6 things I learned in October

Once again joining Emily Freeman to share what I learned last month, from the simple to the serious.

1. A lack of rain mutes fall foliage.

I didn’t notice the difference at first because my favorite neighborhood tree (above) is looking beautiful as ever, but everything else is definitely looking a little crunchier than normal, and that’s while the leaves are still on the trees.

2. My local ice cream shop will “split scoops.”

Let’s start with the serious stuff. This means if you want to taste two flavors, but only want to get one scoop … you get it, right? This is important stuff.

3. If you want a good conversation starter, share a ridiculous dress code.

Will and I attended an event earlier this month where the invitation specified dress was “outdoor chic.” What? 

It was a fancy tented event, in a big field, in the rolling Kentucky hills, and this last-minute dress code news threw me. So I asked on twitter, and got more interaction than I think I’ve ever gotten on twitter about anything, ever. None of it was particularly helpful, but it all made me laugh.

(The answer? The same navy (or maybe black? I can never tell) dress I always wear, plus boots. Clunky brown boots. It worked.)

4. Bras come in half sizes.

Minor miracle: you can get half sizes for the cups. From ThirdLove, a company I found when they sponsored What Should I Read Next. I ordered one (with my own cash money; this isn’t sponsored or perked) and am really happy with it. If we were having coffee I might tell you my bra woes, but unfortunately we’re not (at least not today), so I’ll just leave it at that.

5. VRBO is a total pain. 

I’ve used VRBO and airbnb in the past and have had wonderful and easy experiences. I recently learned that I was experiencing beginner’s luck. When we went to NYC earlier this month, I contacted more than twenty places (admittedly too close to the last minute) to ask about availability. Every single one that responded said, whoops, it’s booked those nights, sorry I didn’t update the calendar.

Does this just happen sometimes, or do I need VRBO/airbnb training? I’d love your tips.


6. You can add any web page to your phone as an app icon. 

Listen up, because this is so useful—and so easy! Here’s what to do: open the website you want in your Safari browser, tap the share button (the middle button at the bottom that’s a box with an arrow coming out) and select “add to home screen.” That’s it!

You can do the same thing on android. In Chrome: tap the 3 vertical dots next to the address bar to open options for the website. Scroll down to “add to home screen” and it adds a direct link to your screen.

Now the MMD Book Club sits on my home screen, making it even easier to access, and it’s pretty, too.

I’d love to hear what YOU learned in October, whether it’s serious, silly, or somewhere in between. 


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  1. Cassie says:

    I learned that when my 14 mo old’s schedule is out of whack, we get early wakeups. I’M so glad I bit the bullet and started transitioning for daylight savings this week so I don’t get hut with double whammy early wakeups.

  2. Stacie says:

    So this VRBO thing? We had occasion to look for last minute lodgings twice in October and it was truly unpleasant. I sorted by our dates and looked at hundreds and hundreds of listings, changing our location to accommodate our dates and overwhelmingly, the hosts said they’d forgotten to update their calendars. Very disheartening and nerve-racking when you’re coming down to the line. One host even completed our booking before realizing it!

    I was also disappointed to find multiple listings that seemed to be intentional bait and switch by property management companies. They offered their nicest listings at their lowest price and no matter what dates you propose, that particular (non existent??) property is unavailable, but they will happily email you a long list of available properties that are 3-6x the cost of their VRBO listing. Blah.

    I booked directly through Airbnb for the first time and learned that, not only do they not offer host phone numbers, but they will edit out any attempt to send email directly or exchange phone numbers, even after booking. This left us lost on a country road on our 15th wedding anniversary (also my husband’s birthday) long after our check in time. The listing was for a SECLUDED place in the woods (no wifi, of course) so you’d think they’d deem a host phone number an acceptable way to be guided to a difficult and remote address. We ran out of options when Airbnb’s text relay service gave only error messages. (Our host eventually googled us to get our info and then called.)

    I guess the take away is that more advanced planning is needed to use these services with minimal stress, but with my husband’s job, that’s rarely an option.

  3. Sassy says:

    Thank for that last lesson: I’m going to be a poll observer next week and have a website where I am to check in and make reports so having it right up front on the phone will make it that much easier.

  4. Carolyn in Utah says:

    I haven’t used Airbnb but have had 3 experiences with VRBO. The first two were for condos in the same complex on the Oregon coast– everything worked perfectly (probably because it was an agency, not a homeowner).
    I tried to plan a trip to San Francisco 3 years ago and found the same thing you did– that property owners never updated their calendars and some never had any openings, ever. I wasted a lot of time waiting for owners to reply to my e-mails. Out of curiosity I checked their calendars after they told me they’d been booked and it was never updated as being booked. This was on over a dozen properties. It was a very frustrating experience and as I wasted time with these people, reservations in hotels were being taken up & I ended up booking a fleabag hotel out of desperation. Not a fun experience to take your husband and teenage boys to a dive for a “vacation”.

  5. Marci says:

    I tried booking with VRBO when I went to NYC and was completely frustrated for the reasons you describe. However, we booked a great place in Washington, DC, that was much cheaper than a hotel and in a cute neighborhood. Some family members have had great experiences in Oregon and others have booked lake homes in Minnesota. (I tried, but was too late in the season to get anything that worked for us.)

    Go with places with lots of reviews, mostly positive. If a rental has been on VRBO for 3 years and has NO reviews, that’s a sign. If I remember right, the calendar shows when it was last updated and how quickly the owner responds. In high-demand areas or seasons, book the place first and then get the airline tickets.
    Homes work out really well for us vs. hotel rooms. The snorers can go behind closed doors; the late night people can stay up late without disturbing everyone; the girls and the boys can have separate sleeping areas. My homebody husband is more comfortable traveling. VRBO and others like it are great – but maybe not for NYC? Good luck and happy travels!

  6. Florence says:

    I learned not to sit and read under my oak tree in the late fall when an asp may fall from the tree and land on the back of my neck. I also learned how to treat an asp sting. Both things that I would just as soon not have had to learn.

  7. In October I went to a Kentucky Chautauqua about Madeline McDowell Breckinridge at the local library. I learned a lot about her life and the role she played in women’s suffrage in Kentucky and on the national level. Laura Clay often gets much of the accolades, but it was really more Madge. From the presentation, I also learned the bobby pins we use today were not invented until the mid 1920’s and they were invented specifically to make longer hair look like a bobbed haircut.

  8. Guest says:

    We’ve used VRBO a lot and I’ve never had an issue with the calendar not being up to date. That would be really annoying.

    On split-scoops, I do that at Cold Stone Creamery sometimes. The chocolate with strawberry is AMAZING as is the chocolate with raspberry sorbet. It certainly helps indecision.

    Things I’ve learned this month:
    – Poldark is one of my favorite shows ever and ever so slightly makes up for Downtown Abbey no longer airing.
    – I may or may not have a Tieks addiction. Just bought pair 3 (starstruck) and I seriously love these shoes. I had foot surgery more than a decade ago and that experience taught me to take care of my feet – these comfy, but still supportive flats are a great way to do that!
    – Fall renews my spirit. Every year it’s like a physical, mental and spiritual renewal. I don’t mean that in a weird animism way but something about the temperatures, the beauty, the smell of the air – I need it and I’m thankful.
    – Our pastor asked a question last Sunday – has your love for Jesus and others grown in the last five years? – and it led to some great introspection realizing that I’ve really let actionable love for others outside my family and circle of friends fall by the wayside. When the kids were little, family and work were truly all I could handle but they’re older now. A Catholic friend introduced me to the corporal and spiritual acts of mercy. I really appreciate having them laid out so clearly and think we are going to start focusing on one a month and actively looking for ways as a family to serve.
    – I’ve (re)learned that people of many political views always think the world is going to end if the opposing candidate wins. My grandmother found an old brochure on a national park (which our daughter is currently studying) and gave it to us. It had a Sierra Club advertisement on the back warning that if George Bush won the Redwoods would be gone within a certain number of years. While Bush was certainly not an environmental champion, the Redwoods are, alas, still standing. The same can be said of both parties of course.

  9. Lea Pigage says:

    Hey Anne,

    We run a bed and breakfast (the Urban Caribou B&B in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada) and list through Air BnB (but not VRBO) and I can speak a little a bit to the calendars not being updated. On Air BnB, unless you only use Air BnB to rent out your place, hosts need to update their calendar with non-Air BnB bookings to make sure it accurately shows their availability. Lots of people don’t seem to do this…which definitely creates a headache for travelers trying to find accommodation. Hope this helps,

  10. Leanne Sowul says:

    Piggybacking on what you learned about bras- I learned that there IS such a thing as a comfortable, supportive, inexpensive nursing bra. I did a little quick research and found a set of three that I could get from Amazon (the brand is HoFish). I also got a great set of cloth ones for nighttime from Cayke. All together, the five bras cost me under $50, and I’ll be using them for as long as I’m nursing.
    Unrelated, but while I was looking up nursing bras, I was also trying to figure out my “fall uniform,” working around the need for nursing accessibility, and I found your posts on creating and sticking to a uniform very helpful!

  11. Theresa says:

    Thing I learned, quit procrastinating and just go get a new mattress pad. Now sleeping is so much more comfortable. I don’t want to leave the bed in the morning.

  12. Corby says:

    Baseball is not boring when you’ve waited 108 years to win the World Series….. ok not technically still October but awesome.

  13. Diana says:

    Hi! I have not had any luck with VRBO for the same reason but I use Air BnB all the time. They have the option to filter the accommodations by ‘Instant Book’ only and these places you can book in the spot- like a hotel. This is the only way I book Air BnB now and have had good luck. Another option may be using Booking.com which allows people with independent apartments to list as well (along with hotels, etc) and it’s all instant book. Good luck!!

  14. Mary Kate says:

    I’ve had that issue with AirBnB, but thankfully not often.

    I did NOT know that about websites, thanks!

    In October, I learned, in no particular order:
    Ireland is an AMAZING place to vacation and I now want to move there.
    Tana French can do no wrong; her latest book is a testament to that.
    That ideas are pretty useless; it’s the execution of the thing that makes a difference.
    That I’m insane, because I decided to do NaNoWriMo this year on top of all the other stuff I have going on.

    That’s all for now!

  15. Jamie says:

    Was there a coupon code for ThirdLove on WSIRN recently? I’m itching (literally – it bugs me every time I wear it!) to buy a new bra and would love to try out their products and service.
    In October, I finally made gummy treats (like gummy bears, but different shapes). My other attempt earlier this year was a soppy, soggy, grainy mess.
    Also, I learned that our third kid is fearless – if she watches someone do something once, she’s as confident as all get out to do it herself. Trick or treating was a blast with her…she’s almost 2 and would toddle down the road with the big kids like she owned the neighborhood.

  16. Ok I have to ask – what is Litsy?! couldn’t help noticing the app on your home screen!

    Also – I’ve used AirBNB several times, including our recent trip to England and Ireland – every time has been great – so maybe it depends on where/when you are traveling? Better luck next time!

    And yes to one of the comments above – Poldark is amaaaazing….

  17. Vanessa says:

    We’ve used VRBO and Air BnB for a couple years with great results. But then just in Oct we were headed to Toronto and ran into the same thing. We had hosts from both saying they were booked. We got a hotel. It was weird though.

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