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‘Baking’ it Happen: Friends find new hobby in retirement in decorating homemade cookies

After teaching 64 combined years, friends Pam Harold and Juni Smith decided they wanted to decorate cookies.

Both officially retired from education in June 2020 but got an early start on retirement when school was dismissed in March due to the pandemic. Harold usually does the baking and Smith makes the icing, but the two roles are interchangeable. “We both work equally hard and can do either of those jobs, but that’s usually the way we do it.”

Their first project together was a birthday party for Harold’s grandson. “We had already been talking about learning to decorate cookies when we retired, so that May, I texted Juni and asked her if she wanted to help me decorate cookies. He was having a construction birthday party, so we made traffic cones because that seemed pretty simple. We found out quickly that cookie decorating wasn’t as easy as it looked,” Harold said. She said she keeps a picture of those cookies on her phone as a reminder of that.

“We taught first grade across the hall from each other for over 20 years and saw each other nearly every day. We were not only co-workers but also great friends. It’s nice to have a hobby that allows us to say close,” Harold stated. Both take pride in their hobby during their retirement. “I love decorated cookies! I think they are so cute, and they add a little something extra special to a party. I used to order them for my class occasionally and sometimes for my grandchildren’s birthday parties. When I thought of retiring, I decided I would like to learn how to decorate cookies. Juni and I both have grandchildren and thought that was something we could do for their birthdays,” she said.

They currently make sugar cookies and draw inspiration for decorations online. Harold said they decorate the cookies with royal icing and have thought about venturing out to try other flavors of cookies. “Pinterest and Etsy are great sources for cookie decorating ideas. They also have almost any kind of cookie cutters you could imagine. Sometimes, people will find a picture of something they like and send it to us to see if we can make them.” Although they get some challenging requests at times, they like pushing themselves to try more difficult things.

Friends Pam Harold and Juni Smith are ‘baking’ it happen with their homemade cookies.

Smith said Christmas cookies were her favorite to make for a while. “We’ve made so many different kinds of cookies that it’s hard for me to pick just one anymore.” Harold added baby shower cookies are her favorite but like Smith, she has liked almost all the ones they have made. She said, “The baby shower ones are usually done with pastel colors, and they look so sweet to me.”

Those interested in viewing the cookie creations can view the two’s individual Facebook pages. Some of the cookies are posted there, and people have even tagged them with pictures of their cookies at their events. They are always open to unique and different ideas from their customers. Harold said, “If someone has a special request, they can use Facebook Messenger to message us with what they want. If we have done it before, we can send them pictures of what we’ve done or could do.” Any questions can be directed through Facebook Messenger.

Both of their families have given their blessings in their retirement hobby. “My grandchildren are my biggest fans! They’re always wanting me to mess up on purpose so that I have a reason to bring them home for them,” Smith said. Harold added her family has also been very supportive of their cookie baking, and they enjoy seeing the finished product. “All of the grandchildren like having cookies for their birthdays and special occasions. Sometimes, they will even get us to make them for their sports parties and school class parties,” she said.

They do not currently have plans to open a cookie business. “Juni and I both have children and grandchildren, and we agree our family comes before cookies. We don’t want to be tied down to the point that we miss out on spending time with them,” Harold said. Both agree decorating cookies makes them so much more fun. Smith expressed gratitude to her son Griffin for developing the catchphrase “baking it happen” during their endeavor. They took the play on words to heart when they decided to learn how to decorate cookies after retirement. “This has been very enjoyable for us, and now we’re ‘baking’ it happen,” they said.

Prior to retirement, Harold taught for 36 years at Straughn Elementary School and 38 years in all. Smith taught first grade at SES for all 26 years of her career and worked directly with Harold for 24 years. After a long journey of teaching children, the two friends remain hard at work in their retirement as cookie decorators.

For more information, contact Pam Rodgers Harold and Juniorette Smith through Facebook. “We’ve found that we work well together, and our talents compliment each other. We just make a good team,” Harold said.