Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Decor

I received an email from a NYC company called Urban Compass earlier this month asking me to participate in their Home for the Holidays campaign and share some of my Christmas décor and how it relates to our community.

At first I thought, "I have no idea how cupcakes or my blog relates to a real estate company in The Big Apple."  But I was more than happy to oblige.  Because.


I love Christmas music.  I love decorating for Christmas.  I love the lights and the shopping and the gift giving, the charity and joy, food and family... I mean what's not to love about Christmas?!?

Now I realize something I love even more about this time of year.  Whether we live in a swanky SOHO loft or a 1957 rambler in the Upper Midwest, whether we celebrate Christmas, or Hanukka, or Kwanza, or just being alive; most of us take time to decorate our homes and share them with others this time of year.  We find common ground that connects us to others despite our differences or geography, and we expand our community for the purpose of celebrating the GOOD in the world. 

We could all use a little more celebration of good in the world, right?

So without further ado, here are a few pictures of the holiday spirit I've tried to infuse into my little home during this most wonderful time of the year.  I hope you enjoy it, and if you have time, check out Urban Compass on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to see their Home for the Holidays pics (and let me know if you see any of mine there because I'm not on Twitter). 

Welcome to our home!


While working on this project I became more aware of how most of the cherished treasures in our home are handmade or were gifts.  I think that's true for many in this part of the country and speaks to what's important in our community/neighborhood.  These trees I made with some friends last year at a holiday craft-o-rama.  The wooden nativity scene was made by my father-in-law as were many of the wooden trees and décor you'll see throughout.  The large barn wood and corrugated metal board that I'm using to hang Christmas cards on this year was an anniversary gift from my husband and made by a friend of his.  This year, I made these simple stockings because my son wanted one with his initial on it.  I don't expect them to last forever.  ;)
A glass nativity set from my mom.

 I'll admit, I don't like the fake candles on our table.  I had some pretty red ones that smell like cinnamon.  But we opened this big set of fake candles last Christmas at a family gift exchange and one of my boys was SO excited!  When we were decorating after Thanksgiving he remembered them, specifically went searching for them, and put every last one out when he found them.  So.  He wins.  Pretty cinnamon votives are stashed away for another year.
I did something different this year that I think I'll do every year from now on.  I framed our Christmas card!  I'm sure this is a novel idea that no one has ever done before...


A mini "Sweetie" made my by friend Megan with Her Bunnies Three.  She's the best!
Our tree.  We've had this artificial tree since the first Christmas we shared as a family.  This is it's 9th year.  I want a real tree so, SO, SOOOO, badly!  But.  Choose your battles.  Or something.
 Our star doesn't light up and isn't the "star" of our Christmas tree show.  Ha!  But I love how humble it is.  It too was made (with sticks gathered from the woods) by the best father-in-law. Ever.  (He doesn't even have internet and I'm not sure if he knows what a blog is.  He's that cool! ;))
Lots of school made ornaments.

Every year I let the kids pick out an ornament for the tree.  Last year my oldest picked this one because it reminded him of a chipmunk (he named "Chippy") that visited us outside the resort we stayed at while on vacation the summer before.  I love that he chose something that connected him with a memory from family time.

I discovered that almost every year I've chosen some kind of red bird for my ornament.  I guess I have a thing for them.  Cardinals are the NC state bird after all.  A homage to my roots perhaps??
Awe, look how young we are!!

My kitchen even gets a little spark of Christmas.

Just a few ornaments here and there...
...a few other details... (Look, cupcakes!)
...and my inspiration chalkboard.  I like to write things that inspire me (thank you Pinterest!) and hope my kids notice them.  For Thanksgiving it said "Let our lives be filled with both thanks and giving."  This one is less inspiring as it is just something fun for the boys.  They like counting down the days to Christmas.  Plus when I read off a bunch of quotes for them to choose from, they were both busy singing their favorite Christmas songs (Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls) and thought my ideas were dumb.  So much for trying to inspire them!

Best part of the décor?  The people I share it with.  Here's one of them.

Thanks for coming on this tour with me.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy lots of time shared with the loved ones in your life!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

News, News, and More News

Hello Again Friends,

I didn't expect to have so much figured out so quickly, but this "break" has been pretty productive!

First, I accepted a part time position with my boys' school district which I am SUPER excited about.  This schedule keeps me busy when kids are at school while still allowing me to be available for them when they are not.  With this new addition to our life, I have decided to hold off on accepting new clients/orders during the school year. 

The good news is - I HAVE SUMMERS OFF!!  Which means I will continue to be available for weddings and larger orders June, July, and August.  At this point, Libby's Cupcakes Etc. will be primarily a Custom Wedding Cake/Cupcake provider without an emphasis on birthdays, graduations, baby showers, etc.  This is a little sad for me because one of the things I enjoy is coordinating cupcakes with your themed parties.  But, as I said before, there are many friends and my own family that I will continue to bake for year round, so don't be surprised to see some of that on my Facebook page/Instagram feed.  I have to admit though, it IS kind of nice having "free time" again. 

Finally, although I won't be opening orders up to the public, there is an opportunity for you to continue to enjoy Libby's Cupcakes Etc.  Starting mid-December I will be doing occasional baking for Stumbeano's Coffee Roasters downtown Fargo location (201 Broadway, lower level of the Loretta Building, sharing the patio with The Boiler Room).  If you haven't tried their coffee yet, GET THERE!  There is not another place like it in town.  They are having a holiday event the evening of December 11th with special cupcakes from yours truly while supplies last.  I hope to continue to supply cupcakes there about once a month.  I will update Facebook when they're available.

Thank you all so much for your kind words and comments throughout this transition time.  I feel truly blessed to be able to set boundaries, prioritize my family and life, and still continue to ENJOY making cupcakes and connecting with my clients!

You're the best!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Taking a Break

Hello Friends! 

It's been a loooong time since I last blogged. In case you don't follow me on Facebook or Instagram, let me get you up to date.  This spring I baked a lot.  Then there was summer filled with weddings near and far.  While I thought I'd planned well to leave open dates for family time in the summer, I neglected to do so for the fall which led to lots more baking!  This year has been AH-mazing!  So what's up with the "Taking a Break" title?? 

I'm glad you asked and I'll try to keep this short as there are so many factors that have played into this decision process. 

Most of my working hours are Wed-Sun with a heavy emphasis on evenings and weekends.  With a husband and two growing (quickly!) kids on a Mon-Friday 8-3/5 schedule, plus other activities, that means plenty of precious time away from them, missing out on the fun stuff in life to tend to the sweet-toothed needs of others.

I've spent much of this year thinking about how to balance both work and family time/play.  What's the best next step for my business?  How can I be more efficient?  Make the most of my time and resources?  Should I hire someone?  Get a permanent space?  How do I continue to run a successful cupcake business and not eventually come to hate cupcakes and wonder who these people are living in my house?! 
With the recent and unexpected loss of a family member, finally tackling these questions with action has become a priority for me.  As much as I enjoy the creative outlet and social aspect this business has provided me, it is time to reconsider if the sacrifices necessary to continue doing so are worth it.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." ~J.R.R.Tolkien 

What does that mean to my clients?  After this weekend's wedding and orders, I will close shop until the New Year.  No more orders for 2014.  I do plan renew my license for 2015.  There are weddings on the calendar for next summer that I will honor and I have contacted those clients.  (If I have overlooked someone, please contact me soon!)   If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram just for the eye candy factor of seeing what I'm up to in the sugar world, have no fear.  I have plenty of wonderful friends I will forever be happy to bake for and share pictures with you there.  However, part of my taking a break over the next six weeks will include pursuing other areas of occupation that may work better with my family's schedule.  (Know of anyone looking to hire a friendly and hard working Interior Designer turned Baker?  Send 'em my way!)  Beyond that, I don't have all the answers to what this business will look like in 2015.  If you have any specific questions, I will do my best to address them via email at

Finally, and most importantly... 

I wish I could adequately express how much I appreciate all of your support over the years.  Your kind words, thank you notes (I've kept them all!), and loyalty is what has inspired me to keep giving my best even when my enthusiasm was running low.  I've said many times how I have the best clients and that is SO true!  I really have enjoyed being a small part of BIG and little events in your life.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Much love until next time,
~Libby Martin

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sugar Cookies???

I have debated adding cut sugar cookies to my menu since pretty much day one.  And I still haven't made up my mind. Outside of making a few hundred for the cocktail hour at the wedding of some friends of ours, I only make them for our little family during the holidays.

The cons?  They. Are. So. Much. Work.  It is usually a two to three day process for me to make the dough, let it set, roll out, cut and bake, then frost and decorate. Not to mention they are a little more fragile in transporting and difficult to store than the cupcakes I'm used to.

The pros.  They are so darn cute when they're all done up!  And sooo yummy.  I kind of get in a trance when I'm decorating them.  They are a whole different beast than cupcakes.  There are rarely two that are just alike and that part appeals to my whimsical side.

So, what to do?  I'm still not sure.  Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on shaped sugar cookies.  In the meantime, I will leave you with these photos of some of our personal stash of sugar cookies.  Enjoy!

Our Valentine cookies this year.  (Since I didn't get around to making any at Christmas...)

Snowflake sugar cookies for a wedding cocktail hour.
Photo courtesy Merina Burda Photography.

Christmas cookies from two years ago.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ombre Ruffle Cake

This family is celebrating two birthdays and a baptism this Valentine weekend all while Grandma visits.  That's a lot of love for one weekend!  The 6" cake is for the oldest birthday girl.  It's strawberry filled with lemon cream cheese and decorated in an ombre vanilla butter cream ruffle.  Whew!  The mini cake is for little sister who is turning 1.  It is comprised of 2" layers of vanilla bean cake decorated with butter cream to match big sister's.  Grandma got a special gluten free petal flower cupcake for the party.  More GF white almond rose cupcakes (not pictured, silly me) were reserved for the baptism on Sunday. 

Mini cake.

Gluten free white almond cupcake with fondant heart.

Ombre ruffle sides. 
The client sent me a picture of a similar cake done in fondant ruffles as inspiration.  This method (see below for directions) using a petal tip in a pastry bag and a turntable is just a pretty and even more delicious! 
They looked so pretty on my table I didn't want to let them go!

Directions for butter cream ruffle cake:

Frost the entire cake in a thin layer of butter cream with smooth sides and top and let set.  Fill a pastry bag with the darkest color frosting and a petal tip or Wilton tip #104.  Start at the bottom with the fat part of the tip against the cake and spin the turntable as you pipe on the frosting. Work your way up in a continuous spiral, refilling the pastry bag with lighter frosting as you wish.  Pipe on layers of ruffles all the way to the top edge.  On the top surface, start at the outer circumference with the thin part of the tip facing out.  Again, spin the turntable and work in a continuous spiral motion until you get to the center.  You can leave it as is or place a pretty fondant piece on top.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lavender Rustic Wedding Cake and Cupcakes

It's cold outside.  So why not warm up by thinking about beautiful, country chic weddings?

I don't know why I never posted this one.  Wait.  I do.  It's because I did way more baking than blogging in the summer of 2013.  And this wedding is one of my favorite's.  The venue was the lovely Rustic Oaks and styling was done by the equally as lovely Rustic Trunk.  I'm so glad I get to work with these two fabulous businesses.  Not only will you (hopefully) be inspired with desserts in this post, check out these displays!

The cake with hand made fondant roses and carnations.
Meander piping on the bottom tier and satin ribbon on both.

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting, lavender sugar pearls and fondant carnations and monogram stamped medallions.

Mocha cupcakes and fondant carnations.
How adorable are these?!  Scale and stands from Rustic Trunk.

Lemon-Raspberry cupcakes with a new flower design I was working on.

Cupcakes in/on an old wooden crate = rustic love!
Now who's looking forward to summer?
Me!  I am!  ;)