Feathering Our Nest

Feathering Our Nest

Sometimes, when the day is long, the sun is covered and my feet achy, I feel happy to arrive home. A sweet treat in the wintertime is being greeted by the candlelight my husband arranges before I walk in the door.

At this time of year, candles are one of those ways that grounds me at home. It creates a soft glow and a general feeling of warmth and safety. Making a hot cup of coffee or tea in a favourite cup to hold in my hands is another pleasure at home.

For many people, home is a place of sanctuary. A safe space. A refuge from the stresses of our culture and anyone who isn't centred and peaceful. It's also a domain in which you have a say. It's a space where you can cultivate whatever you like.

Does your home reflect who you are? Are you living with colours that resonate with you? Textures that feel good? Houseplants that breathe life into your space? Have you considered how things are made?

The environmental impact, quality of craftsmanship, and the attitude of the person who made it and/or sold it to you can all impact how you feel about a thing.

Romance the ordinary. Focus on frequently used items. Living with beautiful, well-made artifacts that delight you daily is a wonderful way to live. Objects that literally make you pause to appreciate the way the light hits it just so... the sound of its chime when struck, or the satisfying way its curves align perfectly with your fingers when you hold it... These are just a few of life's little pleasures that you create for yourself.

 
 

Whether it's cooking, scrapbooking or starting some seeds indoors, we hope your time at home is nourishing and restorative this week (and always).

Let's Play!

Let's Play!

Over the past few weeks, many, if not most of us, have spent much of winter indoors. Which can be cozy... but around this time of year, it isn't uncommon to hear people talk about wanting to see some green. Some garden blogs have a 'snowdrop watch' to track when the first bulbs have bloomed each year. Let's hope Wiarton Willie was right and we see some colour early this season.

That said, there're advantages to exceptionally snowy and cold weather, as we've recently had. For one, there's snow to play with! Snowballs, snowmen, snow angels, forts and igloos are all fun to make.

Secondly, if you can find a decent hill, there's sledding to enjoy. Part of its delight is knowing you're in the moment. Eventually, the snow will melt, or get worn down to grass and dirt from heavy tobogganing traffic. So enjoy it while you can!

Thirdly, when the weather is consistently below zero degrees, the ice stays frozen and you can skate outdoors. Also, if you happen to live near trails, cross-country skiing is fun. (Downhill skiing is great, too, but despite the escarpment, not in Niagara.)

Play is not limited to the outdoors. If you're inside, there're cards, puzzles and board games. You can colour, make crafts, make your own puppet theatre, puppets and put on a production! Or make costumes and act out the scenes in person! Play hairstylist, manicurist or make-up artist. Or push it all aside and start a tickle fight!

The whole point about play is that there isn't one. It isn't about winning or losing or achieving. It's about letting go, letting joy flow through you. It's kind of like active relaxation.

And even though play isn't serious, it's important to have some form of it in your life. It's fantastic for your physical, mental and emotional health, your relationships and your overall well-being and outlook on life.

After all, how good does a life without laughter sound? Or without creative expression? Add play to your life by trying new things. Stretch yourself and explore a new area of your town or city, just for fun.

Introduce yourself to new people by joining a special interest circle or attending events offered through your local library. There're websites for various organizations to check out, or visit meetup.com and join a group.

 
 

This Monday, February 21st, we wish you and yours a happy (and playful) Family Day!

 

Use Your Senses to Celebrate Valentine's Day

Use Your Senses to Celebrate Valentine's Day

Would you like a sensuous Valentine's Day this year? The key is paying attention to your senses. Cook up something special with our six ingredient recipe.

No partner? No worries. Read through these ideas and see what interests you. Then, create for yourself a delightful evening. After all, our relationship with ourself is first and foremost: make it a good one.

SIGHT

  • Decor: tidy up and set the table. Use linen and the good china.
  • Wardrobe: pretend it's a first date. Make an effort and wear a colour or outfit your partner likes.
  • To Give: select a thoughtful card, gift and wrap it in a beautiful manner.

SOUND

  • On or off? Consider the sound of silence.
  • Or Music... something soft, romantic or more upbeat - whether you want to salsa in your kitchen or cook to jazz, select something that makes you smile.
  • Thanks: expressing gratitude for a specific act or your special person in general is a sure bet to lift the mood.

SCENT

  • Greenery: roses, gardenias, or herbs like lemon balm and rosemary will provide a pleasing fragrance.
  • Food & Drink: consider the scent of warm tomato sauce, citrus, and strawberries.
  • Body: wear a favourite perfume or oil.
  • Home: scented candles and diffusers wafting through the air create an atmosphere of consideration and safety.

TASTE

  • To eat: make or order in a favourite dish, snack or dessert (or all three!). Pull out a French cookbook for something decadent. Chocolate, raspberries and strawberries are classics at this time of year for good reason.
  • To drink: whether alcoholic or not, something sparkling adds a festive air, and any beverage can be garnished with a little citrus, berry, or sprig of mint.

TOUCH

  • To express affection: it wouldn't be Valentine's day without a romantic gesture.
  • To relax: preparing a massage or bath demonstrates love and care.
  • Texture: this can relate to any other item on the list; cotton paper, letterpress gift wrap, the bubbly sensation of sparkling water...

SIXTH SENSE

  • Intuition: follow your inner knowing on what suits you and your partner; after all, you're the expert on you and your relationship.
  • Above all else... take responsibility for the energy you bring to any space. Are you feeling and exuding a sense of peace, calm, love? You can make incredible plans, but if you're giving off a harried, worried, or unsettled vibe, it will affect the mood and create a reality you don't want. Feel and be the embodiment of love, and you will spread it - it's contagious!

Even if you're focused on your partner, you also get to delight in taking these actions, too! Enjoy each step of the process. Take a few deep breaths. Take in all the senses: sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch. Appreciate this moment and how good it feels. Memorize that feeling and recall it as often as you like.

We wish you much love, kindness, joy, and pleasant surprises. Happy Valentine's Day!

Tabula rasa

Tabula rasa

When you look outside your window at this time of year and see freshly fallen snow, does that smooth, untouched landscape remind you of an empty page? Tabula rasa is another term for blank slate, often used in art & design.

In this dormant season, things are stirring underground. It's a great time for creative brainstorming and experimentation. The seeds of today will bear fruit in time.

While some of us get excited about sitting down to a brand new notebook, sheet of paper or unused art or craft supplies, others feel daunted. When we have many options, it can feel overwhelming. Where to start? What to choose?

The trick seems to be not falling into a rabbit hole of intrusive thoughts. The more we can clear our minds of unkind messages and just delight in the moment, the more things flow.

If you're writing, one way to do this is to simply write down anything you're thinking. Don't judge yourself, just get what's on your mind down on paper, and what do you know? You're writing. If you're drawing, doodle without constraints. Recognize the freedom you already have to express yourself on paper. If you don't like it, you don't have to keep it or show it to anyone. You're safe - it's all good.

Creativity is often presented as one of life's extras or even luxuries. But it's actually an important part of being human. We all benefit from our own and others' expressions of creativity.

What making activity brings you joy? Is there anything you've wanted to try but have repeatedly put off? Calligraphy, origami, sewing, painting, writing? What's a small step you can take? Think of something you can dip your toe into one Saturday afternoon.

 
 

We were overwhelmed and very touched by the positive messages we received about last week's newsletter. It's always very uplifting to hear how this weekly communication has impacted others.

There's so much competing for our time. When you spend a few minutes with us and our creations each week, we really appreciate it.

Thank you.

Meet Figg Street Co.'s founder

Meet Figg Street Co.'s founder

This week, we've got something a little different for you - an interview with Figg Street Co.'s founder, Antoinette D'Angelo.

Antoinette D'Angelo

When and how did the idea to create Figg Street Co. come about?

When I was in university, I took a retail course. It was both fascinating and inspiring. A year later, I was living in Maine thinking about my “dream job”. Being a jazz singer was at the top of my list but . . . sadly, the talent wasn’t there. Since I was fond of all things stationery, it was an intuitive place to start. I began writing down ideas, and subsequently wrote a business plan for a stationery shop. It took many years to materialize, but the catalyst was an unfulfilling job. In 2013, I revisited my business plan and took a leap of faith and created Figg Street Co.!

Why did you choose to focus on stationery?

When I lived in Ottawa, I was steps away from a stationery shop. It was my favourite place to frequent: creaky hardwood floors and paper galore! Paper is beautiful, tactile, elegant, colourful, fun, functional and inspiring. I became enamoured by all things paper and I loved buying and collecting it. Some of it I would simply luxuriate in with no intention to use it. It was my ‘passionate’ path to take.

What made you decide to open up a shop in downtown Thorold?

I believed a charming, downtown community in a little town or village was the perfect place to open a shop. That's where I focused my energy. One dreary rainy Saturday afternoon, I received a telephone call from my neighbour. She'd just returned home from buying some meat pies in Thorold and encouraged me to investigate the area. Together we walked the street exploring and conversing with many of the merchants. Thorold’s downtown is home to a number of beautiful historic buildings and has been going through a revitalization. It felt like the perfect place for a stationery shop. As luck would have it, I was able to secure a lease. The rest is history!

Do you have any personal favourite stationery brands? If so, which ones and why?

There are many brands that I love. It's quintessential to have a collection of brands at your desk. Stationery is emotive and when we're writing to another, we choose aptly. Paula Skene Designs is one of my favourite fine stationery brands. I appreciate the craftsmanship, artistry and design of her products. Every greeting card is created one at a time. It's a process that honours passion, dedication and patience. I love anything letterpress. Amalfi handmade notecards and Rossi papers are among my favourites.

Are you right or left handed?

I'm right handed.

If you could write with only one pen and one type of paper, which ones would you choose? What ink colour(s)?

A Yard-O-Led fountain pen and Tomoe River paper. My favourite ink colours are gold, jet black, green-black, Diamine firefly, and Diamine pink champagne.

Who inspires you?

Most everyday I'm inspired by someone or many. Without naming names, I'm inspired by those who shoulder adversity with resilience and grace. I'm inspired by those who embody empathy, kindness, selflessness, thoughtfulness, and tolerance toward others. I'm inspired by those who risk their lives for others. I'm inspired by those who encourage us to be our best.

What's the best piece of advice you've received? Worst piece?

Best: Always do your best and don’t try to please everyone.

Worst: You can’t do that, it'll never work.

What are some characteristics or features of the Niagara region that appeal to you?

The Niagara region is noteable for its wine country. There's no shortage of very good wineries and winery restaurants to visit. We're so fortunate to have an influx of excellent restaurants that offer farm-to-table menus. Cycling the greenbelt is a fun way to explore the region. You can cycle your way from winery to winery, from Port Colborne to Port Dalhousie and everywhere in between. Niagara Falls in the winter is a spectacular site to see when entertaining a guest. The area turns into a magical winter wonderland. The Butterfly Conservatory and watching the ships through the canal are places I enjoy, as well.

When the pandemic is behind us, where would you most like to travel to?

PEI, Italy, England, Peru, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland are high on my list.

What is your wish or intention for your customers?

Buy what you love. It's what I personally practice, too.

 
 

Let us know if you enjoy interviews, as we're considering more in the future. Just as Figg Street Co. started out from writing down ideas, we hope that you're able to turn your dreams into reality, one step at a time. Enjoy the ride.

Live long and prosper

Live long and prosper

On January 17th, Betty White would have turned 100 years old. Joan Didion passed away right before Christmas at age 87. Sidney Poitier, on January 6th, just a few weeks shy of what would have been his 95th birthday.

Life and death connects us all. The recent loss of several near-centenarians and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the elderly has made us reflect on these individuals. After all, such members of society have a lot to teach us.

While some people may complain of aging, living into one's eighties, nineties and beyond is a gift bestowed on the living. Seen in a positive light, aging is one way of growing. Growth is what we're all here for; we aren't meant to stay the same.

A person who is 100 today was alive during WWII, the civil rights movement, the birth of rock 'n roll and many subsequent music genres. They lived through the majority of the headline-making events of the 20th century and all of the 21st century up to now. They grew up before televisions were in people's homes. Not to mention the changes they would've experienced in their own circle and within themselves - their minds and bodies.

When we reflect on what all these people have been through, it becomes easier to see the wisdom many have accumulated. Especially so for those who are introspective and have used time wisely to learn the lessons life is trying to teach each of us.

Who are the elders in your life? (Relatives? Neighbours, colleagues, volunteers?) What wisdom might they share with you? It may be worth giving one of these people a call. Or write them a card or letter. Ask them about the things you never got to witness or experience first hand, rather than make assumptions. They may surprise you.

 
 

 

Here are the trailers to a documentary and docu-series currently on Netflix that honour the experiences and wisdom of a few senior citizens:

It delights us when we hear our customers talk about using stationery to connect with others. We hope you benefit from the wisdom of our many elderly citizens in your life. We wish you many enlightening conversations.

Put a sticker on it!

Put a sticker on it!

In the US, January 13th is National Sticker Day. While we're Canadian, there's certainly nothing holding us back from having our own fun with these sticky little bits of paper.

Stickers were used as early as 300 BC to price produce in the marketplace. In the 1800s stickers were mainly used as postage stamps and for taxes. Since then, we've incorporated stickers into many areas of life, and they're both functional and decorative.

Today, if you ask someone what they think of when you say the word 'sticker' they might very well think of childhood. Sticker books, scratch 'n sniff stickers and receiving a sticker from a teacher on your homework or quiz are common associations. Sometimes kids trade stickers or add them to gifts, cards and valentines.

This link to childhood and achievement may be part of why adults derive a sense of play and happiness using stickers. They can add whimsy and humour to journals, photo albums, laptops, phones and guitar cases.

MIdori Electrostatic Birthday Foil Stickers

Stickers have practical uses, too. They can be used to seal packages and envelopes. To distinguish one's drinking glass from another. To promote a cause. To mark a specific event or as a tracking device for a new habit in your agenda or calendar. Even to label items at your yard sale.

New developments in adhesives have created stickers that are tacky, but don't leave a residue. We see this in post-it notes and washi tape. It's also a feature of wall stickers, which are a fun way to decorate for holidays and celebrations.

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Keep the kid inside you alive by using stickers in creative ways! After all, fun and pleasure is worth cultivating. When asked what they want most in life, people often say they want to be happy.

Making Space for Yourself

Making Space for Yourself

So, it's a new year. A fresh start. Even though we actually get a new start each day, the beginning of a calendar year seems to incent many of us to try and better ourselves. And frankly, any excuse that motivates millions of people to take a good look at themselves and aim higher can't be all that bad now, can it?

When you resolve to make a change, there're many ways to go about it. A great place to start is where you're at. Look at what's been going on; what results you've experienced. Many organizations and people complete a 'year in review', where they look back over the past twelve months and make note of highs and lows, trends, habits, what's been working and what hasn't.

What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of life do you want to live? What do you value? Is your lifestyle, your everyday behaviour reflective of your values? If not, why? What would it take to live your dream life? What things would need to be in place? Now what can you do to have those things?

Pick out a notebook that feels good to you. Something in a colour or pattern that lifts you, with paper that is a joy to write on. Now write some of this stuff down. Make yourself a hot cup of tea or coffee. Take a few minutes for yourself to get clear. It's amazing how something as simple as releasing your thoughts down on paper can really ease any burden you feel and give you greater clarity.

Consider people, places and things that you believe will keep you on track and have a tendency to inspire you. Maybe you want to read or watch an interview or documentary you've seen that gives you a boost. Perhaps part of your plan to stay motivated with your new habit includes reading or watching or seeing a person who lifts you once a month (or whatever frequency suits your schedule).

I recall Goldie Hawn in an interview saying that even at a young age, she knew what mattered more to her than fame or money was being happy. She used her level of happiness as a compass to make decisions about what projects to work on and what activities to do.

This year, whatever new habits you create or old ones you break, we hope you grow in a way that brings you closer to your truest, best self. There's a joy, a quiet contentment that comes when we live in a way that's honest with ourself. Just like only you know what food tastes good to you, only you know when things feel right. Develop that trust in yourself.

       

We wish you a year of prosperity and high quality everything: focused time, genuine and kind relationships, good health, creative pursuits and an abundance of laughter!

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven...

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven...

Do you have any favourite New Year's Eve memories? Any dreams of how you'd like to spend New Year's Eve in the future? This time-centred holiday is sometimes used to mark other milestones such as marriage proposals, weddings, and others spend the late hours in labour, giving birth to the New Year babies born on January 1st.

Some people really get into this night of the year, a reason to celebrate with friends, get outside and express their joy. Fireworks, sparklers, glitter, champagne and singing the traditional Auld Lang Syne can make us connect to times past, like in the film Meet Me In St. Louis.

Others opt for more low-key celebrations, such as skating, watching movies or marathon series sessions: The Crown, Queen's Gambit, Blown Away, etc. Many pull out classic board games such as like Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, Scrabble and play card games.

I know someone who uses E. Frances notecards to write out happy moments throughout the year and collects them in a jar. On New Year's Eve, she makes herself comfortable and opens the container to read all the notes, which fill her with joy all over again.

The days leading up to the new year are a great time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the next one. It's a time to take stock of all we have to be grateful for, get honest with ourselves and dare to dream.

People come into the shop wanting calendars, agendas and fresh notebooks that delight them, so they can ride the wave of positive momentum. The process of writing down our thoughts, our wishes and sketching out our plans is the first step in taking those ideas in our heads and making them real in the world.

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Audubon Calendar MD Calendar Smitten on Paper Weekly Planner
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This New Year's Eve, we wish you an evening rich in reflection, gratitude, joy and hope. To all of life's journeys yet to come! 

Wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2022!

It's that time of year again!

It's that time of year again!

Where would you spend your ideal Christmas and what would you do? I'd host a Christmas dinner party and set a beautiful table. Maybe that's because gathering around the table eating together and sharing stories is my favourite part of the holiday season.

However, the lead-up to the holidays can feel like a mad dash toward a finish line. Decorating, drop offs, grocery stops, last minute gifts and errands, and completing projects so you can feel good about resting afterward. It's easy to get lost in the doing and lose sight of just being.

When you find yourself sitting down to a festive meal or in the midst of an activity that you particularly enjoy, pause for a minute. Take it in. Life can sometimes feel like its pace is accelerating. Breathe. Notice your surroundings. Feel the moment and appreciate all the happy things around and within you. Savour the holidays to get the most out of them.

This can often be a reflective time of year. And stressful. And funny. A season for tearjerkers. A cocktail of emotions. Whether you celebrate or not, we do wish you generous doses of peace, joy, and a few good belly laughs. Soak in all the flavours and feelings.

The time between Christmas and New Year's Eve can be a luxurious gift if you're not working. It's a great time to snuggle up with a good book, play cards and board games, watch movies, and go for outdoor walks. Some people like to use this period to do a little tidying around the house, get rid of a few things, and tie up loose ends before making plans for the upcoming year.

We hope you spend the holidays doing something that delights and rejuvenates you. Craft-making, binging on Netflix or podcasts, writing, skating, singing... it's all good. Free, unstructured time is great for our physical, mental, and emotional health.

We at Figg Street Co. wish you a Merry Christmas, peace on earth and all good things in the days ahead!

Add a ribbon for effect!

Add a ribbon for effect!

What Christmas memories from childhood transport you back in an instant? For me, it's waking up at the crack of dawn to see what's under the Christmas tree. Also, having Christmas dinner at my Italian grandmother's home.

Wrapping those gifts that go under the tree can be a sure way to put you in the holiday spirit. After wrapping presents, don't you look forward to seeing your friends and family unwrap them? When setting out to prepare the gifts, find a private room or corner (unless you've got the place to yourself), put on some festive music and gather all your supplies and tools: paper, tape, scissors and ribbons.

Gift Wrapping

There are many different styles and techniques people use when wrapping. Consider the gift you're giving. If it's large, you may want to stick to wrapping it in a way that's easy for you. One tip: if you're running short on paper, try rotating the paper 45 degrees so it's sitting at a diagonal to the edge of the box or item you're wrapping. Then bring in each triangle toward the centre of the top face and viola! Suddenly, it works!

If you have glass items, such as preserves or pickled things, cover the lid with a piece of fabric or paper and use a ribbon to tie a bow around the rim, along with a tag.

Are you mindful of the environment and want to add a natural element to your wrapping? Head outdoors and gather a few embellishments from nature: pinecones and greenery look fantastic when tied into a bow with ribbon or twine. A dehydrated slice of orange, flowers or berries can also be worked in.

Ribbons made from natural fibres, such as cotton and linen have a lovely texture and reduce our use of plastic. Also, ribbons are multi-purpose items that can be re-used again and again in a multitude of ways.

Rather than plastic tape, try washi tape, which is biodegradable. (It's made from plant material and the adhesive is made of rubber.) Of course, ribbon can be used in other parts of holiday decorating. They make perfect finishing touches on wreaths of all kinds, on stockings, candles and to secure napkins for table settings.

Ornament with Ribbon

When you find a ribbon you love, use it to create a bow atop a simple bauble. Or use it to hang bells, mistletoe and ornaments. Ribbon or string can make the spine for bunting, across a mantle or staircase railing. Hang things on it: Santa's laundry, stockings, ornaments, greenery, or paper cut-outs.

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Rossi Gift Wrap Studio Carta Ribbons
Gift Wrapping
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It's amazing how paper and ribbon can create such an abundance of ideas and results! We hope you enjoy putting the final touches on your holiday preparations and look forward to checking in with you next week!

Making your list and checking it twice...

Making your list and checking it twice...

What's your favourite part of the holiday season? Mine is gathering around the table eating together and sharing stories.

Now, when it comes to sharing stories, chances are, you've heard one or two about some unfortunate gift recipients. I know of someone who received a silk scarf with a hand-painted bison on it. The woman who both wears silk chiffon and has a passion for bison is a niche customer indeed!

Consider Your Intention
Why are you giving the receiver a gift? Take a moment to think about this honestly. Is your focus on them and what they'd like or need? Or are you trying to convert them to your way of thinking or preference? Some people use gift-giving as a way to project familial or cultural expectations onto another. Are you making assumptions? Successful gift givers put their focus on the recipient.

 

Consider the Recipient
How well do you know the person receiving the gift? What activities does the person enjoy? If you aren't very close, it's best to avoid intimate gifts such as perfume or complex fragranced items, art and home decor pieces or clothing that requires you to know the person's dress size. In such cases (or when in doubt) consumable/useable gifts work best. Also important: what does a person not like? Asking questions, paying attention, and not making assumptions are key.

 

Give People What They Want
According to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research, givers tend to focus more on the desirability (e.g. wow factor) of a gift, whereas receivers prefer more practical (e.g. useful) items. Consider gifts that will give the recipient pleasure in using it - beautiful everyday items tend be more successful than surprising-but-difficult-to-identify-the-use-for gadgets.

 

In another study, we learned that when people have wish lists (e.g. for bridal showers) and people got gifts that were not on their list, they considered them less thoughtful and less personal. If they've made it easy for you, and your intention is to make them happy, give them what they want.

 

Ask For A Wish List
If the recipient is someone you know well, consider asking for a wish list. Maybe they've already compiled something online. Ask them for several things they need and would like, then select from there. If the list is long enough, there is still the element of surprise, as the specific gift(s) that they'll receive is unknown.
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Know that setting a positive intention for your gift recipient is an important step to get you on your way. People do sense when others mean them well, and will appreciate your gesture of kindness and generosity. Then, once you've got your gifts sorted, it's time to wrap them up! Next week, we'll delve into papers and ribbons - join us then.