Westervin Wishlist

30 Gift Ideas for the Classy, Barbecuing Boozehound (or things you can get Brian for Christmas)

Westervin Wishlist: 30 Gift Ideas for the Classy Guy

While for the Westervins, Christmastime is mostly about taking some time off to spend with family and watching our favorite Christmas movies (or at least my favorite Christmas movie), we somehow also find time for presents. So just like Sarah did yesterday, I’ve rounded up some nifty items and wrapped them up in a handy gift guide for you. Don’t feel the need to get me everything on this list — I don’t need #allthepresents. But some of this stuff is really cool, and you may know someone who still needs a gift. Heck, maybe you need a gift. Fair warning though, many of these items are limited in quantity or handmade, so get them while they’re hot!

Image above, clockwise from top left: Tyvek Billfold $24,  Snuggle Penguin Card $4.50, Y’all Sweatshirt $50, THICK Paraben- and Sulfate-Free Shampoo $25, Anonymous Ism Socks $28, Coconut Oil Soft Shaving Cream £16.00, Fireplace Sculpture by Layet Johnson $1,800, Natural Avocado Soap $6.50, Wood Handle Umbrella $108, Beard Oil Trio $36

Westervin Wishlist: 30 Gift Ideas for the Classy Boozehound

Image above, clockwise from top left: Skillshare Premium Membership $96 (so I can take this logo design class and more), Set of Moscow Mule Mugs $14.95/ea., 12 Tables 2015 Calendar $20, Americana Postcard Set $30 for 46, Set of Julep Cups $26.95/ea., North Carolina Sourwood Honey $22, Dinosaur Drink Stirrers $16.95, Chicken Gourd Ornaments Set $36 for 3, Mint Julep Candle $28, Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold

Westervin Wishlist: 30 Gift Ideas for the Classy Barbecuer

Image above, clockwise from top left: Copper Pig Cookie Cutter $16.95, Chorizo Rioja Dry Cured Salami $10.95, Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey by John Currence, Stand Mixer Flex Edge Beater $22.49, Slap Sauce $6.99, Smoke by Tim Byers, Ginger Canvas Apron $80, Custom Coffee Subscription, Deep Tea Diver Infuser $9.99, Diner Cookie Jar $49.00

Blog News, Featured

World Party Day

Guess what? It’s pretty much Spring, which means PARTY! If you are anything like us, you’ve been waiting to come out of hibernation and get back to work, and what better way to do that than with World Party Day?

World Party Day is April 3, 2012

BIG THINGS, Kitiya Palaskas, and The Adventure School have teamed up for World Party Day on April 3. “Wait, what’s World Party Day. I like parties and all, but what is this thing?” Let us explain. World Party Day is a synchronized day for world-wide partying. That is, we are giving you an excuse to party for one whole day. There are lots of things going on for this celebration, and we’ll even be providing a very special cocktail recipe. I suggest checking out BIG THINGS for all the details, but here are a few of the ways to get excited and involved.

There are so many ways you can participate in WORLD PARTY DAY:
Visual party stimulation Tumblr
Tweet or Instagram your party and plans using #worldpartyday
Celebrate with with one of the ‘official’ parties if you are lucky enough to be in San Francisco or Sydney
Join our 24-hour virtual Google+ Hangout party!

You can even sign up for a free WPD button! If you don’t love free buttons, you might wanna take a long, hard look at your life…

A Westervin Wedding

A Westervin Wedding: Pick Your Poison

West Ervin wedding bar

What’s a wedding without refreshments? Well, I guess it’s still a wedding, but the point is everybody loves a good wedding bar. It took us a while to figure out exactly how we wanted to handle drinks at the wedding, and we’re pretty happy with how it all turned out.

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Fine Fixin's, Swig & Swill

Fine Fixin’s: Apple Pie!

So the other day we shared a simple chess pie recipe with you, but now it’s time to get down to business. Thanksgiving is here, and we need a thanksgiving pie. While pumpkin and sweet potato are certainly excellent choices, my favorite pie for thanksgiving (if not of all-time), is the apple pie. I’ve gone through numerous apple pie recipes, but I’m really liking this one from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking right now. Here I’m going to concentrate on the filling and not the crust as it seems everyone has their favorite crust recipe. However, we will do a write-up with some pictures at some point. We have to make a Christmas pie after all!

Apple Pie!

  • 2 balls of pie dough for the top and bottom (chilled for at least 1 hr)
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 7 medium Granny Smith apples
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Laird’s Bonded apple brandy
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar

Start with a lightly floured work surface. Unwrap one of your dough balls and plop it down on your work surface. Roll the thing out into a 12″ round. Transfer to a pie pan (I like to roll the thing around a rolling pin for easy transport, just make sure it is lightly floured). Carefully work the dough into your pie dish and fold the edges under themselves and crimp however you’d like (I’m not very good at this part, sigh). Wrap the pie pan up and freeze it for at least 2 hours (you can keep it in there for up to three months!).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the cornstarch and brown sugar in a bowl. Peel and core the apples and cut them into little 1/8″ wedges.

Heat the butter over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, stirring occasionally until the butter begins to brown. Once the butter is browned evenly, dump in half of your apple wedges. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are softened.

Add the remaining apples and the cornstarch/sugar mixture. Mix until the sugar has melted, then add vanilla, brandy, and cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes or until the filling is thick and bubbly.

Dust a work surface with flour, Unwrap the second dough ball, and roll it out into a 12″ round.

Pour all of that yummy filling into your frozen pie crust, and top with the second dough round. Trim the dough, leaving about a 1/2″ overhang. Crimp the edges together, brush with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cut a few steam vents into the top crust.

Bake the pie until the filling starts bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 1 hour. Cool the pie on a rack for 1 hour, and serve.

I have to say that I ran into a bit of a crust problem in my first apple pie attempt of the year, but this filling was resilient enough to make it the best apple pie ever!

Note that you will find yourself with a nearly full bottle of Laird’s bonded apple brandy after making this pie, and you may be wondering what on earth you can do with it. Here’s an option:

Pan American Clipper

Adapted from The Gentleman’s Companion, by Charles H. Baker, Jr., 1939

    • 1 1/2 ounces applejack (Baker recommends Calvados; I went with Laird’s bonded)
    • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
    • 1/4 ounce homemade grenadine (to taste, depending on sweetness)
    • 1 dash absinthe

Shake well with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Proceed.

via Cocktail Chronicles

I’ve also experimented with subbing allspice dram for the grenadine, or using a combination. It helps punch up the holiday vibe. Definitely try it if you have some on hand. Also, please use good grenadine, preferably your own!

A Westervin Wedding, Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: The Perfect Lu

Jed, the groomsman, helps wedding-goers Brandon and Alana at the bar. { photo by Sarah Hughes }

{ photo by Soraya Rowley }

Lynne & CC enjoy carefully crafted cocktails { photo by Sarah Hughes }

Layet, Scott & Soraya { photo by Grandma Jane }

Layet, Sarah & Brian { photo by Sarah Hughes }

So we had a pretty great time at our wedding and one of my favorite parts was how much our friends were willing to help out. A prime example was the bar. While Sarah and I procured all of the alcohol and came up with recipes that could be built in a single glass, we hadn’t made all of the garnishes and syrups, or totally thought through the best way to arrange everything. Luckily, our friends (especially Jed and Ben) stepped up in a big way, slicing oranges, juicing limes, and making grenadine. The result was amazing.

The Bar { photo by Soraya Rowley }

CC, Meredith & Jim, Sarah, Matt, and Alana { photo by Grandma Jane }

Here’s another one of the suggested cocktails we had–this one might be my favorite. It ends up looking like ice tea, but don’t be fooled.

The Perfect Lu

start with 1/2 glass of ice
2 dashes angostura bitters
2 dashes celery bitters
1/2 oz. honey syrup
1 oz. dry vermouth
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. bourbon
enjoy with a slice of lemon

Adjusted from the Perfect Louis

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Fine Fixin's

Fine Fixin’s: Top Shelf Margarita Cheesecake

As you’re probably aware, Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. Let’s not kid ourselves here, Cinco de Mayo is really just an excuse for margaritas. If you are a bit tired of the ordinary margarita, or if you are looking to take your margarita enthusiasm even further, we have just the recipe for you. A cheesecake that tastes like a margarita. Yes, it tastes like a margarita, and yes, it’s really good.

Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake

Cornmeal Crust

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt

Margarita Cheesecake

  • 3 (8oz) packages cream cheese
  • 1 C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 C lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • 2Tbsp Cointreau
  • Zest of Half a lime

Margarita Whipped Cream

  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp tequila
  • 2 Tbsp Cointreau


  • 3 limes, sliced soaked in 1 c simple syrup


  • Preheat oven to 350F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9″ spring-form pan.
  • In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour, cornmeal, and salt and mix to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.
  • For the cheesecake: IN a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar and beat 4 to 5 minutes, or until smotth, Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in lime juice, tequila, Cointreau, and lime zest.
  • Spread mixture into the cooled crust and bake 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 1 hour. Transfer to refrigerator and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • For whipped cream: In a mixing bowl, combine cream, confectioners’ sugar, lime juice, tequila, and Cointreau; starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high, beat unti soft peaks form.
  • Let the cheesecake sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Spread the margarita cream on top. Drain the lie slices from the syrup. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt around the edge of the crust and top the cheesecake with limes.

Source: The excellent and fun Booze Cakes

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Blog News

The Best of Westervin 2010

Westervin Wedding Logo

A Friggin’ Awesome  Logo (You’re So Jealous!)

Momma’s back, kiddos! Now that my application to grad school has been submitted, I can focus on what really matters: you, my little babies. Now, you may have noticed by the title of today’s earlier post that change is in the air (in addition to the smell of fresh laundry, since I get MLK day off, but I’m sure you can’t smell that). Our readers’ favorite series Daily Pretties is now called A Pretty Pair. You see, Westervin is a year older, and we’re thinking it’s time to mature a little. Just a little. Don’t worry. I hope you like the new name, but if not… don’t tell me. We’ve also got a few new columns to debut, which guide Westervin’s focus more toward art and fine craft. We’re hoping to improve the content you know and love (don’t deny it) by making it a little more thoughtful, a little more meaningful, a little more inspirational. We hope to create content that celebrates a lighthearted, lovingly handmade life.

But before we move forward, we’d like to take a look back! Below are a couple of our favorite and most popular posts from 2010.

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Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: Cucumber Ice Cubes

cucumber ice cubes recipe

Excuse me, would you like to add some sophistication to that cocktail? Well, why not try some cucumber ice cubes?

Cucumber ice. Simple, sophisticated, refreshing.

If you’re looking for ways to add a little class to your drinks, why not freeze up some cucumber ice cubes? All you need to do is peel a cucumber, chop it up a bit and throw it in a blender along with a liter or so of water. Purée, and freeze in an ice cube tray. Then you’ll be ready to enjoy the perfect gin and tonic. Or, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you might try my variation on the Porch Swing Coctail.

Veranda Tippler

2oz Tanqueray No. 10
1.5oz Pimm’s No. 1
4oz Lemonade (1 part fresh lemon juice, 3/4 part ginger simple syrup, 2 parts water)

Pour all ingredients into a large Collins glass over cucumber ice cubes and top with a splash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with cumber and lemon slices.

Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: Rotterdam Harbor

vintage glasses from Pipe & Pepper; photography by Alex Creswell

{ Set of vintage strawberry glasses from Pipe & Pepper — enter our current giveaway to win a print from Pipe & Pepper Prints }

Here’s a simple variation on the Port Light cocktail that I came up with to satisfy Sarah’s bourbon-hating demands. It’s also a bit easier to put together since you don’t need to blend anything. I have a feeling this is going to be a great cocktail to combat the summer heat. Here I’ve used Death’s Door Gin from Madison, Wisconsin which strays a bit from the typical London Dry style, but any traditional gin (Tanqueray, Bombay, etc.) should work well.

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Swig & Swill

Swig & Swill: Passion Fruit Syrup and the Port Light Cocktail

passionfruit syrup

I am continuing to wish it was summer, so that I can jump on the tiki drink trend. Naturally I was really excited when I saw a recipe for passion fruit syrup. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a passion fruit before, but I was able to track some down at our nearby Whole Foods.

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