Simon + Kabuki – Featured Artists

Simon + Kabuki

Simon + Kabuki

Simon + Kabuki creates their signature line of “sassy and modern” designs with the mission of helping people live inspired lives. The founders, Erin Sarpa and Ilene Guy, are firm believers that you do not have to be a designer to be stylish at home, work and play. Their hip, fun, fashion-forward collections reflect their “love your style, design your life” philosophy.

Based in Silicon Valley, Erin and Ilene each bring more than 20 years of proven design experience including time spent working with fast-paced technology clients including Google and Apple Computer. They know good design and—better yet— they understand what happens during the design implementation stage of product manufacturing and how design impacts consumer purchasing decisions. This expertise allows Erin and Ilene to help their manufacturing and retail partners create products that consumers crave. This powerhouse team has generated more than $10 million in sales and their licensed designs are featured on a wide mix of products. Their sassy and modern designs can be found on stationery, school supplies, notebooks, party supplies, home decor and fabric at retailers across the U.S., Canada and Europe including Target, Staples and KodakGallery.com, to name a few.

Simon + Kabuki Weekly Calendars, Folded Notes, Bookmarks and Flat Cards

Simon + Kabuki Weekly Calendars, Folded Notes, Bookmarks and Flat Cards

Simon + Kabuki offers a full range of on-trend, posh designs for lifestyle categories including: bedding and home décor accessories; stationery (note cards, calendars, journals); crafts (scrapbooking); apparel and accessories; home décor (rugs, artwork, photo frames); office supplies; tabletop; kitchen textiles; fabric; partyware (napkins, plates, cups); and gift wrap and gift bags.

Erin and Ilene originally met in design school and discovered that they share a mutual appreciation for chic design, a modern color palette and fresh typography. This launched a friendship and shortly after graduation, they launched a design firm. Since then, they have been working to make the world a more stylish place one fabulous design at a time.

They are also “mom-preneurs” who find inspiration from their children who know everything about what’s cool in the world. This playful, charming point of view shines through in their designs and even helped them to select a name for their firm. “Simon + Kabuki” pays homage to the artists’ first childhood pets, Erin’s cat (“Simon”) and Ilene’s rat (“Kabuki”)

Preparing for back to school

The first day of school is coming soon - are you ready?

The first day of school is coming soon – are you ready?

Summer may be in full swing, but the new school year is fast approaching. Time for backpacks, school supplies, lunch boxes, homework and sports gear. This year, I am joining the ranks. My daughter will begin kindergarten this fall.

It’s hard to imagine that she has reached this stage; it feels like she should still be crawling around the house, learning to talk. But alas, Pre-K graduation has past, and kindergarten is on the horizon.

To be 100% honest, I don’t know if I will be ready. My daughter asks every day, “When do I get to go to kindergarten?” So obviously, she is raring to go.

In order to make sure she is as prepared as possible, we have invested in a few kindergarten workbooks. You can find these at retailers (such as Walmart or CVS) or bookstores, where they have all grade levels, as well as books to focus on certain subjects. And the best thing about these books is that she loves them!

Kindergarten workbooks

Kindergarten workbooks

And it isn’t ‘Back to School’ without school supply shopping. Every year, stores have stands covered in school supply lists for various grades and schools in the area. Rather than passing by without a second glance, I will have to grab a cart and fill it with crayons, tissues, notebook paper and all the other necessities required for the classroom.

Personally, I remember being able to fit all my supplies in my backpack for the first day; now you need a wagon or wheelbarrow just to get everything in the door. I will definitely be stocking up on personalized labels to keep my daughter organized.

But it doesn’t end with crayons and paper. Gotta shop for backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes, shoes, etc. Personalized back to school supplies

Even though she’s only 5, my daughter definitely has her own opinions and sense of style. I cannot count the number of times I have been informed that something doesn’t “match” or just isn’t right. Did I mention she’s only 5? What am I going to do when she’s a teenager?

Tax Free Weekend and Back to School sales are already on my radar. I have already begun to plan my next order of luggage tags to attach to all her school and activity bags.

I also know that I will be completely scatter-brained trying to keep track of everything. Between school functions, cheerleading and dance classes, I will definitely be using weekly calendars. They’re perfect for organizing my week either by activity or by child.

I am also one of “those” moms who are not afraid to ask the teacher exactly what’s going on at any given moment. So, personalized note cards and memo pads are perfect for getting my many questions to and from school.

As for the dreaded first day, I’m sure I will be an emotional wreck. I will be enjoying the parent’s breakfast the school provides (the Boo Hoo Breakfast) and counting down the minutes until the day is over. And when the day is done, and she is excitingly describing her entire day, I can relax – until it’s my son’s turn.

Adorable Elephant and Giraffe Baby Shower

Jen's baby shower

‘Tis the season for weddings and baby showers! Another of our bloggers, Jen, is expecting a new baby girl soon, so we put on our Baby Shower Planning thinking caps yet again! (I know, we’re a lucky bunch.)

Party theme inspiration started with one of Jen’s very own stationery creations, a design that hasn’t hit the proverbial Expressionery.com shelves yet. Here’s a sneak peek…

Giraffe & Elephant shower invitations

Giraffe & elephant shower invitations

The deep plum color combined with the elephant and giraffe imagery set our creative wheels in motion. We gathered party supplies in plum and assembled other special items showcasing the elephant and giraffe details.

Giraffe & Elephant Decorations

Our crafty friend Johanna Martini (specialist on the product development team) created this too-cute-for-words diaper motorcycle! This unique centerpiece / gift was created using diapers, hooded towels, washcloths, socks, a sippy cup (for the headlight) and a cuddly plush giraffe – all much-needed items for Jen’s new baby.

Giraffe diaper cake

Continuing with the gifts-as-decorations idea, we created a clothesline of onesies, tights and ruffle-bottomed pants. We found a set of pink and purple elephant onesie stickers online and clothespinned each sticker onto each adorable baby item. (How cute would those elephant stickers be on a ruffled baby bottom?) Since 12 stickers were included (one for each month of the first year of baby’s life), it created a large decorative impact in our shower space.

banner of baby clothes

A banner of baby clothes

Custom-designed favor stickers, cupcake flags and table tents continued the theme of our baby shower. (Read on to find printables below!) Small metal tins filled with nuts and mints were tied with colored ribbon to give our guests a keepsake from this special event.

Cupcakes and elephant & giraffe favors

Cupcakes and elephant & giraffe favors

Because we try to be thorough party planners, the team worked diligently to conduct extensive cupcake research. We began our first taste tests a couple of weeks before the event, trying everything from an Elvis cupcake that combined chocolate cake, peanut butter frosting and caramelized bacon topping to traditional Italian Crème.

We tried 10 cupcake flavors in all and felt sick sure about the cupcake selection for the shower. After much discussion, the team reached a consensus on a trio of flavors for the party: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon and Italian Wedding Cake. They made not only a delicious part of the party, but a gorgeous display as well!

The mum tradition

All mommies deserve a pretty corsage to wear during their shower, and we presented Jen with a Texas-sized version in the form of a homecoming mum. For those who don’t know (like Jen or our fearless blogging leader, Elaine, both innocent bystanders who grew up in Kansas), mums are a huge Texas tradition.

They started out as special flowers that you wear to your homecoming football game (which is akin to the Superbowl on a high school level) and have grown bigger and fancier every year, often dripping with ribbons, stuffed animals and other unusual decorations.

To non-Texans (bless your hearts), these mums may seem unusual or (gasp) some might say ridiculous, but we felt that Jen’s little girl should have her very own mum awaiting her arrival – after all, she’ll be a native Texan!

elephant and giraffe shower presents

Jen with her daughter's mum and presents

Free baby shower printables

And since we’re in the gift giving habit, take a peek at the free giraffe and elephant shower printables! These easy projects will add a special touch to the decorations at your own party!

Our safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

Corina's safari animal baby shower

If you haven’t noticed from our other parties, we Expressionery.com girls love celebrating! We recently threw a baby shower for our own Corina Murray, and we wanted to share the fun with you.

Corina is expecting a baby girl this month, but she’s not a big fan of pink. Instead of sticking with the traditional pastel pink color palette, we thought it would be fun to spice things up with bright, bold colors. You can’t get much brighter than the animal suite:

Animal baby shower

Animal suite

The four designs are available as invitations, plates and more – plus printables we created for Corina’s shower. (Okay, so we snuck in a little pink here and there, but just as an accent color!)

For our safari animal baby shower, we made sure to include Corina’s favorite animal – giraffes – along with some other cute characters. Giraffe, elephant and crocodile cutouts were designed especially for her, along with a bold “Congrats” banner, and we’re sharing them with you as free printables!

Baby safari animal cutouts

Baby safari animal cutouts & "Congrats" banner

For the banner, just print out the PDF on card stock, then punch holes and tie the triangles together with ribbon.

To make the safari animals, grab some card stock or craft foam in the colors of your choice, print out the PDFs on everyday paper, cut them out and use them as stencils to trace the designs onto your card stock or foam.

Next, cut and glue on embellishments. (Hint: all the animals’ eyes, and the elephant’s toenails, can be created by using a hole punch, so don’t worry about trimming a perfect circle by hand!)

Finally, glue craft sticks onto the back and use your baby safari animals around the refreshment table, or tape them up to the wall.

We couldn’t resist throwing in these two “pregnant” animals we found at a local craft store:

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

"Pregnant" lion & elephant

Once we had enough animals, we tied the colorful shower theme together with tablecloths, place settings and ribbon. You might have noticed how we used green as the base color for the dessert table, then highlighted the animals with contrasting banners made by trimming vinyl tablecloths into strips.

We also found some zebra print ribbon at the craft store and tied it around the napkin holders and cake pop box. How simple and affordable is that?

Finally, we added to the safari theme by creating wild tissue-paper flowers. The blog craft team had a blast with these –

Elegant tissue paper flowers

Elegant tissue paper flowers

For your own party, you can use a single color of tissue paper for a natural look, or go wild by pairing several colors in one flower for a bright, bold safari theme like ours. You can find step-by-step instructions for these elegant flowers on Martha Stewart’s website.

Cake pops & gifts

Cake pops & gifts

Here are a few tips we learned along the way:

  • Pick 3 or 4 colors for your baby shower theme. Repeating several colors instead of just one makes the shower more fun and less frilly.
  • Not all your baby safari animals have to match. Throw in a set of these printables, then mix and match with ones you find at the store – like the adorable baby book Suzanne found (above).
  • Letting everyone in on the theme will help them select gifts that match too! Corina was thrilled that we followed her suggestion to have a giraffe and non-pink theme, since that’s how the nursery is being decorated. Now she has lots of safari themed décor – even a giraffe print diaper bag – which she’ll enjoy for months to come.
Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor

Gifts, cookies and the guest of honor - the stamp on the gift tag is available at Expressionery.com

Free safari animal shower printables

And now, for the best part – free printables for you! The “Congrats” banner, adorable baby animal cutouts, water bottle labels, place cards and hors d’oeuvre flags are yours to print and use at your own special occasion.

Pair them with the matching animal suite from Expressionery.com or mix and match with your own unique style – then don’t forget to share your creativity by posting a link in the comments!

Unique gift ideas for Mom

Unique Mother's Day gifts

̶Unique Mother's Day gifts - photos by Corina Murray, Online Media Specialist for Expressionery.com

It’s hard to choose the perfect gift for the person to whom you owe your existence, much less try to find a gift that will make her appreciate the 12 hours of labor it took to get you here. It may surprise you, though, how easy it is to give Mom something she’ll cherish for years to come. She’s dropped subtle hints over the years – if you think back hard enough, you’re sure to come up with a great gift idea.

For example: at Christmas, two years ago, my friend’s Uncle Mark brought his record player. Her mom requested the same song three times and danced with Dad and the grandkids every time. I’m not sure if your mom is as old young at heart as my friend’s, but a great gift for her mom would be that old 45 mounted in a frame with a caption, “Dance like nobody’s watchin’.”

The result: Mom would:

  1. Love you for thinking of such a unique gift
  2. Be honored that you remembered her favorite song
  3. Be proud of herself for bringing such a thoughtful person into the world.

What about the time your mom got flowers from a dear friend? She said the roses were beautiful, but her favorite flower is a white gladiola. If you show up with those favorite flowers on Mother’s Day, prepare for tears and/or really long hugs – not just because you gave her flowers, but that you took the time to remember her favorite (and that you delivered them in person).

Have you ever asked your mom where she’s always wanted to travel? Think back. You know she mentioned it. Was it Egypt? Australia? London? Personally, I’d love to go back to Paris. Alas, my daughter’s college education has put a damper on such things, but (hint, hint!) I would love it if my daughter surprised me with lunch at a local French bistro.

Or if my hubby presented me with a très élégante dinner such as coq au vin, ratatouille, red wine and fromage. Oh, là là! Of course, the entrée may need to arrive via delivery boy – but it’s the thought that counts. You don’t want a frustrated, defeated cook sitting down to dine.

Personalized gifts for Mom from Expressionery.com

Personalized gifts for Mom from Expressionery.com

If your budget is strapped or you’re short on time, a handmade Mother’s Day card can never go wrong. When you were little, don’t you remember how your mom teared up when she saw the ragged but heartfelt card you made with your own two hands? Create that response again with something extraordinary!

With the same $5 you would have spent on an impersonal, mass-produced card, pick up some nice paper and pinking shears from the craft store, grab some glue and go to town. It doesn’t have to be a Jackson Pollock (after all, your mom isn’t Jackson Pollock’s mom, right?)… just something that says you spent a little time carefully crafting something special just for her.

Handmade Mother's Day card

Handmade Mother's Day card (photo: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Clara%27s_Card.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>)

Take it from a mom – we’re not that complicated. My own mom’s taste in gifts is super simple. It just took me 42 years to figure it out. She is someone who cares deeply for her family, and she only wants love in return. If she sees that you spent time trying to think of something that would really make her happy, the gift of your time will make her happier than any expensive last-minute gift ever could.

Here are some other unique gift ideas for Mom:

  • If she loves to read, take her to a bookstore and let her pick out some books. (This is better than a gift card because she also gets the pleasure of your company.)
  • If she loves to travel, take her on a day-long road trip.
  • Make her a family scrapbook – almost any mom loves to reminisce.
  • If she’s religious, you could make her a prayer shawl.
  • If she loves giving gifts, buy her a set of personalized notecards.
Gifts Mom can take to work

Gifts Mom can take to work - or leave at the home office

Whatever gift you choose, show your mom that you love and appreciate her by letting her know you see her, hear her and “get” her. After all, she’s spent her whole life trying to “get” you.

Moms, what is the favorite gift your kids have given you over the years?