One of the big reason for our recent Japan trip was to visit the headquarter of The Superior Labor in Okayama prefecture.
I so vividly remember the day when I stumbled upon their Engineer Shoulder Bag in a little shop in Harajyuku and having the overwhelming feeling of how much I loved the bag I had in my hand instantly. Ever since then I have been their huge fan for last 4 years. I love artifacts they produce, the concept behind the brand and just everything about them.
When we opened our studio/shop location 3 years ago I started bringing my beloved Engineer Shoulder Bag into the studio as my everything bag. I usually hang my bag on the wall in the studio and many customers who walked in noticed and asked where I got it from... and that's when I knew that I have to reach out to them with all my gut and intent and write a huge love letter to inquire if we could possibly carry their artifacts at our shop.
I can't count how many times I have said "visiting the Superior Labor in Okayama is my dream" in last 4 years... and I am so glad to be sharing a collection of their items at our studio/shop!
When I started planning this trip, my plan was to say hi, visit their cafe and feel the amazing Superior Labor vibe... But I am glad that 2 days with them became so much more. On the first day when we got to Okayama airport, we were so excited to meet the owner Makoto-san and hear his stories behind The Superior Labor, being invited into their headquarter and making place (which was filled with wonderful leather fragrance and the very special kind of "maker's place" air), meet some of the team members who are behind crafting their beautiful artifacts... Our meeting continued to a very special BBQ in front of the observatory house we rented on top of the meadow, the following day to discuss possible future collaboration and more...
Frido and I were most inspired by their strong philosophy, core of what they believe and how it manifests into everything they do. I am incredibly thankful and humbled for our most memorable meeting(s) with them... and am officially screaming (virtually and physically) to the world that I am their biggest fan:)
** Definitely click the title to see more images from our visit to The Superior Labor!
It's hard to believe we have crossed 1/2 mark of the year! How is your analogue system going??? Is your system still holding up to your hopes and dreams you set out at the beginning of this year?? At the end of last year, I wanted to simplify the system. (link here about the story) and it feels like the idea of "simplicity" is still very present in my life. What changed??? I have it even more simplified. Having gone through spring with a loss in our circle of friends and few other "life" staff, I really needed a fresh start. My metaphor is... that some people go out and buy a brand new sport car when they feel stuck in life..., I change up my analogue system instead!
I am pretty happy with the current set up. It feeds both my soul and productivity in a balanced way!
So here is the details.
Traveler's Notebook (regular size) as my planner & wallet.
MD leather cover with A5 notebook for everything else.
Pretty simple, right?
**click the title to read more and see more pics:)
As we dig deeper into what "love for analogue" means to us at Baum-kuchen, we are discovering that idea of sending a letter via snail mail really resonates with us.
We are extremely excited that we get to continue sharing our love for analogue in many different layers. If you have seen our BK Instagram feed, you probably have noticed that I am pretty obsessed with my fountain pens including Lamy and Kaweco for everyday adventures. (their fountain pens coming soon to Baum-kuchen shop!)
There are still SO MUCH MORE for me to learn about fountain pens so I asked Eunice if she could give me some fountain pen tips from her perspectives. (and above image from the day when I learned that we should clean the pen every time we change our ink cartridge!)
p.s who will be heading out to The Los Angeles International Pen Show this weekend?? I have heard so much about this event over many years and so thrilled to check it out in person for the first time:)
**click the title to read more about fountain pen tips!
A lot of our Baum-kuchen friends have told us that they have a pretty extensive collection of washi tapes that are waiting to be utilized. But they tend to sit on the table for a long (looooong) time... so I asked Eunice what are some fun ways of using these tapes.
**click the title to read more and see project pictures!
I am excited to share my (close to) final thoughts on how I will be arranging my analogue system for 2016. (you can check out my last iteration of the system here.) I am passionate (aka. obsessed) about this topic because the process of thinking about it always feels very reflective of the current life state. Just like how people contemplate about the interior space and home they aspire living in... I imagine and dream about my analogue system.
**read the entire story by clicking the title
I hope you are embracing the holiday spirit! I will be wrapping special gifts for Satchi and Coco this week and was wondering what would be creative ways to add a personal touch to the gifts... so we asked Eunice if she could share some thoughts on how to craft festive and personal gift tags. I loved that she started it with simple tags that can be found at any office supply stores... and added layers of accents using masking tapes and few of our favorite analogue goodies.
How awesome would it be to have personal tags like this on your gift this year?? I know for sure that our girls will feel extra excited to see these happy tags (and their wrapped gifts) for next 10 days... under our Christmas tree.
**click the title to read more!
As we slowly approach the end of year..., it's so easy to get lost in holiday shopping, dinner parties, deep cleaning of the house (we do this... in a Japanese way), and more things that need to be crossed off from our list. (oh and kids are off from school too!)
So we would LOVE to take a moment to share an idea of maybe doing totally the opposite. What if we take one quiet afternoon and instead of trying to juggle what are on our plates, slow down to write and send something special to a friend? Adding and sharing words and artifacts that inspire you at this moment.
**read more by clicking the title! (don't forget to get a cup of tea to accompany you:)
2015 has been a year of analogue system try & error for me. Now that we are in mid-August... I am happy to share that I am finally feeling the planner peace in my heart with Traveler's Notebook. So I thought I would share.
Yesterday morning Coco and I had some downtime so we picked up our paintbrush and water color paint... and had some fun:) She was painting a toothbrush and a left over toilet roll and I was painting our recently added artifact Chipboard Paper Clips! The chipboard on these paper clips are pretty thick so it handled watercolor really well. I think it would be fun to paint with opaque paint too! Maybe paint a white rectangle shape to use it as a label?? Maybe add some mt masking tape? How would you transform these paper clips your way?? The simplicity of this product and its tactility really stirs imagination.
I put few of the painted clips on my MD Diary as well as Traveler's Notebook. For the one which I added to my Traveler's Notebook, I trimmed the top little bit so it does not stick out so much. (the 2nd picture is before I trimmed it) A fun way to add extra character to the page you are looking for:)
These downtime with no big agenda rejuvenates us so much. Both Coco and I felt really happy working with paint and paper and seeing different materials transform. That must be one of many many amazing things about analogue. Artifacts are right there in front of us and we can see and feel it change.
** click the title to see more pictures!
Few months ago, I noticed that my brown Traveler's Notebook leather cover no longer held my refill notebooks in a place properly so I figured it was time for a hardware update! We have been carrying TN repair kit for a long time at our shop but this was really my first time fixing my Traveler's Notebook after using it for over 6 years.
The whole process only took about 15 minutes but it was a big deal for me to update my Traveler's Notebook since I have carried it around for so long.
Here is the photo documentation of before and after.
**click the title to see more pictures!
I love carrying a dedicated travel journal whenever we take a big trip. When we were visiting Yakushima in May, I took a MIDORI Kangaroo Notebook to collect artifacts from our travel. I recently had a chance to capture some of the pages from the notebook and was reminded how meaningful it is to have a travel journal. To be able to visit and revisit the experienced we shared through the collected artifacts as well as little details on the pages.
**click the text to see more images
The other day I was asked how my analogue system has evolved since I last shared about my hopes and dreams for archiving, planning and inspiring this year.
In some way... a lot have changed and I feel little bit wiser and more insightful about my system compared to 6 months ago when I was trying to figure out the overall dynamic of needs to archive vs. organize... the journaling vs. planning. I have been using Roterfaden A5, Traveler's Notebook and extra A5 notebook to keep myself in line with my life and MIDORI MD Diary in A5 size to journal for my girls. Together they are closer to the reflection of who I am today..
***Please click the title to read more and see pictures with details!
I am so thrilled to share that we had wonderful time gathering at Baum-kuchen studio/shop to host the very very first Inspiration Lab with Eunice Roe (@thedailyroe on Instagram).
I have admired her journaling style, her aesthetics and sensitivity to details for so long... so to be able to soak up the inspiration from Eunice, her story as well as journaling techniques along with other workshop guests who also loved journaling as much... was definitely beyond what I could have ever asked for.
**click the title to read more!
I love ordering a new collection of mt tape each season. The best part of the process is to hunt for "the" tape that fits our Baum-kuchen out of all the tapes mt offers... So when we received a box full of tapes last week, my heart jumped! It happened to be my friend Susan was visiting our studio the day, so we got to work and sprinkled the studio/shop with new tapes. Susan also owns a very nice camera and an awesome eye for details so I totally recruited her as a photographer of the day:)
We are so lucky to be able to continue collaborating with Diana and Wes of 1.61 Soft Goods. Knowing how things are made and where is a really important factor of artifacts to us. Because I feel that... if our customer knows how the item is designed and made... with so much love and care..., it will be used and loved longer.
So I asked Diana and Wes if I could hang out at their studio for a while and watch them make some of the leather items that are currently carried at Baum-kuchen. (We once visited their studio when we had a meeting - with Satchi and Coco!) I have a lot of video footage from the visit that will be incorporated into the future Baum-kuchen clips but here are some of my favorites still images. Each item we carry from 1.61 Soft Goods is made here in this space... one at a time with their hands. Their studio (that also functions as their living quarter) is full of creative energy. Everything from tools to their tea cup is organized based on functionalities and their line of work. Watching them work in their well-oiled space is like watching a beautifully synchronized dance... moving from one station to another to complete their work-in-progress project. I love and adore their genuine personalities (as an individual and as a sweet couple) and their never ending desire to create.
**click the title to read more!
I have been writing (almost) everyday to our girls since last October and it has been one of the most amazing and therapeutic change I have made in my life. I am using MD 2015 Daily Notebook in A5 size. Initially I was worried that the A5 size might be too big to fill out everyday but I somehow always have something to write or draw:) I don't have any rules about what I write everyday... and the page happens very organically. Sometimes I would write an entire letter to each of them... sometimes I capture what we did or what they said... or moments from the day. Some day I use the provided structure of the page to document the hourly activity... I am using the monthly spread as a visual index and it has been fun to come up with a little doodle for the tiny box.
I noticed that my need to document about little ones on our blog has decreased quite a bit recently and it might be because I have a healthy outlet in my analogue world. Out of all the notebooks I carry around everyday... this one is definitely the most treasured.
I am so looking forward to seeing how it evolves over the course of the year!
**click the title to see more pics
You know we received some new Superior Labor bags last week... I took a lot of pictures in the studio but it was just lucking the last bit of life the bags totally deserved so I asked Frido to come in the studio on Friday to take pictures with some of the bags. Here are some of my favorites. I was absolutely totally awkward in some of the photos that are forever going to stay only on my laptop. I am much happier just hugging the bags (above picture) than pretending to walk with the bag. Some day... I hope we could bring professional models to be in these photo shoot but for now... we do what we can to make things happen.
**click the title to see more pics!
As I was taking the pictures of their beautiful bags, I was reminded how incredibly lucky I am to be able to share artifacts we believe in. The way the materials for the bags are sourced from all over Japan, the way the bags are made one at a time by hands in a rural part of Okayama prefecture, how they continue to find joy in creating and making... I truly aspire their brand.
Some bags that were stocked today already found new homes within an hour of us posting the product on our website... (thanks to our amazing community on Facebook and Instagram...). Here is the list of items we updated if you are interested in browsing through!
Khaki canvas with navy paint
Khaki canvas with orange paint (sold out)
Khaki canvas with yellow paint
Khaki canvas with blue grey paint
Khaki canvas with white paint
Beige canvas with red paint
Natural canvas with blue grey paint
Natural canvas with orange paint
Tote Bag LIMITED EDITION with leather bottom (with 3 stencil options)
It's so hard to pin point my favorite from newly added items... Frido loves khaki shoulder bag with orange or navy paint. I think khaki tote bag with white paint got such an awesome vibe while being versatile... and the tote bag with leather bottom!!!
Which one is your favorite??
**click the title for more images!
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!
**click the title for more pics
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;)
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 have spent last few weeks creating a closure to the year of 2014 and dreaming up what 2015 might look and feel like in my life. I have used a kraft refill for Traveler's Notebook as a place to capture ideas, thoughts and inspiration. I love starting one blank spread page... and spending few weeks working on 1 specific theme on the spread (in this case... the transition between 2014 to 2015). It's satisfying to see how the page evolves with its own life over time and I never know how it would look like until I finish the page.
I am looking forward to inspiring and being inspired through life's journey... from everyday of the year in 2015.
Thank you for all the support and love throughout the year of 2014. I can't wait to share more with you when the new chapter opens! Let's make it a good one:)
Thank you 2014... hello 2015!
As I go through the month of December, I have continued to fine tune my analogue system from where I started in October. I love where I am now with my little ecosystem of life:)
One thing I decided to do as a new experiment was to use the TN Weekly Vertical (also available as 2015 dated Weekly Vertical) as my modified bullet journal / to-do list. I already had a monthly refill, Kraft notebook as a place to capture my idea as well as 1.61 [Essential] as a wallet so I was worried if my Traveler's Notebook becomes too thick to carry... but 3 notebooks + one leather insert still seems to work as a compact system.
I use the weekly spread of the TN Weekly Vertical as a place to capture running to-do list as how I used to use Bullet Journal. Often I don't finish everything I put on my list on the specific day so it has been nice to be able to see the entire week as one open page. If I don't get things done during the week, I simply write the item again on the next week's spread as Bullet Journal suggests to do each month. To me... weekly update to the list is more realistic than monthly update of the list since they are mentally updated more frequently and I actually get things done by needing to write (and re-write) the same points each week. Sometimes on Sunday night I spend time going through the lists of things that did not get done during the week (and actually take time to finish them at the spot) just so that I don't have to re-write it again on the next week's spread page!
And there is something nice (and comforting) about knowing I have my list with me at all time.
The 2015 Weekly Vertical starts from next week and I am thrilled to add a pop of color to my trusty Traveler's Notebook (which will officially turn 6 years old in a few days:)
Some journals and planners start from December of the previous year. I think it's brilliant! Like getting a taste of the new year little ahead.
I have been documenting the girls' everyday in a little notebook for last 5 months and I have loved the process so much! It has really helped me to be present and not miss little things that makes everyday ... a life. Initially I thought I would stick with a small format but ended up choosing MD 2015 Daily Diary in A5 size from MIDORI. I love the simplicity of their layout. It feels so meditating to be looking at a blank pages in this notebook.
And since the monthly notebook starts from December and daily page is undated..., I decided to tap into the notebook yesterday as a little birthday present to myself:) I really adore it and I am sure that I will be sharing more about it in the near future...
So far... my favorite thing to do on this notebook is to use the monthly pages as a visual index to the daily page. Since I am not using this notebook to plan my day (I have my Traveler's Notebook Monthly Calendar (TN/017) to do this), I can really have a lot of fun doodling in the little box on the monthly page that highlights the day for the girls. I have very little pressure to "make it perfect"... so it's all fun and really spontaneous.
I have a good feeling that I will write a lot with my pen in this coming year.
As I was preparing to place a new order with The Superior Labor few nights ago (stayed way too late past midnight because I am totally obsessed about them), I couldn't contain myself about how much I love them. So here is the result of my love obsessed quick photo shoot from this morning in the studio. Seriously... they are so amazing and I can't get enough of them.
I also love some of the fall/winter appropriate colors like light khaki, navy and black paint. I carry mine few times a week when I head out to the studio. My entire life fits in this bag as I commute and I love how much conversations this bag triggers from simply carrying it over my shoulder. Male, female, young and elder... all seem to be intrigued by the bag.
Just thought I would share:)
**see more pics by clicking the title!
I have received a question on Instagram (after posting this 2015 planner madness at midnight) about the compatibility of Hobonichi Cousin (A5 size) and Roterfaden. Because there is nothing like being able to use your favorite leather cover for many many years to come with a beautiful planner, right?
** click the title to read more
Our dear customer Kaori-san asked me if a black Traveler's Notebook worn in like a brown one. (She is thinking of giving a black one to her husband as a special gift:) So I wanted to share some pictures of how 6 year old black Traveler's Notebook would look like.
** click the title to read more
Since the beginning of this year, I have implemented Bullet Journal into my day-to-day operation. I seriously don't know how my life was run before Bullet Journal. First few months, I was using A5 format to capture everything then I switched the format to Traveler's Notebook so that everything was in one place and absolutely portable. After coming back from Yakushima in May and used bullet journal more visually to capture our travel, I wanted to incorporate the visual storytelling into the everyday. As I was combing through some old photos today, I found these pictures I took back in July.
**click the title to read more
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.
**click the title to read more!
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.
**click the title to read more
Palm Springs has such a cool mixed vibe of design, dry desert and pop of colors... We took our brand new Superior Labor Backpacker to test it out in the hot air!
We are already so head over heels for their Engineer Shoulder Bag with its design, craftsmanship and quality... and definitely saying YES to carrying this unique Backpacker everywhere we go with our future adventures because it is totally growing on us.
**click the title to see more pictures!
Since we opened our brick and mortar shop, I have witnessed many great moments... when our customers make the big decision to determine how they would customize their Traveler's Notebook picking the perfect combination of refills and accessories. I am so fascinated by watching the process because it's so personal...
Few months ago, we started sharing our documentation of products we carry at our shop not only in a brand new scratch free condition... but also after and during being used and loved everyday...with a story that can only be shared by earning a medal of scratches. A side by side comparison of new and aged. It has now become our obsession to see how each product morphs over time. After the first feature of Superior Labor Shoulder Bag, I am happy to share a new post about the metamorphosis of Passport Size Dimensional Pouch designed and made by 1.61 Soft Goods in downtown LA.
Frido has been using his Passport Size Dimensional Pouch in charcoal color for a few months and here is an aging process of as is today.
**click the title to read more
We have a few new items lined up at the shop! Whenever we stock a brand new items, there is a whole set of process that I go through... writing a product description, a photo shoot, website updating... telling a story (aka my favorite part of the shop operation:)
While we were traveling Japan, I wanted to make sure that I could capture all the details that inspired our journey. Each page... documenting a step we take as a part of the adventure.
At home... I have been implementing Bullet Journal system. The system is simple and allows a lot of freedom to how/what goes in. And I have been pretty effective keeping track of everything that needed to be captured, remembered and acted upon. So when I thought of the travel journal for our big adventure, I thought... "why not use the same system and see how it goes?"
While we were on the road, we were using my Traveler's Notebook (usually a go to notebook for travel journal for me!) as a family wallet... so I used MIDORI's Writing Journal with pockets to collect our memory. The notebook was lightweight and had newsprint like grey coarse pages. I liked how the pages didn't feel too precious... It made me feel very relaxed to write, draw, collage what came to my mind without self criticizing how perfect pages looked. Also because my fountain pen ran out of its ink in our mid-travel and I found a pen with a brush tip at my grandfather's house... my writing was little more organic than usual. Bits and pieces of these serendipity... determined the way this journal ended up looking as an artifact.
*click the title to read more!
Each year... MIDORI Traveler's Notebook seems to out-do themselves. Bringing more to the table. I love the newest update to their collection for their eagerness to listen closely to the community's wishes and needs and making it happen.
Few weeks ago, Our Napkin Sketchbook got an honor of being featured on notcot.org. Since then we quickly sold out of what was had left in our inventory and have been busy making a new batch. Making things takes time for us... between day-to-day order fulfillment, accounting, shop upkeep.... (and of course... the family).