In just a few hours my roommates and I will go to the Christmas tree farm and pretend that we don’t already have a fake tree that’s already decorated at home. We’ll enjoy the free candy canes and apple cider and ignore the fact that it’s 79 degrees outside and there are crunchy leaves beneath our fall boots.

I can’t remember another year when September-November have felt like an extra-long, never-ending summer with just a hint of fall thrown in. But here we are. Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, so it’s really no surprise that I’ve stopped dead in my tracks to take pictures of the few trees that managed to come alive with the most brilliant colors. In the middle of this summer/fall/winter season, Emily has invited us to notice and share the things we’ve learned (both big and small, ordinary and silly and deeply meaningful).

As we say goodbye to the fall that almost-wasn’t and hello to the winter we hope is coming, here are a few things that I’ve learned over the past few months…

A few things I've learned this fall (and how I make money by shopping)

1. I don’t like summer.

Once upon a time, summer was tied for Favorite Season of the Year. I mean, I am from Florida, the place where everyone wears flip-flops and shorts on Christmas day and “cold” means anything below 75 degrees.

But now? No. Summer has had its turn and needs to learn how to share.

Dear Summer, it’s not me. It’s you. Listen, it’s time to move on. You need to let go so that the leaves can let go and the crisp fall air can arrive just in time for chilly nights and cozy blankets and baggy sweaters.

2. Jane the Virgin is one of the funniest shows I’ve ever come across.

I’m not even going to attempt to explain this Netflix original, because that seems pretty much impossible. But it is so dang funny. One of my roommates and I watched the first two seasons in record time, and I’d definitely recommend it if you need a good laugh.

Also: This Is Us. Absolute best new show in the past several years.

Never place a period where God has placed a comma. - Gracie Allen

3. Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to tell the difference between a period and a comma.

4. September 8th is National Ampersand Day.

I feel like I should have known this, seeing as my book is covered in ampersands and I’m mildly obsessed with them. Alas, I totally dropped the ball and had no idea this day existed. I promise to be better prepared next year.

5. One of life’s sweetest gifts is when home is a safe, welcoming space.

6. Four words to remember when I’m lonely.

These four words have helped me more times than I can even recount.

7. It’s worth the money + the time + the “hassle” to create space in your schedule simply to create for the sake of creating.

sometimes you just need to create for the sole purpose of making

8. Moses was a father.

Am I the only one who missed this memo? I’ve been reading through the Old Testament over the past few months and as I read Exodus 2 and 4, I literally said right out loud, “where in the world have I been?!” I don’t know how I missed this but somehow imagining Moses as a father changes how I hear (read) some of the words he spoke and wrote.

9. Willow and Jaden Smith are named after their parents.

Speaking of things I definitely didn’t pick up on…

10. Living without a dryer isn’t actually a big deal at all.

We haven’t had a working dryer in months and honestly it’s been totally fine. Air-dried clothes for the win.

(“We” is me and these two beautiful people. I like them a whole lot.)

sunflower field

11. I don’t like living alone, but I’m getting better at it.

For nearly two weeks this fall, my roommates were out of town and/or working nonstop. The summer after college graduation, I spent several weeks alone in the apartment and it was just completely awful. This time I knew to plan ahead, to schedule coffee dates and daily outings that included community in one way or another. Life was quieter, slower, but still full and good in a different way.

In the middle of those two weeks, my car broke down and I melted down and Gil (my fish) became really sick (he died the next week). It was rough times, but it was also a good learning experience and a humbling opportunity to reach out for help.

12. Childish and child-like are two very different things.

I’ve known this, but I feel like I’m learning it all over again in dozens of small ways. One of them? Standing in a small field of sunflowers and being amazed by their intricate beauty… and also being totally awkward and excited and completely me because, well, home is a safe space and really, home isn’t about a place — it’s about people.

sunflower field

sunflower field

Bonus 13 –> Free coffee totally tastes better.

I mentioned this last time (What I Learned This Summer) and received several emails about it! But with many new subscribers (hi, guys!) I thought it would be worth mentioning again. By continuing to use these two apps this fall, I’ve been able to enjoy a free iced coffee multiple times each week. And free coffee just tastes better, y’all.

ShopKick and Ibotta, two free apps you can download to your phone, literally give you money for shopping (I’ve opted to receive Starbucks gift cards.)

ShopKick: This app rewards you with ‘kicks’ for purchasing or scanning specific items at major stores like WalMart, Target, Publix and many more. You even get points, or kicks, just for walking in the store. The kicks are redeemable for gift cards from dozens of places like Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Target, WalMart, Starbucks and iTunes. (No joke, it barely takes any time for kicks to add up from walking in stores and if you have a minute to kill, you can quickly find an item to scan for extra kicks.)

Ibotta: This app rewards you for what you purchase. Although you can use it for larger purchases or for dining out, I use it solely for grocery items. Just buy whatever you’re already going to buy and then open the app when you get home. Check off everything within the app that you purchased at the store, take a picture of your receipt for verification, and they load money into your account. You can choose whether you want to pick a gift card or withdraw the cash via PayPal. I’m not kidding you, I make money every time I purchase regular stuff like milk, eggs, bread and produce. If you want to check Ibotta out, I’d love if you would use my link! If you do, you’ll receive an extra $10.00 when you redeem your first rebate (and I will receive $5.00, p.s.).

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