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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!


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.


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 Click here or on the image below to check out a free preview.


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

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!!

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!

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

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 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:


I love it!! thanks a lot from Spain,


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!


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! 😀  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! 😀  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 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….

PME Tips

12 Apr

Here’s a little quickie about PME tips.

First a little background about me and PME tips. I’m a stubborn person. I learned to decorate cakes and cookies with Wilton and Ateco tips. They work fine. They cost about a dollar a piece, so I can buy lots and not sweat it too much when they get mangled in the garbage disposal. Which happens to me.  A lot.  So I kind of dug in my heels and refused to try the PMEs at almost $5 a pop.

Well, I started getting some requests to carry them in my store, and I have this thing about my store– “If I don’t love it, I won’t sell it”–  Soooo… I had to give in and try them out. And the results? Awesome!! How did I live without them?? My favorite by far for outlining is the 1.5. I keep asking Mike to bring me some home when I’m decorating, but we’re always out of them!! 😀 I just can’t keep them in stock.  So I currently have ONE that I wash out and use with all of my colors. Not even kidding.

So I had been meaning to write up a post extolling the virtues of PME tips when I got an email from one of our great customers, Kris. She did it just as well (or better!) than I could have, so I asked for her permission to share her great insights. So, from Kris about PME tips:

What a huge difference.. I am in love with them. I must order more very soon. I attached 2 photos of the comparisons of a PME 1.5   PME 2.0 and a Wilton 2.0    All with the same bag of icing withing 2 minutes of each other.. I am shocked at the difference. No wonder my writing always looked bad…. It was the tip all along. I have always had good penmanship except with frosting..I am in love with these new tips!

Here is the piping still wet:

And dry:

A few days later, Kris sent me a follow-up email:

Just another note to say how much better the PME tips work than Wilton. I am so convinced! I have told everyone I know about them and I hope you continue to carry them. I am attaching a pic of a  couple cookies  to compare.
Wilton tip #2 vs. PME tip #2.   It is like night and day!

The one on the left was Wilton #2, the one on the right is PME #2

Thanks so much Kris!!

Have you tried them yet? If you haven’t, here’s your chance. I’ll give one winner a set of every PME Supatube that we carry– 00, 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3— so you can try them out for yourself. Just comment on this post by Midnight Wednesday, April 13 ,and I’ll choose a winner using Good luck!

Kelly’s Birthday

10 Mar

This cake requires some explanation and a little Kelly History lesson. 😀 When Kelly was about 18 months old, she discovered “White Baby”. There were actually two babies– White Baby and Blue Baby– which were leftover jumbo beanie babies from the late 90s. She played with both, but White Baby became her favorite, and she couldn’t live without her.

This is Kelly and White baby in 2003:

Awww, look how cute they were back then! Through the years, White baby has gone through the washing machine more times than I can count, until a few years ago when I decided that one more trip might do her in. Several years ago, Mike and I were talking about how sad it will be when White Baby goes the way of all the earth. He decided to immortalize her in a photo montage and presented it to Kelly for Christmas. Here is Kelly today with White Baby and the photo montage that her Daddy so lovingly prepared for her. (It usually hangs on her bedroom wall– and it’s really dusty!!)

Isn’t that the cutest? I thought that was so sweet of Mike. Poor White Baby is looking pretty rough these days. She has a bad case of the mange.

When Kelly told me that she wanted a “Stuffed Animal” themed cake this year, I thought it might be fun to do a White Baby cake for her.

I’m not very experienced at fondant modeling, but I decided to give it a try. I did three figures, each one imitating the pictures in her photo montage.

Some close ups:

Probably a little too close-up, since you can see all of my mistakes! Oh well.

I have a favorite cake decorating buttercream that I’ve used for years, but I decided to try my newly discovered cupcake icing and see how it would do for cake decorating– borders, flowers, etc. It worked awesome! I did a border with tip 101 roses, and it worked beautifully for those.

Kelly wanted lemon filling, so I flavored the frosting with 2 tsp. of lemon emulsion to go along with it, and it was so delicious! I will definitely be using that again and again.

Mike commented yesterday about how presentation is everything. We were just doing a small party with our family and some cousins, so I didn’t want a huge cake, but I wanted it to look special.  This whole thing was only one cake mix. I did two 6-inch layers for the top cake, and used the rest of the batter to make mini cupcakes. That’s all pretty small stuff, but presented on a tiered cake stand, it looked a lot bigger and more exciting than it really was!

Happy birthday to my Kelly!

Onesie Kit Winner

10 Mar

Kelly was very excited to pick the winning number this morning (and she also appreciated all of your birthday wishes!).

And the winner is Pita from Dulce Decoracion in Spain.  Congratulations, Pita! I sent you an email, but if you don’t see it, you can contact us with your mailing address at contact at karenscookies dot net.

We had a happy birthday at our house. I didn’t make any cookies for the occasion (I think my kids are tired of cookies!) but I’ll post pictures of her cake soon.