Tag Archives: pie it forward

Pie it Forward: New Creation Farm

24 Nov

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My husband and I had our chicken epiphany about 5 or 6 years ago.  The epiphany was the moment we tasted chicken that had been raised humanely, free range and was as local as we could get.  The eggs were a richer color and there was just no comparison to the taste of the meat.  From then on, we continued to go to the local market and purchase meat and eggs from the family whose farm was called New Creation Farm.  We loved our trips to the market, but we didn’t take the time to really acquaint ourselves with the farm.  I’m embarrassed to say that it was more of a novelty at the time – a way for us to feel good about our suburban selves when we opened the fridge and had scrambled local eggs for breakfast.  It wasn’t until we moved closer to New Creation Farm and took weekend trips to shop that we began to understand that there was so much more to this family than just the chicken (and pigs and sheep and cows).

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Farm store

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Julia manages the farm store

The essence of Pie it Forward is reaching out to people who have touched my life by offering a small extension of gratitude.  My initial gratitude towards this family was of course, the food.  We’ve been eating their food for years now and I am certainly grateful for the time and effort that goes into the amazing products.  But as I was making pie and thinking about why I was so grateful, it dawned on me that my gratitude had less to do with the food and much more to do with the mission behind the farm and the family.

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Pie it Forward Election Edition: The Woman Who Made Pie for the President

11 Nov

The story that follows is one that I wrote in my early months of learning to make pie about a visit with Mrs. Eason who made pie for President Obama.  In the months following that visit, I continued to stay in touch with Mrs. Eason.  Once, she called me and asked me to bring a pie to her upstairs neighbor, so I did.  During the holidays, I took her a tiny Christmas tree and we set it up on top of her TV next to her dancing trophies and decorated it with tiny bulbs from Drug Mart.  As time passed, she would call me for no reason.  Some nights I would answer my phone and just talk to her.  We would talk about the same thing – pie.  She would scold me for suggesting certain fillings would be tasty and tell me that her peach crisps were the best.  Pie, church, Mr. Eason, repeat for the next call.  We always ended with how Mr. Eason was doing, her husband who was in a nursing home.

As it always seems to happen, my good intentions to stay in touch with her were suffocated by work and kids and distance.  I thought about her all the time, but the phone calls became further apart and before I knew it a year had passed.  So had Mr. Eason.  I was heartbroken for her when I saw the obituary.  I made a mental note that I needed to get back in touch with her and print her the pictures we had taken when we went to see him.  And as it always seems to happen, my good intentions were once again drowned out by life.  Until it was too late and Mrs. Eason passed.

I was looking at her obituary tonight.  Survived only by a guardian.  I wish I had gone to her funeral.  I wish I understood that flying into someone’s life isn’t just a fun hobby.  That sometimes it’s interpreted as an offer of companionship and if I’m going to open that door, then I should follow through.  Offering kindness and gratitude is generally a good thing, but Mrs. Eason taught me that I should tend more closely to the relationships I cultivate if I want to stay on this path.

Out of respect for Mrs. Eason and her willingness to let me into her life, I invite you to hear her story.

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Pie it Forward: Family Promise

4 Apr

“Sometimes people are layered like that. There’s something totally different underneath than what’s on the surface….Like pie is.”  Joss Whedon

Pie continues to pop up in my life in unexpected ways.  This latest Pie It Forward was no exception – this was a total unplanned, surprise Pie It Forward.

For years, I have been interested in volunteering with a local organization that helps homeless families who are in emergency situations by placing them in temporary housing hosted by a network of local churches and synagogues.  Each time I read about it I plan to call and sign up to help.  But for years, I put off calling.  Because I forgot.  Because my own life distracted me.  Because my kid decided to stop sleeping and I was tired.  Because, to be honest, I was nervous.

Last month I decided enough was enough.  Poor me with my job, my house, my supportive husband and my kids who were fed and put to bed.  Time to drop my selfish excuses and help already.  The church we belong to was housing families and we signed up to be evening hosts.  Our job was to come after dinner and help by playing with the kids, assisting with homework, and really just offer support and compassion by talking and listening.

We walked into the church that first night and my heart was racing with anticipation and nervousness.  In the blink of an eye I had a baby in my arms and was chatting up a storm with M, one of the women.  She was young and had come with her husband and four children ranging from five to two months old (enter the baby I scooped up in a hot minute).  My mind was searching for things to talk about that wouldn’t highlight our obvious differences.  And out it came – “Do you like pie?”  We got to talking about sweet potato pie, holidays and memories of pie.  M had never made a pie of her own, so naturally I decided to organize a major pie making endeavor for our next scheduled night to host.

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Pie it Forward Celebrates National Pie Day

29 Jan

In case you haven’t caught on yet, last Monday was National Pie Day.  I had never heard of this holiday until recently, so naturally, I was all over it.  What better excuse to bake (and eat) tons of pie?  I spent the weekend baking up a storm and then the whole family hit the pavement to Pie it Forward.

Pie, pie and more pie...

We spent the day back in our old neighborhood showering our friends and former neighbors with packages of pie.

My thoughtful coworker gave me these great boxes!

First on my list were some friends from a group of moms that I met when my son was born.  I love these ladies and will eventually get pie to all of them!  These are women who withheld their judgement as I wished for my cat to die in a freak accident during the early weeks of my son’s birth. They didn’t flinch when I fled a party after mere minutes because our entire family was having a meltdown.  These are the friends who made me feel as if it was perfectly normal to stick my one year old in a blow-up baby bathtub filled with masses of leftover cooked pasta because I was out of ideas to entertain him. And for that, they deserve pie for the rest of their lives.

Pie for two! (well, her third actually)

Then is was on to the old ‘hood to drop in unexpectedly on some neighbors.

Neighbors are like family – no matter where you go, they will always be your neighbors.  As soon as each door opened, we were invited into their homes and spent the time talking, laughing and reminiscing.  My pie obsession was news to them, but they gratefully accepted the surprise package.

We wrapped up our time there and headed back so my husband could do his first official Pie it Forward.  My husband has chronic hives (don’t ask, we don’t know) and the pharmacist at our local drive-through pharmacy has gone the extra mile to help him.  She remembers his name, knows his prescriptions and makes him feel like she genuinely cares.

You should have seen the look on her face when instead of handing pills out of the window, she was handed a bag of pie into the window!  Although she was grateful for the nice gesture, she seemed a bit confused and surprised.  While I’m sure she does not get thank you pie everyday, we also learned the key to Pie it Forward – don’t forget to tell someone why you are thanking them!  I think my husband was a little nervous and he forgot to explain WHY he was giving her pie.  Practice will make perfect.

And now, the moment we have been waiting for…

The winner of the first Pie it Forward Challenge!

Lisa from Monterey, CA!

Lisa had a great story and really went out of her comfort zone to Pie it Forward!  She took the challenge and decided to extend her gratitude to Ronny Cox, an actor turned singer/songwriter who took the time last year to talk with her son and give him some advice about professional acting.  Here’s an excerpt from Lisa’s story:

It made me happy that this man would not only come to a small church that no one outside the area would have ever heard of and play a benefit concert for a small group of people to help a small, largely unknown, charity and to make himself accessible to everyone who came. So I decided that’s who I should give my pie (cake) to, Ronny Cox, actor, singer, songwriter and genuinely good person.

Nice work, Lisa!  You will receive this awesome decal/poster from Spiffy Decals.

Pie it Forward Challenge (Prize Give Away!)

18 Jan

Let it be known to the world that…

Monday, January 23rd is National Pie Day! 

Yes, my friends, not only have I discovered a new hobby, but I have also discovered a new set of holidays!  And if that were not enough, right on it’s heels is February – National Pie Month! Oh, what is a girl obsessed with pie to do?

The Pie it Forward Challenge!

To celebrate National Pie Day, I’m challenging all of you to bake a pie over the weekend and give it away to someone.  Not only will you get the greatest gift of all by doing something nice for someone, but you will be eligible to enter Pie Eyed’s first prize give away!  Here are the rules:

1.  Bake a pie – any pie.  If it has a crust and some filling, it counts.

2. Give it away to someone (take a picture if you want!)

3. Comment back on this post to tell me you did it and then email your story to pieeyedbaker@yahoo.com by Friday, January 27th.

I will choose a Pie it Forward participant to receive this awesome decal from Spiffy Decals:

This should motivate you to make some pie!

 

Now go forward and make some pie!

 

Pie it Forward: The Oil Change Guy

30 Dec

Here’s the thing – I look forward to getting my oil changed at those Quick Lube places like I look forward to wiping my kid after he goes to the bathroom. The experience is uncomfortable, it smells and I need to wash my hands afterwards.   It’s always the same song and dance.  The minute I pop my hood, I brace myself for the routine.

It starts with the idle chit chat.  Small talk always feels more awkward when it’s through your car window to a technician in a jumpsuit hovering above you.  He walks to look under my hood while the car gently sways from the guy in the hole below yanking on whatever part it is that gets the oil out.  Do you ever wonder what goes on down there?  I do.  Every time the car jerks, I picture a monkey swinging wildly from the bottom mechanics of my car.  Seconds later he comes back with, wait for it… the dirty air filter.  Yes, I can see it’s dirty.  Yes, those are dead bees.  Yes, I know my gas mileage is affected.  No, I do not want to purchase another one for $12.99.  He returns to check the fluids only to come back shortly to let me know how dull my wiper blades are and ask if I could use a pair for $15.99.  No thanks, I like the streaks the rain leaves.  They look like rainbows.  And as he’s recording my mileage, he always slips a plug in for some fancy high-mileage oil that costs another $20.  But it will preserve the life of my engine?  Who cares.  I need to preserve the life of my bank account.

My brother-in-law is a mechanic, so I have been able to avoid these places for some time now.  But occasionally, I don’t want to bother him and more often, I’m negative 564 miles past my oil life and can’t stand to watch the numbers plummet anymore.  So, I go looking for a Quick Lube.  And that’s what happened recently when I drove into a very suspect looking Quick Lube near our house.

My experience started out the same.  I pulled up, the garage door lifted and I was waved in by a technician.  But as soon as I put the car into park, I could tell something was different.  He was just standing there looking at me from the end of my car.  His face was smudged with oil and his long hair was clumped with dirt and, well, more oil.  His jumpsuit was filthy and he wore a tattered and torn hunter’s jacket.  I stared back and he nodded and motioned for me to pop the hood.  A little nervous about this grumpy technician, I fumbled around looking for the button.  I couldn’t find it.  The more I couldn’t find it, the more nervous I became until it was a lost cause and he walked to my door.  He grunted and pointed at the floor of the mini-van where the lever was waiting, plain as day.  I popped the hood and he went about his business.  Someone was in that hole tugging on my car, but I never saw him.  Not even 10 minutes had passed before he was back at my window handing me a clipboard as I simultaneously handed him my debit card.  I know the drill – give me my sticker and my receipt and I’ll get out of here.

As I drove away I realized something very profound.  He didn’t speak!  That man didn’t say one, gosh darn word to me… that’s the best oil change I have ever had!!!  I was grinning from ear to ear as I recounted my experience to my husband.

Since that time, my husband has been and I have returned for another visit.  Each time it’s the same experience – he doesn’t speak!  Well, this last time he did when I (once again) forgot where the lever was to pop the hood.  Instead of grunting, he walked to my window and said “on the floor.”  Maybe we’re becoming friends.

This past time, the owner was there and he came over to talk to me.  We chatted for a bit, but you know what?  He didn’t try to sell me an air filter!  In fact, they have never once showed me my air filter! I told him how much I enjoyed coming there and what a great experience it has been.  I asked him about the technician who doesn’t speak and found out that his name is Billy.  So, naturally, I returned with some pie for him and Billy.  Billy wouldn’t come talk to me but I packaged up some pie for him and wrote a note thanking him for such a great oil change.

The owner and his dog

As I turned to leave, the pie was sitting on the service desk and I caught Billy’s eye.  I didn’t speak.  I just nodded towards the pie as if to say “on the desk” and walked out.

For your silent service and never showing me my air filter, you deserve some pie, Oil Change Guys.

xoxo,

The Pie Eyed Piper

Pie it Forward: Miss Lena

27 Nov

What better time to spread the pie love than the week of Thanksgiving?  In addition to choosing someone deliberately, I also kept some pie in my car and handed it out when nice people crossed my path.

Thanksgiving pies

For some reason, I get really nervous before giving people pie. I have stage fright and feel like I need to rehearse.  “Excuse me, you are really nice and deserve some pie.”  No, too random.  “Hello, I have a strange obsession making pie and give it to people who are nice.  Want some?”  Nope, too I-laced-your-pie-with-poison.  “Hi, I love pie so much that I bake it all the time.  Therefore, I have a pie surplus and need to give it away.  You deserve some pie today.”  Close, but screams I don’t have a life after the kids go to bed, so I make pie.

Despite my nervousness, somehow I find the right thing to say and am always glad I did it.  People are genuinely happy to have some unexpected pie enter their life.  And their reactions remind me how little we thank those around us who make our days a little easier, a little happier and a little brighter.

Pie it Forward: Miss Lena

When I sent my son Elliot off for his first day of school, I didn’t realize what an important part of the day his bus driver, Miss Lena would be.

Miss Lena has been driving a bus for 14 years and has come to know our neighborhood like a second family.  She’s quick to point out that she likes the challenge of our neighborhood – the hills, sharp curves and narrow roads keep her on her toes.  But she’s even quicker to point out how much she loves the children.  And the children love her because she is just so nurturing and kind. Apparently, Elliot went for a spell where he left his lunch box on the bus every morning.  And every morning, Miss Lena would drive it back to the school for him.  She gave him a clip so that he could attach his lunch box to his book bag.  Being new to all of this, I didn’t even know they sold clips for that.

He never looked back...

On the day that I had Elliot pinned on the concrete shoving shoes on his feet while he howled in protest, Miss Lena’s smile and understanding wave calmed what had been an absolute rock bottom morning.  Elliot was crying, I was crying – it was a scene I’m sure she has seen played out hundreds of times by overtired parents and kindergartners.  But she greeted him with that same warmth that made us both feel that everything would be ok.

I have come to love the ritual that Elliot and I share each morning.  I grab my coffee as he grabs his lunchbox and we wait outside until the bus rounds the corner.  A quick kiss and a “have a good day” and he’s off, bounding to the end of the driveway, eager for Miss Lena to wave him safely onto the bus.  I stand sipping my coffee, watching him make his way to his seat.  The stop sign retreats to the side of the bus and Miss Lena gives me a friendly hello. As the bus pulls away, Elliot’s tiny face stares back at me from his window and we get one last wave.  I turn away and smile knowing that he’s safe thanks to Miss Lena.

And for that, you deserve pie everyday, Miss Lena.

xoxo, The Pie Eyed Piper

 

 

 

Pie it Forward: Ms. Tabor

13 Nov

We all have one.  That favorite teacher who you still think about even though you’re decades removed from their classroom.  The one whose example you call upon when giving your husband (who is a teacher) a pep talk that someday one of his students will be talking about him.  Good teachers get under your skin and their influence travels with you for a lifetime.  Since I was heading to my hometown this weekend, I decided to bring Pie it Forward to my roots and pass the pie love on to one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Tabor.

I wouldn’t have her until Sophomore English, but Ms. Tabor was one of those legends that the older kids pass along as soon as you enter high school.  “Don’t call her Mrs. or she’ll give you an F.”  I had never met anyone that went by Ms., and I really didn’t know what that meant.  I knew what a Miss was and what a Mrs. was, but Ms. conjured up visions of a woman who was too old to marry living with her 12 cats.   “You know, she’s married to Mr. Kachele but told him she didn’t want his name.”  Now I was even more intrigued.  That was an option?  You could get married and keep your own name?  “No one gets an A in her class – especially boys.”  I was darn right petrified to begin my Sophomore year English class with Ms. Tabor.

I entered Ms. Tabor’s classroom ready for the inevitable.  I just knew I would fail AP English and that I would accidentally call her Mrs.  But as the weeks passed, my fears began to fade and I was slowly captivated by a teacher unlike any I had ever had.  She stood tall – she may have even stood on her desk at some point.  Her flowing skirts, dramatic gestures and big words kept me on the edge of my seat.  She was passionate and she was smart – really smart.  And she expected us to be nothing less than brilliant.  In a year when I was caught up in my first real boyfriend, older girls that hated me and all the usual turmoil that descends upon a 16 year old, I found that for one hour of the day in Ms. Tabor’s class, my mind was quiet.  The clutter stayed in the hallway and when the door shut, I was free to learn.  It was one of the hardest classes I had ever taken, and I worked harder that year than I ever had.  I would venture to say that I knew more about English and literature at 16 than I do now in my 30’s.

But it wasn’t what Ms. Tabor taught me about English that changed my life so dramatically.  This staunchly independent woman who kept her own last name and demanded to go by Ms. planted a seed in my mind at a time when I was wrestling with my own ideals about what it meant to be a young woman.  Ms. Tabor did not set out to be the poster child for a progressive feminist, but her example steered me onto a path that I am certain led me to where I am today.

It is with a deep sense of gratitude for extending your influence to a teenage me that you deserve some pie, Ms. Tabor.

xoxo, The Pie Eyed Piper

Pie it Forward: Norm and Carol – The Market Connection

24 Oct

Sometimes, you only need to look across the street to find some inspiration.  When it was time to choose my Pie it Forward suspect, I knew exactly who was next on my list.

Elliot has signed on as my accomplice

Norm and Carol’s house was the first one we noticed when we bought our new house in the Spring of 2010.  Every weekend we would load the boys in the car for a nap and drive to see our new neighborhood, eager for the day those keys would land in our hands.  During one of our trips, we noticed a sign in front of the house across the street.  It was advertising an open house to come meet local farmers and sample their products.  Somebody pinch me!  Our new neighbors love local food and know farmers!  I could feel my depression from abandoning our beloved North Union Farmer’s Market slipping away.  We wanted to go so bad, be felt weird because we were not “official” yet.

Fast forward to a year later and what I have come to learn about Norm and Carol’s involvement in the local food movement has earned them the honor of getting Pie Eyed. Continue reading

Pie It Forward: A Double Dose

16 Oct

I was so excited about my plan to give away pie that I went a little crazy last week.  After dropping in on Jackie at the Shop-N-Go, I was hooked.  So, I decided to keep delivering pie to see how people responded.  And from what I can tell so far, people love getting pie!

Bedford Heights Police Department

I will be the first to admit that I have never thanked a police officer until last week when I delivered some pie.  I’m kind of embarrassed about that.  24 hours a day, wherever we are, there is a police force in the background operating as a safety net for all of us and I’m trying not to take that for granted.

My office has recently moved to Bedford Heights and unfortunately, we have had some run-ins with the police.  A suspicious car in the parking lot, a couple of broken windows from a BB gun, alarm trips (oops, we’re getting used to a new building), and some rowdy protesters (they come along with the territory).  Every time the police show up, they are just so nice, professional and understanding.

They even forgave me when I called about what turned out to be a cop doing security in an unmarked car in our parking lot.  When I kept asking when the police were going to arrive to check out this suspicious car that keeps showing up, the dispatcher finally said, “Honey, that  IS a cop in your parking lot.”  Oh – oops.  We’re BFFs now.

I was too nervous to ask to take their picture!

To the Bedford Heights Police Department – you deserve some pie!

Subway:  Russ

Part of the reason I am doing this is to make myself more aware of the people who are making everyone’s day a little better.  Russ at my local Subway proves that you can make someone’s day better no matter where you are or what you are doing.

I started to take notice the third or fourth time I went there.  Every time I left, I had a smile on my face and before long, I was looking forward to going there.  It was because each time I went in, I laughed – and so did others.  The place is boisterous and contagious.  Russ and his crew have a mutual respect for each other and their customers.

What I love the most is that Russ is the sandwich judge.  The line of customers get their ingredient choices evaluated and given the thumbs up or thumbs down.  “Oooh, she’s on fire!” he’ll holler if he likes your choices.  “Oh, watch it now, don’t go there” I’ve heard him say to the man behind me thinking about black olives.  “I know you’re addicted to this salad because we make it so good” he says.  And he’s right.  They have rocked my world with a spinach, buffalo chicken salad that’s made with love and laughter.

Russ gets Pie Eyed!

So, Russ, here’s to you and your crew at Subway!

xoxo, The Pie Eyed Piper