Monthly Archives: June 2014

Call It What You Will…

So it occurred to me today that the Fourth of July is NEXT WEEK.  And this stands to the testament that PJP Buttonwood is a black hole of time…you start at 4 am and then it is suddenly 3 in the afternoon…it is Memorial Day and then suddenly it is July 4th.

I would say that it is a fair public statement to say that I’m not an overly festive person.  I don’t have any $5 Old Navy flag t-shirts or quirky hats that double as holders for sparklers.  (Nothing against Independence Day…I also avoid overly large eggs in my yard at Easter, pilgrim attire at Thanksgiving, and heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day).  All that said, I do rank the 4th of July in the top-tier of my favorite holiday hierarchy, and here is why:

  1. There is no pressure on the 4th of July at our house…no negotiation about which side of the family to spend the holiday with and when and how.  (Bonus this year since the holiday is on a Friday…long lake weekend for Team PJP).
  2. The whole point of the day is to relax and have fun.  And celebrate America’s independence with Lee Greenwood on Spotify.  A crowd singing along to “God Bless the USA” can move the most stoic (and non-festive) to tears.
  3. The weather is usually pretty perfect.  (I hope I didn’t just jinx it for this year).
  4. The menu is low-key and there isn’t hours of prep and no arguing about whether you should put a turkey in the oven at 4 am or at 5 am.
  5. Whatever you serve is best accompanied by vodka-based cocktails (in my case) or beer (in Behind-The-Scenes-Tech-Guru Jason’s case).
  6. If you live outside city limits, you can spend $75 on fireworks and then if your kids misbehave at any point during the day, you can merely threaten to take away said fireworks and they will immediately stop whatever annoying behavior they are engaged in.  Or maybe this is just at our house.
  7. It is completely acceptable to use paper plates and plastic utensils and then you aren’t stuck washing an hour’s worth of dishes for a meal that took 20 minutes to eat.
  8. It is entirely legit to spend the bulk of the day in your swimming suit.
  9. If you want to eat an entire plate of potato salad, the 4th of July is the one day you can do that without fear of mocking.
  10. Since everyone goes to bed late on the 4th, everyone sleeps in on the 5th.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.

So, with all things Fourth of July in mind, I felt like PJP should have something special to offer next week.  And we brainstormed around about all sorts of ideas, but it comes down to this – you are probably interested in some sort of ah-maz-ing pie that you can take to a gathering or share in your own home that is awesome, beautiful, baked in a disposable tin, and done 100% not by you…because you have other stuff to do, like buy a new swimsuit and cherry vodka.

I noticed today that Jeanne and Bailey were completely engaged in some sort of project.  While I ran to Hyvee to buy milk and tiny forks (another story), they worked away and when I came back, I came back to this:


With blueberries and raspberries, we can’t envision a better way to grace your holiday picnic table.  While we all agree this pie is totally cute, we can’t agree on any sort of name.  Two of us around here like “Patriot Pie”  and the rest of us remain divided.  Call in to order yours for pickup next week before our order board fills up.  (Call it the Patriot Pie if you must, or the Flag Pie or the special holiday pie or whatever else…we will know what you mean.  And, of course, our full menu is also available for pre-order).

We will focus on the pie.  You focus on the potato salad.




This Way Up…

As you probably know, we’ve been working for the past month or so on developing a shipping box that allows us to ship a pie across the United States and have it arrive on the doorstep as a pie…an actual PJP pie, not a flash-frozen, plastic-wrapped iteration of a PJP pie.

And you would think that in mid-2014, shipping a pie via two-day air wouldn’t be that difficult.  I’ve watched enough Shipping Wars on A&E to know that I could have someone haul a used Russian fighter jet from Florida to California for $5,000 bucks.  So one box with one PJP pie to New York City to the doorstep of Director of Publicity and Something-Else-I-Can’t-Remember Charlotte’s apartment doorstep?  Well…frustratingly more difficult than you would think.

In our past test shipments, we’ve had substantial issues with the crust breaking in transit.  For the most part, the pie stays in the pie tin, but the shifting as it is thrown from truck to truck equates to disaster.

I was driving to PJP Buttonwood a few Saturday mornings ago and I had an epiphany.  If we know the crust is the problem with shipping nine-inch pies, can we start to ship our other products while we continue to work on the big pie logistics?  Hello, Jelly Jar pies…I’m talking just to you.  And because I knew they wouldn’t mind random thoughts on a Saturday morning, I texted Spencer at Worldwide Express and Mike from Pratte Industries and asked if we could make it happen.

It took quite a few texts and pictures and measuring to get Mike the information he needed, but eventually he felt like he had enough to bring me a prototype shipment box.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Check out this picture with just one jelly jar nestled in it’s new home…


The box felt promising.  Even as we started to add jelly jars and then shake the box around (and perhaps maybe turning it upside down and dropping it on the floor), we both felt good that the box would survive a two-day air journey.  As a final vote of confidence, FedEx just happened to be delivering something to us and we asked the delivery guy for his professional box-handling opinion.  After picking it up, shaking it, and analyzing it, he confirmed that he felt good about it.  And that writing “fragile” and “this way up” on each box would be an epic waste of time, as no logistics specialist stops the box loading to carefully lay one fragile box in a special spot.  Hmpf.


But who cares, but after two breath-holding days, Director of Publicity and Something-Else-I-Can’t-Remember Charlotte called to report the six jelly jar pies had made it to her doorstep in pristine condition.


In fact, she proclaimed the pies to be “darling” – and in Charlotte-speak, that means we did something just right.

So, next up is more test shipments to far-flung locations to double check the integrity of the packaging.  This week jelly jars will be heading to Canada, Hawaii, and a few more locales.  And if that works, then you (yep, you reading this) will be able to ship six packs of jelly jar pies to your favorite person…without regard to if they are 100 miles away or 1000 miles away.  And if pie is home, isn’t sending a little piece of home to someone you love the best gift?





Smack My Momma.

If you’ve spent much time around Jeanne and I at PJP Buttonwood or if you read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you probably aren’t surprised to read that I’m the extrovert of PJP and Jeanne is the introvert.  For the most part, we make a nice balance of each other…I force her to try new things and experience new situations, and she forces to me to reign it in on occasion and focus on priorities.

So, in May I had this idea for a pie tasting party.  I really envisioned an atmosphere where guests could try a lot of different pies and have wine and make new pie-loving friends.  When I pitched the idea to Jeanne, she raised an eyebrow at me and said “Do I have to go?”  But if I’m anything, I am exceptionally persuasive when I have something in mind.

So I moved forth and planned the event for a Thursday night, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  $20 a ticket, with a maximum of 30 guests.  Tart sized pie of 15 different flavors.  And then I sold all 30 tickets, putting no thought into logistics because…well, because I’ve yet to learn the devil is in the details.

Cut to last Thursday at 4 am when I whipped out my iPhone calculator and proceeded to do my first word problem in 25 years:  “If 30 people are coming to eat pie at PJP Buttonwood and we want to offer 15 flavors and everyone is going to eat at least one of each type, how many tarts do Rebecca and Jeanne need to bake?”


450 tarts in one day.

This is where I raised my eyebrow at Jeanne.

But, at our best when completely out of time and out of options, we baked.  We baked tarts and tarts and more tarts.  And we counted and double counted and triple counted.  And then we had wine while we assembled tables for our guests.  And then we rushed home to change and perhaps not look as crazy or tired as we felt.

And guess what?  That party WAS THE MOST FUN, EVER.

We set out all 450 tarts, but we didn’t tell any of our excited guests what flavors they would be trying and then we gave them these great little cards that let them make a guess as to each pie flavor and make comments…


After everyone had spent an hour or so eating and drinking and making guesses, we revealed the pie line up.  We gave prizes out to the people who guessed the most pie types correctly…and we actually had two people who guessed 13 out of 15 correctly!


These two people with notable palates won PJP gift certificates for nine inch pies.  Our runner ups were gifted with PJP t-shirts (thanks, Fast Yeti for being, um, fast!) and with gift certificates for baby pies.

And soon, the event was less about pie and more about having fun and making friends.


After everyone packed up the leftover tarts to take home, Jeanne and I spent a few minutes looking through the comment cards that were left behind while we finished our wine.  And when we read this, it made baking 450 tarts in 14 hours completely worth it all…



“Smack my momma, that’s good”

Bwhahahahahahahaha.  To whomever wrote that on their card, you will never know the absolute joy and laughter you brought Jeanne and I.  Plus, when we were locking up, Jeanne looked at me and said “Hmmm…I had a lot of fun.”  I TOTALLY KNEW SHE WOULD.

Our next event is scheduled for Thursday, July 17th from 6:30 until 8:30.  Only 16 tickets remain, so you are interested, plan to stop by PJP Buttonwood this week or give a call to purchase over the phone.