Sugar and (Pumpkin) Spice (Cake), and Everything Nice

Pumpkin Spice Cake

This morning I woke up completely disoriented. The mattress underneath me was plusher than usual, and I could hear the faint sound of a TV coming from somewhere outside of the room.  Suddenly the mattress was familiarly comfortable, and I recognized the irregular thumping of a dog tail against my wooden bed frame. For the first time in three months, I was waking up in my own bed—and, hell, it felt good. Instead of stumbling out of bed and scrambling to find a cute (but mostly warm) outfit while anxiously reviewing Spanish vocabulary and the consequences of globalization in my mind, I could actually roll over and relax.  I could look outside my window and see the red wheelbarrow perched against the tree and crunchy brown leaves resting on the green grass (my brothers have clearly been neglecting their raking chores…).  The only thing that wooed me out of bed was the sweet aroma of sweet potatoes and pumpkin drifting from the kitchen.

Mixing the batter. Literally takes 5 minutes.

It’s good to be home. It’s also impossible to believe that I’m finally here. The epic travel saga began this past Tuesday on the bus to Burlington International Airport…

We were all smiles.  Classes had finally ended, cheeks were the slightest bit rosy from the cold, and suitcases were zipped and loaded into the back of the van.  Some people buckled, and others just piled in.  People checked to make sure they had their boarding passes and texted their roommates to make sure they had shut the windows and closed the shades.  The light at the end of the tunnel was in sight.  After waving goodbye to our beautiful stone buildings, passing the various restaurants I keep vowing to venture to and try out, and precariously navigating the traffic circle, we were out of Middlebury and headed home.

Post-oven cake. Let it cool before icing.

The trouble all started with a chorus of simultaneous cell-phone rings.  We each answered the phone to hear an automated message notify us that our first flight had been delayed due to air traffic.  Our faces drooped, and we exhaled sighs in unison.  A delay on our first flight would later translate to missing our connection to Charlotte, an unexpected group sleepover in the Philadelphia airport hotel, and a 4:30 AM wakeup call to fight for seats on flights that would take off before the sun would rise. To make a long story short, we made it home in about 17 hours, which is the rough equivalent of the time it takes to drive from Vermont to North Carolina.  We looked weary, red-eyed, and sleep-deprived–but we were home.

Dare to experiment with other types of icing.

It’s the little things that remind me that I’m home.  It’s walking to the outside freezer to retrieve some biscuits and finding them wedged in between the ice-cream sandwiches and a deer head.  It’s the fact that my fifteen-year-old brother is asleep until noon and then spends the remainder of the day staring aimlessly into the depths of the fridge…shirtless.  Home is my mom multitasking—making lists while talking on the phone while sipping her “half-caf, skim milk, two pumps chocolate, no whip mocha” while power walking out the door to pilates.  I smile hearing my dad talk about adding a camouflage headliner in his 1990 black Cherokee Jeep to the pre-existing ensemble of camo seat and steering wheel covers, and I still wrinkle my nose a little upon sliding into the Volkswagen Bug that still slightly smells of the pig that used to ride in the front seat with the farmer who used to own the car.

Some things never change, yet some things do.  There’s a fresh dent in TeamWeir (the family minivan), Bradford no longer has braces, and Alexander has finally eclipsed my height.  And although the height of my bed hasn’t changed, it seems a whole lot lower considering the awkwardly tall height of the bed in my dorm room.  (It’s always fun to watch everyone catapult themselves onto our beds—they’re too tall to casually sit or even slide up onto, yet too low to necessitate ladders).  My room is cleaner and barer, and my parents have started talking about redoing the kitchen.  Alexander is taking algebra (bless his heart), and Bradford’s sarcasm has skyrocketed to new levels of sophistication and sass.

It's rich, so small pieces are a must.

I’ve decided Thanksgiving break is a tease.  It’s a brief glimpse of what the utopian Christmas break will look like.  Though over Thanksgiving, you are expected to relax, reconnect with family, take on thousands of calories, see friends, stock up on vitamins and other necessities, get healthy, do homework, mentally prepare for exams, AND catch up on sleep (funny joke) in a time span of approximately four days.  I’m 98% sure that’s physically impossible.  As soon as you start getting used to waking up in your own bed, it’s time to pack your bag, get back on the road, and hit the books that stayed zipped in your backpack the whole break.  Though I can’t really complain–I’ll be home in less than three weeks; I just have a couple of academic hurdles to jump before getting there.

So in the spirit of being time-efficient and productive, here’s a simple and quick recipe that will impress your friends and family, do more than satisfy your taste buds, and put you in the holiday mood:

The final product.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Ingredients: 1 box of Spice Cake (yes I told you it was quick and easy), 3 eggs, 1 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup water, 1 13 oz. can of Libby’s Pumpkin, 1 container of cream cheese icing, ¾ cup of chocolate chips (optional: I prefer it without the chocolate)


  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Spray 9×13 inch pan/dish with cooking spray.
  3. Mix eggs, water, vegetable oil, Spice Cake mix, pumpkin, (and maybe chocolate chips) in large mixing bowl until well blended.
  4. Pour into pan, and bake for 32-36 minutes.
  5. After the cake has cooled, spread the cream cheese icing on top.

So here’s to home.  See you in a few weeks.

Some of the fam.


About sayre1311

I'm a simple southern girl. Thanks to my culinarily-talented family, I've nurtured an addiction to cheese grits and biscuits, and I know that butter is the key to heaven on earth (or at least in the kitchen). I'm a loud and proud Girl Raised In The South headed to college in the Green Mountain State in the fall, and this blog is dedicated to chronicling my culinary journey and capturing the endless adventures that are sure to accompany it.
This entry was posted in Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sugar and (Pumpkin) Spice (Cake), and Everything Nice

  1. sophiaspach says:

    Sayre, amazing post. That pumpkin spice cake=heaven.

  2. sayre1311 says:

    thanks soph! i’m glad you liked it.

  3. page says:

    Sayre!! this cake looks amazing!!! I’m so following your blog from now on 😀 I love all your posts!!! I’m bringing back my girl and boy gingerbread cookie cutters and some other stuff back to Midd – we should bake together again soon!! 🙂 your pumpkin bread was awesome 🙂

  4. sayre1311 says:

    thanks page! gabby and caroline gave me the recipe. your cookie cutters sound like so much fun–we should definitely bake sometime soon. see you back at midd!

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