Blog News

Westervin Turns 5!

a slice of homemade bundt cake to celebrate the Westervin blog's 5th birthday

You may not know this, but Westervin has been rocking the blog for 5 years! Yep, earlier this month marked the 5th straight year that we, Sarah and Brian, have been sharing our favorite recipes, tidbits from our lives, and all the beautiful art and handicraft that we love. Heck, we’ve been blogging longer than we’ve been married. Before we were officially engaged even!

In the grand scheme of our lives, 5 years is a small amount of time, yet between December 2009 (the official launch of this here web-log) and today, we’ve shared a seemingly infinite number of moments, big and small, of excitement and inspiration, of frustration and failures, and of accomplishment and growth. Though at times we’ve felt like we’ve outgrown our blog or we’ve put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be constantly publishing, worrying about being original and interesting, we’re ultimately so very grateful to have had this platform. It’s given us an outlet for our respective interests and talents through which we’ve connected with countless talented folk and new friends. And now, we have a shared record of our time together. Through changing jobs, educational accomplishments, and new cities, we can look back to remember all the moments we’re most proud, if not also all the strange things we used to be into… Tastes are not timeless, apparently. At least, that’s one thing we’ve learned about ourselves.

Yes, time has certainly flown by. We thought we’d take a look through the past five years and pick out a few of our favorite and most popular posts. Journey back with us, won’t you?

2009

{ Untitled photograph by Sophia of "Five Words in Orange Neon" by Joseph Kosuth; "Dark land, pink cloud" by Louise Balaam

Image above from Daily Pretties: Neon Clouds, posted Dec. 28, 2009, featuring untitled photograph by Sophia of Five Words in Orange Neon by Joseph Kosuth & Dark land, pink cloud by Louise Balaam

Though we only officially blogged for one month in 2009, that year saw the beginning of many of our favorite blog categories, including one that Sarah’s stuck with since the very first week: A Pretty Pair (formerly Daily Pretties). Can we call this her signature category? Over the years she’s perfected the art of pairing, searching for two works — whether photography, painting, illustration, or other — from two unrelated artists that speak the same visual language. In the words of Stacey and Clinton, it doesn’t match, it goes.

Also, through the magic of the pretty pair, we announced our engagement, way back on December 29, 2009, with this post titled Some Special News. It’s like… we are a pretty pair! Ya know?

2010

Sailor Necklace from the Vamoose

Image above from Giveaway: Sailor Necklace from The Vamoose, posted April 19, 2010

Twenty-ten was the year of the giveaway. In that year, we had 14 giveaways! That’s more giveaways than months! Each one featured something beautiful, usually handmade, generously gifted by someone talented and kind. A few shout-outs to our most memorable sweepstakes:

  • The first: Shannon Rankin and Justin Richel gave away a stellar print from their collaborative project Intersect.
  • The most popular: Kathryn Blackmore gave away a Sailor Knot Necklace from her romantic jewelry line The Vamoose, which still offers gorgeous handmade pieces.
  • Our favorite: Lorena Marañon offered one of her wildly popular embroidered necklaces to try to help us win a dream wedding sweepstakes. Sadly, we didn’t win, but we still had a dream wedding! Lorena’s now whipping up painfully stunning textiles-based jewelry, housewares, and art pieces.
  • The one that lead to our custom wedding rings: Marina Lampropoulou gave a lucky reader a pair of Blue Bird Oval Hoop earrings from her contemporary handmade jewelry line tothemetal. The next year, we had her make our custom arrow wedding bands.
  • The one that lead to the best pen-pal ever: Lisa Bruemmer Drake offered one of her striking lace necklaces, also to help us win the dream wedding sweepstakes. She later became the BEST PEN-PAL EVER!

I could keep going until I’ve listed them all, or if you want, you can just peruse all our past giveaways here. Join our mailing list to be notified when we have another one!

2011

Westervin's handmade save-the-dates, embroidered on vintage postcards

Image above from A Westervin Wedding: Save the Dates Revealed, posted April 4, 2011

Our second full year of blogging was all about our wedding, from the announcements, planning updates, and DIY projects to the series of posts sharing all the photos and our reflections from, arguably, the most fun day of our lives. Man, what a ride!

See all the posts under A Westervin Wedding, which also includes posts celebrating each of our three anniversaries since. You can even check out all of our wedding pinspiration on Sarah’s Pinterest board A Wedding for Westervin. Truth be told, she still pins wedding-y things. The girl loves weddings.

2012

Margarita Jello Shots in Lemon Wedges - Westervin blog

Image above from World Party Day: Margarita Jello Shots, posted March 29, 2013

In 2012 we were really hitting our stride and created some of our most popular posts. A few of our favorites:

  • Edible booze: We created a margarita jello shot for world party day.  We made way too many of these jello filled booze lemons, but people seemed to like them.
  • Taking care of business: Sarah posted the results of her Who Buys Handmade survey, which still offers a valuable look at the handmade market for makers.
  • Sweet treats: We were lucky enough to have Debbie Carlos, who just can’t stop doing amazing things, guest blog for us and share a recipe for a 60-second cake in a cup, which has become a dessert staple at the Westervin’s. Debbie’s large-scale photo prints and other work can be seen everywhere from Urban Outfitters, J. Crew, and CB2 to Apartment Therapy, Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV, and even an episode of Parenthood.
  • Fancy cocktail post: Brian was hired to create a signature cocktail for Poetry magazine’s centennial celebration. It was called the Hippocrene, and it got a nice writeup on the New York Times Drinks blog.
  • Glitz and glamour: Sarah created a spinoff of the classic pretty pair category, Who are You Pairing, which pairs red carpet looks and some awesome art.

2013

handmade crochet beanie with stripes and pom-pom from Westervin

Image above from Westervin Shop Now Open, posted December 2, 2013

2013 was the start of the Westervin craft movment. Sure, we’d covered craft before (with the Who Buys Handmade survey, and featured handmade wares and independent artisans), but 2013 was the launch of the Westervin shop! Starting her own shop had Sarah thinking even more about craft in general, it’s history and it’s relation to art. A few highlights:

2014

10 Tips For Your First Wholesale Order -- For Makers, From Westervin

Image above from 10 Things I Learned From My First Wholesale Order, Part 1, posted November 19, 2014

While 2013 was the start of the Westervin craft movement, 2014 found us moving away from ruminations on art vs craft and taking a closer look at the nuts and bolts of running a craft business. It’s important to us to share what we learn along the way so that other aspiring crafters can learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, our successes. Highlights include:

It’s been a really fun five years, and we hope that in 2015 we can come up with some more useful, fun, and entertaining content for all of you. Thanks for spending some time with us!

Blog News

2012: The Highlights

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.

Brian turned 26

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.

Grace Steinel Jones started guest blogging

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!

Sarah West Ervin started working with Lillstreet

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.

Westervin got a makeover

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.

Newby Treasury GIveaway

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.

Brian West got a new Job

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!!!!!!!

Debbie Carlos starts guest blogging

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!!!!”

Celebrated World Party Day

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…

Columbia College Chicago Manifest: Please Generate Art

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.

Westervin Honeymoon

Brian and I soon recuperated on our Dollymoon. That is, we took our belated honeymoon at Dollywood! Best. Trip. Ever.

Sarah West Ervin made some videos for Lillstreet Art Center

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…

Westervin gets juiced

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!

Sarah West Ervin learns to screenprint at Lillstreet Art Center

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…

Westervin was Published in Design: Paper

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!

Sarah West Ervin blows up on Pinterest

In July, I got a lot of Pinterest followers, and we’ve had a lot of fun together since then…

Sarah West Ervin turns 26

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.

First Anniversary

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.

Renegade Craft Fair Chicago

Later than month, we hit up the Renegade Craft Fair. As the highlight of my craftventures for the year, much fun and shopping was had by all in our party, both new friends and old.

Sarah West Ervin went back to school

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.

Brian West is Famous

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.

Sarah West Ervin is Famous

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?

Sarah West Ervin went crochet crazy

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….

Going to Louisiana

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.

Westervin turned 3

And then it snuck up on us—-Westervin turned three. We’re pretty proud.

Goodbye to Sarah Newby and Ryan Glenn

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!

We got a new kitchen

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.

Rang in the New Year

And finally, Brian and I rang in 2013 with our sassy frands, Laura Bock and Jonathan Thomason. Never underestimate the enjoyableness of pie, boardgames, and an all-night slumber party.

If you twisted my arm, I’d have to say that the last year was a pretty good one. Here’s to the next!