Gift Ideas For Him

Gift Ideas For Him

When I think of the many school pageants going on in the lead-up to Christmas, I can't help thinking about Ken Robinson. One of his two TED Talks was the #1 most watched video in the world (and the second wasn't far behind). In one of them, he talks about children's gumption to give things a try, even when they're uncertain. He speaks of three kids with tea towels on their heads playing wise men bringing gifts. The first one says, "I bring gold". The second, "I bring myrrh". And the last one wings it: "Frank sent this!".

Are there any boys or men in your life that make you laugh? A funny uncle? A little nephew or grandson's antics?

Sometimes it's the tender moments I witness with the men in my life that touch me the most. An encouraging word, helping hand and unexpected gentleness can be heart-warming.

Take a moment to think about the special men in your life. What interests do they have? What colour(s) do they gravitate toward? We have a few things at Figg Street Co. for your special someone:

We wish you joy in selecting special items for the men in your life.

Next week, we'll be setting the table. Until then, take a moment to pause and enjoy the brilliant, colourful sunrises and sunsets on display. Twice daily!

 

Gift Ideas For Her

Gift Ideas For Her

Who are the women in your life who help bring you to your centre of peace and calm? The ones who make you laugh, who you look forward to seeing? Who you can trust with anything and won't judge you? Who do you just adore and love so much?

The upcoming holidays is one of those times that gives us a great excuse to express our feelings to the many women in our life we cherish.

Does the woman you're considering love colour? Perhaps specific colours, textures, and design elements?

The holidays are an opportunity to gift someone with an everyday basic, like a writing instrument, of a quality that matches what they deserve. It's also a good time to surprise them with a newly released item you know they'll love, but they may be unaware of.


       

      Whatever the activity, we wish you plenty of time this holiday season doing what you love with the women you love in your life. Let them know how precious they are.

      It's time to use your favourite inks...

      It's time to use your favourite inks...

      It's hard to imagine this with the warm weather we've been having (20°C in November!), but there's six weeks until Christmas.

      What's the first spark of the holiday season for you? One of my first steps is finding and writing Christmas cards.

      Writing cards is a ritual I enjoy. I make a list of names and pop into the post office to pick out stamps. (The Nativity star and winter birds are featured this year!)

      It's a time to make myself a warm beverage, light a candle and pull out my favourite fountain pens and inks. As I select a card for each person, I think about them and send them good wishes.

      Add a little shimmer to your Christmas card writing this year by using a shimmering fountain pen ink.  

      Diamine is famous for its shimmer inks. When I see Golden Sands Shimmer together with Moon Dust Shimmer the festive song 'Silver and Gold' plays in my head. There's also the gorgeous red and gold Dragon Blood and Firefly Shimmer inks. Razzmatazz Shimmer is a beautiful chartreuse with gold that reminds me of the branches of yellow dogwood in wintertime.

      Another new shimmering ink option is Ferris Wheel PressReminiscent of icy snow on evergreens is Moonlit Jade, a green ink with silver shimmer.

      If you prefer non-traditional, punchy colours that sparkle, consider:

      If you prefer inks sans-sparkle, but still want something festive, try one of these colourful options:

      When it comes to selecting Christmas cards, we've several options, including local and European items. New this year, Katie Leamon has cards that have been sustainably made using upcycled coffee cup material. [In case you missed it, check out the October 4th issue of Tuesday's Tonic for our interview with Katie.]

      Available in-store only, you'll find Simply Stitches, a local card maker who hand stitches her greeting cards one at a time.

      There's also a mix of modern and traditional from Museum & Galleries and RossiRossi's letterpress cards are close to my heart. My love of letterpress runs deep and is one of the reasons why I created Figg Street Co. Run your fingers over any of the letterpress in the shop and you'll experience the same tactile pleasure I enjoy. Bliss.

          

      What ink colours will you use to write your cards this year? If you can't decide and enjoy experimenting with colour, consider our Diamine advent ink calendar and you can use a different hue each day, starting with December 1st!

      Two Minutes of Silence...

      Two Minutes of Silence...

      Every year, we become a little more removed from the events that gave rise to Remembrance Day. Also, in this part of the world, many of us don't have first-hand experience with war. It's easy to take this for granted. So let's not.

      This November 11th, let's embrace more than two minutes of silence. Let's consider how we can honour those who sacrificed their lives. How can we pay tribute?

      Know the facts
      Spend a few minutes brushing up on your knowledge of Remembrance Day and related history. Lest we forget.

      Visit a memorial
      Sixty-one thousand Canadians were killed in World World I. Many others died in subsequent wars. St. Catharines' Victoria Lawn Cemetary has 61 war graves from both world wars (31 from WWI and 30 from WWII). If you're nearby, visit them. Just seeing all the veteran crosses on the north side of Queenston Street is thought-provoking and emotional.

      Make a personal connection
      Do you know anyone who served in the military? Do you have family members or ancestors who've experienced war? Spend some time researching your family's history. Take a few minutes to listen to another's story. There's a lot we can learn from each other that often goes unsaid.

      Practice Gratitude
      We're living in peacetime here in Canada. For that, we're grateful. In Niagara, we have an abundance of beauty all around us. We have clean air to breathe. What else makes you feel grateful?

      Exercise Your Freedom
      We often hear people say that soldiers died for our freedom. Do you live freely? Or do you feel like you're at others' mercy? That you have no choice?

      Freedom is about choice. Do you set your intentions and make decisions that reflect the truth of who you are and what lights you up? Honour lives sacrificed by honouring your life. Start there.

      Exude Peace and Kindness
      We know that our emotional states are contagious. So don't underestimate the good you do when you're a centre of calm and peace, especially when others around you aren't.

      Kindness is also a choice often expressed through small actions. When you're driving in heavy traffic, consider letting in a car in front of you. Buy a coffee for the next person in line. Run an errand for a neighbour. Surprise someone with flowers. Get creative! Kindness can be a lot of fun.

      Thank you for taking a few minutes with us here to consider those who came before us.

      Lest we forget.

      November pick-me-ups

      November pick-me-ups

      Aah, November!  We're deep into autumn now and sweater weather is here to stay for awhile.  Each day, sunlight time is shrinking and becoming more precious.  For some of us, this can affect our mood.  

      Intentional planning and taking action can grease our wheels and keep things moving at whatever pace works for us.  Since this time of year can pose challenges for many of us, we'd like to share some tools we use to keep our spirits up.

      JOURNALING
      All the clutter in our head can feel heavy. I feel much lighter when I can get all those swirling thoughts outside me and onto paper. From there, I can see more clearly where my attention's been going. It also helps me examine my thoughts and consider what's worth pursuing, and what I need to make peace with and let go.

      Some journal prompts to consider:

      • What activities, people, and environments leave me feeling drained or tired? What emotions does this bring up in me?
      • What's something I've wanted to do, make or experience for a long time? Is there a step I can take toward it?
      • Where do I feel joyful in my life right now? What activities, places and people bring out the best in me?

       

      MUSIC
      Music has the ability to change my mood quickly. I can be going about the day on auto-pilot, then hear a favourite song and it will re-invigorate me. Sometimes I'll sing along. When it's got the right tempo, it may even lead me to my next pick-me-up...

      MOVEMENT
      If I'm listening to great music with a strong beat, it could lead to dancing. Or it might be a cardio workout. Taryn Toomey's The Class is one of my favourites.

      There's also running, of course. I enjoy it for the clarity of mind it provides me, as well as the physical health benefits.

      UPCOMING EVENTS & RELEASES
      Another thing that lifts my spirits is the excitement of upcoming events and creative releases I enjoy. This can be anything from a new stationery brand discovery, to a new album, upcoming concert or other live performance. A great movie or upcoming exhibit or local event all do this, too. It could even be more personal, like looking forward to catching up with a friend over coffee.

      Here are some upcoming items of note that may add a little spark to your day:

      • a potential (she's hinting) concert tour for Taylor Swift's new album, Midnights
      • a 2023 concert tour for Depeche Mode's new album, Memento Mori
      • Season 5 of The Crown will be released on Netflix November 9th
      • currently in production, Season 3 of Bridgerton is expected to air in 2023
           

      ... and, more specific to us: we'll be celebrating a Customer Appreciation Day here at Figg Street Co. in store on Saturday November 5th 10:00 am ~ 4:00 pm!

      Enjoy 20% off your purchase in store.
      Please note: some conditions apply

      We're looking forward to seeing you at the shop and seeing the new seasonal items that have arrived!

      What will you create this Halloween?

      What will you create this Halloween?

      It's nearly here! Trick-or-treat time is fast approaching.

      Halloween's a fantastic holiday for the imaginative and whimsical. From the costumes to the decorations and sound effects, it's a time when you can really stretch your creative thinking skills and conjure up whatever character, mood, or special effect you like.

      There're creative activities of all types:

      • carving and styling pumpkins, squashes and plants;
      • costumes to design and make from paper or sew;
      • making miniature models, paper maché and window displays;
      • applying character hair and makeup; and
      • staging musical and sound effects.

      Here are a few paper-based Halloween crafts you may like to consider this year:

      Spider webs
      For the full effect, add a fake spider, which you can also make from paper or use felt, cotton or whatever you have on hand. CLICK HERE

      Pumpkin Garland
      For a hit of seasonal orange, make this colourful pumpkin garland to string across your mantle, banister, window frame or wherever else you wish. CLICK HERE

      Bats
      Simple enough for young children to make, these are also effective enough for adults to enjoy. Dangle them from a thread (or use wire) to create the illusion of bats flying, hang them upside-down from the ceiling, or stick them on the wall. You can also include them in your front door decor by nestling them into tree or shrub branches or place them on and around your veranda or stoop. CLICK HERE

      Paper's great to use when creating decorations, but it's also wonderful for making costumes. When I was in a kid, a friend of mine used paper, a cardboard box, a pencil and some string to turn herself into a walking calendar for Halloween!

      CLICK HERE for a few other do-it-yourself halloween costume ideas you can make.

           

      We hope this issue gave you a few Halloween ideas to think about. If you're in the shop, let us know what costumes or decor items you enjoy making. And we hope you enjoy watching the parade of characters meandering the streets this year!

      Run, run, as fast as you can!

      Run, run, as fast as you can!

      Those close to me know one of my favourite activities is running. Especially in the autumn (and the spring). The comfortable temperature and conditions at this time of year make running outdoors invigorating.

      I'm a morning runner, and I run with my husband. We keep each other going and plan to keep doing so as long as we can!

      When it comes to preferred running conditions, I'm not alone. It's why so many marathons are held during the spring and fall.

      Speaking of which: the Niagara Falls Marathon is back this year with a new course. It's now entirely within Canada (previously, it was a joint US-Canada event).

      Sunday, October 23rd is race day, and there will be four races:

      • a 5K starting at 8:35am;
      • a 10K starting at 8:30am;
      • a 1/2 marathon starting at 8:30am; and
      • the marathon starting at 8am.

      Now, I've never raced a marathon, but I have participated in two 1/2 marathons. They certainly take a lot of preparation, dedication and hard work. It's a wonderful feeling when you experience the cheers and encouragement from people along the sidelines. It can really give you a boost when you need it most.

      After spending much time indoors and without large-scale events over the past couple of years, a marathon is a great opportunity to re-connect. If you're not participating yourself, consider attending the race as a cheerer! You can make a real difference to the athletes and others there. The positive, uplifting energy around you is bound to give you a bigger boost than you expected.

      A great paper-based activity for marathons is to write out inspiring slogans, mantras, and motivational quotes. Break out your thick, colourful felt-tip markers and bristol board. Consider making key words in thick lettering, which you can fill in with a pattern or extra-bright colour. Dress up or bring pom poms with you to get in the spirit!

      Road races are not only great for one's health; many participants also improve the health of others by raising money for various causes. There's also the benefit runners have on all the bystanders cheering them on, and vice versa. It's a win-win-win!

      At a time when so many of us are looking for joy, it's empowering to know that such moments are possible. We can create wonderful experiences for ourselves and others close to home by taking a few minutes to celebrate the achievements of strangers. It costs us nothing and it's good karma.

      Plus, you never know... you may get inspired to run the race yourself next year.

       

      We hope to see you spreading some good cheer this Sunday! And just to remind you, Saturday is the Doors Open event in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Twelve venues will be participating.

      Have a wonderful week and a fun-filled weekend!

      A Little Snippet About Scissors...

      A Little Snippet About Scissors...

      There's something about autumn and earlier, darker evenings that beckons storytelling. Maybe it's the thought of sitting near the fireplace with a good book or sharing a warm beverage with someone and catching up. In any case, we've a little backstory about scissors for you. Have you ever wondered why there are so many scissors in the shape of cranes? 

      Little crane (or stork) scissors are most often used for embroidery; to snip thread. And, indeed, that makes sense since these small tools date back to the 18th century, when they were used by midwives. At that time, rather than blades, they had clamps on them and were used on umbilical cords.

      The clamps were fashioned in the shape and design of these birds because they symbolized fertility. Since storks would migrate after the summer solstice and return in the spring, their journey was thought to mirror the nine months of pregnancy. Also, they nested on rooftops, so seeing them swoop down from the sky to a house is where we likely got the imagery of a stork delivering newborn babies.

      Some antique stork scissors reveal a baby in a womb hidden behind the bird's midsection when the blades, or clamps, are splayed. Now, you may or may not have experienced childbirth, but most of us know that there can often be some waiting involved.

      Midwives, experienced in these matters, would arrive prepared with a kit of tools that also included embroidery. This gave them an activity to do in between tending to their patients. Since their embroidery kit and medical kit went hand-in-hand, it's reasonable that there may have been some overlap in their use. Hence, crane embroidery scissors!

      Tips & Tricks

      • try moving the paper as you cut, rather than your hand and scissors
      • cut with the bottom part of the blade (not the tips) for a clean cut
      • for paper, use scissors that aren't too big, so the cutting area isn't too far away from your hand (this gives you more control)
      • clean gummed up scissors with Goo Gone; let it sit on the blades for a minute before wiping off
      • use paper scissors for paper and fabric scissors for fabric; don't use these for opposite uses - you'll end up dulling the blades or simply not able to cut well
         

      What will you be snipping this week? There's certainly a lot of making going on around us, and we'll be discussing more craft ideas later this month. But before that, I'd like to share another one of my favourite activities at this time of year - next week!

      Until then, enjoy the comforts and pleasures of autumn!

      Our interview with Katie Leamon

      Our interview with Katie Leamon

      Katie Leamon products are one of our, and our customers, favourites. The gorgeous designs, quality papers, pencils and notebooks are elegant, practical and a joy to use. So we're excited to ask Katie Leamon herself a few questions. Read on to discover more.

      Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

      I was born in Harlow, Essex, and grew up in the Essex countryside in a place called Matching Green.

      Did anything in your childhood point you toward a future creating a stationery, leather, and ceramics business?

      I was always crafting, drawing and creating. It was always my favourite subject at school and I always wrote poetry, made cards and sculpted things from paper mâché.

      What aspect of stationery appeals to you most?

      I love the human connection to paper - from a card, a letter or a book. It's tangible, personal and beautiful.

      Who's inspired you in your life and how so?

      As a young designer I loved the work and business model of Cath Kidston. She seemed to make it possible that you could start your own business as a young female and inspired me to do it alone. My brother was also a catalyst to help me get on my feet as a young designer. He helped fund my first studio space (that I shared with him) and inspired me to break the mould and take a risk of doing my own thing.

      What habits, practices and/or conditions make you most effective in your work?

      I like to work with background noise such as a podcast, radio or music. We have introduced a Monday meeting between my partner and I (we run the business together) so we catch up first thing to plot and plan the week. I like to make lots of lists and break tasks up into bite size amounts.

      What are your favourite colours and motifs to work with in your creations?

      I like to work in soft muted tones and monochrome palettes. I like simple organic shape, repeat pattern and geometrics as well as more illustrative typography and graphics.

      What's your favourite aspect of owning your own business?

      The freedom it brings to determine your lifestyle and to do something I'm passionate about for a living is something I want to breed in our children and others. Work doesn’t have to be a chore; it can be your hobby come to life.

      We love how your stationery states 'Proudly Made in England'. When did you decide that locally made items were an integral part of your brand?

      My first job out of university was in fair trade fashion and it became apparent how hard it can be to monitor your production line, and remain ethical and transparent when you can’t even visit the places making your product.

      What are the best books you've ever read?

      • To Kill a Mockingbird [by Harper Lee]. It's playing in London at the moment and we went to see it last week. It was the best theatre I’ve seen now, too!
      • I also love a more recent one - Where the Crawdads Sing [by Delia Owens].

      What's your favourite writing instrument?

      If I’m brainstorming in my sketchbook, I love using a fine felt pen, but if I’m writing a letter, a like a fountain pen with a nice soft wide nib.

      What's your favourite ink colour?

      Black

      What's your favourite way to spend your time outside work?

      Wild swimming, cycling, long walks, cooking, and eating out with friends and family. I love time to myself browsing antique markets and thrift stores and I also love a bit of home improvement!

      What's your most marked characteristic?

      Empathy.

      What's your motto or mantra?

      Through designing I’ve learnt that if I don’t LOVE it, I should leave it, much like shopping! I also try to live by the motto of sleeping on it, frustrating as it might be, it always helps.

      What are the places you recommend people visit or things they should do when they're in Essex?

      I don’t live in Essex anymore so I’m more familiar with London, but if you're in Essex, then a trip to Epping Forest is a must. It's between London and Essex and is such an incredible forest with some lovely walks and pubs tucked in and around.

           

      We hope you enjoyed reading this interview and learning more about the person behind the Katie Leamon brand.

      We also wish you a happy long Thanksgiving weekend! Stay tuned for an upcoming Figg Street Co. event where we'll be thanking you!

      On The Make

      On The Make

      The official start of autumn makes me think of getting cozy and creative. There's a lot of making going on around me. It's a season of gathering things from outdoors to turn them into arrangements, scented sachets, preserves and wine. There's also still a lot of activity in nature as butterflies, bees and other pollinators float and buzz from flower to flower, and squirrels scurry about collecting nuts. There's much preparation going on.

      One popular ritual is displaying a wreath on your door to welcome the new season. For fall, you can make paper leaves in various leaf shapes to create a circular display. The leaves from trees like oaks, maples, and gingko are great options. You can use solid colour, metallic, decorative or a mix of papers for a unique creation. Click here to watch a video that shows you how to make maple leaf shapes from paper.

      Another option for a front door display is twisting up grapevines into a circle, or even an oval. Nature is filled with curves and unique lines. When using natural materials to make a wreath, don't worry if it's not perfect. The asymmetry can add a feeling of whimsy and charm.

      Part of autumn preparations is not just about winter, but spring. Fall is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs. While green turns to brown and flowers are starting to fade, we can find solace in planning ahead to the arrival of cheerful, fresh spring growth. You don't need to have a large garden to take part. Even a pot will do. (Click here for tips on creating your own 'bulb lasagne'.)* 

      *Note that given our climate, the Feb/Mar/Apr layered bulbs in the UK video translate to Mar/Apr/May on this side of the pond.

      This is also a great time for capturing the likeness of nature onto paper. Sketching, drawing and painting are all fantastic ways to be in the moment this season. While there is still fruit ripening on branches and vines, there're many inspirations throughout the orchards and vineyards of Niagara. Do you have a favourite fall fruit?

      To bring the feeling of nature indoors, consider making an arrangement. It can be tricky finding deciduous branches to use from outside. First off, our trees haven't coloured up yet. Secondly, most of us don't want to cut off tree branches to bring indoors, for many reasons.

      To get the same effect, we can make branches with coloured leaves from paper and washi or floral tape. Click here to find out how.

         

      It's satisfying and comforting to know we can make something new from our own ideas and hands. We hope you join us in some creative activities this week, whatever you choose!

      Thirty Days Hath September...

      Thirty Days Hath September...

      I love September sunlight. It looks different now than it did at the start of summer, when the light was intensifying and full-on through branches that hadn't filled out yet. The golden rays now dapple through tree leaves and play against shadows. There's a nuance to it: bright gold reflected in selected spots and painterly stripes, like blonde highlights. Warm and bright.

      September also makes me feel nostalgic and notice the passage of time. It's a month of transition. Although in our region temperatures stay in the twenties (and occasionally, even climb into the thirties), it tends to become cooler overnight.

      As we move from summer into early autumn, I try to grab and savour those last bits of warm weather activities outdoors. Things like walking along one of our beaches or piers, watching the rowers practice at the Henley, or enjoying an ice cream at the Avondale Dairy Bar. For a rare treat, I can head over to Lakeside Park where time seems to stand still as I use that loose nickel in my pocket for a carousel ride.

      It's a funny time that evokes a mixture of feelings, because things are both winding down and starting up. Many of us collect seeds, make divisions and transplant them. Fruiting plants are reaching maturity and we experience celebrations around the harvest of corn, apples and pears. The big local event is the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, now in its 70th year!

      This is a fantastic month for exercising outdoors, and one of my favourite things to do is hiking. We're lucky to have the Niagara escarpment nearby and many trails. Even waterfalls of varying sizes. It's not unusual to see artists sketching or painting at this time of year when the light is great and it's comfortable enough to spend a fair amount of time outside. Same goes for writing en plein air.

      I try my best to appreciate these beautiful moments. I enjoy the feeling of warmth from the sun on my face or back. And it brings me joy to meet new students that arrive at the shop each year. There's a strong association between September and stationery. Even those of us who are no longer in the classroom can feel compelled to pick up a fresh notebook or pen, anticipating the start of a new season.

      And like any good student, it's a great time for list-making. Getting down on paper those things that you want to finish while the weather's still warm. Making progress and last-ditch attempts to complete those year-long projects before the holidays arrive. Or sometimes it's about getting a head start on cooler weather activities, like knitting.

        

      We hope you squeeze out the most sunshine activities you can this month. Take a moment to breathe the fresh air outside and feel the golden light. Wishing you a happy Fall Equinox this Thursday!

      How we empower ourselves...

      How we empower ourselves...

      Over the past few years especially, I've felt very lucky and grateful to live in Canada. There's so much peace and many freedoms here that are easy to take for granted in the day-to-day hum of life.

      That said, there's something happening today in the U.S. that I'd like to adopt for myself, and for everyone else: it's Positive Thinking Day.

      There're few things more powerful than recognizing our thoughts and improving them. So many of us get lost in thinking that we don't even realize it's an activity we're engaged in. It's as if we're at the mercy of our minds, receiving incoming thoughts, without any power to do anything about it.

      The truth is, we can change our thoughts. If we're telling ourselves negative things about ourselves or things around us, just noticing that this is occurring is a positive first step toward change.

      We can examine our thoughts by asking ourselves questions. In fact, this is what Byron Katie did when she turned her whole life around for the better. She created a practice about this process called 'The Work' and offers a free worksheet on her website for others to use.

      Over the past decade or so, there's been an enormous amount of research, work, and media attention devoted to the field of positive psychology. Whereas in the past much attention went to problems and how to solve them, many people are now turning to happiness, resilience, and the study of positive emotions and experiences. After all, when asked what we want from life, so many people say they just want to be happy.

      That said, positive thinking isn't the same thing as being happy all the time. As human beings, our lives provide us with opportunities to experience the full gamut of emotions, and it's appropriate to do so.

      Positive thinking is more of a practice or habit that anyone can develop. It's a choice in how we interpret our thoughts and experiences.

      Positive thinking is about trying to replace negative self-talk with more positive messages, and having a positive, optimistic attitude.

      There're many exercises out there to try. I've tried several myself: writing down my thoughts, thinking of things I'm grateful for, and practicing self-compassion.

      An interesting thing about positive thinking is that the teachings are about empowering ourselves. Yet, the results of this work benefit those around us, too. Just think of the people whom you enjoy spending time with the most. Chances are, they're people who demonstrate warmth, positivity, and the ability to forgive themselves and others.

        

      We hope you get a chance today to enjoy some positive thoughts - about yourself, those around you, and anything else that brings you joy.