Destination: Iowa

J&A Wanderlust

Sep 13, 2017

A few weeks ago, I shared some of my favorite images from Jillian + Austin’s Forever Session in Des Moines, Iowa. I said Des Moines, but it was really Des Moines/Pella/fields-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, Iowa. :) And if you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely go check out adorable baby James smiling in front of a classic Iowan cornfield! Be still, my heart.

For those of you who don’t know, Austin and I (and my other brother and sister) grew up in South Dakota. The midwest runs in our blood and we have roots in those cornfields! Our dad is a farmer (in North Carolina now), and gravel roads cutting through miles and miles of fields run deep in our memories.

But in between all those adventures were memories of baseball games, a re-created Dutch village, coffee, and sweet, precious time spent with my lovely grandma in South Dakota. So today I’m sharing a few behind the scenes peeks into my wanderlust around the great land of Iowa!

First up: an Iowa Cubs baseball game. And seriously, that adorable little All-Star in sunglasses was the cutest one there!

And so I nicely sunburned on my first day in the great wide plains. Oops…

Our first Iowan coffee adventure in downtown Des Moines – St Kilda!

I headed out the next morning for a visit to my grandma in South Dakota. I just can’t soak in enough of the wild open prairie!

This precious, precious lady! I treasure these moments so much. I get such joy out of loving on everyone’s grandmas on the wedding day because I believe that grandmas are a special gift!

And…still sunburned. :)

A trip to Sioux Falls wouldn’t be complete without a stop by one of our favorite coffee shops ever! A little quiet time at Coffea Roasterie before rocking out the 5 hour trip back to Des Moines! (Psst! It made our Favorite Coffee Shops of the World 2017 list! You can see who else made the cut here!)

Also, that book is amazing. It’s been rocking my world!

So back to Des Moines and morning snuggles with baby James! We spent Friday at the famous Iowa State Fair. I mean, how could anyone resist these cute little faces? Not this farm girl!!

Would you believe me if I told you that this life-sized cow was carved out of butter? It’s world-famous and has been a tradition since 1911. Crazy!

These were just cute. I thought you might like to see them, too. :)

Aww! Haha!

A mile-high pile of barbecue-topped potato bowl and dishes of ice cream topped cheesecake brownies later, we headed home to rest up for Jillian and Austin’s Iowan Adventure Destination Forever Session the next day! Including the Iowa State Capitol building, of course! Construction or no construction, it’s beautiful!

You just do things bigger out here. Like that pork chop part of the sandwich that makes the regular-sized bun look super mini?

Meet Pella, Iowa! We love anything Dutch because we all grew up in Dutch communities (and rocked those Van Vuren and Van Essendelft last names!). We know that chocolate sprinkles should be eaten with bread and butter for breakfast and that any baked good has a 80% chance of having almond paste in the middle. Doughnuts are done right – and so are olie bolen. Wooden shoes, windmills, and tulips make our hearts go pitter-patter. We can tell the story of how a little boy saved Holland by poking his finger into a wall, and Wilhelmina peppermints are the best. This is our place.

But I digress.

It literally went like this:

“I love this sidewalk full of pictures! How cool is that!”

“Yeah, this place is so awesome!”

“Should we take a picture here?”

“Wellll….the light is pretty bad, so I don’t think it will turn out amazing, but….Wait! We just got a cloud covering the sun! Quick go in between those two pictures there! K, hand in your pockets! Smile!” Click.

Haha! Life with a photographer. :)

And a little playground break for James! Maybe it was for Austin, too. I don’t know. ;)

The famous Tulip Time square!

So, of course, pictures.

No cloud cover for us this time, but James was still pretty stinkin’ cute!

Adventures to the midwest always make our hearts happy! Joel was hanging out at work meetings in Florida while I was prancing around cornfields, but we can’t wait to visit all the Dutch bakeries together next time we’re both back in Iowa again! :)

Here’s to finding adventure and living each moment!





  1. Jillian says:

    Love it! Come back! We miss you!

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