Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Archiving the treasure from 2013...

Right around the same time... every year... I gather all the treasure from the past year and create a collage of memory... things I want to remember. I used to make a jar for each year but since last year... I switched a gear and have decided to archive them in a more accessible format using MIDORI Bee Notebook.

This process really helps me to organize little artifacts that are too precious to let go... but don't have a permanent locations... you know... things that tend to collect in little corners of the house (everywhere). I am thankful that this notebook gives just enough so it can accommodate slightly three dimensional things like hospital tags from Coco's birth, etc...

Since the notebook gets so "full" after putting everything inside, I usually like to put a secure closure. Last year I made a make shift string and button closure but this year... I was able to use MIDORI eyelet and string sticker to make sure nothing falls out of the notebook. (thank you MIDORI... for making my life easier and simpler).

I like giving each page (an envelope with a window to be exact) a little theme. A page about welcoming Coco in our life (that was a big one in 2013...), our travel, a page about sisterhood, opening the shop... I write a few things around the window on each page to remember why certain artifacts made it to the page with a hope that our girls will someday look back and sense our life in a tangible way.

2013... you were good to us.

In case you are interested, here is a list of tools I used:
MIDORI Bee spiral notebook
Brass alphabet bookmark
Brass number bookmark
MIDORI eyelet and string sticker
mt masking tape
Label sticker / cream
Brass pen

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reset on Sunday

I've been keeping myself pretty busy this past weeks to prepare the shop to be "wakako-free". Much of the preparation will still continue this coming week (probably all the way till this Friday when we leave because I am -for now- a very micro manager) but I am glad that we took the very conscious decision to make a family day happen today.

One of the special thing we did this morning was to go out for a family breakfast! Since we are actually traveling soon... in less than a week (!!!), these little outings can be really helpful to find out what works and what doesn't... mostly with the little ones. I love Sqirl. They are busy and always seem to have a good long line... but once we order and sit down, everything is all fine:) And while we were waiting in line to order our food, we got to see the chef in action! And their food is pretty special.

The rest of the day was filled with napping with Coco (I haven't done that for such a long time... it was very sweet and she sleeps so well when we nap together. I can't believe that it was much of all I did... less than a year ago...), a visit to a local library to get more children's books for Satchi and spending some quality family time in the backyard.

I hope you had a lovely Sunday:)

Crossing all my fingers that this coming week will go smooth!


Saturday, April 12, 2014

To make your Traveler's Notebook adventure extra special!

Over the course of 3 years of carrying Traveler's Notebook collection at our shop, we have heard different insights and feedback from our lovely community. One thing our customers wished often... was accessories for the notebook that brought more tactile experience. Something that would feel as nice as Traveler's Notebook leather cover itself and can tolerate the everyday heavy usage.

So we have been collaborating with the team of 1.61 Soft Goods (we also carry some of their products at our shop:) to make it happen! I combed through all the past correspondence I had with our Traveler's Notebook customers to gather insights in order to create artifacts that are beautiful but also useful! We are happy to launch two brand new items today at our shop - [Essential] and [Portfolio]!

[Essential] available with white or black zipper details. 
We think that the name "Essential" is perfect for this item! 
Dictionary defines the word as "absolutely necessary; extremely important." and we feel that this little beauty can do exactly that! To carry things that are absolutely necessary during your adventure and help you stay organized! 

We heard that a lot of our customers are using their Traveler's Notebook as their wallet... so we wanted to create a perfect spot to keep credit cards, cash and checkbook, etc... securely. The other half of the [Essential] is a sturdy zipper case to accommodate anything and everything loose! You can fit your creative tools like pens and rulers to accompany your journaling process or use the zipper case to correct special memorandum from the vacation. 

When we were designing and making some serious decisions, there was a discussion of "hand stitch - aka saddle stitch" vs. "machine stitch". Machine stitch will be cheaper to produce because it can be sewn a lot faster... but hand stitch will make more durable products. Once we laid out all the facts, it was an easy decision for us! Definitely hand stitch to make sure that [Essential] can live as long as your Traveler's Notebook... (or even outlast it!) So overall construction of the [Essential] is hand stitched except the zipper part. 

Same philosophy went in when we picked the hardware. Plastic zipper would have been cheaper but brass zipper will be more durable. (and who wouldn't love the look of well worn in brass hardware, right??).

The leather is hand finished using 1.61 original leather conditioner with cedar oil. When you open the package, the leather might still have a little bit of aroma from the conditioner. It's pleasant and makes you feel like you are in a forest! The smell of conditioner will eventually disappear over time. Like a lot of the nude leather, the leather will age with time, exposure to the sun and wearing in!

**scroll down to read more about [Portfolio]!

[Portfolio] is more of an open container for all things loose like itinerary, map and receipts. Items that might be bit too tall to fit in [Essential] will easily fit in this case! We love the minimalistic look of [Portfolio] with clever design details. The side panel has a diagonal slot that is perfect for keeping business cards or most frequently used cards. The right panel has a horizontal slot that can hold Passport or small notebooks like Field Notes. We love the versatility of [Portfolio]...

It is also hand stitched and hand finished in the same way as [Essential]!

If you scroll down, you can compare the picture of Traveler's Notebook with one or two leather inserts. I personally enjoy the feel of "full" notebook! (makes me feel that there is so much inspiration to dig in:)

Traveler's Notebook with a blank refill with one leather insert.
Traveler's Notebook with a blank refill with two leather insert.

[Metamorphosis] The Superior Labor Shoulder Bag / new vs. + 2yrs

One of the motto we have at Baum-kuchen is... "everything we carry must become more beautiful after it's used and loved for a long time". So I was thrilled to have a brand new Superior Labor Shoulder Bag next to my personal one - exactly the same bag... only 2 years more loved:)

The blue bag is new and the red one with a circular graphic is my 2 years old version. The leather and canvas have both soften significantly. The "stiffness" of the canvas definitely has decreased. In the first picture, I tried to stand both bags but it was so much more difficult to get the shape of red bag to be photo ready. The leather parts show more "visible" aging. All the leather parts especially the leather handle and shoulder strap got caramelized and darken... even wrinkled on some parts of the handle. Brass parts also got so much more brushed... making it not as shiny but more closer to the lovely vintage look!

Canvas got slightly darker but not very visible in the photo. What I liked (and perhaps surprised) the most about was the bottom part of the canvas with paint treatment. I put my red back everywhere... (which includes not so clean surfaces on the street) as I use it everyday and I was expecting it to look a lot dirtier but red paint really kept all the dirt away from the canvas. Some parts of the red paint did get rubbed off with usage revealing the natural canvas underneath (you can see it closely on the bottom picture).

I really hope all the items at Baum-kuchen are the kind of artifacts that stick around for a long run in life... and it's nice to see the tangible evidence!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Resilience in life.

Yesterday morning Satchi and I had an emergency visit to an urgent clinic. She got a pretty deep splinter the night before which was really hurting her foot when she walked... After waiting for a good two hours in the waiting rom, it was her turn to meet the doctor.

I am usually pretty skeptical about the overall medical system in the U.S... but I was pleasantly surprised to meet our doctor. He was not only mindful with the care he was providing to Satchi but also very thoughtful in the way he communicated. We could tell... that he cared. 

After the doctor and I discussed about the procedures and what to expect, it was our time to tell Satchi what was going to happen to her foot. I asked the doctor if I could talk to her and so he listened as I gave her a quick overview of what was going to happen which included some painful part. I tried to share the procedure in the most respectful way without dumbing down... but using the metaphor and language she could understand. ("...needles will feel like pinching on the skin... and there will be four of them and that will be the most uncomfortable part of the whole process...") After I finished talking, Satchi gave me a brave nod and we were ready to go so we looked back to our doctor. He was in the room listening to our story and when we looked at him, he gave me such a surprise look which was almost comical. Apparently many parents sugar coat a lot of the story... especially the painful part which end up being a lot more upsetting for kids when it actually happens (and it hurts!!). He told me that the way I explained would be exactly the way he would have talked to her and asked me what I do for living and how I learned to talk to the kids like that. He was pretty convinced that I should consider pediatric care as my next career. (!) Satchi was very brave going through the entire process. She cried when doctor was injecting local anesthesia with needles but we held hands, looked each other in eyes and tried to use our imagination to get through the process. Once the painful part was done, we breathed in and out few times to quiet down our hearts and she was very calm going through the rest of the procedure. Once he got the splinter out, we looked at it together and she was beaming with pride. We asked if we could take the "evidence" home to share and doctor kindly accommodated our request. I could tell that the entire experience (which could easily be pretty scary and traumatic for 4 years old) really empowered her (and me as a mother as well...) and became a courageous story to remember. 

During our interaction, doctor and I chatted little bit about parenting philosophy and other things... and I told him (and Satchi who was also in the room with us listening to our conversation) that we can't mask uncomfortable things that happen to our life... because life isn't like that. There are happy moments... and other moments that might not be. It's so important for us as parents to prepare and guide our little ones to go through all the moments. Helping them build strong coping skills to bounce back from experience that goes against our will... and thrive from it.  

I hope our girls will be resilient in life today and tomorrow... years from now... even though it's not always pain free to go through some of the tough moments to gain the mileage. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

While we will be away traveling...

We are getting ready for a big adventure in Japan. We are leaving after next Friday... for three whole weeks!!!

Prior to this trip... when we traveled (and were not available during Coco's birth), we never doubted closing our shop during our absence. But now... that we are slowly growing, we wanted to do things differently during this trip and have a good support system to continue opening our online store.

I am thrilled to share that "the" support system we will have is our lovely friend Christine (who designs and makes pretty leather clutches, etc.). Christine and I have been working together for last few weeks to pass on the Baum-kuchen order fulfillment flow and it has been a pretty exciting process for me.

I have to be honest... I have fulfilled and shipped thousands of packages in last four years by myself and sharing the process was like sharing my baby... if you know what I mean. This part of our operation is so special to me because it is the single most important real touchpoint we get to enjoy with our online customers... When I fulfill order, I think of the customer and how she or he would be using the products... sometimes I might imagine the weather or the house and town they might be living... I just put a lot or warm thoughts and positive karma in our simple packages.

And to observe the process gets communicated and translated have felt liberating and made me feel even closer to the process.

So in a few weeks..., please be ready to see some travel updates from Japan here at our blog! And if you decide to order items from our shop during the time, Christine (in the studio) and I (remotely from Japan - yes we will have wifi and will be checking emails once a day) will take care of your order with lots of love and care.

We will be closing our brick and mortar shop during our travel so if you are in Los Angeles area and are planning to pick up items (like your Traveler's Notebook refills!), please do so in advance! I will be opening the shop this Thursday, Friday all day... and Saturday afternoon! (and few more days next week)

If you have any questions reg. our store (both online and brick and mortar), please feel free to send me an email:) - wakako@baum-kuchen.net!



Monday, April 7, 2014

Borrowing a little from our wild garden...

Our garden is going pretty wild right now with wildflower seeds we spread last spring finally blooming. I love watching the garden transform... It's a great excuse to wonder around the backyard and get lost in time... especially on a lazy Sunday morning.

We picked a few flowers from the garden and brought them closer to us on the patio. Love how instantly the colors can change the mood of the space. I couldn't help to borrow a little and press it on the page of Traveler's Notebook. Just a little bit:)

I hope you had a lovely weekend and a great start of the week!



Saturday, April 5, 2014

How do you collect your inspiration?

Yesterday... I was spending a quiet morning with the girls. It was a slow morning. Tidying up the kitchen, taking care of little things for home... watching the girls play on their own. Mid-morning we took a nice walk to a local library... and there it was... a flood of inspiration. There was a book that was screaming to be picked up. Something I never heard of or expected but it was just right. 

Isn't it nice when we get hit by an unexpected inspiration?? I noticed that these moments do not happen when I am caved into my studio... working. So I am now telling myself that I need some time for inspirational investment even though I would LOVE to have infinite amount of time to work in the studio... if I want to stay creative... and full of ideas, I need to step out of my routine tasks. 

So I will be picking up my camera more often to shoot random encounters of things I find inspiring. Things that evoke and trigger something that might create a creative ripples in me. 

So please pardon some random photos:) 

I also just ordered a portable photo printer so I can watch some of these photos to transform into something more analogue. It's all open-ended... and I am curious to see where it would take me. The journey is the destination, right? 


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