and the time changes!) but overall we look forward to more trips with Zoe this summer and after that with Zoe and her sibling.

Zoe’s second trip to London was a success. We all had a fantastic time. The main purpose of our trip was to go to a wedding but we also got in a lot of time with Zoe’s Great-Grandma Nita, saw lots of other family and had a lot of fun around London and some great dinners out. There is a lot to be said for traveling East with a baby -she didn’t get cranky at our 8pm dinners because to her it felt early and I got to sleep late for the first time in nearly 18 months!

For our last day in London we had gorgeous weather. It was in the 60s and sunny. We started the day at Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards because this is one of my greatest memories of trips to London as a kid (granted I was a little older than 17 months so we’ll have to take her back in a few years). After the guards we went to St. James Park which was absolutely gorgeous. We found a great playground which Zoe thoroughly enjoyed.

At Trafalgar square we took a replica of the picture we took last year of Zoe held up in the air with her belly exposed. We saw a great Picasso exibit at the National Gallery which Zoe napped through. One of the great things about traveling to a city with a baby that still needs sleep during the day is that we never had to worry about how to get this sleep in -we just went to a museum or other activity that she wouldn’t mind missing while she slept in the stroller. When we took Zoe to Costa Rica we spent a lot of time in the hotel rooms while she napped and her naps often dictated our day’s activities.

I often hear that kids don’t usually eat as well while traveling as when they are home. We have definitely found this to be the case. I have wondered why Zoe doesn’t seem to eat much on our trips since we always find her favorite foods and she eats well in restaurants at home. I just try to remember that kids will always supposedly eat enough to get the very minimum of nutrients that they need. The only meal Zoe actually ate on the entire trip was at The Rock and Sole Plaice which is the oldest fish and chips restaurant in London. We couldn’t blame her as it was excellent!

The next day we headed out to Waddesdon where the wedding was. The wedding was beautiful. It was in the dairy at the Waddesdon manor which is an amazing house built in the late 19th century for the Rothchilds. In England it seems to be pretty common to bring kids to weddings and Zoe had a great time playing with her cousins and soaking up lots of attention at the wedding. For me it was a bit exhausting running after her in heels and I prefer the New York way of hiring a sitter when going to a formal event!

Stay tuned as we find out if travel gets more difficult over the years.

February 27, 2009

wabi sabi

cover to book Wabi SabiWabi sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that is really more of a feeling than just an expression or description. It is beauty that is simple, unrefined, natural, ephemeral. It is the feeling you have when you find a leaf in fall that is shades of red and orange and yellow and maybe even has a little hole edged in brown; or holding a piece of handmade pottery in your hand and taking that first sip of warm tea in the morning that stirs your senses and warms your soul; or when you look out and see in the distance a peaceful gray mountain with a foggy mist clinging to the top and hear unseen geese honking. Many of tea’s designs evoke a sense of wabi sabi. That is probably one of the reasons I was initially drawn to tea clothing for my son. I appreciated the colors, softness and straight-forward designs that are uniquely tea and uncommon in the world of children’s clothing.

On a recent trip to our local, very rural library, I unexpectedly discovered a children’s picture book called Wabi Sabi written by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young. In the story, a cat named Wabi Sabi tries to find out the meaning of her name. She asks all her friends what wabi sabi means, and then she ventures out further in the world to find someone who can explain the meaning. Everyone she asks replies “That is very difficult” and gives her a tiny piece of the answer in the form of a haiku. She finally discovers the meaning of wabi sabi by experiencing it. And in reading the story you and your child will do the same.

The book has beautiful art collages. Each page has a haiku in haibun form (a short prose passage sets up the haiku). Japanese calligraphy is written in the margins. These are actually haiku that are translated in the back of the book. This is not your ordinary children’s book. But nevertheless, my almost 3-year old was completely absorbed as I read haiku after haiku. Sometimes I mistakenly believe that complex thoughts and art are beyond my toddler. But really I think if we as adults could appreciate art and words like a toddler must, we might have an unanticipated deep understanding of truth. That is, in one sense, the beauty of wabi sabi.

super baby food recommendation

Back in the days when there was just my husband and I, we took turns with “cooking” dinner and by “cooking” dinner I mean walking to the kitchen drawer where we keep the take-out menus. “I’m cooking tonight. Do you want Thai food?”

Nothing like a baby to make you behave in oh so many ways. Luckily for baby Olivia, our granola-Berkeley friends sent over an amazing book called Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron. Initially I flipped through it and it looked too complicated and utterly impossible to follow so I put it aside. Somewhere along the line I picked it up again for a quick reference. Our pediatrician told us that she was not getting enough iron so I referenced “the book” and found good food sources. I then found useful information after more useful information. This book is like having an elder at your fingertips. It is chock full of knowledge which ranges from how much should your baby eat, what should a 5 month old eat, a crash course in nutrition, play ideas, homemade silly putty and toddler (and grown-up) recipes…to name a few. Tonight I pulled out “the book” because I couldn’t remember how long to microwave corn on the cob while in the husk. Viola. 3 minutes and turn halfway through. Today, Yaron’s food index is the most valuable part of the book for me at this point in my 5 year olds life.

In the end, I never bought baby food from the store. I followed Yaron’s suggestions to puree, pour into ice cube trays and freeze. It was easy, it felt good and I saved money.