Tuesday, July 17, 2018

We have YouTube channel:)

One of the goals I have for this summer while I am away from the BK studio in Los Angeles is to be more fluid with our storytelling, especially with videos. So since we arrived in Germany, I'm having tons of fun tinkering on video editing.

And now we have our official YouTube channel:) 

I have added a little video above to our BK welcome clip. I hope you have a chance to stop by and check out our channel. Like everything, it's a slow process to figure out new things but I try to tell myself "slow and steady".

We have tons of ideas about stories we want to share using videos so please stay tuned!  

Friday, July 13, 2018

BK Official Instagram!

For the longest time, I went back and forth between having or not having the BK official Instagram account. We are such a petite and personal brand and I felt like having an "official" feed makes us separate from the intimate feeling I have always enjoyed. But now our family is traveling for such a long time... away from the physical studio in Los Angeles, it made sense that we have a separate account that keeps updated information and announcements about what is physically happening in our studio. So here it is!


Our hashtag is still #baumkuchenstudio if you would like to add a hashtag to your IG post when you share photographs and stories that relate to BK:) 

I also love that everyone from our BK team can contribute to this feed, not just myself. Like everything we do, the process will be very organic and I trust that it will reflect who we are in the truest manner. I am looking forward to sharing stories, ideas, thoughts, inspiration, an update from the BK team as well as from our beautiful community... and more on this thread. 

BK summer 2018. Here we come:)


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Stamping away with joy at Traveler's Factories!

Between our stay in Ishigaki Island and the final travel destination, Germany, we spent one night in Tokyo. We arrived in mid-afternoon, and we only had time until the next morning, so we kept our time simple. We booked a hotel nearby Tokyo station because we knew to arrive at Haneda airport from Ishigaki and to depart from Narita airport to Hamburg, Germany would be fairly accessible from there. We were also looking forward to visiting the Traveler's Factory in Tokyo Station.

Traveler's Factory, Tokyo Station
Maybe because I never lived in a metropolitan city with large transit facilities..., but Tokyo Station was pretty over the top for my senses. The underground avenues below the train stations that were laid out like spider webs very much felt like a giant maze to me. I researched ahead of time where the Traveler's Factory was inside of this large station, but it still took us a while to find it.

It was helpful to know that the store was inside of the section called "GrandSta Marunouchi". I kept asking people where this area was and once we were inside of the GrandSta Marunochi section, we were able to find an area map that gave us detail directions. I found out later that a part of the GrandSta Marunouchi (but not the whole) was inside of the paid part of the train station terminal (inside of the actual JR station) where you could only access with purchased train tickets. We bought the cheapest tickets even though we didn't need to ride any trains only to find out that Traveler's Factory was actually 'outside' of the train terminal. Ah! But we did find it after all, and all four of us had a lot of fun adding some exclusive stamps to our notebooks. Some of the special stamps featured different prefectures of Japan, so of course, we added: "Shizuoka," "Tokyo" and "Okinawa" to our pages.

On our last day in Japan as we were departing from Narita Airport, we had a few hours of an unexpected flight delay, so we luckily got to make a quick stop at Traveler's Factory in Narita Airport and once again stamped on our pages. At this store, the exclusive stamps featured different countries you could visit! I really loved how Traveler's Company differentiated the offerings based on the location of the stores. Satchi made a page on her TN refill about places she would like to visit. It included Egypt, Brazil, and Africa:)

Both stores are very compact and fun stops to make if you are trespassing the area.

To my joy, both of our girls are finally enjoying the art of adding stamps to different journal pages. It was delightful to watch Satchi and Coco's intentional face as they added different designs to their pages.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Play & Breathe // Ishigaki Island, Japan

I believe every "travel" has its purpose and meaning to contribute to our family and life. More often we don't know what the purpose is meant to be until we embark on the journey or even after we return home. Or do we simply find what we are looking for when we travel because our senses are more accute?

I don't think we knew what to truly expect from our stay in Ishigaki Island. When we picked the location to visit back in February, we just wanted to be somewhere outdoor-oriented and warm. Warm enough for all of us to swim and spend time together as a family after having an incredibly full winter and spring at our home in Los Angeles.

What we felt from our 8 days on Ishigaki Island was the beautiful void and emptiness in our minds that resulted from the constant mode of simply being. Interestingly, we never knew how full and busy our minds were until we experienced how empty and still they could be.

The island is slow paced. No freeways. No crowdedness. It's surrounded by beautiful blue emerald ocean and corals and the land is covered in dark green jungle. It's so hot, humid, and high in UV that it's unbearable to be outside during the mid-day. But being out in the nature in the morning and early afternoon feels cleansing almost like being in the sauna room. We were lucky to have arrived right at the end of the island's rainy season.

Where we stayed:
As we usually do, we rented an Airbnb house which was a renovated traditional dwelling that had charming details of what used to be with updated kitchen and bathroom. Renting a house allowed us to cook most of our meals and had enough space for us to spend time and relax indoor during the hot mid-day. We journaled, studied, and wrote tons of postcards from our dining table. Girls played for hours with what we had at our home away home. Jumping between futon piles, making a pretend game with their beloved stuffed animals, and playing the game of Yahtzee with Frido...

Yonehara Beach:
Beaches in Ishigaki were beyond amazing. More than anything, we were taken away by how uncrowded these beautiful beaches were. Each beach has its own charm but one of our favorite beaches we kept going back was Yonehara Beach. We visited the beach at low-tide and mid-tide. We rented life vests at a general store located in the parking lot and enjoyed snorkeling for hours. The part of the beach had a sign for rip current warnings so we stayed close to the shore but sea life was abundant and full of exciting discoveries for all of us.

A day trip to Taketomi Island:
15 minutes ferry ride from Ishigaki Island took us to Taketomi Island which had visually stunning traditional dwellings and a village that has been preserved over time. We started the day as early as we could to beat the heat! We rented bikes and explored different parts of the island. Frido's favorite part was looking for a star-shaped sand that is truly unique to this island and Satchi's favorite part was riding a bike. I loved sitting at the beach and staring at the water...

Bits and pieces of delicious eats:
We didn't eat out a lot but here are some of our favorite finds!

Cafe Sunkiss
This cafe was recommended by a lifeguard we met on our second day in Ishigaki. It was a warm day (as usual in Ishigaki) so all the other guests were eating inside but I LOVED sitting on the shaded patio. A perfect post-beach lunch with sand between our toes.

Blue Cafe
After eating a lot of Japanese noodles, we were ready for something else and we couldn't have asked for more! Great iced coffee, pizza, waffles...

Ishigakijima Reika 
I was in search of a traditional "Kaki-Gori" (shaved ice) in Okinawa. I told Frido that I wasn't going to leave the island until I find one. So I was thrilled to walk into this charming establishment in the city of Ishigaki. Flavors and ambiance were both exactly what I was looking for.

I knew that our stay in Ishigaki was necessary and essential because immediately after we arrived at Hamburg (our next and final destination for our summer travel), I started writing. Multiple new stories, ideas, and creative contents are getting ready for Baum-kuchen as I type this story. My creative juice is flowing again because I had an opportunity to empty my mind that has been overflown with a plate full of projects and responsibilities for last few months.

I am sure that I will continue to feel the effects of our time in Ishigaki for many days, weeks, months ahead. And that's why traveling is magical. Small or big. It shifts the course of our life just like that.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Traveling light through Japan

Last week when we first arrived in Japan, we had an ambitious itinerary to stay at different accommodations 4 nights in a row with all kinds of public transportation in between. This was definitely first for us as a family since we have always preferred to stay longer at one place at a time. Last few years, with girls being so much younger, we just couldn't imagine carrying them through Shinjuku Station during the morning rush hour.

There seems to be a switch when kids turn 5 and 8 years old. Both girls feel more open and accommodating to changes. Within 5 days, we took 3 airplanes, 2 bullet trains, 5 local trains and a few cab rides which indeed included the Shinjuku Station rush hour transit when we had to cut through the sea of morning commuters toward the opposite direction.

Traveling light has been our motto for so many years and for this trip too, we tried our best to pack small. We have one suitcase with all our clothes and essentials plus each of us carrying one carry-on. We do have a separate duffle bag with snorkeling gears and 2 booster seats for girls which we were able to leave at Haneda Airport while we were visiting Tokyo and Shizuooka.

We are often asked how we manage to pack light. Here are few of my personal tips.

1. PACK MINIMUM AMOUNT OF CLOTHES. We stick with the "rule of three" for our basic travel clothes. 3 versatile tops (which include dresses), 3 shorts, 3 underwears. Pajamas, 1 long sleeve layer, and 1 lightweight sweater are also packed. Frido and I have running wears which we are double-dutying as our swimwear and everyday shirts. Having fewer choices for outfits also makes it so much easier for all of us to get ready for the day. And really. We have not needed more.

2. PICK A PLACE WITH WASHER. When we look for an Airbnb house to stay, we try our best to find the place with washer (and sometimes dryer if we are lucky!!). If not, we just handwash our clothes!

3. PACK A FEW ITEMS THAT MAKE THE STAY LITTLE MORE COMFORTABLE. I love having a small piece of home with us when traveling. Usually, I pack a Square Tote and Cube by Ateliers PENELOPE to use once we unpack at our home away home. Also loving TSL Cotton Bag which was neatly folded in the suitcase when we were transiting... but now a super handy and lightweight day bag!

4. DON'T BRING ALL THE DEVICES FROM HOME. Satchi and Coco watch movies and listen to audio stories on iPad at home so they asked us if they could bring our shared iPad to travel. We chatted about it and decided that we can do what they want to do on our laptops and iPhones. I know it's tempting to bring devices for kids when traveling but totally worth considering the other ways! There are plenty of movie choices on long-distance flights and it's okay to be bored and take a nap when there is nothing to do. And if there is a space, bring a travel sized game. Satchi is obsessed with Yahtzee and we love this travel version so much.

5. HAVE A GOOD FIRST-AID KIT. I carry a small first-aid kit in my bag at all times and have a complete set of travel-sized medicine cabinet (pouch) at our Airbnb home. It's basic but I know that I have a fever reducer, allergy medicine, itchy cream, eye drops for an infection, antibacterial cream + band aides for kids and grownups. I hope we don't need to use any of it but it's a peace of mind for my mama brain.

I think we could have packed even lighter if I knew what I know today. In the near future, I would also love us to ditch a suitcase for the train travel. And instead, have everyone carry backpacks with clothes and essentials.

Then there is yet another important question. If we can travel and live out of one suitcase and have fulfilling moments, why do we have so much more at home? That is a question that needs to be answered when we get back to our Los Angeles home in September.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kira no Sato // Onsen visit in Izu

We made a detour trip to Izu Peninsula on our way back to Tokyo for one night stay at a traditional Onsen inn, Kira no Sato. It's a huge treat for us to visit Onsen in a local area of Japan and something we aspire to do whenever we can while visiting Japan. I did spend quite a bit of time investigating which Onsen to stay that was convenient enough between Tokyo - Shizuoka transit. I was happy when I came across this one that had a large enough property for kids to explore when they didn't want to be inside of the room, an option to have our space to avoid waking up other guests during our jetlag days (have been up since 3am for last few days...), traditional Japanese aesthetics with updated amenities (like easy to use clean bathroom). Usually, Onsen stay comes with curated dinner and breakfast with local flavor and that's also a fun way to experience different regions of Japan.

So if you are ever in Tokyo area, this little Onse is worth the 2 hour trip via Shinkansen and local train!



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