Archives For March 2013

The Bright Side

March 25, 2013 — 21 Comments

Vintage pleats and a boucle jacket // We So Thrifty

Vintage pleats and a boucle jacket // We So Thrifty

I don’t even check the weather anymore. I just assume spring is never coming and it will be cold and miserable forever. I’m starting to suspect that this eternal winter is actually an elaborate promotional ploy by HBO to get us all super pumped for the premiere of Game of Thrones. WE GET IT, HBO. WINTER IS SCARY.

…In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m feeling a little exhausted by winter. We’ve just had enough here in Canada. We’re over snow, we’re over wind chill, and we’re over our winter wardrobes. My friend Leanne also introduced me to the term “winter uglies” last week, and it about sums up what I’m feeling. What are the winter uglies? They are an overall feeling of “ugh”, resulting from the culmination of several factors:

1) Skin so pale, it’s nearly translucent.
2) Skin so dry, it’s cracked beyond rescue by even the most intense moisturizer.
3) Boots so salt-stained, they look like maps. Salty maps.
4) Sweaters so worn, they’re pilling and saggy.
5) Basically, it all sucks and everything is the worst.

This particular syndrome arrives mid-February. The uglies can continue well into late March unless treated with sunshine and frequent visits to any sort of patio. Since we’ve been denied any of that up here in the True North Strong and Free, the winter uglies are taking new victims everything day.

Vintage pleats and a boucle jacket // We So Thrifty

Vintage pleats and a boucle jacket // We So Thrifty

But there is hope. I’ve quit hoping for spring, and have instead found relief from the winter uglies under this newly thrifted Olsen Europe boucle jacket. I scored it at the Salvation Army last week for $3.50 (take away the decimal in that price and you get an idea of what these jackets usually retail for). This jacket has allowed me to break out my favourite pink shift from the White Elephant vintage dress sale last spring. If winter were a Dementor, this outfit would be my patronus.

If we were living with the warm, balmy temperatures of March 2012, I never would have bought this jacket, I never would have paired it with this dress, and I never would have worn it with this dickey (I also never would have written “dickey” on my blog, snicker about it, and prove to all of you that I’m an eight year old). This is the bright side to a dark winter.

If winter is intent on hanging around for a while, I have no choice but to slip on my salt-stained boots, and do all I can stave off the uglies for a few more weeks. At least I’ll be in my prettiest pink.

Expecto patronum!

Vintage pleats and a boucle jacket // We So Thrifty

Olsen Jacket: Salvation Army / $3.50
Vintage Dress: Love in the Afternoon via White Elephant / $40
Leather gloves: Danier / $25
Dickey: Cut from an old blouse from Salvation Army / $2




Alright guys. I had a hard time writing this post. Or, rather, I had a hard time not writing this post. There is much to like about my latest head to toe thrift-ensemble. I like that I got this Liz Claiborne 100% silk emerald blouse for $4. I like that I got a chance to wear my silver pleated skirt again. I even like that cheap little $0.99 belt that pulls it all together. I like the colourful wall where Yen and I took these photos. I like the crispy chocolate cookies we had later. But can I write a whole post on crispy chocolate cookies? Well, I probably could, seeing as I wrote a whole post on icecream once, but the world isn’t ready for Cookie: The Sequel.

Truth be told, all I really want to write about is Veronica Mars. Since the Kickstarter/movie news blew up on Twitter last week, I decided it was finally time to hop on that bandwagon, and ride it all the way to the fictional town of Neptune. I’m now ten episodes into season one, and all I want to talk about how GREAT it is: How bad-ass Veronica is. How clever and sharp and sassy she is. How awesome her dad is. How “2004” a Paris Hilton cameo is. How annoying Logan is and how lovable and tortured he’ll someday be. But tying that in to my new green blouse? A bit of a stretch.

I mean, if I were to try to and write some parallels between me and Veronica, I might point out that we’re both blonde, that we both like big cameras, and that we both hang around graffiti-filled walls talking pictures. Sure, she’s talking them for sleuthing purposes, and I’m talking them for a blog, but same diff, really. We also both dressed the same in high school and were big into the Postal Service, but…

…Yep. It’s definitely bit of a stretch. Instead, I’m going to keep this nice and tidy and save my Veronica Mars essay for another day, and maybe another blog. I wore this shirt on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s green like a leprechaun. I like dressing for holidays. Case closed.

I’ll see you creeps after episodes 10-22!



Blouse: Salvation Army | $3.99
Skirt: Talize | $9.99
Necklace: Salvation Army | $3.99
Belt: Bibles For Missions | $0.99

Easy Does It

March 6, 2013 — 19 Comments


Two weeks ago, I decided I needed a new winter coat. Like, “new” new. As in, not from the thrift store (yes, that still happens sometimes). I have suede coats and vintage trenches galore, but I still lacked something 100% suited for Canadian winters at their worst. While I am fully aware winter is on its way out, March can be pretty crummy. So by purchasing a parka now, I’d still get some use out of it, and I’d get it at least 50% off. Because my limbs are about 25% longer than the average person (I guess I’m doing a percentage thing in this post?), I knew I’d have to do a far amount of scoping to find something that works. Not too long into my search, I ended up at the Long Tall Sally website. This store was formerly a Tall Girl, and Tall Girl pretty much got me through high school, because ankle pants just weren’t in style back then.

Guys, I was on that website for hours. HOURS. Days changes to nights. Food expired in my fridge. G.R. R. Martin finished the last two Game of Thrones books. It was that long. While normal people speak of the ease of online shopping, I find it to be one of the more difficult and insane activities human beings have taken to. There are too many options, too many colours, too many sizes, and too many styles. How do you choose between charcoal or slate? Textured or non? Size 8? 10? 12? IT’S TOO HARD.

This overwhelming experience stood in stark contrast to how I usually shop. You know when I found that navy Ralph Lauren blazer? On my lunch break. You know what it costs me? $2. You know what size it is? I have no idea. I just bought it ’cause I liked it. Same story goes for that colourful scarf, and the belt, and the purse. While some people might find the limitations of thrifting frustrating, I find them positively freeing, because there are only three questions I have to ask myself:

1) Do I like it?
2) Does it fit?
3) Does it smell?

And that’s it. So simple!



While I eventually did eventually order a coat off of the Long Tall Sally site, I’m still terribly anxious over its impending arrival. Should I have listened to customer reviewer 104 who said it might fit funny at the hips? Or should I have gotten the one with the down filling, even though reviewer 3762 said the down clumps at the bottom? I chose the coat with toggles, do I like toggles? What IS a toggle, anyway? I thought that was something people did to their emails?

Even after I’ve made my purchase, the options not chosen are still nagging at me. But have I ever had a single regret about the $2 spent on this Ralph Lauren blazer? Nope. Online shopping has opened up a glorious new world of infinite possibilities, and if that thing floats you’re boat, live it up like you’re on a boat. I, on the other hand, would basically drown in the sea of too many choices. Like this! Thus, I think I’ll stick to the thrift stores. 90% of the time, anyway.


Blazer: Salvation Army | $2
Belt: Talize | $0.99
Bag: Salvation Army | $5.99
Boots: Me Shoe | $50 (from $250!)
Photos by the lovely Yen!

A Sweet Story

March 1, 2013 — 2 Comments

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

I’m about to write about one of my favourites projects of ALL time. Ever. This project had everything a designer looks for in a project: The idea was totally fresh, the clients were amazing, and the whole process was delightful from start to finish. Here’s how it all began:

In what seems like years ago, Meg Makins, a friend from university, send me a brief and exciting email. It went something like this: “I’m going to start a mobile snow cone business with my friend. Wanna do the branding!?”. I said “Yes!” (and added a few squeals and exclamation points) and a few months later, I sat down with Meg and Lindsay at Mulberry Coffee in Hamilton to talk about their vision.

I came away from that meeting totally inspired. This wasn’t your average snow-cone business. For one, Meg and Lindsay (while adorable) aren’t just cute for the sake of being cute. Behind their sparkly dispositions, these guys are serious: Serious about quality, about sourcing all their ingredients locally, about making all their syrups from scratch, about representing their city in all its glory.

As visions of snow cones danced in my head, I set to work. My first attempts were still a touch too cute and a little too twee: I chose fonts that were curly and quaint, and it didn’t really match the picture Meg and Lindsay had painted. I eventually landed on a font combination that hit the right balance between sweet and serious, and finalized the palette. Another serious break-through in the design process was to apply a faux-screen printing look to the logo. I used a craft paper texture for this effect. This completely gelled with their “do it by hand” mantra, and as a bonus, it looked hella cool. Here’s a breakdown:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

And here’s how those elements came together in the final logo:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

While I was working on the logo, Meg and Lindsay commissioned their friend and illustrator Andrea Manica to create some original artwork to incorporate into the brand. Andrea is AMAZING and she sketched out portraits, ingredients, and host of other beautiful doodles (you have permission to leave this post for a minute and check out some of her work). Andrea provided oodles of sketches to me, and from there I colourized them, made them vectors, and them and worked them into the Sweet Ice story.

sweet ice andrea

With all these elements in place, designing collateral for Sweet Ice has been a joy. Below is just a taste of some of the work done for them so far: business cards, posters, desktop wallpapers, and fundraiser postcards:

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

I really hope this post have given you a taste (pardon the pun) for what the Sweet Ice girls are all about. If want to find out even more, watch the happiest video of all time, which is also called their commercial. I didn’t make this, but I did watch it 20 times, so that sort of counts, right? 🙂

Thanks again to Meaghan and Lindsay for allowing me to play a small part in bringing these sweet treats to the peeps of Hamilton!

Sweey Ice Snow Cone branding // Julie Van Huizen

Ready for Take-Off

March 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

In addition to the projects I’ve done on a freelance basis, I’ve also spend a great deal of time and energy in the last three years as a graphic designer for Redeemer  University College. I’ve created hundreds of projects for them – concert posters, program brochures, appeal letters, cards, mailers – you name it, I’ve put Redeemer’s logo on it. With so many different projects completed over the years, this won’t be the last RUC project I’ll feature, but it is one of my favourites.

Every year, we in Marketing team get to work on something called a Viewbook. A Viewbook is the primary piece of collateral for any university – it should convince any undecided high school student to apply, and tell them just enough about the various programs  to hook them. University is a huge transition for these students, for for many, it’s the furthest from home they’ve ever been. We at Redeemer wanted to acknowledge the significance of this journey, so I received instructions to make the 2013 Viewbook a Passport for all these undecided students.

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

The trick with this campaign was to not only make the reference obvious, but ensure the piece was both informative and fun. It needed to invoke a level of authenticity, wanderlust, and whimsy – a tricky combination.

Like usual, I spend the first few weeks of design laying out my palette, my fonts, and my textures. The palette and (most of) the fonts needed to stay in line with Redeemer’s already established visual identity, but they needed to be used in a new and fresh way. Here’s the breakdown:

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

Redeemer’s primary colours are a deep Red and Gold, I complimented those with their secondary colours, blue and green. Redeemer’s logo is rendered in Trajan, so I used that font sparingly throughout the document. Their primary body serif is Din, so I introduced Din Condensed to give the document an “Official Passport Offfice” vibe. I then added Marydale, a hand-written typeface, to give the allusion that this document has been filled out and scribbled on. I also selected several textures to give the piece some dimension: The leather texture mimics the texture on an actual Passport cover, the worn-out paper textures convey suggest this Passport has seen some wear and tear. I used wood texture to create interior spreads that looked like a cluttered desk with Passports and travel documents all over it.

From there, I populated the document with all the majors, minors, facts, and figures a prospective student would want to know. I also used several other postage, passport, and travel motifs: The course symbols look like old stamps, the pages are lined with travel markings, and watermarks and scattered throughout the book.

University graphic design // Julie Van Huizen

The end result is a piece that manages to convey all the officiality of a Passport,with the excitement and energy that comes from embarking on a grand journey.

Since the Viewbook always kicks of the campaign year, we’ve since used these motifs for many other Recruitment pieces. It appears on Redeemer’s brochures, posters, and postcards. It tells the students that although they’ve already arrived, they have quite a trip ahead.