My Latest Creations

March came “in like a lion” and is not letting up! LOTS of birthdays and St. Patricks Day left Hubby and I  (yes, he helps bake!)  very busy creating. I put my baking skills to the test by making my first cakes ever. I think they came out great but it is a lot more work than making cupcakes. The trickiest part was to stabilize the layers, but I invented a special way to do so…..

 

CHOPSTICKS!!

These are two of the results- the first for a 27th party

 

…and this one for a surprise 60th

 

These were all the flowers I made for the 60th cake. I wanted tones of blush and peach, which would be complimented by the brown of the chocolate.

After using every single one of them, I didn’t realize how heavy a cake can be. It was very challenging to deliver, but all went well.

These were made for a surprise  male 80th birthday party

And then were arranged into a bouquet for a nice presentation

I made a box of 48 minis for a ladies luncheon

I had a lot to choose from.

 

This batch was made from the same flowers

This was a tray of more minis that I made just to experiment. I love the minis! They look so pretty when bunched together.

Whenever I am finished making my orders, I will take the extra buttercream, if any, and make “fillers” such as leaves, because they are always needed.

This was an order for the local library. They were having a raffle and the prize was three boxes of pink/purple/chocolate and vanilla cupcakes.

These were a gift – a box of six that I added confetti into the box to add more color

And now I am getting ready for Holidays and spring- pastels, baskets galore. If you wish to place an order for any occasion, I am reachable by email at smniblo@yahoo.com or go to my Instagram or Facebook and private message me. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

Making Progress

It has been a busy week. I have already fulfilled several orders and have more to go so a big THANK YOU to everyone for your support.

I have been taking advantage of some down time and practicing away. I was able to make a sample of a one dozen cupcake bouquet in purples and blues. They are on a base wrapped in tissue paper, a bow, and covered in a clear protective bag.

 

DSC01688

 

This is a smaller version of a “Baker’s Half Dozen” bouquet I made last week.

 

DSC01690

 

I had an order for a half dozen boxed pinks; my favorite colors!

All boxed orders come tied with three strands of complimentary colored ribbon and have a see through top.

I have several Valentine orders, so for the week, I just made the flowers and will apply on freshly made cupcakes. I am finding that it is better to pre make the flowers so they have a chance to harden. To put them directly onto the cupcake makes them look more wilted.

 

DSC01687

 

Here is a sample of this weeks blooms.

Purple and white…

 

DSC01685

 

Yellows…

 

DSC01691

 

Pinks and reds…

 

DSC01692 (2)

 

And I color I cannot name. I made it out of all the leftover cream because I can’t waste it!

 

DSC01693

 

This is a current shot of my kitchen table. Thank goodness the holidays are over or I’d be in trouble. Fortunately I still have my island space…

 

DSC01695

 

If you would like to place an order for “MUFFIECAKES” please email me at smniblo@yahoo.com or message me on Facebook or Instagram. I offer boxes of six and twelve, or bouquets of seven and twelve. Larger orders may also be ordered on a per quote basis. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

DSC01686

A NEW VENTURE!

I have reinvented myself!! After working for 40 years as an Interior Designer, I have hung up the fabric samples and paint chips. I have been trying for a while to find something new that was fun and creative. I recently stumbled upon some photos of custom decorated cupcakes and started to watch videos to see how it was done. I bought all the supplies and started experimenting and from there I decided that this is what I want to do!

DSC01648

 

For the past week I have been testing frostings, colors and techniques. I have wasted a lot of ingredients, made a lot of mistakes and almost gave up.  However, I am now at the point I can “open my doors for business.” I have changed my Instagram handle to @muffiecakesbysusieq.  Please visit to see more photos of my progress.

 

DSC01656

 

I am offering boxes and bouquets of 12 cupcakes, bouquets of 7, and boxes of 6. Feel free to email me at smniblo@yahoo.com for orders and pricing. Pick your colors and choice of cake. Unfortunately, for now these cannot be shipped. Orders must be picked up, or possibly can be delivered.

I look forward hearing from you!

 

DSC01673 (2)

A WEDDING AND OTHER STUFF

What a month it has been! My son got married and I didn’t cry! Well, sort of…….

I thought I was fine at the rehearsal until I caught a glimpse of my daughter in law’s mom and then I started to bawl. Fortunately, I drained the reserve, because when it came time for the actual ceremony, I was filled with such pride and joy that all I could do was smile and thank God for how I am so blessed with such a beautiful family!

 

DSC01546 (2)

 

 

Everything was perfect; the weather held out and the entire outdoor ceremony and reception went without a hitch. We were surrounded by good friends and family who made the trip to Durham, North Carolina.

The flowers were stunning and simple. Grown locally, whatever was in season was used and each table was different.

 

IMG_20180506_002235_692

My wristlet was hand made on a gold bangle that I will always have.

IMG_20180506_002437_433

The bride’s bouquet was a gorgeous mix of pastels; so simple and elegant!

 

31543351_10211287682521162_4699815066554335232_o (2)

When my son told me they were having cheese cake for desert I thought “Great! That’s my favorite!”

However they literally made a “cake” out of “cheese”!!

DSC01578

It was a brilliant idea. Right after the ceremony, there was a traditional cake cutting ceremony with photos, and then the sliced cheese plates were put on each table as an appetizer. The real desert was a donut tower that got devoured.

While in Durham, we were able to do several day trips, including the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University. One word describes the trip; SPECTACULAR! If you are ever in the area, be sure to take the time and walk the grounds. LOTS of inspiration with many different themes. Perennial, Asian, Learning and Rose gardens are some of specialties. The following photos are mostly of just the perennial section so you can imagine the size of the entire gardens.

 

20180506_114512

20180506_120359

20180506_121122

20180506_121328

20180506_121452

20180506_121510

20180506_121529

20180506_121536

20180506_121557

20180506_121621

20180506_121649

20180506_121709

20180506_121747

20180506_121921

20180506_121933

20180506_122001

20180506_122014

20180506_122028

20180506_122053

20180506_122106

20180506_122138

20180506_122203

20180506_122234

20180506_123053

20180506_123640

20180506_123713

20180506_123804

20180506_123912

20180506_124020

IMG_20180509_141830_144

IMG_20180509_141830_147

IMG_20180509_141830_149

IMG_20180509_141830_361

So two years of anticipation and planning have come and gone and we are now left with some wonderful memories. This new phase of life is bringing a lot of change. I look forward to embracing it all and of course, looking forward to grandchildren!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Busy

I am officially sick of winter. I am tired of being house bound, tired of grey skies and tired of seeing snow. Fortunately, this winter I have had several work projects that have kept me very busy and interacting with people.

One that I am very pleased with is a 30,000 square foot fitness facility that I was hired to redesign and refresh. The first phase was the lobby which has a working fireplace, wi-fi seating and a dining area. With my computer assisted floor planning program, I was able to make a rendering for the client to visualize the concept. This is the layout from overhead

Screenshot-2017-10-27 RoomSketcher

And then seen as if standing in the room…

Screenshot-2017-10-27 RoomSketcher(1)

Learning these programs are very time consuming but so worth it when presenting a plan to a client. It really helps them to get a very good idea of how the finished product will look.

This a photograph of the room BEFORE:

Very dark scratched vinyl floor, three different shades of olive green on the walls, and dark worn upholstery. TV’s were also set way too high to comfortably watch.

DSC01384

 

This is the almost AFTER result. The owner of the facility did not want an industrial look but rather a cozier traditional feel as if in one’s home. I found a wallpaper to repeat the stone of the fireplace. The room is all one color slate blue, grey tile that looks like wood is on the floor, and upholstery is now slate and grey tones centered around a beautiful area rug.

 

IMG_1211

Across the room is a 25 foot banquette that spans the length of the room with bistro tables for dining. The transformation is still in progress and I will have more photos to share soon. Maybe by then we will be having warmer weather?

Virtual VS. Reality

My grandfather, George E. Minton, was the lead architect for the city of New York back in the 50’s and 60’s. He worked on many projects including LaGaurdia airport, Gimbel’s department stores and many parts of the 1964 World’s Fair. He would often take me to his office at the Department of Marine and Aviation on the west side of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River at Pier 57. To this day a plaque with his name on it remains on the building.

(photo courtesy Pinterest)

new-york-city-amfc33

I have such vivid memories of the 3d scale models and drafting tools everywhere. He gave me free reign to “play” with anything I chose to; the wax pencils that you sharpened by pulling a string and peeling the paper, the erasers that were like a big ball of Silly Putty, and the extremely sharp drafting tools. The thing I was intrigued by, though were the blue prints rolled up everywhere in bins and laid out on large drafting tables. At that time blue prints were exactly as they were called; BLUE!

                                                        (photo credit Pinterest)

home-art-illustrations-blueprints-statue-liberty-blueprint_77260

As the years have gone by and technology has taken over, the art of hand drafting has unfortunately almost become a lost art. I’m not sure if my grandfather would be disappointed or impressed, but CAD (computer assisted design) seems to be the method of choice. As an Interior Designer it is important to keep up with the trends especially when working with a younger generation.

Between Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and Instagram, I have all I can do to constantly keep up with social media. It took me a very long time to figure it all out and just when I think I’ve got it, something new comes out and it’s time to relearn yet another platform!

One of the most important tools I have had to learn is virtual space planning. There are many different programs out there and it took me a while to find the best one for my needs but I think I finally got it. Basically, I had to find a way to best convey my vision to a client before they bought anything.  If people didn’t need this sort of help, they wouldn’t need my services, so it’s my job to make it as easy as possible for them.

Almost all jobs require a floor plan. A floor plan is drawn as if you were looking down into the room overhead to see how everything fits. This is a basic plan that I started off with for my client’s room.

RoomSketcher Level Image.jpg

This is a very helpful tool for furniture placement. However, in the case of this room, the client wanted a complete overhaul which involved ripping out an old mantle, installing sliding barn doors for noise control, and wallpapering the entire room. They wanted to have comfortable seating to watch t.v., but also a bar area with pendant lighting for entertaining.

With this program, I am able to draw the room in 3d and then move around the room as if I am walking in it. I am able to take photos of individual areas or single walls. After all is approved by the client, we begin the actual construction necessary and purchasing of furnishings.

This is the concept drawing of the fireplace. The client wanted to remove old tumbled marble and put up brick instead. They also wanted to get rid of the existing dated mantle and replace it with an aged wooden beam. Using real brick would have been costly and messy, so we decided on a wallpaper that truly looks like real brick.

                                                                       CONCEPT…

1

and the REALITY!

 

DSC01519

 

 The bar unit would also have a wooden shelf installed at counter height with two pendant lights installed above. Shelf units would eventually be put in for glasses.

                                                                        The CONCEPT…

1 (2)

 

and the REALITY!

 

DSC01518

I absolutely LOVE how the sliding barn doors came out! They separate the room from the kitchen to keep out noise.

This is another virtual angle of the room including the television. A custom unit was built for a large screen. Cornices will be going over the windows to match the big ottoman fabric.

 

original

 

The finished product…

 

DSC01520

 

this is another angle which includes the barn doors to the kitchen…..

 

original

again, the finished product…

 

DSC01514

 

This shot is  looking towards the sliding doors that lead to the outside. You can see the cornices wrapped in plastic that will be hung on the windows and slider.

 

DSC01516

 

This is one of my favorite rooms I have done so far. It is time consuming to learn these types of programs but worth it in the end. It is very important to me to help my clients visualize as much as possible when planning a project. I was excited to share it and show just how far technology has come. I can’t imagine how much more we will be able to do in the future such as holograms and virtual 3d.

My grandfather would certainly be amazed!

 

 

 

Six Days Until…

The holidays started very early for Hubby and I this year. We visited our son in Houston, Texas for the first time since he moved there.

For our long weekend we stayed at the Houstonian Hotel which in itself was an experience. It is a very large and beautifully furnished conference center also located in Houston. Visitors are greeted by this impressive two story fireplace in the lounge.

IMG_20171112_100354070

Our son bought us all tickets to go to the “Nutcracker Market” which is very famous to the city of Houston. I have never heard of the Nutcracker Market, but from what we learned, it promised to be a fun day.

 

These words, taken from the website of the market, explain how this yearly event came to be:

“In 1981, visions of sugar plums inspired long-time Houston Ballet supporter Preston Frazier to approach the board of Houston Ballet Guild with a new concept and means to raise much needed funds for the Houston Ballet Foundation, its Academy and scholarship programs. His dream of a holiday market in the tradition of a European or Latin American street market has grown steadily and spectacularly ─ from humble beginnings in a church bazaar setting to a four-day shopping extravaganza at NRG Center. In 2017, over 104,600 customers with a strong passion to shop spent over $19.8 million at more than 280 national and international booths ─ each offering unique items for the entire family, including home décor, gourmet food, apparel, accessories, toys, garden items and much, much more … and all of this just in time for holiday shopping!

From the moment former First Lady Barbara Bush cut the ribbon at the opening of the Nutcracker Market, and through the many successful years filled with a lot of enthusiasm, imagination and dreams, the Nutcracker Market has become an annual tradition that kicks off the holiday season in Houston, Texas.”

(picture courtesy Nutcracker Market website)

blowup-nut-downtown1

We all went out for a big southern breakfast, and with comfortable shoes on, we made the trip to the NRG center, next to the Houston Astrodome.

IMG_20171111_114153116

 

Overwhelming was an understatement. Booth after booth of Christmas decor, Christmas attire, Christmas crafts and Christmas food were everywhere.

 

IMG_20171111_114559020_HDR

 

IMG_20171111_114608024

 

IMG_20171111_114742070_HDR

 

IMG_20171111_114802679_HDR

 

IMG_20171111_114831449

 

IMG_20171111_115132058_HDR

 

IMG_20171111_115254513

 

And EVERYTHING was for sale!

 

IMG_20171111_114023706_HDR

 

IMG_20171111_115359127

 

IMG_20171111_115412179

 

IMG_20171111_120304331

 

IMG_20171111_125606549

 

Even Elvis made an appearance…

 

IMG_20171111_120008306

We spent about five hours browsing aisle after aisle. We managed to leave empty handed, knowing whatever we bought would have to be put on the plane ride back.

But I certainly got a lot of ideas for our yearly Christmas party…

The day after the market, the boys had enough shopping so the girls decided to go out and explore the town. We had  a lovely outdoor lunch at “Tiny Boxwoods”, a very popular and well known place for great food.

 

Pastry Chef Vanarin Kuch of Tiny Boxwoods - Houston, TX

After eating, we went to the newly completed Restoration Hardware.

 

IMG_20171110_125720963

The company has completely redone their marketing strategy. They are now only located in major cities and in large, iconic buildings, be it an old post office library or bank. The stores are now made to look as if you are in a multi level estate with each different room showcasing oversized pieces in a grand manner.

IMG_20171110_125410429

 

IMG_20171110_124519491_HDR

 

Gone are the days of walls covered in doorknobs and handles. They have really evolved into a virtual display of well made furniture with a true WOW factor!

 

IMG_20171110_124131965

 

The most impressive part of the showroom is the rooftop terrace.

 

IMG_20171110_124557744

 

It showcases all of the outdoor collections RH offers. The combination of the 85 degree temperature that day with the view of the Houston skyline was such a delight!

 

IMG_20171110_124726778

 

IMG_20171110_124847249

 

IMG_20171110_124836133

 

IMG_20171110_124641972

This space would be perfect to rent for private parties, but the manager said they were not equipped to do that for now…

But speaking of parties,… even though I left Houston empty handed, I knew as soon as I got back it would be time to start planning our annual Christmas party. I had so much inspiration from the Nutcracker Market dancing in my head. I had centerpieces to make and decided that this year’s theme would be all gold.

I made lit Christmas trees that stood on pedestals with little wrapped presents at the base.

DSC01453

 

On December 9th, we celebrated the upcoming holiday with family and friends, thankful for another year together.

 

 

DSC01460

So, with six days to go, all that is left to do is wrap presents, welcome the kids back, and prepare the menus for the day. I am very grateful for another year of doing what I love with Design, and having health, friends and family to make me smile.

May you all have a blessed holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!