Saturday, October 18, 2014

[Metamorphosis] MIDORI Traveler's Notebook Brown // 2 & 6 years

Brown Traveler's Notebook is one of the oldest product I can feature with its unique metamorphosis process. And probably one artifact that is the closest to me. I remember so vividly the day I saw this beautiful leather notebook displayed so casually in a large Tokyo stationery store. It was the last day of our stay in Tokyo and I couldn't believe how much and how quickly I fell in love with it... at the moment I saw it. I dragged Frido to the little corner of the stationery store and made up my mind that I would get the brown one and Frido would get the black one... and stuffed our suitcase with all the refill notebooks I could carry because I knew that they would be difficult to find in the U.S. This was before Traveler's Notebook started gaining the popularity and really... nobody seemed to know about it in the States. Little I knew that this beautiful leather notebook cover will be the beginning of our Baum-kuchen journey.

I have used my regular size Traveler's Notebook for six years and love every bits of its aging and wearing in process. Even the little spot that was left on the front cover from some kind of drink or lotion I accidentally spilled in my purse. I carried it during my Seattle/Los Angeles commute, our memorable travels, documenting life with Satchi and Coco... People are always surprised by how much the leather changes over time and some customers have proposed to purchase my old Traveler's Notebook instead of getting the brand new one. I kindly declined the offer and suggested that they embrace their unique journey with the Traveler's Notebook by carrying it, loving it and writing/drawing as much ideas and life as it happens!

The Passport Size was used about two years when my life was little less complex. I carried it as my wallet/monthly planner and note taking. You can see the difference between 2 years vs. 6 years of wearing in.

I am really looking forward to sharing the ongoing transformation of the Traveler's Notebook in a few years... maybe when it hits the 10th year anniversary:)

How does your Traveler's Notebook look so far? I would love to see it if you could send us pictures!











Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shop update: shipping rate, schedule, opening hours and BIG THANK YOU!

I am pretty thrilled to let you know that we finally have a humble presence on the building where Baum-kuchen resides thanks to Frido! It has been a whole year since we opened the shop in this space and we can't wait to see what is ahead of us.

As we believe in transparency and open communication about how we work inside of the Baum-kuchen, I would love to take a moment to share few updates with you.

1. New beautiful artifacts...  
We have been working pretty hard to update our website with all the new goodies we recently stocked in our shop. We are always very careful about adding items to our collection because we want to make sure that they are right fit for us. So this past few weeks of receiving amazing products from all over the world felt pretty exciting. Frido and I have had lengthy discussion about each one of these products before we placed an order from the makers and producers around the world. So far I have updated Roterfaden Notebook and few items from the Superior Labor including Leather Carrier (which already sold out but we are now taking pre-order). There will be more updates coming soon so please stay tuned:)

2. Lowered shipping rate
We recently reduced our shipping rate after I stared at Quickbook and financial reports from past few months for a long time and figuring it out if we could continue to sustain our business with lowered shipping/handling fee. Maybe it might make your next order $1 or $2 less... and maybe it's not a huge deal... but it marks an important milestone to me as a shop owner.

The change was made possible by our implementation of ShipStation and making some parts of our fulfillment process to be automated such as printing labels and letting the system figure out the tracking number, etc. ShipStation definitely offers much better USPS postage price even though we pay a monthly fee to them. I will test the current shipping/handling fee for a few months, see how we float and let you know if there might be additional changes.

I am not sure if we will ever get to the point where we can offer free shipping/handling fee (and that's not perhaps a purpose of what we do) but we will continue to work on making the products we curate more accessible to everyone who might be interested while keeping our part of the process meaningful (we love making pretty packages to share with our customers:) and bringing happy surprises and smiles to our customers' unwrapping moments.

3. Brick and mortar opening hours
We have always had odd opening hours at our brick and mortar space in Glassell Park and it was simply to make sure that we don't open for the sake of opening the shop but only open when we are able to work around our family's schedule. We are going to stay true to the philosophy because we want Baum-kuchen to be emotionally sustainable for us and be there when our family is much older... and there is no rush in growing so quickly. We decided to close most of the our opening days at 4pm for now instead of 5pm. If you have little children, you might already know this but 4-7pm is such a critical transitional time for kids from active day, through dinner, bath, to a quiet bet time. Usually our girls are in bed by 7-7:30pm and if I stayed at the shop every opening days until 5-5:30pm and get home by 6pm..., I miss the big opportunity to help them through the evening.

underline: we are aiming for less toddler tantrum and early and happy bedtime!

In exchange of going home early, I will be able to work extra few hours at home after girls go to sleep focused (instead of exhausted and scattered...) and that is a win win for everyone:)

Satchi starts her kindergarten next year and maybe we will change our hours again when we get there and who knows... we might have few more special someone helping us at the shop. For now closing at 4pm feels good to us and we are going with the flow.

If you need to stop by after 4pm due to your work/life schedule, send me an email so that we can arrange the opening hours for you. (wakako@baum-kuchen.net) We also open at least one of the weekend afternoon (mostly Saturday afternoon for now) to accommodate our customers' schedule.

4. More frequent shipping schedule
With Nerine's help, we are able to ship more days of the week now! Shipping our order promptly is one of my highest priority of the shop because I know how much each item from the shop means to the person who orders it... so I am super thrilled about this! Usually we ship throughout the week except Wednesday and Sunday. Our fulfillment closes around 1pm for the day's shipment so if your order comes in at 2pm on Monday, your package will most likely ship on Tuesday. International orders are usually shipped only during the week because we need to physically go to the post office counter.

5. A BIG THANK YOU! 
I just want to say THANK YOU for taking a part of our humble adventure. I am still the one and only one who corresponds to our sweet customers (I seriously think we have THE BEST customers in the whole world) and it's so important to me. I am sure that there will be one day when I would have to share this responsibility in some way... (not sure how yet) but for now I like to hold on to this very personal process close to my heart.

Every email, Facebook comments, Instagram feedback, blog comments... or simply browsing our Glassell Park studio/shop space in person means a lot to me and Baum-kuchen... and I want the whole world to know that Baum-kuchen simply does not exist without such an amazing, creative and inspiring community. THANK YOU:)

xoxo
-wakako



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life happens after we make a plan / ACE Hotel in Palm Springs

Sometimes life happens after we make a plan and that's exactly what happened last weekend. Initially we were planning to go camping (gramping... to be precise) to the north of Santa Barbara but happily ended up at ACE Hotel in Palm Springs with everyone (including Shep!)

We loved the weekday ACE Hotel vibe! It was so chill compared to the weekend when there are a lot of weddings and events that happen there (and a big party crowd that comes with it). We stayed at their room with a patio / fireplace. It was great for both Shep and our two little ones... going back and fourth between inside and outside and playing with Shep's water bowl (of course). It was one of the easiest trip we have taken recently. We literally packed our stuff in Aika's felt basket (soon to come to our shop) and drove 1.5 hours. We played at a nearly empty pool for a few hours, had a nice drink in our patio then headed to eat dinner at King's Highway. Next morning we woke up, grabbed some bagle and coffee at neighboring coffee shop then played more in (yet again) an empty pool.

ACE was a great source of branding inspiration. I love their subtle messaging you can discover here and there and they change things up quite a bit! So there is always more to discover even you stay there for the second and third time.

I really needed this time away since I have felt a bit of weight that was accumulating on my shoulder last few weeks. I took a little nap on our drive up to Palm Springs and when I woke up on the passenger seat, I was already feeling so much lighter. It was a bit of awe moment for me... to realize how much I was carrying on me and within me.

I do think and wonder if I ever need to change up my working habits.. But then I just know that it's not my style to be all meditated and calm. I am more of an obsessive compulsive... the crazy one who gets really into things and would do the ONE THING until the heart can't pour more. Then to switch things up by travel, a change of scenery and an injection of a fresh inspiration.

cheers to the 24 hour getaway!

xo
-w

















Wednesday, October 8, 2014

MD Notebook 2015 Daily / Hobonichi Cousin (A5)

This is my current obsession...  THE 2015 planner. I know it seems silly but it is a really big deal to me and I am literally losing my sleep thinking about it. (it's a good thing that planner and paper products are so much of what I do everyday at Baum-kuchen...)

It's a system I am hoping to commit for a year and document our everyday both for the family and shop. Especially now that I am starting to get a sense how powerful the accumulation of each day, month and year... and 5 year can be. (it comes with getting older... I suppose.)

So I am putting quite bit of effort in understanding what is available out there. Through my customer I came across Hobonichi  (a Japanese translation of the word "hobonichi" is "almost everday").  It's a Japanese planner system that has quite bit of cult followers and creative community. I loved the idea of dated daily journal (after trying non-dated bullet journal and carrying a monthly dated calendar to organize scheduling). The idea of "documenting a day" instead of simply using a planner to arrange schedule really fascinates me. So I asked Frido to pick up a few Hobonichi samples from the store when he was in Japan few weeks ago.

At Baum-kuchen, we have been carrying MIDORI MD daily diary as well as monthly calendar. One of our customers asked me to do a side-by-side comparison of Hobonichi Cousin and MIDORI MD Daily Diary so here they are! They are both A5 size and have monthly calendar as well as daily page. They are both stitch bound so they open flat.

Here is how I would summarize pros and cons of both notebooks.

MIDORI MD Daily Diary 2015 (A5):

  • I LOVE their minimalistic layout design. It's something I can totally see myself using everyday without being distracted by visual noise.  
  • It comes with a very durable white cover so you can carry them throughout the year in the bag, on your table... It will look nice on your nightstand but can withstand the frequent travels in your bag.
  • Monthly calendar is dated but daily page is not. So if you miss a day of journaling, documenting, bullet journaling, you can simply skip the day and write next day on the following new page. You might feel less guilty about skipping a day here and there and use extra pages for days that have more to say!
  • The paper is creamier in color. (MIDORI's original paper which has a reputation of a great compatibility to fountain pens)
  • It is bit thicker than Hobonichi Cousin.
  • There are some blank pages towards the end that can be used for flex purpose. 

Hobonichi Cousin 2015 (A5):
  • Their Hobonichi community is pretty inspiring! You can see how other people use their Hobonichi for different usage here on their website
  • They have an amazing collection of cover line up to help you customize and organize your life! (here is a line up of covers for "Cousin" / A5 size). I am actually thinking of incorporating the Hobonichi Cousin in my Roterfaden leather cover. They actually make a great fit! 
  • Hobonichi uses Japanese Tomoe River Paper which is known for a very very thin quality paper that is compatible with many of the fountain pens on the market.
  • Each page has an inspiration quote. (it's in Japanese for Cousin /A5 size)
  • Because paper is so thin, Hobonichi has weekly section along with Monthly and Daily section and still manages to be thinner than MD Daily Diary in an overall dimension.
  • All monthly, weekly and daily sections are pre-dated 
  • All the written contents inside of the Hobonichi Cousin and Original is in Japanese. If you are interested in getting English version, you can look into Hobonichi Planner (it comes in the same size as "Original" but does not come in A5 size). 
  • There are additional information area where you can "log" gifts give/received, important contact info, etc.  
Okay! So that's as much as I can think of for now.  What do you think is going to be for your 2015 analogue system??? I LOVE to know so I can get more inspiration (and obsess about it...). I have a feeling it's something I am going to dream, contemplate and lose sleep for until December 31st. 

xoxo
-wakako











Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pressing memories... from our humble adventure in Hamburg

As I prepared for our recent trip to Germany, I wanted to explore a new way of capturing our day-to-day discovery because travel always brings intense learnings to us.  (when we were traveling Yakushima in spring, I loved capturing our adventure using visual bullet journal!)

Coming from dry desert of Los Angeles, northern Germany would be filled with fresh greens and blooms in season and I thought... why not press flowers everyday and send those pressed flowers as postcards from Germany to our family and friends? 

So the project started from the day we landed on Hamburg, Germany. I didn't really know how the end result was going to turn out because I didn't have much experience in pressing flowers prior to this trip but I was armed with postcard size watercolor paper, self-inking date stamp, mt masking tape, Brass alphabet bookmark and Kraft Envelope with Window, a travel size water color kit and much excitement. There is something liberating about letting the process of exploration unveil its outcome. It's almost like being a kid again... not expecting certain result... and just playing with materials.  

I picked flowers, leafs, petals everyday at random places... as we were out and about exploring the city of Hamburg (or simply walking the neighborhood street). When we got home after the day of adventure, I sat with the flowers and my analogue kit... to capture the way the day felt. I loved composing the organic shape and color of flowers, red date stamp and a short hand written caption about the day against crisp white paper. Once the postcard felt "right", I taped some of the loose parts on the water color paper using tiny bits and pieces of mt masking tape and placed between two white sheets then between newspapers. My parents-in-law had a beautiful vintage press in their living room which was PERFECT for pressing flowers. (You can also use a heavy weight book to press flowers). After trying out few times, I noticed that some flowers squeezed a lot more juice than others making the papers stick to each other. When it happened, extra newspapers on top helped absorb the moisture from the flowers while it was pressed. 

What I enjoyed the most was the delayed process. It took few days for the flowers to be pressed. The anticipation of waiting how it was turning out was priceless. I gave a good 3-4 days for the flowers to be pressed (and I am pretty sure I could have kept them little longer). 

Some flowers pressed exactly I imagined and other flowers changed a lot... which really transformed the way the postcard ended up looking. I appreciated how the nature took its way to "be" the way the postcards were meant to be. No postcard looked commercially beautiful but they captured the story of our humble adventure from the day. You can see the before/after of how each flowers pressed if you scroll down all the way to the bottom of this story.

When time came, I wrote a little note on the back of the postcard and used Kraft Envelope with Window to mail it to our special someone. The Kraft Envelope gave a nice frame to the pressed flowers making it feel more complete and presentable. 

I also passionately collected the residue of pressed flowers... an inked mark that was left over from the vivid flower color. An intense sweet scent that was transferred onto the layers of papers from a small lavender. To me... these residues were just as beautiful as the pieces I sent in the mail. I kept them in a special place in my notebook... because they are the true representation of our travel as a family. 

Never perfect... but perfectly wonderful. 


















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