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Julia M. Usher’s Ultimate Cookie Decorating Series

3 Dec

We had the wonderful opportunity to meet Julia M. Usher in person last month at CookieCon. She was there as a sponsor and instructor, and did an awesome demonstration on cookie stenciling and 3D cookie design and construction. On top of that, she’s simply a very nice person. So when she told us she had some lessons available online, we were very excited to watch them.

Well, now that we’ve watched every second of each of her 16 video tutorials we can tell you that they are awesome!

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The lessons are based off of her book “Ultimate Cookies”. But even if you have the book, it’s so useful to actually see the techniques she shows in video format. She covers a LOT of techniques too! She starts with the basics making icing, cutting out cookies, making parchment cones, her favorite tools, and then outlining and flooding. Then she gets into all sorts of fun stuff like marbling, stenciling, using rubber stamps on cookies, applique work, wafer paper, and more.

One of the coolest things about Julia and her decorating philosophy is that she’s a minimalist when it comes to tools. That means that she’ll show you how to get the very most out of very basic and inexpensive equipment. Seriously – you can spend a small fortune on tips, and bags, and couplers, and squeeze bottles… or check out all that Julia does with a sheet of parchment paper. It really is amazing – and VERY encouraging to anyone wanting to learn how to decorate. It really doesn’t take much to do some very beautiful work.

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So these are videos you need to pay for to view, but they are WELL worth the very reasonable price. You can actually just pick and choose the individual lessons for a couple bucks a piece, but the price for the whole set is a meager $12.99. It gives you plenty of time to watch them too, so you can look back and review specific lessons at your leisure.

So yeah, this gets an easy two thumbs up from us. Karen’s Cookies has always been about being the best resource we can to budding cookie artists, so we simply cannot pass up the opportunity to give Julia M. Usher and her Ultimate Cookie Decorating Series our full endorsement and encourage you to check her out.

Julia’s video series can be purchased securely and viewed through Youreeeka.com. Click here or on the image below to check out a free preview.

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New Cutters Winners!

7 Apr

Wow! I am completely blown away by your kindness and enthusiasm about my new cutters. I was extremely nervous about showing my “babies” to the world. I wasn’t sure if everyone would be as excited as I was about them, but you were all so encouraging and sweet. Thank you so much!! I wish I could send them to all of you.  Here are the 10 winners, chosen at random using Random.org:

DJ
Sooooooo cute and versatile! I really love these. For other cutters I’d love to see a cutter for flowers besides the daisy/sunflower shaped one. Perhaps just a round flower making it more versatile.

Cindy K
Congrats on your new products! How fun to see your designs as cutters.

I have been looking for a cute fairy and dragon cutters lately — please do some with them!

Jane Koon
These are so darn cute and so easily adapted for any occasion. However I am in LOVE with that cryin’ baby Mike drew, it is adorable. I’d love a set, so pick me please…

Felicia Ferrigno
These are beautiful. I love the boy and girl, BUT i uber-love the baby and what you did with your designs. we were going to be grandparents this summer but the pregnancy went awry. But we know that God will bless our daughter and her hubby with a child. I am ready to practice some cookies for that shower that is the future! My show of faith in God’s steadfast grace!!

Brandee
Awesome! I love the baby cutter! And if I was to choose which you did next, I’ve always loved shoe and dress cookies, and the possibilities are endless with those!

Marie Wickware
Oh my gosh I can’t wait to use the boy! My son loves helping me and now he can make one of himself! Thanks for the chance to win!

Dorene
Oh those are so cute. I really like the babies. I hope I win.

Pathsofwrighteousness
These are just ADORABLE!! I especially LOVE the babies, since I’ll be adding one to our family next month.

Sadia K
These are all great ideas and much needed! For the next batch, maybe some cute animal ones?

Sue@Cakeballs,cookies and more
oh my gosh I love the baby, that is just the best, but mine would look nothing like that if I tried, but love it!

Thanks again for your kind words!  I will be emailing all of the winners shortly. If your name is on this list and you don’t see my email, send me your mailing address at contact at karenscookies dot net.

I hope you all have a wonderful, peace-filled Easter weekend!

Giveaway at Bea’s Blog!

26 Jan
Good friend and talented decorator Bea from www.cancuncookies.com just hit 100 posts on her blog and is hosting a fun giveaway!
She’ll be giving a gift certificate to Karen’s Cookies to the lucky winner of her drawing.  Browse through her previous posts and be sure to follow her.
Congratulations Bea!

Witch Set Winners

6 Oct

We have some winners! The winners of the Wilton Witch Set cookie cutters are:

Isabel:

I love it!! thanks a lot from Spain,

Jen:

Those look like fun. For the cauldrons what about having it bubble over in electric green bubbles with luster dust? It could be a spooky brew!

Emily:

I think I say this about all of your cookies but these really are some of my favorites. Have so much fun at cookie camp!

Congratulations to all the winners! I have sent you all emails, so check your box, or send your mailing address to contact at karenscookies dot net.

A Cookie Camp recap coming up…

Sew cute!

2 May

Yeah, cheesy, I know! :D  But I thought I’d share this idea for Mother’s day. If you have a mom or grandma who sews, you might try a group of these cookies for Mother’s Day. (And they don’t require very many special shapes!)

I made these for my sister a few months ago, and I was going to share them with you then, but now I’m kind of glad I waited because I think they’re a great Mother’s Day idea. (And that makes me feel better for not doing it earlier… so I’m going with it).

My sister Shannon is an amazing seamstress. She has sent me things she has made, and it blows me away. Sometimes she follows patterns, but sometimes she just makes stuff up! Like from nothing. Out of her head. Plus she has five kids and the oldest is 8. She’s amazing. So I made her some cookies.

I got my inspiration from Lisa the Bearfoot Baker. I think it was Sweet Sugarbelle who referenced these cookies a while back, and I thought they were so cute. So I took her ideas and added a few of my own and came up with this little group.

I used the second-largest rectangle from the Fox Run Rectangle set for the spools of thread.

I really wish I would have done some step-by-step photos of these. I still don’t think like a blogger, but I’m getting there! Anyway, I just drew the spools on the rectangles. I did a super simple design. I outlined and filled in the base of the spool with runny purple and green, and then let that dry. After it was dry, I went back and added stiffer lines over the top to make the individual “threads”. If you look closely, you’ll see that most of the color you see is actually the background solid-filled base, and there are relatively few thread lines on top.

The buttons were fast and easy. I just used an assortment of mini cutters– hearts, circles, flowers, stars– for the buttons.

Outlined, filled in, then added the rim and “thread” after the base was dry.  These are fun. I like buttons. :)

For the thimbles, I used the smallest oval in the Fox Run Oval set and cut a sliver off the bottom of each to make them flat on one side.

Woa. These are big pictures. You can see all my little mistakes.  Lucky you! :D  I used gray icing (mostly Bright White coloring, with a teensy bit of Super Black). I made the whole thing smooth by outlining and filling in. After that was dry, I went back and added the lines and dots. When everything was completely dry, I brushed them with Nu Silver Luster Dust to make them look metallic. I thought they were pretty cute and super simple.

For the tomato pin cushion, I used the largest oval from the Fox Run set. I really wanted to come up with a different type of pin cushion for this set so that I wasn’t totally ripping off Lisa’s ideas. But I just kept coming back to it because it is so iconic! Every seamstress I’ve ever known has had the tomato pin cushion! So I just did my own take of the design:

I happened to have two different colors of red, so I used the darker one to outline and the lighter one to fill in. I liked how that looked, so made two different shades of green so I could do the same with the “stem” (only opposite– outline with lighter, fill in with darker). My green and red kind of reacted to each other. I might have done the green before the red was dry enough. I was sad that they got kind of yucky looking. But it still worked ok.  I did the pins with gray icing and brushed them with the Nu Silver after they dried.

Then  made a little sign to put with them:

This cookie got a little funky on the bottom. Sometimes they do that!

I boxed them all up and sent them across a couple of states.

I thought it made a cute little set. I also included a bag full o’ button cookies. I sent these in February during a super cold snap (20 below zero!), and they got pretty messed up in shipment. They turned blotchy, and I’m sure it’s because they froze so hard. I was sad about that. I’m not sure how to avoid that in the future– maybe I could have insulated the box better or something. Anyway, live and learn.

But now it’s May! So it probably won’t freeze, so you should make these and send them to your mom (or grandma or sister or friend or cousin)!

Sew cute!

I really wanted to give away some Oval cookie cutter sets with this post, but we are sold out!! I’m hoping to have some more soon, and we can revisit this post, along with some other fun uses for the oval cutters.

Have a happy Monday!

Using Stencils as Templates

18 Apr

A couple of months ago, we got a whole bunch of new stencils in our shop. I got to work right away playing around with them (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!)  Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you what I learned.

I probably shouldn’t start with my favorite– I should probably save it till last– but I can’t help it. I love these. They are done with the Mini Spring Garden stencils.  Which really aren’t all that “mini”, by the way. They are made by a company who is used to doing large cake stencils, so they call most of the cookie stencils “mini”. They are a great cookie size.

There are a few ways to use stencils. One is the traditional way that they were probably made for. You can see Mike show you how to do that here. (It was his video debut. I think he should do the rest from now on… :D)

Another way to use stencils is to use them as a template. I really like using them this way because it’s easier to get lots of colors on there. Sometimes it’s pretty tricky to get multiple colors using the traditional stencil method.

I made the four rectangle cookies without taking any step-by-step pictures, because I’m forgetful like that. So I had to go back and do the tutorial on an egg cookie that I had sitting around. But you’ll get the idea.

First you’ll need to bake and glaze (or outline and fill in) your cookies. I used the largest rectangle from the rectangle cutter set. Let them dry completely.

You’ll need some edible markers. I like the Americolor Gourmet Writer 10-color set. Choose marker colors that match the color of frosting you’re going to use. For this one, I was making red tulips with green leaves, so I used the red and green markers.

Use the template to outline each section.

Finish all of your outlining during this step. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the first part dries before you can replace the stencil to outline the next section. I know that’s just common sense, but I think it bears mentioning since I may or may not have forgotten to do that on one of these cookies.

So here’s what your outlined design will look like:

You’ll probably notice that there are some little blotchy spots. Sometimes that happens. Not all the time, but sometimes. Why? I don’t know. But don’t worry about it if it happens to you. You’ll be piping over it anyway.

Next, you’ll want to have some runny-consistency frosting. Meringue Powder Buttercream is what I used here (watered down a little bit so that it is pretty soft), but you could also use Royal Icing or Corn Syrup Glaze. Just use what you’re comfortable with.

Outline each little section with your frosting using a small tip. I used a #1 here.

You’ll want to stay just barely inside your marker guidelines, because when you fill in there will be a tiny bit of spreading.

While outlines are still wet, go back and fill in using the same frosting and tip. After I fill in, I use a boo-boo stick to even out the frosting and to pull out sharper corners and tips.

Continue on with all colors.

Try to get your frosting colors the same consistency. My green was a little bit thicker than my red, which is why the tulips look more smooth than the leaves. But hey, it adds texture. Yeah. That’s it.

Then you can add a cute border to the cookie.

They actually make pretty cute Easter eggs.

Here they are on the original rectangles that I did:

These were really fast and easy, and I loved how they turned out. It makes me think of spring… which is still pretty elusive here in Idaho.

So today I’m giving away a set of the Mini Spring Garden Stencils

and the 10-color pack of Americolor Gourmet Writers

To THREE winners. I’m tired of only having one winner. So just comment on this post by midnight on Wednesday, April 20th, and I’ll choose three winners using random.org. Good luck!

PME Tips Winner

18 Apr

Sorry I’m late announcing the winner! Before I do… there were a few questions in the comments asking what the difference is between regular (Wilton, Ateco, etc) tips and PME tips. There are two big differences– first, they are stainless steel, so they won’t rust. Some of Ateco’s tips are also stainless steel, but most of them are not. The other huge difference is that PME tips are seamless, meaning they are a true tube. That makes a big difference in the opening of the tip. Sometimes tips can corrode and/or bend at the seam, and it makes your frosting come out all funky. The PME tips stay true to their original opening. Hopefully that helps explain them a little more.

Also, a quick note– we sold out of the 1.5 tips last week (told you we can’t keep ‘em in stock!), but I have more coming later this week.

Ok, and the winner is….

Yainea, who said:

Wow! What a difference! It’s with no doubt a must have for cookie decorators. Thanks for sharing and for the fabulous giveaway :)

Congratulations, Yainea! I’ve sent you an email, but if you don’t see it, you can send me one at contact at karenscookies dot net.

And for those of you who didn’t win, I have another giveaway coming up in just a few minutes….

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