Maker's Remarks

Running a Business that Sustains Your Heart, Body, and Community

Q&A with Jessica & Brandon of Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc.

I wish I’d known Jessica Parker, née Robinson, better in high school. We graduated the same year from Southside in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Her husband Brandon graduated one year earlier. Though we sat next to each other in Ms. Rush’s physics class, Jessica and I mostly kept to ourselves. Shy, introverted teenage Sarah didn’t like to invite much conversation, and I suspect Jessica was the quiet type, too. 

When I moved back to Fort Smith last summer with Brian, I was amazed at how much my hometown had changed. One welcome addition to the area was Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc., the city’s first organic juice bar, which opened its doors not long before we got here. While reading a local magazine, I flipped to an article about the exciting new store and its owners. I instantly recognized Jessica and Brandon. Though I hadn’t gotten to know them well when we were younger, I remembered Jessica as sweet and Brandon as friendly (I’d met hime once or twice). I was proud to see two classmates improving my hometown with their healthy business and happy to see these two deserving people succeeding. 

Jessica and Brandon Parker, owners of Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc. in Fort Smith, Arkansas

Image above: Jessica and Brandon Parker, owners of Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc. in Fort Smith, Arkansas

In their interview with Do South, Jessica and Brandon explained how Carrot Dirt began. After they married, Jessica’s mother was diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Huntington’s Chorea and Brandon was diagnosed with Miyoshi Myopathy, a type of muscular dystrophy, both in the same year. Their lifestyles had to change — getting and staying healthy became their focus. They became more active and began eating more organic, whole foods. They discovered juicing. It wasn’t long before they started feeling better, their love for juice became a passion, and Carrot Dirt (which was Brandon’s nickname for carrot juice) opened its doors. 

“Carrot Dirt,” explains the couple on their website, “developed from the idea that people not only desire but also deserve to live an energized and well-balanced lifestyle.” Jessica and Brandon managed to turn lemons into lemonade, transforming their lives and community through their passion for juice and healthy living.  

colorful sandwich board at Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc., Fort Smith, Arkansas' first organic juice bar

Image above: colorful sandwich board at Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc., Fort Smith, Arkansas’ first organic juice bar

Oh, and the juice is downright delicious! I put down that article and made Brian drive straight to Carrot Dirt to sample their “lemonade.” The Autumn Harvest (squash, apple, and cinnamon) and Sweet Roots (carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, and ginger) blends we tried put our own homemade juices to shame. Since then, we’ve tried to up our juice game at home, have sampled a few more of Carrot Dirt’s juice creations, and decided to share their story with you and all our Westervin readers. Jessica and Brandon kindly obliged to answer a few questions about overcoming challenges, sustaining their community, and being creative in running their business. 

First of all, can you tell me how long you’ve been married and a little about how you met?

We just celebrated our 8-year wedding anniversary and have been together for 11 years. We met through friends who are brother and sister — it was a matter of proximity and time. We became best friends, fell in love, and the rest is history.

fresh, rainbow salad from Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc.

Image above: Carrot Dirt also sells fresh salads, as well as smoothies, nut milks, and healthy desserts and snacks

What prompted you to open Carrot Dirt?

Health. Around the time that we were married, my Mother was diagnosed with a neurological disease, Huntington’s Chorea, then Brandon was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy called Miyoshi Myopathy. From those events it became clear that we all need to do the best for our bodies in order to live well and also for our bodies to be prepared for what may come. We wanted our community to have availability to this as well. After all, our health is the best investment we can make.

What personal skills and/or talents have you and Brandon relied on most heavily (or had to develop) to run your business?

We have a wonderful time together and we feel that reflects in Carrot Dirt. Personally, I love preparing food and decorating, so I’m able to combine the two with the salads, desserts, and snacks we offer. Both of us are very time-oriented and detail-oriented but not in overlapping ways. This allows us keep on schedule with both day-to-day operational stuff and long term planning.

healthy energy bites from Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc.

Image above: Carrot Dirt’s energy bites

What has been the biggest challenge of working for yourself and how have you overcome it?

The lack of a guidebook, it’s freeing and frustrating at the same time. It can be a challenge when trying to get answers for regulations and codes, but the freedom of creating and offering our product to the community makes it all worth it. We absolutely love what we do.

What have you found to be the best tools and/or exercises you’ve relied on in opening and running your business?

Our patrons love social media, Instagram followed by Facebook. It allows us to share, back and forth, the fun things we’re creating in real time. We also really like Square. It’s easy to use and update, allows us to be mobile, and offers tons of great information about sales and item trends.

The atmosphere at Carrot Dirt is very laid back. When we are making juice and nut milks every morning and throughout the day, we listen to some good tunes and just go with the flow. Running your own business can be stressful, but we do our very best to keep stress at bay. After all, stress is very detrimental to health.

Running has been a passion of mine for the past several years. I always make sure I make time for my run. Since we have opened, the time I run daily varies, but I make it a priority. This is my time for me, to reflect on my day, pray, and breathe in some fresh air.

bottles of freshly made, cold-press juice from Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc.

Image above: bottles of freshly made, cold-press juice in the Carrot Dirt fridge

What role does community play for Carrot Dirt?

Carrot Dirt stems from a desire to do better for ourselves and the community. The community has embraced us, and they are our biggest champions. We see new faces every day who heard about us from the regulars. The community is showing us that Carrot Dirt is a great healthy alternative that needs to be here. The desire for healthy organic options is here. We are just so happy to be able to provide them to our wonderful community.

Does running Carrot Dirt require you to be creative? If so, in what ways and how often?

Yes! It’s allowed us to use parts of ourselves that get minimized in the day-to-day school/work routine. It’s freeing to have a juice recipe in your mind and have it taste like you envisioned. From creating and naming the juices to engaging the community to growing the business — it requires creativity to take Carrot Dirt from an idea and actually execute it. Our creativity juices are flowing on a daily basis.

Cordial Carrot and Pink Dragon - organic, cold-press juices from Carrot Dirt Organics, Inc.

Image above: Cordial Carrot and Pink Dragon – organic, cold-press juices made fresh at Carrot Dirt

What does the future hold for Carrot Dirt?

As Carrot Dirt approaches the 1st anniversary, we’ve been listening to our patrons. In the short term we’ll be offering sandwiches and creating new juices. In the longer term? Well, that is just a surprise!

If you’re in the area, get down to Carrot Dirt NOW and grab a bottle of their sweet, energizing juice or other healthy foods. Otherwise, follow Carrot Dirt on Instagram for gorgeous shots of whole foods to inspire your healthy lifestyle. You can also follow along with Brian and I as we share a few of our homemade juice recipes here on the Westervin blog with our series Get Juiced

Who Are You Pairing?

2015 SAG Awards

Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua) by Todd R. Forsgren; Uzo Aduba at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua) by Todd R. Forsgren; Uzo Aduba at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

To be honest, I wasn’t going to create another “Who Are You Pairing?” collection for Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. I’ve been feeling a little drained the last couple days and decided to skip the latest pairing opportunity for a little extra couch time. But alas, curiosity got the best of me and I couldn’t stop myself from looking up all the red carpet looks yesterday. I was not disappointed. In fact, I’d say the SAG Awards fashions were the best this season, both in quantity (so many big television and movie casts!) and quality (so many unusual colors and bold patterns!). Before I knew it, I was picking out a few eye-catching looks and searching for their fine art counterparts. Here’s what I came up with! What do you think?

Pillar by Noémie Jennifer; Vicky Jeudy at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: Pillar by Noémie Jennifer; Vicky Jeudy at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

St. Sebastian by Juan Chavarria Jr.;  Andrea Riseborough at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: St. Sebastian by Juan Chavarria Jr.;  Andrea Riseborough at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Self Portrait 4 by Mareike Auer; Rashida Jones at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: Self Portrait 4 by Mareike Auer; Rashida Jones at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Figure by Peter Hurley; Kimiko Glenn at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: Figure by Peter Hurley; Kimiko Glenn at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Your Love by Keetra Dean Dixon; Anna Chlumsky at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: Your Love by Keetra Dean Dixon; Anna Chlumsky at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Stairway by Denton Crawford; Lupita Nyong'o at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

Image above, left to right: Stairway by Denton Crawford; Lupita Nyong’o at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards

 

Blog News

2015 Westervin Consumer Survey

Westervin 2015 Consumer Survey

 

Dear friends, family, and sweet readers! Please take a moment to complete our 2015 survey.

If you:

  • have read anything on this blog, or
  • bought something from our shop, or
  • call yourself a maker, or
  • own your own business,

We want to hear from you. Nay, we need to hear form you!

With the new year has come a renewed focus at Westervin headquarters (a.k.a. our home), as well as some fresh ideas. We plan to unveil a beautiful new website, improve the shop, and start offering some new services even! But we need to know more about YOU and what you want to see from Westervin before we can implement any changes. We wouldn’t be here without you, obviously. 

Plus, we’re just really curious about our readers and customers. Who are you people?! We bet you’re so interesting. Show us how interesting you are, please and thank you and good night. 

Take the survey here!

Who Are You Pairing?

2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

The Milkmaid's Lot by Lauren Frances Adams; Keira Knightly at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: The Milkmaid’s Lot by Lauren Frances Adams; Keira Knightley at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

I’ve heard some of you are curious how I whip up these red carpet fashion & art parings. Well, I’m afraid there’s no trick to it. The main ingredient is patience. I start by selecting the red carpet looks that I find most “artful” (usually a mix of novel colors, patterns, and textures), then I search a few key sites and my saved pins for pair-able works of art. The magic happens when I compare a look and artwork side-by-side and the visual elements of each seem to sing the other’s praises. Like music to my. . . eyes.

With today’s set of awards season pairings culled from the 20th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, I feel like I’m getting into the swing of things. This post came together pretty quickly, for a change, thanks to not only a few of last night’s blue carpet celebrities who chose daring, beautiful, or just plain fun looks last night, but also my favorite websites that offer a steady supply of daring, beautiful, and just plain fun art for sale. In addition to my tried-and-true resources — Etsy, Mammoth & Co., Society6, Flickr, and ArtMgt, to name a few — I’ve added a few others to my arsenal, including 20X200, Tappan Collective, Buy Some Damn Art, Poster Cabaret, Sebastian Foster, Little Paper Planes, and Buy Olympia. So, if you’re in the market for some stellar creations to hang on your walls or gift to loved ones, peruse the variety of these well-curated collections or consider one of the pieces featured in this very Who Are You Pairing? series, which includes original artworks and more affordable prints. Then let me know which piece(s) you bought! I wanna see what you get!

But first, check out these pairs, which I’m kinda proud of. I tried to show a bit of diversity in the pairings (something sorely lacking in the Academy Award nominations announced yesterday), from strange and whimsical to bold and even humorous (I can’t help but laugh at Jared Leto sometimes). What do you think? Let me know which is your favorite in the comments. Better yet, if there was another look from the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards that you liked best, put together your own pairing and show me with a link below! 

 

Dispenser by Eyal Pinkas; Jared Leto at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: Dispenser by Eyal Pinkas; Jared Leto at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Around the fur by Andreas Niederwieser; Lorraine Toussaint at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: Around the Fur by Andreas Niederwieser; Lorraine Toussaint at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Strange Fish by Emma Kidd; Jamie Chung at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: Strange Fish by Emma Kidd; Jamie Chung at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Ink 'd Pink by Becky Kemp; Mackenzie Foy at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: Ink ‘d Pink by Becky Kemp; Mackenzie Foy at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Snakeskin by Tealia Ellis Ritter; Rosamund Pike at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: Snakeskin by Tealia Ellis Ritter; Rosamund Pike at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Oxio No. 3 by Hamish Robertson; Carmen Ejobo at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards

Image above, left to right: Oxio No. 3 by Hamish Robertson; Carmen Ejobo at the 2015 Critics’ Choice Awards

Fine Fixin's

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cakes

Confession: We love dessert. There you go, I said it. Unfortunately, we also know that when dealing with dessert, moderation is imperative, or at least imperative at times — sometimes you just need some decadence. So while Sarah still claims to have a portion of her stomach specifically reserved for sweets, we’re trying, albeit gingerly, to make some of these sweets a bit healthier. A little less decadent, and a little less sweet.

To kick things off, we made flourless almond cakes for the new year. These little chocolate cakes are made with almond meal and honey (hey, it’s not sugar) and guess what, they’re tasty — especially with ice cream (oops, but we had to, I promise. I overcooked them just a tad, making them dry). They also get some bonus points for being simple to prepare, which I always appreciate with a dessert. If you or someone you know is trying to cut down on sugar for a New Year’s resolution, we’d definitely recommend it. . . just skip the ice cream.

 

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cakes
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup raw almonds (or almond meal)
  2. 3 tablespoons butter
  3. 3 tablespoons honey
  4. ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  5. 1 egg
  6. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1 pinch kosher salt
  8. 1 pinch cayenne
  9. 2 5-ounce ramekins
  10. 2 tablespoons sliced almonds (for garnish)
  11. powdered sugar (for garnish)
  12. additional honey (drizzled lightly on top for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. If using whole almonds, grind the almonds very finely in a food processor until the texture is light and fluffy.
  3. In a glass measuring cup or bowl, add 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons honey, and ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips. Microwave for 10 seconds intervals, stirring after each, until fully combined. (Alternatively, use the double boiler on the stove to melt the chocolate and stir in the butter and honey until fully combined.)
  4. In a medium large bowl, beat one egg with a whisk. Then add ½ cup of the almond meal, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 pinch of kosher salt, 1 pinch of cayenne pepper, and the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.
  5. Butter two 5-ounce ramekins. Pour in the batter, and bake for 35 minutes until a toothpick comes out nearly clean.
Adapted from A Couple Cooks
Adapted from A Couple Cooks
Westervin http://www.westervin.com/blog/
Who Are You Pairing?

72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Untitled by Santiago Salvador; Julia Goldani Telles at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: Untitled by Santiago Salvador; Julia Goldani Telles at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

As Common said in his acceptance speech last night, Selma “awakened his humanity.” Many of the works honored at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards gave voices to those not often heard and showed us characters not often seen on screen. When searching for artworks to highlight next to the beautiful women on last night’s red carpet, I immediately thought of Chilean artist Santiago Salvador (above), who’s been a favorite of mine for a few years.

His vibrant paintings of people in kaleidescope-like formations, with cascading limbs and uniformly round noggins, offer a perfect compliment to those films and their creators that reflect our humanity. I’ve fallen in love with Salvador’s world of people, sometimes depicted in intimate positions, sometimes replicated in large patterns of innumerable tiny figures that remind me of those Magic Eye books I devoured as a kid. Such odd, colorful people.

Luckily, the untitled painting above paired beautifully with Julia Goldani Telles’ look, complete with the deep “V”s, dark hair, peachy skin tones, and the shifting shades of blue seen in the armless torsos of Salvador’s little people and the light-catching folds of Julia’s exquisitely crafted dress.

Photography by Katie Kukulka; Claire Danes at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: Favorite Details of Scully Osterman Skylight Studio by Katie Kukulka; Claire Danes at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

There were so many stunning gowns and suits on the red carpet last night. If I didn’t have so much laundry to do, I would have sat at my computer making pairs all day! But the fun has to stop sometime. Here are a few of my favorite looks from the red carpet and the photographs, illustrations, and paintings that mirrored each exquisite work of wearable art. My kudos, also, to Allison Tolman, Amelia Warner, Amanda Peet, Ellie Kemper, Emma Stone, and David Oyelowo for rocking some of my other favorite duds.

Fly Away by Brigitte Niedermair; Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: Fly Away by Brigitte Niedermair; Sophie Hunter and Benedict Cumberbatch at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

What is Visible (Smoke) by Becca Kallem; Kerry Washington at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: What is Visible (Smoke) by Becca Kallem; Kerry Washington at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Thank you for BRINGING IT, Kerry. I know I can always count on you to don something unique and eye-catching, a true work of fashion art. And you’re always smokin‘!

Untitled by Antoine Caecke; Zosia Mamet at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: Untitled by Antoine Caecke; Zosia Mamet at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Untitled by Natasha Newton; Jemima Kirke at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: Untitled by Natasha Newton; Jemima Kirke at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Obviously, Jemima is a goddess from another world. She has come to Earth to share with us her beauty and to help us find peace, both within our fierce, creative, loving selves and with the universe. Do as she does.

Shadow in the Still Air by Valeria Kondor; Ruth Wilson at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Image above, left to right: Shadow in the Still Air by Valeria Kondor; Ruth Wilson at the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards

Do It Yo'self

Customize A Fool-Proof DIY Calendar With Your New Year’s Resolutions

DIY calendar made with stamps, washi tape, and a 1" circle punch

It’s truth time. I, Sarah West Ervin, have never, in my 28 years of life, had a new year’s resolution. Not really. There was one year in elementary school when we learned the concept of the new year’s resolution. My pint-sized classmates and I were instructed to create three resolutions for ourselves and write them on a piece of paper that was pre-cut into a heart, or star, or some such generic shape by the teacher. I remember mulling over the exercise with a mixture of enthusiasm and confusion. I liked it, but I didn’t quite get it. Forced self-improvement and a yearly “refresh” were probably lost on eight-year-old Sarah. After that lesson, I promptly forgot those three resolutions and continued on into adulthood without ever giving the practice much serious thought.

Sure, there were years where I’d think, “Resolutions! I should do that, too.” But then I’d start thinking about something else and go about my life as usual. This year, however, on a whim, I decided to read Buzzfeed’s “9 Useful Tips To Help You Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions.” After reading the article, the little lightbulb in my brain turned on below a thought bubble with the word “micro-resolution.” One needs only to set small, realistic goals for personal improvement. Perhaps even one micro-resolution each month of the year is the best bet for success. Just pick one simple habit you want to form, focus on it for a month, then once you’ve mastered it, graduate to your next tiny goal. It’s a simple matter of planning ahead and staying organized! And as anyone who’s completed a group project with me knows, I LOVE planning ahead and staying organized.

Challenge accepted, Buzzfeed.

I resolved to make one micro-resolution for each month of 2015 and enlist Brian’s help for solidarity. I was also quite proud of myself for coming up with the term “micro-resolutions” until a quick Google search revealed that LOTS of other people have come up with it too.

C’est la vie.

the easiest DIY calendar

This new foray into new year’s resolutions also provided an opportunity to get crafty! I figured the best way to remember each month’s micro-resolution was to create a custom calendar for the year. And in keeping with the keep-it-simple tip for resolution-making, I decided to make it the world’s easiest DIY calendar. There’s a lot to love about this project, actually.

Why This Project Is The Best:

  • It involves washi tape, and lots of it!
  • The little discs for each day of the month are cut from posters, cards, postcards, business cards, and other pretty paper pieces that Brian and I have collected over the last decade or so. This makes the calendar extra-super-special, incorporating little notes and gifts from our friends and family. But you can also buy ALL THE PRETTY PAPERS from the scrapbooking section of your local craft store.
  • The paper we used for the base was leftover from our wedding DIY projects. The specialness-meter is reading off the charts!
  • Alphabet stamps. They are so cute.
  • We ramped up the cuteness even further by turning each micro-resolution into an inspirational phrase. Who doesn’t love inspirational quotes?
  • We also got to buy a jumbo wooden clothespin, and it was less than $3! A pretty clipboard also works.
  • This project works well with multiple people for some good old fashioned togetherness.
  • You cannot mess this up. And actually, the messier you are, the better, if you ask me.
  • No measuring, no cutting, no glue, and no artistic skill required!

materials for making an easy-as-pie calendar

 What You’ll Need:

  • At least 2 rolls of washi tape
  • 12 sheets of cardstock (we used 8×10)
  • Large stack of paper ephemera for the discs (magazines, photos, and old cards work well)
  • 1″ circle punch
  • Sharpie(s)
  • 2 sizes of alphabet stamps (Michael’s had some very inexpensive sets)
  • Ink pad(s)
  • Wooden clothespin or clipboard (to hang)

arrange 1" discs on cardstock for a DIY calendar

 To Make The Calendar:

  1. Grab a friend.
  2. Make your friend and yourself a cocktail.
  3. Turn on some groovy tunes.
  4. Use your 1″ circle punch to cut 365 discs from your collection of pretty paper ephemera. This may take a while, hence the friend, cocktails, and music.
  5. Arrange 28-31 discs on each sheet of cardstock — depending on the number of days in each month, obv. Use the calendar on your phone as a guide, especially if you’re several cocktails in at this point. And don’t worry about measuring for disc placement — just eyeball it.
  6. Use little pieces of washi tape (we alternated two different colors) to affix the discs to the cardstock. Easy peasy.
  7. Use the sharpie to write the date on each disc. Again, rely on your phone calendar.

DIY washi tape calendar

DIY washi tape calendar pages on cardstock

Once you’ve completed one sheet for each month, step back and admire your handiwork. You crafty devil, you!

alphabet stamps and ink in a vintage cigar box

To Make the Headings:

  1. Maybe wait until you have sobered up from your night of whole punching and washi taping.
  2. Use the larger alphabet stamps to write out the name of each month. Again, don’t worry about it being perfect, but make sure to leave at least one inch from the top for your clothespin or clipboard.
  3. Use the smaller alphabet stamps to write your inspirational phrase. Remember, this phrase corresponds to your micro-resolution. You can write the full resolution on the back of the sheet so you don’t forget. For example, Brian and I resolve to eat less sugar this year. So in October, we’ll try one dessert recipe each week that uses no added sugar, incorporating them into our regular meal planning. We wrote the full resolution on the back, then on the front of the October sheet we wrote “Later, Sugar!”

stamp your new year's resolutions on a simple DIY calendar

the world's easiest DIY calendar

When you’re all done stamping, stack all the sheets, clip them together, and hang it up somewhere you’ll see it everyday.

hang a DIY calendar with an inexpensive jumbo clothespin

To Track Your Resolutions:

  1. For each day that you follow your micro-resolution, mark the disc for that date. You can use a sharpie to write a big X or use another stamp and some brightly colored ink. Brian and I are using stamps that say, “Oh, Snap!” and “Hey, Girl!” Because we’re saucy.
  2. Congratulate yourself for following through, and remember not to beat yourself up on days you don’t. Nobody’s perfect! Except Dolly Parton.
Who Are You Pairing?

41st Annual People’s Choice Awards

Untitled by Eva Vermeiren; Karina Smirnoff at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Untitled by Eva Vermeiren; Karina Smirnoff at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

Aaaah. Do you smell that? It’s a new year, my friend. Breathe it in. It’s the time for fresh starts and optimism. Good intentions and renewed beauty. And with the awakening of a new year comes a very exciting time at Westervin: awards season! I hope you’re as excited as I am to jump headfirst into more red carpet fashion and visual arts pairings! Because the fun. . . begins. . . NOW!

Universe Within by Shannon Rankin; Melissa McCarthy at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Universe Within by Shannon Rankin; Melissa McCarthy at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

Last night brought us the first major awards show of the season with the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards. I have to be honest with you, though. I really struggled this time. Not only was I a little rusty, but I felt, at least at first, that last night’s red carpet looks were a little blah. Come on, celebrities! Where were you?!

Abstract Composition VIII by Jesus Perea; Kristen Bell at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Abstract Composition VIII by Jesús Perea; Kristen Bell at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

But after a cocktail from my trusty husband/live-in bartender and an embarrassing amount of time spent searching (the internet, my soul, the liquor cabinet), I found a few gems I could work with. From sweet and feminine to fierce and modern, the styles I picked for this set of pairings won me over in the end. For their fine art counterparts, I looked to some of my favorite artists (you may recognize Shannon Rankin, Jesús Perea, and Elise Mahan from previous pairings) for colors that complimented, compositions that mimicked, and, hopefully, a balance that made the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Exotic Matter 2 - Cube Extracted by Zachary Dean Norman; Anthony Anderson at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Exotic Matter 2 – Cube Extracted by Zachary Dean Norman; Anthony Anderson at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

By the time I finished this set, I had realized a few things:

  1. I am the slowest blogger in the world. This post took me a full work day to create. I need to get faster at these pairings. . .
  2. My new motto: Pair drunk, edit sober. (See what I did there?)
  3. Fashion is fun and art is meaningful. I think the reverse is also true.
  4. I sure hope our readers like seeing these “Who Are You Pairing?” posts as much as I like making them.

Sea Glass Connections by Louise van Terheijden; Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Sea Glass Connections by Louise van Terheijden; Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

For future installments, I’m looking forward to drinking more fancy cocktails (maybe a little slower, next time), getting faster, discovering new artists, and practicing this very specific and satisfying creative skill — the art of the pairing. Look out for my next posts, including the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards, BAFTA Film Awards, and Academy Awards!

Throw 5031 by Tealia Ellis Ritter; Sarah Hyland at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Throw 5031 by Tealia Ellis Ritter; Sarah Hyland at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

Secret Universe 03 by Elise Mahan; Jillian Rose Reed at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Secret Universe 03 by Elise Mahan; Jillian Rose Reed at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

Title Unknown by Anja Zaharanski; Kelly McCreary at the 41st Annual People's Choice Awards Red Carpet

Image above, left to right: Title Unknown by Anja Zaharanski; Kelly McCreary at the 41st Annual People’s Choice Awards Red Carpet

Here’s a reader poll, just for funsies! Let me know which pair you like best.

Swig & Swill

NYE Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - perfect for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve presents the perfect opportunity to break out a little sparkling wine and create some festive cocktails. The folks at Serious Eats had the right idea and created a pretty tasty looking roundup of sparkly cocktails. Here at the Westervin’s, we decided to take their Sparkling Bourbon Pear cocktail and bump up the winter (it’s not that cold down here in Arkansas, so we need something to remind us it’s winter, right?) with some cranberries. Despite the maple syrup, which is added to the purée, this isn’t an overly sweet cocktail. The lemon and cranberry really give it a nice tang, which along with the champagne makes for an easy drinking sipper.

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - Westervin

 

A bubbly punch cocktail for New Year's Eve: The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler from Westervin

ingredients for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - a perfect NYE cocktail

For the Purée:

  • 2 bartlett pears, cored and sliced into eighths
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice, from two lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Large handful of cranberries
  • 1 tsp clementine zest
  • 1/2 tsp grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

For the Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer:

  • 1 cup roasted pear puree
  • 2 cups WL Weller Special, or Bourbon of your choice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

To Serve:

  • 2oz Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer
  • Ice
  • Sparkling wine
  • Cranberries and ground clove to garnish

roasted pears for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail from Westerivn

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Arrange sliced pears on parchment lined baking sheet.

Combine cranberries, 1oz water, citrus zest, and ginger in a small ramekin.

Place pears and cranberries in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are a bit caramelized.

Allow to cool and then place in blender with 2.5oz of lemon juice and a dash of ground cloves. Purée well.

Combine 1 cup of purée with 2 cups of bourbon and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. This is your mixer.

To create your cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice, add 2oz of your mixer, and fill with champagne. Garnish with cranberries and ground cloves.

Adapted from Serious Eats

The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail - Westervin

A Pretty Pair

Pine(apple) Tree

Holiday Card by Julie Van Wezemael; Pineapple II Emulsion Lift Print by Liz Garnett

Holiday Card by Julie Van Wezemael }  { Pineapple II Emulsion Lift Print by Liz Garnett }

Whether your holidays are spent around a sparkling pine tree or near a fire, filled with presents from loved ones or surrounded by the presence of loved ones, in a white winterland or on a warm and sunny day, we hope you have a wonderful day. Happy holidays, from our family to yours!