Featured, Who Are You Pairing?

Who Are You Pairing: 2013 Golden Globes

Lucy Liu, Michelle Morin

{ Lucy Liu }  { Michelle Morin }

Cody Horn, Russell Leng

{ Cody Horn }  { Russell Leng }

Sienna Miller, Shannon Rankin

{ Sienna Miller }  { Shannon Rankin }

{ Ariel Winter }  { Fanny Rose }

Jessica Chastain, Mimi Jung

{ Jessica Chastain }  { Mimi Jung }

Zosia Mamet, Sarah Santi

{ Zosia Mamet }  { Sarah Santi }

Katia Washington, Jenny Brown

{ Katia Washington }  { Jenny Brown }

Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Juan Chavarria, Jr.

{ Tina Fey & Amy Poehler }  { Juan Chavarria, Jr. }

Faire Play, Featured

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012: New Faves & Quirky Finds

ceramic cups & bowls from Ship & Shape

In addition to the few friends and old favorites we saw at the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago earlier this month, I also happened upon a few new favorite shops. One of my most favoritist new shops is Ship & Shape, which had a very well-curated assortment of handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, ceramics, and other lovely miscellany.

Ship & Shape at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

So many things I wanted!

handmade jewelry and accessories from Ship & Shape

air plants from Alapash at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

The greenery and beautiful displays from Alapash were refreshing to see. Unlike our now sad terrarium, these looked pretty darn robust!

handmade scarfs from Herron Clothier

These scarves from Herron Clothier looked perfect for a classy, geometric fall and winter.

Herron Clothier at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

Just look at that beautiful weaving.

beaded necklaces from Moshi Handmade

Moshi Handmade had approximately one million necklaces I wanted.

handmade purses and pouches by Milkhaus Design

But the award for having so many beautiful things I wanted in my life that I couldn’t decide which one to get goes to….. Milkhaus Design! Can I have it all? Puh-leeeeease.

handmade dishes from The Bocket Store

I loved these hand-painted and re-imagined vintage pieces from The Bocket Store. The beauty was in the detail. And in the name. Bocket. That’s fun to say.

handmade bead & wood necklaces from I Am Home

Feeling nostalgic for the Original Wham-O Superball? Or maybe you just like bright colors and sand inspired patterns? In either case, iamhome makes the necklace for you.

iamhome at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

homemade kitchenwares from Tartella at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

At Tartella, I found some adorably printed napkin sets that were packaged in mason jars. Now that’s a nice touch.

handmade porcelain envelopes from Redraven

I’ve never really considered that I might one day need a handmade porcelain envelope, but these from Redraven were pretty enough to make me consider it.

art by D. C. Ice

These weird old animals in vintage frames from D. C. Ice were a major highlight for me. The stark color palette and elaborate frames really fit these delightful little weirdos.

D. C. Ice at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

That’s one tall drink of rabbit.

handmade cards from Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress

Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress had some of our favorite cards. Brian and I definitely picked up a few for some lucky someones.

handmade beaded jewelry by Sara Cramer

Sara Cramer was one of the friendliest sellers I met, taking a few minutes to explain to me how she made her intricately beaded jewelry. As you can probably imagine, each piece takes quite a bit of time.

Sara Cramer jewelry at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

Nerfect at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2012

A pug with a banana? A gnome with a hot dog? This silly cat face? OK, count me in, Nerfect!

upcycled candles from Reuse First

…Somebody drinks a lot. Namely, those at Reuse First.

crocheted dolls from Morico

OMG fuzzy creatures! Need something silly and fuzzy…. Morico is your new best friend.

temporary tattoos and illustrations from Burrowing Home

It’s probably no secret that I really want a cat tattoo, but I figured I should play it safe for a little while and try out a temporary one first. Luckily, Burrowing Home came to the rescue. Now I just need a special occasion to try it out! Like, maybe… a Monday?

A Sunday Ritual, Featured

Savory Bread Pudding

Savory Bread Pudding from Debbie Carlos

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you might remember Sarah mentioning that it was her birthday a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like she had a nice half week-long birthday celebration, capping it off with a big potluck birthday brunch! I was lucky enough to be invited, and I thought long and hard about what I might bring. Cooking for a crowd is difficult since everyone has their own preferences. You want to make something that is simple — a comfort dish, a crowd pleaser — but that is also interesting and makes everyone feel like they’re indulging. Its a birthday brunch after all!

After going through several cookbooks and my recipes binder, I finally came upon the perfect thing: a savory bread pudding. Think french toast but in a casserole, and instead of sweet, it’s caramelized onion, crispy bacon, roasted cauliflower, and sharp cheddar. Yeah, you know you want it. Lets do this.

Savory Bread Pudding

Adapted from Serious Eats’ Savory Bread Pudding

1 Tablespoon softened butter
2 Cups milk (whole or 2%)
6 Large eggs
Salt + Pepper
6 Cups or 10 oz of bread, sliced into 1.5 – 2” cubes (I like mine bigger)

1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into ½” pieces
Salt + Pepper
Olive Oil

6 strips thick cut bacon
1 red onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Cup cheese, grated (I used sharp cheddar)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

1. Rub the butter all over the inside of a 9×13” baking dish and place the bread inside.

2. Whisk together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper until well combined and pour over the bread. Set aside to let the bread soak in the milk mixture.

3. Toss cauliflower with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, or until you see edges begin to brown and caramelize.

4. Heat a frying pan and fry the bacon until brown and crispy. Drain the strips on some paper towels until cool enough to handle.

5. Reserve only about 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease in the pan and use that to cook the onions until brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 or 2 minutes longer. Once cauliflower is done roasting, mix into the cooked onion and stir until just combined.

6. Crumble the bacon and the cheese over the soaked bread and mix with a spoon or a pair of tongs.

7. Pour onion mixture over the bread and bacon. Mix until everything is evenly combined. You can sprinkle on a bit more cheese over everything if you want to. I did.

8. Lower heat in the oven to 375 degrees and bake covered in foil for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Editor’s Note: this post is part of the series “A Sunday Ritual” by guest blogger Debbie Carlos.

Featured, Get Juiced

Get Juiced

freshly washed apples and parsnips

OK, it’s time to come clean. Sarah and I aren’t very good at eating vegetables. Despite the CSA box and good intentions, it’s just really hard to get excited about vegetables, unless there is quite a bit of cheese and/or ranch dressing involved. And even then, it can be a stretch. But we know how important it is to eat fruits and vegetables, so it was with that in mind that we decided to take the plunge into juicing. We’re only a few weeks in, but it really has changed things around here. It’s easy, it’s fun, you feel good about yourself, and you probably should! Look at me, I just drank 5 handfuls of spinach. Spinach!

Omega Juicer making apple & parsnip juice

Look at it go! Chewing up those apples and spitting ‘em out.

We had thought about buying a juicer for some time, but we were hesitant to make the investment. Juicers can be pretty pricey. Two things helped sway us. First, we tried some pretty vegetable-y juice at Kramer’s (a health food store near where we work) and discovered that vegetable juice isn’t totally disgusting. Hey, maybe we could start juicing! Second, I happened to read a pretty excellent review/essay on juicing on wirecutter.com, which pointed out a good, mid-priced juicer. This was an immense help as the options out there can be overwhelming, with a large range of prices and juicer types. For a juice novice, it’s pretty hard to make any sense of it.

Omega 8003 Juicer

So we ended up buying the Omega 8003 for around $200. This is a mid-range juicer, but it comes with a 10-year warranty and feels like it’s built to last. It’s basically a big motor with an augur attached to it that crushes whatever you put into it, extracting the juice and expelling all the fibrous bits. It makes short work of any kind of leafy green you give it, but is a little bit hesitant around some fruits and more watery vegetables like cucumbers. Overall, however, we’ve been pretty impressed with it’s performance. It’s also quiter than I was expecting. It’s a slow methodical crushing — not like a blender or some centrifugal juicers. This is ideal, because it will keep nutrients intact and not allow too much oxidzation to occur, allowing your juice to stay fresher longer.

fresh apply & parsnip juice with the leftover fiber

Fresh juice on left, fibrous remains on right.

So thats a bit about what we’ve been up to — getting juiced! Later we’ll share the first juices we’ve been making and how we’re feeling about our investment.

fresh fruit & vegetable juice

Fresh juice! Recipes coming soon…

Blog News, Featured

We’re in a book!!!!

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.

Westervin handmade save-the-date postcards in Design: Paper

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!

Featured, Fine Fixin's

Lasagna Cupcakes!

Westervin's Fine Fixin's: Lasagna Cupcakes

It’s no secret that Sarah loves lasagna. Her devotion is almost Garfield-esque. However, I’ve never made lasagna before (unless we’re counting microwaving frozen lasagna). Making lasagna seems pretty straightforward, but still time-consuming, and for me (a non-lasagna-lover), not much fun. Enter: the lasagna cupcake. These are fun to put together and don’t take very long to bake, which is a bonus in the summer. Plus, they are Sarah approved. But don’t take my word for it…

These will change your life. You will think back to your life before lasagna cupcakes, and you will proclaim, “Dear god! How did we survive?” — Sarah

Westervin's Fine Fixin's: Lasagna Cupcakes

Lasagna Cupcakes

1 cup marinara sauce
3/4 pound ground beef
12 wonton wrappers (we used egg roll wrappers)
8 ounces shredded mozzarella
3 ounces Parmesan cheese
4 ounces Ricotta cheese
(optional) basil for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. Brown beef and season with salt and pepper. Drain.
3. Cut wonton wrappers into circle shapes using a biscuit cutter or using the top of a drinking glass. You can cut several at a time. Note: For a more rustic look, no cutting necessary!
4. Reserve 6 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and 6 tablespoon mozzarella for the top of you cupcakes. Start layering your lasagna cupcakes. Begin with a wonton wrapper and press it into the bottom of each muffin tin. Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, Ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Top with a little meat and marinara sauce. Use around 1-2 teaspoons of all the ingredients depending on your personal preference.
5. Repeat layers ending with marinara sauce. Top with reserved Parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until edges are brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. To remove use a knife to loosen the edges then pop each lasagna out.
7. Garnish with basil and serve.

From Quick Dish

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Blog News, Featured

Lillstreet: A Love Story

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!

Lillstreet Art Center

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.

Opening Reception at the Lillstreet Gallery

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!

Screenprinting party at Lillstreet

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.

Handbuilt clay mug at Lillstreet

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!

A Sunday Ritual, Featured

Corn & Coconut Fritters

Corn & Coconut Fritters

Corn. Coconut. Fritter. I think that is all I have to say.

Actually, I will say a little more. I made this super easy recipe from my favorite cookbook, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen. It comes together in a flash, it will make your kitchen smell like coconut and they are a joy to eat. Little crispy on the outside, tender on the inside cakes dipped into a sweet and spicy sauce. The more exotic ingredients are easily available from the international section of your supermarket. The recipe makes about 7 larger fritters or 20 mini ones. Don’t count on having any left over.

Corn & Coconut Fritters

Corn & Coconut Fritters

adapted from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen

1 cup frozen corn kernels thawed or fresh kernels cut from two ears of corn
¼ cup coconut cream — scooped up from the top of an unshaken can of coconut milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
⅓ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 serrano chili, de-ribbed, de-seeded, cut into tiny pieces (optional)

Dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons sriracha chile sauce or chile garlic sauce
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Place corn kernels in a food processor and pulse 12-15 times. It should look roughly chopped, not pureed.

2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the coconut cream, egg, flour, salt, sugar, and serrano (if using). If you can manage to wait, set aside for 30 minutes. I did not do this.

3. Heat a large pan, dutch oven, or wok with an inch of oil in it. To test if oil is properly heated, drop a tiny bit of the batter into the oil, and if bubbles begin to form around it, the oil is ready. If you have a thermometer, the oil should measure 350 degrees F.

4. If you are making larger fritters, drop by the tablespoonful into the oil. For smaller ones, drop in 2 teaspoon amounts. Do not crowd the pan! Each fritter takes about 3 minutes per side. Drain on a wire rack over a sheet pan or on a plate lined with a paper towel.

5. To make the dipping sauce, mix together the chile sauce, water and sugar.

Editor’s Note: this post is part of the series “A Sunday Ritual” by guest blogger Debbie Carlos.

Featured, Out & About

Dollymoon: Louisville

21 C Hotel in Lousville, Kentucky

We’ve been dragging out our Dollymoon recaps for awhile, but now it’s time for our final look back. After taking in the fine sights, smells, and tastes of Woodford Reserve distillery, we headed further west to Louisville to spend two days dining, relaxing, and exploring the so-called “Austin of Kentucky.”

infinity mirror in 21 C

We decided to stay at the 21c Museum Hotel, which is part art gallery, part hotel located right downtown. It sounds a little strange, but it was definitely cool to be living in a place surrounded by art installations for a few days (like the infinity bulbs in the elevator, pictured above).

21 C Hotel room

Our room was minimalistic and modern with smart and whimsical touches throughout like the rubber ducky in the shower.

exposed brick in a 21 C Hotel room

bird art in Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky

We ate at Proof on Main the first night, which is a fairly fancy restaurant located within 21c. It tends to get pretty good reviews, but we were a bit disappointed. The food just didn’t quite meet our expectations.

Brian West and Sarah Ervin in Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky

bison burger from Proof on Main

Louisville Slugger manufacturing building

Downtown Louisville is also home to the Louisville Slugger factory, which you can peer into from the street. If you are having trouble locating the factory, just look for the really large replica of Babe Ruth’s bat outside!

Louisville Slugger and golden David statues in Kentucky

There was full moon on our walk…

Brian West falls in love with a red penguin from Louisville's 21 C hotel

And Brian met a friendly penguin.

Hillbilly Tea in Louisville, Kentucky

Our final full Kentucky day started out at Hillbilly Tea, which had an incredibly charming aesthetic and some great food and…well, tea. The iced mint green tea was just perfect for the weather.

Louisville's Hillbilly Tea

vegan pancake breakfast from Hillbilly Tea in Louisville, Kentucky

Next up was a stop at Glassworks for a walk-in glassmaking workshop, which turned out to be a major highlight for Sarah. After just a few minutes of instruction, we were on our way to making a little Arkansas shaped magnet and a ring for Sarah. Talk about honeymoon keepsakes!

making glass magnets at Louisville's Glassworks

Glassworks studio in Louisville, Kentucky

The whole process was surprisingly simple and fun.

blue, green, and red glass fragments at Louisville's Glasswords

glass owls

Within the Glassworks building was also the Flame Run gallery filled with colorful glass creations, including the owl bobbleheads above. That’s right–their little owl heads bobbled!

handmade glass ornaments and vases

Flame Run glass studio

We even got to see some glassblowers in action!

glass artwork at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft in Louisville

Next we walked down to the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft to see their current exhibit, 50 Years of Studio Glass. Their were some beautiful glass pieces, and some fun glass pieces, and some downright weird glass pieces.

tacos from Louisville's Taco Punk

All that craft and culture made us hungry, so we headed to Taco Punk in Butchertown for some radically scrumptious tacos and guac.

Taco Punk in Louisville, Kentucky

Scout in Louisville, Kentucky

Then we perused the eclectic shops in the area, including Scout, a super fun home decor & jewelry boutique. Sarah snagged a handmade necklace and a peanut eraser.

interesting housewares at Louisville's Scout

baby limb figurines at Scout in Louisville, Kentucky

Gifthorse in Louisville, Kentucky

We also found some deals and a tired dog at gifthorse.

fashion and accessories at Louisville's Gifthorse

Dot Fox in Louisville, Kentucky

Before calling it a day, we headed up Bardstown Road and stopped in Dot Fox where we got some fun cards and Sarah snagged some snazzy clothes.

fashion and accessories at Louisville's Dot Fox

cool women's fashions at Louisville's Dot Fox

The final stop on our shopping excursion was Why Louisville for some souvenir T-shirts and a few postcards.

Brian West, the strongman, and Sarah Ervin, the bearded lady

shopping in Louisville, Kentucky

We had to head back to the hotel and take a break (and take inventory), before heading out to dinner at the Blind Pig. If you happened to follow our last trip to Louisville, you might remember this was one of our favorites restaurants. It didn’t let us down this time, either.

The Blind Pig in Louisville, Kentucky

Before saying goodbye to the South and heading back North to Chicago, we took a walk to the Ohio river.

The Ohio River

And said hello to the Belle of Louisville. Maybe we’ll take a boat ride next time. We can’t wait to go back…

The Belle of Louisville riverboat

Featured, Out & About

Dollymoon: Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve

I bet you thought we were done talking about our Dollymoon, huh? Well guess again! We had enough fun to fill a million blog recaps!!! But don’t worry–we’ll just boil the rest down to two more posts.

bottles of Woodford Reserve bourbon

After bidding farewell to Gatlinburg and Dollywood, it was on to Louisville. Along the way, we passed through Bourbon/horse country, which meant we had to make at least one quick stop for a distillery tour.

Woodford Reserve building

We chose to stop in Versailles, Kentucky to check out Woodford Reserve because it was pretty easy to get to while still seeming pretty rural.

Woodford Reserve barrels and chocolate bourbon

Overall, Woodford is a pretty small operation, and we got to see most of it. They were fermenting a chocolate rye while we were there, which smelled amazing. I can’t wait to try some…in five or so years when it’s ready.

Woodford Reserve distillery tour

Past the fermentor tanks were the three stills, which are from Scotland.

Woodford Reserve limestone building and bourbon barrel tracks

We saw that after the spirits work their way through the stills, they are barreled and rolled along a track to the aging warehouse.

barrels of Woodford Reserve bourbon

I think the aging warehouse may have been our favorite part. Just upon walking into the warehouse, you’re overwhelmed by the sweet smell of the aging Bourbon. In a good way.

Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels

bottling bourbon at Woodford Reserve distillery

And after checking out the bottling process, we got to sample some Woodford and have a Bourbon Ball. Thanks Woodford!

free chocolate bourbon ball and shot of Woodford Reserve bourbon