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.


valentine's party

I love Valentine's Day. I loved it as a child (especially since my birthday is 2 days before), hated it as a young adult (oh, the pressure of having a "valentine"), and now love it again since I have children. I love the colors (isn't it chic to have a holiday with one primary color and variations on that color?) and I love using the holiday as a countdown to tell my girls all the things I love about them.

Last year, Charles and I thought it would be fun to throw a casual Valentine's party with friends. We wanted to keep it easy and low-key so we decided upon a crepe bar and invited about 12 couples. I sent out invitations the end of January.

I really didn't want to stress about the party so I kept decorations to a minimum – banners made from heart doilies strung on ribbon, glass votives, bowls of pink and red peanut M&M's and small white vases filled with pink carnations (I used to find carnations tacky, now I quite like them in single bunches).

The crepe bar was the highlight of the evening. To continue my theme of low-stress, I asked each couple to bring a filling for the crepes – everything from sauteed mushrooms to guacamole. I've included the menu below (click on it to print). All the ingredients were set on trays on our big kitchen island and our friends had fun seeing what crepe combinations they could come up with.

Charles made the crepes a few days beforehand and froze them between individual pieces of wax paper. We let them thaw out about an hour before the party and they worked perfectly.

I borrowed a few skillets from various friends and everyone took turns heating up their crepes until they reached perfection. It was fun to just hang out in the kitchen and mingle as delicious crepe creations took shape.

For dessert, I made my favorite individual chocolate molten cakes. These are always a hit. I even made them a week before and froze the batter in the ramekins. Then, the night of the party, I just had to put the cakes in the oven to bake. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, these were to-die-for.

I also made platters of my now-famous heart sugar cookies.

While we sat around eating dessert, we played our version of "The Not-So-Newlywed Game." I've included our questions above. Each of the winners went home with a prize (Charles made special red and pink blown glass necklaces) and, with minimal clean-up, Charles and I went upstairs to bed. A fun-filled evening before Valentine's Day!


mini snowmen

I'm so glad I saw this idea last week on the Martha Stewart Craft blog. We got a couple inches of snow in Texas and I was too much of a wimp to go outside with my kids this morning. I convinced my son to make some mini snowmen inside (after I promised him I would go out with him later!). We had our ribbon scarfs, peppercorn eyes, orange toothpick noses, and twig arms all set out on the kitchen table ready to go. James brought in a big bowl of snow and I made the snow balls with a cookie scoop. I realized I had no where to assemble them, so I quickly filled some ramekins with snow to make a base. We had to work fast, but it was fun watching these little snowmen come together. Now they are displayed outside our back window where we can enjoy them for the next few cold days.


a california baby shower

My sister, Sarah, just had a darling baby boy, weighing just under 10 lbs!  In November, my other sister, Emily, and I threw a baby shower for her in California, at Sarah's new place.

This shower was especially meaningful as Sarah missed out on the baby shower we threw for her first little boy, Oliver.  At the last minute, due to pregnancy complications, she was not able to travel – we tried to video conference her in, but it just didn't quite have the same effect. 

Hence, Emily and I decided to throw a small, intimate luncheon with just a few of her closest friends and family to celebrate the impending arrival of her second little boy. 

Don't you love Sarah's chic maternity ensemble?  She kept complaining that she looked like a pirate but I thought she was the epitome of style.  Her dress was vintage maternity from Cadeau and at the last minute, Sarah threw on a striped sash to give her bump more definition.


We chose a citrusy color palette of yellow, orange and apple green.  Since this is Sarah's second boy and she has most all the baby essentials she needs, we decided to ask everyone to bring their favorite children's book.


We included bookplates with each invitation to personalize the books.  I love this idea as many years from now, little Francis James can look back at his books and hear his mom tell him the story of who gave each one to him.


The shower was a family affair and included Emily, me, my mom and dad.  However, after all the manual labor was accomplished, my dad exited the premise to eat pizza and watch sports.  My brother, a frequent blog reader, sent well wishes from Boston.


I designed and brought a color-coordinated banner to hang from the rafters.


My mom made the most delicious pumpkin seed cranberry nut mix for the guests to nibble on as they mingled before lunch.


We decided to set up tables outside (only in California can you dine al fresco in November!) and hung paper lanters from the trees (thanks, dad).  So cute and festive!


I brought matching water bottle labels which were all recycled after the party.


My mom made Ina Garten's delicious butternut squash soup which we garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche and homemade croutons.


We also served the most delicious salad comprised of chicken, avocados, mandarin oranges, apples, and cranberries (we served walnuts and feta cheese on the side) and Emily made our shower food staple, Ina Garten's turkey basil sandwiches.  Divine!


Each guest left with a darling owl cookie.  I loved that the party was so personal and came together rather easily, even though planned from long distance.  Most importantly, I think Sarah was thrilled and felt loved!


favorite christmas books

Last year, we posted about my friend, Tania's, annual Christmas Eve tradition of giving a Christmas book to each one of her children. I love this tradition and now, Tania has posted here, all the Christmas book titles she has given her children over the years. This is an excellent list. Thank you, Tania, for sharing!


message from santa

My friend, Krista, sent me a link to this Portable North Pole website (am I the last to hear about this?). After you enter some information about your kids, you get a personalized video message from Santa himself. My kids were amazed! I have to admit, it's pretty cool and nice to have Santa remind them to be extra good for the next few days.


cardboard rockets

We've been sending and receiving a lot of packages over the past week and my kids love to play with the boxes. Yesterday, my 4-year old brought me a couple boxes and wanted me to make him a "real" rocket, not a pretend one. He's been obsessed with this book lately. After ignoring his 50 requests I finally gave in. He told me what to do – I just had to cut and tape it together for him. It actually turned out pretty cool and he has been playing with it for hours. He even wanted to make a small one for his 1-year old brother (who loves climbing in and out of it). So much for the all the Christmas presents I've been buying. I should just wrap up some empty boxes!


apple cranberry crisp

When you are in need of a quick, delicious, comforting dessert, this is my go-to recipe: Apple Cranberry Crisp. I often find plain apple crumbles and crisps too sweet – I like the addition of cranberries in the mix to give it a bit of tartness. I added some oats to the topping for a bit more texture. When the dessert is warm, served with a scoop of ice cream which has just started to melt...it really doesn't get much better than this.


christmas tea

I just designed this invitation for a client who is throwing a Christmas Tea for 12 mothers and their daughters. I love this idea and hope, in another lifetime, I can plan something similar for my girls.

Just think how lovely it would be to have all your holiday shopping done, gifts wrapped, cookies and pie crusts made and in the freezer, Christmas cards mailed, teacher gifts distributed, and all work deadlines completed, in order to plan and execute a memorable Christmas Tea. I can only dream. I'll keep you posted on my Christmas Tea planning for next Christmas! :)


christmas cookies

So sorry for the delay in posting. Work has been crazy and I'm not sure how it got to be December 9th! This month is flying by.

Most days I feel like non-Super Mom, trying to juggle work, 3 children and have semi-meaningful conversations with my husband (sadly, during the week, these are about 5 minute snippets throughout the day). Today, however, is different, so I thought I would share.

My youngest daughter, Bea is usually along for the ride (figuratively and literally). With my 2 oldest daughters, I was so good about scheduling play dates and classes, but somehow, life has gotten too busy and Bea just goes with the flow (which usually amounts to running errands with me and watching "Caillou" when I have to make work calls). Loser mother, I know.

Today, however, I actually scheduled a play date for Bea. While we waited for her friend to arrive, Bea and I sat on the floor and played puzzles (I can't tell you how long it's been since I actually sat on the floor with one of my children and played). When Ivy arrived, the girls played in the living room while I multi-tasked (what I do best). This is what I managed while they played: I constructed 6 graham cracker houses for Charlotte's class (I desperately need a new hot glue gun as mine is on its last leg and has put my finger to sleep for the last 2 hours from having to apply so much pressure to get the glue out), I baked 3 dozen of my favorite chocolate gingerbread cookies for a cookie exchange tonight, I finished addressing our Christmas cards (here is the design I chose) and then I packed the girls into the car and headed over to the church for a Christmas party for 2-years olds. 

Now, I'm back to work.

Tonight, before my cookie exchange, the girls and I will be spreading some Christmas cheer to our neighbors, delivering boxes of Christmas cookies: tree-shaped sugar cookies, lemon squares and the aforementioned chocolate gingerbread cookies. I suggest you whip up one of the 3 and treat yourself to a pre-Christmas treat. Happy baking!


20% off holiday cards

Our Shutterfly Holiday Designs are 20% off now through Wednesday, November 17th. You can check out the entire Blonde Designs collection here. I need to hurry and place my order!