Thursday, October 30, 2014

Home is Where the Art Is...

Several years ago, we were inspired by the movie "UP" to create a guestbook that used fingerprints as balloons, and thus the "Whimsical Balloon House" became our first ever balloon design.

While our Whimsical House remains popular, we've also worked with some customers who have asked us to draw THEIR house for a balloon guestbook. Many of these customers are having housewarming parties and want to celebrate a special new home. We're excited to show you some of these unique drawings we've done as a way to introduce our Custom House Balloon. For this product, send us a picture of your house, and we'll create a guestbook specific for your home!

As you'll see from our examples, we've drawn many different types and styles of houses, each with different texts underneath. Some customers choose to have their address or the family's name beneath the house; others have a sweet phrase like "Our First Home" or "Home, Sweet Home". We love the unique customization this product allows:

While this option works perfectly for a housewarming party, the guestbook can also be an ongoing project. For example, as visitors come by your house over time, each can leave their fingerprint, creating a record of all the special people who come through your door. Hilary and Josh used the Signature Conifer for such a project in their first home. Each new guest signs a branch of the conifer, filling in the tree as time passes.

We hope you enjoyed looking at these fun custom drawings. Contact us if you have any questions or want more details on how to turn your house into a piece of art! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall Gatherings

Autumn is my favorite time of year: the season is a feast of amazing colors, and also the perfect time for actual feasts (I'll take pumpkin-flavored everything, please!). With Thanksgiving around the corner, we wanted to feature some of our favorite ideas from our Fall Fete Pinterest board.

From top left, clockwise: 1) Turn a pumpkin into a menu chalkboard! 2) Butternut squash lawn bowling, 3) Add gold and bronze glitter to fall leaves, 4) I've baked this Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake (Martha Stewart) and it's amazing.

1) Mixing plaids for cozy decor, 2) Traditional English beeswax candles are delightfully spooky, 3) An apple chair garland adds color and whimsy.

Many families will be reuniting for Thanksgiving; you can record the special gathering with a Bleu de Toi guestbook in autumn colors. The Seasonal Wreath is a perfect choice for a family get-together (in Christmas colors, it also works for the holidays).

For larger gatherings, like fall weddings, a Bleu de Toi tree decorated with autumnal inks captures the beauty of turning leaves.

Happy fall, everybody!

Friday, October 17, 2014

American Made Vendor: host and toast

Bleu de Toi started as a husband and wife team, and today we're highlighting another husband and wife wedding company: host and toast in Denver, CO. David and Carlen Arnold were both doing other things when they got the bug to start their own wedding design company: Carlen wanted a change from being a teacher, and David was making handmade custom frames. Carlen had started escaping to wedding-decor blogs as a way to wind down at the end of the day and one day, it occured to them: we have the skills to do this too!

host and toast specializes in accessories for wedding ceremonies and receptions, including signs, cake toppers, chalkboards, table pieces, and picture frames. What we especially liked about host and toast is their categorizing system: they divide their products by themes like, Romantic, Rustic, and Modern. No matter what kind of wedding you're having, there's something for you in host and toast's products. David and Carlen emphasize this diversity as a strength on their American Made site:

We both have a passion for different areas in design, so we constantly challenge each other to make our collections more well-rounded. David draws inspiration from masculine, industrial dark woods and metalwork, and I am inspired by anything soft, light, airy, and natural.

Below are bride and groom chair signs from host and toast's "Romantic" collection:

The "Modern" collection emphasizes clean lines and geometric shapes:

We love the "Rustic" theme with its woodsy cake toppers:

The tree cake topper reminded us of BDT's "Signature Conifer Tree", a favorite for rustic weddings:
We had fun imagining host and toast's decor at a woodsy event. For more rustic inspiration, also check out our "In the Mountains" Pinterest page. 

Thanks for the look into your company, Carlen and David, and good luck in the American Made contest!

American Made Vendor: Little Belgians

I spent my sophomore year of college living and studying in Heidelberg, Germany. (Hilary was next door in Lyon, France, going to school down the street from a little restaurant called Bleu de Toi...). While in Europe, I became enamored with this Christmas cookie called Speculoos--crisp, lighter than gingerbread, but still with a hint of spice: it was the most delicious thing I'd ever had. Every Christmas now, I search international food markets for speculoos, usually settling for some packaged cookies that don't quite hold up to my memory of speculoos magic.

Imagine my delight, then, when we discovered Little Belgians--a company out of Berkeley, California that hand-makes speculoos from quality ingredients: local butter and eggs and fair trade sugar. In fact, Little Belgians doesn't use any preservatives, which means I'm tossing out the packaged cookies I still have in my pantry and buying these fresh, real cookies for the holiday.

Little Belgians was started by Evy Ballegeer, a native Belgian who moved to the U.S. in 2003 to be with her boyfriend, now husband. They moved to the Berkeley area in 2009, where Evy noticed that all the coffee shops sold big, chewy cookies and muffins to go with the coffee. She missed Belgium, where a cup would come with a sweet-but-not-too-sweet and crispy speculoos cookie. So in 2013, she started baking speculoos, using traditional Belgian methods, and in 2014, her company was born.

On her American Made site, Evy notes that, as far as she knows, she is the "only artisanal baker of speculoos baker on the West Coast, maybe even the US." Sharing a kitchen with two other cookie makers in Berkeley, she crafts her speculoos using specially-designed molds with shapes that remind her of growing up in Belgium. 

As Evy mentions on her website:
Speculoos was traditionally made using wooden molds. In 17th- to 19th-century Europe, bakers would commission a carver to create a cookie board with images that reflected popular trends of the day. In honor of that tradition, our speculoos have custom-designed shapes.

The bird, for example, reflects the Belgian national sport of pigeon racing (who knew?!). And the house shape features the architecture of Evy's favorite Belgian city Ghent.

Evy currently sells her cookies in some specialty food stores in California, and you can also purchase them online. We loved the aesthetic of her website and her cute cookie packaging. If, like me, you want some holiday speculoos in your life, Evy is offering Bleu de Toi customers a special $5 discount! Enter the coupon code littlebelgians4bdt at checkout. Thank you, Evy!

Speculoos cookies are a unique holiday present for friends and family, and an ideal treat to snack on at holiday parties. On the Bleu de Toi website right now, we're also featuring special guestbooks for seasonal gatherings. We have Holiday versions of our Signature Conifer Tree (Check out our blog post featuring all the ways you can decorate the Holiday Pine). Our Wreath design, with the right ink colors, can also be perfect for the season.

Thank you again, Evy, for sending us pictures and for offering us the coupon code! Best of luck to your charming company!

Photography credit for Little Belgians:
©Lies Willaert 
©Erin Scott