Shannon Willcutt, center, and daughters 7-year-old Macy, left, and 4-year-old Lucy show festive Halloween cookies Shannon — as The Cookie Mama — made for the holiday. Photo by: Kelly Tippett
October 28, 2009 9:45:00 AM
Grinning jack-o-lanterns, fanciful Frankensteins and dancing skeletons fill the kitchen at Lucy and Macy Willcutt''s house. But the 4- and 7-year-old sisters have nothing to fear. The Cookie Mama has just been hard at play, baking and decorating a fun-filled cast of characters ripe for gobbling up, each as sweet and tasty as the next.
The girls'' mother, Shannon Willcutt, has made dozens of Halloween and autumn-themed cookies this past week, bringing the 2009 grand total on her blog site''s cookie counter to 4,962. That''s right, almost 5,000 cookies made since January of this year -- nearly 500 Care Bears, Star Wars clone troopers, princess castles, baby carriages, clowns and cowboy hats every month. And that''s how Shannon became The Cookie Mama.
Happy at home
The former cost accountant is now a happy stay-at-home mom whose cookie craft allows her the flexibility to maintain a small cottage industry while giving her more time to spend with her daughters and husband, Jason.
"My little cookie business has been such a blessing to me," Shannon said, as Macy and Lucy nibbled on skeleton cookies around the kitchen table Friday. "Cookies have allowed me to continue to network and meet some wonderful people through baking."
It all began in 2008 when others admired the cleverly-decorated treats Shannon bought to birthday parties, to church or to her daughters'' classrooms.
"It started with a few calls for cookies, and then a few more," she recounted. "Jason and my girls have been so supportive of my little cookie habit; it makes all the difference in the world."
A big dose of encouragement came, too, from a friend, Katie McCrary.
"She called me up and wanted me to come see something she had done -- which was setting up my Web site; I had no idea she was doing it! I guess that was what actually got me going and got me ''out there.''
"Jason has been a huge confidence booster in all of this," she continued. "He''s seen how passionate I am about cookies and sharing them with others. Bless his heart, he hears me banging around in the kitchen at all hours of the night and is so patient and never complains. And when I call him to pick up a pizza or fast food on the way home and we have to eat it on a quilt in the middle of the den floor because there are 100 cookies drying on the kitchen table, he''s perfectly happy with it."
Shannon fills many of her orders in the evening.
"Luckily, I''m a night owl and can do most of my cookies at night, after the girls have gone to bed."
But just because their mom does much of the commercial baking after bedtime doesn''t mean the girls aren''t earning cookie credentials, too. They lend a helping hand when Shannon makes cookies for the family. Pre-schooler Lucy likes to pour ingredients and Macy, a student at Heritage Academy, is a handy stirrer. "And I''m the cookie tester!" Macy declared.
Artist at work
Shannon''s sugar cookies are the palette for her artistic decorating. She researched cookie and icing recipes online and tweaked them to suit her tastes and please customers. Using primarily Wilton decorating supplies and a steady hand, she creates cookies ranging from elegant to whimsical for everything from weddings to tailgate parties.
"I''m learning a lot about characters kids like, too -- like Wow Wow Wubbzy. And Barney is still popular, too," she said.
Her cookie shapes have come from multiple online sources, including eBay. For the hard-to-find, she and Jason -- aka The Cookie Daddy -- may go to the drawing board to create a template of their own.
"Jason is my artist," Shannon said of her husband, a commercial and residential designer.
Her most unusual request? A toilet.
While The Cookie Mama currently does not ship cookies, she has made deliveries within the area to hospital patients, ball games and surprise parities. She thoroughly enjoys sharing recipes and ideas with other enthusiasts.
"I think the best reward is just being able to share ''cute food'' with others," said Shannon, who regularly posts photos of her products on her blog site at http://thecookiemama.blogspot.com. "If my cookie designs inspire you, please feel free to use them yourself. I love to share designs and ideas!"
Editor''s note: E-mail reaches The Cookie Mama at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
Malinda commented at 10/28/2009 12:00:00 PM:
Not only do they look good, they taste WONDERFUL!
Sometimes those two things do not go hand in hand when purchasing decorated baked items.
Melanie Smith commented at 10/28/2009 2:50:00 PM:
The Cookie Mama and her cookies are the BEST!!!! Shannon can create ANYTHING you could imagine! Her cookies are absolutely WONDERFUL!!! You will NOT be disappointed!!
Darrie Price commented at 10/28/2009 5:17:00 PM:
They are wonderful cookies and Shannon and her family are wonderful people!!
Michelle Cox commented at 10/28/2009 5:22:00 PM:
The Cookie Mama cookies are FABULOUS! Not only does she customize them for any occasion they taste WONDERFUL. Thank you Commercial Dispatch for the article on The Cookie Mama so others that are not already hooked get in on the delicacies as well.
Brandy Caldwell commented at 10/28/2009 6:40:00 PM:
She is the best I live in Corinth,ms and my best friend lives in Columbus in March was her 30th birthday and I wanted to suprise her with some cute pig cookies since she loves pigs so I called Shannon up to see if she could deliver them to her on her birthday. She had told me she had never done that before and would love to it made her feel like a florist does when they deliver stuff to clients. She is the BEST and made my best friend's birthday.
Blair Curtis commented at 10/28/2009 6:56:00 PM:
We "heart" sweet Shannon!!! She is the sweetest "cookie mama" we know!! Wonderful cookies! She made my sweet little girl's first birthday one we will never forget!!! It was a "hoot" with Shannon's cookies!!!
Amy Sumrall commented at 10/28/2009 10:05:00 PM:
The most precious friend with the most adorable girls... who just happens to make the yummiest cookies. They are too cute to eat! A party ain't a party at the Sumrall's without Cookie Mama cookies! =) We love us some Willcutt's!!
Donna Manning commented at 10/28/2009 10:35:00 PM:
Congrats, Shannon! Our cookies were so good! Can't wait to meet you face to face, when I get some more cookies!
April commented at 10/29/2009 11:32:00 AM:
Yeah Cookie Mama!! Shannon does a wonderful job and her cookies taste as good as they look.
Angela commented at 10/29/2009 1:21:00 PM:
Go Shannon! I love you and your family and reading about your projects. I show your blog in my computer classes.
Liz commented at 11/12/2009 8:41:00 PM:
We moved from Columbus AFB last year, and I tracked Shannon down when we made a visit home (we have family in the area). She is so talented and we loved our cookies. My 2 year old still talks about his train cookies!! Great article!!