my appletite for fall delicacies is unpearable

This trip has been exactly what I needed and the perfect kick-off to fall. If you're reading this on Monday, that means I'm currently winding through half-harvested cornfields on a highway in the Midwest trying to calm my whining toddler and cursing the road construction. Prayers for sanity are much appreciated.

On Friday we went apple picking. We visited this orchard last fall and I've been anxiously awaiting our return all year. It's tucked away in the rolling hills of Eastern Iowa between dairy farms. We picked pears and honeycrisp apples and accidentally bought an apple pie or two. Gracie was much more into it this year and had the time of her life. She was...wait for it...be-cider-self with joy. We may or may not have picked up pumpkin donuts on the way as well. Fall can't officially begin without apple pie and pumpkin donuts.

I know people get uppity over that ubiquitous Anne of Green Gables quote about Octobers, but it's popular for a reason. She was on to something.

We drove a little further north to this little town on the river for lunch. It was the most beautiful place I've ever seen. There were cliffs, an old mill, a riverboat on the Mississippi, streets lined with old Victorian homes with wrap-around porches and porch swings, and even a coffee shop and bookstore. It's the Stars Hollow of Iowa. I couldn't take pictures because I was too busy weeping. I made the mistake of looking up houses on Zillow. It's totally affordable. I wept even more. That's when the pie and donuts really came in handy. Lorelai and Rory would be proud.

Sometime after these events, I was hit with the curse of destruction. Within one day I stepped on a carpet tack that went through my toe, stepped on a splinter that went straight into my other foot, broke two toilets--one of them twice (not how you think, the handle broke!), got a mosquito bite on my forehead so large it looks like a golf ball is trying to break through the skin, tripped over an acorn and fell in the middle of the road tearing up my knee and left hand, dumped a hot cup of coffee down my pants, and blew a fuse while blow-drying my hair.

I almost locked myself in a padded room.

Thankfully, the curse lifted on Saturday. My mom and I left Gracie with my dad for the day and went shopping. This is the first time I've left her that long to go do something fun, and even though I missed her, it was exactly what I needed. We picked an Italian place for lunch that we've never heard of, which is always a little risky, but it will go down as one of my favorite meals of all time. I ordered a bowl of butternut squash and apple soup and a crab cake slider. A totally strange combination, but just like a butternut squash latte, you can't knock it till you try it. You butter believe I was nuts about it.


We went shopping for ourselves yet walked out of the mall with bags for Gracie, even though we spent an obscene amount of time comparing candle scents in Bath & Body Works. That's always how it goes. Buying kids clothes is all the fun of retail therapy with none of the body issues. It's October 1st and she already has 3 pairs of Christmas pajamas, so the trip was a giant success. We walked past a Gymboree store in the process of closing. The store had giant cardboard boxes full of clothes of various sizes and seasons with no rhyme or reason, but they were 70% off, so there I was. I dug through a box and found some treasures, including an over the top sweater dress with a skating llama on it. The seat of my jeans may be on the verge of getting holes, but my daughter is going to look amazing.

I was sweating after burrowing through boxes of clearance clothes, so we stopped in a Barnes & Noble for iced coffees. We sat in the cafe next to a group of teenagers asking each other what interest rates are and if their credit cards had them.

Ahh, the blissful ignorance of youth.

My mom pointed toward a book on an end-cap and said "Look! Your name!" The name of the book was Shelly Bell, which is what my parents have called me my whole life and also a shortened version of my first and last name. I was giddy. The tagline read "At His Mercy" and I thought Oh! A book named after me, and it sounds like some kind of Christmas memoir? Something about life and God's mercy? I might have to buy this! I walked over to it and underneath the title it read "A Forbidden Lovers Novel." And then I noticed Fifty Shades of Grey was directly underneath. It was a trashy romance novel. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that's out the window when you can't even judge the cover correctly.

Ahh, the blissful ignorance of youth.

Suffice it so say, we had a good laugh.  Clearly my iced coffee hadn't kicked in yet.

After getting so lost we wound up in a neighboring city, we went to Old Navy. My mom hadn't been in years, and I needed to grab some things for Gracie. In a strange twist of fate, I found a pile of things that fit me perfectly. Gracie got a few things and some cat shoes (which she is currently wearing over her cat pajamas), and my mom and I walked out with matching sweats and pajamas. Shopping with my mom is the most fun thing in the world. We laughed until we cried all day. I laughed more than I have in ages. I can't tell you how good it was for my soul.

This will also go down as the first time clothes shopping was more successful than book shopping. 


  1. "Buying kids clothes is all the fun of retail therapy with none of the body issues" This needs to be used as copy on every ad for every children's clothing store for the rest of all time. I nearly spit my water out at my computer reading it just now.

    Best of luck on your trip back home today!!! xoxox

  2. Whew- thinking about you today!

    It sounds like your trip was successful! I looove honeycrisp apples! That orchard is adorable!

  3. I’m so delighted you have had such a good trip, my friend! Can’t wait to see G model all of her new cute outfits! So excited you found some for yourself. I definitely agree- I’ll drop more on books than I ever will clothes 😂

  4. i am so happy to hear you had a good trip!

    i love shopping with my mama, especially now that we live in different states. and now that i have a baby, it's even more special to shop for baby clothes.

    i always get so excited when i see a new blog post from you. your writing style is my favorite!

    1. Thank you so much, Amber!!! You made my day.

  5. What a lovely trip! Oklahoma is nice, but I MISS fall up north. Apple picking is not a thing here and it's sadness. Hope you make it back safely!

  6. When I read the title of this post, I was actually really hoping that we were going to be privy to one of your family's group text messages with a bunch of food puns, but this trip was so delightful and falltimey to read about, I don't even care it wasn't what I had initially hoped for! Going along with The Lady Okie, it's really sad that we don't have "good" falltimes here. Falltime events basically consist of pumpkin patches (which aren't as fun as apple picking) and maybe some corn mazes (which are fun too, but also are not apple picking). There's just something so quintessentially "falltime" about apple picking in cooler temperatures. I'm really glad that you had an awesome trip, I really appreciate all of these food puns, and I think I'm going to light a candle now! (your blog posts usually have that effect on me)

  7. What a fun day! That little town on the river sounds amazing. It sounds like I've underestimated the amazingness of Iowa. If I had a dollar for every time I saw that Anne of Green Gables quote yesterday I could afford to live in Florida until the fall and winter is over and spring returns, but I'll admit there is something a little bit magical about a nice October day.

    Also, be-cider-self might be my favorite pun of all time.

  8. Whats the the name of this this amazing town? Sounds wonderful.

  9. Haha, that is so funny about the book! I'm sorry, haha. The apple picking sounds so fun! I wish we had an orchard around here to pick apples...I don't know of one anyway...

  10. That all sounds amazing. And cat shoes? You have to send me a picture.

    "Buying kids clothes is all the fun of retail therapy with none of the body issues." Can you it yours on a t-shirt or something? SO MUCH TRUTH.


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