Cookie Swap - It's Pretty Sweet Cookie Book Cover Buy it! Cookie Book Cover Buy it!

"This really is the ULTIMATE cookie book. Whimsical, elegant, colorful, and creative!! What more could you ask for? You will not be disappointed.”

Colette Peters

Celebrity Cake Decorator; Owner, Colette's Cakes


Apr 20, 2014 10:24pm

Julia Usher baking in her home kitchen
Noshes and Notions

Like Mother Like Daughter :: Cheryl Cronin

Mother Deserves Best:
Or How a Garden (Party) Grows

The topic of mothers has been on my mind lately, and not just because Mothers’ Day is right around the corner. After a year of non-stop work on my next book Ultimate Cookies, I finally submitted the manuscript a couple of weeks ago. While many people supported the book along the way, the real driving force behind it was my mom. You see, if she hadn’t made cookie decorating such a festivity in our house, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be as crazy about the craft as I am today!

Each Christmas my sibs and I donned her frilly June Cleaver-esque aprons and tried our darnedest to outdo one another with the cleverest cookie design. Even when disfigured cutouts or errant icing blobs foiled our plans, we earned Mom’s unswerving praise.

So this got me thinking . . .

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Tabletop Twist :: Photo by Julia M. Usher

My Top 10 Holiday Table-Setting Tips

Still recovering from Christmas? Weary of party after same-old party? On the verge of drafting a New Year’s resolution vowing never to entertain again?

Hold on - don’t be rash! I know all too well the consequences of holiday party-planning burnout - and they’re not pretty! Foregoing good times with friends and family out of fear of more dishes, lack of novel decorating ideas, or even shortage of cash usually isn’t the right trade-off. Even now with a few days ‘til New Year’s, it’s not too late to give your holiday table some special design twists that won’t break the bank - or your back. With some thoughtful rearranging and re-purposing of things you already have, it’s possible to create an entirely new, and impressive, party ambience in much less time than you might think.

In this post, I share my top 10 tips for holiday tabletop design - basically those tricks I apply when I need to change things up fast, yet still make a statement.

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Table Set for My Favorite Magazine :: Photo by Julia M. Usher

Tea Time:
Behind-the-Scenes at My Tea Party Shoot for Where Women Cook Magazine

Even though I’ve been food-styling for publications for a few years, it’s not everyday that a national magazine emails to say they want to photograph me doing my cookie thing.

Usually I’m hired to make someone else’s food or space look camera-ready. It’s fun, but there’s little glamour in it for me. While others get coiffed and prettied, I’m the one who buzzes behind the scenes, unkempt except for two thick schmears of under-eye cover stick and a manicure chipped by excessive prop-lifting.

So when Where Women Cook Editor Jo Packham asked me last fall if I’d like to be featured, I nearly lost my dragées - and you cookie decorators know how dangerous that can be . . .

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