Apple Hell: A Fun Fall Family Tradition.

The girls and I were going apple picking. So what if it was 90 degrees? This was guaranteed fun.

Maybe I should have turned back when they waved me into the third overflow lot and directed me to park on a rocky outcrop. Instead, I snapped open the orchard map so we could check off fun activities. This place was about SO MUCH MORE than apples.

Previous fun-loving families had stripped the low-hanging fruit like locusts, so we pushed deeper through rows of Galas, Honeycrisps, and Jonagolds in search of apples we could reach without a ladder.

We trudged by goats. We felt sad about penned-up peacocks. We explored the incongruous bamboo forest. We dodged a tractor dragging a trailer full of slack-mouthed Carolinians. The hayride, apparently.

Astrid stopped. “I’m hungry.” I handed her an apple.

“It’s covered in pesticides.”

I polished it on my shirt.

“Seriously, mom?”

“One carcinogenic apple’s not going to kill you,” I said. “Today.”

When we had checked off every fun thing on the map, it was time to pay.

The check-out barn smelled of sweat and sorrow.

We stood in line behind all of America. A grown man nearly cried when he reached the front, only to be turned back for failure to bag his apples first. Another woman, dripping with perspiration and toddlers, learned the hard way that the orchard only took cash. A man towed a Radio Flyer wagon filled with apples. The Duggars couldn’t have eaten that many apples in a lifetime.

I slapped our apples on the counter. But we required EVEN MORE APPLE MERCHANDISE. “Hey!” I asked Apple Guy, “Can we buy all our apple stuff right here?”

“Of course!” Apple Guy said, “Whaddya need?” I ticked off fudge apples, caramel apples, cider, donuts. I handed Apple Guy all my money.

I waited, but no products appeared.

“So the cider’s over at the cider counter” – he waved at the barely visible far end of the barn – “the candied apples are in the gift shop, and you can grab the donuts in the Donut Hut.” He stuffed a handful of checkered twist-ties into my hand. “Just give these to the cashier and she’ll know you paid.”

No one was going to crack that code.

I sent Astrid to stand in the block-long donut line, twist-tie in hand. I dragged Akeyla to the gift shop (ten people in line) and the cider counter (uncountable number of people in line). Twenty minutes later, we rejoined Astrid, who hadn’t moved.

The heat index was soaring above 100 degrees. I hung my head between my knees. “Are you, like, going to pass out?” Astrid asked. “Maybe you should eat an apple.”

I was panting. “I (gasp) don’t (gasp) like (gasp) apples.”

“You don’t like apples?” Akeyla asked. “Why are we here?”


“Nobody likes apples!” Astrid said, “You come for” – and here she pulled out a pair of air quotes – “the ‘experience.’ And the donuts.”

At last, toting a piping hot box of donuts and guzzling cider from the jug, we staggered up the hill in search of the cliff upon which our car was parked. I backed out, avoiding dogs, children, and a dude carrying a black backpack filled – I presume – with apples self-baking into a not-delicious pie.

On the main road Astrid spotted an apple stand. “We totally could have just gone there,” she said.

Akeyla yawned. “I really, really, really . . .” she trailed off, rubbing her eyes, “never want to go there again.”

chewed apple

the remains of the day


Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Inappropriate Behavior, Self Improvement | 22 Comments

The End of Camping.

There will come a day when I recover enough to tell the tales of The Reedster Camps.

Today is not that day.

Instead, I leave you with this image (click for larger view).

Whoever said “life begins outside your comfort zone” is full of shit.

Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Inappropriate Behavior, Self Improvement, The Reedster Camps | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

The Reedster Camps | The Movie Trailer

This movie trailer was scheduled to be released yesterday, but our production department ran into some issues with YouTube. Apparently, they weren’t keen on my use of “Under Pressure” by Queen + David Bowie for the soundtrack. Which is odd, because the remaining members of Queen were TOTALLY OKAY with it (hi Brian!), so I’m guessing that David Bowie, suspecting a viral sensation, was all “I WANT MORE MILLIONS! GIMME ALL THE MILLIONS!”

But did I let this minor setback crush my creative spirit? No. No I did not. Instead I went with a royalty-free stock music sound-alike called “Absolute Rush.” I think you’ll enjoy it.

tl;dr David Bowie is probably a greedy asshole so I’m using a fake Rush song instead.

And so, without further ado…

The Reedster Camps | The Movie Trailer

In this rare on-camera interview, Cindy Reed of The Reedster Speaks discusses her highly anticipated camping trip and the challenges ahead. Some people are calling it the best 3 minutes and 43 seconds on the internet.

Posted in Self Improvement, The Reedster Camps | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

I guess I’m going camping.

We’re spending a week with my family in Minnesota so I thought, hey! We should totally extend that to two weeks and camp ourselves silly on the way there and back.

How hard could it be to take the girls on a road trip by myself?

Sure, I’ve never hiked in the four years we’ve lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but those trails are tricky to find. But I do I have kickass hiking shoes. The right one got tons of use this summer when I needed it to balance out the Velcro boot on my broken left foot.

I think the first word most people would use to describe me is “hale.” Sure, there was that bout with mono last fall. And yes, I spent part of our Disney vacation in the Celebration, Florida hospital after Harry Potter tried to kill me, but doesn’t everyone have a funny story like that?

I’ve never towed a trailer, but my dad pulled one behind our station wagon for years so that probably rubbed off on me. I don’t think I’ve ever successfully put up a tent either, but I’m kind of counting on Astrid to handle that.

I wanted to rent this super-cool pop-up camper called the Aliner. You can set that sucker up in like 60 seconds. But I kept not calling the place and not calling the place so when I finally called today, two weeks before our trip, can you believe that it wasn’t available?

Aliner with drop shadow

Sick pop-up trailer. Aliner should totally pay me for mentioning it on my blog or else sponsor our trip.

So I rented a tiny teardrop trailer instead. It’s pretty much a queen bed on wheels. You can’t stand up in it or anything, but it has this place in the trunkish area where you can pop a Coleman stove or just set your Happy Meals out in a line. I’ve never lit a propane stove but my grandma had this old oven you lit with a match and only one time did it sort of explode and melt my sister’s argyle socks.

little guy

Spacious travel trailer for three.

We can’t all fit in the queen bed, but luckily the trailer comes with this tentish thing called the Side Mount Screen Room™ that you suction onto the door. I’m not sure if it has actual sides or if it’s see-through but who cares? I’m comfortable with my aging body.

Tent that may or may not be translucent.

Tent that may or may not be translucent.

I’ll need a hitch and it appears welding might be involved, which is no problem because my dad ran a welding supply company. I practically grew up with a blow torch in my hand. I mean, he never actually let me touch one, but sometimes he would let us suck helium out of a cylinder and make funny voices.

Come to think of it, I’m not completely sure I actually rented that trailer. I talked to the lady and she said to fill in the online form but when I filled it out I realized that my car insurance card expires on July 28, which is two days before I would need the camper. Matt wasn’t home and I tried to get into the USAA site so many times to see why my card was expired even though they keep auto-taking my money that I locked us out of the account. So I just put the expired date down.

I hope she’s not a hardass about current insurance.

Posted in I am the weakest link. Goodbye., Self Improvement | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Reedster writing course for bloggers
What’s up, you ask? Oh, no biggie. It’s just that this fall I’m teaching a writing class for bloggers so awesome, I’m calling it an “experience.”

It’ll be just like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, except with fewer guitars.

Well, no guitars, actually. It will be guitar-free. (Unless you bring a guitar. Then we’ll talk.)

But it will still kick ass. Because I am the Jimi Hendrix of writing teachers practically .

Storytelling for Bloggers

An Online Writing Experience


Registration Opens August 20 | Classes Begin September 15

In 60 days, I’ll teach you how to:

  • Turn your blah ideas into kickass stories
  • Stick with one core concept per post
  • Stop when enough is enough already
  • Ruthlessly edit your work to 400-600 words
  • Hone your authentic voice so you don’t sound like a big phony

Why nonfiction storytelling? Why not just teach you how to write good shit? Because storytelling is the most effective way to engage your audience. EVEN SCIENCE SAYS SO. Master the art of nonfiction storytelling and your readers will linger, share your stuff, and come back for more.


Hang with me this fall and together we’ll unleash your inner storyteller. Who the hell am to teach you? Well, I’ve won some awards for my work here at The Reedster Speaks and I’m a certified master online teacher. That’s right. I’m a MASTER TEACHER, MOTHERFUCKERS.

So kick it up a notch already. Create fans who will love you and want to marry you.

I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but if you don’t ENTER YOUR EMAIL BELOW you MIGHT MISS IT and RUIN EVERYTHING.

(Don’t ruin everything. That would suck for you.)

Enter Your Email Below.

Posted on by Cindy Reed | Comments Off on This Fall, I’m Teaching a Writing Class for Bloggers
That’s So Awesome, It’s an Experience.