Pumpkin Pie and College Quests

I looked up and all of a sudden, it’s October.

The year is really flying by and I know why.

In addition to this pumpkin pie (and a few others), much of my attention this year has been focused (consumed is more accurate) on something other than baking.

pumpkin pie rolling

Now, I’m still going to share this pumpkin pie recipe because I think you popped over for something delicious.

However, allow me to share a little more about what else has been on my plate.

I have a high school senior… and her name is Cameron.

Of course,  I could just stop at that statement because I think it stands alone but I’m going to elaborate.

pumpkin pie filling

In addition to the realization that I’m old enough to have a high school senior (insert thank you to hair colorist), I’ve discovered the modern day college application process.

Let me tell you, it is nothing like what I had to do when I went to school.

We’ve been on the road a lot this year, visiting nearly a dozen colleges since spring making sure we hit the recommended number of reach, target and safety schools.

Wait, there’s more.

pumpkin pie pour

Honestly, this whole process has pretty much turned our household upside down.

We talk about it constantly and my dining room table is now college central filled with notes, college brochures,  SAT prep books and a huge, over-size calendar keeping track of our every move.

Speaking of college brochures, I now know why college is so expensive. They’ve gotta have a major budget for all these full color brochures, elaborate booklets and giant posters they send out… daily.

In addition to touring schools Cameron has also kicked it up a notch with a few college overnight stays which allowed her to sit-in on several courses while on campus. She’s attended multiple college info nights, met with admissions officers and lunched with current college students from targeted schools to gain additional insights.

She’s working on multiple application essays, fine-tuning the blanks on the Common Application, following up with recommenders, practicing communication skills with mock-interviews and she’s wrapped up her standardized testing with two SAT’s, one ACT and four college board subject tests.

Oh, and she’s doing all this while taking a full 6-AP course load (and maintaining straight A’s) at school along with her other community service, volunteer and extra-curricular commitments.

Believe me when I say, this is not atypical, unusual or uncommon. I know this because I’ve talked with tons of other parents whose high schoolers are on the same intense hamster wheel.

Cameron is self-motivated, engaged, bright and very competitive and while I know these attributes undoubtedly serve her well, I have a hard time knowing where to draw the line on some of the intensity level or whether there should even be a line.

It does seem like a bit much but that’s what the high school experience and college application process now looks like… that’s what it’s become and like so many others, we don’t dare do it differently.

We all just keep doing what we’re doing and hope it pays off in the end… despite the tantrums and door slamming.

pumpkin pie leaves

I’ve had the tantrums and Cameron is the door slammer (ahem, sometimes it’s vice-versa).

Cameron’s bedroom door has been slammed so often, my husband, Boris is threatening to remove it.

He keeps saying he’s just gonna take that door right off its hinges.

That’s going to be funny. Hey, we need more levity around here.

pumpkin pie filling2

Pumpkin Pie
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
Servings: 8
  • For Filling
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For Dough
  • 1 box store-bought pie crust mix
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare pie crust and set aside a small amount for leaves.
  3. Roll out dough and mold into pie pan.
  4. Roll dough and use cookie cutter to make dough leaves.
  5. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust.
  6. Arrange dough leaves on top of filling.
  7. Bake 15 minutes.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  9. Continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean.
  10. Serve with a dollup of whipped cream, if desired.

pie leaf arrangement

This modern day college application process involves far more than I imagined but we’ve all learned a lot.

I’m happy to say, things are finally settling down around here and Cameron says she feels really good about where she is in the process.

We’re so darn proud of her.

The college quest is almost over (until we have to go through the same thing for Jordy).

As we get closer to the end of this super busy year, we are all starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…. and it’s no longer a train.

Pie-making helps.

pumpkin pie dish

Thanks for stopping by.

See  you back here next time. 


  • Patti

    Can I ask how you got the dough leaves so perfectly identical? Did u use a cookie cutter? And love that pie dish – could you share you source?

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks, Patti!
      The leaves were made with a Williams Sonoma mini leaf cookie cutter but I know you can find them at other stores now too.
      The cutters are small and spring-loaded. You punch them out and then press the lever to leave the small vein impression in the dough. They actually come in all shapes and sizes. Also the large, fluted stoneware pie dish was a Sam’s Club buy.
      Good luck with your baking efforts and thanks for popping by.

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    The pie looks fantastic and I do believe cooking and baking is therapeutic. How I remember the drama but we didn’t have quite the college process that they have now. THANK THE LORD! I wouldn’t go back to those years for anything. Now, tell hubby to put a beaded curtain for a door. That way she has her privacy but she can’t slam the door 🙂 xoxo

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Lol! Perfect and what a fun idea too, Marisa.
      You’re hilarious. I love it.
      Hope you have a fantastic day and thanks for the chuckle.

  • [email protected] Designs

    Oh that pie looks so delicious and love the way you sprinkled the leaves on the top…College apps…prep…been there done that…although academics was a player in the game…his concern was playing soccer too….But all was well and he had a very good college experience with an academic and athletic scholarship…It is stressful..they want to go there…we want them to go elsewhere…Glad the process is coming to and end soon…had to laugh about the door!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Shirley.
      Yes, I’ll soon be in the been-there-done-that boat too.
      It’s been a true learning experience all the way around-lol.
      Hope you have a wonderful fall weekend.

  • Jeanne

    Oh my Lisa…Oh my…even though we are about 3 years away from this, I have listened to my “old” college room mate and her daughter discuss the whole new approach to selecting a college and well, you are spot on…Craziness. Love the pie. But it does sound like you have this college business mastered…maybe even better than the pie. 🙂

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks for putting a smile on my face, Jeanne.
      I do think I’ve become a near-expert on this now-lol.
      After this, it’s going to be so much easier when we get to Jordy.

  • Sheila

    I can Feel your pain/joy! Been through it with two kids…who are now successful adults. Just part of the road called life. 😊

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much, Sheila.
      Yes, this road called life can be a little crazy but that’s what makes it worth it, right?
      It’s starting to feel like smooth sailing around here now (finally).
      Happy day to to you.

  • Suz Kuhns

    The pie looks delicious – one of my favorites and the leaves on the top are beautiful! I feel your pain about college craziness. When my son went to college (he was in the class of 2000 graduating high school) the craziness was recently beginning. Fortunately, many, many years earlier I had taken a course at Harvard in the evening and the professor was the dean of admissions. At that time, even, he said that most schools no longer wanted to see just good grades…they wanted to see extra-curricular activities at school, volunteer work, part-time jobs, etc. The colleges wanted to be sure the kids could handle pressure and juggle multiple things. My niece, who went to college 5 years earlier than my son, didn’t get into many of the schools she applied to because she “only” had good grades – she did get early acceptance to Bentley (so that worked out), but my son got into a couple of schools she didn’t and his grades weren’t quite as good as hers … but he had all the other stuff! Then there were the college visits…good grief! He did get into the college of his choice and that was step one. Next was packing for a dorm room the size of a postage stamp, moving him into school (moving day on campus was a true experience!), orientation, choosing classes, etc. The funniest day was the day the kids signed up for classes and parents weren’t allowed to come into the building. Many were furious, but as the Dean explained – our kids were there to prepare for their …so we needed to trust our kids to start making their own decisions – good or bad – and that it would all work out without mom and dad holding their hands. That first snip at apron strings was very difficult for a lot of parents. Sixteen years later my son has an MBA in Healthcare Management from an ivy league college and is Operations Manager/Family Medicine in a major hospital in a large city (I’m told I have to be careful with my bragging…) – he’s engaged to a wonderful young woman and I’m extremely proud of him. You’ve started on a fantastic journey with Cameron – I wish you both joy and happiness!

    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      Thanks so much for sharing your son’s success, Suz. He sounds like a great young man with a wonderful future ahead of him.
      It must be so rewarding not to mention a relief to know that his decision paid off and he’s in a good place.
      You’re already making me think a little about what it’s going to be like on drop-off day.
      That postage stamp size room is going to be a real wake up call for Cameron too-lol.

  • Botanic Bleu

    Most of my life I was a high school math teacher who taught these highly-motivated goal-oriented Advanced Placement (AP) students. I empathize with what you and Cameron are experiencing as she tries to determine the best college for her. Wherever I go in the world (Avignon, France to Napa Valley, California) I bump into former students who are highly successful. My words of advice to Cameron and to you are, “Be true to yourself, and remember to enjoy life NOW. Being loved and loving your family will bring you more happiness than anything else in the world.” May Cameron find a school that fits her. PS… Way to go, Cameron, making all As while taking rigorous courses. You will do great in college since you have shown already by taking college courses in high school.


    • Lisa Tutman-Oglesby

      You’re so sweet, Judith to share your great story.
      Great advice and your words are something I’ll keep in mind.
      Interesting tidbit to learn about your teaching background too.
      Thanks for the good wishes for Cameron.
      I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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