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Hello 2024!

Running into 2024

Hello to 2024, Friends!

I hope finds you well and happy. 2024 is off to a chilly start here in Southeastern Virginia, so I’m taking time indoors on this cold day to fill you in on the highs and lows of 2023.

December 2023 brought with it a few new adventures for us. The City of Newport News hosted several Holiday events and we were asked to provide a cookie-decorating activity at two of them. For someone who runs an internet-based business, it was a treat to get out, interact with families, and see people enjoying our products first-hand. Keep your eyes peeled as I think we may be showing up again at events for Newport News (which are always open to all).

We had a big, fun change in the Cookie Kitchen in December.  A regular customer reached out and asked if I’d like a mural in the Cookie kitchen. Now instead of all beige walls I’m greeted each day with a sunshine-y mural that includes our littleJeanne in front of mural red bird and a text bubble I can write on! I’m not sure if the best part is the mural or that in the process a customer became a friend. Please follow Courtney on instagram @Balingart and keep her in mind when you need some amazing colorful art on your walls (or your workplace’s walls)!

In the late Fall of 2023 I made the scary decision to change who was hosting and maintaining The former company, while skilled, didn’t seem at all invested in what we do here nor did they seem to grasp the challenges of small business ownership.

The good news is that our current company is wonderful. Part of that wonderful-ness is that they care. They want to see us succeed, they want to make your experience on the website easy and seamless, and they seem to grasp that we don’t have the budget of a Fortune. 500 company;). There have been a few hiccups with the transition, but I’ll take hiccups over indifference again and again.

Speaking of the aforementioned balloons, we stopped offering them this summer. While I loved them as an add-on to a delivery, between the rental of the helium tank, the cost of helium, and some environmental factors, it was time to let them go. My apologies to those who loved that add-on. If anyone needs a bunch of un-inflated mylar balloons for various occasions, I’m the gal to ask!

2023 was a year of scaling back. The economy has not been a friend to small businesses, and it found me reverting back to doing as much as I possibly can to run the show instead of utilizing employees as much as we have in the past. For the first time I have real fears about the feasibility of keeping this going in a manner that will support my household. I am very proud of Cookie Text and all we do and have done, and I’d love to keep doing it. I think we call this stage ‘watchful waiting’…time will tell.

We have begun preparing for Valentine’s Day and lots of great choices are up on the website! I encourage you to check them out and order early. Valentine’s has always brought us to maximum capacity and I anticipate the same this year. Be My Valentine Cookie Cake

Personally, things are good: my boys are well and happy, the oldest moved to Richmond this Fall with a good friend and is studying for the LSAT, he is loving his new place. The middle son is set to graduate from Virginia Tech this May, and will begin his career with Smithfield Foods this summer. My youngest son has some crazy ability to excel at both his engineering courses and having a good ol’ time as a Hokie. The younger two play Club soccer for VT, so mama is very happy to know they see each other a few times a week and would be able to sound an alarm to me if needed. I traveled in November to Texas to see them compete in Nationals. Not many parents get to see two of their kids compete on the same team at such a high level. It was a cool trip and I am grateful.

Lastly, we are up for a “Best Bakery” award from Coastal Virginia Magazine. If you have a minute or two to cast your vote our direction we’d appreciate it. You can do that here. Primarily the win helps potential customers believe that ours is a product and service they can trust. We’d love to turn potentials into actuals, so thanks for your help!

Cheers to you and yours in ’24.

May it be our best year yet!




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Go Start

old and new cookie text picture

Go Start

My son’s second grade teacher sent a photo today of the CookieText® Andrew gave her for Christmas that year. It was 2011, and I’d launched the business that October.

Cringeworthy. That’s the best word to describe the CookieText in the photo sent by Mrs. Hunt. It made me wince a little to see it: I clearly hadn’t found the best way to frost and “finish” the cookie cake, the sprinkles appear to be put on in the same manner as when someone salts and peppers a steak. My actual piping of the writing on the cookie is as if a fellow second grader of Andrew’s did it.

That CookieText® was miles off the mark of what I would deem acceptable to send out today.

Though this blurb from Seth Godin is from 2014, I clearly applied its concept in 2011 when I launched my business:

Start your first business this way: Begin with the smallest possible project in which someone will pay you money to solve a problem they know they have. Charge less than it’s worth and more than it costs you.


You don’t have to wait for perfect or large or revered or amazing. You can start.

I was sure of my concept, that’s critically important, but I had to get started in order for my product to evolve. I had to learn by doing, my product had to have the opportunity to grow into what it was meant to be. It simply couldn’t do that as an idea in my head-I had to put it out in the world.

Things don’t have to be perfect to begin, in fact, I don’t think they should be.

Whatever your idea or product, please don’t wait until it’s flawless to start. If you have a sound concept get moving. Don’t wait until ‘perfect’ or you’re likely to never going  begin. Throw caution aside and begin.

Looking back at the 2011 photo makes me cringe, but it also makes me very proud that I had the courage to begin. I put myself out there and here we are 11 years later, making cookies that look as delicious as they taste.

If you have enough of the equation right (ex. our concept was sound, our product delicious, and our customer service exceptional) something will stick, you’ll get to keep working at it, and the growth will happen.

And if you think your business concept or initial product is going to be too rudimentary, take another look at what I produced at my start and draw your courage from that.

Put perfection aside and get your thing out into the world.

Go start.


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Who Are We Really Giving For?

sorry for your loss cookie cake

I was perusing the obituaries online early this week (I know, it’s a morbid habit I picked up when I used to work in a hospital  with old people) and was instantly struck numb.  Suddenly I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

There on the screen was a lovely picture of a doctor that was very helpful to one of my sons about 3 years ago. We had been through the ringer with him…from doctor to doctor, test after test, and no relief. He and I were both at our wits end.

All that searching for relief resulted in our finding ourselves sitting in the office of Dr. A.

Stylish and upbeat, she listened, she was kind, and she helped. It felt to me like the first real help we had gotten and I was grateful.

Seeing her photo and name in the obituaries didn’t seem possible or right.

Quickly I was transported back to those terrible struggles with my son…what a horrible and difficult time that was. My instinct as Mama has always been to just keep going, to keep working, to get through the thing and feel the feelings later.

Well Tuesday was much, much later, but I was feeling the feelings for sure. Swiftly a feeling rose above all the angst of that time and I felt pure gratitude. I was so grateful my son met Dr. A.

I suspect he saw her less than a handful of times, but my son felt heard, he felt understood, and he felt some relief. That’s a lot for just a few short interactions.

I stood in the cookie kitchen wondering, “If Dr. A just grazed our lives and I am this sad that her soul left this earth, how in the world are those who truly love and know her getting by?”

I threw an extra cookie in the oven thinking I would bring it to the office where she worked. I don’t know her family, but I could at the very least express my sympathy to the people that saw her each day. Hopefully it would be a small comfort to them.

I delivered it myself around lunchtime that day. I stood outside the reception window a couple minutes while the person at the desk finished a phone call. I had put a label on it to the Staff and, “From the Family of a Former Patient”. The gal at the desk took it from my hand and seemed to be reading the label while also giving me a questioning look.

I tried to speak, to repeat the ‘From’ portion of the label to clear her confusion, but my words were stuck in my throat as my eyes filled with tears. I think I said the words but with my cracking crying voice I’m sure they weren’t understandable.

I returned quickly to my car and shut the door. I wiped my tears with my hand and I sat quietly for a second.

It was clear as a bell in my head:

I gave that cookie to comfort myself.


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Local Mom Makes Good (Cookies, that is)!

Jeanne and son Eddie

Local Mom Makes Good (Cookies, that is)!

I grew up in Hampton, Virginia. In what is now the hip section known as Phoebus. My parents used to go up to Clyde’s and play shuffleboard. If we were super lucky my dad would take us to Fuller’s for a plate of fries and some Root beers. Clyde’s is no more. Fuller’s is now reinvented as a Raw Bar on a different corner in town.

I worked in Newport News…most of you from my area and era would remember the days of Heartbreak Alley: a giant nightclub with two then three different bars contained within. I’d work there in the evenings and did an internship then some temp work at Newport News Social Services, practically in the same parking lot.

When I had my own family we relocated to the Tabb section of York County/Yorktown to raise our boys. My three sons all graduated from Tabb High. You can’t live in Tabb without popping into Poquoson for groceries or a sunset. All these places are interconnected.

When I launched a cookie cake delivery business back in 2011, I imagined we would deliver to a very small footprint around Yorktown. That quickly changed and expanded.

It makes sense that both Hampton and Yorktown are now big sources of customers for us. Certainly my initial customers were people that knew me and trusted me to follow through…and the majority of people that knew me at the time were from the places I had lived the longest.

We now have quite a bit of business from Williamsburg as well, partly because we deliver to William and Mary, but also because of our family ties to the Virginia Legacy Soccer Club that is based in Williamsburg.

Hampton Roads is my home. I like that I recognize so many names that come through on orders. I laugh that it’s the same for my team-mate, she loves telling me stuff like a sender was her “mom’s neighbor’s daughter who later helped lead Sunday school with her’. I take pride that on the rare days that I personally deliver some of our orders that I know six different routes to the same place. I am proud that my company provides and exceptional product and service to my own community. I am proud that we are also able to give back to this community in countless ways.

When you shop local you support the heart and soul of our community, and I thank you.


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Good Vibes

CookieText that says Good Vibes

I have a favorite ball cap. It’s got a little partial rainbow on the front and says beneath the rainbow, “Good Vibes.”

My brother Jerome was hospitalized in early June. He had a lot going on medically, so the forecast for recovery was pretty grim. I would go to see him each day and learned quickly to not have any expectations: each day was different. Most of the time he was pretty out of it, I could talk to him but he couldn’t always respond. Sometimes when he did respond I could tell he wasn’t fully ‘with it.’

One Sunday afternoon I went into see him. I had snuck to the beach for a bit prior to, and I was wearing my favorite ball cap–both to have shielded me from the sun and to hide the hot mess my hair was from being in the Bay. Jerome was talking that day, not much, but some. I was sitting by his bedside and I realized he was staring at my hat.

“Good Vibes,” he said.

“Yea, Good Vibes, that’s what my hat says,” I responded.

Jerome had been struggling with movement, so it took me a bit to realize that he was trying to reach for my hat.

“Do you want my hat?” I asked.

“I want that hat,” he said.

“Why do you want my hat?” I questioned.

He said, “Because it says, ‘Good Vibes’.”

So I surrendered my vanity and placed my hat on Jerome’s head. I gotta say, it looked fantastic on him.

That whole visit that day was the best one he and I had while he was sick. I was about to leave and was halfway to the door when he told me he loved me. I grinned big and did a little dance back to his bed to kiss him goodbye again.

Earlier this week when I picked up an order ticket and saw that someone wanted me to write “Good Vibes” on a CookieText, everything about that day and that visit with Jerome came to mind. It was a nudge from the universe reminding me of the love between my brother and me.

I believe when people we love die their love doesn’t disappear, it’s still here with us:

in the form of Good Vibes…