Friday, May 30, 2008

Social Freedom Through Etiquette

Insider’s Note:

I had the pleasure of meeting Mindy Lockard, an etiquette consultant from Eugene, Oregon, at the National Stationery Show. Earlier this week Mindy presented a class on etiquette to a group of fifth-graders out her way, and I asked her to share her experience, along with some thoughts on the role of etiquette in the 21st century.

First, a few questions and observations from the fifth-graders:

I will use this when I have a job.
I didn’t know that silverware gives messages.
I thought this was a cooking class.
Will we learn how to do a dance?
Am I going to have to kiss a girl’s hand?

As a parent, I know that when I apply the rules of etiquette and the mind-set of good manners I see a change in my children’s behavior. It is through manners that our children are able to identify what is expected of them and feel confident in their own skin. As parents of well-behaved children, we can take them out of the house without fearing social repercussions or spending half of our dinner trying to keep them out from under the table—to a mother or fellow diner, that is freedom!

In addition to believing in the power of etiquette and using the rules as a mother, I have the honor of working with children, families, and professionals and witnessing firsthand how life-changing manners can be. My students begin to sit taller, engage in the interests of others, say please and thank you, and make eye contact. With the use of these social skills, lives change and personal dreams begin to unfold!

Recently, I had the privilege of working with 34 fifth graders at Meadowlark Elementary School. At first the children seemed a bit hesitant, concerned that they were being subjected to 80 minutes of manners boot camp with Sergeant Lockard who would snap their wrists with a ruler when they made a mistake. To break the ice and misperception, I started the program by having them share qualities of a friend that make them happy and sad. Here are some of the qualities they listed:

Happy: caring, helpful, smiles at you, polite, shares with you, encourages you, truthful, trustworthy, responsible, reliable, nice, exciting, approachable, helpful, respectful, positive, funny, outgoing, good listener.

Sad: teasing, bragging, aggressive, steals, disrespectful, not responsible, mean, rude, negative, sad, mad, bossy, lazy, boring, thinks they are better than you, lies, impatient, has bad manners, talks behind your back, hurts you on purpose.

As the fifth graders made the connection between good friends and good manners, guards came down, and minds began to open!

Next we worked on eye contact and handshaking. Eye contact is one of the most important tools to have in our social arsenal. When we use this very important skill, we communicate value to those around us.

Then I shared tips for saying their name and responding to an introduction. Self introductions are very difficult for many young children and even young adults. This is the social skill that causes the majority of my students the most discomfort. We begin by slowly saying our names. If we rush through the introduction process because we are uncomfortable, the entire reason for the introduction can be lost.

When someone introduces themselves to us, we have to remember to listen to their name and repeat it. Repeating their name will ensure we have heard it correctly and help us remember it for the future.

Finally, I discussed place settings and the correct way to hold utensils. The key to good table manners is to draw the least amount of attention to our dining skills. When we hold our flatware incorrectly, we engage our entire upper body and run the risk of elbowing our neighbor, knocking an item off the table, or just looking like a bird ready for flight. By holding our utensils correctly, we limit the amount of movement, therefore saving ourselves and those around us from an unpleasant disaster, not to mention helping us look better.

Aside from which fork to use, when to send a thank-you, and which name comes first in an introduction, the number-one question asked of me as an etiquette consultant is “Why . . . ?” “Why do you teach etiquette?” The answer is rather simple: I teach etiquette because I believe the lessons are powerful and offer us social freedom when they are used. “Isn’t that an oxymoron?” you may ask. “Don’t the rules of etiquette keep us from experiencing personal freedom?”

Actually, it is not the rules that limit us but our perception of them. When we get over the rebellious desire to break or disregard the rules of etiquette and consider the reason why we use manners, we find social freedom: freedom from insecurity, freedom from social ignorance, and freedom to see beyond ourselves and invest in the life of another human being.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Birthday Baby; The Perfect Toy

Did I mention I'm a grandfather?

Even though friends assure me that I'm much too young to have a grandchild, young William Porter Hopkins has been around for just a year now. St. Wendy the Patient and I are reveling in our new roles, eagerly anticipating each visit.

The little guy was here this past weekend and we had a great time celebrating his birth date. Parents Sam and Jen are convening the clans next weekend for the formal first-birthday party, and Wendy is off to find the perfect toy for the occasion.

During his most recent visit, William found what he considered the perfect toy - a plastic cooler. Just the right height to pull himself up on and bang with a couple of wooden spoons. Just light enough to push around as he learns to walk. Four cup-holders to hold limes to be tossed around the kitchen. And just the perfect size to climb into.

One of my favorite stationery categories is Birth Announcements. Having The Young One around the house for a few days prompted me to review some of my favorites.

Top left: Polka Dot with ribbon. Top right: kate spade Elephant Tower. Bottom left: Animal Parade. Bottom right: kate spade Hedge Hog Family.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Eye Candy

My feet still hurt from all those hours at the National Stationery Show, and I'm really looking forward to the long holiday weekend. The Blissful One tells me she's taking the afternoon off - well-deserved after dealing with the onslaught of national media at the Crane booth.

There was much for them to see, what with the new Walt Disney Signature Stationery launch, the adorable new Disney Initial Notes and the 2008 engraved holiday cards. But as we toured folks around the booth, there was one stop that always elicited an "Awww, they're sooooo cute!"

Crane introduced a set of Cut Paper Animals last year in its baby stationery collection, and they were an enormous success. Debuting at the show were some notable additions, including a Panda, Sea Turtle and Giraffe. These three cuties join the rest of the collection, which features a butterfly, frog and monkey.

Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Busy Day at the National Stationery Show

Both Ms. Bliss and I had such high expectations for being able to blog in real time from the National Stationery Show. Reality has interfered. Not that reality is a bad thing. We had no idea how busy we would be at the show.

One of our main jobs for Crane at the show is to invite and host members of the national media and introduce them to new products and trends that we have identified with stationery, etiquette, weddings and general correspondence. We were very pleased with the number of editors from these magazines who made scheduled appointments. We never expected to see so many of our editorial friends stop by. We had fully expected an hour here and an hour there to put together some information and photos for the blog.
But to give you an idea of how our time has been occupied, here's a list of the magazines and other media outlets we had visits with just today:
The Knot - Magazine and TV
Pen World
Getting Married TV
Country Living
O, the Oprah Magazine
Real Simple
Bridal News Network
All You
Modern Bride
Bride's Magazine
Bridal Guide
Here are some scenes from the show:
Dragonflies join butterflies and ladybugs in Crane's extended hand-engraved bug collection.

The Search for the Cure pink ribbon stationery sets.

Gayle Driggers, product manager for personalized stationery, is interviewed by Kim Sunshine for a segment on The Knot TV.

Darcy Miller, left, Editorial Director of Martha Stewart Weddings, discuss new Crane stationery collections with Megan Kuntze, Crane's Brand Director.

Disney, Crane Launch New Collection

Ms. Bliss and I were honored to participate in the official launch of the new Walt Disney Signature Collection of stationer items on Monday night at the Mandarin Hotel.

A collaborative effort between Disney Stationery – part of Disney Consumer Products – and Crane & Co., Eccolo and Monteverde, the collection features exquisite pens handcrafted by Italian artisans, and fine paper products including note cards and leather bound journals. “The Walt Disney Signature stationery collection will appeal to anyone who seeks unique and elegant products that are beautifully crafted,” said Mark Coleman, senior vice president, global stationery, Disney Consumer Products. “Art enthusiasts, Disney film aficionados, executives, pen collectors, and anyone who has an affinity for Disney will appreciate the new collection.”

Walt Disney’s legacy has flourished for more than 80 years, and his life inspired generations to be innovative and creative. The Walt Disney Signature stationery collection celebrates Walt and his creativity with three distinct and elegant lines including: The Executive Collection, Sleeping Beauty Collection, and Fantasia Collection. In order to authentically interpret Walt Disney’s brand essence, designers from Crane, Eccolo and Monteverde were provided special access to artwork from the Disney archives.

The complete collection is stunning, with exquisite design collaboration among all parties contributing to the effort. The response to the new line has been very positive so far at the Stationery Show, with one day to go. Here's a photo of the art cards in the collection, with images from Fantasia and Sleeping Beauty:

And here's one of Ms. Bliss and I with the New York skyline in the background:

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Green Day at the Stationery Show

One of the overarching themes at this year's National Stationery Show is sustainability. The visiting media, from Redbook to environmentally focused websites, are concentrating on all things green, from weddings to letterhead.

I feel very fortunate to have Crane's story to tell. When you can start off a conversation with Tree-Free Paper, the rest of the message about sustainable paper and sustainable manufacturing follows pretty easily.
If you would like to learn a little more about Crane and its environmental profile, you can visit here.

I'll check back later on with more news from the show.

Nelson Harvey - he's the tall guy - and I had a great chat about environmentally responsible papers and papermaking. Nelson is Co-Editor of the Wild Green and blogs at

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Our Nearlyweds at the Stationery Show

Above are Karla Burger, left, Crane's Design Manager, and Brandi Safford, aka Ms. Bliss, relaxing after a long day of prep work at the show. These two just met this morning and have already found much in common.

Both are getting married this summer. They're both stressing, but both in high spirits. Without benefit of prior consultation, they both arrived with yellow bags and the same flavors of bubble gum and lip goop.

Mickey Mouse Cavorts with Crane

The first major development from the National Stationery Show is a brand new collection of Disney hand-engraved initial notes featuring Mickey Mouse.

I've known about these for a while, and I continue to believe that these will become a hugely popular gift item. Certainly, the response at the Stationery Show from Crane retailers will be eagerly anticipated.

The Mickey Initial Notes will be available in stores this fall. So start thinking about who on your list will just have to have these whimsical, yet completely elegant notes.

More later!

National Stationery Show: Opening Day, Minus One

Greetings from the National Stationery Show! It's Saturday morning. The Javits Center is abuzz; the Javits Center is a mess. This is my 10th show, and it never ceases to amaze me how a single booth and an entire show can come together in such a compressed timeframe from bare floors to a stationery showcase.

This morning, there are thousands of full, partially full and empty shipping containers, cardboard boxes and other assorted detritus. But stationery is going up on the shelves, window displays are being spiffed and the good cheer of anticipation pervades.

This is the scene as I write:

Ms. Bliss and I will be blogging along throughout, bringing you sights and highlights of what promises to be a very exciting event. There are some exciting announcements on their way from Crane, and you'll be the first to know.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

An Inside Look at Digital Photography

Ever wonder what goes on inside a digital camera? I can't say it occupies a lot of my attention, but as I was downloading some photos from a recent visit to the Government Printing Office's Paper Industry Day for a blog post, the last photo blew me away!

After setting up our booth, I walked to the front to take some photos for the blog and promptly dropped my camera. I almost said a bad word as it bounced along the floor, but contained myself.

There were no more pictures to be taken that day. When I got home from the trip, I was able to fix the camera, for the moment at least.

Here is what appeared on my computer screen:

Think it might sell?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Day in the Garden

Today was the official opening day of the Community Garden here in Pownal, Vt. This is the second year I've taken on this project and it has proved very rewarding in many ways, not the least of which are spending time in the dirt with new friends.

We have gardeners ranging in age from 2 to 76, using more than 7,000 square feet of former town green. It's a beautiful spot, right adjacent to busy U.S. Route 7, which gives us plenty of visibility to residents and visitors.

One project we're undertaking this year is a demonstration plot for intensive container and vertical gardening for those in town who either have no space for a traditional garden - such as those living in mobile homes - or for the elderly. Our normal plots are 12 by 24 feet, and that's a lot of garden.

A couple of weeks ago, I cobbled up a bunch of miscellaneous containers and bought a bunch of cinder blocks. As you can see in the photos, it doesn't take a lot of square feet to begin growing some good healthy food. To date, I've got radishes, three kinds of onions, carrots, beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, summer squash, peas, pole beans and cucumbers breaking through. I'll let you know how things progress.

For me, this was "Tiller Day," horsing around a really nice machine for about four hours. The number of hours translates exactly to the number of Tylenols I've had to take so far to get my fingers working on the keyboard. Can't wait to try to swing a golf club tomorrow morning......

So, for the gardener in you, or for the friend who loves to till the soil, here are some neat garden-oriented items to check out:

Top left, Garden Journal to keep all those important records, such as how many rocks you have to move each year. Top right, "Pamela's Garden" accordian file with 21 pockets to keep you super-organized from Aster to Zucchini. Bottom left, a lovely personalized calling card to announce to all your dirty addiction. And, bottom right, a flower print limon and raspberry folded note to write a thank-you to your neighbor for lending you that bottle of Tylenol. Happy Gardening!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday Eye Candy

I love visiting my friend Dianne at Crane. There's always something interesting to chat about, and Dianne shares my enthusiasm for both history and design. Dianne works in Crane's Business Papers division, so she gets to see great stuff printed on Crane papers. And she is very kind to save things for me, especially since I've got this Friday Eye Candy thing to do every week.

Earlier this week, she showed me a really beautiful piece of letterpress printing by Foils & Dies/Vintage Pressworks in Denver, promoting the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) conference in 2007.
The design and its letterpress execution on Crane's Lettra are extraordinary, beginning at the bottom of the piece with flowers melding into the Denver skyline, then the imposing Rockies with massive snowflakes descending.

But as the eye ascends to the snowy peaks, their outline against the western sky is further defined by a pair of threads, perfectly stitched into the paper, adding a delightful texture both for the eye and the hand.

As I note in my blog profile: I make pulp, I make paper and I marvel at what the creative spirit can accomplish with such humble materials. This is a great example.

And by the way, the model I asked you all to identify in an earlier post? Martha Stewart! Thanks for all the guesses - both right and wrong - and I'll be drawing the names of our winners this weekend.