How to make friends & influence people. With pie.

Have you ever met someone who you like instantly?  I’m sure you have, it happens to everyone.  For whatever reason, be it karma or looks or even the way someone  holds their head … you just like them immediately and picture yourselves being friends, laughing and crying together for as long as you both shall live.

And then you leave The Gap and realize you’ll never see Mindy again and she didn’t even give you the right change.

The opposite can, and does happen too.  I don’t care how nice a person you think you are, there’s always going to be someone whom you dislike immediately.  They don’t have to do a single thing … you just do NOT like them.  All of your friends can try to convince you how great they are, how well you should get along (always a sign you’re going to despise someone) and how they never did anything to you.  They didn’t have to.  Your gut just tells you even though they’re  supposedly a good person/funny/trustworthy/helpful/a nun/whatever … you just don’t like them.

And there is absolutely no good reason for it, but you have every reason to not like that person if you don’t want to.

But all bets are off when someone doesn’t like YOU.

You’ve been there.  You meet someone for the first time, you pleasantly say hello and the ooze of hatred coming off of them splats all over your face.  They’ve just projected hate-gob on you.  This person doesn’t like you.   THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW YOU!  You love kittens and cookies and you’re charming and funny and loveable.  But they don’t care.  They don’t like you.

I’d like to introduce you to someone who doesn’t like me. They have no idea I’m doing this and frankly I don’t care.  Sometimes you just have to call a person out on these sorts of thing.

I should preface this by saying I’ve done nothing to this person, I’ve tried everything I can think of to make her warm up to me but nothing, NOTHING has worked.

She’s just cold and distant and very, VERY suspicious of me.

Meet my nemesis.  Her name is “E”.




Halo 2


Don’t be sucked in by the whole looking like an angel thing.  She’s dangerous this one.

She’s my great niece. Or my second niece, or niece once removed.   Whatever you call her, if you meet her she has a looming presence you’ll never forget.  She’s like a cross between the cute little girl from Poltergeist and James Earl Jones.

One look and you know exactly what she’s thinking and she’s usually thinking   “I don’t need you, you need me, you’re desperate for my approval and you probably won’t get it.  I haven’t decided yet.  So keep trying. No I don’t want your stupid cookie.  Try again.

It’s been like this since she was born.  And E’s mother (my niece) was exactly the same with me.  There’s a big age gap between myself and my older sisters so I became an aunt when I was 9.  So I’ve had several years of this whole “I don’t exactly hate you, but I’m going to scream like a lunatic whenever I’m alone with you”  thing.

I’m kind of a seasoned professional at it and just accept it for what it is.  Her mother got over it. E will get over it.  I think.  Thankfully I could just make sure I was never alone with her and therefore avoid the ear piercing screams.

Until one day last week when for the first time her mother (my niece) had a baby sitting emergency.  It coincided with a hair colouring emergency as is often the case.  I was the only one available to babysit that day.

Our family spent 2 WEEKS preparing for the event.  My sister, my niece, myself, we all came together with military precision to come up with a workable plan to trick the child into submission. .  We cajoled, plotted, planned and lied to her.  Nothing worked.  By the night before the big event, she was still refusing to cross the threshold of my house.

Until the pie.

Hey E, heh, heh.  I sure could use some help in the kitchen tomorrow.  (inner shuddering, quite a bit of sweat coming from strange places).  Yeah. Baking.  Because I bake.  But I need a baker’s helper.  Well, an apple pie is what I was going to make actually.

Note that I had prepared the entire kitchen and laid out all the accoutrements necessary to make a true pie.  An apple pie.

Yeah, no.  She didn’t like apple pie. I could keep my apple pie.

Then her mother (who through sheer luck this tiny child happens to like) asked what kind of pie she did like.

Lemon Meringue.

Well, O.K.  We could change it up to a Lemon Meringue pie I guess.  Do you think you could come over and  help me make that tomorrow? I promise not to look you in the eye.  

We got a yes.

Now it was a flurry of checking for ingredients, asking her to remember to bring her apron and telling her we were going to have FUN.  She picked out her apron that night but seemed a bit cynical about the prospect of having fun with me.

So at 9:00 a.m. the next morning E came over and I taught her how to make a pie.

Four Squares

And I mean I really taught her.  She didn’t just mix the ingredients, she did it all and I let her.  I was ready to let her make all the mistakes necessary as long as it kept a smile on her face.

She made no mistakes.  This little volcano was born to bake.



On Counter

So that’s all it took to break her walls down.  A pie.

Funny thing.  I should have known.  Like mother like daughter.

That’s E on the left and her mother (around 25 years ago) on the right.



My words of wisdom here are simple. People won’t like you. It doesn’t matter how great you are. There will be some that just don’t think you’re as charming as everyone else does. You can either try to change their mind, or decide they’re not worth the effort.

Either way, you should probably bake a pie.


  1. Karen,

    She is a CUTIE and I agree with the others who said she looks like you. I am so glad you broke the barrier because I can envision you two getting up to lots of shenanigans together. Love the photo of her Mom too. And as a Mom of 3 kids (who hilights her hair), those are the most desperate of babysitting crises. I’d about leave my kids with anyone not to miss those appointments (well not anyone but maybe an aunt they didn’t like).

  2. Linda S. in NE says:

    Too Cute! Her, you, everything! The only thing this story needs is a kitten or a sweet little puppy!

  3. Julie says:

    Always witty, Karen. I love the way you tell a story – with truth & humor.
    And the pie looks fantastic!

  4. jeannie B says:

    What a darling little girl! The only memory I have of my great Aunt Alice, ( who seemed realy old to me), was one Saturday when she had me and a cousin over to her house for the afternoon. She let us make little apple pies together and while we waited for them to bake, she let us use bright red nail polish to paint our nails. I also remember when my mother, who only used clear nail polish, came to get me, had a fit because I had to go to Sunday School in the morning . She had to borrow some alcohol from the neighbour lady to rub it off, before I went to bed. Back in the ’50’s, red nail polish on a little girl, was an abomination. But, that’s the only memory I have of Aunt Alice. Those little apple pies and my short lived, vivid red, shiny nails.

  5. janpartist says:

    I find that whole story fascinating. I have never been in the same room with a child that would have stuck with the process of baking a pie, waiting for it to set, or ESPECIALLY one that did the dishes. Amazing, maybe it’s Canadian children???

    • Janpartist….My kids have all baked pies. A few summers ago, we declared it the “Summer of Pie” and each of the kids got to pick and make from scratch several pies. And they’re American children. I documented it on my blog. I loathe video games and this generation of instant gratification so my husband and I work to teach them real life things and they enjoy it.


      • janpartist says:

        Oh, trust me, my own kids had other activities, we did not sit and watch TV or whatever but, kitchen things would have bored them to tears. I love the Summer of Pie idea-will have to have my Granddaughters give that a shot but I do have my doubts about them completing an entire pie.

  6. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    What a precious little sweetheart and story..Although I do think I see a bit of a little devil peeking out of those baby the pictures at the end..

  7. Carole-Ann says:


  8. Tiana says:

    But what is the recipe????!!!!!

  9. Olga says:

    It’s weird, but I can actually see that she looks like you! Specially her eyes and the way she grins (o:

  10. Debbie says:

    I have found that something that we both enjoy doing works almost a 100% as long as it does not involve a sleep over. A whole great day can be undone by one bad sleep over. Getting older and wanting to leave some evidence I was here, I came across a great idea. Make a hand written copy of the recipe you guys used. Then maybe one her Momma uses and one Great Grandma or Great Aunt uses in a book or frame for later in her life. Nothing like having the hand written items for later. I am in the process of doing it now myself.

  11. Anita says:

    Love this post! Cracked me up and warmed my heart at the same time. :)

  12. Jeanne says:

    yeeesh, children.

  13. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    I’ve found it the past it helps to have the “hater” on your own turf. I tried to win over a couple of my neices and found without their mommy around they were very enjoyable. I even took one of them and a nephew to the lake for a day of fun in the sun and sand! It was fun to be an Auntie. Congrats, you won the heart of the blue eyed cutie-pie (good one Jean).

  14. Ella says:

    What a funny and (really cool post)! The pictures at the very end warm my heart! You are a great (great) aunt!

  15. Leslie says:

    Can E come teach me how to make pie crust? I always requested Lemon Meringue Pie as my birthday cake when I was a kid. So yummy!

  16. Ruth says:

    Can pies be shipped? How much do I need to dislike you to get a pie that includes rhubarb?

    We have no rhubarb in JA, but someone up top mentioned it…. stirring up some long-forgotten yearning for this thing that I have never seen or tasted in my life, but somehow made it on to my bucket list. Smh.

    • Kim from Milwaukee says:

      Ruth, not because I like you or anything, but if you want I can ship you some rhubarb filling for Rhubarb Crunch. I’ll even include the recipe if you’re nice. :) Email me at meismeems at gmail dot com…with your address, of course.

      My middle name is Ruth. You lucked out. LOL

  17. Mary Werner says:

    If E were a boy I have the solution. Either make a true pie OR if he doesn’t bake – get several inexpensive pie pans, get him to fill with canned whipped cream and throw one in his face. He will get the idea quickly. Nothing brings people together like a good old pie throwing party. (Probably an outdoor activity.)

  18. J says:

    Not gonna lie, I think I went way up in my mother in law’s eyes when she first had my apple crisp (NOT with oatmeal, thank you very much, but with handmade crumb). My husband’s grandma, too. They liked/loved me before but after they ate my pie, I swear, they stopped worrying about my poor husband starving to death bc I finally proved that yes, I can cook.

    We have a boatload of family coming this weekend and yep, definitely making my mom’s apple crisp again. :)

  19. jainegayer says:

    So how’s the relationship going post pie?
    Did you totally and forever win her over?
    And what a cutie-patootie she is!

  20. Jean says:

    What a cutie-PIE.

  21. Theresa says:

    Those eyes!

  22. I’m standing here, slurping my decaffeine, trying to figure out how I can wrangle a piece of that pie. #pieiswhatsforbreakfast #breakfastpie

  23. Jody says:

    Pie looks great. Did E have a piece? How did it taste?

    • Karen says:

      Well that was the problem with lemon meringue, lol. It needs to SET. So once it was done all we could do was stand around and look at it. She was very good though. Better than most adults would have been. I explained it had to set and we could either eat it when it was all runny, or I could keep it at my house and bring it over to her house later when it was set to eat when it was “right”. She declared she’d just wait at my house for it to set. Then she started doing the dishes. (tasted great) ~ karen!

  24. Leslie Zuroski says:

    Whatta cutie and you broke the barrier! You rock Auntie Karen.

  25. Sally says:

    “Like”! LOL!

  26. Karol says:

    Ah, the hell with the kid! Who needs a snarky little person dictating your baking plans. Ooooh, wait, sorry, haven’t had my caffeine yet.
    She’s adorable. Yeah, adorable.

  27. Beckie says:

    my first thought was “she’s not old enough to be a Great Aunt” since my own Great Aunt was…old


    love the side by side pictures…very cool

  28. Suanne says:

    What a Cutie-Patootie! You’ve made a really good memory for both of you. Hope you give E a framed version of her and her mother with the pies…maybe decorate the frame with a tiny rolling pin and a miniature flour sack????? I think that would cement the new bond. Yay you, Karen.

  29. Jamieson says:

    When you have an immediate and unexplainable overwhelming love/hate for someone you just met, I call that DÉJÀ VOODOO. I made up this term in the quasi-pre-internet days of the early nineteen-hundred-nineties but now I see that it is in the urban dictionary!

    My theory is that you already know or at least had a pleasant/hateful experience with someone in the past and now this stranger subconsciously reminds you of them (that’s the “déjà vu” part). Your tricky little lizard-brain then transfers that same emotion to this new person without you realizing why (the voodoo part). Blammo: DEJA VOODOO.

    No this doesn’t explain your niece’s reaction but it makes sense of falling rapturously in love or hate immediately with strangers, yes?

    • Karen says:

      Yes. ~ karen

    • Carol says:

      Love this and this will help me when I see this one lady that for some reason I can not stand. Don’t know why I just do not like her at all, déjà voodoo! I will laugh to myself now wheni I see her, well it may be because she can’t seem to leave my husband alone when she has one of her own but I guess she values my husbands opinion more than hers. Ugh! Déjà voodoo!!!

  30. Susan Preston says:


  31. Erica says:

    Cute kid, and nice tactics the military couldn’t have strategized that better.

    Is that a new window?

  32. Sally A says:

    Oh Pie. Is there nothing you can’t do?

    He who doth dislike the pie,
    Must have a finger poked in his eye.

    You’re welcome.

    I love the side by side pictures! Super sweet! And the pie looks incredible! Good job E!

  33. Tigersmom says:

    I’ve found that the sort of people who don’t like me are usually people that I wouldn’t like anyway. And I find it very easy and liberating to not give a crap.

    Kiddos, on the other hand, I usually want to like me, unless their assholes. Then I don’t care.

    I remember a kid I used to know (not an asshole) that always looked at me with suspicion. I’d given him no reason and think he may have been that way with all people at first. I was eventually able to get him to come around. And it probably would have bugged me had I not. I used humor as my cooking is not what one would call persuasive.

    So, congratulations on your accomplishment. It would bug me if those big blue eyes continued to forever view me as suspect.

  34. Louise says:

    Oh my, my friend has a daughter like this. We were grocery shopping and my friend wanted to look at something so asked me to mind her baby, who was in the cart. Baby N was about 5 months old and could barely sit up in the cart with support. This tiny thing looked up at me and GROWLED (I swear!) and started scratching at my hands on the cart handle. I just couldn’t believe it!

    I later learned that she treated others this way. Her own aunt said that it was obvious when Baby N looked at you, she obviously didn’t think much of you and you just didn’t cut it. When she got a bit older, she would run in between you and her mother and make that growl again. Her grandmother, who is a very tough old bird from the old country, has actually fought off armed robbers from her food stand, by herself, TWICE. But Baby N, at age 5, reduced this warrior woman to tears with some of the cutting remarks she made.

    I had serious concerns she would grow up to be something from a horror movie, but she is now a lovely young teenager. Yes, let me repeat that: A LOVELY. YOUNG. TEENAGER.

  35. Grammy says:

    What a great story and a beautiful girl. She does look like she could be your daughter — including the mugging for the camera. Here’s the deal: she will always remember (fondly) when Great Aunt Karen taught her how to make a pie. Someday she’ll tell the following generation of children in the family the story.

    E looks about the age of my grandson, and he’s my enthusiastic kitchen helper. He has his own denim apron and stepstool and is really good at cooking. My favorite part of his assistance, though, is when I tell him to go find out what everyone wants to drink. I can hear the whole thing from the kitchen, and it goes something like this: “I’ll have coffee.” “I’d like a Pepsi.” “If there’s any beer, I’d like one, please.” He comes back to the kitchen and says, “Everybody wants water.” It’s impossible not to love someone who’s just like you.

  36. Dagmar says:

    I guess good looks run in the family Karen. You two could easily be mistaken for mother and daughter. And she obviously has your genes, however once removed they may be; she’s a natural baker, it seems. Well done, to the both of you !

  37. Stephanie says:

    Another reason I love reading Art of Doing Stuff! This was so sweet, but it also inspired me & made me THINK (about people & my relationships & how we treat each other). I think I’ve got room to improve! You’re awesome, thanks for inspiring.

  38. LuAnn Agustin says:

    Oh my Dear E, what beautiful big blue eyes you have!

  39. Barb says:

    Okay, this whole thing…especially the pictures…put the biggest grin on my face and I thank you for that. I have 2 new great-nephews and will have to keep this in mind for the future. Of course, I have some time since they’re only 8 months and 3 months at present. I wonder what kind of pie they’ll like!?!

  40. Stephanie Hobson says:

    What did she think of the faucet?

    • Karen says:

      She washed dishes for an hour after we made the pie. An HOUR. She liked the faucet. ;) ~ karen

      • Ruth says:

        LOL! I think any person who would dislike that faucet is unworthy of trust. I would appear that we can trust E. :-D

  41. Melissa says:

    Haha, yeah! I just found and (and liked) you while searching for frozen french fry recipes. I subscribed to your blog because vomiting up a ball of grease is hilarious. lol

    Anyway, I don’t know if you’ll love it or hate it but while reading this page, this song came to mind and I just .. well I have to. Sorry.

  42. Nike Dee says:

    Your great niece is adorable and that pie looks delicious! I’ve learned in life that if someone doesn’t like me they’ve done me the favor of not wasting my time by getting to know them. Obviously.. they suck ;)

  43. Karen too says:

    The “proper pie guy” is beaming down love and sunshine from heaven at this very moment. Hugs!

  44. kris wilson says:

    Adorable! And, yum! If I say I don’t like you, would you bake me a delicious looking lemon pie? ….can’t do it, even for pie :(.

  45. Patty says:

    I love what you wrote about your great-niece because I have one like that also. Last year at a family function, I had the sun in my eyes and couldn’t see my five-year old great niece who was in front of me and I accidentally (barely) stepped on her toes. Her eyes were throwing daggers at me! I was frightened of her! Exactly one year later at another family event, I brought her a belated birthday gift and she suddenly realized that I am a nice person after all! She and I had a conversation that lasted nearly a half hour and we parted with a newly formed bond. I am sure that your great-niece has the same newly formed bond with you!

  46. Becky says:

    I am dealing with this right now in my life. Another Mom at my daughters school hates me. Even her husband hates me.
    She’s having a baby, and even talking to her about her pregnancy doesn’t warm her up.
    I see her talking to the teacher, and other parents, and she’s perfectly friendly to them, but when I try, she clams up, gets a sour puss expression, and looks away.

    I see some baking in my future.

    • Karen says:

      And don’t forget … there’s nothing that dictates what you do with that pie after you bake it. You could eat it … or you could throw it in someone’s face. Just in a jovial “isn’t this fun” kind of way of course. ~ karen!

    • Melissa D says:

      If you live in the South, just do this — say “Well bless her heart.” …And watch everyone turn around with an “oh-no-you-didn’t” expression. Because we all know that Bless Her Heart does NOT mean BHH, not one tiny bit.

  47. Bobbi says:

    Her mother’s pie ? Apple ?
    How handy that you have a picture from the original Please Like Me, Let’s Bake a Pie event !

  48. Lori says:

    I have a great niece “E” that has a similar view of me. I might have to try the bribe with pie. It’s a great idea and I’ll get a pie. Seems like a win win for me.

  49. kate-v says:

    What a clever, discerning, smart little girl – there in nothing in the world like pie. And she is so cute! My favorite is rhubarb or strawberry-rhubarb; there are no pies I do not like

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