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.


fall color palette

I recently spotted this arrangement at the grocery store and was immediately drawn to the color palette. Normally I don't pay much attention to the supermarket mixed bouquets, but I loved the sophisticated colors in this one. The interesting mix of hot pinks, burnt oranges, and pale pinks are an inspiration for decorating for the fall holidays. Pink is my favorite color and I love using it as often as I can!




scaredy cat brownies

Last week when my Everyday Food magazine arrived, my son saw these scaredy cat brownies and wanted me to make them immediately. I tried to get him to wait until it was closer to Halloween or at least until it felt more like Fall around here (it's still 95 degrees in Texas!). I eventually gave in and we made them the next day after getting some "candy eyes" and peppermint patties. I made my favorite brownie recipe (on the back of the Baker's chocolate box) and pressed the candy faces and chocolate chip ears on top once the brownies had cooled a bit. They were super easy and my son loved them. He called them our "bat brownies" (they do look more like bats than cats!). I'm sure we'll be making these again before Halloween is here.


more freezer meal recipes

Freezer meals save my life. I've discussed my group previously here. Oh, I may complain a bit in the 1-2 days it takes me to shop and prepare my assigned meals but for the next 6-8 weeks, I am so happy to have a stocked freezer that the initial prep work is more than worth it.

Many of you have asked for more tried-and-true recipes. My favorites have become ones that are basically meat marinades. Just click on the image below. Enjoy!


Bea's Toy Story Birthday

In my life-before-children (LBC), I could not understand how anyone with any taste could bring themselves to throw a character-themed party. I always said that once we had children, I would only throw tasteful parties. I envisioned planning such parties just as I planned a photo shoot. First, beginning with a lovely color palette and everything else tasteful would follow. Call me a design snob but I can't escape my Martha Stewart roots.

Since having children, I have learned many lessons over the years. Perhaps most importantly is to not cast stones, so to speak. Hence, I have succumbed to my adorable, red-headed, now 3-year old, Bea, who is absolutely obsessed with all things Toy Story. The thoughts of anything not involving her beloved Buzz, Jessie, Woody or Bullseye was entirely out of the question.

Hence, never say never. Yesterday, I abandoned my design snob roots and threw Bea an all-out Toy Story party, doing my best to make it as cute as possible.

It started with the invitation which I created with a scan of Bea's face within an illustration of Jessie, which I drew in Illustrator (I'm sure I am violating Disney copyright infringement here). 


Bea insisted upon having a Buzz Lightyear cake so after a bit of searching, I found a suitable pan here. I used my favorite yellow cake recipe and made the cake about 2 weeks before the party. After it was completely cool, I wrapped it in Saran Wrap and aluminum foil and placed it in the freezer. As you know, I like to do as much as I can in the weeks leading up to the party so I am not so stressed.

The night before the party, I took the cake out of the freezer and prepared myself for an evening of cake decorating. I made a vanilla meringue buttercream frosting (it tastes delicious and holds up well for cake decorating) and did a crumb coating over the entire cake. Next, I used a toothpick to outline the main details on the cake. I then used dark brown frosting to outline Buzz.


I used pastry bags filled with colored meringue buttercream frosting and outfitted with a star-tip to fill in all the colored areas of Buzz Lightyear, continuing to glance at my "inspiration" image.


The finished cake. Charles suggested that after all my hard work, we should shellac it rather than cut into it. Not a bad idea at all! :)


One of my parties is not complete without my favorite sugar cookies. I made these a few weeks beforehand as well and stored them in the freezer. Two days before the party, I frosted them with royal icing so they would hold up in the favor boxes. The star shape was a nod to the invitation.


For the favors, I modified the invitation a bit, printing out "Thanks for coming" cards to fit inside the front of the clear boxes. Charlotte and Amelia helped me fill the boxes with Toy Story figures, Toy Story gummies,  candy and our star "B" cookies. We affixed a label on the top of the box with each child's name.


The miniature water bottles (just the right size for little hands), were spruced up with matching labels.


Just before leaving for the party, I took a photo of Bea with her 3-year old sign. I can't believe my baby is 3!


We had the party at a children's play area that Bea loves. It is basically an indoor playground complete with a party room, perfect for 3- and 4-year old's to run around and play. I have gotten very smart about outsourcing party venues these days. :)

The party was a huge success and perfect for my Toy Story-obsessed 3-year old!


shutterfly photo book

We are excited to announce that our photo book design, Year of Us, is now available on Shutterfly. Shutterfly recently launched an "all new custom path" that makes it easier to create photo books. This was a fun project to work on and we look forward to designing more books for them. Now I just need to find time to make one for my own family!



happy back-to-school 2011!

I can't believe summer is over and we are back at school. Back to early morning wake-ups, crazy schedules and making school lunches (the bane of my existence). The positives are that my girls are thrilled to be back with all their friends (they are quite social). Charlotte just started 3rd grade, Amelia started kindergarten and Bea starts preschool tomorrow. I didn't anticipate being so emotional this morning when the school bell rang. Just wait until tomorrow....

The night before school starts, we have our annual back-to-school dinner and then the morning of school, I take each of my girls' photos holding a school sign. I love how each year is easily documented.

If you click on the link below, I have made a new set of elementary signs for 2011. Happy back-to-school to you all!


personalized beach bags

Before vacationing with my husband's family, I made souvenir beach bags for each of us to tote around while we were in Hawaii. I got the canvas bags at H&M (Muji has offers a similar inexpense alternative) and personalized them using t-shirt transfer paper. I created the design in illustrator, but it could be done in any computer program. Just remember to reverse (mirror-image) your design before printing it!

This is a great way to personalize bags for kids too. I picked up some Lands' End-looking bags at the dollar store and made pool bags for my kids. Now they can carry their own towels, snacks and goggles to the pool!


shutterfly inspiration

We are excited to announce that our latest invitation designs recently launched on Shutterfly.

I never grow tired of seeing designs that we have worked so hard on, finally available for purchase online. We work on designs about 6 months in advance so by the time they finally launch, we are on to the next batch of releases.

It's funny how our personal invitation designs always seem to resurface in our work for Shutterfly (call it successful design multi-tasking?!). This invitation above was inspired by the invitation I designed for my daughter, Bea's, 2nd birthday, below.

The cheerleading invitation above was based upon the darling cheerleading party Kristin threw last year for her daughter, Rees.

Ladybugs are always a favorite and this invitation I designed for my oldest daughter, Charlotte's, 2nd birthday (pre-blog) was given new life for Shutterfly in shades of pink and red and chocolate brown.

Kristin and I just finished designing our holiday collection which we can't wait to share with you in September. Stay tuned....


decorating an office space

I apologize for my lack of posts lately. In addition to my work for Blonde Designs, designing for Shutterfly and attempting to be a stellar mother of 3, I have also taken on the role of interior designer.

My husband and his friend just opened a new law office – CooperCoons Attorneys at Law, specializing in estate planning and intellectual property. Charles and Jeremy are total pros at what they do but their office space was a bit lacking – essentially, an ugly space that needed a major overhaul. However, they were opening on a shoe string budget and needed to keep costs down as much as possible. That's where I came in.

I wanted the office space to feel warm and inviting and a bit masculine. The first order of business was to rip out the ugly office carpet and replace it with a wood laminate (I would have loved to use real wood but that wasn't exactly in the budget!). I then painted the entire office a warm gray similar to this in "gravel."

For seating, I found a great source for relatively inexpensive couches and decided on the streamlined "Lorena" sofa. I spruced it up with an assortment of throw pillows from West Elm. We needed a place for reading material but a full-scale coffee table was not going to work as there was not much space between the receptionist desk and the couch. Hence, I found this square table at Target which is functional but doesn't preclude the walkway. The rug is from West Elm.

For artwork, Charles and I took a trip to the Pasadena Flea Market and picked up an assortment of architectural prints. Standard-sized black frames completed the transformation into chic wall hangings.

The conference room is my favorite space. I found the table here and the classic Eames aluminum management chairs (my favorites!) were kindly loaned to us by a friend. All the plants (which look real but are not) were found here. All in all, I am quite pleased with the results and Charles loves his new space and, more importantly, he loves working for himself which makes me a very happy wife indeed!


cardboard rocket how-to

Now that summer is here, I've been gathering ideas for things to do with my kids in-between swimming and playing. Skip to my Lou's Craft Camp is a great resource and Blonde Designs is excited to be a part of it again this year. Cindy features a different craft from guest bloggers every day for the month of June. Check out her website for great ideas and summer projects for kids.

My son has been asking to make more cardboard rockets, so I've gotten pretty good at building them quickly. Here's a step-by-step process of how to make one if you're interested in making one for your own little astronaut.

Supplies needed: 2 cardboard boxes that are about the same size, a pair of scissors and packing tape.

Step 1: Cut one side of the box to make it flat.

Step 2: Reinforce the cardboard by taping over the cut parts.

Step 3: Draw a curved line at the top of each flattened box and cut with scissors.

Step 4: Bend the boxes to make them 3-D and tape the sides of the boxes together (inside and outside). Tape the nose of the rocket last.

Step 5: Use the cardboard scraps to make the "wings" at the bottom of the rocket and tape together.

Ready for take-off!