As some of you no doubt know, Sarah has been a pretty busy lady. Not only is she heading into finals week in her grad program, but she also just started a big, new job at Lillstreet Art Center! A lesser person probably couldn’t take it, and though Sarah has recently come down with the flu, she’s pushing on through. Needless to say, with all that work, one doesn’t get to indulge in too many diversions. When you do, you’ve got to make it count. This music video counts.
Yesterday was Brian’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Brian! As a result, I reflected, as one so often does on such occasions, on how quickly the past year seemed to fly by. He’s 27 years old? Already? Didn’t he just turn 26…? I guess the year flew by because it really was chock full of fun and fantastic-ness. We just hopped from one milestone to the next.
Please join me, if you will, on a look back at the past year with the Westervins, starting with Brian’s 26th birthday on January 31st, 2012. That joyous celebration saw a cookie cake—Brian’s favorite kind of cake, obviously—as well as a few choice presents and a relaxing break with the Wests outside of the city. We were all so happy that this sweet man was born just 26 years prior.
Soon after, we welcomed one of our dearest and most talented besties, one Mrs. Grace Steinel Jones, as a guest blogger for Westervin. Cooking away in her hot Austin kitchen, Grace whipped up such delicioso creations as the above carrot cake with honey-ginger figs, homemade granola, and some super tacos!
Later in February, I started working with the Lillstreet Art Center. For class credit, I offered my newly acquired marketing skills to Lillstreet to help spread the word about their many amazing services and products for the creatively inclined and curious. In exchange, I got some professional experience, an invitation to a screenprinting workshop, and an opportunity to work with them again on another fun marketing project.
In March, Brian exercised his creative muscles and unveiled a new look for Westervin.com. He’s so talented. Note to self: keep him around.
We celebrated the redesign with a very special giveaway from Newby Treasury. This giveaway had been in the works for a few months, since around the first time I met Sarah Newby. I latched on to that cool lady like white on rice, determined to make her my friend. BTW, it worked.
In April, Brian started working at Columbia College Chicago…one floor above my office! Now, we get to go to work together and get coffee together and eat lunch together and go on walks together and go home together and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!!!!!!
In other tremendously exciting April news, Debbie Carlos started guest blogging for Westervin with her series A Sunday Ritual. I don’t think I need to say much about this, other than: apricot pie, coconut corn fritters, ratatouille, sesame pea-shoot salad, cochinita pibil, and savory bread pudding, and 60-second gooey chocolate mug cake. Oh, and I should probably also say, “OMG! Thank you so much, Debbie! You are sooooooo awesome!!!!”
Also that month, we were invited by BIG THINGS, Kitiya Palaskas, and The Adventure School to participate in the fun DIY-ness of World Party Day. We made some margarita jello shots for the festivities. I think they were appreciated…
As I wrapped up my first year of graduate school last May, we rounded out the semester with our interactive art installation, Sound Collective, which was part of PGA: Please Generate Art, the graduate Manifest project at Columbia. It was a disgusting amount of work coupled with some poor timing (damn you, finals!), but I think it was all worth it for the delirious giggles and slaphappy bonding among the Sound Collective team: Caitlin O’Meara, Laura Bock, me, and (unofficially) Brian.
Brian and I soon recuperated on our Dollymoon. That is, we took our belated honeymoon at Dollywood! Best. Trip. Ever.
When we returned, I began working with Lillstreet again on the Make It video series. I’m a producer, y’all! I’ve shared a few of the completed videos, and there’s a few more still to come…
In June, Brian and I started juicing! The good kind, guys. In an attempt to circumvent my general disinterest in most foods of the vegetable variety, Brian got us a juicer and started sneaking nutrient-rich vegetables into my diet, disguised by the sweet nectar of fruit juices. Let’s face it: everyone knows that vegetables are gross. Also fact: fruit is nature’s candy. So, if you mix fresh fruit juice with a little vegetable juice, like carrot, celery, spinach, etc., you can barely taste it! Since our juicing ways began, I’ve increased my vegetable tolerance and we’ve been drinking several servings of fresh juice every day. As a result, we generally have more energy, my hair and skin feel healthier, and I barely drink soda anymore. I’m serious. The power of juice has broken the hold that sweet, sweet soda had over me. Get juiced!
In other self-improvement news, I built up my crafting repertoire by learning how to screenprint! Laura Bock and I went to a screenprinting party at Lillstreet, wherein we sipped wine, ate fancy snacks, and got our crafty on with the help of instructor and textile artist Nora Renick-Rinehart. If only every month could include such craft parties…
Perhaps the most exciting development in June, however, was being published! Our handmade save-the-dates were featured in the beautiful book Design: Paper. We loved making those little postcards, so we were overjoyed to see them in a book!
In July, I got a lot of Pinterest followers, and we’ve had a lot of fun together since then…
And, in August, I finally caught up to Brian and turned 26 myself. I doubled the fun by joining forces with our local bestie Laura, who turned 24 a few days after my birthday. The fantastic festivities included a potluck brunch party and a trip to Six Flags. Brian also fulfilled one of my lifelong wishes by getting me an edible arrangement, delivered to me at work. All together, it was a dream of a birthday.
That milestone was followed by an even better one in September: our first wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a delicious dinner, a nice walk, and a new set of handmade wedding rings! I gotta say, this marriage stuff is great.
And, to balance out the fun of September, my second year of graduate school began. Fitzgerald and I felt the same way about it: Meh.
But soon, things were looking up again! In October, Brian was commissioned to create the signature cocktail for Poetry‘s centennial celebration. He expertly crafted the bubbly and well-balanced Hippocrene, inspired by a Keats poem. It was written about in the New York Times, guys. Note to self: seriously, keep this fella around.
Soon after, I saw my five minutes of fame as a guest pinner for Etsy, my other love. Ok, famous is a strong word here… but I’ll use it just the same! LOOK AT ME! I’M AN INTERNET CELEBRITY! Would you like my autograph?
In November, to combat the stress of sudden stardom (but mostly that of homework and impending finals), I got into crocheting. REALLY into crocheting. I went a little crazy with hats there….
For Thanksgiving, Brian and I took a roadtrip to Louisiana to visit my family. Highlights included: gramma’s twice-baked potatoes, playing with my little brother, cracking pecans, and stopping in Little Rock along the way for a quick catch-up with my forever-valentine, Megan.
And then it snuck up on us—-Westervin turned three. We’re pretty proud.
Then, in December, we were forced to say a tearful goodbye to our sweet, interesting friends, Ryan Glenn and Sarah Newby. We shared a brunch with these two, gave them a little going away gift, and shooed them on their way to L.A. Expect a visit this summer, guys. Sunshine, here we come!
When we were away for Christmas break, our landlord updated our kitchen. I really feel like the beauty of our new wood floors and clean, white cabinets has changed my life. I actually enjoy being in the kitchen now! And, I’ve even been helping Brian out a little in there with this thing they call “cooking.” It’s not as terrible as it seems! We’ll share some photos soon—-of both the renovation and my delectable (not really) creations.
If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say that the last year was a pretty good one. Here’s to the next!
As you may know, we recently celebrated our very first wedding anniversary! As part of the festivities, we decided to get new wedding bands that, we hope, will kick off a yearly tradition of sitting down together to find some new bling. Seems fun, right? Well, it was also kinda tough. We really wanted some rings that would go together. Not necessarily matching rings or anything like that, but rings that were similar in some way. Eventually we found two that we both liked on their own, but also happened to go together (marriage is about compromise, right?).
We’re not just celebrating Labor Day and having a day off from work today—we’re also celebrating our first anniversary! It’s hard to believe we were married exactly one year ago. This year has flown by!
And you know what? It’s been a great year, and we can’t wait to tackle the next one. But before we do, we wanted to take a quick look back…
at all the balloons,
and bespectacled bulls,
and weird reflections,
and… just kidding …
and side hugs,
and coordinated outfits,
and one happy year.
Would you believe it? We’ve finally made it to the big time! Our name in neon lights! We’ll, more like black ink, but that’s still something quite special, if I do say so myself.
That’s right, our save-the-date cards, which we hand embroidered on vintage postcards, were featured in Public School‘s new fancy-schmancy book Design: Paper, published by Rockport Publishers. It’s a simple title for a simple, yet “seductive collection of alluring paper designs”, in a bold, neon green package.
There they are folks — our save-the-dates in all their famous glory.
Okay, I’m being silly. They’re not super famous. But we are very seriously overjoyed to have our handmade cards, which we made together for our wedding, featured in a book. A real, physical book. I, for one, couldn’t be prouder!
The book is chock full of inspiring designs and beautiful images, like this little jar of Lovely Honey. Talk about cute.
Our save-the-dates are in the Cards & Invitations section, which features some really stellar pieces. If you’re looking for some ideas for your party or wedding, I recommend getting your hands on a copy.
Thanks, Public School, for selecting our little cards for your big, pretty book!
Dearest Lillstreet, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
1. You are one rad art center with so many classes and workshops I want to take!
I love that you offer classes in so many fun art and craft media, like ceramics, jewelry making, textiles, photography, drawing, painting, and more! You make the arts fun and accessible.
2. You’ve got some cool & talented folks under your roof.
I loved working with Jess, your Galley Director, and Julia, your Marketing & Communications Director, this past spring on a marketing case study for class. I got credit for learning about you and applying some of my newly acquired marketing lingo! Every time I walk through your doors, I feel inspired by the great art on display and the creative people who fill your halls.
3. You invited me to one of your new art parties!
You mean I get to screenprint a tote bag, drink wine, eat cupcakes, and converse with other crafters? You’re really making it impossible not to love you.
4. You’re letting me work with you again this summer on a series of DIY videos.
The fun really never stops. I’m so happy that you liked my idea to create video tutorials that bring the art and craft education you offer to a broader online audience. You liked it enough to run with it and to let me coordinate the project! Though we’ve only just begun, I’ve already met some ridiculously talented craftspeople (like cutie pie Katie Mills of Lady Faye Jewelry), have learned a lot about working with those creatives, have pushed myself and my communication skills, and have felt more connected again to the craft community, which I so dearly love. I can’t wait to share the finished videos — featuring projects for jewelry making screenprinting, photography tips, and more — with my readers and so many more DIY hungry people!
On Monday, we’ll be embarking on a belated honeymoon! We’re pretty excited about it. Where are we headed? Well, I’ll get to that in a second. First, you have to know a few things. One: we won’t be making any blog posts next week, so you’ll have to make due without us. Two: we’re planning on doing some great blog posts on our return, which will recap our adventures.
We’re starting our trip by driving down to Nashville, where we’ll be doing some touristy things like visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame, but we’ll also be seeing Jack White at the Ryman Auditorium. After a few days in Nashville, we’ll be heading east to Dollywood! Sarah loves Dolly and rollercoasters, so this is a must. Finally we’ll be breaking up our trip back by stopping in Louisville and hitting up a few Kentucky distilleries on the way. Honeymoon, here we come!
Morning folks! I’m sorry for the radio silence last week. Between finals, Manifest, and working at commencement, I could barley find time for personal hygiene, let alone for blogging. Don’t worry–I DID find time for showering. And on Sunday, I finally found time for a little R&R. So now we’re back! In between catching up on laundry and emails this week, we’ll tell you all about our exciting plans for next week. We’re finally taking our honeymoon, folks! I bet you’ll never guess where we’re going. Check back later in the week to find out!
It’s World Party Day, which means you are probably already partying. If you haven’t started yet, don’t worry! You still have some time. Maybe, you just haven’t been inspired by the occasion. Maybe our margarita jelllo shots aren’t your idea of a good time. Don’t fret. We’ve got plenty more party ideas for you.
Or follow Debbie Carlos and Lilian Martinez’s lead and make your own Piñata.
So many options and even more World Party Day tutorials for you to check out.
Sarah and I really enjoyed coming up with our party tutorial, and we hope you get to enjoy it. It was an honor to be invited to participate in the fun, so we want to send a big thanks to BIG THINGS, Kitiya Palaskas, and The Adventure School!
And even if you aren’t able to catch the party fever today, make sure you check out all the great tutorials and ideas. You’ll probably want to hold on to a few for your next shindig.
Nothing says “party” like jello shots, right? Well, maybe that’s more “college party.” Let’s try again. Nothing says “party” like a crafted gelatin preparation with homemade bitters and infused rye, right? Well, maybe that’s more of a “bourgeois hipster party with artisinal pickles and such.”
While both of these can be great, wouldn’t it be even better if we could combine them? Here’s our proposal: top shelf margarita in a jello shot. No preflavored jello, we’re going to be squeezing some limes ourselves. This gelatin will be equally at home in the casual cofines of college or amongst the disposable income set.
Following the wisdom Gary Reagan’s Joy of Mixology (and if you haven’t been following Gary, I suggest you do) we learn that alcohol + gelatin has been around since at least the mid-1800s, and you can make just about any old-timey cocktail or punch into gelatin if you are careful to adjust the levels of citrus, sugar, and water. Citrus becomes amplified, so it’s a good idea to cut it and/or add some extra sugar. If you are planning on using a cocktail that would have been shaken or stirred over ice, you’ll need to compensate for the water. Reagan suggests calculating the total number of ounces of liquid in a cocktail and using as much extra water as a third of that number. If you’re trying something new, I’d suggest starting with a small batch. You’ll probably have to make a few.
Not interested in creating endless batches of subpar gelatin. Don’t worry. We’ve got a top-shelf margarita recipe right here:
1oz fresh lime juice
1oz simple syrup
1 package unflavored gelatin (1/4 oz)
3oz white tequila
2oz triple sec
food coloring (you’ll probably want some excitement, right?)
Place the lime juice, simple syrup, and water in a small glass mesuring cup, and add the gelatin. Allow this to sit for one minute, then microwave the mixture on high for thirty seconds. Stir thoroughly to make sure that all the gelatin has dissolved, then add the tequila, triple sec, and food coloring. Stir thoroughly again and pour the mixture into a mold. Refrigerate for at least one hour or, preferably, overnight.
To make the snazzy lemon peel jello shots, you’ll need a handful of large lemons. We had three total, but you might use more for larger parties. Start by cutting the lemons in half, then scraping out the inside, trying to remove as much pith as pothible. Next, we placed each of the empty halves upright on a cookie sheet and filled them with the liquid jello/drink mixture. You may want to use pieces of crumpled tinfoil as supports to keep the lemon halves upright.Then refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
After the jello has… well… jello-ed, slice the halves into thirds. And bam! You’ve got lemon slice jello shots! These margarita slices are especially tasty sprinkled with a bit of sugar.