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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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Love It | Warm Terra Cotta

Love It, DecorLesley Pocklington2 Comments
LOVE IT | Warm Terra Cotta with Swell Made Co.

LOVE IT | Warm Terra Cotta with Swell Made Co.

We’re taking a break from the holiday buzz and optimistically looking forward to 2019. What’s in store for home decor? Trends such as our non-stop love for terrazzo, and all things green (plant lovers, your plants aren’t going anywhere) will continue into the new year; but what’s “new” is a love for warm terra cotta hues. Combining Scandinavian minimalism with the decadence of warm colours, earthy textures and a little bling (brass, gold and copper) is going to keep everyone cozy for the winter ahead. Combine terra cotta with deep greens and rich inky blues to brighten your home. Neutrals are just as nice and remind us of the Wabi Sabi trend of 2018.

Pantone also just announced its colour of the year for 2019 - Living Coral. While, not terra cotta; it definitely has similar attributes of warmth and connection with nature. Living coral takes its inspiration from the depths of the sea. Laurie Pressman from the Pantone Color Institute says, “we’re looking for colors that embrace us with warmth and reassurance in our continually shifting environment”. In 2019, it sounds like we could all use a big HUG and crave a sense of hope for our political and environmental worlds. Much like Greenery from 2017, there is a pervasiveness of cheerful shades that call for optimism and positive human connections. So, here’s to bright and earthy hues in 2019.


Here are a few of our favourite ways to bring terra cotta into your space to help you feel connected to nature and its warmth:

  1. These Are The Golden Days (11x14) Art Print by Swell Made Co. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, it’s nice to be reminded that “These Are The Golden Days” because they truly are. Live in the moment.

  2. Love One Another Natural Pendant Light by CB2 x Fred Segal. Laid back bohemian style with natural textures combined minimalist touches make for a space that connects and embraces. Even the name of this piece is optimistic.

  3. Flange Terra Cotta Vases by Blu Dot. Simple in form, but rich in texture and warmth. Perfect vessels for your spaces.

  4. Pampas Grass. Carrying through from 2018, pampas grass will soften your space naturally and is the perfect complement to the warmth of terra cotta.

  5. Iridescent Copper Tray by Bloomingville. Complementary to terra cotta’s matte and raw texture are iridescent trays and vases to bring a decadent, yet minimalist shine to your space. These opposites blend together to create a bright space.

  6. Iridescent Vases by Bloomingville. See above.

  7. Iridescent Vases by Bloomingville. See above.

  8. Beetle Dining Chair from Gubi. Inspired by beetles in nature, this chair with a shaped and rigid exterior and soft inside provides form and comfort. Designed in 2013, you can customize the Beetle Chair with fabric/texture and base options to make it your own.

  9. Stay Gold (11x14) Art Print by Swell Made Co. Another golden reminder for your space to stay true to yourself in the year ahead and always.

Pssst - We snuck in an optimist keytag above as well. For all you glass is half full (or refillable) types. We’re eternal optimists at heart and we could all use a little more of that vibe in 2019.

And if you’re still craving more terra cotta, visit Pinterest to see our favourite spaces. Or, click the ones below and prepare for your jaw to drop. Thanks for reading and happy holidays! And almost new year.


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Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note

Read It, InspirationLesley Pocklington2 Comments
Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note

Read It | The Art of the Handwritten Note

During the winter months, I love to curl up with a good book. Don’t you? Why not share those books with you. Introducing READ IT — mini book reviews that cover all kinds of books. Business, lifestyle and wellness and maybe even a cookbook. If you have any reading suggestions, I would love to hear them. Feel free to comment below or contact us.

First up, The Art of the Handwritten Note by Margaret Shepherd. This feels like a timely book. The holiday writing season is upon us and with writing becoming a lost art, what better time of year to get back to simplicity than winter? With a love for all things simple and slow living (and paper goods, of course), it felt like this was a good choice for thinking about how to “reclaim civilized communication”. The way it once was and the way it can be now.


Margaret Shepherd’s book beautifully defends the practice of writing notes which essentially comes down to protecting the time it takes handwrite and keeping it simple (from stationery choices to what you write). The book is filled with reasons why you should write; but explains them in a very practical way. It pushes you to stop making excuses not to write and even provides writing prompts to get you started. From thank you notes to notes of regret, Margaret covers many of life’s sentiments. While I love this little book, it is definitely more traditional. Personally, I prefer a more casual approach to writing; but there are suggestions for that too. Here are my takeaways as a modern stationer and lover of the handwritten note and WHY we should write more of them.

Notes deserve attention

We live in a world where we’re constantly consuming information, it’s no wonder it’s so difficult to cut through the clutter and get anyone’s attention. The handwritten note’s rarity heightens its appeal. As your recipient sifts through the junk mail, a hand addressed envelope immediately captures their attention because they trust it will repay their attention. And while it immediately captures attention, it doesn’t immediately demand it like the the incessant phone calls, texts or emails we have become accustomed to. Recipients can enjoy the anticipation of opening it when they choose and they can reread it at their leisure. The slow and intentional act of reading a note is just as lovely as writing one. Which takes us to…

Notes make us feel good

When you carve out time to sit down and thoughtfully write a letter, it just feels good. The act of slowing down (as mentioned above) and simply putting pen to paper can be therapeutic. Science has linked writing to better mood, reduced stress and improved overall sense of well-being. This includes journaling too. It’s also inspiring and increases creativity with its ability to put us into a flow state. You’ll find yourself using words and expressing yourself in a way you just can’t with tapping. Unplugging to connect the mind with the hand is a rare, but simple, yet powerful sensory experience.

If note writing makes you feel that good, just think of how the person on the receiving end will feel. You send an meaningful message when you write down your thoughts by hand, physically deliver your note to a mailbox and wait for someone to receive it. The smile and gratitude on the other end is well worth the effort. Talk about boosting morale on both ends.

Notes are personal

From the stationery you choose to what you say, your note is a reflection of the one and only you. Exclusivity is certain; no one else is receiving exactly the same note. It doesn’t get much more personal and unique than that. Choosing to write by hand in the first place means you care a great deal about connecting with people. Add the elements of materials (stationery), your own handwriting and choice of words — you have yourself a simple work of art.

Notes are also private. Concealed in an envelope and addressed specifically with a person (or persons) in mind, means you words are safe until they meet the recipient’s hands. That’s personal.

Are you inspired to pick up a pen this holiday season and beyond? Give it a try and see what opportunities come from the simple act of writing a note. You might just be surprised and you’ll certainly feel good doing it.


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