Artist I Heart

Bryton Beasley

Now for something a little different, I’m sharing some work from a very young artist that I love: my little brother Bryton. He was so excited to show me his drawings, knowing that I too loved to draw and color when I was his age. He was also adamant that I put his work on my blog. How could I refuse? Just look at all that color! I hope this piece brightens your day.

Colorful Crayon Artwork

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Faire Play

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013

You’re not going to believe this. I just realized that I never shared my pictures from last year’s Renegade Craft Fair! For shame! As per usual, Brian and I had a great time perusing the impressive wares this past September at Chicago’s premier craft fair, and the booths certainly weren’t short on creative inspiration for me. I made sure to check out nearly every booth (a feat, let me tell you), and I snapped some pics of my favorites. After editing the pictures and putting this blog post together the following week, I promptly forgot to publish it. Gimme a break, though—it was a really busy time for me. But better late than never, right? I still wanna share all this great handmade work!

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Elizabeth Suzann dyed shirts

{ beautifully hand-painted silk shirts from Elizabeth Suzann }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Elizabeth Suzann dyed scraves

{ Elizabeth Suzann }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Dolan Geiman portraits

{ impressively large-scale, collage portraits and mixed media sculptures by Dolan Geiman }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Dolan Geiman art

{ Dolan Geiman }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Humperdinck Haberdashery hats

{ hats, hats, hats! from Humperdinck Haberdashery }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Naked Goat Farm jams

{ We got some DELISH bourbon peach jam from Naked Goat Farm after enjoying their free samples. }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Manymade wall art

 { I liked this cool booth filled with geometric animal portraits on wood. The business card I got said manymade.com, but sadly, the site doesn’t seem to exist anymore… }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Manymade art

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Adrienne Vita illustrated cards

{ colorful animal illustrations and printed gifts by Adrienne Vita }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Adrienne Vita pillows and prints

Adrienne Vita }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Caroline Borucki clothing

{ darling dresses made from unique fabrics by Caroline Borucki }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Susan Eastman textiles

{ Susan Eastman‘s display of hand-dyed scarves was perfect! }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Lisa Swerling glass cathedrals

{ Lisa Swerling’s Glass Cathedrals, delightful shadowbox sculptures }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Milled Home Goods Co

{ beautifully simple (and simply beautiful) wooden housewares and furniture from Milled }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Milled handmade furniture

{ Milled }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Urban Revisions glass vases

{ The highlight? Finally meeting the charming, talented Arlie Trowbridge of Urban Revisions and seeing her gorgeous glass jewelry and vases in person. Joyous! }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Urban Revisions glass jewelry

{ Urban Revisions }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Urban Revisions handmade clothing

{ Urban Revisions }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Moss for Meditation

{ serene moss sculptures from Moss for Meditation }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Moss for Meditation

{ Moss for Meditation }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Peg and Awl

{ special rustic treasures from Peg and Awl }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Michelle Starbuck tent decorations

{ Of course we stopped by Michelle Starbuck’s festive booth and admired her classy jewels! }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Michelle Starbuck Designs

{ Michelle Starbuck }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Janelle Gramling necklaces

{ And I got a crazy/cool necklace from Janelle Gramling. }

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago 2013: Janelle Gramling

{ Janelle Gramling }

Fine Fixin's

Chilaquiles Verdes

Chilaquiles in Bowl

Sarah has recently fallen in love with chilaquiles. Here’s a Chilaquiles Verdes recipe that is our current favorite to make at home. The tang from the limes and tomatillos really makes this dish. As an added bonus, it’s just as good for leftovers (and makes plenty)!

Roasted Tomatillos

 

Chilaquiles Verdes

 

  • 3 pounds tomatillos in the husk
  • 1 large red onion cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 8 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 handful of cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime
  • 1 heaping spoonful of crema or sour cream
  • 1 quart chicken stock (preferably homemade)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup (or more if you like) queso fresco in large crumbles (1/2- to 1-inch pieces), or shredded monterrey jack
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Salt and olive oil, as needed
  1. Lay tomatillos, onions, jalapeños, and garlic on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  2. Place the baking sheet under the broiler, until the veggies are wilted and blistered, about 10 minutes (time will vary based on the heat of your broiler). Remove the veggies and let them cool until you are able to handle them.
  3. Remove the husks from the tomatillos, squeeze the garlic from the cloves, and remove the stem from the jalapeños. Throw the roasted veggies into a blender, along with any juices that accumulated on the baking tray. Add the cilantro leaves, the juice of the lime, and the crema. Purée until the mixture is very smooth. Taste and make any needed adjustments (more salt, acid, etc).
  4. While the veggies are still in the oven, bring the chicken broth to a gentle simmer in a dutch oven. Add the chicken breasts and allow them to simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Move the chicken to a cutting board and use two forks to shred it. Return the chicken and any juices to the pot.
  5. Add the tomatillo purée to the chicken broth, taste for seasoning (note the sauce should be tangy, almost sour, so add another squeeze of lime if necessary), and bring to a simmer. Cover and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.
  6. Cut the tortillas into quarters. If your tortillas are fresh, dry them out in the oven or toaster oven. If they’re stale and dried out, add them right to the pot. Stir the mixture and let simmer for another 10 minutes. The tortillas will cause the sauce to thicken.
  7. Uncover and stir in the queso fresco or sprinkle with the monterrey jack. Cover the pot again, allowing the cheese to melt. Uncover, sprinkle with cotija and cilantro, and serve.
  8. Note: The chilaquiles are just as good — maybe better — the next day. A fried egg on top wouldn’t hurt either!

from Food 52

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A Westervin Wedding, Blog News

Put a Ring on It, Part 2

handmade wedding ring set

You may recall that way back in September we celebrated our second anniversary. However, we forgot to tell you about our rings! Each year we get a new set of rings to celebrate the ever changing married life we lead…and for fun. If you haven’t been following along, be sure to check out our original rings as well as our first anniversary rings.

oxidized silver wedding rings

For our second anniversary Sarah picked out three different rings that go together as a set, two of which are oxidized silver. I have a simple oxidized silver ring that goes along with hers. It’s one big happy ring family!

set of handmade silver wedding bands

Clockwise from Top Left: {Epherielle } { Patrick Irla Jewelry }  { Lady Faye Jewelry }  { ANDYSHOUSE }

 

Who Are You Pairing?

Who Are You Pairing: 2014 Oscars

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Cate Blanchett and Amber Alexander

{ Cate Blanchett }  { Amber Alexander }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Portia de Rossi and Emma Leonard

{ Portia de Rossi }  { Emma Leonard }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Lupita Nyong'o and Erika Podlovics

{ Erika Podlovics }  { Lupita Nyong’o }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Catherine Martin and Sophie Lécuyer

{ Catherine Martin }  { Sophie Lécuyer }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Anna Kendrick and Maria Aparicio Puentes

Anna Kendrick }  { Maria Aparicio Puentes }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Olga Kurylenko and Clare Elsaesser

Olga Kurylenko }  { Clare Elsaesser }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Oscars: Selma Vilhunen, Kirsikka Saari, and Holger Kalberg

Selma Vilhunen, Kirsikka Saari }  { Holger Kalberg }

Craft Contexts

Gramma’s Quilt

I’ve got a crafty project in the works—a quilting project! Now, it’s extra exciting because this project has quite a bit of history. It’s older than my mom! In fact, it’s as old as my great-grandmother!

My grandmother started piecing together this quilt when she was pregnant with my aunt, my mom’s older sister, in 1960. Dang, y’all. That’s over 50 years.

The fabric Gramma collected for the project is at least as old as she is, possibly older in some cases, and belonged to my great-grandmother, who died when my grandmother was just a teenager. Gramma saved some of her mother’s dresses, and rather than recycling them into clothing for her two younger sisters, who she helped raise after their mother passed away, she eventually cut them into the little boy shapes for this quilt project.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #1

Like, wow. Just look at that beautiful fabric! I absolutely love the vintage patterns, and it’s amazing that the colors are still so vibrant. But, what I love most about these pieces of material is that they were once beautiful dresses that belonged to my beautiful great-grandmother, a woman who had a far different and much harder life than me, and the fabric traveled through four generations of women to finally rest in my crafty hands. That’s a pretty rich history, if you ask me.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #1

When Gramma started the project, she intended to make a quilt for her daughter-to-be, but, as you can see, she never quite finished. As her family grew, the project shifted to incorporate a quilted gift for each new child and, eventually, each new grandchild. When Gramma last worked on it, she had arranged for each of her three children (my aunt, mom, and uncle) to have a baby blanket and for each of her three grandchildren (my older brother, myself, and younger cousin) to receive a small pillow. However, the last time she worked on this project, my younger brother (now nine years old) hadn’t been born yet!

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #2

So, when Gramma handed this project over to me this past Christmas, we decided to rework it so that each of her three children and each of her four grandchildren would receive a 6-piece panel. Fair and square. We also decided that most of the little “boys” she’d created would need to be sewn onto new backing fabric. Some of the white cotton was so old it had yellowed quite dramatically, as you can see from the photos.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #3

After Brian and I got home from Christmas, I immediately got to work reorganizing the panels, cutting some pieces apart and matching the various colors and patterns as best I could. I ended up with what I think are some pretty lovely, complimentary panels. I also bought some new white cotton material for the pieces, which you’ll see later as I document my progress.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #3

I am so excited about and grateful for being able to complete these quilted gifts for Gramma. I get to be part of a creative project that spans four generations of women in my family, and it gives me a real and immediate reason to get back into sewing AND learn to quilt, something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS. Also, this project is imbued with even more meaning because the finished projects will be special gifts for my family.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #3

I am also extra super grateful for the new sewing machine I got this year for Christmas, which was purchased with help from a very generous gift from Brian’s grandmother—thanks a million, Grandma Jane! Without this fancy new machine, I definitely wouldn’t be able to finish this project. My old sewing machine—my little Brother, which was a gift from my mom and grandmother over a decade ago (!)—sewed his last stitch a few years ago and has been resting in peace in our garage. Poor little brother. He has been missed.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #5

But, despite all of the awesomeness of this project and my fantastic new little Brother, I still haven’t found the courage to jump right in. Hard to admit, but true.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #6

Now, why haven’t I already whipped this project into shape, you ask? Maybe it’s cursed! Maybe it will never be finished, destined to grow and change as the women in my family grow and change, being passed down from generation to generation until the end of time!

Ok, no, that’s not it. The truth is I’m pretty intimidated.

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #7

It’s been so long since I’ve used a sewing machine, let alone finished a sewing project, that my fingers have forgotten a thing or two about the craft. Then, put learning to use a new sewing machine—a computerized one, no less!—into the mix, and the task sometimes seems a bit daunting. Additionally, juggling my various school/housework/craft business responsibilities has been another barrier, giving me too many excuses why I shouldn’t start this project and, instead, finish the million other projects I have floating around… What’s a girl to do?!

Westervin: Gramma's Quilt Panel #7

Okay, I’m done whining about it. I’m actually hopeful this post and the process of documenting my progress will help motivate me to keep chugging along. Please stick around to see how it turns out!

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Swig & Swill

The Coconaut

Westervin: The Coconaut

 

Sometimes, when winter feels relentless, you just need a tropical drink. Here’s our current favorite tiki cocktail. It’s really easy to make as long as you have a blender.

The Coconaut

8oz Coconut Cream

7oz Jamaican rum (we used Appleton)

2oz of fresh lime juice

Add all of that to a blender with ice, blend, and serve. It makes quite a bit, so we usually halve the recipe for two drinks.

 

In no time, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical isle. Also, check out that awesome coconut mug that Sarah got me for Christmas. If you’d like one of your own, have a look at retroplanet.com.

Blog News, Westervin Shop

Some Thoughts on Crafting a Business and a Westervin Shop Update

Boy howdy have I been busy lately! You’ve probably heard the news by now: I’ve decided to start a career as a maker. In case, you haven’t noticed, however, I’ve opened the Westervin shop, with a yacht-load of help from Brian. I’m in love, ya’ll. I’m in love with being a maker.

Until now, I haven’t shared much insight into my recent leap into self-employment. If you’re interested, I’m ready to share a little about my motivations, aspirations, and expectations, as well as an update on how the shop has been progressing over the last two months.

New Gold Scissors!

{ My new scissors! Sarah West Ervin on Instagram }

Many of our readers might think of me as a blogger first and foremost. Brian and I have been writing here for over four years now, during which time I’ve mainly focused on finishing graduate school while working full-time in a couple different administrative-type jobs. This left little time for crafting, so instead, I filled this blog with the art- and craft-works of others, which is fun but requires less of an investment.

For many years before Westervin (the blog), however, I would have considered myself mainly a craftsperson. In high school, I didn’t have a regular job. Instead, I made extra cash making clothing, jewelry, and purses and selling them to my classmates. Then in college, I started an online shop—again, with tons-o-help from Brian—selling vintage clothing as well as fine art and crafts, made by myself and other students and local craftspeople. It was pretty successful, too! I even placed 2nd in our school’s business plan competition and got a little interview in the school newspaper (thanks to Rosemary!). But then Brian and I moved to Chicago after graduation, and our little shop fizzled out. It was too difficult to maintain here in the city, without all the free resources we had on campus (free models!) and the lower costs of doing business in Arkansas (MUCH cheaper vintage there). So we put the business aside and decided to focus on getting “real jobs.” Sadly, I also slowly stopped all the creative activities that I felt defined me: sewing, knitting, drawing, photography, making jewelry.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover's Red

{ Crocheted Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover’s Red }

And then one day, not but a few months ago, I had something of an epiphany while sitting quietly by myself at the hair salon, waiting for my color to set, with no phone or magazine to distract me. That epiphany, as you’ve probably guess by now, was realizing what I really want out of my professional life. I need to make things. I need to be creative, I prefer to work for myself, and I have a particular set of skills and experiences—in both art and business—that will help me become a successful full-time maker. It seems obvious now, but it took a few years to accept this idea as a truly viable career path and let go of the stability and comfortable routine of regular, full-time employment. Finally accepting it has been so freeing! I no longer feel like I’m on the outside looking in when blogging about the handmade works of others. I’m also looking forward to handmade exchanges with other makers!

So within a month of my epiphany, I was working at home, refining my crochet skills, and crafting up a line of hats for my debut launch of the Westervin shop.

My first month after opening the Westervin shop was a whirlwind. The timing—just a few weeks before Christmas—couldn’t have been better. I celebrated my first order within a few days, and the sales kept steadily rolling in over the next few weeks. Some customers bought more than one hat, because they seem to make great gifts! And all the amazing press & promotions I received that first month was just a dream! I was featured in the Dallas morning news, and my hats were liked, purchased, and shared by several Etsy admin. And more than a few hats were featured on the Etsy trending pages. Oh my lucky stars! I had to pinch myself.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloth Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream }

But then Christmas came and went and business slowed down. My inventory depleted more quickly than I had anticipated, more quickly than I could recover from, so my shop looked a little dismal for a while. Then I was quickly met with the challenges of the creative process. I struggled for weeks, trying to make new and different pieces, but nothing seemed good enough. The highs of my early success were later balanced by blinding frustration when my creative skills kept falling short of my aesthetic standards. This is something I’m sure many people can relate to.

I also struggled with the inevitable uncertainty and risk that comes from starting any business, let alone a creative one. I know my current business model lacks the potential for long-term sustainability. Different ideas for diversifying my revenue streams (business school, much?) have been percolating in the back of my mind, but I keep searching for a unifying thread to make all my ventures consistent.

All of this is made even more complicated by the sudden life change. It’s not just my daily routine that’s completely shifted but also my identity and goals for the future. I’ve gone from full-time employee and part-time graduate student to maker/business owner/housewife/grad student/blogger. And then there’s the guilt! The guilt of making a huge personal decision that has huge effects on someone else’s life—my husband’s—is a difficult thing to rectify, regardless of how completely supportive and encouraging he is. Actually, his selflessness only makes me feel worse! Geez. I’m terrible at juggling. I still haven’t found the right balance.

Oh, and one other thing. A note to all you hard working, organized, perfectionists out there. You may think that you could maintain your internal motivation and detailed scheduling system if you were to suddenly find yourself working from home or for yourself. I certainly did. But trust me—when you no longer have an office outside your house to go to, when you don’t have a boss near you, when you don’t absolutely NEED to wear pants… You will find yourself tested to your limits. And you might be unpleasantly surprised by the results.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink }

In the last few days, however, I’ve started to find a little more peace, a little more structure amid the madness. I’ve added a few new items, which you see here, to the shop. My skills are improving, and I’m enjoying the variety in my work. I think my inventory is a little more well-rounded, but I’m still focusing only on crochet for now. I still have a few hats for sale, though I’ve sold almost all the ones from my first batch!

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Stone Necklace in Teal

{ Crocheted Charcoal Gray Stone Necklace in Teal }

Though I still struggle with all the uncertainty and frustration of starting something new, I know that I’ve made the right decision for both myself and my family. If I never tried, than I’d always regret it. And boy am I so much happier now! I feel like myself again–optimistic, creative, independent. I’ve got a big, beautiful vision for the future, so I hope you’ll stick around to watch or even be a part of the journey! In the short-term, Brian and I will be making some updates to the blog, making it and the shop more cohesive in look and content. I think you’ll appreciate the coming changes…

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam }

Oh, and one final note. I’ve received a bit of feedback lately that’s been incredibly reinforcing. The positive reception from my friends, family, readers, and new customers has been overwhelming. Thank you to the moon and back! It’s an addictive high when someone else loves what you create.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloths in Oyster, Cream, and Navy

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Oyster, Cream, and Navy }

I’m so grateful that I’m able to make things with my hands, but the creative process is made a thousand times more rewarding when my creations are loved by others. Here’s a message from a recent satisfied customer:

“Sarah, the hat arrived today, and I wanted to tell you that, “YOU MADE MY HEAD SO HAPPY’.” 99% of the time I love what I buy on Etsy, and 1% of the time I am OUT OF MY MIND WILDLY IN LOVE WITH WHAT SOMEONE MADE FOR ME ON ETSY. The hat is in that 1% spot. I knew it would look nice–I never imagined the texture and colors would surprise and please all my senses in such a big, beautiful way. Thank you so much. You may now consider me a regular customer. Perfectly sweet in the way a woman of any age can feel fun all over!!!” — Carol

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom

{ Crocheted Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom }

Wow. Can we talk about that quote for a minute? So many things! Joyful and sweet and genuine and a little quirky! Now, I know I have a few Westervin readers of the creative variety—craftsters and makers and Etsy shop owners… maybe even a few who are hoping to start selling their work. Tell me what you’re up to! I’d love to know where your creative adventures have taken you, and any advice you can offer this newby maker would be much appreciated.

Who Are You Pairing?

Who Are You Pairing: 2014 Grammy Awards

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Grammy Awards: Foxes and Jaime Derringer

{ Foxes }  { Jaime Derringer }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Grammy Awards: Zendaya Coleman and Kiki Smith

{ Zendaya Coleman }  { Kiki Smith }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Grammy Awards: Ashanti and Katy Horan

{ Ashanti }  { Katy Horan }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Grammy Awards: Sara Bareilles and Elise Wehle

{ Sara Bareilles }  { Elise Wehle }

Who Are You Pairing? 2014 Grammy Awards: Natasha Bedingfield and Valerie Hammond

{ Natasha Bedingfield }  { Valerie Hammond }