Have you ever checked your mailbox outside, fully expecting to find a fistful of flyers or bills, and instead, discovered a beautiful cotton envelope in a pretty colour with whimsical handwriting on it... addressed to you? Whether you've had a rough day or a great one, little surprises like this are one of life's treasures.
In this day of technology-dominated communication, correspondence that is personal, tactile, and thoughtful stands out like a bright star in the night sky. You might even say receiving it is appreciated more now than when it was the default form of communication.
Letter writing is a wonderful way to express gratitude, love, and good will to someone. Since no tech company is monitoring or scanning your communication, you may feel more free to express your feelings. Is there someone who's done a lot recently without thanks or said something specific that changed you in a positive way? Maybe there's someone you haven't talked to in a long time and explaining things feels too awkward over an email or text message. The act of handwriting is a great way to reflect on things and relieve stress.
A handwritten letter lets you customize your message. You can choose colourful stationery. You can decorate the letter and envelope with doodles, stickers and a sealing wax. You can enclose a personal item, such as a photograph, feather, bookmark, clipping, or recipe card. Even choosing a stamp is a detail that you can select with your recipient in mind.
Letters are creative expressions that evoke the senses. There's the feeling of the paper - smooth, textured, soft. (Some papers are truly exquisite. Next time you're at Figg Street Co., run your hand over some G. Lalo or Rhodia paper.) Colours and unusual shapes and designs that stand out in the post. Even scented inks fountain pen users can buy to add a special perfume. The sound of opening the mail, or maybe more moving, is the sound of the writer's voice that seems to come through a handwritten letter more clearly, don't you find?
Once it's sent and received, there are more creative possibilities. Have you ever gone through your keepsakes and found old letters? How did you feel? There's something thrilling about revisiting old letters. Whether they're love letters, correpondence with a pen pal, mail from a close friend or letters that expressed thanks, if they made you feel good once, they're bound to delight you again. Consider wrapping a stack of them with a pretty ribbon, piece of string or lace. Then, like a small child who buries a time capsule in the back garden, stash your lot in a shoebox or special container for future moments of discovery and joy!
Whether you are an employee, student, business owner, or use a desk for administrative or creative activities, there is something satisfying about a clean workspace. Some like a tabula rasa or blank canvas look to their desk, while others delight in seeing a jumble of pencils and pens in holders and an abundance of colourful office supplies at hand. Whatever your style, your workspace probably feels best when it reflects you.
Consider colours, textures, fragrance and items you like. It doesn't all need to be functional. Adding a vase of flowers to your area can give it some life. Keeping items that make you feel good close by will make your use of the space more enjoyable.
Some people also create habits or rituals around specific objects. For example, many authors light a candle on their desk as they prepare to write. Others set out a week-at-a-glance notepad on their desk and review it each morning before setting to work.
Consider making the ordinary extraordinary: rather than kraft paper brown file folders, add some whimsy with cheerful colours and uplifting patterns and designs. If you like metallics or sparkle, think of the objects you frequently use and whether you'd enjoy a more beautiful option. That funny mug or pretty vase might make an excellent pencil holder! By energizing your workspace with things that inspire you, you'll feel good as you work through your day.
As we watch the little bulbs of early spring push their way up through the soil and see perennials return and unfurl, we, too, become a little more keen to move about. One way many of us peel back the feeling of winter and experience the fresh and new is by spring cleaning.
There is something uplifting about removing things that are unused, unnecessary or undesired. That feeling of spaciousness makes room for happier moments. Releasing the past and making space for the new.
Once unwanted items are removed, we may want to clean our storage spaces or our home overall. Washing windows, sealing stone countertops, cleaning cabinets, the inside of our refrigerator, microwave, and shower can reinvigorate our space with a sense of vitality.
After everything is sorted and clean, we organize our belongings and determine what and how we wish to display them. This is when we may discover some changes we'd like. Perhaps your vase needs an update. Or you may realize you find keeping your favourite pieces within eyesight is more uplifting than hiding them away. Other things that are necessary, but perhaps not as visually interesting may get moved into drawers rather than shelves. Maybe you enjoy the look of utilitarian items and prefer it the other way around.
Perhaps one of the best parts of spring cleaning is knowing it's a part of life that you can actually do something about. It's empowering. Whether your space is a condo, apartment, townhouse, one room, a whole house or even just half of a closet - it's up to you. It's yours to design.
Leaping. Jumping. Bounding. Emerging. Taking shape. Developing. Growing. Becoming. Signs of spring. Brown turns to green. Petals and blossoms emerge. Chirping rouses us from our sleep as birds return from their winter holiday. There is that wonderful damp and earthy scent of soil in the garden as it begins to wake up to activity.
For those of us who love stationery, we sometimes switch over to lighter and brighter colours of paper, pens and ink without even realizing it. It's our natural affinity for colour at this transitory time of year.
Anyone who's spent any time in Southern Ontario knows March is consistently inconsistent weather-wise. We watch our thermometers go up and down as spring starts. We accidentally step into puddles of melted snow and listen to the sound of icicles falling to the ground. The first few times we receive a truly beautiful spring day, there is a jubuliant feeling in our neighbourhood. You know what I'm talking about - the first few days when we can comfortably sit outside for a while and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Not needing to wear any winter accessories while taking a walk. Or the first day of the year when you can drive with the window down!
For gardeners, it might mean sowing snow peas outside or watching the snowdrops, crocuses and iris reticulata bloom. There's a joy in those first few garden chores that re-connects us with our plants and the soil. It is like visiting an old friend you haven't seen in a while. It feeds the soul.
As you step outside and breathe in the spring air, take in the birdsong and savour each moment. This is a particularly optimistic time of year. As we sweep away the remains of winter, we step into another popular annual activity: spring cleaning! More on that next week. Until then...
In the middle of the night... 2am to be exact, our clocks are turned forward one hour to 3am on Sunday, March 14th. How many of you repeat the popular mantra, "spring - forward, fall-back" when trying to recall which way the clocks change for Daylight Savings Time? Now, be honest: do you also sing the alphabet song in your head to remember which letter comes before or after another? Us, too.
To-do lists let us see quickly what our expectations are, and then we can more easily work out what tasks need to get done and how to prioritize them.
For any assessment of our time, it also helps to consider what really matters to us. Sometimes we need to create blocks of time in our schedules for the things that are not urgent, but are important. This may be because they are a step toward a long term goal, or simply needed to make our lives enjoyable.
By making time for the things that nurture us and fill our cups, we are happier and live fuller lives. Creating boundaries around our time and ensuring we put ourselves on our to-do list gives us more energy to take a step (and hour) forward in stride. After all, spring is just around the corner!
Easter! It's just around the corner now - Sunday, April 4th. Between now and then we'll spring forward one hour and hop into the spring season. It's a time of year that's full of hope, renewal, and new life. Time to shed the heavy, old layers and prepare for fresh, new things coming our way!
Whether your Easter this year means an outdoor egg hunt in the garden or a feast with your household inside (or both!), we wish you a healthy, happy holiday!
Wherever you go, take a bouquet of grace with you.
Toward the end of February, weather permitting, it can sometimes feel like we are turning a corner in the year - or we are on the verge of doing so. Thoughts of spring start coming to mind more vividly and we give thought to upcoming spring bulbs and our gardens.
It is typically the last week of February that kicks off many Seedy Saturday and Seedy Sunday events across the country. Held at local botanical gardens and community centres, people gather together to swap seeds they've collected last season, donate to seed banks, purchase new seeds, and to learn from exhibitors about all manner of topics related to gardening, the environment and keeping our green spaces beautiful and healthy.
For some, this means graph paper and a ruler, drawing diagrams of their property layout, sun position and re-designing their hardscape and herbaceous borders. For many, it means writing out which seeds to purchase, spring to do lists, and a chart with a timeline of when to start sowing which seeds indoors.
Others play with coloured pencils and markers and draw their existing garden at set times of the year: what it looks like in early spring, late spring, midsummer, early fall, even winter. This might inspire changes and notes are jotted down about which plants to relocate to another area of the property, which new flower to try out, and which plants make good companions. One idea tends to lead to another and many times a list of tasks and projects emerge.
Although many of us long for greener days, when more and more bulbs burst through the soil each day, bringing colour and scent back into our lives, the act of planning our indoor or outdoor gardens can be a source of pleasure and joy in and of itself. It is time well-spent and is one of the more soothing indoor activities in our modern world.
February is typically a cold month in southern Ontario, so spending considerable time indoors is to be expected. This lends itself to certain activities, including reading and writing.
We've been hearing from several of you that journaling is an activity that many of you have taken up, returned to, or created more time for, during the pandemic. It certainly can be a salve to get our thoughts down on paper.
One of the other great things about journaling is that it is customizable and accommodates our personal preferences.
For some, journaling might mean doodling. Large sized notebooks with blank pages or lay-flat styles lend themselves well to sketching or adding little images and diagrams to our words.
Others prefer a more structured approach and have adopted the popular bullet journaling method. Dot grid formats are popular with these enthusiasts who can use the dots as guides when printing table of contents, calendars, and schedules since dots can be selectively joined to create lines.
There is always, also, the classic option of writing on lined paper. Perfect to air out thoughts, be they worries, ideas, conundrums or dreams. Lined paper also works well for anyone who follows the Morning Pages practice from Julia Cameron's popular book The Artist's Way.
It is for good reason that many therapists and performance coaches recommend journaling as a personal practice. Whether it is a means to work through life's challenges, learn more about yourself, work out what you want in life or clarify your goals, writing has many benefits.
It is a fair assumption that this month as you sit down to write in your journal, perhaps with a warm beverage in a cozy spot, there is a kindred spirit out there doing just the same thing...
In this week leading up to Valentine's Day on Sunday, February 14th, many of us inevitably think about love.
For those with romance on the mind, sinking into a novel like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre or perhaps more appropriately for this year: Love in the Time of Cholera might be appealing. Others may prefer poetry, like the love poems of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda.
If the focus is on one's romantic partner, The Five Love Languages or the classic Getting the Love You Want may be worth re-visiting. If it is escape and romantic dreaming one is after, it may be a book or documentary on any beautiful and scenic part of the world and a hot bath with soft music playing.
Due to winter weather, all ink orders must be collected curbside. Thank you for your understanding.
There are many ways to put a personal touch on this holiday. It may be writing that special someone a love letter, sealed with wax and stamped, which evokes the flavour of a bygone era (is your loved one's love language 'words of affirmation'?). It might be preparing a special meal, including setting the table with thoughtful personal touches. A candlelit bath, massage, or even a long walk together in a new park. For those who are musically inclined it might be singing a song, playing an instrument alone, as a duet or dancing together to some favourite melodies.
And yet, although so much attention is given to romantic love, the most important love of all is arguably self-love. When we honour ourselves, we fill up our cups and are better able to let love flow from us, from which everyone around us benefits.
In 1912, French engineer Georges Claude installed the world’s first neon sign above a barbershop in Paris. His vibrant, tubular lights soon adorned the storefronts of small businesses around the world and symbolized the entrepreneurial drive that formed the backbone of their communities. Today, the spirit of “Main Street” is more resilient than ever. It can be found in urban cities and rural towns, bookstores and coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants. It’s one of the many things that make our homes feel special. And it’s worth preserving.
The Blackwing 6 celebrates independent businesses and their entrepreneurial spirit. Each set comes with six neon red and six neon blue pencils inspired by the iconic neon “Open” sign. Each pencil features a black ferrule, black imprint, and our soft graphite. The number 6 is a nod to the six Noble Gases which give neon lights their distinct colors.
This release supports the Small Business Relief Fund as they work to help small businesses keep their lights on.
Although we carry these iconic Blackwing pencils in our shop, I wish to illuminate the entrepreneurial spirit within.
This short story resonates with my heart and soul. Given the global landscape we are all navigating, many entrepreneurs are asking one another and ourselves, can we keep our lights on?
As we move into our seventh year in business in our little bricks and mortar shop I will say that I am full of hope and optimism.
You, me, all of us are resilient, adaptable people. Many have had to shift, learn quickly and figure out how to manage within new parameters.
Has it been easy, heck no! Changing course never is. But when a community comes together great things happen! I was fortunate to experience this during the Christmas holiday season.
So many of you graciously came out to support shopping local. You made significant choices to support your communities. You understand what is at stake. You want us to keep our lights on!
I sincerely thank all of you for your support, for sharing your stories, for your encouragement, and for your smiling eyes!
I am grateful for the municipal government's initiatives that helped get the message out to shop local. This is what community is all about.
When you cannot get the one you love out of your head! One of the things we love about E. Frances greeting cards, is that there is always a little surprise on the back of their cards. Guaranteed to make you smile.
The design of these Rococo scissors evokes the ornamental late Baroque period, for which it is named. Its curves bring a sense of fun to a very practical and useful tool. Made of tempered steel, with handles plated in 24 karat gold. Ideal for detail work.
Woodlot is a Canadian line of premium, natural home basics. Woodlot's ingredients are as pure as their intentions; the products were created to inspire the beauty rituals of future generations who value clean- burning, plant based products. Woodlot's handmade products invite the spirit of wellness into the homes of communities near and far—Woodlot is for everyone.
Figg Street Co. Moving Forward
With hope and optimism in front of us, behind the scenes there is a lot of creative planning going on at Figg Street Co. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a great team of women who inspire and assist me with my daunting to do list.
February is our debut of our blog Tuesday’s Tonic. It will feature a host of fun anecdotal tidbits of inspiration and pleasurable reading.
We recently launched our beautiful new website and we will be adding products to it.
New products are always on the horizon, a favourite project of mine.
We have a few other surprises up our sleeves and we are excited to share them with you as they come to fruition.
I look forward to seeing you all again soon, with the lights on!
I often say that snail mail is the best mail and I bet you would agree. Opening up your mailbox to find a note sent especially to you brings an instant smile to your face.
That the handwritten note is alive and well might be surprising given the additive speed of technology at our fingertips. There is something special about sitting down with pen and paper. Some say it is meditative in nature and a much needed break from staring at a screen on our smartphones or computers.
I believe it to be true. For me, it’s a practice of living mindfully and in the moment. When you sit down to write, your mind is focused on words and thoughts. The mind is quiet and reflective, and it is not competing or distracted by concurrent visuals.
A customer recently shared a wonderful video with me, “Teenagers and Thank You Notes.” The brainchild of a high school french teacher named Ashley Weber. Ashley developed ‘Thank you Thursday’ that allocated 10 minutes every Thursday towards writing thank you notes. Most of her students had never written a note or didn’t know how to! But that soon changed and it became the favourite day of the week.
Why? There are psychological benefits of practicing gratitude that are intrinsic to our well being. The more it is practiced, the more profound the results. It makes us feel warm and fuzzy. And when you conscientiously scribe gratitude in a thank you note, something magical happens. You truly become aware and appreciative.
Watch this video and see for yourself!