July Instagram Round Up

We asked you to use #teacollection in your Instagram photos and we were so excited to find that you did! Each month we’ll round up 12 of our favorites and share them with you here on Studio T.

row 1 (left to right): @ngstew, @agoldenafternoon, @saartje410

row 2: @pekechikpr, @embeerich, @beknitpicky

row 3: @rossila49, @chelseypaul, @briana_mcdonell

row 4: @dawnmg, @ambernge, @ariedeman

July’s Activity Book Winner

July 2013 Activity Book Winner

Take a picture of your child’s completed Tea Collection activity book picture and send it to us at blog@teacollection.com with “Activity Book Entry” in the subject line.  We pick one winner each month to receive a $100 Tea gift certificate.

Download a few of our activity book pages by visiting our Inspiration page.

“We Go There, Too!” with Sarah Tucker

We go there – we explore and dig deep into other cultures. We know you go there too. This new series will feature stories from world travelers; they’ve taken their first flight over seas with little ones, they’ve traveled back to their native country to introduce their children to grandparents, they’ve packed up only their necessities and traveled to developing countries. Here, you will find their stories and learn about how they’re going there too.

We’re so excited to have Sarah Tucker from Fairytales Are True with us today on Studio T! After learning she took her six month old across the great big sea for a family vacation, we were eager to hear how things went. Thanks for sharing a little piece of your trip with us Sarah!

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Before his half birthday Tuck had already made his way to four countries. My husband and I lived abroad as newlyweds and that opportunity afforded us many opportunities to travel to places I never imagined I would. When we had our son we wanted to share all of the rich insights and experiences travel gives, and raise a “little citizen of the world”.  Fortunately,  having a baby did not mean the end to our adventures, just different kind of adventures altogether.  Traveling with a baby allows you to see things through their eyes; which are always filled with amazement.  It’s true you have to go slow, but it’s a welcomed pace from trying to cram in all the sights all of the time. Most recently this past summer we took off overseas to introduce our baby to our newlywed hometown of Basel, Switzerland.  There we visited old friends, introduced him to swiss german, and wandered the cobblestone streets.  It was fun taking him to old haunts.  Of course no trip to Basel would be complete without getting a cheeseboard at Consum!  Surprisingly enough tea at the famous Les Trois Rois (Napolean once stayed here, as did the Rolling Stones) was a great spot with babies.  My friend who has also become a new mom, another old friend, and I enjoyed a long leisurely lunch with our babies.  We visited markets, smelled swiss peonies, and strolled along Spalenberg which has houses dating back to the 1200’s.

After that fun swiss holiday we headed down to Sicily!  We took a day to visit Mt. Etna and finished with a wine tour and “light lunch” at Murgo Winery. The light lunch was an eight course meal.  We we’re stuffed, but it was all so good. We ate at some amazing restaurants, and pretty much all of Italy is kid friendly.  They love babies and are incredibly accommodating.  We ate at Sea Sound one night, and Casa Grugno another.  Both beautiful Michelin rated restaurants you can take kids to.
Though he may not remember it, we will!  And I will always enjoy exposing my kids to different cultures, languages, and food. Love raising him to be a little citizen of the world!

Passport to Pacifier

Wing and Jon opened Pacifier‘s doors in 2004 after trying to find a hip gift for their niece. We are sure the stylish babies of Minneapolis owe much thanks to this niece for needing a present!  Since then, three Pacifier locations have opened their doors and lucky for us, two of them happen to be Tea Collection destination stores!  We encourage you to stop in and chat with the friendly staff who always go above and beyond for their customers.

Tea: How did you decide to take the leap and open your own store? How long has your store been in business?

Wing: I had had a job with a terrible boss, and I decided I couldn’t work for anyone else but myself. We’ve been in business now for just over nine years. I really need to go back and thank that boss.

Tea: All of our retailers are so different! Tell us what makes your store unique?

Wing: We have three stores and all have a very unique look. The main store in N.E. Minneapolis is our original one and the largest; it’s bright, colorful and a bit more quirky-looking. Our downtown Minneapolis store in the skyway is painted dark grey and caters to busy executives and office folks looking for a quick gift. Our newest location in the 50th & France neighborhood of Edina, has more muted and refined colors. They all carry many of the same products, but we’ve made an effort to tailor each one to the neighborhood it’s in.

Tea: What is your favorite part of the day in the store?

Wing: Opening boxes of new deliveries, especially clothing. It’s so fun because most of the time I’ve forgotten what we ordered months ago.

Tea: What’s the trendy thing right now in kid’s fashion now?

Wing: What are people coming in for? Mustaches on everything, still, and chevron.

Tea: What do you do in your “spare” time? Laughable right?

Wing: I’ve been lucky to have an amazing staff that allowed me to take my first full 2 week vacation in years. We took a road trip out east to visit family and it was a blast. I was worried about my 4 year old melting down, but he did great. I’ve also had time this summer to work on a little Japanese-style garden in my backyard.

Tea: How do you balance it all? Do you have any tricks for the rest of us?

Wing: With work and family, there’s always something to be done. I’ve come to accept that I can’t do it all, it won’t always be perfect, and I try not to let that stress me out anymore. My trick: try to schedule as many date nights and girls nights out as possible! For me, it’s the one thing that always falls to the bottom of the list, so I have to always remind myself to do this.

Diving Into Life’s Unexpected Opportunities; Peru.

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).

Meet Diane (she’s pictured below – the one in the middle!), our amazing marketing manager. Today she’s sharing her most memorable day from her Peruvian vacation with us on Studio T.

I love traveling abroad because it opens my eyes to new cultures, new people, and new adventures.  I am normally an organizer; my itinerary is methodically planned and set up prior to my departure.   This time, my travel adventure started out a bit reckless for me with a spontaneous invitation from my two friends to join them in Peru.  I thought, “why not?” Sometimes, you just have to dive into life’s unexpected opportunities! How could I know that I would get so much more out of it than I could have ever planned for? Here is the story of my most memorable and authentic day in Peru. It began with a bit of intuitive trust and a desire for adventure.

When we arrived at the Puerta (port) at Lake Titicaca at 7am, we had no tour planned, no ferry scheduled, and no time to do the standard overnight tourist stay on one of the lake’s popular islands. But, we were hoping to piece together a plan and a boat tour for the day.

We approached the first man we saw on the dock… keep in mind that between the three of us girls, we speak only broken Spanish and certainly no local dialect.  The man was small in stature and seemed to be in his 50’s or 60’s.  He spoke no English and very little Spanish, so even limited communication in a common language was out of the question. His native language was Quechua – a South American ancestral language of the indigenous people.  With hand gestures and the help of some of his friends, we were able to arrange a day trip to explore Lake Titicaca by boat with this local man whose name is “Victorino.”  We were able to discern that he would take us to visit the Floating Uros Islands and Amantani Island. But, that was all we could figure out from the conversation. The rest was going to be an adventure!  So, we put our trust in this weathered but gentle man and we journeyed on.

We climbed aboard an old, rickety, double-decker ferry and set off on our adventure. The 3 hour boat ride to the Uros islands was breathtaking.  The water was crystal clear and glass-like, and the snowcapped peaks on the horizon reflected in the water like a mirror.  The sky was the bluest I have ever seen with the contrast of the spotted bright white clouds to intensify the sky blue.

Sweeping views of the 3,200 square mile lake set at 12,000 feet above see level

Victorinio steered us toward the less-explored Uros Islands – the ones that few tourists ever visit.  Here we were able to walk around the floating islands made entirely of reeds.  When I stepped on the surface of the island, the water of the lake squished under my feet like a sponge.  It was like walking on a water bed. It was amazing to think of them floating out in the middle of the lake.  We even took a little ride on a canoe that was made of the reeds.

The Uros islands are floating islands made of reeds. The inhabitants of these islands speak Quechua and they make their living selling souvenirs to the few tourists who travel off the beaten path to visit these incredible islands.

The next stop on our tour was to the island of Amantani. The vastness of this island could not be deciphered upon first glance because of the mountainous landscape. When we got off of the boat we hiked up a steep hill – behind us, a panoramic breathtaking view of the lake. We trustingly followed Victorino up cobblestone paths through a tiny village. The people who live here fully sustain themselves with resources found on the islands. It was a walk back into a simpler time. Victorino welcomed us into his own family’s home where the walls were made of adobe, and the doorways and ceilings low. One tiny room housed Victorino, his 3 children, his brother in law and his grandson. Such a simple structure with minimal comforts, but with million dollar views of the massive lake.

The view from our lunch table.

As house guests, we were seated at the brightly colored table while the rest of the family sat down on a mud bench beside us in the kitchen area. Victorinio’s daughter had prepared us a homemade feast – she presented us with a traditional quinoa soup, fried trout, root vegetables, potatoes, cucumbers and coca tea.  The soup was a meal in itself and full of flavor!

After lunch, Victorino’s son showed us around their little village – pointing out the Plaza de Armas, the school, and the quaint homes. We spent the entire afternoon sightseeing and communicating effectively without a common verbal language.

When it was time to leave and head back to the mainland, Victorino sent us off with his son-in-law who escorted us to the ferry. The ferry carried the local people of the Amantani Island to the mainland. We climbed on board, unsure of where we would end up.  We had put our trust in Victorino’s family and so we continued on with his son-in-law. When we docked, we looked around and it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. By now the sun was on it’s way down, and we were a little uneasy about how we were going to get back to our hostel. Within a few minutes, out of what seemingly nowhere, appeared a van that would take us an hour down to the road to Puno, our final destination.  As the bus stopped to pick up locals making their way home from a long day, we imagined we looked a bit out of place with our fair skin and North American features.  We hummed along to the radio with a feeling of pure contentment from the unexpected adventure of the day.

What began as an uncertain, haphazard attempt to tour the islands turned into an unexpected, incredible, authentic, one-of-a-kind, adventure!  It was the most memorable and heartwarming day of our entire trip.  Not only did I have the opportunity to see new cultures and new people, but I experienced the local lifestyle on a personal and intimate level.  Victorino and his family will forever be etched in my heart and mind for taking us under his wing, showing us his corner of the world, and welcoming us into his home.

 

Friday Round Up

It’s Friday! Our pajamas will keep your little ones cozy no matter what day of the week it is.

Things we found and want to share from this past week:

7 Ways To Blow Better Bubbles – 7 tips you won’t want to miss by Mari Richards on Handmade Charlotte!

You could win a 6 month subscription to Kiwi + a Tea wardrobe set! Winner will be announced on Monday July 29th.

We’re dreaming of a long summer trip – Where to?

Skip take out and make this Chinese dish at home this weekend.

The Traveling Mama explains the difference between Ice Cream & Gelato