Words. They're an integral part of using stationery. We use words to express our emotions, thoughts, ideas, and experiences in greeting cards, letters, diaries and notebooks. Sometimes our thoughts and feelings are difficult to express.
All this is considered and explored in the book we're currently reading: Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown, her latest and recently-released book.
This bestseller serves as an atlas of our emotional world. Words representing our emotions and related concepts are clustered together by our shared human experiences. For example, 'Places we go when we compare' and 'Places we go when things aren't what they seem' are a couple of the chapters inside.
It's certainly true that we all benefit when any one of us makes the time and effort to examine our own life and explore our internal world. As Socrates is claimed to have said, "the unexamined life is not worth living". If we're not aware and reflective, we're really just sleepwalking and going through the motions, day to day.
As with some of her other books, Brené Brown's style is conversational. She includes personal stories and shares the emotions and experiences she finds particularly challenging. Since we're each unique, some of our perspectives and narratives may differ, yet there's a universal truth to this book that's easy to connect with and understand.
For example, there's a part that discerns between envy and jealousy. Brené Brown shares her own narrative related to the word envy. There are certainly people who share this experience, but I don't have the same internal dialogue about the word envy. I also don't use the word 'jelly' (to mean jealous). However, I understand this perspective and her explanation and the context provided in defining these two emotions is very helpful.
Words have power. Expanding our emotional vocabulary to express and describe many of life's messy and complex situations serves as a useful tool to share our experiences and connect with others.
If you choose to read Atlas of the Heart this summer, let us know! Or share any other great reads you've discovered. We love hearing about what's inspiring you.
Many of you have bought and used the beautiful products created by Cavallini & Co., but you may not know the man behind the brand. Here's a look at Figg Street Co.'s interview with Brad L. Parberry, the creator of Cavallini & Co., founded in 1989.
Where did you grow up?
Bellingham, Washington (USA).
Did anything in your childhood point you toward a future in stationery?
Yes, my uncle Sam Cavallini was a Norcross Card Company salesman. He would bring boxes of counter cards to me to use. I also sold boxed Christmas and birthday cards door to door.
What gave you the idea to create Cavallini & Co.?
I saw the opportunity to bring beautiful Italian art calendars and handmade paper from Amalfi to the US market. Nothing like this existed in the US so I thought it would be successful.
What aspect of stationery appeals to you most?
Superior paper stock and true period imagery.
What inspires you when you create new products?
Collaborating with our designers and working with our archive of vintage images.
What's most exciting to you right now about stationery, business, and life?
The most rewarding thing is working with kind people.
Who's inspired you in your life and how so?
My childhood creative friend Ira Yeager who recently passed and my mom.
What are your favourite colours to work with in your creations?
There is no particular one color, I love all colors and especially hand colored images.
Do you create the designs of the stationery, or does someone else do that for you?
We have a creative team of designers that work with our archive to create our designs.
What's the best advice you've ever received? Worst?
Best advice is less is more, do one thing and do it well and stay focused. Worst advice is listening to what others say we should do or be. We know what we should do and we follow our own path.
What's your favourite aspect of the business?
I get the most joy collaborating with my colleagues.
How many people work at Cavallini & Co.? Does everyone work from the same location?
We have 24 employees and we all work together in the same location in South San Francisco, California.
What's your favourite writing instrument?
What the best book you've ever read?
A short story called “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant.
What's your favourite way to spend your time?
Gardening and collecting images for our archive.
Have you ever visited the Niagara region? If not, do you intend to?
Unfortunately, no but this is on my list for sure as well as Mt. Rushmore.
We hope that we'll be able to welcome Brad to Niagara sometime soon. And we hope that you enjoyed this interview and get a chance to head outside and explore the region during this gorgeous time of year. What inspiration can you find for your archives?
The thing is, isn't this what everyone really wants? To be seen and accepted for who you are - your whole, true self. Not through a filter of judgment, expectations and fear, but the clear, open eyes of unconditional love?
If you've got a dad that sees you and accepts you as you are - count yourself lucky and celebrate him!
Happy Father's Day!
What do Michael Cera, Linda Evangelista, Michael Bublé, Bob Manno, and Dina Pugliese have in common? They're all Italian-Canadians!
At Figg, we've got Italia on the mind since June is Italian Heritage Month.
Canada has one of the largest Italian diasporas in the world. We have over 1.5 million citizens of Italian descent. Many of us are familiar with the Little Italy neighbourhoods in larger cities, though there're also many other pockets and regions influenced by Italian culture.
In our shop, we sell many things made in Italy, including stationery, scissors, ribbons, greeting cards, writing instruments, decorative papers, paper clips, and more.
There're several aspects of Italian arts & culture we adore in the stationery business:
- the tradition of paper-making in Amalfi
- Florentine decorative papers, including marbled ones
- Italian letterpress stationery & notecards
- Florentine brass wax seal stamps
Creatives of all backgrounds have looked to Italy for inspiration in many facets of arts and culture, such as food, wine, painting, sculpture, architecture, design, cars, fashion, literature, film and philosophy.
It's amazing to consider the influence this boot-shaped country has had on the world.
Italian-Canadians are among the many immigrants that have made contributions to our country, and region. Join us in celebrating our diversity and multi-culturalism this month at the Niagara Folk Arts Festival, which runs from June 4th though the 27th.
A few of us may head to Club Roma this month for some food 'like mama used to make', but next week, we'll be celebrating papa. Join us next Tuesday, which will be all about Father's Day.
In fact, you'll see more than one rose garden in the garden tours, which are back for 2022! June is a popular month for these events, as late spring is the peak period for flower gardens. Also, trees have leafed out into lovely canopies. The foliage and lawns are green and lush and many of our favourite plants are blooming: peonies, roses, clematis, alliums, delphiniums, foxgloves, irises, catmint, poppies, phlox, salvia, lavender, lupines and veronica, to name a few.
When there's this much variety in the garden and it looks so picture-perfect, many want to share the results of their work with others. Garden tours are a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, explore the area, meet new people and get inspired by colour, form, layouts and design.
In Niagara, we are fortunate. Our soil and climate are renowned for their wonderful growing conditions. We're among the most southern and warmest regions in the country, which means we get to grow beautiful perennials that don't thrive further north.
This year's tours will start off on Sunday, June 5th. From noon until 5pm, the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) St. Catharines is hosting its 2022 House and Garden Tour. Tickets are available to participate in person, or you can purchase a virtual online ticket if you'd prefer viewing online or are unable to go on the physical tour.
The following weekend on Saturday, June 11th, is when the 16th annual Shaw Guild Garden Tour takes place. It's from 10am to 4pm and will feature gardens in historical Niagara-on-the-Lake. The Shaw Guild promotes interest in, and supports the The Shaw Festival.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society is hosting its 2022 Garden Tour on Saturday, July 9th from 10am to 5pm. This will be the 29th annual tour for the society, which was established in 1906. The event will take place in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Photos from previous years can be viewed on the NOTL Horticultural Society website.
The tours mentioned above feature private gardens. However, if you feel like getting out into some green space at another time, you can visit public gardens all season long. The Niagara Botanical Gardens in Niagara Falls is a beautiful place to spend a few hours. It includes the Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, established in 1936.
One of the things I've heard many talk about the past couple of years, is how gardening really helped them cope. A garden is such a giving thing to cultivate: it gives us beauty, food, medicine, clean air, exercise, joy and a sense of peace. It also provides shelter and food to many pollinators and can really centre us during times of stress.
Perhaps your garden is being featured in one of these tours. Or maybe next year? Whether you're showcasing your green paradise or walking by others' botanical borders over the next few weeks, we do hope you take some time in June to smell the roses!
Spring always brings changes. However, after our long winter and the worldwide issues of the past couple of years, this spring has felt especially fresh and appreciated. As the daylight hours lengthen and green stretches out all around us, the quality of light changes: it brightens as the days grow longer.
Right now, after the magical time of blossoms, the trees and shrubs are putting out their foliage at an ever-quickening pace. Like people, each tree grows to its own tempo. Some sprout early, while others, like Honey Locusts and White Oaks, leaf out later.
Many paper artists have been inspired by foliage and inflorescences. Japanese stationery is abundant in spring imagery, especially sakura, the cherry blossom. The arts and crafts movement referenced many flowers, including tulips and irises. Katie Leamon's floral prints include springtime anemones and poppies.
It's the changing of seasons that cleanses our palette and makes us excited about each new flower that arrives this time of year. There's an abundance of colour, shapes, and sizes. The tiny bells of lily-of-the-valley, whose perfume beckons you to crouch down, to the fragrant lilacs, who have you sniffing upward on your tip-toes. Then there're the plants that look great from a distance - azaleas and rhododendrons make a big impact with their profusion of blooms, often in a shady area.
Spring mornings can be the most exciting time of the year to get up early, make a cup of tea or coffee and head out into the garden. Each day is different. Rather than doing any work or chores, it's the perfect time to simply observe. To appreciate the uplifting, promising morning light. The birdsong. That fresh scent of soil, lawn and bulbs. No matter what else is going on in the world, at this moment, all is well in my peaceful garden.
In this mid-to-late spring garden period, we see a mix of things finishing up as new plants have their time to shine. There's also the variety of growth rates we see. While leucojum and Solomon's seal pop up and bloom quickly, we watch the alliums, peonies, clematis and roses slowly stretch, swell up and unfold over days and even weeks.
As wonderful as it is to have our own private garden, it's also a pleasure to share it with others. Next week, we'll be discussing the return of garden tours.
Until then, we wish you many magical mornings (and afternoons, and evenings) amongst the spring bulbs and blossoms.
When I was living in Ottawa, several years ago, I heard about a 'Doors Open' event for the first time. For one weekend, usually at the end of May, the city would open the doors of its many buildings to the public. Rather than a standard tour, people got to see behind-the-scenes areas of organizations not typically open for viewing.
When I moved back to southern Ontario, I was happy to discover that many other cities held 'Doors Open' events of their own. I learned that it's province-wide and a service paid for with our tax dollars.
Earlier this month, Hamilton held its Doors Open event (May 7-8th), as did Peterborough (May 7th).
Coming up on May 28th and 29th, Toronto will be holding its Doors Open event with over 100 locations partaking this year. Since it's Ontario's capital, several provincial buildings are found there, such as the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and the Ontario Association of Architects, as are a few national and international ones, such as The Women's Art Association of Canada and the Japan Foundation.
If you love stationery and arts & crafts (chances are, if you're reading this, you do), a few of the spots you may enjoy visiting include the paper mill at Todmorden Mills, Artscape Wychwood Barns, Toronto's First Post Office, and The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre.
Ottawa will open its doors the following weekend on June 4th and 5th and will be holding a scavenger hunt contest linked to the event. As our nation's capital, the city is rich in beautiful and architecturally interesting places to visit.
Doors Open will include embassies, government buildings, museums and galleries. One of the city's special destinations is Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute, the only Le Cordon Bleu campus in North America. Check the exact list of participating buildings on May 30th to see if it's included this year.
A few municipalities and regions hold their events later in the season. Burlington is open on September 10th and London, the weekend of September 17-18th. Doors Open Oshawa will be on September 24th and Windsor September 24-25th.
Now, are you thinking what I'm thinking? When's Doors Open Niagara? I'm just putting it out there: wouldn't it be great to have one here, too?
Take a stroll along historic downtown Thorold while visiting the Niagara region. Discover our little hidden gem.
Visit our shop and see all the new products that have arrived. And, make sure you indulge your senses in a pastry or two @jcpatissier_cafe, our new heavenly love affair.
While the cities open their doors to the public, I've been opening my windows to let in the fresh, spring air. After our long winter, I'm enjoying all the flora. More on that next week!
From time-to-time, when I've been shopping for new clothes with a particular item or colour in mind, I just can't locate quite what I want. Wouldn't it be great if we could create exactly what we want - ourselves? That's what many people are doing this month for Me-Made-May!
Me-Made-May was spawned by Zoe Edwards, a sewing blog author from the UK. It's a challenge that you design yourself to make and wear your own creations during the month of May. You can decide to sew a single item, create a full outfit or even wear something you made each day of the month.
Sewing your own clothing is a great way to wear things that align with your preferences, and even your values. You can choose to buy sustainable materials, locally manufactured fabrics (there are more textile manufactures in Canada and the US than many people realize), and choose whatever colours, prints and fibres spark joy for you.
Making your own clothes can put you in touch with an entire community of people. For those who knit, crochet or weave, join Ravelry, if you haven't already. It's a wonderful website with myriad resources to keep track of your projects, tools, yarn and patterns. You can easily connect with other members worldwide and sign up for group events, such as knit-alongs (KALs).
The popularity of Ravelry sometimes has those who sew ask, why isn't there a Ravelry for sewing? Well, a couple from Vancouver wondered the same thing and have developed a membership site that answers just that question! It's called Textillia.
Other places where those who sew connect include local fabric and notion shops, and their online websites or via Etsy.
Fabrics can also be sourced from Kijiji, thrift shops, yard sales and by repurposing fabrics from garments or cloth items you already own.
The process of creating your own clothing requires learning new skills and developing them. However, the freedom it gives you to create whatever your mind can conceive is liberating. Dream it, sketch it, make it!
At Figg, we appreciate makers of all kinds and provide many people who sew with tools, notebooks to track their projects, and embellishments.
If you do choose to partake in Me-Made-May, happy making!
In honour of Mother's Day, we wanted to share a special mother with you - my mom, Eileen D'Angelo (Morelli). Enjoy the questions and answers below from our discussion.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in Hamilton, Ontario. I grew up in the city's north end with fifteen brothers and sisters. I'm the ‘baby’ of the family and now the sole surviving family member. My parents immigrated from Italy.
How many children do you have?
I've been blessed with four great children. Michael, our first born, is an electrician, married with three children and five (almost six) grandchildren. Antoinette, the shop owner, who's also married. Jaqueline, a registered nurse who retired at the beginning of April after 35 years of service. She has three adult children. Christopher, works for the federal government and is married. All live in Hamilton except for Antoinette.
Did you notice anything about Antoinette as a child that indicated she'd have a future in entrepreneurship?
I would say I felt Antoinette was a leader. As a child she was either teaching other children, or helping others through the church. She was independent as a child.
Do you have any favourite aspects of being a mother?
I've always wanted to be a mother as I love children. And the great thing about children is that you can teach them so much. They're very receptive. I love to cook and especially bake. It's rewarding to watch your family enjoy homemade food. I love teaching my children, and now my grandchildren, how to bake.
Do you have special Mother's Day memories? Any Mother's Day rituals?
We didn’t have a whole lot growing up with our big family. But my mother loved her family and being together as much as possible was important to her. She enjoyed cooking and bringing the family together to eat. We had a lot of fun around our dining room table.
What's your favourite colour?
True blue has always been my favourite colour.
Red roses are my favourite flower. I also love hydrangeas.
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
I'm right handed.
What are your favourite stationery items?
I love pencils, day planners and stickers. I especially love the Midori stickers. I like adding them to cards as people happily react to them.
Where in the Niagara and Hamilton regions do you enjoy spending time in the spring and summer months?
I love strolling through the Botanical Gardens. It is a peaceful place to visit. I also love visiting the wineries of Niagara or listening to live jazz music.
We hope you've enjoyed spending some time with my mom today. And we wish you a Happy Mother's Day this Sunday, May 8th!
Mary Luciani is the founder of The Pale Blue Dot, an earth-friendly general store and apothecary in the heart of downtown Hamilton, Ontario. We get excited about environmentally-conscious organizations and small businesses, especially here in Southern Ontario. So we thought we'd ask Mary some questions and share the conversation with you.
Did anything in your childhood point you toward a future in entrepreneurship?
This question made me chuckle because the telltale signs were definitely there. When I was about nine-years-old, I asked my parents if I could get a hamster. As their way of saying “no”, without really having to say it, they told me if I could pay for the hamster and all the essentials, I could get one.
Thus began my budding career as an entrepreneur. My best friend and I took to the kitchen every weekend to prepare for our weekly street-side mini-muffin stand. We sold our baked goods to neighbours and, before long, I was heading to the pet store with my earnings.
What was your inspiration for creating Pale Blue Dot?
The idea stemmed from my personal goal to reduce unnecessary plastics and toxic ingredients in my everyday life. This started with grocery store plastic, personal care products, and so on.
The more I focused on this way of life, the more apparent the global problem became to me. This was not only a crisis of protecting the health of the planet, but the health of people, as well. As I dug deeper and learned of the serious effects synthetics were inflicting on living organisms, the fire fueling my mission grew even stronger.
Why did you choose to name the shop Pale Blue Dot?
The inspiration behind our name stems from the great Carl Sagan.
In 1990, NASA sent Voyager 1 out into the depths of space. As the spacecraft reached the monumental milestone of Saturn’s rings (the farthest distance we'd ever reached), Carl Sagan suggested the camera be turned around and a snapshot of Earth be taken. What was captured in that moment would soon become one of the most iconic images of our planet.
From this vantage point, Earth appeared as a morsel of blue light. A pale blue dot.
Who's inspired you significantly in your business and/or life, in general? How so?
A dear friend, and complete stranger, named Elizabeth Gilbert. After reading Big Magic, I began to practice looking beyond fear when an opportunity presented itself. I fully embraced what my heart wanted and saying “yes” to these opportunities became my way of honouring this life. I was emboldened to live beyond my comfort levels and to, just, trust that even if I failed… it’s all part of it. I didn’t have a business degree, no five year plan, just a big dream and a whole lot of passion.
What are a few activities that people can do to take care of our planet?
Plant a garden! Let your hands be in the soil and sow some seeds. Or, simply start a compost pile. Tending to and remediating soil is one of the most powerful impacts we can have, and you can do it in your own community or backyard (think global, act local)!
Do you have any favourite plants to grow, and if so, what are they?
Yes! I adore tending to our Tulsi plants. It's also known as Holy Basil or Sacred Basil, and is referred to as “the most sacred plant on Earth” in the ancient Vedic texts.
She has the sweetest fragrance and offers an abundance of gifts to us including the easing of stress. Tulsi has been revered for centuries, in many cultures, due to her ability to bring clarity and lightness to the body, mind, and spirit.
I look forward everyday in the growing season to sitting and pruning the Tulsi plants and enjoying tea from her leaves and flowers. The entire experience is medicine!
What're your favourite stationery items? Writing instrument?
I am a sucker for stationery. I’ve been known to over purchase notebooks and then 'save' them for some future project down the road. I also love a good notepad - I love the feel of the indentations on the page from the previous note or list.
That being said, my favourite stationary item is none-other than a glorious liquid ink pen. *chefs kiss*
Are you right-handed or left-handed?
What's your favourite ink colour(s)?
Black all day!
What are the best books you've ever read?
My favourite books are:
- Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- The Secret Life of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man by Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird
Where in the Niagara and Hamilton regions do you enjoy spending time in the spring and summer months?
I'm very much a homebody, however, I'm always craving a quiet walk through a forest, or a stroll in a historic area. Westfield Heritage Village, the Dundurn Kitchen Gardens, and Ireland House are some of my favourites out Hamilton way!
Next week, you're in for another treat. In honour of Mother's Day, we'll be featuring an interview with the mom of Figg Street Co.'s founder!
When we were kids, there were days at school when we'd all be asked to go outside. Armed with garbage bags and the intense desire to make a positive impact, we scurried about the schoolyard picking up litter from the ground and lodged into the chain link fence by the wind. We left feeling empowered and satisfied, the way you do after a thorough cleaning of your room.
These days, it's clear that cleaning up our planet takes a lot more strategic thought, elbow grease and cooperation. Nevertheless, many people are passionate and committed to doing their part. And there's something each of us can do.
Have you heard of plogging? It comes from the combination of the words plocka upp (Swedish for 'pick up') and jogging and means to pick up garbage while you're exercising.
(One can't help but wonder if our teachers would've had us multi-task and clean up the litter outside during gym, if this catchphrase was known to them back then.)
At Figg, we partner with many brands who've made their commitment to the environment a top priority. Just a few examples:
- Rhodia/Clairefontaine uses mainly sawmill waste, and pruned and thinned trees to produce its papers, as part of its sustainability approach.
- Dingbats uses recyclable and vegan certified materials and is currently developing a way to make pens with biodegradable plastic.
- E. Frances has eliminated the use of plastic sleeves on cards and uses only 100% cotton for gift tag string and retail ribbon
- several of our local suppliers create products from repurposed books, periodicals and memorabilia
From a stationery perspective, the most environmentally-friendly writing instrument you can choose is a fountain pen. It can keep for decades, and be reused by refilling it with bottled ink. This is much preferable to single use plastic pens.
This Friday, April 22nd is Earth Day. How will you be celebrating it? What aspects of our planet are you most grateful for?
As a little bonus segment on Earth Day, next week we'll feature an interview with Mary Luciani of Pale Blue Dot in Hamilton, Ontario. Until then, we hope you enjoy the abundance of spring bulbs on glorious display!
Decorated Easter eggs have been a tradition for many years, but this year, Ukrainian Easter eggs, also known as Pysanky, are being appreciated more deeply. Many organizations are holding Pysanky-decorating events or selling Pysanky and Pysanky-themed items to raise money in support of Ukraine.
Coloured eggs at this time of year are just one example of springtime. They represent new life, hope and their bright colours bring cheer. Baskets of them display nature's abundance for all to see.
In addition to eggs, we see other little things representing rebirth and hope: blooming hyacinths, daffodils, and early tulips in the garden. There're also the furry and fluffy ones: chicks and bunnies who look adorable and bring a smile to our face.
For children and the child-at-heart, we see eggs, bunnies and hens in chocolate form. Talented bakers even make their likeness in bread or cake form, using special molds. A basketful of all these treats can be a comforting tradition for many each spring.
Are you planning any egg decorating sessions this year? An egg hunt in the garden? If you're looking for a colourful way to use your creative energy, especially with little ones, check out these egg colouring pages by clicking here.
For those who do or don't celebrate Easter, there're other ways to mark the emergence of spring: an afternoon in the garden raking leaves, pruning, and sowing seeds. A visit to the botanical gardens to see the spring bulbs on display. Even spring cleaning (especially on those rainy April days).
However you choose to spend the long weekend, we do hope you find a few minutes to appreciate the spring flowers and the scent of damp, fresh earth. Speaking of earth, we'll be discussing Earth Day next week. Until then, we wish you a happy and healthy Easter and Passover!