Saturday, January 31, 2015

Surviving 9 days without Frido

Last week Frido came home from 9 days of crazy travel between Tokyo and Singapore. He stopped by Tokyo for two nights to gather inspiration for Baum-kuchen then taught really cool creativity class at MBA school in Singapore.  (I know. He is amazing)

We have a fairly predictable daily routine with us and kids... and it's really rare that both of us are not present in the late afternoon, dinner... through kid's bedtime routine. He also takes just as many hours of responsibility as I do as girls' main caregiver at home from dropping-off, picking up Satchi at her preschool, watching them in the afternoon, making dinner... So not having him for more than a week really freaked me out. I was especially worried about the girls' bedtime since they need so much more support at the time and we usually split... me with Satchi and Coco with Frido.

Anyways... we did survive the 9 days without major meltdown (including bedtime) and I am thankful for this one particular quote that helped me get through those days.


It was a quote from Hobonichi diary page. I was trying to find a good way of translating this... and the best I can think of is..., "the normal state of mind brings happiness."  I really liked the quote because it didn't tell me to be "peaceful", "meditated", "quiet" or "happy"... instead just "be normal". So for the entire week, I kept myself and the way I interacted with Satchi and Coco constant. When I felt really excited, I shared my feelings in a normal way... instead of overwhelmingly bubbly and smiley way. When something made me feel upset, I also shared it using a normal tone of voice. I felt like I was slightly decaffeinated but I noticed that they really needed me to be solid, steady and predictable because not having Frido around us was so different from our usual everyday.

We also talked about good news and bad news about Fridos' travel. A bad news is... that we would miss him. A good news is that he would come back and while he was away, three of us could work together as a team. I wanted to make sure that I let them know that it's okay to miss someone special (because we really did) instead of masking the feeling... but also wanted to give them a way to deal with the feeling. I also told them that things will be different so let's not pretend like we're going to do everything the same way. As a result we found a new way of getting through the bedtime, had a lot of friends over, visited my parents and did tons of fun things like going to indoor trampoline park, eating little baby sushi and visiting aquarium.

Needless to say... we were SO GLAD to have Frido back home but at the same time... super proud to have gone through those days without crazy major meltdown at home;)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Reading...Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Recently I read the book Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. I didn't read it... I inhaled the contents in 4 nights. It was the most inspiring read I have had in a while... It was originally recommended by 2 of my close friends. One of them told me that she gave the book to her family and friends because it captured her point of view. After reading it, I totally get it.

The book was FILLED with so many inspiring stories about how to face the later part of our life. The part of life people don't talk much about... but is real for everyone including our grandparents, parents, siblings, friends... and myself.

I am personally so glad to have read the book because I was often fearful of unknown path in the future. It not only clarified little bit about what might look and feel like... but also gave me a sense of empowerment that we can still make smart decisions and continue to expand our meaningful lives even though our bodies weaken. And it is totally okay to talk about the part of our life.

Here is the quote from the book that captures the essence I truly enjoyed from the read,

"It is to enable well-being. And well-being is about the reason one wish to be alive. Those reasons matter not just at the end of life or when debility comes, but all along the way. 
What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcome? What are you fears and what are you hopes? What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make? 
- Atul Gawande

If you have a moment, I hope you have a chance to pick up the book and read it through.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Better together

I hope your weekend has been lovely. Ours has been filled with quite bit of adventures! Loving it;)

The girls are growing up so much. Coco speaks in full sentences. Satchi creating more complex drawings... I especially love the way they interact with each other. They are like... cat and dog... like old couple... like BFF. So much love and care between each other. They do get in dynamic conflicts time to time... and lately Coco would like to monopolize mama time by herself which Satchi is not very happy about.  But in a big picture... they are super cute together and I am sure that they can't think of their lives without each other. Such a special time to watch them grow.

Truly better together. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Watercolor with Roterfaden sketch notebook

While we anxiously wait for a new parcel to arrive from Roterfaden in Germany... I thought I would share a little watercolor experiment on their Sketch notebook.

I used ZIG Clean Color Real Brush from Kuretake for the initial pigment (instead of using the real watercolor paint) and touched up with wetted brush. I know it's little bit like cheating... but I find these water color brush extremely convenient and easily accessible especially when I am painting with Satchi. Little less mess to clean up afterward:)

I wetted some parts of the paper quite a bit but it seemed to hold water pretty well. Some of the darkest spots did show through on the other side of the paper. When I first touched the paper with wet brush, paper seemed less absorbent of the water than the watercolor paper I have used before... but I am far from being a professional painter so I hope the pictures do some justice in describing the compatibility. I know that the paper and pen (paint) combination is really personal and subjective to each one of us... so hopefully you have a chance to try it out too!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Growing inside and outside

I never knew receiving a branded sticker can be so exciting! That's what happened today in the studio:) 

One of (many) things I promised myself to accomplish in 2015 is to continuously evolve how we fulfill package to bring extra delight to our customers when Baum-kuchen package arrives and opened. Not an over night make over design solution but a slow gradual transition to better, much better to a great package. With a healthy dose of try and error and a natural selection of design as a part of process:)

First change we started to introduce from the beginning of this month is adding paper twine around the package (love the tactile of the twine!) and now Baum-kuchen branded stickers will be used as an extra accent on the package. I only ordered a small quantity so we will see how it feels to use them and make changes along the way. 

So... our sweet repeat customers, don't be surprised if our packaging looks little different from month to month:) We want to hear your thoughts and feedback on our packaging (Yes... that means negative constructive feedback too!!) so we can continuously tweak and get better in what we do. 

Changes are also happening in places that are not so visible.
From the end of December I started to implement service. My sister specializes in implementing an online service called Salesforce and introduced me to their products and services because I always talk about how special our customers are. (did I mention she is smart?) At this point Salesforce felt overwhelming... but as I did more digging through their website, I noticed as a part of the Salesforce offering. Then I saw this adorable video of BarkBox and knew that it's right for us. I am still holding the individual email exchanges I have with our customers close to our heart. So that's not changing:) But I love the idea of taking the inquiry and question emails out of my email inbox so that they don't fall in the crack of everything else and I can be more on top of things to respond questions and inquiries in a timely manner. Hopefully with time I will be able to really maximize what offers as a behind desk support! It is still just "me" responding to all the email and inquiries and it will probably be the same way for a quite while but I want to make sure that we are starting to create some kind of structure to accommodate our humble growth.

I am so thrilled to share that we are evolving and fine tuning how we do things at Baum-kuchen inside and out... one day at a time! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Table scape of abundance...

I am terrible in staying same. The word "constant" kind of scares me. I need to be moving forward... making changes and fine tuning what I am doing. After getting through very busy few months, I was so ready to change things up in the studio.

During Christmas and New Year, I felt the amazing feeling of abundance. To be able to give, receive... and celebrate the special day with abundance of great companies, food and moments to be grateful for.

The abundance... in the most positive way.

So I wanted to reflect the feeling within the store display. We usually keep minimum items showcased instead of having "everything" out but I wanted to challenge the thinking and create a table scape of mindful abundance... with artifacts we love and admire so much without feeling cluttered.

There is a chance that I go back to the shop with "nothing" on the display in a few months (I tend to be extreme as well)... so we will see. But for now this feels good:)

Come and visit!

(next up is cleaning up the back room and organizing my work station)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Superior Labor Money Clip + Traveler's Notebook

Yesterday I updated a few new brass products from The Superior Labor. I am totally in love with their Brass Key Chain Ring and Brass Money Clip. And of course... our awesome customers had the brilliant idea of using Brass Money Clip on their Traveler's Notebook.

So I tried it out and it TOTALLY works! With The Superior Labor Money Clip, you can clip bundled refill pages inside or use it on the outside leather to hold a loose sheet of paper. An added bonus... they just look good together;)

Thank you Amy & Kaori-san for sharing the idea! Brilliant;)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Creating orders... with brass hangers

I had a full day at the shop today and (finally!!) spent some time organizing in and around the studio space. Not enough... but a good start:) One thing I was able to do was to tackle some of the paper piles on my work station. My work station is in the corner of the shop... so I am always slightly conscious when it gets too messy. 

I wish all the paper work I handle at my desk is as beautiful as the stationery we carry... but for now... tax form, receipt, bank statements... look the way they do. So when I stumble on the idea of using the Superior Labor Brass Hanger as a place to clip papers... to create some kind of order, I was beyond thrilled! I can categorize and clip different papers, forms and correspondence on hangers. Multiple hangers can be placed on a single nail creating a neat but visual order. 

Little analogue tools that make me happy (and productive). 



p.s. those brass clips!! I found them at Japanese stationery store Kinokuniya few weeks ago. I am on the hunt to bring them to our shop:)

Monday, January 5, 2015

"life is the way you design it."

Today was Frido's birthday and it marked the book end of our celebratory season. In a way it felt like today was officially the first day to sail into the big year ahead of us.

I took him out to breakfast after sharing a birthday song and cake with the girls at home (Coco sings birthday song too and it's the cutest:) ... and finally had some quiet time to catch up with him.  We spend quite bit of time together at home but it's just not the same when everyone is together!

Something that he said during the breakfast... that stuck to my mind.
"life is the way you design it."

So true... and I am thankful that we get to design a part of it together. Happy birthday, Frido!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

make ripples... in life

I can't believe that new year has started. First few days in the studio... I am thankful to be very busy fulfilling the first round of orders from our shop. Tonight I finally got to see some of the photos from the NYE to the first day of 2015 with my family. We ate waffles in the morning, played in the snow at a local mountain (it has been cold here...) and took the girls to my parents' house for new year's tradition.

We also visited our friend Norm at his resting place. December 31st is his birthday and we have fond memory of celebrating the day with him and his family... like it were yesterday. Even after nearly 5 years of him passing, Frido and I miss him, think of him and talk about him daily. I imagine... it's like that when a person truly inspires another person's life. He made ripples that changed our lives.

Visiting him also gave us a moment of a reflection to always remember that today is the only day... for anyone and everyone including us. Of course we have goals, hopes and dreams for future but more than anything we want to be here, live today... and make our own set of ripples that bring something positive to the world.

cheers to 2015... !


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