about us

Blonde Designs is an inspirational blog focused on invitations, parties, and good design. We are Angie Gubler and Kristin Rees, best friends, graphic designers and moms.
We are both former art directors at Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings, respectively. 
We own Blonde Designs, an invitation and stationery company.


kids halloween party ideas

Our friend, Courtney, is always on the move (literally). She just moved cross-county for the second time in a year and, with most of her belongings in storage (including Halloween decorations), she still managed to throw a darling Halloween party for her children (she has 2 boys and triplet girls). Courtney's friend, Nanette, silk-screened cute Halloween t-shirts for prizes.


The party began by decorating graham cracker "haunted houses." I have said it before and I'll say it again: do as much party preparation as possible in the weeks leading up to the party. You will be much less stressed, making the party much more enjoyable for everyone (yourself and your husband included!). With that being said, hot glue the graham crackers houses together in advance.

Courtney's husband was worried that this activity might be too juvenile for some of the older boys but everyone, from ages 2-10, quickly got into the candy decorating fun.


Courtney strategically planned the food for lunch, trying to keep the sugar content to a minimum since many sugary sweets were to follow. She made "mummy" pizzas on mini bagels using pasta sauce, mozzarella string cheese and sliced olives for "eyeballs."


Miniature "mummies" were made by wrapping Pillsbury Crescent dough around Lit'l Smokies sausages.


I absolutely love Courtney's Nutter Butter ghosts. These couldn't be easier to make – simply dip half of the cookie in melted white chocolate and add miniature chocolate chips for "eyes." I suggest making these well in advance.


Powdered doughnuts on strings were quickly devoured and the guests set off, their tummies full, for trick-or-treating around the house.


neighborhood boo

Our house was recently "booed" and I love that our neighborhood has this Halloween tradition. I know a lot of other people across the country do this as well, but for those of you don't, it's not too late to start. You'll be surprised how the excitement spreads around your neighborhood!


 To start the tradition, create 2 bags or baskets of Halloween goodies. This year my bags included pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters, skeleton toys, Halloween stickers, and an assortment of candy. Just be sure to gear it toward the ages of the recipient family. Also, don't forget to include a copy of the "boo" ghost (above) and the "boo" poem (below). The poem includes instructions to the person being "booed," telling them to enjoy their treats, place the “Boo” sign on their front door, copy the sign and note and include them with their treat bags, and secretly deliver to two neighbors. Have fun booing!



and the winner is....

Have fun picking out your favorite notecard design at Blonde Designs. Congratulations and thanks for reading!


i love nyc

"As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world." –Pearl S. Buck 

I have a love affair with New York City.  It started in college when Kristin and I spent the summer between our junior and senior years doing internships at Martha Stewart's now-defunct mail order catalogue, Martha by Mail. I ate up every minute of that summer visiting museums, eating at restaurants and, most of all, just walking the city. I loved it so much that I moved back 6 months later when I was offered my first post-college job at Martha Stewart.

Later, after I got married, my husband relocated from the west coast to be with me in NYC. We thought we might stay another 2-3 years at the most; 2-3 years turned into six. We lived through 9/11 and felt like we had become New Yorkers.

Then we had our first daughter and city living was not quite as glamorous. Our "cozy" 1-bedroom walk-up was not exactly ideal for a stroller and I found myself becoming irritated at all the inconveniences that never used to bother me. We decided to accept admittance into a west coast law school and left the city that I loved.

I try to get back as often as possible, which is easier said than done with 3 small children. I just returned from an extended weekend and thought I'd share a few of my favorite spots. Note: I am completely leaving out shopping since I could go on and on and on......

FOOD (part 1)

City Bakery: 3 West 18th Street (between 5th and 6th). The food is too-die-for, all served cafeteria-style. I highly recommend a pretzel croissant (especially one right from the oven!) and a peanut butter cookie (not too sugary, the perfect consistency – my absolute favorite).

The Farmer's Market at Union Square: 14th Street and Broadway. Open on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays, this market offers an amazing range of organic produce and baked items. My favorite things are a cup of fresh apple cider, an apple cider doughnut and a Honeycrisp apple. There's nothing like New York in the fall!

Magnolia Bakery: 401 Bleecker Street / Rockefellar Center / 200 Columbus Avenue. The Bleecker Street store is the original location, home to punk rock bakers mixed with homespun goodness. There used to be a bouncer at the door on weekends to control the crowds. I once got elbowed by an older woman pushing me out of the way to retrieve her cupcakes. I highly recommend an original white cupcake with pale pink frosting and a glass of milk. My husband likes the banana pudding with Nilla wafers. The uptown locations are much fancier but any will do – this is the original cupcake bakery.


FOOD (part 2)

Babycakes: 248 Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow). This is the antithesis to Magnolia Bakery and I had to try it for myself. Babycakes uses all-natural, organic ingredients and no white sugar. I couldn't imagine it living up to all the hype. Believe me, it does. The cupcakes are excellent and totally guilt-free.

Sarabeth's: 1295 Madison Avenue (at 92nd Street). The best place for brunch. I love the Farmer's Omelet and all of their muffins are excellent. I like this location because it is about 6 blocks from a freestanding Crewcuts.

Kelley & Ping: 127 Greene Street (between Houston and Prince). Excellent Asian / Thai food in a tres chic location (I always have a star sighting here – this time it was Kiefer Sutherland). I love the Bi Bim Bop.


MOMA: 11 West 53rd Street. The building is beautiful since its redesign. I popped in the museum store to pick up a few things for my art-obsessed daughter.

The MET: 82nd Street and 5th Avenue. I love Vermeer and was excited to see his masterpiece, "The Milkmaid" which is on display until November 29th. After wandering through the museum looking at my favorite works, I needed a rest and had a "Gossip Girl" moment on the steps.

The Guggenheim: 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th Street). I am always amazed by the unbelievable architecture of this building – somehow the building always overshadows the art for me.

Now that you've heard my favorite NYC spots, I'd love to hear yours....


cookie friday

Our friend, Rachel, who lives in Austin, has started the nicest tradition in her neighborhood. She calls the first Friday of every month "Cookie Friday" and just as the school bell rings, Rachel sets up a sign in her front yard welcoming all to stop by for cookies and a drink.


She keeps the set-up to a minimum – a simple folding table, a jug of water and platters of cookies make clean-up easy. She quickly learned that even paper napkins were too much fuss (small hands don't always put used napkins in the trash).


Even parents have come to look forward to "Cookie Friday", stopping by to chat with neighbors and relax with their kids. The only rule is that everyone stays in the front yard (a brilliant rule, in my opinion, which eliminates the fear of having your house stampeded!).

Rachel is the neighbor that everyone wants – she is extremely generous and kind. In 12 years of marriage, she and her family have moved 7 times. Rather than worrying about making friends and fitting into a new town, the first thing Rachel does is organize a party to meet people. I love a person who is a doer and Rachel definitely does not sit idle. I am lucky to have her as a friend – I just wish I also had her as a neighbor (I'm kind of craving those delicious cookies right about now!).


notecard giveaway!

Thank you to all our readers – we are overwhelmed by your kindness and lovely comments during our first official month of blogging. As a thank you, we are kicking off our first giveaway (many more to come!) with a set of 25 Blonde Designs notecards. You can choose from any design on our website and personalize them to your liking.

To enter the drawing, comment on this post, giving us ideas of what you would like us to discuss for future blog entries. Your comment must be posted before midnight on Saturday, October 10, 2009. A winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, October 12th.

Good luck!


easy halloween decorations

My girls love to decorate our house for any holiday. They especially love to decorate with decorations they have made. This can prove tricky as my two oldest are 3 and 6 and have me for a mother (in case you haven't guessed by now, I'm a bit concerned with the overall aesthetic).

In order to make us all happy, we have come up with a few simple (yet tasteful) homemade decorations: 1) a bat garland made from black construction paper, black grosgrain ribbon and googley eyes; 2) floating tree ghosts made using styrofoam balls, white fabric and fishing line; and 3) candy corn-filled apothecary jars.

For the candy-filled jars, I used a little trick to save on buying loads of candy. I taped sets of clear plastic cups together which I then stacked in the middle of the jars. I poured the candy corns over the cups and no one was the wiser. I love the colors of the candy corn and I also love that the apothecary jars are perched on a tall cabinet, far away from little hands. Happy decorating!


pretty pumpkins

I picked up these pumpkins and gourd over the weekend at our local grocery store and want to go back for more. I love the way the muted colors look together. Also, I think they could work as part of a Thanksgiving centerpiece. I just hope they last that long!




I just received the most beautifully-addressed envelope in the mail from
Grace Edmands Calligraphy
.  Well-designed stationery is a slight obsession
of mine and I love when the address on the envelope hints at the beautiful invitation or stationery that lies inside.


Here's another sampling of Ms. Edmands' work. Love the gold ink on fuchsia envelope. Tres chic!


photo albums

With a new baby arriving in 3 weeks, I'm trying to shorten my to-do list. One thing that has been on my list for awhile is to update my photo albums. For some reason, this is always a daunting task for me. To make it easier, I've simplified it to 3 easy steps. Step 1: Buy Kolo Catalina photo albums. These are my favorite because I like the size, the 2-photos per page layout, and the extra cardstock pages in the back. I use these to display birthday invitations, family Christmas cards, ticket stubs, etc. (anything special that happened during the time frame of the album). Step 2: Edit and order photos. This is the hardest part for me. To make it less overwhelming, I try to do this every 4 months or so. I upload the images to be printed and have them shipped to me. Step 3: Put the photos in the album. Again, seems easy enough but it's hard to find time to do this! Once the pictures are in, I make a custom label for the front of the album with the dates of the photos.


When my kids were babies, they each had their own photo albums. Now I just do combined family albums (to simplify!).


Another reason I love Kolo albums is because they come in such beautiful colors. I randomly buy albums in different colors as needed and the palette always looks great. They are also pretty enough to display in my bookcase cabinet. So my albums are up-to-date through March 2009 and I just ordered pictures from April – September 2009. Now I just have to find time to put them in an album!

 Click on the image to download an album label.