Beach Must Have

Beach Must Have

We are SO excited to announce that our favorite beach blankets have arrived! (Seriously, we’ve been looking forward to this all year… it finally feels like SUMMER is happening, folks!) Here’s what we love about this blanket:

– they’re extra roomy (6 ft x 7 ft in size)

– they are lightweight (easy to pack)

– they’re made of the softest traditional Mexican materials – a blend of recycled cotton, acrylic and polyester (easy to wash)

– the sand (even pesky WET SAND) doesn’t stick to them, so packing up is always easy

– the colors are so bright and cheery!


See?  It doesn’t stick…  Love!



So fun and colorful too!


If you have a beach trip planned, this item is a MUST!  Available in a variety of colors, while supplies last.  Come by the store or call us to place your order today:  806-785-1195







Weekend in Greensboro

Weekend in Greensboro

For my birthday this year, I had the pleasure of visiting Greensboro, North Carolina for a long weekend.  My friends Tony and David moved there last summer from Dallas land opened a gift/stationery store there called Party Chick and Paper.  It’s a really cute shop with LOTS of fun products (believe me, after shopping “around town” for a few days, I can say they have the best selection in town).  The entire weekend was chock full of good food and drinks, laughter, and fun new friends – and it was one of my favorite weekends in a long time.  (As a bonus, David gifted me a first class airline ticket both ways… now THAT’s a good friend!)

IMG_6323smThis is a shot in Tony’s store – isn’t the invitation room fun?  They call it the Personalization Porch – quite Southern.

The guys really wanted me to “soak it all in”, so we had a FULL schedule for the weekend, checking out the town.  To start, on Saturday morning, Tony and I visited a local Farmer’s Market, which was quaint and interesting – lots of yummy looking produce and interesting handmade items.

IMG_6314smAnd quail eggs.  Which I bought just because I wanted to try them. (aren’t they pretty?)

IMG_6315smSince it WAS my birthday, Tony thought we should stop by a local sweets hotspot, Maxie B’s. It was such a cute shop that offers cake by the slice – and offers to warm them up for you too!

IMG_6316smEven though I’m NOT a sweets person (I know, I’m weird), this cake was DIVINE – Girl Scout Thin Mint.  We only had a few bites because we were technically on our way to lunch, but we just had to get a little cake in to make the birthday official.

IMG_6154smAfter our stroll through the Market and cake tasting, we went to Lindley Park Filling Station for lunch, which was really fun.  It’s a tiny little place with amazing food – I had the Reuben sandwich with vegetable curry soup.  I didn’t think I’d love the soup (I’m not a big curry fan), but it was deliciously addictive!

IMG_6168smWe also spent the afternoon touring Downtown Greensboro, checking out the local shops – quite charming.



IMG_6200smLOVED this idea – might have to use it myself for when Lucy comes to the shop!

IMG_6199smI was also introduced to this Gin (made near Greensboro) – even the ceramic jug is cool.

IMG_6226smFor my Birthday Dinner, David cooked for us at home – steak, baked potato, panko stuffed tomatoes and his famous roasted green beans with shallots.  He even humored me and put a fried quail egg on top.

IMG_6319smOn Sunday morning, Tony and I decorated for St.Patrick’s Day.  It’s one of our favorite holidays (and his birthday), so it’s fun to go through vintage “treasures” and set them up around the house.  I especially loved this little “wishing well” in his collection.

IMG_6320smAfter the hanging O’ the green, we went to brunch.  For, you guessed it, more good food at 1618 Seafood Grille.

IMG_6260smWe both agreed that this is how every salad should start – wrapped in bacon. Ha! (fried oysters and “salad”)

IMG_6321smThe seared grouper on a cheese grit-stuffed bell pepper was amazing.

More shopping.  More fun, especially meeting up with their friends – such a great group of friendly people!

Then the grand finale – dinner at Lucky 32 on Sunday night.  David worked there in college, and his recommendation of the fried chicken (only available until it’s gone on Sunday night) perfectly hit the spot, served with collard greens and gravy of course.


After all of that, it’s no surprise that I had to ROLL onto the plane home… but it was such a nice, relaxing weekend.  Thanks for having me fellas – Greensboro treated this Texas girl right!



Fly Fishing Weekend

Fly Fishing Weekend

Without a doubt, fall is my favorite season.  The first time that air turns crisp, I’m as giddy as a schoolgirl.

For past several years, my grandparents have traveled to Roaring River State Park to go fly fishing in the fall, and I’ve been lucky enough to tag along for a weekend during their stay.  (Aren’t they the cutest?)


Not only does this mini-getaway weekend provide quality time with my grandparents, but it always gets me geared up and ready for fall.  The weather is cool at night (the low was 48 degrees when we were there) and not too hot during the day (mid 70’s).  Plus the leaves start to change earlier in Missouri than they do in Texas,  It’s just beautiful.   This time away is also great for me to make myself “unplug” because there is ZERO phone service.  None.  Sometimes it seems nice, but it always freaks me out a bit – I keep carrying around my phone just in case I get some kind of alert.  Even so, being “off the grid” gives me the opportunity to recharge for the store’s busy season, and that’s a blessing.


IMG_1163My grandparents usually take their RV  to Roaring River and we stay  in a cabin nearby, but this year they decided to not mess with the RV and stay in a cabin themselves.  The other cabins were booked, so mom and I stayed in an Inn on the park grounds.


Behold, my favorite fly fishing spot on the river.  It’s my happy place.  I like standing on the rocks instead of the riverbank because the sound of the water rolling over them is peaceful… (and less slippery).





One of my favorite “river activities” is to tie flies with granddad.  He’s color blind, so he makes the most interesting flies.  They’re never the normal colors, and I think that makes it more fun.  I also enjoy getting to be creative and see how my flies fare in use.


This particular lure got taken by a big fish the moment it hit the water.  How do I know?  There was a huge tug on the line and when I reeled it in a bit, the lure AND the tippet snapped off.  (Sigh, it was the big one that got away – they always take my pink ones.)


The daily trout limit at Roaring River State Park is 4 per person, so once we caught our limit, we would head to the cleaning station  (details on my gdad’s method here if you’re interested – be advised it may be graphic to some viewers).  I ended up cleaning most of the fish this go-round because honestly I wanted the practice and granddad was happy to let me have it.

It feels so rewarding to catch your own lunch!  While had fun trying new recipes with our freshly caught trout – fish tacos, fish salad (like chicken salad) and baked fish with lemon and herbs… everyone’s favorite preparation of the trout is simple – coated in cornmeal and fried.  Nothing beats fresh fried rainbow trout.  It’s delicious.


IMG_1045Not a bad spread considering that the closest grocery store is at least 10 miles away (and we only had the fryer and a toaster oven to cook with)!

In the early afternoon when it’s too hot to fish, we like to drive into Cassville to go antique shopping.  There’s always treasure to be found.


Once said treasure is found, sometimes you have to mail it home because it won’t fit in your carryon – oops.  While at the Cassville, Missouri post office, I was blown away by their gorgeous mailboxes!  They were enchanting (just look at the design detail).


On the last morning of our trip, mom and I were able to catch the most beautiful sunrise.  It was truly breathtaking, and a great end to our weekend away.



Pineapple Plates

Pineapple Plates

While in Costa Rica for my brother’s wedding, my family took a half day fishing tour. When the young local fisherman presented us with a gorgeous pineapple snack – we were really impressed with his presentation skills! He used no fancy plates or utensils – just a pineapple, a cutting board and a knife.pineapple plate

Basic. Beautiful. Delicious. And I’ve never cut a pineapple this way.

Of course I asked him how he did it (so I could share with you). Wouldn’t this be fabulous at a Luau or backyard summer party? The best part is there’s virtually no clean up (aside from washing your hands and the knife)!


First, cut off the top of the pineapple.  Then cut off the bottom.

pineapple plates how to

pineapple plates how to

Then cut the pineapple in half.

pineapple plates how to

Next, cut out the core of the pineapple by slicing a “V” shape in the flesh.  Then cut again to create four equal pieces.

pineapple plates how to

pineapple plates how to

Carefully use the knife to separate the inner flesh from the outer skin.

pineapple plates how to

Slice the pineapple into ½” sections.

cute pineapple plates

Position the slices so they alternate on the pineapple “plate” and serve.

pineapple plates - how to carve your own

pineapple plates make for easy serving

This was my first time cutting a pineapple like this, so it isn’t as pretty as the fisherman’s, but it DID work.  And I’ll definitely be giving this technique some practice in the warm months!

{Did you know pineapples are ON TREND right now?  You can read more here.}

National Stationery Show 2015 Recap

National Stationery Show 2015 Recap

Every May when I board a plane for NYC to attend the National Stationery Show, I get “first day of school” jitters.  I’m anxious to see what new products I discover, nervous that the trip will be worth the time and expense (plus time away from work), and downright excited for the show – and great restaurants!


This year I went with a slightly different focus in mind – instead of invitations, I was on the hunt for greeting cards – and lots of them.  After the “The Switch” last April, our greeting card sales have skyrocketed.  It’s wonderful news, but now the pressure is on.  We love when customers tell us we are their go-to place for cards – we just can’t let them down now!


This year’s show did not disappoint in the greeting card department – we found several new lines and had great response to sneak peeks we posted on Instagram (@barquegifts).  Here are a few discoveries that will make their way to our shelves over the next few months:









wimpyCards from:  Emily McDowell  /  Paper Bandit Press  /  Ladyfingers Letterpress  /  McBitterson’s  /  Farewell Paperie6.25 Paper Studio  /  Paper Bandit Press  /  Paisley Tree Press  /  Paisley Tree Press

Don’t you just love these Social Preparedness Kits from Egg Press?  The little fiberglass tray can be used as a catch-all once the stationery is gone.  Brilliant!


And this adorable onesie from Lionheart Prints?  Awe… (Also available in pink – coming soon).


NSS is such a great place for inspiration too!  I probably stared at this booth display wall from Smock for at least 10 minutes.


And finally, I ordered personalized stationery albums from Haute Papier.  Man oh man, the stock is high quality and really sharp – and colorful envelope and liner options really send it over the top!


My personal award for the Most Startling Card goes to this one from Ghost Academy… Yes, it pushes the envelope a bit (I shy away from the F word – my grandma shops with me!), but I just couldn’t stop laughing at it.  So of course it’s on order.


This trip was especially fun because my friend Christie from Stationery Academy joined me to walk the show. I told her it wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without good food, and she was more than happy to be on board with that.  For lunch on Saturday, we got our NYC pizza fix at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, near our hotel.

Reservations for dinner at Saxon + Parole will definitely be happening again.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere/decor was very creative and fun.  (Our favorite dish of the night was a pot of chicken liver mousse, red currant, and pepper jelly served with toast – highly recommend it.) saxon

On Sunday after walking the show, Christie and I attended a lovely Stationery Academy Alumni Soiree at Kari Joy’s Apartment near Central Park – isn’t her balcony space charming?


That was such a fun night – laughing and chatting with stationery friends – now that’s a special group of ladies right there!

On Monday, Jennifer joined Christie and I for dinner at Gato – Bobby Flay’s restaurant.  It was amazing all around – fantastic food, a comfortable atmosphere and definitely a highlight of the entire trip.  (If you’re going, I recommend the roasted Octopus and Avocado Fava Bean Salad!)


Great cards, hanging with my paper peeps and amazing food?  Yep, I think this year’s trip to NSS was a success!

Vacation Inspiration – US Virgin Islands

Vacation Inspiration – US Virgin Islands

For my birthday this year, a few girlfriends and I took a trip to the US Virgin Islands (St.Thomas and St. John). It was a wonderful time to relax and getaway, which gets my creative juices flowing. It’s amazing how a little time “off” makes my To Do List longer once I return, but I love that feeling of refreshed inspiration!

St. Thomas

For this trip, we stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s Home (available on VRBO if you’re headed that way).

It’s hard to beat waking up with a view of the ocean. And it’s even better eating meals on the porch with an ocean view (the above photo is the view from the back deck).


Driving in the US Virgin Islands is – challenging to say the least– with all the curvy road and steep hills and sharp turns – so we were glad to have our trusty Jeep Carol along for the ride.


On our first morning in St.Thomas, we brunched at Gladys’s Café.  It’s a charming little place known for their hot sauce, which you can have shipped home.


Then we enjoyed duty-free shopping (not really my thing but the other girls enjoyed it).

For two days of the trip, we took the car ferry over to enjoy the beaches of St. John. While we were gone, Lubbock was getting pummeled by a snow storm, so we made a “sand man” in honor of our friends at home.


Can you see how amazingly clear the water is? Heaven I tell you, Heaven.



For our second day on the island of St. John, we visited Honeymoon Bay. It was a bit of a trek from the car to the actual beach (about a 10 minute hike), but when we arrived, our beach chairs and lockers were ready and waiting on us (totally recommend the pre-paid package, which also included the use of snorkeling gear and ocean kayaks).




I had never kayaked before, and calmly paddling through the crystal clear water, observing sea life below – I found my happy place.

I was so inspired by the colors I saw on this trip – the bright yellow of our Jeep, the deep fuschia of the Bougainvillea, the turquoise and sapphire blues of the ocean. Sometimes you can “see” colors in photos or on a color chart, but when you see them on a canvas that God painted, it’s SO much more impressive.


Check out these mailboxes – it was so interesting I had to pull over to get a photo!

And now for a dose of the inspiration: When we returned, I was working with a bride who was having a beach wedding. She had ordered something online but wasn’t happy with how they turned out (we hear this ALL the time), so she wanted to come up with a custom invitation design for her Big Day. The first thing that came to my mind was that gorgeous, tranquil water of St.John. So I proposed that we try an hombre effect using turquoise (the bride’s main wedding color). To further the beachy theme, I added a tiny starfish accent at the bottom. It was perfect, and she was thrilled with how the design turned out.