May 28, 2014

mypootle’s Best Boutique Family Hotels

“mypootle helps travelers discover destinations with soul” and because of this, we thought they would be the perfect partner for our Let’s Go To Morocco Sweepstakes! You read right… we’re giving away a Moroccan adventure to one lucky family. We went there. Now you can, too! This sweepstakes will kick off on Monday June, 2nd and we can’t wait to share all of the details, but until then, mypootle is sharing their top hotel picks for family travel. From African safari’s to Normandy Chateau’s, mypootle has you covered!

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Toddlers, tweens or teens, travelling as a family poses some quite interesting challenges. Ever since the mypootle HQ increased its headcount with a pint-sized pootler, trips away have become really rather complicated; once dreamed of havens of stylish tranquility we realize are actually adult only retreats with their doors and swimming pools firmly shut to anyone under the age of 14, although the suite may be roomy with a claw-foot bath, we now seek inter-connecting rooms so that we don’t tiptoe around our slumbering mini-explorer in the dark. Whilst the restaurant may come with all sorts of stars, it’s important that we have a kiddy meal available at 6pm. From baby-sitting to self-catering apartments, playrooms to early dinners, here are our pick of the best places for families; places that will ensure that you’ll all have an enjoyable holiday.

Long haul flights can look a little daunting if you have an active, energetic toddler in tow, but if you are coming from England’s winter then we suggest South Africa. With its sunny climate, dramatic scenery and unbeatable wildlife is top of our list. More Quarters, Cape Town is the perfect city-escape for families with kids of all ages. Super stylish and spacious apartments, the 1-bedroom spaces can sleep 3, the 2-bedrooms sleep 4-5 and there’s even a house for 8! Apartments come with a fully fitted kitchenette, so head to Neighbourhoods Market in the Old Biscuit Mill to stock up on artisanal goodies including organic veggies, cheese, wine, olive oil, pesto and chocolate. Kid plus: See penguins at Boulder’s Beach.

No trip to South Africa would be complete without a safari and Madikwe Safari Lodge is a fantastically kid friendly lodge in the malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve. There are two family suites and a mind-boggling number of activities to keep the little ones busy, from family safari drives and Bug CSI to making molds of tracks, painting and drawing.  If your little one wants to squelch around, then they can help the ranger wash the safari vehicle whilst there are also chances to try out their culinary prowess with pizza making in the boma.  Kid plus: The Ecohouse will keep them out of mischief in case of bad weather.

Pack the bags and family and retreat to Monte da Vilarinha in Portugal, a hilltop refuge in the southwestern corner of the Algarve, just a stone’s throw from the unforgettable beaches of Costa Vincentia. With a mix of apartments and studios, most with their own kitchen (a few share kitchens) or kitchenette, there is a family friendly spirit at Vilarinha and children (from babes to teens) are welcome. There is no shortage of things to do! Little adventurers can swing, slide and climb in the adventure playground, there are mountain bikes to ride, a lovely pool, over 30 hectares of valley to explore and beautiful beaches close by. Kid plus: For toddlers, there is a playroom with many toys! Casa Howard If you fancy European city hopping, then let us suggest a few seriously stylish children friendly boltholes. In Florence, stay at Casa Howard, an eclectic B&B just moments from the city’s beating Renaissance heart and book the Play Room with its connected sitting room and free-climbing wall. Kid plus: There is a Walt Disney library to pick and choose from, perfect for tired little pootlers at the end of the day. Ackselhaus In hip Berlin, Ackselhaus & Blue Room offers a great way to experience the city as a family. Some rooms and apartments sleep 4 and many come with their own kitchenette. It’s leafy and secluded, located close to cafes, parks and sights and breakfast is served until midday, so no need to rush in the morning. Kid plus: iPads to rent – pre-loaded with films, music and books!

Safari in Kenya’s Northern Frontier at Sabuk Lodge. Set slightly apart from the main lodge, the Eagle Cottages come with 2 en-suite bungalows (one king and one triple), a sitting room, plunge pool and a dedicated team to look after you. The lodge itself is still a family home and inside is comfortably, elegant and rustically stylish, there are sofas with colourful cushions to throw yourself onto, woven rugs and through it all runs gnarled wood, stone boulders and makuti thatch. There is no minimum age, a baby listening service and early meals for those with early bed times are available. Kid plus: Camel trekking! Chateau de Saint Paterne Live like an aristocrat and take the family to a French chateau in green gastronomic Normandy. Chateau de Saint Paterne is brilliantly child friendly; some rooms come with a little side room with both single and bunk beds while baby monitors can be provided. The gardens are home to a gorgeous pool, trampoline, badminton, croquet, Ping-Pong and plenty of run-around let-off-steam space. With the delights of Normandy to explore, its idyllic villages, beaches and rolling hills, a short stay here may not be long enough… Parent plus: A little port decanter sits in the bedroom. Dar Les CigognesDar Les Cigognes is a supremely stylish boutique hotel in Marrakech. The riad, which takes its name (“house of storks”) from the long legged birds that circle their nests on the palace ramparts just across the street, is a former wealthy spice merchant’s house which has been extensively redesigned by the architect Charles Boccara transforming it into a luxurious and stylish Moorish retreat. This hotel has large central courtyards complete with fountains, citrus and palm trees, numerous little salons and staircases and is one of the few riads to offer inter-connecting rooms. Irresistibly calming, Dar Les Cigognes is the perfect place to retreat to after a day spent haggling in the souks or sipping mint tea and taking breakfast on the terrace is breathtakingly lovely. Kid plus: Helping to make the yummy pastries… or maybe the best bit is actually eating them!

May 27, 2014

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccan Mint Tea

Have you ever wondered how Tea Collection became Tea Collection? The name Tea Collection originated from the idea that tea is shared in nearly every culture around the world. Tea (our company) is about sharing our discoveries and encouraging adventure. We thought this was a pretty great fit. In Morocco, mint tea is one of the most popular drinks and is served at least once a day. When guests visit a Moroccan home, it is considered good etiquette to offer them mint tea. At one time, the tradition was to ceremoniously prepare the tea in front of the guests. This tradition still takes place as a custom in certain regions and at some formal occasions, however, today it is more common to prepare the tea in the kitchen, then presenting it to the guests. We enjoyed our fair share of mint tea during our travels and we’ve tried many times to recreate the sweet drink for our friends here in San Francisco.

Below is a recipe that tasted very similar to tea we had abroad and we’d like to share it with you!

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon loose-leaf green tea leaves
1 handful fresh spearmint leaves, washed
½ liter of boiling water (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar

Preparation:

1. Boil a little more than a liter of water.
2. Rinse a small tea pot with a ¼ cup of water.
3. Add the loose-leaf green tea leaves and another ¼ cup of boiling water to the pot.
4. Swirl the water and leaves in the pot to rinse the leaves, then pour out the water.
5. Add the mint leaves, sugar, and ½ liter of boiling water to the pot and leave to steep for at least 5 minutes.
6. Stir the tea and pour into small tea cups to serve.

This recipe can also be chilled and served over ice as a cool refreshment. We think an iced Moroccan mint tea stand would be a fun alternative to a lemonade stand this summer!

 

Guest post by Emma Randall; current student at Santa Clara University studying Finance and Retail Studies.

May 18, 2014

Make Your Own Beaded Headband

DIY Beaded Headband

DIY Beaded Headband

Either free hand or using a paper pattern, cut your felt into the shape you’d like your beaded headband it be in.

DIY Beaded Headband

1. Using super glue, attach the flat beads to the felt. We used 4 metal flat beads we bought in Morocco, however, sequins or large rhinestones could be a great alternative. For this particular version of a beaded headband, we spaced the flat beads about an inch apart so that each bead sat in the center of the rounded section above and below it.

2. Again, using super glue, we attached small flat-backed rhinestones onto either side of the flat bead. Helpful hint: Use tweezers or needle-nose pliers to attach the rhinestones once the super glue has been applied.

3. Thread your needle and insert it into the felt from the back, right next to the outermost rhinestone. String the beads through, then pull the string of beads around the top of the rhinestone + flat bead, cluster ending at the opposite end’s rhinestone. Push your needle through the felt and tie a knot to secure. Repeat this step both above and below each cluster twice. If your strand seems loose, secure it with a simple stitch in the center of the strand.

4. For the third and final row of beads, begin at the far left side of your felt piece and insert your threaded needle into the felt from the back once more. String your beads, bringing the strand around the cluster, stitching between each one to secure the long strand.

5. Your beaded felt piece is finished! Your patience paid off! We chose to attach our piece of felt to a piece of satin ribbon, however, this is where you could use your knitted elastic to create a more traditional headband.

DIY Beaded Headband

We understand this DIY beaded headband takes time and lots of patience. So incase this isn’t the type of project for you, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite beaded headbands that we think would have fit into any one of our summer catalogs quite nicely.

Beaded Headbands

1 Deepa Gurnani :: 2 Tasha :: 3 BKE :: 4 Swell :: 5 Deepa Gurnani

May 16, 2014

How do you prepare your children for international travel?

Guest Post by Terumi Pong

“Can you find Iceland on the map?  I’ll give you a hint, it’s in the North and it’s in the Atlantic Ocean.”

We’ve been traveling since our kids were very small and now that my twin boys are nearly six, we’re finding it’s getting a lot easier and a lot more fun… and they’re really curious about where we’re going to go next!  Our last trip was a European trip which included Iceland and Denmark that were new to both my husband and me, we weren’t sure what to expect.  But, that is the adventure in traveling with our family and all of us learn a lot along the way.  For me, the toughest part of packing is realizing I can’t bring 5 pairs of shoes or outfits that I “might” wear… that space goes to an extra pair of shoes for the kids or a just-in-case outfit for them if they spill or have an accident.  We like to travel lightly so that we can take public transportation and walk with our luggage if we have to.  But every family travels differently!  For us, here are a few of our favorite tips and maybe they might be helpful to you too:

The first thing we do when we book a trip is find it with our kids on a map we have in our office.  We talk about how many hours it will take to get there by plane or train and discuss where it is in comparison to other places we’ve been.  We wonder together if it will be hot or cold and if there will be swimming pools or animals to see.  We think about the food that is grown there and what we might like to eat.

Then we buy books.  Sometimes I buy them online so they show up when we first start talking about a trip, or the kids and I go to the library or bookstore to pick them up together.  We like picture books that are set in the place we’re visiting or travel books about the place.  If we can find a family-friendly DVD we do that too.  For our recent Iceland trip, my guys enjoyed the travel clips on the Tourism Bureau’s website. We also like the Dodsworth books by Tim Egan -we’ve read them for Paris and Tokyo and we’re curious where Dodsworth will travel next.

If the country speaks a different language we make sure we know at least “hello” and “thank you”.  Dover Publications makes coloring books that are in French, Spanish and English and Usborne Books have great 1000 words books in many languages too.  We’ve found that if the kids can say “hello” and “thank you”, many people are much more receptive to us bringing our kids almost anywhere.

A couple days before the airport we buy a small toy that’s under $10.  This saves the panic of having to find souvenirs or treats for the kids when we get somewhere to entertain them, and it gives them something to look forward to after they nap on the plane, or get to the airport or whatever the agreed pact is for opening the toy.

And when the travel day arrives, we think of some kind of walking/running/energy-burning activity before the flight – especially if it’s a long one! We wake up extra early if we want don’t want a late night in our destination or we nap if we want to keep them up to get our family on a new time schedule if we cross a couple time zones.  We’ve found that walking and taking public transit to the airport from our home in Seattle gets a lot of pre-trip energy out and saves us a few extra dollars for coffee at the airport.  Which is definitely another travel must for my husband and I!

And then we go…

 

Terumi is a 30-something Seattle mom of twin boys. You can learn more about her and her family’s travels on her blog, An Emerald City Life.

May 15, 2014

Passport to Magical Child

Magical Child Logo

Each month Studio T  features one of our retailers. This month we caught up with Meri, the lovely woman behind the Encinitas, California boutique, Magical Child.

Have you always lived in Encinitas?
I was born in Brooklyn New York and moved to Puerto Rico when I was 8. We moved to California when my parents divorced one year later. I have stayed in SoCal ever since!

How was your business born?
I met the previous owner of Magical Child at play group. My daughter was only 4 months old at the time. I fell in love with Magical Child and bought all my cloth diapers and my sling here. I worked here part-time before my son was born. When my friend announced at playgroup she wanted to sell the business, I said I would buy it! (Without even asking my husband!) The following Monday we wrote it up on a legal pad and the deal was done! (well then I had to tell my husband!)

Tell us a little about your family history…
I arrived in San Diego from Puerto Rico where my parents met. Even though my dad was Puerto Rican I don’t look Hispanic and I never really embraced my heritage.  Now that I have kids and they ask questions we have really gotten into following our family tree. My daughter and I plan to go to PR when she graduates from High School next year. As for recipes, I do love rice, beans and guacamole!

Where is the last place you traveled?
The last place I traveled was a road trip to Scottsdale, AZ for Spring Break with my son. We visited cousins who were the ultimate hosts and filled our every wish! Cypress learned to play tennis and we experienced an early morning hot air balloon ride! It was a fantastic bonding time for us!

Your best friend is visiting your city for the first time and only has 24 hours to explore—what would you tell them to do?
I would start at Lofty Bean for an amazing cup of coffee and gluten free scone. This also puts you at the perfect spot to begin your walk thru beautiful downtown Encinitas! After coffee I would walk over to Moonlight Beach, to work off the scone and enjoy a beautiful ocean view! I would wander down to heart of the town and get a mani pedi at one of the many boutique style lounges. Along the way are endless shops to meet everyone’s tastes from clothing to home décor. I would definitely have lunch at Solace and eat upstairs on their outside ocean view deck. After lunch there is more sight seeing along the way to the Swami’s Gardens, a must see! Of course there are the boat houses – built in the 1920’s. To work up your appetite for dinner the 1.5 mile walk down the famous Cardiff Kook statue is a must! On the way back take to the beach at low tide and come up the Swami’s staircase – super cardio! Once back on the mainland its time for dinner at none other than 3rd Corner. Excellent food, atmosphere and wine shop! Buy an extra bottle from a local winery to take home with you. Finish off the day with a stroll down the 101 and perhaps catch a late showing at La Paloma Theatre established in 1928. Now, go home and start your search for real estate because you are absolutely going to want to move here!

What advice do you have for local mothers?
There are so many great parks as well as endless playgroups to fit every mom. MOPS is really big around for the more experienced mom. Getting started I would join a stroller strides group to test out a few different types of groups.

What types of events and promotions do you run in your boutique?
We host several annual events. Our Magical Mothers Day is always a huge hit as is the Winter Wonderland Holiday Bash! We sponsor trunk shows and host Doll Parties. With the move to our new location this summer we look forward to adding even more Magical events.

What is one thing your customers would be surprised to learn about you?
I was really shy and quiet as a kid! Seriously. 

May 9, 2014

2014 Inspiring Mom Award Winners

2014 Inspiring Mom Awards

Here at Tea, we’re always looking for ways to recognize remarkable moms. In 2012, we created our Inspiring Mom Awards to celebrate 10 years of our globally inspired children’s clothing—and to honor moms who embrace the world, too. This year, we’re awarding moms in the following categories: Encouraging Entrepreneur, Philanthropic Pioneer and Global Connector.

The nominations were extraordinary. We were so very touched by the stories shared; so many women are working tirelessly to make a difference in the world. Teaching their children that they too can make a difference near and far and everywhere in-between. You voted on our finalists and we are thrilled to announce this year’s Inspiring Mom Award winners…

ENCOURAGING ENTREPRENEUR // She founded or plays a key role at a company and helps make a difference for its customers. While she is passionate about her business ventures, she still makes her family a major priority in her life.

2014 Inspiring Mom Awards

Kendra Robins from California

Kendra left her job at a prestigious law firm 10 years ago to start a charity called Project Night Night that now provides over 25,000 care packages for children entering homeless and domestic violence shelters. Each package has a blanket, a stuffed animal and a book – often the first book the children have ever owned. By creating comfort for these children in a time of turmoil, as well as enhancing literacy, she is able to be a positive influence on tens of thousands of children a year. She manages this business while raising two bright, happy children who know what it means to give back. She is an inspiration to our all-women board of directors and the hundreds of adult and children volunteers across the country who help to make Project Night Night such a success.

PHILANTHROPIC PIONEER // She stays connected to her community by volunteering her time and energy. Whether it’s helping achieve her local PTA goals, tutoring kids with less resources or making blankets for the homeless, she’s part of a solution to issues that lie close to home.

2014 Inspiring Mom Awards

Corinne Cannon from Washington DC

Corinne founded, and now runs, DC Diaper Bank, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing diapers to babies in need in the metropolitan area. Over the past three-plus years, DC Diaper Bank has distributed over 900,000 diapers to families and has forged partnerships with local community service organizations to get diapers out to those who need them most. Every month DC Diaper Bank helps over 2,400 families. Diapers are an important need for babies and toddlers, but are very expensive and most government programs (such as food stamps and WIC) do not cover them. Families living in poverty are sometimes forced to make difficult choices – food or diapers? Medicine or diapers? – that they should not have to make. DC Diaper Bank strives to meet this demand so that all babies and toddlers in the DC area can have what they need to thrive. Founding and running a non-profit is no easy task, but Corinne has turned DC Diaper Bank into a very successful organization in a very short time. She works countless hours for no pay (although she is the Executive Director, she does not take a salary), all while raising two kids. Corinne has made a direct impact on the lives of thousands of DC-area families, and her enthusiasm and passion for the cause will help the DC Diaper Bank grow to serve even more families in the region.

GLOBAL CONNECTOR // She thinks big and strives to make a difference in the world at large. She might teach English abroad or fundraise for global initiatives from her own home. Whatever her specialty, she shows her kids the importance of being little citizens of the world themselves.

2014 Inspiring Mom Awards

Christy Horton from Missouri

Christy Horton inspires by example, globally and locally. Christy has been involved with Ninos De Mexico since 2010 and now serves on the organization’s Board of Directors. Ninos De Mexico is a mission non-for-profit which operates four children’s homes in Mexico City and serves 80+ orphaned children. Christy has visited Ninos 3x and will travel with a mission team in July 2014. Her family sponsored three children from Ninos and recently one of those grown children moved to Iowa and got married (and they were able to assist with wedding planning). In addition, they sponsor a girl from Rwanda and a little boy in Ethiopia who they were able to meet in 2012. In December 2012, their son arrived home from Ethiopia. During her travels to Ethiopia to complete the adoption, Christy led a fundraising effort to raise $1200 to build a playground at her son’s orphanage and support families in Wuchale, Ethiopia. Locally, Christy volunteers as the PTA Treasurer at her sons’ elementary school which allows her to assist in fundraising. She also helped build a partnership between the school and her church for a canned food drive. The school collected 1200 cans to give to the church. In her church, Christy taught the children (ages 5-14, 500+) the importance of missions, giving to others, and assisted the children in raising in excess of $2,000 for a mission organization. Lastly, Christy has made a career change choosing to follow her heart and majoring in Social Work at a state university so she could help those that need services. Christy is such an inspiration and leads by example, inspiring her sons to continue her awesome legacy.

And congratulations to Jen Kelly. You were randomly selected as our $250 gift card winner!

April 22, 2014

Valley of Roses

Every year in the town of El-Kelaa M’Gouna, Moroccans celebrate the rose harvest with The Festival of Roses. The souqs are packed with rose-scented gifts that fill the air with their floral fragrances. Children hand out lei garlands, traditional Berber music plays through the streets and a Miss Rose is crowned for her beauty and talents.

Inspired by this tradition we threw our own mini-festival, complete with rose flavored snacks and handmade paper leis!

Tea Collection's Moroccan Rose Festival

Tissue paper flower garlands hung from the ceiling and real roses filled the room. Photos were snapped in front of our mosaic rose backdrop and a good time was had by all! Soon, you’ll have your chance to celebrate this Moroccan tradition at a store near you. On May 10th, over 50 Tea retailers across the nation will each host their own Rose Festival and we can’t wait to see your #TeaRoseFestival photos! Stay tuned for details.

Want to throw your own Rose Festival?