Posts Tagged ‘cook book’

Get To Know: Julia Usher (And Enter To Win Giveaway)

Julia Usher

Clockwise from top: Cookie Place Cards (photo: Steve Adams), Louis Tufted Chaise, Facebook, Twitter, favorite wedding cake (photo: Susan Jackson), Mars and Valentine ‘Love & Happiness’ Rose Quartz Earrings, Stonington Maine, Currey & Co Belmonte Wall Sconce

Bling in the New Year Party

Bling in the New Year Party styled by Julia Usher (photo: Greg Rannells)

"Bling in the New Year" party

Bling in the New Year Party styled by Julia Usher (photo: Greg Rannells)

“Bling in the New Year” party

Bling in the New Year party gifts for each guest (photo: Karen Forsythe)

Skipping right past the Easy Bake oven stage, stylist and pastry chef Julia Usher has been wowing both the eye and the palate with her sophisticated and tasty endeavors ever since childhood. Her work has been celebrated by Bon Appétit, nearly every national bridal magazine and Vera Wang on Weddings, and Julia’s sweet tooth satisfying recipes are abundant on her blog as well as in her award-winning book Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year. Julia’s here to give us a taste of the “sweet life.”

What’s your best tip for making guests’ eyes light up when entertaining?
Guests love to know you care and they also love the unexpected – at least when it comes in small and pleasant doses! There is no better way to say you care than by taking the time to make something special, and ideally personalized, for each guest. This something could be as simple as a handmade menu at each place setting, a hand-delivered invitation, the evening’s recipes bound into a booklet and given as a favor, or a specially wrapped gift, such as those I bedazzled with vintage jewelry for my “Bling in the New Year”, a dessert party styled for St. Louis AT HOME magazine.

The unexpected comes into play by working unusual elements into traditional party accoutrements. For instance, I’ve been known to make place cards from cookies, menus from recycled postcards and magazines, placemats from collages of guests’ photos, even table runners from pages of guests’ old yearbooks. I also like to forego the same-old floral centerpiece and mix things up a bit. At my New Year’s party, I played up the sweetness of the dessert table with gilded sticks decked with rock candy. Even small, inexpensive surprises can have a lasting ah-ha effect.

Give us a peek into your style obsessions, faves, inspirations and guilty pleasures!

  • Favorite party you’ve styled: “Bling in the New Year” where my dining room served as a focal point. Swathed in my signature colors of green with accents of tarnished bronze or gold for a hit of elegance, the room is filled with eclectic antiques that all work together because they share a common theme: each has survived decades to tell a story, conveying a sense of purpose and past.
  • Favorite cookie you’ve made: For their looks, I’d choose my cookie place cards from my upcoming book, Julia M. Usher’s Ultimate Cookies. For their wonderful interplay of textures (chewy, crunchy, and gooey, all at once), I’d choose my Gingersnap Thumbprint Cookies.
  • Favorite cake you’ve made: A cake I made for a small, intimate wedding. Its romantic styling really resonated with me, plus it was as tasty as it looked (kudos to my bakery staff at the time). The inside was a rustic pear-almond cake layered with almond dacquoise, cream cheese filling, and sliced poached pear (shown above).
  • Favorite Layla Grayce items you’d want in your home: Louis Tufted Chaise and Currey & Co Belmonte Wall Sconce
  • Signature fashion item: Vintage jewelry, especially pieces with elaborate filigree or other metal work.
  • I cannot live without: First, my husband Bryan; then my work (baking and decorating, and writing about them); and then coffee – and definitely in this order!
  • My favorite place on earth: Stonington, Maine, where I have a home away from my St. Louis home. The views of the harbor are breathtaking. It’s the only place in the world that can put me completely at peace.
  • My guilty pleasures: A sugary donut (or two) in the morning; pillows (I have not one or two, but upwards of 13 on each bed); Facebook and Twitter (some would say I’m addicted).
  • A superpower I would love to have: The ability to be in more than one place at a time. There are never enough hours in the day to do all I want!

Julia Usher Giveaway
GIVEAWAY TO GET COOKING
Julia’s giving away her current book, Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year, to one lucky winner. Just leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page telling us what your favorite cookie is and you’re automatically entered to win. Enter by the end of the day Wednesday, March 30th.