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Adventure | Peterborough & The Kawarthas

AdventuresLesley PocklingtonComment
Adventures | A Guide to Peterborough and The Kawarthas

Adventures | A Guide to Peterborough and The Kawarthas

Last week, I took you to my long time home of East Toronto. This week, I'm introducing you to my new home, Peterborough & The Kawarthas -- a gateway to cottage country, the two go hand in hand. While I'm still a newbie in this small city, it didn't take long to discover its gems. They go way beyond butter tarts, lift locks and canoes; but those are great too.

A quick 1.5 hours (or less) from Toronto, this little city boasts beautiful natural scenery and all the things you'd expect to find in an urban centre. Longtime locals, students (from Trent University) and expats mingle to create a casual vibe in this city that loves nature, art and good food. You'll find a bustling art scene with contemporary spaces,  loads of live music, and theatre performances in Peterborough and The Kawarthas. Peterborough even has its own Symphony Orchestra.

Summers are a dream in Peterborough. You can hop in canoe or kayak on the river (from downtown), visit quaint cottage country towns and lakes, and be back in time for a patio dinner on Hunter Street and a free concert under the stars -- all in one day. The towns of Lindsay, Lakefield, Bobcaygeon, Buckhorn and so many more offer their own unique charms and experiences throughout the lazy summer months.

Evans Contemporary Art Gallery | Peterborough, Ontario.

Evans Contemporary Art Gallery | Peterborough, Ontario.

Peterborough may be a small city, but there is a BIG love for good food. There is a ton of local flavour in this city from farm to table food, to local wine and beer. It's all here from casual to posh. You can even enjoy a 6 course dinner IN the Peterborough lift locks during the summer. Here are a few of my favourite spots, but I'm still discovering new spots all the time.


EAT & DRINK

Two Dishes Cookshop
Specializing in comfort food and HUGE portions, Two Dishes is always lined up or full as soon as the doors open. The food really is delicious, just come prepared with a big appetite for things like fried chicken, pan bread, hearty breakfasts, lunches, sweets and so much more. As seen on the Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here".

St. Veronus Cafe & Tap Room
A Belgian style pub in downtown Peterborough, this spot offers up a lengthy list of imported beer. My favourite is the Vedette -- a wheat beer that's almost always on tap. Try the moules frites (blue cheese) and the vegetarian pate. Both are tremendous, as are their bigger plates.

Ashburnham Ale House
In East City you'll find this gastropub or ale house. They serve lunch and dinner, plus brunch on the weekends. Pub fare is fresh and so is the beer on tap. It's a cozy spot with a fireplace burning in the winter, and private shaded patios in the summer. I love visiting this spot to view local art as well.

Publican House Brewery + Smithavens Brewery
Local brews are a plenty thanks to these two local spots. Both sell their craft beer at their retail spots in Peterborough. The Publican House is set to open a gastropub this summer (2017) and Smithavens often has Ellie's BBQ in-house. For a steal too. $11 gets you a pint of craft beer, a brisket sandwich and two southern sides. So good!

The Planet Bakery
All you can drink, self-serve coffee and vegetarian fare are found here. I love this spot for breakfast or brunch (lunch too). Brie stuffed French toast while my kids play with the mini sized "kitchen"? Yes, please. Sadly, this spot is not open on Sundays.

Amuse Coffee Co.
A lovely French inspired coffee and tea shop will greet you just north of downtown on George Street. Lindsay, the owner, is wonderful at dreaming up new baked goods and beverages that will delight your taste buds all year round. The decor and ambiance will make you feel like you've landed in Paris.

Caffeina Espresso Bar
This hip espresso bar is a great place to work, meet locals and drink espresso, of course. I love the cortados and grab-and-go lunch offerings. It's right in the heart of downtown on Hunter Street with a small patio, but big heart. Weekend visits often include live and local music.

Le Petit Bar
A quaint, but delightful and chic spot -- Le Petit Bar is a wine bar and sister to St Veronus next door. The wine list is always changing and features local wines and wines from abroad. The charcuterie options are top shelf with choices of local cheese, meats, and smoked salmon paired perfectly with fruit, mustards and honey. Speaking of top shelf, I love watching the bartender use a ladder to fetch things from the ceiling high shelves. Come for Sparkling Thursdays where you can taste Prosecco cocktails for $6. Salud!

Farmer's Markets
Peterborough loves its farmer's markets and it shows in the culinary scene. There is a distinct respect for supporting local farmers. I love them too. Markets run every Wednesday throughout the summer, and Saturday all year-round. Shopping seasonally is made easy by these farmers. Hard Winter Bread Co. makes bagels right at that market that rival Montreal's. You have to get there early, but it's worth it. Don't forget smoked salmon and cream cheese.

Kawartha Coffee Company
This quaint spot is not to be missed while in Bobcaygeon. Of course, there's always coffee brewing at the Kawartha Coffee Company; but stay for lunch, some sweets or even a beer. They pride themselves on offering local food with global flavour and occasionally, live music.

Two Dishes Cookshop | Charlotte Street in Peterborough, Ontario. Art by Holly Young.

Two Dishes Cookshop | Charlotte Street in Peterborough, Ontario. Art by Holly Young.

Douglas + Son, Bobcaygeon, Ontario. | Photo by The Shop Keepers.

Douglas + Son, Bobcaygeon, Ontario. | Photo by The Shop Keepers.

SHOP LOCAL

Burrow Home
This shop on Hunter Street is stocked with modern furniture, housewares and gifts. Megan, the owner, has impeccable taste and will help you find anything you need. She offers brand like Gus Modern and Drake General alongside local artists and craftsmen.

Flavour Fashion
This casual shop is a fixture in Peterborough and part of the group that owns SOS Shoes and Plush Boutique. Sneakers and street wear are in abundance at this shop on George Street, but my favourite items are the tees that represent local towns and neighbourhoods. From Havelock to Keene, and everywhere in between. Nothing claims love for this small city more than a PTBO tee or sweatshirt.

Stony Lake Furniture Co.
20 minutes north of Peterborough is the sweet little town of Lakefield. Here, you'll find the shop and full studio, Stony Lake. A posh, but causal shop that services locals and cottage folk alike. You'll find cozy home furnishings, rugs, decor items and gifts. The owner, Lisa, also specializes in interior design to help bring dream cottages (and homes) to life. Don't forget to say hello to the famous pup, Owen, while visiting.

Douglas + Son
A little further west, you'll find Douglas + Son in the town of Bobcaygeon. Yes! The town from the Tragically Hip song. The owners left life in Toronto and moved to the country to open this idyllic shop. This shop offers up new goods and vintage finds for the home, but they also have tees and sweatshirts. Casual, but well styled goods.

Gilstorf & Gray
Also located in Bobcaygeon, is Gilstorf & Gray. A fine home and gift shop that specializes in cottage decor. It has an airy and timeless vibe where you'll find artisan goods from local and Canadian makers. It has a hygge feeling about it with so many soft textiles, and warm wood pieces.

LOCAL EXPERIENCES

Peterborough and The Kawarthas are the perfect spots to experience Ontario at its best. Getting outside is just part of life here, and so is soaking in local culture and music. I love the big city; but if you're open to embracing the hygge life year-round (simplicity), you'll get a taste of the good life in Peterborough and The Kawarthas.


Live music can be found in Peterborough all year round. Small venues give you a chance to see some of your favourite bands up close and personal and tickets are very reasonable, or free. No summer in Peterborough is complete without a night at Peterborough Music Fest. Free performances take place outdoors two nights a week all summer long. If that's not enough, the Peterborough Folk Festival takes place in August featuring some of the best Canadian music. And it's also free.

4th Line Theatre and Westben Theatre offer theatre and musical performances throughout the year. Located in quaint country spaces (barns), these theatres attract locals and cottagers to take in a piece of Canadian culture under the stars.

There are countless ways to get outside in this area. Treat yourself to a "nature bath" and enjoy the natural beauty by foot, bike or canoe/boat. In the summer, avoid the crowds and head to Laveanne Lavender Fields near Port Hope to enjoy the lavender blooms. Visit local beaches in cottage country. Or, head to the Trent Hills to explore. Warkworth is adorable and deserves its own blog post. Two of my favourite spots to get outside in the summer are Petroglyphs Provincial Park and the Warsaw Caves.

In the winter, you can snowshoe and ski (downhill or cross-country) near Peterborough. The Kawarthas offer a Nordic Centre and Devil's Elbow and Brimbacombe are a short drive away. There are just too many spots to mention in one post. I'll leave it for another day after exploring more in this beautiful area.


Have I convinced you that Peterborough is the place to be yet? You have to get out here to see and feel it for yourself. Did I mention house prices are a steal?! Come by and visit, or be my neighbour. And, if I've missed some spots, I'd love to hear about them. I've only just begun exploring and would love to learn more. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Adventure | A Guide to East Toronto

Adventures, TorontoLesley PocklingtonComment
Adventures | A Guide to East Toronto by Swell Made Co.

Adventures | A Guide to East Toronto by Swell Made Co.

Since 2007, East Toronto has been my home. I love East Toronto. While there have been some breaks (I am currently in Peterborough, ON), I'll always be an East Ender. I know every East End street, I have defended it fiercely over the years, my son was born there, and every time I arrive in the East End, I just feel a sense of calm. It's my happy place.

You may think you know Toronto's East End; but do you, really? It's a part of the city that sometimes lays low. You have to dig a little  deeper to truly know it. Come east of the DVP with me, as I take you on a guide of my favourite spots in the neighbourhoods including The Beaches, Leslieville, and Riverdale. The Danforth and Little India and everywhere in between. Welcome to the beloved other side.


Bodega Henriette | Cafe, shop bar and eatery on Gerrard Street East, Toronto.

Bodega Henriette | Cafe, shop bar and eatery on Gerrard Street East, Toronto.

Often considered "lacking" in the culinary department, I'm going to challenge that. It's not the case, at all. Sure, you'll find Toronto chainlets like La Carnita, Sweet Jesus, Tabule, Queen Margarita Pizza, Dark Horse and Box Car Social (all wonderful) and other transplants in these 'hoods, but here's where it's really at.


EAT + DRINK

The Shore Leave
Head to the Danforth's Tiki style bar for in-house tropical drinks and snacks. This spot promises a fun night out. Bring a group of friends and share a punch bowl. It might be quiet on the outside, but it's buzzing and warm inside.

Bodega Henriette
Tucked away on Gerrard Street East this local coffee shop, convenience shop, bar and eatery is as sweet as they come. Delicious food and drinks with chic decor keep the locals coming back to this spot on the corner. Try their other corner spot, Eulalie's, mentioned below.

The Green Wood
You'll find this hip spot Queen Street East just before Coxwell. Brunch to dinner options are served here, as well as items to grab on the go. It has a comfy and bright California vibe and loads of fresh options made with love.

Lake Inez
In Little India, you'll find Lake Inez. A mix of Asian street food and craft beer that just works so well. If you're familar with the Wren on the Danforth, you'll love this spot. Just look for the unassuming, but welcoming, door to find out what's inside. You'll enjoy it. Guaranteed.

Eulalie's Corner Store
Just a few doors up and over from Lake Inez, Eualalie's Corner store is another neighbourhood secret that offers delicious in-house cocktails and casual eats. I love the chicken and waffles, and the flamingo wallpaper. Start or finish your night here.

Maha's
Egyptian brunch is a must-try at Maha's on Greenwood. This place is always packed, so be prepared to arrive early or wait. It's worth it. Traditional Egyptian food paired with a honey cardamom coffee is the best way to start any day. Just not Wednesday, because Maha's is typically closed.

Lady Marmalade
A mainstay in the East End on Queen Street East, Lady Marmalade is another delicious brunch spot offering savoury and sweet waffles, Eggs Benny (with mango and avocado, yes!) like nowhere else. Plus, more! Again, be prepared to line up Portlandia style unless you arrive early.

Tori's Bakeshop
Now available in the Canary District, Tori's originated in the Beach neighbourhood on Queen Street East. Natural, organic and vegan baked goods that will blow your mind can be found all day. Having lunch? The coconut bacon BLT is the BEST. You may bow down and never go back to real bacon. 

Godspeed Brewery
The long anticipated Godspeed Brewery is finally open on Coxwell south of Gerrard. You can buy local brews at the retail space and the unpretentious brewpub is scheduled to follow soon.

Left Field Brewery
The established East End brewery, Left Field, offers craft brews inspired by a love for baseball. With names like Wrigley and Maris. High on hops, they offer distinct beer that can stand on taste alone. 

The Green Wood | Queen Street East, Toronto.

The Green Wood | Queen Street East, Toronto.

RC Harris Water Treatment Plant | Art Deco Architecture in East Toronto.

RC Harris Water Treatment Plant | Art Deco Architecture in East Toronto.

There's so much to see and do in this part of the city. Toronto truly is a "City of Neighbourhoods" which all have their own distinct personalities and flavours. Its' what makes Toronto, so Toronto. Come to the East End and you'll a chill and relaxed vibe. Soak it in all year round at some of my favourite spots.


SEE + DO

Beaches Boardwalk
See what all the fuss is about on the Beaches Boardwalk. It turns out, it's worth it, right? Stroll a long the shores Lake Ontario and the city's most beautiful beaches on the Boardwalk from Woodbine moving east. A Great Lake in the city! How lucky are we? Want to head further east? The Scarborough Bluffs are equally stunning, but may I suggest choosing a weekday visit? Unless you love crowds.

Glen Stewart Ravine
A hidden gem and perfect way to discover Toronto's green spaces, the Glen Stewart Ravine is a place that feels miles away from Toronto. Soaring trees and bubbling creeks follow you on your walk as you pass happy dogs and neighbours. 

RC Harris Water Treatment Plant
A pristine example of Art Deco architecture, you must visit this gigantic space on the shore of Lake Ontario. Tucked away at the end of Queen Street East (where the streetcars turn), you can wander the outdoor space surrounding this gorgeous building. Better yet, come during Open Doors TO for a peek inside. It's fascinating to think this type of architectural detail was dedicated to a water treatment plant.

The Broadview Hotel
The newly refurbished building at the corner of Broadview and Queen (formely Jilly's) is about to have its official grand opening as The Broadview Hotel. This beautiful boutique hotel features a roof top restaurant, and terrace and cafe and bar to enjoy brunch to dinner. Every ounce of this space is stunning and definitely worth visiting, or booking a room for a little staycation.

This hotel will transform the East End. Just think of it as the West End's Gladstone Hotel with a similar style and vibe that's be designed just for the East End. Queen East will rival Queen West with this new neighbourhood gem. 

Riverdale Park on Broadview
The best views of city (aside from the Island) can be enjoyed from this rolling and expansive green space. Grab a coffee from Rooster Coffee House on Broadview and enjoy a good book or some simple downtime in this relaxed space in the middle of it all.

Danforth Music Hall
Some of the city's best musical acts perform at the casual Danforth Music Hall. This is my favourite spot to see live music in Toronto. Mostly because it's close to home, but also because the vibe is so chill. See your favourite bands here first in the "intimate" atmosphere. If you're looking for a place to eat before a show, Seven Numbers offers up a pre-show Italian family style meal. Mmmm.

Little India
Little India or The Gerrard India Bazaar is one of my favourite 'hoods in the East End. It's teeming with good food, eclectic finds, spice markets and fun events. If you're up for Indian food, my two favourites are Lahore Tikka House and Udupi Palace (vegetarian). After dinner, grab Kulfi pops from any convenient store and stroll around. You'll also find recently rooted restaurants and shops mentioned above and below.

Collected Joy | Kingston Road in Kingston Road Village, Toronto.

Collected Joy | Kingston Road in Kingston Road Village, Toronto.

Birch & Co. | Gerrard Street East in Toronto.

Birch & Co. | Gerrard Street East in Toronto.

Some of Toronto's best brands and shops are located in the East End. Here are just a few of my favourite spots to pick up all kind of goods. Small is the new mall. Avoid the crowds and shop local at these sweet shops.


SHOP LOCAL

Birch & Co.
Owned and curated by East Ender, Tanya, this sweet shop has perfect finds for gift and home. Lots of local goods can be found in store.

Collected Joy
In Kingston Road Village you'll find one of my favourite shops, Collected Joy. Everything in store truly brings you joy. From the huge stationery wall to the local goods from brands like Lovefresh, Dalish, Akai Ceramics and even Swell Made Co. Grab a caramel at the counter. They're the best. 

Good Neighbor
Found in a tiny house at Carlaw and Queen, is this hip boutique for men and women. They also have gifts, housewares and cute things for kids. Come for the fashion, stay for the best sneaker collection in the East End.

Token
Token in Riverdale has cute and quirky gifts and a great record collection. You'll know you're there when you can't stop staring at the hologram wallpaper as you walk in. Tiny, but fierce; this shop is a gem.

Black Rooster
Straight out of the pages of a magazine (literally), Black Rooster has everything for gift and home with an extra bit of panache and style. Top-quality furnishings that are made to last are their specialty.

Queenie's Cards
Newly opened, Queenie's cards is a bubblegum pink shop full of fun at Coxwell and Danforth. Longtime lovers of Queenie's cards (and so much more) will find her entire line a long with other cute Kawaii inspired brands like Pusheen and Pocky.

Toronto Yoga Mamas
This zen yoga and learning space for mom and baby is also home to a lovingly curated gift shop. you'll find the best local goods in  skincare, nursery decor and baby fashion. I can never say no to a tiny baby bathing suit!

Enjoy the East End, swell friends. Did I miss anything? Just let me know by commenting below.

Love It | Terrazzo

Love It, Inspiration, DecorLesley PocklingtonComment
LOVE IT | Terrazzo + Concrete with Swell Made Co.

LOVE IT | Terrazzo + Concrete with Swell Made Co.

For this edition of LOVE IT, it's time to look at the comeback (or emergence) of the terrazzo and concrete trend. Seen on floors of the schools and subway stations of the 1970s, terrazzo is making its way into homes, restaurants and inspiring accessories. Terrazzo was "invented in 15th-century Venice as a way of using up marble remnants. Composed of chips of marble, granite, quartz, and/or glass suspended in a cement or polymer binder, terrazzo is extremely durable". Read more about the comeback on Apartment Therapy.

  1. Love By the Moon 11x14 Art Print by Swell Made Co.
  2. Chromas Pendant + Oculus Studs by Beton Brut. Canadian maker, Beton Brut, creates stunning concrete jewelry. Made with an array of pigments and semi-precious stones mixed in micro batches.
  3. Ettore Table Lamp from Oliver Bonas. This simple statement piece made from concrete is a perfect way to light a room.
  4. Terrazzo Stationery by Normann Copenhagen. These fun pieces of stationery pay tribute to terrazzo with notebooks, rulers, pencils and even scissors. Neutral and natural gem coloured palettes give this Daily Fiction series a distinct look meant to tempt and delight design lovers.
  5. Terrazzo Mustard Cushion by Rebecca Judd Loves Home Republic. This graphic pillow brings the terrazzo look into your home without the commitment of flooring. Plus, it's a softer too.
  6. Hex Keytags by Swell Made Co. Minimalist hex keytags that say it all. Also available in triangles.

Here is some more inspiration for you. Toronto's new Cafe Cancan, with interior design by Tiffany Pratt, features rainbow terrazzo flooring. Combined with soft pinks, flamingos and French cuisine, this cafe is an Instagram and culinary dream.

Holly Young, Canadian artist, interior design lover and blogger, has a new collection that reminds me of terrazzo with abstract shapes and soft, summery colours. Check out the collection here.

These stairs go retro at Paradiso, a cafe in Geneva. Combined with brass fixtures and extreme attention to details, this cafe transports you to Italy. Check out Pinterest for a bunch more terrazzo + concrete goodness.

Finally, another concrete maker from Canada, Concrete Cat. Pioneers in making concrete cool, they have a unique collection of concrete goods including the tile below and even a baseball bat. They explore the use of concrete with a focus on colour, pattern and form to create magical pieces of art and furniture.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Adventure | Washington D.C. with Kids

Family, AdventuresLesley PocklingtonComment
Adventure | A Guide to Washington D.C. with Kids by Swell Made Co.

Adventure | A Guide to Washington D.C. with Kids by Swell Made Co.

In May, we took a much needed break and headed to New York City and Washington D.C. as a family (auntie + uncle included). New York City is always fun; but never having been to Washington D.C. as a family, we really enjoyed our time together in a new city. Washington D.C. is beautiful and family-friendly with so much to see and do. And eat! The best part, so many things are free! Known as the Capitol of Free, which is reassuring when traveling as a family. We'll be back again soon. Here is a quick guide to some of our favourite family spots in D.C.


Washington D.C. is known for its food and restaurants. As of late (past decade), the scene has changed dramatically and it shows. Read more about that here. During the week, you'll find food trucks lining the streets around the downtown core, high-end and diverse dining is abundant, and you'll easily find everything in between. Here are a few of our favourite family-friendly choices. My sister-in-law is an expert at finding fun restaurants, so I give her all the credit for helping us track these down. Most of these are (by coincidence) "chainlets". Meaning, you'll find multiple locations throughout the city and surrounding area.

EAT + DRINK

Busboys & Poets
Described as a haven for writers, thinkers and performers from America's progressive social and political movements, Busboys & Poets is a restaurant, lounge, theatre and book/gift shop. This casual spot offers southern comfort food (and more) and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere.
busboysandpoets.com

Founding Farmers
A love for local, seasonal food fuels this farm-to-table American restaurant. Rustic-chic, you'll find brunch to dinner at this busy spot. Try the beignets and sausage at breakfast and a cauliflower steak for dinner. 
wearefoundingfarmers.com

We, The Pizza
Need to nosh on the go. Kids love pizza, am I right? We, The Pizza has NYC style pizza by the slice or pie. Wash it down with homemade sodas.
wethepizza.com

Ted's Bulletin
Ted’s Bulletin is an American classic with a bit of style, complete with savoury homemade food and a family friendly atmosphere. Try the homemade pop tarts, pies, and cakes. Kids and adults will love the shaketenders and baristas who can whip up a custom milkshake — with or without alcohol (seen below).
tedsbulletin.com

District Doughnut
Handcrafted daily, District Doughnuts offers delicious pastries with signatures flavours: Brown Butter and Salted Dulce de Leche. They serve the nation's capital with a penchant for classic and internationally-inspired flavours and a commitment to Washington's history and creative spirit.
districtdoughnut.com

Adventures with Kids in Washington D.C. | Smithsonian National Gallery of Art

Adventures with Kids in Washington D.C. | Smithsonian National Gallery of Art

As mentioned above, Washington D.C. is the "Capitol of Free", so don't worry about breaking the bank. And for Canadians, this makes the current exchange rate easier to swallow. From concerts, festivals/events, renowned galleries and museums, there are so many things to do as family for free. Or, almost nothing. This stands true for anytime of year.

SEE + DO

Smithsonian Museums, Galleries & Zoo
Come to Washington D.C. to see the Smithsonian museums, galleries and zoo and you pretty much have your trip planned. There are so many intriguing properties and collections to see. Kids will especially love the Museums of Natural History, Air and Space and American History. Parents will love a little quiet time in the American Botanical Gardens and National Art Galleries (including the outdoor sculpture garden) and the Renwick Gallery (seen below), which are also great for kids.

While not downtown, don't forget to take trip to the zoo and explore the animals and park system. The best part of all, everything is FREE! Giving you a chance to visit them all, not once, but as many times as you like.
si.edu

International Spy Museum
Not free like the Smithsonian museums, but high on entertainment value, this museum guides you through an exciting look at the history of spies. Our kids are 7 and 4 and they thoroughly enjoyed this museum; although I'm sure older kids would get more out if it. Be sure to let staff know you're a family and you'll be given a special task with a surprise at the end. My 7 year old daughter loved solving puzzles and deciphering secret messages as we learned about spies. It had an "escape room" vibe which is fun (not scary).
spymuseum.org

The Newseum
The Newseum promotes, explains and defends free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. Considered one of the most interactive museums in the world, the Newseum experience also traces the evolution of electronic communication from the birth of radio, to the technologies of the present and the future. I'd recommend this museum for "bigger kids" (10 and up).
newseum.org

Playgrounds, Parks & The Potomac
Take a break from the tourist spots and explore the neighbourhoods of Washington D.C. where you'll be delighted by "epic" playgrounds (Palisades Playground seen below). See a list of the best ones here. D.C. is lush and green and full of parks, trail systems and gorgeous neighbourhoods to enjoy the outdoors and be active. This is the best way to live like a local and explore. If you want to get wet, check out the Yards Park at the Capitol Riverfront in the summer (or skate in the winter). You can certainly walk the parks; and if you're so inclined, see the outdoors from a kayak or paddle boat along the scenic (a tidal basin) Potomac River.

Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts
When you visit Washington D.C. be sure to see what's on at the "Ken Cen". There are free performances on the Millennial Stage every night at 6 pm! Regular performances start shortly after and tickets are reasonably priced. The types of performances vary from folk music to orchestra and so much more. There's something for everyone.
kennedy-center.org

The Mall
You can't visit Washington D.C. without a trip to The Mall. Take a walk among the monuments and visit the galleries and museums that line it. There's lots of room to move about as a family, and so much to learn about American history. Use the Circulator to get around easily from site to site. It's a bus system designed for those touring the sites with regular frequency. It's a $1 to ride each time (kids are free). The routes also extend beyond the mall.

I didn't get into accommodations, but there are plenty of places to stay in Washington D.C. As a group of six, we found it best to rent an apartment through Airbnb to give everyone a bit of space. It also allowed us to explore neighbourhoods like Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights away from downtown, which I'd highly recommend. We just happened to be steps from one of the zoo entrances which was a huge bonus with kids.

That's it! Just a quick and easy guide to Washington D.C. If you have suggestions for family-friendly things to see, do or eat in D.C. I'd love to hear them. Feel free to comment below as we'll definitely make a trip to Washington D.C. again. Politics aside, there truly is something for everyone and it's a fascinating place to see where history has taken place for generations. Not to mention, it makes watching House of Cards so much more intriguing ;)

Thanks for reading. Enjoy!

Adventures with Kids in Washington D.C. | Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King Jr. Quote.

Adventures with Kids in Washington D.C. | Lincoln Memorial. Martin Luther King Jr. Quote.

Love It | Neutral Palettes + Grid Patterns

Decor, Love It, InspirationLesley PocklingtonComment
LOVE IT - Neutral Palette + Grid Patterns with Swell Made Co.

LOVE IT - Neutral Palette + Grid Patterns with Swell Made Co.

For this edition of LOVE IT, I'm exploring one of my favourite styles. It can be called minimalist, Scandinavian, Nordic, neutral... whatever you want to call it, it's so simple. Combining a neutral black and white palette with subtle grid patterns is so basic, yet so comforting and clean. It's pleasing to the eye and mind as everything appears to effortlessly fall into place.

Here are a few of my favourite ways to go neutral and minimal with grids at home and beyond:

  1. DO GOOD + BE KIND (11x14) by Swell Made Co. These black + white, minimal art prints are a perfect reminder in any room that doing good and being kind never go out of style. They're also a perfect complement to grid patterns.
  2. Baggu Zip Bag in grid from Otherware. A grid pattern to take on the go! This versatile and durable bag from Baggu features the perfect grid pattern to make a statement.
  3. Wire Basket from Bloomingville. Grids can take many forms. This wire basket features a grid pattern that's perfect for storing goods. You can also purchase a wood top to make it a table.
  4. Carina Ceramic Jar by Bloomingville. Store items in these adorable jars. Also available as canisters with wood tops.
  5. How Sweet It Is Velveteen Throw Pillow by Swell Made Co. Black and white type to make your spaces inviting and cozy. This pillow is ultra soft and durable to live in your spaces. Bedrooms, nurseries or living rooms - they could all use a pillow like this.
  6. Grid Tea Towel by Anchal Project. An adorable addition to your kitchen. Hand-stitched from 1 layer of cotton, this towel features geometric stitches. Every purchase provides an artisan with a full-time job, health care benefits, design training, and educational workshops. Quilts and throw pillows are also offered in this simple grid pattern.

I hope you love these pieces as much as I do. Want more inspiration? Follow Swell Made Co. on Pinterest to see more. Here are a few of my favourites (click the images to see sources). There are loads of ways to bring grids into your spaces with a little DIY.

My favourite decor items include textiles such as bedding and curtains. Subtle hints of gold and pink work perfectly with a neutral minimalist palette, but it's so versatile you could come up with many combinations of colours, patterns and textures to complement this look. You could even combine this subtle look with elements of these styles we've posted about in the past - Bohemian Style + Moroccan Style.

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

How To | Style Throw Pillows

How To, DecorLesley PocklingtonComment
How Sweet It Is Velveteen Throw Pillow Cover by Swell Made Co. | $48

How Sweet It Is Velveteen Throw Pillow Cover by Swell Made Co. | $48

I'll admit, I have a bit of a throw pillow problem. I love, love throw (or accent) pillows for any room. In an instant you can change the feel of a space with a quick change of accent pillows. They add texture, colour, pattern and comfort with minimal effort. Here are some tips on how to arrange your throw pillows with ease. From bedrooms to living rooms and outdoor spaces, follow these 5 simple steps and you'll be a pro.

5 Tips for Styling Throw Pillows


  1. AVOID BEING TOO MATCHY
    When choosing throw pillows for your spaces, the first thing to keep in mind is DON'T match the sofa or bedding. YES, to complementing your pieces and fabrics (see below), but NO need to be too matchy. Do you have a grey sofa? That's a great neutral to work with, but avoid using grey pillows. Grey + grey = yawn. That takes us to the next tip.
     
  2. CHOOSE PILLOWS THAT COMPLEMENT
    Whether your pieces are neutral or vibrant, choose accent pillows that complement your space. Use them as a way to pull a room's look together. In a neutral room, throw pillows are a great way to add a pop of colour or pattern. In a vibrant or very modern room, throw pillows can soften the look with neutral colours and textures.

    Do you have a piece of artwork with a hint or yellow? Don't be afraid to complement it with a yellow accent pillow in your "pillowscape". If you have a colour scheme in mind, choose pillows that complement that palette without going overboard.
     
  3. USE ODD NUMBERS
    A go-to design "rule" is to use odd numbers. The same goes for throw pillows. Use odd numbers in your spaces. Depending on your pieces, 3 pillows are better than 2 on a couch. 1 accent pillow is better than 2 on a bed. And, so on. Remember, less is more. If you have too many pieces, edit and take away to achieve a more natural, lived-in and effortless look with odd numbers. 
     
  4. MIX THINGS UP
    This is the most important and FUN tip. Don't be afraid to mix the colour, texture and patterns of your throw pillows. Create interest, depth and delight with a variety of accent pillows in your "pillowscape". Solid colours paired with different patterns and textures are a great way to show your style and personality in a space. Don't forget the simplicity and beauty of pillows with type like our new How Sweet It Is throw pillow (seen above), or the collection of accent pillows from Dayna Lee.

    This also applies to pillow size and shape. Throw pillows can have complementary shapes and sizes and still work well together. Fun accent pillows shaped as animals and letters are perfect for nurseries/kids rooms. My favourites are from Sun + Stars with sweet moons, trees and dinosaurs. I also love the nordic style knotted pillows from Juju & Jake. They're versatile and make a statement on their own. See both below.
     
  5. LEAVE ROOM FOR REAL LIFE
    Going back to the principle that less is more, be sure to leave room for real living. Your spaces should be inviting and ready to enjoy. Avoid filling your sofa, beds and seating areas with so many throw pillows you can't sit down. If it looks like too much, it probably is. Feel free to edit and avoid having your pillows literally "thrown" on the floor! Gasp. I'm guilty of this.

    Use bolsters for arm chairs which allow people to sit in comfort. Use one accent pillow on a bed as a focal point with complementary pillow shams (instead of more throw pillows). If you have multiple pillows on a couch, layer them to save space.

How Sweet It Is Velveteen Throw Pillow Cover by Swell Made Co. | $48

How Sweet It Is Velveteen Throw Pillow Cover by Swell Made Co. | $48

You really don't need as many throw pillows as you'd like to have. I know, I know. Buy quality over quantity just like you would with clothing or shoes. You can always have a collection of classic and timeless accent pillows, and accent those with new patterns and textures to change things up if you like!

Here are a few more quick tips to keep in mind:

SIZE UP
When buying inserts for your throw pillow covers, size up to achieve a full look (no sagging). For example, if your pillow is 18" x 18", get an insert that is 20" x 20". Don't worry, it will fit.

RE-PURPOSE OLD PILLOWS
New inserts are easy to find at home decor stores and big box stores like IKEA. Better yet, if you have an old throw pillow or one of those matchy pillows that came with the couch that's the right size, re-use it and stuff it in your new pillow cover. It will save you time and money, plus it's wise to re-use.

That’s it! Five easy steps to styling pillows:

  1. Avoid Being Too Matchy
  2. Choose Pillows That Complement
  3. Use Odd Numbers
  4. Mix Things Up
  5. Leave Room for Real Life

Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Love It | Boho Style

Decor, Inspiration, Love ItLesley PocklingtonComment
LOVE IT - Bohemian Style with Swell Made Co.

LOVE IT - Bohemian Style with Swell Made Co.

I love Bohemian style for spaces indoor and out. Rattan, fabrics and textiles from around the globe, tropical plants, baskets, handmade ceramics and a general carefree feeling. I'll take it all. Mix these items with modern or mid-century pieces and you've got the look.

For this edition of LOVE IT, I have collected Bohemian pieces and tied in a hint of blue to make it feel even more relaxed, but this style can be complimented with almost any colour palette. Hints of pink and green for a tropical vibe? Or, black and white neutrals for a minimal Bohemian look. It's whatever your thing is. Little hints of gold (of course) can be seen throughout and are versatile. Check out LOVE IT Moroccan Inspired Decor, for a similar global look, but with a different palette.

Here are a few of my favourite ways to go Boho at home:

  1. Gold Palms Art Print (11x14) by Swell Made Co. Add a tropical vibe to your space all year-round with this gold foil art print.
  2. Greta Belly Basket in white by Rove Concepts. Store your stuff, or give plants a home with this handmade belly basket. Colour blocked in white. Other colours available including mint. Swoon.
  3. Jassa Basket from IKEA. In March, IKEA launched the JASSA collection which is full of wonderful rattan pieces for the home or patio. This collection is available for a limited-time only.
  4. Palm Leaf Keytag by Swell Made Co. This little keytag shows a love for plants and all things tropical.
  5. Blue Spatter Bowl by Settle Ceramics. Found at Leif. A hand thrown ceramic bowl with blue spatters are a casual way to make a statement on the table.
  6. African Indigo Throw Pillow from Rug & Weave. Vintage indigo fabric from Burkina Faso combined with natural mudcloth, this pillow will elevate and complete any Bohemian space. Rug & Weave has an outstanding collection of pilows, rugs and textiles from around the world.
  7. Mastholem Chair by IKEA. Available all year round. This arm chair is another way to turn up the heat indoors. Mix with eclectic and/or minimal fabrics and textiles for a casual Boho look.

I hope you love these pieces as much as I do. Want more inspiration? Follow Swell Made Co. on Pinterest to see more. Here are a few of my favourites (click the images to see sources).

Confessions of a Solopreneur

Confessions, InspirationLesley PocklingtonComment
Confessions of a Solopreneur by Swell Made Co.

Confessions of a Solopreneur by Swell Made Co.

We all have pivotal moments in our lives. Ones that set you on a trajectory without intention, but force you (or at least encourage you) to take action. While it was a gradual process, it started in my early twenties. I was fresh out of University and employed at my first corporate job. I was a graphic designer at a marketing company in western Canada. I'll admit, I was hugely naive. Who isn't at 22? I still had a LOT to learn, but I was "good" at my job.

I cringe when I remember sitting in a lunchroom with my boss and co-workers. We were tossing around casual jokes and conversation. I don't even remember what the topic was, or what I said. Then it blindsided me. My boss, in a deadpan tone, called me stupid. Not once, but twice. This person was going through a rough time personally, so I'll give them that; but from that moment forward I vowed to never work in that type of environment again. The corporate world had revealed its true face and it wouldn't be the last time (because, that's reality).

I've endured far more devastating comments and events in my life. Being called stupid is rather petty. I get that. However, that comment from the mouth of a respected mentor/leader haunted me for years. It directed me on a course that has simply allowed me to "do good work, with good people" on my own for the past decade. For that, I am very grateful.

Not all workplaces are toxic. I have had hugely enriching experiences from being employed accross Canada; but if you've experienced one or a few of these environments, you've probably thought about going out on your own too. Thankfully, the definition of work has changed drastically and there are countless opportunities to define and create what work looks like. The majority of my daily interactions are with people who are living a solopreneur life, or making the leap and it's truly inspiring.

I'm no expert. Truthfully, I'm always learning and figuring things out. Aren't we all? Here are a few lessons I've learned (sometimes the hard way) from being a solopreneur. I'm sparing you with the logistics of making the transition. There are loads of articles and books out there to help you out. Plus, it really comes down to you, and how you design that transition. Gradual or quick, there's no right way.


DON'T TAKE SHIT
Life is short. It really is. Taking any type of shit from anyone is NOT worth your valuable time (more about time coming up). Shit pay, shit work, shit attitudes, shit offers, shit hours. If you smell shit, walk away. You are so much better than a pile of shit. That goes for anything in life. Phew! Got that one? I'm trying to be as clear as shit. I promise, I'm moving on to more enlightening and serious content.

NURTURE GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
You will meet a plethora of wonderful people throughout your career. You were brought together for a reason. Nurture those relationships well beyond your given time together. It will serve you well. As a solopreneur, the majority of your work and inspiration will come through connections you make throughout your career (employed or solo). Thriving and respectful relationships will open you up to collaborating with talented and smart people, just like you. If a relationship feels shitty, refer to the tip above.

BE KIND. BE GRATEFUL.
Kindness matters and goes a long way. It doesn't cost a thing to be kind. Don't take shit, but be kind even when it's hard. When good (and bad) things come your way, be grateful for them. See the value in experiences big and small and express gratitude. It helps the world make sense.

DON'T STOP CREATING
Don't stop creating. Whatever creating means to you, (writing, beer making, cooking, photography, painting, designing, etc.) just keep doing it. In your career, you'll go through a body of work and some of it will be shit, trust me. Keep working HARD. The more time you invest, the better you'll become and one day you'll find your way. You'll find yourself. You have talent. Don't give up. This quote by Ira Glass helped me through the creative process years ago. I still repeat it when I hit a rut, as you do. Grit and hustle really do go far.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But it's like there is this gap. For the first couple years that you're making stuff, what you're making isn't so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you're making is kind of a disappointment to you. A lot of people never get past that phase. They quit.


Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.

And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you're going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you're going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you're making will be as good as your ambitions.

I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It takes awhile. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.


- Ira Glass

GUARD YOUR TIME
Time is your most valuable commodity. Guard it fiercely. You will always find ways to make money. After all, you're smart and full of ideas. You CAN'T get time back. Spend your time wisely. Personally and professionally. Edit, edit, edit.

DEFINE YOUR OWN SUCCESS
Success is a subjective and nuanced thing. Don't worry about what anyone else is doing. Just focus on what success means to YOU. You have an opportunity to create your OWN reality. Define what that means and take the steps to make it happen.

For me, success means doing good work, with good people. I do what I love with equal amounts of discipline and flexibility. I make time for my career/personal passions and for my family. I learn something new every day. Over time, that definition will change and I will continue to adapt. So will you. It's part of the process and life of a solopreneur, but worth every enriching moment.

That's all I got! Keep it real and work hard. If you're a solopreneur, does this resonate with you? What else have you got to tell me? I'd love to hear what you've learned.