Late November Pie Updates!

Hello pie fans! Here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

 

1. I’m still working on the pie book. I lost several days when I should have been writing to an absolutely awful encounter with some medication-induced side effects. The good news is that I have stopped taking that particular medicine, and I am ready to get back to writing!

 

2. I’m writing other stuff! I started a personal blog, so I can talk about things that aren’t strictly pie related without feeling guilty. You can read it here – http://smk-repository.blogspot.com/

 

3. We have been invited back to the Unitarian Universalist congregation in Brighton, Michigan, to serve pie during their annual holiday bazaar, the Care and Share Fair! Date will be announced soon.

 

4. We are looking ahead to 2015, and we are planning on throwing a fundraiser party on March 14th (aka Pi Day!) so we can finally file our federal 501c3 paperwork and pay our legal team for all the outstanding work they’ve done for us. Further updates as we have them!

 

Be well pie fans. Hope everyone is finding ways to make the holiday season a little kinder and less stressful.

Pie and Moral Purity

((This is the text of the speech I was planning on giving at Ignite Ann Arbor on Friday, November 7th. Due to a conflict, I had to cancel my appearance, but I wanted to share the speech regardless.))

For 2 years I’ve been giving away free pie, mostly to people but also to the occasional dinosaur.

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The whole idea is that I made the pie, but I needed countless people to plant fruit trees, harvest wheat, churn butter, drive produce trucks, and install electricity in my house first, so how can I claim that the finished product is 100% my effort and 100% mine to hoard to myself? It’s not.

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In order to pursue this dream, I quit a stable job in the non profit sector, throwing away my first shot at health insurance and a stable income.

As a four time college drop out, by all rights I should have held onto that job, but within 6 months of starting the pie project, I knew I couldn’t do either half way. Faced with the choice of stability and boredom, or chaos and fulfillment, I picked chaos.

I know that sounds really brave and at the same time really reckless, but for me, it actually wasn’t much of a choice. It was more of a decision to stop trying to force myself to do the normal thing, the expected thing, at the cost of my mental and emotional well being.

Giving away free pie has been a lot of fun. I’ve met hundreds, if not thousands, of really fantastic, supportive people from coast to coast, and I’ve also gotten a lot of criticism.

Things that people have actually said to me: Is the pie vegan? Is the pie gluten free? Do you use organic apples? Do you use biodegradable plates? Isn’t this really unhealthy? Sugar is processed with the bones of animals. If you use sugar you’re basically endorsing murder.

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Twice during the course of our 2013 road trip, we offered vegan pies. The first time was because I was trying to impress a local author, who didn’t show. The second time was mostly by accident, because the people who hosted us offered us vegan baking materials. But since then, I have stood by our recipe, which includes horrible murder-sugar.

Here’s the thing. This is a labor of love, and also a labor of picking up pennies in parking lots. We could make one cruelty free, organic, single source, stone ground, artisan, vegan pie … or we could make a dozen murder-pies.

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And since my goal is to share delicious pie with as many people as possible, I’m going to keep using butter and paper plates.

Moral purity is the enemy of actually getting stuff done. I struggled with it all the time on the road trip. Should we have gotten a smaller, more fuel efficient car?  Should I have been buying carbon credits or planting trees? Should we have just stayed home and donated the money to a “real” charity?

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But if I had been aiming for moral purity, I never would have gotten anything done. The price of moral purity is far too high, not just in dollars and cents, but in time and effort.

I could make a pie, but I need to use organic ingredients. Not palm oil though, destroys the rain forest. Has to be local. Can’t drive my car to the farmer’s market, that’s hypocritical, need to upcycle a bike from craigslist.

Can’t use plastic bags, need to sew a dozen reusable bags from old pillow cases. Can’t get the pillow cases at Salvation Army, they’re homophobic. Good thing we have Joann Fabrics around here and not Hobby Lobby, or I wouldn’t be able to buy sewing needles. It’s like a really sad version of “If you give a mouse a cookie.”

Follow the rabbit hole deep enough, and the only option becomes retreating to a cave and subsisting off of moss and rain water. And then I’d never interact with anyone. I’d have no impact on the world at all.

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So, I’ve made peace with the resources I have available, and with my limitations. In the end, a real pie made of murder sugar and GMO franken-apples that I actually serve to someone is FAR better than a morally pure pie that only exists in my head.

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A stumbling effort, undertaken with humility, is better than no effort at all. There’s always room to improve, but in order to improve, you have to begin.

Updates on the Pie Book

I’ve got 3 complete-ish chapters. My new goal is 5,000 words per week, or roughly one chapter per week. I hope to have a completed rough draft by the end of February. The book will contain our road trip stories, recipes, back stories, and much much more.

And … I need to commit to this. The potential rewards of writing and selling this book are so high. I don’t expect writing a book to make me a celebrity, but I could at least speak at local book stores and have a product to show for the last 2 years of work. I could actually get paid! I could have the money I need to open a pie cafe!

And so, this is my job now. I am committing to writing 3 or 4 days per week. If I happen to find a job that fits into my schedule, I’ll take it, but Chris is happy working nearly full time, and our lives are very small and inexpensive. We can live on his income for a little while.

If pie news happens, I will tell you about it here! It we can afford to do events, we will. If we get invited to do cool pie stuff, we’ll do it. But my top priority is going to be the book, for the next 4 months at least. Thank you, pie fans.

How is business planning like making pie?

You have to start with the crust.

I’ve been fighting it for two years because I’m a big believer in the power of the internet to work miracles. But it’s time to bring our pie dreams a little dose of reality, otherwise we’re just going to keep flailing around without making any progress.

I met with Tyler Weston today, a local Ypsilanti real estate agent. We talked about potential sites for a pie cafe. The good news is, there is LOTS of space in Ypsilanti for sale. There are closed bars and restaurants that would need some definite TLC to bring them up to code, but the space is there.

The bad news is, we’re not nearly ready to buy a building. In fact, Tyler says we shouldn’t even consider pulling the trigger unless we’ve got $100,000 in the bank and a solid plan for how to meet the monthly and yearly expenses on a building.

What we need -

$850 to file our paperwork with the IRS

$1000+ to pay off our legal fees

$unknown for a building, equipment, inspections, paint, chairs, tables, etc

$unknown to pay myself? I guess?

What we have -

A plastic box full of receipts from Costco

7 pie pans

600 or so stickers with our logo on them

So, we have a long way to go. And the reality is that we need money. And the reality is that, for the last year since we came home from the road trip, we’ve had a core group of 20 or so people who regularly donate money, and I love all 20 of you more than words can say, but that’s not going to get us noticeably closer to our goals. The reality is, I need to stop shaking the paypal button and I need to come up with a way to raise actual capital.

That’s a new word for me, capital. Raising $50 for pie supplies is raising money, raising $100,000 to purchase a building is raising capital.

Tyler had some ideas for us. Some local businesses in Ypsilanti might be willing to sell pies for us, on commission. I have a lot of emails to send and a lot of questions to ask. But it’s a start. It’s a lead. It’s a direction, which we sorely need.

Thanks for sticking with us, pie fans. Hope we have more happy news to report soon.

Greetings from Traverse City!

Hello pie fans! Chris and I are officially now Mr. and Mrs. Kovac! Here are some pictures from the last week.

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Our first dance at our ceremony/reception at Charles Mears State Park in Pentwater, Michigan.

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Shalosh posing with the card from my mother.

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At a historic cabin near the Old Mission Lighthouse.

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At Peninsula Cellars, a converted school house that is now a winery.

We have 4 more days of honey moon left, and we are enjoying being unplugged (for the most part). Our mission is never far from our thoughts, however. After the ceremony, when we realized we had a lot of left over, un-opened packages of food, we found a women’s shelter in Traverse City to donate them to. They received about 2 dozen bratwursts, 5 pounds of green beans, 5 pounds of carrots, a quarter of a watermelon, a pineapple, a Costco sized jug of mayonnaise, a Costco sized tub of sour cream, 3 boxes of graham crackers, 3 bags of marshmallows, and a dozen bars of chocolate.  Here’s their website – http://womensresourcecenter.org/

Many thanks to all of our pie fans, who have witnessed this journey! It was in Houston Texas, in July of 2013, that Chris proposed to me. We are so happy to still be so enthusiastic about each other and our mission in the world.

Bountiful Harvest Event Report

On Friday night, Chris and I drove up to Spicer’s Orchard in Fenton and bought an entire bushel of apples. We prepped the apples and pie crust and crumb top at my mother’s house in Brighton, but Chris had to leave by 9 pm because he had to work the next morning. So I assembled 12 pies alone, and didn’t get done until 1 am!

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At 7:15 on Saturday morning, I loaded up our collapsible wagon and brought the pies over to St George Lutheran Church for the Bountiful Harvest breakfast. I was greeted by a half dozen or so volunteers, including Kathleen, who I met a few weeks ago at the bagel shop. I also met Yvonne, the director, for the first time in person.

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Breakfast officially started at 8 am, and close to 100 people filtered in and out over the next 3 hours. After a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage, many people came to top off their meal with a slice of apple pie. I kept telling people that since the pie had an oatmeal crumb top, that made it breakfast food! I sliced up 8 or 9 pies, and gave away 3 or 4 whole ones.

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After breakfast, folks are escorted through the food pantry by helpful volunteers, who assist with carrying packages of fresh produce, canned goods, cereal, dried fruit, and even frozen meat! Bountiful Harvest also maintains a free thrift shop of clothes. Although it was the last thing I expected, I didn’t walk away empty handed – my gift was 2 pounds of dried Michigan cherries!

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Here’s volunteer Kathleen with her friend Bob.

 

I made some contacts with folks from other local churches, so there is a possibility we will be doing similar events in the future. But for the next two weeks, we are going to take a break from pie stuff while we go get married and go on our honeymoon!  If you follow us on twitter @pieitforwardusa or on instagram @pieitforward you just might see a couple of wedding pictures, but we’re going to be pretty quiet for the next little while. Thank you again for following us on our strange and wonderful journey!

Last Event of September!

On Saturday, at 8 AM, I will be delivering a dozen+ apple pies to St George Lutheran Church in Brighton Michigan, for the weekly Bountiful Harvest breakfast. Chris will be helping me make the pies the night before, but he has to be at work on Saturday morning, so I will be flying solo for the first time in a long time.

 

And then! We’ll be taking off for two weeks. We are getting married on Lake Michigan, on Saturday the 27th, surrounded by a small group of friends and family. We have worked extremely hard for the past nine months to keep this wedding low key and low budget! We’ll be self catering the reception, and of course, that means pie! And then we’ll be camping in Traverse City for a week for our honeymoon.

 

We are not sure what is going to happen when we return in October. I need to keep working on the pie book.  We intend to keep working with Mercy House. We also are still way behind in finishing our 501c3 application process, since we need to raise $850 to file the paperwork at the federal level. I might be starting a side project with a friend, to bake and sell cookies through the mail in time for Christmas. Or I might have to get a “real” job. We’re not sure.
Stay tuned, pie fans, and thanks for sticking with us.

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