Party Time. Excellent.

A few weeks ago, we announced the introduction of PJP parties in our quest for World Pie Domination.  And within a few short days, our social calendar started to book up quickly.  Our first event was scheduled for this past Sunday and rest assured, we partied like it was 1999.

Because it was our first birthday party at PJP, we were a little uncertain about our expectations.  We only knew we had one goal – for our guests to have so much fun, they would leave wanting to come back and visit us again and again.  And we knew that we wanted a baking party to be an authentic experience.  Our first step was to set the baking tables with aprons and chef hats for each of the 12 guests.  From there, we worked to stock each place setting with everything one needs to roll dough and bake pie.

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At our events, the guest of honor gets to choose the pie to be baked and on this occasion, our guest chose Dutch Apple.  After a brief monologue of our story, we launched into the baking.  Each guest found a ball of fresh dough at their station and Jeanne described how to flour the baking space and roll out the doll to the thickness she prefers…which is basically no thickness at all.  The woman only believes in exceptionally thin dough…to the point that she actually cleared each guest’s dough thickness before they could continue to the next step.  There is no easy way out at PJP Buttonwood.  Even when you are a party guest that has brought wine to share.

Obviously, if you are baking in the PJP kitchen, you are treated like a Team PJP employee…meaning you even get to peel your own apples.  We are super thoughtful that way.  So while some guests peeled apples, some made dutch apple topping and then we all switched and worked until we were ready to assemble pie.  And by “we”, I mean the party guests, because Jeanne and I basically got to drink wine and supervise.

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(Bonus points if you noticed that in this picture, Jeanne is, in fact, drinking wine.)

And while each baby pie baked away in the oven, Jeanne taught the guests to make chocolate rolls.  You know how each family sort of has their tradition?  In ours, it is chocolate rolls.  A sheet of pie dough, covered with cocoa, sugar, and butter…rolled up and baked.  It is what we eat on Christmas morning.  It signals that whatever event is going along with the chocolate roll is a very important event, indeed.  And we were excited to share a piece of our family’s history with our 12 new friends.

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No party would be complete with out a wine and pie-infused rendition of “Happy Birthday” and so we gave the guest of honor a milk crate to stand on and everyone serenaded him…

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And if this fun afternoon doesn’t fully explain why Jeanne and I have the greatest jobs ever, I’m not sure anything ever will.  We basically got to make new friends, drink wine, and watch other people peel apples.  WIN-WIN-WIN.

Next up on our agenda is a birthday party for an 11 year-old and then a girl’s night out event, both promising to be ridiculously fun.  Interested in making PJP Buttonwood the place for your next celebration?  All the details are here:  http://pjpies.com/birthday-parties/.

 

 

 

Once we had prepped together

Prison Orange.

This may not surprise you terribly, but when mail arrives at our house around this time of the year and it is marked “IMPORTANT TAX INFORMATION” on the envelope, I just shove it in the cabinet that houses our crystal champagne flutes from our wedding and say a prayer of thankfulness for Behind-The-Scenes-Tech Guru Jason.  And if you are ever curious about the differences in our personalities, just know that he gets excited over a new version of Turbo Tax.  I, on the other hand, would likely find myself at that odd makeshift tax hut inside the Wal-Mart on the evening of April 15th if I were in charge.

So when the PJP accountant emailed me and said she had all the W-2s ready for our employees, I immediately thought…”well, that would have never occurred to me, thank you very much“.

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When I stopped by earlier today to pick up all the “stuff” she had waiting for me, I stifled a cry for help when I saw a stack of paperwork that was littered with red “SIGN HERE” sticky notes.  Not only did she have W-2s ready, she had about eight billion reports to send to various official agencies.  And 97.8% of those needed a check included before sealing the envelope.  True story.

And right now, you might be thinking “Well, what did she expect?  It is almost tax season, right?  She owns a business, right?  She was a lawyer, right?”  Well, I’ll tell you…I did not expect this.  At no point in You’ve Got Mail did Meg Ryan’s character have to be bleeped out when she looked at  her quarterly contribution reports for Shop Around The Corner.

And so if you are here for legitimate business advice, then I’ll tell you this:  1)  you are reading the wrong blog, and 2) GET AN ACCOUNTANT.   As someone who wavered over the decision to employ an accountant and analyzed “Business Finances for Dummies” at Barnes & Noble on the theory that I’d be able to figure it out, I am living testament to the reality that whatever it costs, you should employ someone who has conversations about a Form 1099-M without breaking into a terror sweat.  Also, I’ve watched enough Orange Is The New Black on Netflix to know that I would last 12 minutes in prison before having an emotional breakdown…and no erroneously prepared tax filing is worth that.

So, a huge shout out to Alicia and crew at Accounting Plus.  I don’t even know how you deal with clients like me, nor how you remember the 9,241,041 tax rules.  And you are always nice to me when I’m there, as opposed to crying and jabbing holes with your ink pen in the United States Tax Code..which would be legit, in my humble opinion.  I know these next few months will be as stressful as a Thanksgiving baking schedule at PJP, so I’ll try to sign my forms and mail my checks with a minimum amount of cursing or foot-stomping or getting on my soapbox about flat tax filing on a postcard.  Consider it my thanks to you for keeping me out of prison orange.

 

 

In Honor of Pie Day…

Tomorrow – January 23rd – is National Pie Day.  Tomorrow’s observance is endorsed (and likely created) by the American Pie Council.  And yay for the whole concept of celebrating pie for a day, but January 23rd seems random, right?  Like do you think that all the important people at the American Pie Council got together in a conference room, wrote down some dates, threw them in a hat and then just pulled one out and decided to go with it?

However National Pie Day came to be, we plan to be ready for it.  We put a lot of thought into how we should celebrate and really, it was hard to find ways to celebrate that fit with our personalities.  Automatically, we knew that we couldn’t go for any bounce houses, face painting, crafting, games, sing alongs, or making one of our staff dress up like a pie and dance on the corner of Nifong and Buttonwood.  None of those things suit us very well and we wanted the celebration to feel authentic to Team PJP.

Enter the hand pie.

As I mentioned on the blog last night, a hand pie is a completely contained and portable pie that you can carry around and eat.  Or sit and eat.  Or talk on the phone and eat.  Or watch television and eat.  Or read and eat.  You get the picture.  And the true beauty of a traditional hand pie is that you can put pretty much anything you want inside of it, both savory and sweet.  (The list of ideas we discussed is a blog post in itself for another day.  Just know the words au jus were uttered.)

So today we tested a lot of variations on the hand pie.  We narrowed down our favorite ideas from the past week, went to Hyvee for the ingredients and got to work.  We really wanted to focus on the savory hand pies for tomorrow.  Thankfully, Team PJP was at full capacity with Sanae, Mitch, and Mac, and everyone was eager to taste.  That said, by 2 pm, we all had headaches and needed to lay down from eating a lot of random bites of food.

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One of the hand pies I tested had horseradish in it.  Another had egg.  There was bacon, mushrooms, red pepper, and in general, a theme of THE MORE CHEESE, THE BETTER.  After choosing our top three favorite savory hand pies, we moved on to sweet pies.  We knew that adding any of our filling to a hand pie crust would be delicious…and we had already tried in several variations of fruit.  We worked on some ideas, like a Nutella hand pie, but Team PJP had divided feelings about so much sweet.  Or perhaps we were all just having meat sweats from our morning tasting and our taste buds had clouded judgment.

So listen, tomorrow is the day.  We are making hand pies all day in approximately a billion or so different flavors.  At $4 each, stop by for lunch, a snack, a surprise for your kids at school pickup, a box of 12 for your 4 pm Friday afternoon meeting that no one wants to attend, for really anything.  In the name of National Pie Day.

Baked…Not Fried.

We’ve been working over the last few weeks on the concept of a hand pie.  And if you aren’t familiar, a hand pie is a completely contained and portable pie that you carry with…well, your hand.  Designed to eat on the go, you don’t need to fuss with a plate or a fork to enjoy your pie. After baking, we slip the hand pie into a parchment paper cone, seal it with a PJP sticker, and you are set to walk, drive, talk on your phone, or eat it quickly in your car so no one sees you and asks to share.

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Hand pies are sized between the Jelly Jar pie and the Baby pie – more of a legitimate slice of pie, but with more crust.  Basically, we cut a circle of dough and fill it with whatever our hearts desire, fold it over and bake it.  We’ve been experimenting with sweet AND savory hand pies and I am having an entire Sophie’s choice about which one I love more.  Any of our traditional sweet pies are delicious styled as a hand pie.  But creating a hand pie out of bacon, egg, mushrooms, and cheese…ummmm…DELICIOUS.

In practice, hand pies are often fried.  We called the Columbia Department of Health about the possibility of having a fryer in PJP just for this job.  In a first, the Health Department said they had no objections against it – but to check with the fire department as well.  So we called the fire department and they asked that we send over a picture and description of what we were talking about exactly…

 

 

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This is a Cuisinart CDF-100 Compact 1.1-Liter Deep Fryer that retails on Amazon.com for $39.99.  In response to this photo, the fire department alerted us that we would need to install a hood system and a fire suppression system.  In short, we would need about $40,000 or more worth of equipment to legally operate a $39.99 fryer.  Suffice it to say, PJP Hand Pies will be the baked variety of hand pie, thank you very much for asking.

This Friday is National Pie Day.  We can’t think of a better way to celebrate pie than by making hand pies and selling them like they are going out of style for the low price of $4 each.  Put it on your calendar…PJP’s first day of hand pies will be a milestone event.  Sort of like when someone decided to make wine out of the Muscato grape.  Or when someone decided to dip the rim of a glass in salt before pouring a margarita.  Or when someone thought adding cheese to a burger might be an interesting concept.  You get the picture – monumental.

What The What…

Today, we introduced our new Pie Loyalty card at PJP Buttonwood.  Customers have been requesting the cards for the last seven months or so…apparently not everyone loses reward cards in the bottom of their purse and finds them 18 months later with loose change, bobby pins, and old Tums.  Ahem.

We used a printing company to design and print the cards and while the cards certainly aren’t the most high-tech option, they certainly are the cutest (in our humble we-don’t-know-how-to-design-cards opinion).  I couldn’t wait to unveil the new card on Facebook this morning…

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Aaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnddddddddd….

Approximately six minutes after the post went up, an astute PJP fan sent me an FB message that said “Hey, did you notice the typo on the card?  Hope you didn’t order too many!”

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Probably at least six people, self included, looked at the proof of that card and none of us noticed the misspelling of “additional” until it was brought to our attention today.  And as someone who has considered carrying a Sharpie in her purse to correct erroneous use of grammar on public signage, I wanted to die 1,000 deaths of shame.

On the bright side, perhaps you could hold on to one of those misspelled cards and when PJP achieves World Pie Domination, you could sell it on eBay for $27.99 as a token of our early mishaps.  I’m going to entitle our memoir “Addionital Details…”, so maybe you could fetch $34.99 if you keep the card in mint condition.  Think about it.

 

 

 

Nine Months.

Last Saturday brought our nine-month PJP anniversary.  NINE MONTHS.  Jeanne and I celebrated in our respective homes with our respective Netflix queues, but our 270 day ownership experience was on our minds nonetheless.  Here are some thoughts…

  1. Working 18 hour days during November and December was exhausting, but a perfect fit for me.  I always do much better when I don’t have time to sit around and stew about things that might or might not happen.  An abrupt change from being “super insane busy” to “normal busy” is like driving directly into a brick wall…and that is exactly what the change from December to January has been like at PJP.  For various reasons, I’ve always vehemently disliked March but I now hereby move January to least-favored status.  #SorryNotSorry
  2. Speaking of January, I just looked at my weather app and saw that the temperatures look delightful for this time of the year and there is no snow in the forecast.  I immediately felt relief because we are definitely busier when it isn’t North Pole sort of cold and there isn’t six inches of snow on the ground.  Apparently the sub-title of the Farmer’s Almanac is “For Small Business Owners Too!”
  3. We are getting much better at really identifying what works for us and what is just background noise.  I know that sounds ridiculous considering we’ve done this for 270 days, but it is the legit truth.
  4. All that said, we are not excelling at being joiners.  There are so many organizations in town – Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Network, BNI, and on and on.  There are always meetings to be a part of, luncheons to register for, mixers to drop by at, and committees that need volunteers.  And I wish we were joiners…but we aren’t.  And neither of us ever have been.  And I’ve been thinking a bit about the line between “fiercely independent” and “playing nice”.  I came thisclose for signing up for some sort of lunch thing, but I just couldn’t after looking at the agenda.  It all sounded lovely…just for someone else.
  5. Jeanne and I have been swapping Saturdays in effort to have some normal weekends.  It was my turn in early January and on my way in on Saturday, I was tempted to throw a big pity party about the early morning, the cold, the Saturday, the everything.  And then I thought of every minute I sat in an office chair behind a desk and remembered that I am so, so, so very fortunate to have PJP.  Owning a business isn’t for everyone (and that is good, because who would work for us, then?)…but if you are looking at the clock on your PC in your cubicle at 1:15 pm and swearing that it has to be 4:45 pm or you are going to burst into tears while working on your TPS reports, I HAVE BEEN THERE AND YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  2014officespace1
  6. While I thought that the first few months of a new business brought in all the advertisers, the first month of a new year brings the ad reps in by the double.  I’m going to print up business cards that say “Dear Person Selling Ad Space, Thank you so, so, so much for the fine opportunity for a 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, or whole page ad.  It truly sounds delightful and like an amazing opportunity.  Alas, we are on a budget and we can’t afford it.  I’m really bad at letting you down and saying no in person, so this card serves as my thanks, but no thanks without making it awkward.  Sincerely, Team PJP.
  7. We spent time researching random holidays – like “National Apple Pie Day” and marking them on our calendar and then I just wanted to go home and pull the covers over my head because looking at the year that way felt overly daunting.
  8. If you are interested in owning your own business, I strongly suggest you look into the 6x6x3 Kraft Box – With Window market.  I’ve been doing some research and it appears there is only one company in America that makes that size.  Isn’t that odd?  I would like to see the list of other customers that order the 6x6x3 boxes for no good reason but that I’m nosey and competitive.
  9. I think that upon World Pie Domination, we should probably just manufacture our own boxes.  And own some orchards for all the fruit.  And write off trips to Brazil to learn a thing or two about sugar production.
  10. And finally, I received a payment booklet in the mail from the Department of Revenue and had no clue what to do with it.  I took a picture of it and texted it to our accountant with the caption “uhhhh?”.  And look, a year ago I might have shoved it in a drawer and acted like it didn’t exist.  Two steps forward, people.

And to each of you…when I was thinking up the card for the ad space peddlers, I thought of you too…

“Dear Blog Reader, Thank you so so so much for believing in PJP.  Every time you stop by PJP or you read the blog or you like us on Facebook or you tell a friend about us, you are changing the big picture of PJP.  And look, we would tell each of you this in person, but I’d probably cry a lot and it would be awkward.  Let’s not make it awkward.  Just know we couldn’t do it without you.  Sincerely, Team PJP”

Stuff

  1. A shout-out to the Centralia High School FBLA group, who graciously asked me to come this morning and share my thoughts about being a business owner.  I’m sure the “I just sorta backed into this, have no clue what I’m doing most of the time, but I’ve never been happier” story was exactly what they were hoping to hear as they plan for their futures.
  2. We’ve ordered little cards to add to each pie box going out the door of PJP with a reminder to vote for us in the Inside Columbia Best New Restaurant of 2014/Best of Columbia contest. Like wearing the shirt of the band you are going to see in concert, we’ve become those people.  In our defense though, we did briefly consider providing a laptop at our front counter and offering a $1 off your purchase if you would be willing to login and vote for us right then.  And when I say “we”, I really mean “me”…because I’m the competitive one of this show.  That reminds me that I should text Jeanne and ask her to be sure to login in and vote tonight.  Come to think of it, have you voted?
  3. Speaking of Jeanne, she welcomed 2015 in grand style…by discovering Netflix.  Like most people enveloped in a new Netflix affair, she is a smitten kitten.  GO1
  4. Speaking of smitten kittens, we listened to new tunes today and 1/4 of Team PJP enjoyed John Mayer’s cover of Beyonce’s XO.  While I may have been alone in my fandom, I’ve got no shame.  If he covered Drunk In Love, I’d probably like that as well.
  5. Next Friday is National Pie Day.  We are still working on ideas, but are pretty certain of this…a lot of people still don’t know that we exist and so on National Pie Day, you can help spread the love.  Stop by PJP Buttonwood with a friend who has never visited us before and you both receive a 30% off coupon for a future visit.  My first thought was to book Jon Hamm for an appearance, but I worried Don Draper in PJP could be more than we (me) could handle.
  6. Whatever we do, there will be no bounce houses, no crafting, and no face painting.  Mainly because I am making the rules and I don’t care for those things.
  7. I booked two PJP birthday parties today – one for a four-year old and one for a 62-year-old.  That both consider PJP the place to be to celebrate their birthday makes us ridiculously happy.
  8. A customer checking out today said that he felt Peg would be thrilled with PJP V. 2.0.  And we couldn’t agree with him more.
  9. We purchased ourselves this at the Hobby Lobby and hallelujah for all the less Googling I’ll have to do now…FullSizeRender-21
  10. Jeanne called me after I left to pick up the kids today and asked me what I thought would happen if we made cookie dough and wrapped it up in pie dough and baked it.  I said I have no idea.  But now I can’t stop thinking about it and I feel like we should find out.