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Life Latetly: 2020 Pandemic Road Trip

Pei Sim


Life Latetly: 2020 Pandemic Road Trip

Hi friends! 

It may seem odd to be sharing this on our blog but I wanted to give y'all a little peek behind the scenes (aka my life) since you all know by now that there's a real person behind this small business :) It feels really nice to connect with so many of you via the internet and through this shop - it honestly feels less lonely when you're stuck at home 24/7.

A few months ago, I started a conversation with Evan about how we felt about taking P on a little trip. And also how we felt about our comfortability level with having a family friend plus her family join us. I know we are in the midst of a pandemic but I also feel very strongly about there being a safe way for P to get to play with other children. 

Noting that this would be her second time every staying anywhere other than our house (we went and visited my parents who live about 2 hours away from Houston back in July) and I am honestly still a little anxious going anywhere with her. And to be fair, I haven't had much practice taking her places since she's spent more of her life in a global pandemic than not. 

WHO HAVE YOU SEEN AND WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?

I had an extensive and ongoing conversation with our family friend who have two little girls around the age of 2 and 4. We agreed that we both had the same comfortability level and chatted very openly and frequently leading up to this weekend. It's strange to ask people who they've been seeing and what they've been doing but I feel that in order for me to be totally comfortable I needed to be sure that who I was thinking about spending time with was taking this pandemic as seriously as I was! My friend stays home with the girls, neither of the girls are back to daycare/school and her husband has been working from home. Evan has been working from home, and I've only been going into the shop a couple days a week (sometimes alone and sometimes with one or two of the girls but we always have masks on and we practice social distancing as well) And example is that if her girls were back at daycare or school, I may not feel okay with spending time with them since I don't know about all the people and other kids at the daycare or school. Or perhaps she may not feel comfortable with me if the shop was back open and I was interacting with more people beyond my household. 

We booked this an Airbnb months before and were open to plans changing or canceling if needed. The Airbnb  would allow us specifically to have lots of room for the girls to play and brought all of our food/groceries so we wouldn't have to leave. Not that there was any where to go to anyway! We were truly in the middle of nowhere with zero cell service.

The house was located about 3ish hours North East of Austin and had a large living, dining and kitchen area plus 4 bedrooms upstairs. A must was to have a washer and dryer plus be somewhat kid friend with space outside. And we hit the jackpot with this house. The two younger girls stayed in the room with a bunk bed and P had her travel crib in one room while Evan and I took one room, and my friend and her husband took the last room.

Also, there's an amazing screened in sunroom as well as a shaded fire pit area in the backyard that would be so incredible to spend time in cooler weather. And on one side of the house, there are four hammock style swings.

THE DRIVE 

We timed it where we left after her bottle so she would be awake in the car, be able to have a snack before we pulled over to change her diaper (it's one of her "time to go to bed" cues) read her a book and turned on her portable sound machine so she would take a nap in the car. She usually manages to take at least an hour nap which is pretty good for her. She did this both ways and the drive was not too bad.

We packed her a little backpack of car toys to entertain her while she was awake. And she only started to get fussy when we are 15-20 mins away from our house, who could blame her? Sitting still for a little baby is really hard! 

SLEEPING + NAPS

Our end goal of each day is to help set P up for a successful night's sleep. And it's no different being away from home.

We wanted to ensure she would be able to rest for her naps and at night too so it was a must for us to pack her sound machines, her favorite sleep sacks and pacifiers plus black out shades to create a cozy and dark environment. We had no issues with her falling asleep for her naps or sleeping through the night the entire weekend!

The only thing I would do different next time is to actually set her travel crib up the day or two before we go somewhere so she could "practice" sleeping in there. The first few times she woke up while napping this weekend, she cried because I think she woke up confused as to where she was.

TOP 5 THINGS I PACKED

I definitely overpacked clothes for her but overall, we did end up using almost everything we packed which is kind of insane! 

But if I had to choose, these are the things I will never leave the house without.

  1. Sound machines (crucial since you can't really tell a 2 and 4 year old to be quiet lol)
  2. A small fan (I know she's past the risk age for SIDS but moving air is just nice to have especially if I'm not 100% of the temperature we will keep the house at)
  3. Her favorite books (especially the ones we read to her before her naps and before bed)
  4. Her chair (it's a high chair that kind of anchors itself to any table top surface) + travel crib (we got one that folds into an actual backpack)
  5. Black out shades (we have some that have suction cups to them which was helpful since this house didn't have window shades and a dark environment helps cue her that it's time to sleep)

She had an amazing time and was super stimulated just by watching the girls play and also from crawling around everywhere so we just watched her closely to make sure she didn't get overtired throughout the day. Her little eyes lit up overtime she saw the girls running around and it was so heart melting watching the two girls be so sweet to baby P!

Overall, I feel like this trip was so needed for her because it feels crazy that this was her first time getting to play with other children. To maintain the integrity and wellness here at the shop and as a part of our small team, I will be going into the shop around the times I have scheduled the girls to be here for 14 days starting today. 

Here's the listing to the modern farmhouse we stayed at - it sleeps up to 10 people so it was perfectly large enough for 4 adults, 2 small children and 1 infant! I was able to snap a few photos before the 3 tinies humans basically took over the house :) 

Monthly Edit: August 2020

Pei Sim


Monthly Edit: August 2020

Y'all, how on earth is it August right now?

I feel like this entire year has been a blur. And I also cannot believe that back in March when we first closed, I figured it would be at most a month or two before we would be back in the store. (Literally LOL at my past self haha) I've been thoroughly enjoying writing our weekly newsletters that have allowed me to share a bit more than just on Instagram and social media - I really feel as though I'm writing to each of you and it slightly makes up for the fact that I have had little interaction in real life with other human beings besides Evan and Penelope for actual months now. 

In this monthly edit, I'll catch you up on: what's going on with the business (a check-in since it's been a little while I shared what's going on), some of my current shop favorites, a life lately (more personal) update, something I've purchased from a small business that I want you to know about, and I wanted to end it with a little reminder and virtual love note :) 

So here goes! 

SHOP UPDATE

We're still closed to the public and plan to stay this way for the remainder of the month. Depending on if the case count isn't continuing to rise, I am going to have a conversation with our girls and evaluate the possibility of weekend hours, by appointment only. I'd really love to bring back curbside on those days as well. But all of this is TBD. As much as I understand the frustration of paying for shipping when you might live close by, it's not worth it in so many ways right now to have y'all out here or have someone on our team here weekly. 

Currently, I am prepared for us to be online only for the remainder of the year. Which very honestly is terrifying as I literally have never been an online only business. I very much feel like I started a brand new business back in March when we closed our doors. The holiday season is so important for us as a retail business (and is important for so many other small businesses too) and trying to anticipate, plan and navigate it right now feels so extremely daunting and overwhelming. 

Trying to figure out how to recreate the holiday magic in our store virtually feels impossible. Trying to plan out what to buy for inventory while managing a different type of cash flow. Trying to anticipate what our community will want and need this holiday season. Trying to decide if it's insane to have a shipping/order cut off date almost a month before the 25th of December in preparation for package delays. All of this feels like A LOT. 

I know it'll all work out - and again, reminding myself that although I love our shop, nothing we offer is life giving (literally, any way). And I'm also just grateful that we have such a kind and understanding community who supports us! 

Anyway, I usually buy for the holidays later in the fall. Since we are in Texas, it doesn't quite feel like the holidays until after Thanksgiving. So usually that's when we have our holiday goods out! But now the plan is to bump that up to perhaps October - with a shipping/order cut off by Thanksgiving (If you're thinking OMG, same, girl, same. )

So that's what's weighing on my mind, my heart, and my bank account - seriously, figuring out how on earth to do all of this! 

SHOP FAVES

Okay on a lighter note... I'm so beyond grateful that with y'alls support, I've been able to continue to make purchase orders from other independent businesses to stock our virtual shelves. 

Here are a few things I'm loving lately! 

These candles are hand poured right here in Austin by a woman owned business. It's hard to pick a favorite scent - for an extra special treat, try burning both at the same time for an amazing combo scent! 



I cannot get enough of these watercolor pencils. They offer you a bit more control as you would draw, illustrate and color as you would a normal color pencil before adding water with your brush to create a watercolor effect! I've been using them to paint and illustrate some botanicals for a friend's wedding invitations.

August subscription box goodies have been ordered and I can't wait for you to see what I picked out this month! Only a few of each are left before our cut off date of the 7th this month so get yours today! 

Also, did you know we added a New Arrivals section on our website? We update this frequently as soon as new goods arrive :)

LIFE LATELY

I almost didn't want to write this section because honestly, I probably feel the exact same way everyone else is feeling right now. I feel like I'm experiencing a whole new level of tiredness and most days I'm running purely off of coffee, baby giggles and day dreams of a time when the world feels a little happier and safer as a whole. 

I know stress manifests in physical ways for me and I'm trying really hard to keep those at bay. The excuse of not having time to take care of myself first is something I have used for a very long time now, even pre-Covid and I feel like I need to reevaluate what I need to prioritize personally. 

Currently, a good place to start looks like actually committing to some form of online work out just once a week and genuinely not turning on my computer or working one day a week. Lofty goals huh? 

Something exciting personally is that our backyard update plans are in motion! The fencing material was delivered last week and will be stored in our backyard until they can come work on it. The timeline is currently last week of August for the fencing and early September for the concrete work! 

I've recently discovered a business I am so excited to share with y'all about - Beam Paints creates handmade watercolors with materials and pigments found in nature. These are handmade in the M'Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Canada. I ordered a few to add to to my watercolor stash and also subscribed for a monthly watercolor pod to be delivered to my home. The shipping may seem steep but it is coming all the way from Canada, and also, I don't mind it because I love knowing I'm getting to support an Indigenous owned small business monthly! 

 

LOVE NOTE

Something I've observed over the past few months is how truly wonderful it's been to connect with people through social media. It's a way to feel like you're still interacting with the rest of the world during quarantine - and honestly, even before all of this I've felt like one of the good things of social media is that it allows you to get to know people you may not have otherwise known or met. 

That being said, I've seen from other friends and also experienced it in perhaps a lesser severity as others, how cruel people can be to other human beings with their comments and messages. No matter if someone has 10 or 100,000 followers, it doesn't make it hurt any less when someone says something incredibly insensitive or hurtful. 

Everyone is going through their own difficulties in life, and I'd like to think everyone is doing their best. So consider this a little reminder, what we see of each other online is just a little snap shot of a whole person. 

P+CP Quarantine Book + Resource List

Pei Sim


P+CP Quarantine Book + Resource List

Hello friends! WHAT A WEEK (and by week I mean past three weeks!)

Although we are not meeting for our monthly meetings, our book club-ers are still reading! And we wanted to share what we are currently reading as well as a list featuring some of our 2019 reads that we loved with you. I hope you can find some time during this very strange and even scary time in the world to escape through a good book :)

I think the books listed below are worth a re-read because they’re that good, at least in my opinion!

I’ve only committed to one book probably to span a couple of months - realistically there’s just SO much going on with transitioning the business completely online as well as navigating how to run the business without any support or help at the moment (you can peek at our second March Update for details)

I’m personally reading The Jetsetters, I’m particularly loving how it’s set in different cities and countries around the world - it’s been nice considering I’ve been only leaving the house once a week to go by the shop to fulfill our online orders!

Also not shocking, it’s a part of the Reese’s book club read. I jokingly say that our boo club could be an IRL version of her online book club. But her book choices have all been so good!

Krystal (@homemadeaustin on Instagram) who has been our long time book club-er is currently reading The Upside of Being Down by Jen Gotch and The Stationery Shop (which I feel like I MUST add to my list sheerly from the title!) She’s also reading Meg, Jo, Beth & Amy, which is a modern day re-telling of Little Women in a graphic novel form!

Check out our book list below and tell me in the comments what you’re currently reading!


Here is a short list of creative resources + freebies from some fellow small businesses I love:

  • This lettering book! Plus there’s also a kid version with lots of fun projects! Nicole is one of the most genuine souls I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and I’m so grateful for her friendship!

  • These beautiful floral coloring pages that you can download for free. These were designed by Kristara, one of my best friends who lives in Houston. She owns and operates her own calligraphy studio all while juggling two adorable little girls.

  • Kit + adult friendly ceramics D.I.Y. kits! I’m particularly “frond” of this one and this one too! Y’all know Courtney from our ceramics workshops in our studio, I LOVE her.

  • These downloadable lettering guides from one of the MOST TALENTED lettering artist we know! She even has procreate brushes you can download if you prefer to letter on your iPad. Shelly is the kind of person that just radiates warmth and kindness, I promise you that it’s impossible to have a bad day when she’s around. Everyone needs a friends like Shelly.

  • I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book - for so many reasons but also because she’s a fellow newish mama, and we bonded during our last months of pregnancy through the internet :) Eunice is hilarious, talented and just someone I can’t wait to meet in real life once all of this is over!

  • Another free download for ya! Even more coloring fun with another stationery + workshop instructor pal from the West coast! Chelsea has quickly become a very dear friend of mine, possibly from our shared love of plants, food and Italy.

Sending you all a lot of love + joy for your week!

categories Round up

March Update II

Alyssa Nguyen


March Update II

*UPDATE AS OF WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18TH 2020.

We will be closing the doors to our shop + studio for now.**

Our business relies on our physical space for it’s revenue - through our retail space + our workshop studio. Y’all are our bread and butter. 

As a champion for all things analog (duh, we’re a stationery/paper shop) and in person experiences - nothing makes us happier than connecting with each of you who come through our shop. From helping y’all pick out the perfect card and gift for someone special, to creating a space for you to learn something new and craft - not having our doors open not only makes me incredibly sad, but is also going to be a huge financial stress on this small business.

In full transparency here’s what’s going on:

WORKSHOPS + EVENTS AT THE P+CP

We will be pressing pause on all our upcoming workshops and events for the month of March + April - all current workshop ticket holders will be receiving workshop credit towards a future workshop.

HOW TO SUPPORT US

A lot of you have asked how you can support us - and some have already supported us through online sales. Some of you have suggested I host a sale through stories, or host online workshops - while those are wonderful ideas on an ordinary day, it feels painfully inauthentic to me and what this small business stands for - especially right now.

I’ve always prided this business for it’s commitment to quality and as much as workshop kits and online resources has been on my never ending list of things I want to accomplish with the business, it’s obviously fallen to the back burner because of a lot of reasons - like life, a new baby, in addition to me really loving that our physical space encourages people to engage and interact in-person. 

For now, I do not plan to roll out any new online offerings. It does not feel right to rush it. Or to push new online sales with everything going on in our city, in our world. Also, those of you may know me probably know how I tend to move “slower” in all aspects of the business - I’d like to think of it as me being very mindful of the reason behind every business decision :) 

Instead of focusing on how you can solely support us, I’d like to urge you to support others in real life instead. Check in on your neighbor. Share resources you may have (yes I’m talking TP etc.) Choose to share joyful moments online. Try to tune out all the excess noise on the internet. Find the good in the every day.

If you still feel inclined to, you are welcome to continue to do so in the form of our online shop or an e-gift certificate. This will lessen the burden of keeping our team employed as well as help us reopen when the time comes.

LAST LITTLE THING:

I hope and believe that this will bring out the very best in people and I hope to connect with y’all over the next few weeks online (you’ll find riveting videos of my adorable baby, crazy pups, and my face :)

And although it truly makes me sad to close for the next few weeks, I’m trying to be optimistic. I’m so grateful that I will be able to take care of all four of our employees through the next few weeks of our closure. (I swear that book number three on my small biz book list has set me up financially, as a business, to weather out hard times - at least for a bit!)

See y’all soon - stay healthy - be good to each other - stationery with an “e” forever!

xo,

Pei

**Our plans to reopen will be evaluated and assessed in the coming days and weeks. Please check on social media for updates!

March Update

Alyssa Nguyen


March Update

Hi paper friends!

I’ve been mulling over everything that has been going on and the impact it has had on other communities. I believe there is a fine line between the spectrum of running to Costco, clearing out pallets of toilet paper and ignoring the growing situation with the COVID-19.

I’m going to be transparent AF right now.

I could go on and on about what worries me, with a young infant I’ve already been hyper vigilant about exposing her to any kind of illness. But it also extends to my family abroad, in Singapore, particularly my 90+ year old grandmother. We had original plans to head that way this summer so Penelope could meet her great grandmother - all of this is on hold for now.

As a small business owner, who has spoken to a lot of other small business owners, there is a sense of doom amongst these businesses who do not know if they will “survive” this. When you own your own business and have a physical space, you are self employed. You do not have the option to work from home. You do not have a guaranteed salary. You do not have the option to not cover your overhead (rent, bills etc.).

You depend on your community.

It is completely natural and understandable that there is an air of fear since there is so much unknown out there - and I’m not here to add to the fear nor do I want to play into the panic that some people have exhibited. When scary things are happening, the last thing people are thinking of is “ooo, let me pick up a new creative hobby!” or “I really need a new pen and notebook!” They’re too busy buying Purrell and reselling it on the hand sanitizer black market (jokes jokes.)

Jokes aside, I would be foolish to pretend like nothing is going on and to not have some plans in place. This may seem so negative and such a downer but some small businesses may not bounce back from this. And some may. But they will need your support. I will need your support.

Here are the five things I am committed to doing right now:

I’m committed to keeping our doors open as long as it is deemed safe and right to do so for our employees and guests.

I’m committed to not just stop what we are doing as a business - if I let fear take over, it will trickle down to the vendors we order from, the instructors we host in our studio, who are business owners who also depend on us.

I’m committed to taking care of our employees in lieu of my monthly salary if needed.

I’m committed to doing my best to weather out the next couple of months - no matter what happens or doesn’t happen.

I’m committed to not just stop what we are doing as a business and to personally, continue to live my life.

A little PSA and reminder that in general, the world could always use extra kindness. And perhaps even more now :)

xoxo,

Pei


HERE’S OUR OFFICIAL P+CP STATEMENT BELOW:

As of March 12th, 2020:

The Paper + Craft Pantry will remain open and continue to operate as a business - both as a retail space as well as for our scheduled classes. 

Our team has been provided information and resources to maintain a safe, clean and healthy environment within our four walls. In addition to our standard daily cleaning practices, we have added on several operational protocols to disinfect based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization.

We have also been informed by the property management team at Springdale General of their increased efforts to maintain the common areas and the entire property for the safety of all tenants as well as guests to the area. 

WE DEEPLY CARE ABOUT OUR EMPLOYEES, INSTRUCTORS AND COMMUNITY. IF YOU DO NOT FEEL WELL OR ARE EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS (ASSOCIATED WITH COVID-19 OR OTHERWISE), PLEASE HEAVILY CONSIDER STAYING HOME - TO MAINTAIN THE INTEGRITY OF OTHERS WHO MAY BE EXPOSED TO YOU. 


Our Retail Shop:

We will remain open and evaluate daily with regards to the safety and health of our employees + guests. We're inviting guests coming into our shops to make use of our private bathroom to have access to wash their hands.

We will share and update via social media as well as in our newsletter if this changes. 

Upcoming Workshops: 

As long as our instructors are healthy, we will move forward with our scheduled workshops. Our workshops have always been intimate with class sizes no more than 10-12 students unlike the large scale events that have been cancelled around the nation that draws out hundreds and thousands of attendees. 

If an instructor is unwell, we will postpone and reschedule the workshop. This is to prioritize the safety and health of you, our students. And now we will ask you, as a student, to do the same.

We are implementing a Workshop Clause (from March 12th 2020 - April 30th 2020) to our standard Workshop Policy: If a student communicates with us within 48 hours of the workshop that they are unwell, they will receive full credit towards any future workshop in our studio. 


As a small business, we are not taking any of this lightly and have spent time weighing out what is best for our community. This not only impacts us, but has a trickle down effect to all the incredible small businesses we work with to stock our shop and extends to the small business owners who lead our incredible workshops.

Although this may be a strain on us as a small business, we are being proactive and thinking about people over profit. 

We have been committed to delivering the very best to our community and intend to do so in a way that maintains the safety, health, and wellness of our employees, instructors, workshop students, and shop guests.

Printable: 2020 Goal Worksheets

Alyssa Nguyen


Printable: 2020 Goal Worksheets

Wanna know something weird? This is the FIRST year since we opened our doors that we didn’t host our annual Goal Setting Workshop in the studio. I know a baby is a very valid excuse (haha) but seriously, it felt strange not having it on our calendar.

There’s just something magical about starting off the year by carving out some time on a Sunday morning in our studio, surrounded by an intimate group of women who are showing up for themselves. I usually keep the lights off and make use of the cozy natural light we have from our windows, light a candle and put out a pot of warm tea for everyone as we get started.

We’ve had students come every single year to our Goal Setting Workshop and it’s been an honor hearing about how our students achieve their goals. The disclaimer to goals is always that you HAVE to work towards your goals. Writing them down has power in itself but you’ve got to do the work :) And I’m so proud to have seen so many of our students do the work and work towards their goals over the years.

I created these worksheets as a very mini version of our 1.5-2 hour in-person workshop and have plans to elaborate on these to develop a true digital version of our Goal Setting Workshop so that when we get back to hosting them in-person, those of you who are not in Austin or unable to make it to that session can get in on the goal magic.

These worksheets are meant to guide you through reflecting back on last year, before moving on to the current year. I encourage you to carve out at least an hour to spend on these pages, take yourself on a date to a coffee shop one morning or make yourself a warm cup of tea one morning - remove distractions, bust out your new notebook (I know y’all probably have one somewhere and if not, I’ve heard of a great local shop in town ;) and get to it. You can download and print out a worksheet for yourself, as well as download a really cute crystal desktop background below!

Here are a few tips to get started:

Get comfortable (whether you are sitting at your desk or cozied up on your couch)

Take a few deep breaths (inhaling all the good and positivity around, exhaling all the things that feel heavy)

Clear your mind (No excuses, no limitations, nothing holding you back…)

Work through these sheets, if you get stuck - find a moment to pause, don’t stress. Simply move on. You can always go back to what you were stuck on

My word of the year this year is: Savor. To savor the season of life I am in right now with a new baby. To savor the time this business has given me to be able dedicate more time and attention to my family and personal life. To savor and enjoy the hard work I have put in over the past six years for the business to be able to thrive without me working “in” it 24/7. To savor the immense gratitude I have for our shop + studio team, the designers we get to feature in our retail shop, the talented instructors we get to co-host workshops with, and our entire community that supports this business.

Goals are something I really believe in, and I would be so honored to hear from you if you find these worksheets helpful. I’d love to hear what you think of these as you work through them, if you have any big goals you’d like to share with us, as well as if you have any feedback :)

LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND TAG US ON INSTAGRAM SO WE CAN SEE YOU WORK SOME GOAL MAGIC INTO YOUR LIVES THIS YEAR!