Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: 90’s Country

I’ve said many times before that my taste in music stretches far and wide. But if I had to listen to only on genre of music for the rest of my life, it would be country music. And if I had to be more specific, I would choose 90’s country music (followed closely by outlaw country and Texas/red dirt country).

I can’t help it. It is what I was raised on, and honestly, I think it played a large part in why I love good storytelling.

This was by far the hardest playlist so far to keep under a certain number. I could have easily created this long of a playlist with just a small handful of my favorite 90’s country artists, but there were also quite a few single hits that I could not overlook. So I limited myself to 1-2 songs per artists and for the most part, kept it to upbeat songs, though there were a few slow songs that snuck in. I also did quite a bit of double checking to make sure that the songs featured really were from albums that came out between 1990 to 1999. I had so much fun picking through these albums, since so many of them we had a home growing up.

And just so no one yells at me… I am well aware that there is no Garth Brooks on this list, but his music is not on Spotify.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed putting it together! Happy Friday!

What are you listening to lately?

See past Friday Jam Session posts HERE.


Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: Favorite Albums in 2017

I am SO EXCITED to bring back this series. Blogging is such a fun hobby for me and a way to both journal my life and exercise my writing skills outside of work, so in 2018 one of my goals is to blog more regularly. Friday Jam Sessions used to be some of my regular posts, but how I was doing them at the time — choosing one song to highlight for a bunch of different categories and writing a review for each — were just so time consuming so I eventually got out of the habit of doing them. But music and discovering new artists and tunes is still one of my favorite things and I missed sharing these posts. So now that I’ve become loyal to Spotify a few years ago, I am going to switch things up and share playlists I build on there around different themes. This is much easier for me to do because I listen to Spotify almost all day, everyday, regardless if I am at work, in the car or at home. And I’ve always had the habit of sorting songs into playlists based on moods or themes as I go. So right now I am aiming to get one of these posts up about every other week or so. Let me know if there is any particular theme you want me to feature!

See past Friday Jam Session posts HERE.


To start us out, I decided to look back at 2017 and feature my favorite 10 full albums that were released that year. My music tastes stretch far and wide, but not surprisingly, artists that came out with full albums that I listened to over and over to, were almost all artists that I consider some of my all-time favorites. I decided to put three songs from every album on the playlist, which was NOT EASY. I should also note that Chris Stapleton technically came out with TWO new albums this year (because he’s amazing) but I counted them as one in this list…and still included three songs from each.

  • Ed Sheeran // Divide
  • Maren Morris // HERO
  • Chris Stapleton // From a Room Vol. 1 and 2
  • Logan Mize // Come Back Road
  • Harry Styles // Harry Styles
  • The Greatest Showman Soundtrack
  • Aaron Watson // Vaquero
  • Taylor Swift // reputation
  • Turnpike Troubadours // A Long Way From Your Heart
  • Halsey // hopeless fountain kingdom

A few playlist notes…

Halsey was a bit of a surprise to me because I don’t recall really liking much from her first album, but I really liked her sophomore album this year. Harry Styles’ freshman solo album solidified that his talents stretch far beyond his work with One Direction and I spent most of 2017 demanding that my friends listen to it. I was over the moon that Logan Mize finally gave us a new full album and proceeded to reminisce about all of his concerts I went to in college. My obsession with Ed Sheeran continues to know no limits and after discovering Maren Morris when her original EP came out a few years ago I have to remind myself that she’s still considered a new artist. After listening to him a bit in college, Aaron Watson shot up my list when I finally caught one of his concerts back in September and was kicking myself for having missed out on more of his music for so long. Maybe its because we’re the same age and I feel like I’ve grown up with her, but I’m still a shameless fan of Taylor, and after being a little concerned about LWYMMD as the first single off the new album, the rest of it was everything that it should be. Turnpike Troubadours has such a distinct sound, and I finally made it to one of their concerts for the first time, which only solidified my love for their music. Chris Stapleton’s sound continues to memorize me and I will never be able to wrap my mind around the fact that he spent so many years writing for other people before making it on his own. I FINALLY saw him live in concert this past year, and he is even so much better live — if that is possible. Finally, I couldn’t not mention the album that seems like everyone can’t stop talking about, and that is The Greatest Showman soundtrack. The movie was SO GOOD and the soundtrack has been on loop in my car for weeks. I think I know every word to every song by now.

I am sure that I forgot or overlooked a few albums,  but I did have these others on my list when I was planning this post, so I suppose they deserve honorable mention.

  • Little Big Town // The Breaker
  • Thomas Rhett // Life Changes
  • Old Dominion // Happy Endings
  • Grace VanderWaal // Just The Beginning
  • Demi Lovato // Tell Me You Love Me

And these are artists with albums coming in 2018 that are on my radar so far that I am looking forward to.

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Vance Joy
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • Brothers Osborne

What are you listening to lately?


So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 24

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

Catching up again before I go home for some vacation time! Stay tuned… there will be lots of posts and pictures to share later in August!

Sawyer June

My new baby cousin Sawyer June joined the family on July 13 and I wrote this little love letter to her that you can read here.

Since then, my favorite Snapchats and texts are ones with her little face in them. I am SO EXCITED to finally get to meet her in 3 DAYS!

National Harbor

A few weekends ago in July, this guy and I spent a lazy Sunday exploring National Harbor (which is maybe 25 minutes south of where I live.) We had a great day window shopping, people watching and of course trying some yummy food and drinks. I had never been down there before and didn’t know there was so much! Definitely a place to keep in mind for a staycation.

Write It Like a Love Letter

Almost everything that this gal writes leaves me deep in thought and shaking my head in strong agreement. She describes a relationship with words and writing that I’ve always sought after and this piece linked above discusses approaching writing in a way that I really understand. If writing isn’t your interest, keep moving, but if it is, I’d suggest reading this.

New Hair

The hair was getting a bit unhealthy so it was about time for a major chop. To be honest, I’m not in love with it when I wearing my natural curl (not pictured), but it does feel a lot healthier and it will grow back!

Chris Stapleton

Since I moved to the DC area 2.5 years ago, Chris Stapleton has performed nearby TWICE while I was out of town for work. He has been at the top of my “must-see” list for a while now, so when my friend Emily said he was performing at Jiffy Lube Live the night before I went on a work trip, there was no way I was missing out again.

Friends, I spent the next couple of days DEAD TIRED, but it was SO WORTH IT.

The sign of a great artist is when they sound better live than they do on their album. I am so glad that Emily was fangirling as much as me, because we both could hardly make it through one song without talking about how good he was again. If you are a fan, I highly recommend seeing him in concert!

Right as the opening song began, it started to DOWNPOUR for about 5 minutes or so, and then stopped. We huddled under my blanket that was waterproof on one side and turned out about the best we could.

Staying Present

Earlier this month I shared some thoughts on “Staying Present.” I can’t say that I am a pro at it, but thinking out loud like that has certainly help me be a bit more intentional and self-disciplined.

I also shared about how awesome getting “Shine Texts” are, and had SO MANY people tell me that they signed up for them because of my post! Enjoy!

Fist Bumps

I couldn’t get this video from CNN to embed correctly but if you need a smile today, I definitely suggest clicking the link below. Too cute!


Utah – Ag Media Summit

I failed to get any pictures with other humans, but the location for this year’s Ag Media Summit was not too shabby. I am not a winter sports gal, but I would definitely return to Snowbird, UT, for the views alone.

New Music from Logan Mize

My favorite artist FINALLY has a new full album out! You can bet I listened to it 3 times through before 10 am on its release day last week. The song above is my favorite so far but they are all so good. I lost count of how many of his shows I saw in college (5 or 6??) so I want him to come to the DC area so bad!


I have been practically counting down the seconds to my vacation for a while now so it was nice to see a familiar face from Eastern Oregon last week to hold me over. Beth has been a high school ag teacher and FFA adviser from another school in my home FFA district since I was probably in middle school. Since my own Dad was an ag teacher for 14 years, many other Oregon ag teachers tend to be family friends. Beth was always so kind and supportive to me as a student, so when she was in town with kids to attend the Washington Leadership Conference, I was happy that we had the chance to chat a bit over dinner.

I also tagged along when her group visited the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial. I have been a lot of places in DC but this was actually a first for me, which is a bit embarrassing since it is only about 4 miles from my apartment!

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

My favorite little guy Wesley Ray is getting a baby sister in December!

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.


So, There’s That.


So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 18

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my glam #postgradlife. See past posts HERE}


This post should really be titled “What has been going on in Amanda’s life for the last two months to keep her from blogging even once?” But obviously that would have been a bit long and obnoxious.

Well as you will see below, I’ve been pretty busy! Every week day has been full at work and my weekends even more full. I’ve actually been slowly adding to this post for a few weeks now, and final found a moment to send it off.

I also returned last week from a quick work trip to GUAM! So as soon as I can get to the pictures on my nice camera I will be blogging about that (hopefully this week)!

Anyway, back to not-so-regularly scheduled programming…

1. NEEDTOBREATHE and Mat Kearney


I crossed two old favorites off my list of live concerts to see with my friends Sarah and Elissa. I have been a fan of Mat Kearney since he debuted about 10 years ago when I was in high school. And NEEDTOBREATHE I discovered early in college. The Monday night concert was out at Wolf Trap Park and was a great venue!

The fact that Mat is originally from Oregon and includes it in a lot of his songs definitely makes me an even bigger fan.

I LOVE when artists cover other classic songs and artists, and blend it in with their own songs.

I was a bit disappointed that we did not get a full rendition of my favorite NEEDTOBREATHE song but the acoustic snippet was still great.

2. Labor Day Weekend


After some back and forth of who was going to visit who where… Nicole made the trek up from Raleigh for a weekend in DC. I am sure I have said this before on the blog, but Nicole is a fellow kid from Eastern Oregon who studied Ag Communications at K-State, and now lives on the East Coast. Yeah, we have a lot in common…

Our weekend was filled with attending the K-State watch party, wandering through Eastern Market and Capitol Hill Bookstore, a few museums and typical DC sightseeing. I’m pretty sure she would agree that the highlight was going to the Newseum! I will never understand why I waited so long to go! There were many moments where Nicole and I both had to pause to collect ourselves, we were really nerding out.



If you are in DC or a visiting book nerd, a stop at Capitol Hill Bookstore is a must for your list. This video does not do it justice.






This story probably deserved its own blog post, but I think too much time has passed for that so I’m sharing it here.

So to get into my condo building you need a separate key from the one I use on my apartment (it is a really old building.) Because I was wearing jeans that evening I decided to not carry a purse or clutch, and just put everything in my pockets, except for my keys which I gave to Nicole to put in her clutch. Except I was trying to be efficient and just gave her my apartment key instead of my whole key ring…

Fast forward to us getting home at 3 a.m., a bit tipsy and realizing that we were locked out of the building, and to top it off the buzzer that is supposed to allow me to open the door remotely from my cell phone was not working. Right about when I am thinking that I am going to have to get us a hotel room, this guy walks up and listens to me go on and on about how I promise I live here and am not some crazy person trying to break in. He lets us in and then I continue to badger him to let me know which apartment number he is in so that I can bring him a bottle of wine. He tried turning me down (and not tell the drunk crazy girl where he lived) but if you know me you know I am persistent.

I did indeed make good on my promise to leave him some wine outside his door (and promptly left very quickly) and just so happened to have this wine on hand with the perfect name.

3. Costco


My family have been Costco members through our business since I was little and it was about time that I got my own card, you know, to spend all of that extra money that I have…


4. Virginia Tech Game


In September, I visited Blacksburg again to spend the weekend with one of my favorite Kansans, Chelsea, who is going to grad school there. I am a sucker for a college gameday and tailgate no matter who is playing… even if they do have some strange traditions.

5. West Virginia vs. K-State Road Trip


Speaking of college football… I started out October the right way by road tripping with my fellow DC K-State alum to our game versus West Virginia. The end of the game was a tad bit embarrassing but it was a great day overall, and for the most part the WVU were very welcoming. Now if I could only get that John Denver song out of my head…


Also, I just love how small the world is! Katie was a part of our group because she was visiting her BF who is at Georgetown Law and also happens to be the sister-in-law to one of my best friends from college, Blaine.

6. Eric Stonestreet K-State Video

And speaking of K-State Football…

So cheesy and so, so wonderful.
And the fact that it is narrated by everyone’s favorite K-State alum makes it 10 times better.
Just do not make me admit how many times I’ve watched it.

7. Gilmore Girls Revival

Have I mentioned lately HOW EXCITED I AM!?!

8. Chasing Bubbles

Looking for a bit of motivation or a break from binge watching on Netflix? I HIGHLY recommend checking out this documentary, “Chasing Bubbles.” It is about really seeing life as a journey and a story about how one guy sailed around the world to discover that. Of course its about a lot more than that, but you should just really watch it to find out.

For me it was also interesting because the younger brother of the guy the film is about is one of my friends through my AFA leadership network. I honestly do not know Joe all that well, but it was interesting to learn about the family he comes from and a bit of what makes him who he is. Overall, this documentary really touched me and it is a story that deserves to be shared.

9. My Puppies


I miss these two all the time, and certainly could not pass up giving them some love on Instagram on #NationalDogDay


10. My Dad and His “Kitty-Kitty”


Over the past two months my parents have been in the process of moving houses, and while living with my grandparents for a few weeks the pets had to stay at various other places.  My Dad has a rather strange affection for one of the cats and so this SnapChat from my sister is just too funny NOT to document.

11.Coffee Things

Coffee has been the real MVP lately.







12. Forever Country

The Country Music Association is turning 50 this year and recently released this medley of songs with a long list of country music all-stars.

I have yet to watch it without tearing up.

13. National Taco Day


My sister posted this collage on #NationalTacoDay.
We may or may not have a taco obsession in our family.

14. Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.




The scaffolding is FINALLY all removed, and the Capitol sure does look gorgeous!



On the Key Bridge overlooking the Potomac River


I recommend “Bilbo Baggins” restaurant. It’s quirky and cute.


Excited for this K-State friend to be in DC for the next full year!





Volunteering at a community garden with my church.


Got dinner and did some site seeing with my cousin Dave who was in town for work.

15. My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.





Substitute a Dirty Chai Latte for the PSL and this is all me.






Pretty sure my parents thought this on the daily for the first 10 years of my life.

img_0354 img_0357

16. Update on My Favorite Kiddos

Because this has become the best part of my “So There’s That” posts.



Wesley Ray – somewhere between 6 and 7 months old.



Robin Michele – somewhere between 5 and 6 months old.
I just LOVE the picture above of Robin with her Mama.


So, There’s That.


Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: Sweet Summertime

I love summer. I posted a few weeks ago, a ‘good stuff’ list about 50 things I love about summer.

One of those was that I love the “fascination that country music has with singing about summer.”

It’s romantic, care free and fun. There’s a reason that authors and song writers alike, can pull so much from those themes. Every summer I make a playlist that is a mix of my favorite new hits from that season and old ones that are always a staple in my summer adventures. There are honestly a million different ways that I could categorize a summertime music playlist. But this time around I am making it simple. Today’s Friday Jam Session features a few favorites that are specifically about summer and a few others that I consider staples on my summertime playlists. For me, that means most of them are country songs because that’s what best describes my perfect summer. But hey that’s just me. What songs describe your summer?

Oh and because work came first last Friday, today’s list is a double-feature.


Summertime by Kenny Chesney
The King of Summertime has built his entire career around his own theme of beach bum country jams. This song never gets old.

Drunk On You by Luke Bryan
As reigning Entertainer of the Year, Luke is the biggest thing in pop country music right now and has given summer tunes his own flair. I think a pretty strong argument could be made for this being one of the biggest songs on the radio in summer 2012.

Runnin’ Out of Moonlight by Randy Houser
Summer nights. Enough said.

Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard
No this is not country and no, it is not about summer at all. But let’s go back to the summer when my best friends and I were 16, and our driver licenses’ were hardly broken in. THIS was our favorite song to belt out at the top of our lungs with the windows rolled down going down good ol’ 395 HWY. And years later it still remains on my summer playlist.

Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen
Besides being a great summer song, for some reason that we’ve never actually been able to determine, this was the song that my AFA team labeled as ours. Regardless of the reason, because of them it will never be skipped and always have a special place in my heart.

That Summer by Garth Brooks
I spent a long time  when I was younger liking this song before I actually realized what it was about. Whoops. Oh well, now that I do, I still love it.

Road Trippin’ by Josh Abbott Band
What’s summer without a road trip, long weekends or Boone’s Farm?

Night Train by Jason Aldean
I’m a very critical, and conditional Aldean fan. But I do really like this one off his most recent album.

Brighter Than The Sun by Colbie Caillat
Another non-country, favorite from Summer 2012. Normally not a huge Colbie Caillat fan, but this one is fun, catchy and meets the shades on, car windows down criteria.

Fishin’ in the Dark by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Hearing the first few chords to this, is the only introduction it really needs. Let’s put it this way. There are two things that I am sure of… 1.) Without this song, I’d bet that country music and summertime just wouldn’t be the same 2.) We can’t be friends if you don’t like it.


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Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: Red, White and Blue

I LOVE the 4th of July.

It is definitely my favorite holiday. I like it better than Christmas.

When I tell people that, I find that I get two different responses. Most people kind of look at me strange and add a “oh that’s nice.” But those who do understand, usually REALLY understand.  I love the 4th of July because it’s in some ways a laid back, low maintenance holiday. It’s about celebrating hard work, perseverance, sacrifice, and our past, present and future. Regardless of what is going on in the world around us or even on our home turf, it seems to put everything on pause, even if it is just for a day, and reminds us of how lucky we are to live here. And we celebrate with some of my favorite things, like family and friends, summertime, grilling, being outside, music and of course – fireworks.

Let’s be honest, it really all comes down to my love for watching fireworks. I’m only kind of slightly obsessed.

Anyways…you get the picture. I might be a tad bit patriotic and therefore I also have a long list of tunes to with it. What are some of your patriotic tunes? Enjoy!

Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue by Toby Keith
Okay I’ll make this simple. No, I’m not going to ask you to like Toby Keith. I know enough people who don’t that its not worth the arguement. However, opinions aside you have to have at least a little bit of respect for his patriotism and time he takes to honor our service men and women. Plus this song and these others, Made in America and American Soldier, make me smile.

Independence Day by Martina McBride
This song has an indirect, more metaphorical connection to the holiday, that focuses on some of the human themes we associate with this day. Plus, I just think its beautiful.

Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band
The debut single for the Zac Brown Band is another one that has even less of a connection to the holiday. But it encompasses many of the favorite things that I enjoy about the holiday, as well as the way of life and simple things that I value about being an American. But seriously, what is there not to love about these guys?

This Ragged Old Flag – Johnny Cash
This one has had my heart since I was little. I’ve always had a special place for Johnny Cash and this one would play almost every Sunday on the AM station that my dad would have on in the mornings. It’s technically not music, but when Cash is the narrator, you don’t need music.

Amazing Grace – Alan Jackson
It wasn’t a question of whether or not I was going to include this song. Amazing Grace is one of my favorite songs and I tear up almost every time I hear it. But I struggled a bit with what version I was going to share. Someone from almost every genre has recorded it, and my favorite is actually with bagpipes and no vocalist. But Jackson just recently recorded his version, and because I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share.

Here are some other suggestions that were on my mind: America Saturday Night – Brad Paisley, Only in Ameria – Brooks & Dunn, God Bless the U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood, America the Beautiful – Ray Charles, Have You Forgotten-Darryl Worley, Letters From Home-John Michael Montgomery, Arlington-Trace Adkins, Born Country-Alabama, American Child-Phil Vassar, My Town-Montgomery Gentry, Back Where I Come From-Kenny Chesney, American Beautiful- The Henningsens

Music - What I'm Listening To

Friday Jam Session: Spring Break

You know you are growing up when….

Your last spring break in college is certified: LAME, and you are totally ok with that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love vacations and getting out of town, and I did throw around a few ideas for a while, but when it came down to it I was destined for a “stay-cation.” But you know, it really wasn’t that bad. I am 100 percent caught up on sleep, I put in a few more hours at work (always good for the wallet) and my epic to-do list of things that I have been putting off is now down to a manageable size.

However, just because I didn’t do anything for spring break, does not mean that my ears didn’t spend the entire week demanding to only listen upbeat spring break-esque jams. This week’s list might be a tad bit random. I’m going to go ahead and blame that on enjoying the week vicariously through other’s tweets and statuses. Hope everyone had, or is looking forward to a great week. Enjoy!

Little Bit Later On by Luke Bryan
If there was a king of spring break, Luke Bryan would be our guy. Now a Luke Bryan spring break concert would definitely go on my bucket list…but I’ve already seen him in concert three times, soooooooo I think I should probably just check that box and move on. He finally released an album for his SB party tunes (Spring Break…Here to Party) and this one is my favorite off of it.

I’ll Drink to That by Outasight
In my opinion, if there was a “Top Spring Break Songs Countdown” like you see on MTV or CMT this song would have a permanent spot. Now after watching the video you might raise your eyebrows at what I just said, and if you disagree, that is ok. For me, part of the concept of spring break is taking the time to relax and give yourself a break from the daily grind that we can all relate to, and to me, this video portrays that.

No Sleep Tonight by The Faders
After looking up when this song was released, I immediately went into a state of shock that is becoming a little too familiar…2005!?!? Am I allowed to say I feel old? This song is one of my all-time favorites to jam out to in the car, no matter week of the year it is and the fact that I’ve been doing that for 8 years now is a hard pill to swallow…

Get Your Shine On by Florida Georgia Line
After seeing these guys in concert on Luke Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries Tour, it is pretty safe to say that if they had their way, every week would be spring break. This one is my music junkie roommate’s current favorite and definitely makes my list this week.

22 by Taylor Swift
Since the video was released a week ago, I may or may not win for the most views. So, I tried to come up with a legitimate reason to include it this week. But I gave up and instead came up with these reasons: 1. I LOVE this video 2. It accurately describes how I feel as a 22-year-old 3. I enjoy antagonizing T-Swift haters 4. It’s my blog post, therefore I can do what I want…

What did you listen to this week? Enjoy!