Career/Professional, Friendship, Kansas

A Week in the Midwest

This past week I made a trip back to the Midwest for a week full of learning and professional development, catching up with friends, fun and work. Other than the fact that there wasn’t much relaxing, I’d say that it was a pretty well-rounded (and very full!) trip.

AFA Alliance Forum

If you know me at all personally, chances are you’ve heard me talk at some point about Agriculture Future of America (AFA). This collegiate organization was a game-changer for my college experience, and continues to have a huge impact on my life today. Every year during the annual Leaders Conference for students, there is along a forum for the AFA Alliance, the organization’s alumni branch (but you don’t have to be an alum to join!) of which I am a lifetime member. I was so excited to be allotted the time from work to attend this year’s forum. Simply put, these are my “people” and I always leave my time with them feeling refreshed and with new ideas and tools to implement in my work-life and environment. This year’s forum focused on “Trust.” Trust between the agriculture and food industry and its consumers, trust in systems and working through what we don’t understand, trust between colleagues in the work place and more. We heard from speakers on time management, negotiating (on many levels), cultural intelligence and asking better questions. We also spent time chatting with each other about the high’s and low’s of what we are facing as professionals in the agriculture and food industry, which fostered opportunities to learn from each other.

If you are a professional in the agriculture and food industry and are looking for a opportunity for professional development I would highly recommend joining the Alliance and I would love to answer any of your questions!

I ALSO am very excited to share that my peers selected me to be a part of the Alliance Planning Committee, so in 2018 I will be serving as its Vice Chair and in 2019 I will be its Chair. So basically… be prepared to hear a bit more about all this in the time to come 🙂

Kansas City is one of my FAVORITE cities!



Boulevard Wheat is my FAVORITE beer so I was pretty excited that I finally had the chance to visit its brewery in KC. On the last evening of the forum, we had a joint reception there with the AFA Track 4 students (so primarily senior getting ready to graduate in December or next May.)


On Sunday morning, Michael, Ted and I joined Track 4 again for a panel discussion on “Pursuing Lifelong Leadership”…so basically chatting about our experiences navigating our post-grad lives and “adulting”, the importance of staying involved in things that fuel your interests and develop you personally and professionally and anything they wanted to ask about. And they really did have some great questions! I really enjoy these kinds of things because for me, having mentors that get me and a network of people whom I can go to with complicated questions or even chat with about the seemingly little things with has been something I certainly don’t take for granted. I hope that even if it was just for an hour, that something I said resonated with and encouraged someone else.

He wasn’t at the forum, but I was able to squeeze in a quick brunch with my friend Zech who is now living in KC. Zech is one of my sister’s good friends from high school, so it was great to catch up with someone from good old Eastern Oregon and hear about the really awesome stuff he is up to now. I love when we all grow up and my sister’s friends become my friends too, and vice versa.

Wichita

After I was finished with the Alliance Forum, I picked up my rental car and drove the quick 3 hours to Wichita, where Megan, my best friend and college roommate lives. Since I was in KC for the the forum Thursday through Sunday and then had a work event there scheduled for the following Thursday, it didn’t really make sense for me to fly back to DC again in between. I took one of the days off from work so we could get some quality time in together and then spent the other full day working out of her home office. Keeping up with friends when you live so far away from each other and have separate full lives going on is really hard, but so worth it when you have some great ones 🙂

Thank you Megan and Aaron for letting me crash for a couple of days!

Sonic is scarce on the East Coast, or at least in my area, so I went straight for the Route 44.

Megan’s pups Ned (german shepard) and Luna (corgi mix) were never far from the new excited person in their home…

Trade Talk

After a few quick days in Wichita, I drove back up to Kansas City for the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) annual Trade Talk event. This event is a part of a larger conference, but essentially it is a day where organizations and companies across the agriculture and food industry set up booths featuring their spokesperson(s) and broadcasters from across the U.S. cycle through and record interviews all day long. That gives them a bank of content they can use sooner if the topics are timely or they can save it for the next few months when they need to fill in their programs. It also allows us as an organization to focus on a few topics and talking points that are at the forefront for us right now. It was a long, but fruitful day.

I decided the booth needed a bit more flair this year so I made two of these arrangements while I was in Wichita. I was pretty happy with how they turned out 🙂

So I’m back in DC now for a few weeks… until I travel back to Kansas (Manhattan this time!) for another work trip at the beginning of December. Lucky me!

Cheers!

So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 19

{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}

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Once again it has been almost two months since my last So There’s That post.

And this time I can’t even say that I was “out of my mind” busy. Oops.

Well settle in, it will be a long one…

1. Celebrated My Birthday

One of my friends from college is in DC for a year-long fellowship and offered to throw me a birthday party this year. It was a great little get together, and though somewhat unplanned it ended up being all Kansas people.

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With Logan and Emily. Happy to have so many K-Staters here with me.

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We all share Brandi as one of our closest friends, so we decided she needed some Snapchat spam.

2. Beware of Jalapeno’s

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I am pretty sure I will immediately regret including this picture, but I always say this blog is about my life, so some funny/embarrassing stories and pictures just are not allowed to be omitted.

So… I love spicy food and I love jalapenos, so when I decided to make queso dip for my birthday party it was natural for me to grab a few (4) jalapenos to add in. Now I have cut up jalapenos a dozen times before and never had any problems but this time was pretty different. A few minutes after I was done chopping, my nose and upper lip started to BURN REALLY BAD. So I immediately washed my hands with dish soap and then washed that part of my face with my normal face cleanser. And then it started to burn EVEN WORSE. So I did what every other brand new 26 year old would do… I called my mom. She proceeded to start Googling what you are supposed to do and I tried a baking soda and water paste, then lemon juice and then coconut oil, all of which helped for a few minutes and then would stop. At one point I went back to the paste, which was a REALLY bad idea because it made things worse after the lemon juice.

Eventually I just held ice packs to my face for a few hours. We eventually read that soaps actually do not help (OBVIOUSLY) and realized that every time I used my hands to apply the different mixtures it was just eventually tainting them and spreading the heat to more of my face.

So with the picture to prove it, I really can not make this stuff up, and it REALLY was that dramatic. Just ask my mom about the phone call, I am pretty sure she is still laughing about it.

3. Crop Quality Report

This project took up most of my work life in September and October. It is a report that my organization puts about every year and this year we decided to do a complete redesign with the help of an agency. The challenge is there is a LOT of data that goes into, a LOT of people that contribute to it and it gets translated into five languages.

I was pretty proud of the final product and especially of Steph, my co-worker who put in way more hours than I did. If you are at all interested at actually looking through it, you can find it HERE.

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4. The Best is Yet to Come

In October, my church, NCC, celebrated its 20th anniversary with a service that included all eight of its campus at one location, held in Constitution Hall at the DAR. It was such a fun, inspiring evening!

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One of my small groups met up for dinner at Old Ebbitt beforehand.

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These wristbands lit up in different colors, based on our motions or by the tech guys. They were so fun!

5. “Coloring Book for Me” App

Friends, prepare for your life to be changed.
I can not remember how I stumbled across this app (probably because I was so excited about it) but YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. It is pretty straight forward… every day there are new blank designs to choose from, you have a variety of color wheels to choose from and then at the end you can add treatments. Honestly, I have done one almost everyday for the past month, but decided that sharing ALL of them might be a bit much for those who do not share my enthusiasm.

And dear creators of the app? Hit me up if you would like to sign an official endorsement deal…

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6. Kansas City

In November, I was in Kansas City for a conference that I still plan to separately blog about. But that also meant that I got to squeeze some time in with one of my favorite little families. Baby Robin has become a regular in these posts, but I was also excited to catch up with Leah and Ryan. She was my roommate my freshman year  and still one of my dearest friends.

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She is 7 months old now!

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Her parents are going to regret letting her call me Aunt Amanda someday…

7. Hiking

In addition to the big hike I already blogged about... I also joined my friend Kim for an afternoon on the Maryland side of Great Falls.  She recently got a new DSLR camera so she wanted me to teach her a few tips.

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8. Sunday Funday

In November, another one of my small groups from church went out on a Sunday to a small winery, lunch and then stopped by one girl’s family farm. It was one of the first colder weekends in the area, but we had a great afternoon! Northern Virginia is absolutely beautiful in the fall!

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9. Friendsgiving

This year I went to two Thanksgivings!

On Thursday, I joined my co-worker and his wife, who are also K-State alums, along with many others who have some connection to Kansas.

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And then on Saturday, I was invited by one of the girls from one of my church small groups to join a Friendsgiving hosted for another small group that she is in.

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In the last eight years I have only been home for Thanksgiving once, but I am always reminded how big my support circle is and the kindness of others.

10. Run DC

Since my plantar fasciitis developed this summer I have not been out on a long run or walk in DC. My foot still hurts, but I have contained it quite a bit so I decided to take advantage of the last semi-warm weekends and ventured out for a run/walk that accidentally turned into an unplanned seven miles. Apparently DC infrastructure is still hard to navigate after living here two years.

Anyway, as expected, it was a beautiful day.

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11. The People’s Tree

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So I learned this year that you have to get tickets way in advance for the Christmas tree lighting at the White House… but that the lighting at the Capitol is free. This was toward the top of the things I really wanted to do this year so I dragged my friend Logan out in the pouring rain to see it. They had a short but cute little ceremony led by Speaker Paul Ryan. The tree was from Idaho this year!

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I love Union Station this time of year!

12. Christmas Crafts

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My apartment is really small, but it had been too long since I had a fun project to do and my little windowsill was perfect to add a few things too. I blogged about making the tree and the sign last week. Read it HERE.

13. Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

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Views from my parents’ new property.

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Enjoyed my first “Paint Nite” with Allyson!

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I LOVE this picture and this view! Photo credit to my friend Casey Droddy.

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Took this out of my plane window on the way home from Guam.

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Good morning Union Station.

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Snapchats of Jack from my sister are my FAVORITE.

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My new tennis shoes are full of inspiration

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Enjoyed catching Reckless Kelly with my Kansas guys. We do not get nearly enough red dirt bands live in DC. And I LOVE my new dress, so I had to share.

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Miss Robin was the cutest little penguin. Even if she did not think so herself.

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True friends send you pictures from Kansas to make you miss it more.

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Sunday brunch to celebrate Sherin’s birthday!

13. Chris Stapleton

Three people sent me a link to an article about this song below in a matter of a week. Obviously my obsession with Chris Stapleton has been well advertised.

HE NEEDS TO RECORD THIS!

14. My Life in Memes

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

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Career/Professional, Friendship, Kansas

That’s a lot of bacon…

My job is so much cooler than yours.
Well at least this past weekend it was.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
Bacon. Is. Hot.
So much so, that it gets its own festival in Kansas City.
That’s right, a whole day dedicated to that salty, savory strip of wonderful. And because of my job, I got to go.

Ladies and gents, I present to you: Bacon-Fest: The Other Fundraiser

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Bacon Fest is an annual fundraiser for the Rehabilitation Institute of KC, an organization that provides physical rehabilitation services to youth and adults in the Kansas City area. The event features dozens of eateries, caterers and companies who all bring their bacon inspired dishes for hundreds of bacon lovers and enthusiasts to sample. There were pulled pork sandwich bites, tacos, pizza, jam, cheddar meatballs, yogurt, various desserts and appetizers and more – all featuring bacon in some form. There were even two bacon inspired drinks, including a bacon bloody mary (I passed) and a bacon breakfast shot (definitely did not pass.) And Farmland Foods rounded out the bacon menu with simplicity, featuring eight or so different cuts and seasoned strips to try. The bacon is paired with a featured micro brew beer station, live local music and to round out the fun there is a bacon eating contest (we’ll get to that in a minute) and a bacon recipe contest.

So here’s where I come in. Kansas Pork is a sponsor at this event and this year we also featured a fun bacon photo booth that was complete with various signs and props that attendees could snap a picture in front of with their friends and then enter to win bacon by uploading that picture to social media, using the hash tag #baconfarmers.  Pretty cool, huh? The bonus for me (besides unlimited bacon to sample of course) was that I was able to bring along a few friends to enjoy the day with me. A huge thanks to Megan, Kyla and Elliott for tagging along with me and helping out here and there when we needed it. Overall the day what a pretty big success and a whole lot of fun. It’s still a little crazy to me that there is a whole food culture and fad built around this beloved breakfast food. There were so many crazy costumes, funny t-shirts, and fun giveaways. I think we decided that overall our favorites were the bacon cheddar meatballs, chocolate covered bacon, bacon jam, steak seasoned bacon strips and the bacon bloody marys.

And going back to that bacon eating contest… Now I’ve been to a bowl game, witnessed some buzzer beaters and am competitive to a fault, but I have to say, sitting front and center for a bacon eating contest is quite the experience. Competitors are given a pound of bacon and five minutes. The person who finishes first or eats the most (in weight) in that time period is crowned the champion – and people take this competition very seriously. If you know me, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to find me mocking this a slight bit, and I did, until this 120-something lb spunky middle aged woman won! This chick beat out 30 or so other competitors (mostly big burly guys) and won over the crowd at the same time. That’s the last time I’ll mock an eating competition.

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If you are in or near the Kansas City area I encourage you to look into attending the event in the future. It is held near the end of August each year and goes toward helping out a great cause and organization. And…chances are, I’ll be there again. My roommate Megan is already eyeing her calender to make that weekend available to tag along next year.

As for me, I’m never going to think of bacon the same way again.

Friday Jam Session

Friday Jam Session: Uncharted Territory

It’s Friday!

After getting through the craziness known as graduation, new job, etc. I realized how much I had started to enjoy this Friday Jam Session bit. So regardless if it’s just my roommate and sister who read my recommendations (and who already know them) I’ve decided that’s completely OK.

So today I’m venturing into uncharted territories. My roommate and I are headed up to KC for an Imagine Dragons concert at Starlight Theatre (insert happy dance here.) They have been one my newest obsessions over the past year, so obviously I’m pretty stinkin’ excited. One problem though. With the exception of a few concerts on campus and at my county fair back home, I have never been to a non-country concert. It’s not like I never wanted to before but I’ve just never been plugged into keeping track of whose playing where like I am with country music. I’m sure that I am over thinking this a tad bit too much but I’m a little anxious about how overwhelming this experience is going to be. Better leave your boots at home this time Amanda.

Today’s music doesn’t need much of an introduction. The bands that are opening for Imagine Dragons are ones that I have just starting listening to in the weeks leading up to the concert. But I am now well-informed and ready to go thanks to the beauty of Spotify. I think it’s pretty cool that there is such a variety of sound and am pretty sure that I am not going to be disappointed.

Here’s a few favorites that I’m looking forward to tonight!

Demons by Imagine Dragons
Most new bands win us over with a chart topping hit single. And while It’s Time did it for Imagine Dragons, that’s not why I love these guys. I love them because their entire album, Night Visions won me over, and that is a rare occasion. I think their sound is original and  the lead vocals go on the “I could listen to endlessly” list. Demons is my personal favorite, but I also recommend checking out Radioactive, On Top of the World, My Fault, and this version of It’s Time.

Holding On To You by Twenty One Pilots
Next to the main set, I am most excited for this band. This song has been stuck in my head since I first heard it two weeks ago and has been on repeat. And the music video…its crazy weird…and I absolutely love it. Also check out Guns For Hands andAddicted With a Pen.

Lock Your Heart Down by Churchill
Also listen to Gone Too Long and Change

Safe and Sound by Capital Cities

Hero by Family of the Year
Also checkout Stairs