One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them 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.
Hygge is a very uniquely Danish word that has no English translation.
The closest approximation is “coziness.” It’s what happens when it gets dark at 3:00pm in the wintertime, when it’s too windy and cold to enjoy the outdoors, when everyone is forced to be close together inside. Out come the candles, the music, the food and drink, the stories and jokes and laughter. That’s hygge, or at least how I’ve come to know it. To tell someone that your visit was very “hyggelig” (full of hygge) is the highest compliment. Luckily for us, hygge exists throughout the year so we get to soak it up in the summertime during our visits.
Danes love their open-faced sandwiches and it’s what we ate for lunch every day. The dark, heavy rye bread comes out first, and then all the toppings: butter, cheese, liver pate, eggs, cucumber, tomato, herring. There are many variations, but certain combinations are acceptable and others shocking. Who knew that liver pate and cheese was such an outlandish mix?
Perhaps because of all the time spent indoors enjoying hygge during certain times of the year, Danes care about how the interior of their homes look. Danish design is known around the world as simple, sleek, and light. Our Danish friends furnish their homes with a great deal of thought and intention- always hardwood floors, usually white or off-white walls and furnishings, lots of soft lighting, carefully chosen artwork.
It took me a while to get used to the length of the Danish meal. I remember my very first meal on my very first trip to Denmark many years ago; everyone was so lovely and eager to show me their beautiful country, but I was seriously jet-lagged and unprepared for the stamina the Danes have for sitting down and talking. A summer dinner date with friends can easily last seven hours, so it’s a good thing we like our friends.
I really love how the Danes make a point to sit down together for a meal. It’s how I was raised and it’s how I try to raise my family.
Perhaps it’s a bit easier for the Danes because they are usually able to get home earlier than the average American, at least in my experience. Nevertheless, the family meal is something I think is incredibly valuable and seems to be at the core of Danish hygge.
One of our Foreign Correspondents has returned from her travels! Lency and her family traveled to Denmark this summer. We outfitted them 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.
Our annual trip to Denmark to visit half our family and friends is always a reminder of a different pace of life. We observe and reflect on the more relaxed daily living and high quality of life. People work fewer hours, commute less, have six weeks of holiday. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, there are many reasons they have claimed the top spot in United Nations’ 2012 World Happiness Report.
One of our favorite things about Denmark is the many alternate modes of travel. This is our friends’ Christiania-style bike, where the kids and cargo can all be loaded in the front.
This is how many kids in Copenhagen are transported to school, on errands, or around town, and it’s one way people can manage without a car. Most of our friends went for years without cars, only purchasing them once they had multiple kids and moved out of Copenhagen to the more distant suburbs. Back during the late-1970′s oil crisis, Denmark instituted “car-free Sundays” and there were songs romanticizing biking. Fast forward 25 years and the Danes continue to invest in their bike paths. Along any given road, you are likely to see a parallel bike path, with lots of people using it.
We love the Danish rail system! There is an extensive network of speedy, quiet, and frequent trains that is used by many Danes to get to and from work, home, and errands. It’s an easy, although not cheap, way to get around Copenhagen specifically, Denmark in general, and all of Scandinavia. We are inspired to support our own rail systems at home in hopes that they, too, will someday be as efficient, as clean, as quiet, and as used as the Danish trains.
It’s not just the Danish trains that are so worthy of envy- the Norwegian trains are just as beautiful. This is the train from the Oslo airport into town. Our older daughter loves all forms of public transit (thanks to Papa), so she is very excited each summer to go on as many trains and buses as possible.
Instead of worrying about car parking, apartment buildings in Denmark have to make sure there is enough space for all the bikes! Cyclists enjoy extremely safe and convenient biking conditions in Copenhagen, including bike paths that are separated from the cars and special traffic lights for bikes. On any given day of the week, you will see hoards of cyclists: men in suits, women in high heels, students going to school, adults with kid seats on the back, big and little, male and female, young and old. The mercurial weather doesn’t even stop them- they just tuck their heads down and pedal into the rain, the wind, the sleet, and the snow of short, dark, winter days. I should mention that my my mother-in-law, who raised three kids and lives in the countryside, has never had a driver’s license and biked the 6 miles to and from work almost every day of the year until she retired last year. It truly is the way the Danes get around.
It helps that it’s a very flat country.
Guest Blogger Laura shares her experience of traveling to Guatemala with her children.
With summer at its height, many of us find ourselves heading out of town. For some, the beach beckons with its warm and lazy days. Or perhaps a trip to the mountains is the draw, with pristine vistas and fresh air. Wherever we end up, we usually return refreshed and with new memories. This summer, my husband and I chose a different break. After 5 years on American soil caring for our girls, now 2 and 4, I was ready to dust off my passport and hop a plane to somewhere new. The two of us volunteered to help take 25 teenagers to Chichicastenango, a small town in the western highlands of Guatemala. Mainly a service trip, we would be working alongside the indigenous K’iche’ Mayan people there, helping them build homes, make improvements to current structures, and hold a camp for school children. We would also have the opportunity to visit the town market.
Chichicastenango, or “Chichi” as the locals call it, has been one of the main trading centers in the Mayan region since pre-Hispanic times. The market today is the largest of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere. Known as the most colorful market in all of the Americas, it’s not hard to see why. The traje, or traditional native costumes of Guatemala, are bursting with color and together with their patterns connect locals to specific villages or groups. The vendors dress to sell their wares, which include ceramics, wooden masks, religious items and of course the fabrics. Oh, the fabrics. In the form of clothing, blankets, and so much more, they make the market a true feast for the eyes.
There was so much to see, from the Mayan priests on the church steps burning sacrifices to the women in their traje selling flowers. I took in the sights, the smells, the feel of it all. And of course I shopped. I was tempted to bring back an entire wardrobe for my girls, from the huipils (traditional Mayan blouses) to the wrap around skirts. I settled for dolls and headbands while they are still so small.
The market was a treat, and I thoroughly enjoyed taking teenaged girls on a shopping trip like no other. A far cry from the local mall, they tried their hand at bargaining and came away with some fabulous finds and great memories.
I could go on, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And for this experience, pictures tell it all. They tell the story of a people who showed us a glimpse of their lives through what they bring to market each week. Their stories are woven in fabrics every color of the rainbow.
We were happy to dive right into our new fall season with our Nordic-inspired activity book. We were even more happy to see all the great photos of our fans enjoying the new activity book! We have to say, this was by far the hardest month to pick a winner. There were so many amazing submissions that were all beyond creative!
This month, we say congrats to Kaili who colored the “Dress the Owl” activity book page.
We also have some honorable mentions we’d like to showcase. How could we not love Rachael’s monster?
Thank you everyone for entering and be sure to submit a new picture for August’s contest!
Browse all the entries on our Flickr page.
Interested in entering the contest for next month? Take a picture of your child’s completed activity book picture and send it to us at email@example.com with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line. We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate. We’ll also post all honorable mentions on our blog page and all submissions will be posted on our Flickr page.
Download all of our activity book pages by visiting our activity printouts blog tag.
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).
Margaret, who works in planning & operations, recently returned from a trip to Ireland. Check out her adventures!
Earlier this month, I traveled with my friends to Ireland for a wedding. The wedding took place near Drogheda, a small town about an hour north of Dublin. I had never been to an Irish wedding before, and it was quite the experience! The wedding itself was fairly short – but then the festivities continued all day. Later in the evening, the “afters” arrived (additional guests who were not invited to the ceremony and dinner, but show up later in the evening ). Finally, at 2am the party broke up – but then there was a wedding brunch the next day as well! The Irish certainly know how to celebrate!
After the wedding, we took some time to drive around the countryside. The first challenge was driving on the right-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side, as well as shifting with the left hand. We managed not to crash, but we did have a tire blow out in the windy narrow roads of Connemara. We were amazed at how many people stopped to help and make sure we were okay, and we were able to get the tire fixed and get back to our hotel in Galway.
My favorite site in Ireland was the burial mound at Newgrange (Brú na Bóinne). It’s one of a series of ancient burial mounds that were recently discovered in Ireland, and is over 5000 years old. Although the Neolithic people are not considered especially advanced, they were able to build this mound in such a way that the sun shines directly into the chamber on the Winter Solstice.
Ireland was beautiful (I’ve included photos of my favorite places below!), but it was rather cold and rainy. It was actually quite reminiscent of summer in San Francisco, in fact! So after Ireland, we did hop over to Munich for a few days to enjoy the sun for a few days.
Have you entered our Activity Book Contest for the month of July? Take a picture of your child’s completed activity book picture and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line. We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate. We’ll also post all honorable mentions on our blog page and all submissions will be posted on our Flickr page.
We can’t wait to start seeing entries from our new Nordic Inspired Activity Book. If you haven’t received it yet, you can download activity pages on our Inspiration page online at teacollection.com. You can also download activity pages from our past collections here: http://blog.teacollection.com/activity-printouts
Good Luck! We can’t wait to see what you create.
a. Dragon printout
b. Markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
d. Hole punch
1. Download our Dragon outline from our Activity Book.
2. Using a projector, resize the image until the dragon head will fit your child’s head as a mask.
3. Print the mask and use markers, colored pencils, or paint to fill in the design.
4. Cut out the mask. Use a hole punch to put holes on each side of the mask.
5. Have your child hold the mask in front of the eyes. Tie the string on one hole and wrap it around the back of their head, resting the string on their ears and tie the other side of the string to the opposite hole.
As your children are wearing their masks, snap a few pics and enter them in our “Around the World Activity Contest” for your chance to win one of our 10 weekly prizes and be entered into a sweepstakes to win a $500 Tea gift certificate. Contest ends 7/31/2012. Visit www.facebook.com/teacollection to enter.
This activity was inspired by the Sejong Dragon Pant which first debuted in Destination: Korea in Spring 2010.
Named for the king who invented the Korean written alphabet, these pants feature an embroidered dragon graphic on a cargo pant style.
Looking to add a little spirit to a gloomy day? Look no further! You can make your own spirit stick. This activity is perfect for all ages and easy to create. Oh, and did we mention just how fun it is too?
a. Tree Stick
b. Tissue paper/ Ribbon/ Scarf/ or any other textile to give it “spirit.”
This activity is quite simple, perfect for the littlest of citizens. Simply decorate your stick with “Spirit.” Paint, glitter, markers, textiles or anything else you can find around the house looks great fastened to this stick.
As your children are shaking their spirit sticks, snap a few pics and enter them in our “Around the World Activity Contest” for your chance to win one of our 10 weekly prizes and be entered into a sweepstakes to win a $500 Tea gift certificate. Contest ends 7/31/2012. Visit www.facebook.com/teacollection to enter.
This activity was inspired by the Sanga Dress, which first debuted in Destination: West Africa in Spring 2008.
a. Fan outline (link provided below)
b. Colored pencils
d. Watercolors and paintbrush
e. 1-3 Popsicle sticks
f. Glue or tape
1. Download the Japanese fan outline online here: http://bit.ly/japanesefan
2. Pint the fan on thick cardstock paper.
3. Once printed, color in the graphic using colored pencils.
4. Use watercolors to paint in the background.
5. Once colored and painted, cut out the fan shape with your scissors.
6. Flip fan over and add a Popsicle stick to the backside using tape or glue. For added strength, use three Popsicle sticks and make a ”Y” shape.
While they’re crafting their fan, snap a few pics of your little citizen and enter them in our “Around the World Activity Contest” for your chance to win one of our 10 weekly prizes and be entered into a sweepstakes to win a $500 Tea gift certificate. Contest ends 7/31/2012. Visit www.facebook.com/teacollection to enter.
This activity was inspired by the Butterfly Dot Dress, which first debuted in Destination: Japan in Fall 2009.
The Japanese inspired print featuring a flurry of red butterflies on a field of blue dots has come back in a classic flutter sleeve silhouette.
With just a few supplies and minimal direction, your little citizen can have fun crafting their own paper! Read on below for the easy step-by-step guide on creating paper.
a. White or brown paper
b. Watercolor paints
d. White crayon
1. Use your white crayon to draw whatever you would like on your paper.
2. Once you’re done drawing, paint over the crayon with watercolors to see your image appear.
While they’re painting their paper, snap a few pics of your little citizen and enter them in our “Around the World Activity Contest” for your chance to win one of our 10 weekly prizes and be entered into a sweepstakes to win a $500 Tea gift certificate. Contest ends 7/31/2012. Visit www.facebook.com/teacollection to enter.
This activity was inspired by the Hanji Floral dress which first debuted in Destination: Korea in Spring 2010.