Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Basics

A few weeks ago a board member gifted me and my coworkers with these beautiful tree ornaments. He made them himself with a laser cutter. I love the simplicity - not only of the design but of the concepts. Paring it down to the basics, really! Plus, they dress up my jar of branches and make them a bit more festive.

Daddy of the Bride Illustration

From December's Insights Magazine for an article called "Daddy of the Bride."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Re-Tree (my easy refurbishing project!)

Yesterday I underwent my easiest (and quickest) refurbishing project yet. This little christmas tree! I've had this little guy since elementary school, when I made it as a craft at a birthday party (sup Shena!). We glued buttons on and tied little bits of fabric around the branches. The result was cute and endearing, but rather country-crafty, a look I'm not super fond of anymore. So last night I decided to pull it all of and see where I ended up! I originally intended to re-decorate the tree, but honestly...once it was relieved of its tattered decor it just ... worked. I added the star ornament on top, and LOVE my new holiday decoration!

The lesson here? Don't write off those old decorations completely... maybe there's something left there after all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Joel & Christina

This past weekend Joel and Christina celebrated their engagement with some photos near their home at the beautiful Lake Errock. We were joined by their precious daughter Jaima and boxer Juno, whose enthusiasm for visiting the park couldn't be dampened even by the rain! Thanks for inviting me to join in the celebration, I loved getting to know your family and can't wait to continue the party next summer!

A Christmas Favourite

This illustration for Phil Callaway's article in the November issue of Insights will go down as one of my favourites. Danny Brown had a great first Christmas.

I hope you're getting as ready for the holidays as I am! (my work brain has already moved past christmas into 2013, but my home brain is itching to get decorating!)

Monday, November 5, 2012


I'm starting to grow dreams.

I've never been a dreamer. It is much safer to concentrate on the here and now than to hope for something bigger tomorrow. Its easier to be content with what's on my plate when I don't think about what could be on it tomorrow. Its much less frightening to look straight ahead than to look up or down and acknowledge the heights I could be climbing.

safer. easier. less frightening.
boring. stale. irresponsible.

We've been given many gifts, and I don't thing God gave me mine for me to keep clean and dress up on holidays. So, I'm starting to grow dreams. Its scary, and each opportunity that approaches makes me wince, shrivel up, and want to hide. But instead, I plug my nose, squeeze my eyes shut, and jump.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Working with // Pinterest

I have a confession: I am not the methodical type. I think it must be part of my creative process: I rarely approach a project the same way twice. I design a monthly magazine, so you'd think I'd be able to nail down some sort of process...but inspiration can come from anywhere! More often than not I find myself staring at my computer/sketch book with only a vague idea of where to begin.

On any given project I usually have an idea of what kind of feel I'd like to achieve. Sometimes its a feeling, sometimes its a certain crowd, and sometimes its simply the time of year - I am just beginning to work on our December issue, which needs to head in the winter direction.

I love having a colour palette nailed down before I even begin working on images to help the magazine become a cohesive whole. To start, I create a pinterest board and collect images that express what I hope to achieve. I did a quick gather of wintery images that suited, then I narrowed it down to three that nicely rounded out the colour palette.

I usually try to get a good neutral, a dark tone, and a pop or two of colour. I can't go too light, or I will end up trying to set type in beige that anyone over the age of 27 won't be able to read. Kinda a problem considering my target audience...

Step two is to visit one of my favourite (albiet ugly) website tools, CSS Drive Colors Palette Generator to turn my images into a big set of swatches. There are other sites that do this as well, but I just love how quickly this works for me so I've stuck with it. I usually take screenshots of the swatches and use the eyedropper tool to narrow them down in the next step.

Step three is to narrow it down! As I've gone through the process, my "colour vision" for this wintery issue is coming together. Its not too hard to narrow it down to a set of 5 or 6 colours that I plan to base my images on. Often it changes a bit as I work, and it usually ends up being 2 or 3 swatches that show up consistently, but having an established palette makes me feel like I've got paint on the canvas. Not so daunting anymore!

I usually drop these blocks of colour on the sides of my indesign document as I work through the articles to keep them fresh in my mind. I've used this same process when working on websites or logos, whenever I feel like a fresh or strong colour palette is especially important to the design.

I haven't even started on images yet for this magazine: and I can't predict what the end product will look like. I can't even promise that I'll remember to blog about it as a follow-up. No matter...I had fun, stretching creative muscles in a way that doesn't feel like work. Kinda like free-style dancing after a long day of yoga. Not that I've ever done that...! Happy day :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Wedding Album!

I finally did it! Got my butt in gear and ordered our wedding album! I had it 95% done for the past 2 or 3 months but procrastinated finalizing the files. Let's blame the weather. 

I can't say enough how THANKFUL I am for these incredible photos by Sharalee Prang. I put so much work into our wedding day and she captured it in a way that still makes it seem surreal! What I absolutely love about her photography is her aptitude to capture "the important stuff." She didn't miss any of my work-intensive details, but she also didn't miss a single ear-to-ear grin from my loved ones! Every time I look at this album I get this feeling that no one wanted to be anywhere but at Saar Bank Farms on that beautiful cloudy august wednesday. THAT is a good memory for a bride! 

Here are some of my favourite spreads (cozy on my hand-made wedding blanket from my maid-of-honour)! 

At the back of the book I included a spread with our wedding verse (Philippians 2:1-4) and the song I chose to walk down the aisle to, "Something Beautiful" by NeedtoBreathe. And here is where I admit that I just saw my own typo. I can't believe that. You'd think I'd have made enough mistakes to know the importance of editing by now!!  Ahh well, it wouldn't represent me without a typo...

I printed via Blurb, a wonderful option for superb quality photobooks. They aren't that fancy (as far as binding options, and they don't lay flat) but the print is excellent, and they offer a variety of high-quality papers in different finishes. My favourite part is that they allow professionals to submit custom made designs and ensure colour correcting! I knew my files would be well handled. I am sure that using their automatic options would also be a great way to go. I built my book in Indesign/Photoshop and imported  a pdf. If you want to see the whole's the blurb book viewer! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New West

On Sunday Dwayne and I fought off the lazies and decided to go to the Westminster Quay to soak in the beautiful sunshine. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as awesome as we remembered it was beautiful and sunny but the "market" was dismal, so instead we found ourselves touring some old museum boat. To be honest, I didn't read any of the info cards so I really have no idea what it was used for. I took some photos, we had some gelato...and then we left 2 hours before our parking ran out, and went to Chapters. A Good day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cuba: $20 for One

I'm excited to share this project! Not only because it was a fun print piece, but also because its an ongoing project at Insight for Living Canada.We've been working in Cuba for the past 3 or 4 years in a variety of ways. First we sent down books for discipleship, then we sent down more books for pastors and leaders, then we had conferences for those pastors and leaders based on the books! And we're not stopping! More conferences are planned for this november and possibly next spring. 

The kind of feedback we've heard is incredible. We had to get someone to come in to translate all the letters we received all the way from Cuba-we had no idea that putting our office contact information in the back of the books would lead to all that feedback! The conferences offer the chance for pastors to dig deeper and explore things like purity, perseverance, and passion in leadership. Cuba is home to a quickly growing church and many leaders have little or no formal training. To read more about the conferences and how you can help (as well as some of the letters from Cuban pastors), visit here.

The new campaign, $20 for One, is aiming to send 2000 pastors to the next set of conferences. Each $20 donated equals out to one more pastor attending, and one more church congregation growing in the truth of Christ! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Refurbishing adventure number 2! Little white dresser.

A few months ago I was given an old dresser by my coworker. It was an honour to take it, in sad circumstances, and get to refinish something with a long history. The back panel of the dresser says "Dec 72" and the wear and tear showed its age! The first challenge, once we got it home, was realizing that it was suuuper cheap. No solid wood here! It had a thin cheap venir that was bubbling in places, and handles that weren't solid metal and were bent and dented. But I wasn't ready to give up. It still had good bones! After realizing that sanding wasn't going to be a good idea, since we'd be down to the particle board in seconds, I decided that our only option was to paint it. We hit up home depot and picked up an interior oil based "paint and primer in one" for $25 bucks, along with a little foam roller that we can use for future projects.

Then, it was a simple matter of painting. I made sure to wipe it down first, since I did some sanding on the top to try and get rid of the bubbling (didn't really work). It took about 4 coats, and I just kept going until It was really solidly covered. The nice thing about using the oil based paint was it really built up the surface of the dresser, and I think it will extend its lifetime. (SO much easier than the last dresser project: sanding the entire thing and then staining...yikes!)

Since I'd decided at the beginning that this dresser was NOT going to be a money pit, we decided to check out the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for handles. We had looked at Home Depot and decided that $6 bucks a handle was just more than we wanted to spend. Lucky for us, they had some awesome options at exactly the right size! I decided on these brushed chrome and light wood handles that have an almost beachy feel. We discussed painting or staining the wood, but decided the light look was more versatile and softer. Plus, the only cost $2 bucks each.

The last piece of the puzzle was legs for the dresser! It used to have some, but they had been discarded somewhere along the way. If we left it straight on the floor, we wouldn't be able to open the bottom drawer. This is where family connections prove their value again: I jokingly said "hey Dad! got any dresser legs sitting around in the garage?" and he said "yeah, why?" Turns out, they were perfect. They're cute and chunky and stained the same as the handles! Dwayne had to trim them down and then we screwed them on.

I think it looks awesome. And the best part? Dwayne filled it with his clothes, and now I get the whole closet shelf. WIN!!

So here's the final product! (notice Basil the cat got herself in there again?)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Here's the story. While redecorating the office lobby, we ended up with a spare lamp shade. It sat around in the media room for a while, bugging me daily with its cute texture and nice chocolate tones. Finally I cracked. I went hunting on the weekend and found the perfect lamp base at MCC for 5.50. Gold and shapely, it fit my criteria! I picked up some spray paint at walmart, and voila.

I regret not taking a before picture of the whole lamp. Believe me, it was GOLD. Here are some iphone photos I snabbed as I sprayed!

Then, I took it into the office and paired it with the lamp shade. I must admit...the shade is a bit too big. But still, I think it looks cute! DIY success!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Miriam and Blain! LOVE!

What can I say? One of my best friends is getting married!

Miriam and I go back a few years. just a few. Our journey began in GEMS club, grade 4 (although I bet we nurseried together at church). We met over craft paints and glue guns, and before we knew it we were room mates in university together, and now...we're in each other's weddings! Miriam was one of my bridesmaids last summer, and next summer I get to be one of hers. I could go on and on about how much I love this girl, but that's not what's important.

Whats important is how much she loves Blain!! And he sure does love her back! These two are meant for each other (have you seen them play soccer together? Or pretty much any sport? Make sure you're on their team...) and I can't wait to celebrate their marriage! You two compliment each other perfectly, accentuate each others strengths, and have some of the warmest, biggest hearts that I know. I'm so honoured to have gotten to spend a day taking photo's with you, and that I get to celebrate as a bridesmaid next summer! You are some of my most favourite people! I love you to bits!

haha, goofs. They finally realized I was following them around with a camera. :P

Friday, July 20, 2012

That's Me!

My current direction of professional self-improvement is working on hand-lettering. So I did some, and oh look! it says Vanderwel, that's me. :D So I made a quick iphone background that I know the other half of these Vanderwels is going to love.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Going to the Ocean!

Next week, I'm going to the ocean! My hubby and I are travelling down the Oregon coast  to go to prison. No really, our final destination is Alcatraz in San Francisco, the only place Dwayne REALLY wanted to go. In all honesty, I'm not super stoked to go into a dark creepy prison, but I get it. It was the show (badly done as it was...) that got him hooked. It was also probably the show that gave me that creepy feeling I get when I think about visiting there...!

We compromised by him agreeing we could end our trip at the Seattle Zoo (hmm, who could have requested that one?) Although now that I think about it, I'm not sure we'll have time. Either way though, spending a week travelling beside the ocean will be wonderful enough!! 

On monday I was gripped by the need to finally make something of the canvas I have had sitting in the spare room for a few months. I went home and started with some of my favourite colours and some paintings I was inspired by, and ended up with this! Something tells me I'm more excited than I realized about travelling to the ocean!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Catch The Sun

My life as a Nikon owner (bought my D7000 yesterday!) started with an end:

I've been asked a few times why I chose Nikon over Canon. To me, the debate is so "Mac vs PC." The reasons I have for choosing Nikon over Canon are not as significant as the reasons that I chose to buy a new camera. My experience with Canon vs Nikon isn't fair to compare: a low end Canon vs. a mid-range Nikon. My Rebel was so not cutting it anymore, and I found myself more inclined to leave it at home than return with photos I wasn't happy with. My experience was too advanced for my tools! I was ready for a new camera and Nikon had what I was looking for. (if budget was no issue I'd buy a D4 and spend every waking minute snapping photos, but it kinda is an issue so I went for a mid-range camera body)

I'm not "pro" with thousands of dollars worth of gear and experience with all kinds of lenses and camera bodies! And even those guys say "its a matter of preference!" Yes, there are a few things that Nikon does better than Canon (and vice versa I'm sure), including off-camera flash co-ordination, which is something I love and have really enjoyed learning about. So when I save up some more, I'm excited to be able to dive in deeper. Thats the only concrete reason I have for choosing Nikon. 

Other than kinda feels like I finally found the perfect pair of pants. It just fits!