Swell Made Co. | Simple Stationery, Gifts + Decor

Keep it simple, but significant.

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

DIY, How ToLesley PocklingtonComment
How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

I don’t do hair. At all. Thankfully, I have friends that care and showed me how easy it is to elevate a loose ponytail in the simplest way. Add a knotted hair tie! So simple. Any handkerchief, bandana or swatch of fabric will do; but why not create your own with a bit of splattered paint? Here’s a little DIY for just that. The best part? Once you’ve got this easy technique down, you can splatter paint anything. Easter eggs (with Easter next week!), gift wrap, baskets, porcelain pieces. Anything. I’ve gone with neutrals, but you can choose any colour you like.


What you’ll need:

  • Pieces of fabric (or whatever you want to splatter paint). Recycled fabrics are ideal. You probably have lots of old fabrics kicking around.

  • Fabric paint or acrylic paint in the colour(s) of your choice.

  • Paint brushes. Choose a size based on the surface area you’re splatter painting.

What you’ll need for splatter painting. Not a whole lot. It’s simple!

What you’ll need for splatter painting. Not a whole lot. It’s simple!

How to Splatter Paint a knotted hair tie / anything

  1. Prepare your work space because things are about to get messy. Cover your workspace in layers of recyclable kraft paper. If you can go outside, I would highly recommend it. It’s easier to keep the splatters under control.

  2. Clean your pieces before painting. Fabrics should be pre-washed/dried. Other pieces should be wiped down/dried.

  3. Dilute your paint with water or an acrylic thinner. I just used water. A general ratio is about 4:1 (4 parts paint, 1 part water), but you’ll have to test out the consistency in your work area first. Too thick won’t splatter. Too thin will be drippy and transparent.

  4. Test an area of your work surface to get the consistency right and to practice your splatter technique. In my experience it’s all in the flick. Flick of your wrist if you’re working with a big brush and area. Another technique is to wear rubber gloves and flick the bristles of your brush with your thumb. This works well for smaller objects where you need to be more precise. Otherwise, go big and have fun flicking and throwing the paint. Pollack style.

  5. Go for it! Once you’re comfortable with your materials and technique, just go for it.

  6. Let dry. If your piece has multiple surfaces, let one side dry before working on the other(s).

  7. Set fabric paint with heat. Using an iron with no steam (dry heat), apply heat to your fabric. You can even give it a 20-40 minute tumble in the dryer to set it.

Go crazy with the paint! Dilute it slightly first, though.

Go crazy with the paint! Dilute it slightly first, though.

That’s it! A fun and easy DIY that you can use in so many ways. I’d love to see what you decide to splatter, and as I splatter all the things; I’ll share them with you too. Thanks for reading this simple DIY. Peace! That’s me below. Showing off my new hair style. Thanks to my pals Bethanie, Holly and Jessica for dreaming up this DIY and helping me with my hair and photography. We were inspired by a stay at The Loft at County Collective in Prince Edward County, Ontario this past March. Wink! If you need a place to getaway, it’s an incredibly sweet spot with impeccable style.

See? Anything can be splatter painted.    You can also try an Easter egg DIY with Sharpies   .

See? Anything can be splatter painted. You can also try an Easter egg DIY with Sharpies.

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie

How To | Splatter Paint Knotted Hair Tie


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April is Card & Letter Writing Month

How To, Inspiration, DIYLesley PocklingtonComment
Tell someone they’re swell in April - Card & Letter Writing Month. Card by Swell Made Co.

Tell someone they’re swell in April - Card & Letter Writing Month. Card by Swell Made Co.

April is Card & Letter Writing Month (and also my birth month — how fitting for a stationery lover). It’s April 8th, I know; but it’s never too late to send a card or letter. Did you know? The U.S. Postal Service officially designated April National Card & Letter Writing Month in 2001 “to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing.”

In a world of non-stop of texts and emails, nothing says you care like taking the time to write a handwritten card or letter. You can read more about why I love writing and how it's not a lost art in this past post. Today, however; here are 5 simple things you can say in a card right now. Like, RIGHT NOW. No excuses. I've even given you a few prompts. Grab a pen and card or paper and get writing this month (or any month for that matter) to celebrate. There's always something to say that will help you connect with those you care about. Happy Card & Letter Writing Month!


5 simple Things to Say in a Card

Thank You

At this very moment, I'm sure you can think of numerous people you'd like to thank. Think of the people who support you in your day to day life. From the neighbour who collected your mail while you were away, to your barista, to a friend that gave you a thoughtful gift. When expressing gratitude be just as generous and write a handwritten note. A thank you note should recapture the moment where you were on the receiving end (the smile, maybe the hug, the warmth). Mention what you're thanking the recipient for, but keep it short and simple. Over exaggerating comes across as insincere and don't say "you shouldn't have". It's similar to taking a compliment. Just say thank you.

Congratulations or Words of Encouragement

There's always something to celebrate! Moments big and small should be congratulated with a handwritten note. New jobs, babies and homes all deserve a “HOORAY!”. Maybe your friend or family member reached a goal. If someone did something awesome, tell them. If someone needs some encouragement to get to that goal, tell them. Never underestimate the power of your words of encouragement or congratulations. It literally means the world to someone and those notes often become keepsakes to remember life’s milestones.

I Love You (or, I Like You)

When surveyed, 50% of adults in the United States said they preferred to hear "I love you" with a handwritten note. Can you blame them? I’m a hopeless romantic and apparently a lot of us are. Expressing affection can be as simple as dropping a note in your child's lunch, telling your partner or a friend how much they mean to you for no reason at all. You don't need to an occasion to tell someone you love them. The simplicity of your genuine words goes a long way. Especially if they’re spontaneous.

I'm Thinking of You

Similar to expressing affection, you don't need a reason or occasion to tell someone you're thinking of them. Texting or emailing someone is quick and passive. Take some time to slow down and let someone know you're thinking of them by recalling a sweet memory you shared together. Share a book, song, quote, recipe or even a Netflix series. Share a funny story or a great idea. Pay someone a compliment. Maybe you forgot to tell them something during a conversation. Surprise with a note when you remember. These are all simple ways to connect with someone you care about. Nothing is too silly or insignificant.

I'm Sorry

Saying sorry is never easy. Sending a handwritten note is the best way to let someone know you're sorry when something bad happens. This entire post could be dedicated to ways to express sympathy with nuance; but the most common are a death, a disaster (divorce, illness, etc.) and an apology after someone has been hurt. No matter the circumstance, the goal of the note should be to recognize and validate the source of pain, let the recipient know they are not alone, strengthen your connection and give utmost respect. If you have experienced a similar circumstance as your recipient, let it guide you in choosing the right words. If you don't have a shared experience, it's okay. Try your best and be incredibly thoughtful with your words.

Finally. Don't stress! Keep it simple, keep it casual and write in your natural voice. Take note (pun intended) of how you feel once you've taken a few minutes to handwrite a thank you, a compliment, a memory or a silly story. It all matters and I can guarantee it will produce a smile and all the feels on the other end. Happy writing, swell friends.


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How To | Make Chocolate + Coffee Truffles

Food, CoffeeLesley PocklingtonComment
This Calls for Chocolate Card | A collaboration by Swell Made Co. + Ecole Chocolat

This Calls for Chocolate Card | A collaboration by Swell Made Co. + Ecole Chocolat

This Valentine’s Day + Galentine’s Day we’re celebrating with two of our favourite things. Coffee + chocolate. Thanks to Ecole Chocolat, we have the perfect recipe that combines these two intense flavours in an easy-to-make truffle, and we tell you how to use coffee instead of cream to make a dreamy sweet that's dairy-free. It’s the perfect way to kick off our sweet collaborative card. This Calls for Chocolate!

Chocolate truffles. Photo by Sheri Silver.

Chocolate truffles. Photo by Sheri Silver.

RECIPE FOR CHOCOLATE + COFFEE TRUFFLES

Cook's Notes
We tried this recipe with both 60 percent dark and good-quality milk chocolate. The dark chocolate produced an intensely flavoured bonbon that is dairy-free and is guaranteed to be a black-coffee and dark-chocolate addict's dream. Those who prefer their coffee with cream and their chocolate with less bite would like the milk chocolate version better. Reduce the amount of coffee by one third if using milk chocolate.

Yield
About 14 1-inch truffles

Ingredients

  • 7 oz. (200g) dark chocolate (chopped fine)

  • 1/3 cup (75ml) coffee or espresso, depending on how strong you want the coffee flavor (or 1 tbsp. and 2 tsps. if using milk chocolate)

  • 1/2 tbsp. salted or unsalted butter (optional)

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) unsweetened cocoa for rolling the truffles

Method
Place finely chopped chocolate into a high-sided bowl or the bowl of a blender. Place coffee in a saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering; remove the pan from the heat. Or microwave coffee in a cup for 30 seconds.

Pour hot coffee over chocolate and blend in blender or in bowl with hand-held immersion blender. Or stir with a sturdy whisk, spatula or wooden spoon until you achieve a smooth consistency.

Add butter, if desired, and stir into the mixture until very smooth consistency is reached. Make sure all chocolate lumps are melted. Let stand at room temperature for one to two hours until ganache has set and is firm.

Scrape spoon or melon-ball cutter across surface of mixture. Dust hands with cocoa and quickly press truffle with fingertips into 1-inch (2.5cm) balls. Drop the balls into the cocoa and roll until well coated. Place on Silpat, waxed paper or parchment paper to set for several hours. Store truffles in the refrigerator in and air-tight plastic container or bag for 1 week or freeze, triple wrapped, in freezer bags for 1-2 months.

Recipe from Ecole Chocolat. All rights reserved.

Netflix & Wine | Polar Vortex 2019

Wine, Round Up, FoodLesley Pocklington3 Comments
Netflix & Wine | Polar Vortex 2019

Netflix & Wine | Polar Vortex 2019

Wait? What? We haven’t posted a Netflix & Wine round up in almost a year. I guess that’s the sign of a good year. We’ve been working away on all things swell, traveling, getting outside, reading. You know? Just living life. That said, we’re in the depths of winter here in Canada. Actually, a polar vortex to be precise. What does that mean? It means it’s really f*cking cold unless you happen to live in Vancouver. In that case, enjoy the cherry blossoms! So, in true Canadian fashion, we’re in hygge mode snuggling up with Netflix and wine for the next couple of months. Here are some of our favourite pairings to keep you entertained this winter.

  1. Fyre the Documentary - Borne of Fire Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

    Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve heard of the viral fraudulent debacle that was Fyre Festival. Now, thanks to Netflix (and Hulu), you can grab a bottle of “Borne of Fire” to help you swallow your rage as you watch how “the greatest party that never happened” unfolds at the helm of equally incompetent partners - Ja Rule and Billy McFarland (plus a whole cast of other characters).

    This is the first year made of this wine with wonderful blackberries, rose leaves and blueberries. Wildly floral. Stems. Full body and round and fine tannins. Juicy and intense. Shows an eccentric style. All large oak. A new nature and personality.


  2. Russian Doll - Seven Deadly Red 2015 (Red Blend)

    Premiering today (February 1, 2019), Russian Doll is a comedy created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Lesley Headland. Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She's trapped in a surreal time loop — and staring down the barrel of her own mortality. Kick back for some serious Deja Vu with a bottle of Seven Deadly Red from California, because there’s no wine from Russia and we’re not going to subject you to Vodka for this edition of Netflix & Wine.

    Powerful oaky elements meet very ripe and concentrated fruit flavors in this deeply colored, bold and full-bodied wine. Charcoal, wood smoke and clove aromas are followed by blackberry jam and black-cherry flavors, while light, smoky and peppery nuances weave through them. While the first whiff is oaky, everything comes together well on the palate and finish.

  3. Friends from College - Tollo Colle Secco Montepulciano D'Abruzzo DOC

    This hilarious series about a dysfunctional group of friends from college is back for a second season and it’s even better than the first. If you’re all caught up on season 1, grab your friends, some pasta and/or pizza, and this very CHEAP and cheerful bottle of Italian wine that’s perfect for sharing. Gather ‘round just like our favourite group of friends and be prepared to laugh.

    A wine that drinks like it could be twice the price. There's a balanced acidity here that makes it very food friendly. Ruby red colour; intense, complex nose of cherry, & chocolate; full flavour of fruit & spice, balanced acidity, soft tannin, long finish, good quality.


  4. Chef’s Table Season 6 - La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva 2008 (Tempranillo Blend)

    This series just gets better and better. Back for a 6th season, Chef’s Table will be released on February 22, 2019. Find this classic bottle of Spanish wine directly from the menu of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia and curl up for a delicious evening. The 6th season will feature Mashama Bailey, the chef of The Grey in Savannah, Georgia; Sean Brock, the creator of Husk and other restaurants in the Southern US; Asma Khan, the chef/proprietor of London’s acclaimed Darjeeling Express; and famed butcher and slow food champion Dario Cecchini, of Panzano Italy. 

    Cedar, tea and tobacco notes frame the dried cherry, vanilla and orange peel flavours in this traditional red. Offers good depth and lively acidity, with an alluring, spicy finish. An old-school style, compact and balanced. Drink now through 2023.



  5. Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain - Ungava Premium Gin

    Like the rest of the world, we’re missing Anthony Bourdain HARD. With and raw lust for life, he truly is a legend. Honour him by binging seasons 1-8 (you can catch all 12 seasons on CNNgo) of Parts Unknown. Better yet! Add some some adventure to your couch session by toasting with Anthony’s favourite drink — Negroni. A concoction of gin, Vermouth and Campari (or Aperol). With a slice of orange. We’re all about Netflix & Wine sessions, but if you truly want to honour Mr. Bourdain, we suggest getting off the couch and seeing the world. Maybe you’ll discover your new favourite drink.

    “A Negroni is a perfect drink as far as I’m concerned," says Bourdain, adding, “ It's three liquors that I’m not particularly interested in... But put them together with a slice of orange. It works... That first sip is confusing and not particularly pleasant. But man it grows on you.” - Anthony Bourdain.

    To perfect your drink we’ve selected a premium and local (Bourdain was all about drinking local) gin — Ungava. For a recipe for Negroni, try this one. Even though the ingredients are sourced from the Canadian Arctic, this gin will definitely warm you up.

    The unique colour of this spirit comes from the mix of Arctic sourced botanicals that include cloudberry, Labrador tea, rose hip and more. Medium lemon yellow in colour; aromas of juniper, herbal tea, spice and tart fruit; dry and medium-bodied followed by a warm and spicy finish.


You can buy most of these wines (and gin) at the LCBO in Ontario, Canada. Most of them are also available in liquor stores across Canada and the USA. Enjoy responsibly. Cheers!

*Some tasting notes and images from LCBO.com. Content is not sponsored. 

Printable | Simple Goals for 2019

Printable, InspirationLesley Pocklington3 Comments
Printable | Simple Goals for 2019

Printable | Simple Goals for 2019

2018 was a good year. Like any year, it had its fair share of challenges, but I’m grateful for those life lessons too. The highlights include: taking necessary breaks to spend time with my family and friends and take care of myself too, rekindling a mad love for hitting the trails and running outside, finding new perspective and focus for Swell Made Co. through the Starter Company Plus Expansion program and being awarded a grant to grow my business in its fourth year, working with a community of small businesses that constantly inspire me and help me grow, doing good through working with Plan Canada and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, having our home featured in Apartment Therapy at the tail end of the year (a way to confirm, we’re home at last) and continually finding new ways to keep things simple and delight YOU. Wonderful you! Thank YOU.


Simple  Goals for 2019

I typically recalibrate a few times a year (do you?), but there’s nothing like finishing off the year with gratitude for the past and optimism for what lies ahead. Setting goals and intentions for a new year is, simply put, refreshing. No matter how big or small. Complex or simple. As 2018 comes to a close, I’m staying true to myself and keeping it simple with these 5 things. The best part? To thank you for your continued support and another incredible year, this art print is printable and free. If these 5 things resonate with you and your intentions for the new year, you can download it and print it for your own spaces. Available in two sizes - 11x14 or 16x20, all you have to do is download it, print it at a local or online print shop and frame it.

Eat Plants

Is there nothing the humble plant can’t do? From healing and nourishing our bodies, to calming our minds (that refers to the houseplant variety that you don’t necessarily eat), 2019 is about finding even more ways to bring more green into everyday life over here. Including buying more plants in addition to eating them.

Keep Moving

Whether it’s moving our bodies, or finding ways to move forward personally and professionally; 2019 is the year to keep moving. Especially when faced with a block or challenge. Physically moving your body will help you get through it and move the mind too. Fast or slow, it doesn’t matter. Just. Keep. Moving.

Write More

Not only is pen to paper therapeutic, it’s an effective way to track goals, dreams, ideas, lists and gratitude. Less screen time and more thoughtful time spent writing (and reading) is a way to keep ideas flowing and moving in 2019.

Let It Go

If it has no place or purpose in 2019, it can stay in 2018. From self-doubt to toxic habits and relationships. Anything that doesn’t serve in the past year is staying behind as we channel our inner Elsa. See yahhh! Less is more, right?

Be Grateful

As always, expressing gratitude is an intention for the new year because when you look around, there is SO much to be grateful for. Even when faced with a challenge, there’s always something to learn and ways to change and do better. It’s the simple things that matter most.

Eat plants, keep moving, write more, let it go and be grateful. Simple goals for 2019.

Eat plants, keep moving, write more, let it go and be grateful. Simple goals for 2019.

What else is in store for 2019? To start, we’re making some simple changes to make your experience even more swell. We’ll be offering more printable art (and tips for printing, framing and styling) in addition to our exisiting collection of art prints. At the tail end of 2018, we launched our 6 and 12 card stationery subscriptions.

In light of the recent Canada Post strike, we’ll be introducing new faster and reliable shipping options. You’ll also be able to find Swell Made Co. in more shops across Canada and the USA.

A dream from Swell Made Co.’s inception in 2014 to work with more textiles will be unveiled this year, and we have fun collaborations in the works. As always, new products (and ways to make existing products better) will continue to roll out throughout the year.

What would you like to see from Swell Made Co. in the new year? We’d love to know. Watch for ways to let us know, or feel free to get in touch anytime. We’d love to hear from you.

Happy New Year to you, friends! Thank you again for being so swell.


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