Good to be back on the blog.  I’ve been discussing a certain kind of Pi – as in PiBoIdMo, and even some of the frustration/self-doubt that plagued me last

My first-ever homemade apple pie



But this time I am writing about a different kind of pie – that is, apple pie.  Specifically an apple pie I made myself.  From scratch.  Even the crust.  With apples I picked that very day right from a tree in a field near our house.  From tree to pie in less than one day.  How’s that for the pioneer spirit?

This may not seem like a big deal to many of you, but believe me when I say I am not a baker.  I am a very good cook, and I love cooking, but baking?  Not so much.  This is the first time I have ever made a pie fully from scratch, all by myself without using a store-bought crust.  Can you sense that I am rather tickled with myself?  What’s more, making that pie helped my writing.

You may be wondering how spending four hours making a pie (including the time it took to hike down to the tree and back) is any help to writing.  Well, sometimes when you’re stuck on one thing, it can help to shift your attention somewhere else for a while.  Hiking in the fresh air, peeling lots of apples, rolling out the dough for the crust – all of those things forced me to slow down and to focus on the moment and the task at hand.  I accomplished something I had always been afraid to even try – making pie crust.  Pie crust is intimidating.  My own crust turned out far from perfect.  It was lopsided and had holes in it that needed repair before I could bake it.  I had to remove pieces from over-crusted parts and graft them onto the under-crusted parts.  I couldn’t master the fluted edge, so I renamed it the “bumpy” edge.  But despite its imperfections it tasted delicious when it came together with all the other ingredients.  I was proud.  It was mine.  It was edible.  If that’s not a metaphor for writing, I don’t know what is (minus, hopefully, the edible part).

My family came home to a warm house smelling of cinnamon, and I presented that pie like it was love itself.  Their accolades and requests for seconds did much to boost my flagging morale.

Call it a coincidence, but my PiBoIdMo ideas have been more free-flowing and interesting since then.  I plucked up the courage to send out another query letter.  I’ve resumed work on a stalled WiP.  Maybe there was a little bit of magic baked in that pie…

I will not, however, be using the pie as a PiBo idea, since there have been so many wonderful apple pie stories published already, including my favorite by Marjorie Priceman: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  If you haven’t read it, do so.  It’s a perfect book for fall and includes a recipe.

Categories: Autumn, Children's Books, Cooking, Family, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Works in Progress, Writing · Tags: , , , , , ,



  1. So glad to hear your pie sparked a little something in you and got you going again. Maybe it was the fresh air, the cinnamon or your appreciative family or a combination of all three. In any case, it’s a lesson to us all to get up & out & do something when we’re stalled!

    Thanks for sharing, Julie.

  2. Way to conquer something daunting! Looks delicious.

    Pie crust can be tough (no pun intended). One way to get used to making it is to just make a 1-crust recipe now and then for cookies. That way, you don’t have the pressure of having to produce a whole pie, or even a perfectly round crust. You just roll out the pastry in any shape, and cut it into strips. Sprinkle w/ sugar + cinnamon. Bake @ 400F. The more you do it, the more familiar you get with the pastry; pretty soon, you’re able to mix + roll it with minimum handling.

    Plus, you get yummy sugar+cinnamon cookies. 🙂

  3. Oh I love it. Day 10 was baking day, obviously. And I relate to so much that you said about change in pace, fresh air, etc.

    So glad your baking was as lovely as my loaf-ly coconut bread. 🙂

  4. That pie looks AWESOME! I’m a cook (not a baker), but I know I good pie when I see one.

    I’m not surprised that your ideas are flowing again. When we remain “in the moment” . . . creativity flows.

    I loved your analogy: “I was proud. It was mine. It was edible.” All writers want our words to be “edible” . . . so our readers don’t end up with heartburn. 🙂

  5. Yeah! Baking! Next it will be cupcakes and then tarts and creme brulee! Love it!

    • Uh, probably not. Every time I do cakes or cupcakes they collapse in the middle. Maybe it’s the altitude or maybe it’s the baker!

  6. Oh, Julie, that is wonderful! I am all for making the brain slow down and chill out via pie! Good job! And this line is beautiful: “My family came home to a warm house smelling of cinnamon, and I presented that pie like it was love itself.”

  7. This is funny. I had the urge to bake banana bread. I guess creativity thrives on being fed.

    Your post was just right and I’m sure the apple pie was too.

  8. Julie, you are so inspiring! There is so much to be said for getting out of your head, and putting feet in dirt. To breathe fresh air and be in nature, our hands on something ripe with promise, is not something that should be considered a luxury or indulgence. It’s necessary for our well-being. Especially for us writers who so often forget our own bodies entirely, let alone where we’ve placed them.

    That pie looks scrumptious!

    • Heather – well said! It’s hard to keep writing without “experiencing.” Love the line about how we forget our bodies completely.

  9. I always feel like making and finishing a pie is a true accomplishment. Not sure why; it’s just not as easy as you might think to make one from scratch! I’m not surprised that it got your creative juices flowing….and your mouth watering, too.

    • “it’s just not as easy as you might think to make one from scratch!”

      THAT is an understatement. Baking really and truly is an art – pies especially.

  10. Julie,

    I love baking pies, but I am not good at making the crust. I always end up using Pillsbury’s canned crust. I am actually amazed you found an apple tree in the middle of Boulder County. Apple trees are rare in Colorado, so finding one growing on it’s own is amazing. You may be keeping it’s location a secret, but if not, you should tell me where it is. I may need some apples for my Thanksgiving pie.

    • My lips are most definitely sealed on the location. 🙂 I’m sure the apples are all rotten now after the freezing weather and snow we’ve had.

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