#VirtualPumpkinParty: Pumpkin Pie Cake

pumpkin pie cake

It’s pie! It’s cake! It’s pumpkin pie cake!

As I mention every year, pumpkin season is the best season. I secretly do not mind when it starts just a bit earlier each year (though I’ll admit, this year’s first pumpkin spice related sighting may have come a bit too early). I do not get pumpkined out. So when I saw that my friend Sara of Cake Over Steak was organizing a virtual pumpkin party, I was in, and I knew exactly what I would make for the occasion.

Pumpkin Pie Cake started to be a thing in my house shortly before I left for college. My mom says she found it in one of her cookbooks, but can’t remember which one, and the recipe I have is buried deep in my Gmail archives from 2010, several years after it’d been in regular fall rotation back home. So it’s hard to pinpoint the origins of this, but I’m sure it’s floating around the internet elsewhere, too.

Growing up, cakes and brownies mainly came in the 9×13 Pyrex format, and involved a box of cake or brownie mix. We didn’t really do fancy cakes, for the most part. That’s not to say that I didn’t come from a long line of from-scratch bakers; my mom always made cookies, pies, pastries, and maybe an elusive nut cake from scratch. All the Amish-Mennonite food got its proper due with homemade crusts, and even boxed cakes only got homemade icing. I didn’t even realize store bought icing was a thing until I found out it was something that some people eat with a spoon in college. So this Pumpkin Pie Cake fits into that no-nonsense, unpretentious paradigm, but uses the cake mix a little unconventionally. As are most things, this is especially delicious warmed up with a little vanilla ice cream. I bet butter pecan would go extremely well with it, too.

pumpkin pie cake

Pumpkin Pie Cake


  • 1 box yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup)
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 large can pumpkin
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/2 stick softened butter

Takes about .


  1. Mix first three ingredients (box of cake mix with 1 cup set back for later, 1 stick of melted butter, and 1 egg) with a fork until they’re moist. Pat into bottom of a 9×13 baking pan.
  2. Beat pumpkin, 3 eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, milk, and 1/4 cup white sugar together and spread on top of the first layer.
  3. Combine the 1 cup of reserved cake mix, 1/2 cup of white sugar, chopped nuts, and softened butter to form crumbs, and sprinkle these on top of the pumpkin layer.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes.

As this is mostly made of actual pumpkin, it’s basically eating a vegetable. A buttered, sugared vegetable. With some eggs. Protein!

pumpkin pie cake

Thanks so much to Sara for organizing this! I’ve been hankering for some pumpkin pie cake for awhile, and this was the perfect reason to stop being lazy about baking in my new house. You can check out the rest of the #virtualpumpkinparty posts over on Cake Over Steak or Twigg Studios.

Show Up & Share

That night in Pittsburgh

That night in Pittsburgh

My friend Nicole, a body positive style blogger, recently published a post about how she often feels that her blog doesn’t have the same kind of polished sheen that she admires about other fashion blogs.

This reminded me of how, over the summer, I realized that sheen or no, showing up and sharing can profoundly affect the people around you, even if you feel unprepared or like you’re not as polished as everyone else.

Show up and share your story

At last year’s BarCamp, the unconference I’ve helped organize the past few years, someone roped me into contributing to a session about career transition, totally last minute. She recruited a bunch of us who’d learned to code, at least in part through our involvement with Girl Develop It, and then successfully transitioned into tech jobs. She introduced the session about career transition, and introduced each of us, and we told our stories. I hadn’t had any time to prepare. As an organizer of BarCamp, I felt tired and kind of distracted while I explained my path to getting hired as a web developer. I hadn’t had time to focus my thoughts, fix my makeup, or collect my scant introvert energy — all things I usually do before speaking somewhere. I’d given this spiel before, but it felt like this version was less organized than I liked. I really hoped that I didn’t sound totally incoherent.

After it was over, I promptly forgot that it ever happened. It’s a faint memory, like “Oh yeah, I guess I did speak at BarCamp last year. Huh.”

Show up and share your gratitude

Fast forward to this past August, when someone stopped me outside of the bar in Pittsburgh where we’d been doing karaoke after a long and delightful day at Abstractions (so far, my favorite tech conference of 2016). “You’re Lisa Yoder, right?” Uh, yeah. “I haven’t introduced myself, but I saw you speak at BarCamp last year.” It took me a moment to figure out what she was talking about, since I have little recollection of what I actually said that day. “You talked about getting your first tech job!” Oh yeah, I guess I did. She went on to tell me that prior to BarCamp, she had been thinking about learning to code and trying to get a better job, but hadn’t made any moves towards it. She appreciated all of our stories, but for some reason mine really resonated, and she committed to actually go for it. Since then, she’d thrown herself into learning, and had just landed a web development internship with a tech company in Philadelphia.

She also disclosed that she felt kind of creepy stopping me on the street, like some kind of fan. But that was probably my favorite thing that happened that month! I loved knowing that something I did almost a year ago, with no feedback at the time, was so helpful to someone else. I wasn’t creeped out by this. I was humbled and honored and happy and grateful and maybe a little teary eyed. I felt glowy for the rest of the night and into the following day.

I’m not sharing all of this to toot my own horn. Different stories resonate with different folks, and I’m certain my friends’ stories affected others in the audience to the same degree.

I’m using this experience to illustrate two things.

First, at the risk of spouting a cliche, it’s important to remember that putting yourself out there, even in the smallest of ways, can have an impact on someone else that can change their day, their year, or potentially their life. Keep doing it, even if you don’t see the sheen in your own work. Submit that talk, publish that post, build that app, make that piece of art. This is as much a reminder to myself as anything else.

Second, if you are positively affected by someone’s actions or appreciate something they’ve made or shared, tell them! So many people are just slogging through, at their jobs, their side projects, their artistic endeavors, their blogs, without anyone stopping them on the street to tell them they’ve made a difference.

Let’s all keep showing up when we’re not totally feeling it and make a conscious effort to express gratitude and admiration to those humans who’ve affected us for the better, even in the smallest of ways.

Also, check out Nicole’s body posi, budget friendly style blog. She’s got all the sheen there is. And I’m betting you do, too.

Fall Reading List

The Liars' Club on a cafe table.When I was a kid, it was impossible to keep me in books. I read constantly. My mom would take books away as a punishment. That was a constant up until college, when I double majored, took over 18 credits almost every semester, worked part time, studied abroad, and graduated early. All my fun reading time was consumed by class reading time, and I basically had no time left over for anything else, except the occasional apartment party.

In the past few years, I’m sad to say, it feels like a lot of the time I used to spend reading long form pieces I now spend on the internet. Like, Twitter or Pinterest. Not great, I know. I’ve noticed a decrease in my attention span. Reading book after book was something I really missed. I’ve been better about it this year for sure. I’m realizing that I have an easier time falling asleep if I spend a chunk of time reading instead of scrolling through Pinterest on my iPad.

I did a pretty good job of reading a bunch over the summer — Between the World and Me, The Girls, Public Parts, The Vacationers, among others — but I’m ready to cozy up with books, especially as it’s getting darker earlier already. Wahhhh.

There’s a bunch of stuff I’m looking forward to reading this fall. Here are a few of the books on my list.

Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr — I actually just finished this and I’m already excited to read the rest of her memoirs.

Swing Time, by Zadie Smith — I honestly don’t remember much about On Beauty, but I do remember loving White Teeth. It left a really strong impression, and I’d love to reread it. I could do with a little more Zadie Smith in my life.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez — One of my secret shames is that I’ve never read this. I used to say I wanted to wait until I could read it in the original Spanish, but to be honest, that would be pretty tedious and exhausting to me at present. I should have tried 7 or 8 years ago. I miss Latin American magical realism. I used to read a ton of it in my Spanish classes in undergrad, but I’ll have to suck it up and read it in English, I think. We recently got a copy as a favor from a friend’s wedding. How great of a wedding favor is that?

Rework, by Jason Fried and DHH — I’m reading this ’cause it was the October pick for the Being Boss Clubhouse. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would, but so far, it’s not the super cohesive, long form stuff I’m craving now. What I’ve read so far is written in pretty small chunks.

The Mothers, by Brit Bennett — This is apparently on everyone’s fall reading list.

The Art of Waiting, by Belle Boggs — An essay on infertility she wrote by the same name was so resonant that The Art of Waiting became a book.

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum — To balance out the book above.

I’ve also been trying to keep better track of what I’m reading on my long-neglected GoodReads account. I have a weird aversion to writing reviews there, but it’s nice to have a visual of all I’ve read.

Do you have a reading list this fall? What’s on it? I’ve taken to checking in on Largehearted Boy for book recommendations when I need them. I’m also really enjoying the @phillybookclub Instagram account and hashtag for book recommendations.

October Goals

green and orange pumpkinsSeptember felt kind of long! I wasn’t wishing it away or anything, it just felt like I got a lot done. We also had a couple busy weeks of hosting. It was really great to host people in the new house, and to have an actual guest bedroom in which to host them. Chrystina came to visit for a weekend, and then my mother-in-law stopped by for a few days. Chad’s brothers also each dropped in separately for a bit.

I submitted two posts to Town Dish, and I got to interview the chef behind Lancaster’s new favorite restaurant, and the designers and builders behind some of the beautiful restaurant interiors in downtown Lancaster. I also wrapped up a couple web projects and lined up a few more that should keep me busy for awhile.

In addition to all that, here’s how my goals for September went:

1. Get through chapter 3 of Data Visualization with JavaScript. So close. Chapter 2 turned out to be hefty, and I really started to dive into the interactive pieces of data visualization, which has been fun but tricky.

2. Have a new heating system installation underway. Done. I mean, my part is done. We’re waiting six to eight weeks for the gas company to run the gas line in. I really hope it doesn’t get too cold by then.

3. Hang art in the newly painted living room and bedroom! I’m excited to take stock of all of the art we have and maybe mix it up a bit as far as what pieces go in what room. Done-ish! We hung some paintings in the living room, but nothing in the bedroom. It’s still kind of in progress, because we still don’t have a bedframe. We also ended up painting the dining room in September, and it makes all the difference! It feels great to have almost the whole downstairs cleaned up and painted. It’s like a whole different house.

4. Dig out my calligraphy stuff and spend a few minutes playing with it a few times a week. I’m registered for a handlettering class at PCAD starting next week, so I feel like that will be motivational. Done-ish! I’ve been spending a chunk of time about three or four days a week playing with brush pens. I did haul out my calligraphy stuff, and I feel like getting better at one will also make me better at the other.

5. Post here regularly. Take time to write, photograph, and share. I want this space to be a community and a record of the story I’m living, more than it has been lately. Done-ish! I feel better about this month than I have for awhile. This is something I want to continue, though, so it’ll stay as an ongoing goal, just not in this list every month.

On to October!

1. Get a bedframe, settle on a mattress, and hang art in the bedroom. This bedroom has been a saga, y’all. A marathon, not a sprint. We’re not totally sold on the Helix mattress we bought, but I want to try it on an actual bedframe and not just on the floor. I don’t understand how people keep mattresses on the floor. It doesn’t look bohemian and carefree in our room, it just looks like a mess. It’s hard to get in and out of (also hi, I’m getting old apparently), and the cats drag dirt in and out of it. So once we get a bedframe, we’ll decide if we’re sending the mattress back and going with a conventional pillowtop. I just really love pillowtops. I’m not so into the foam. And I’m dying to see how this fence panel will do as a headboard.

2. Do an outfit post here! Part of me really wants to do an occasional outfit post, but another part of me is scared to come off as annoying and vain and like I’m vying for attention. But I like other people’s outfit posts, so I’m gonna try to get over my complex! Chad got me a remote so I can start playing around with taking my own photos without running back and forth to the camera, like we did here.

3. Finish my first go at rebuilding this site from scratch. Between work stuff, freelance stuff, finding and buying a house, moving, and some unfortunate life/health stuff, this has fallen off big time. After a ton of experimentation and testing different things out, I’ve been building my own custom WordPress theme. No framework, no parent theme. I really like it. I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t, and it’s been a really valuable experience. I can already tell that it could be my favorite way to work going forward.

4. Take some photos of the house and start sharing the process. It’s against my nature to show in-progress things as opposed to the finished product, but I’m realizing I may never feel like I’m finished with house stuff. Better to share along the way than to wait for someday that may never come.

5. Feel relaxed and at home in my space and life. I have some major things coming up this fall that I’ll hopefully be able to share about down the road, but for now I need to focus on taking care of myself and feeling like I’m set up well for dealing with them. Specific things that will help: A tidy space, minimizing stressful social situations, keeping the kitchen stocked, books to read, exercising regularly, and a creative endeavor, such as journaling, practicing brush lettering, or taking photos.

Loving // September 2016

Free People Royale Shoes

A list of things I’m loving, September, 2016:

  • A honey tobacco soy candle (similar) I picked up after showing an impressive level of restraint at the West Elm outlet store here in Lancaster. The furniture was all 40% off, but they don’t allow returns, so I was proud of myself for not walking out of the store with things I wasn’t absolutely sure I loved. I absolutely love this candle.
  • Canning. I canned twice this year, up from once last year, up from zero all the years of my life before that. Last week, I tried out this Mrs. Wages pizza sauce mix. All the ladies who can back home are all about it this year. I hope I love it, ’cause I canned a bunch of pizza sauce made with it.
  • Pumpkin Spice season. I know it’s not cool to like Pumpkin Spice everything, but you know what? I don’t care. I like what I like, and I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. I am unashamed to admit the thrill I get at the beginning of September when PSLs and Pumpking beer become available.
  • Handlettering. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m taking a handlettering class at PCAD. I’m really enjoying feeling more confident with brush pens, and using it as a way to relax in the evenings.
  • Instagram Stories. Subjects you can expect from me: cats, in-progress house projects, Chad wearing a snake squash around his neck (think Bjork in the swan dress). You know, the usual. I’m @_lisli.
  • These shoes, pictured above. I bought them towards the end of spring, and the cooler temps made me pull them out again. They’re perfect for fall days.

Also fun this month: Free People regrammed a photo I posted (the one from this post)! That was a happy September surprise!

I hope y’alls fall is off to a delightful, pumpkin-flavored start! Or not, depending on your opinions on pumpkins.