Category Archives: 2012

august was a good month.

oh, august. you threw me for a curve.

as most of you know, evan and i decided to end our relationship. it was a very hard decision for the both of us, and it was a decision that was made with much care and thought. you don’t just throw away 2.5+ years without a certain amount of regard…

we are both okay. i think that’s the main question that i’ve been asked- and i know people are checking in because they genuinely care for the both of us. but yes, we are both okay. i think we are both sad that it had to end and will both be adjusting to not being together, but we are still good friends and talk on a regular basis. we recognized the good times, we apologized for the bad. at this point in our lives it is not practical for us to be together. and that’s all. and that is life.

but it still reminds me of what evan says he’s learned over the years– that you have the choice to either make it a good day or a bad day. a good year or a bad year. bad things can happen, but it’s your perspective and how you choose to react that makes it reality. so, all in all, august was a good month. the day we broke up was a good day.

and here are some other things that happened in august:

  • dexter season 5 came out on DVD. this is a big deal, people.
  • i sold some photography at a local market back in my home town area. i can officially cross that off of my bucket list, which feels nice.
  • my family has gotten big into biking. i have joined them a couple of times on some trails- it’s a lot of fun. it’s nice to leisurely ride around.
  • some of my favorite co-workers flew in to des moines for the world wide scientific meeting. i get to see these people maybe once or twice a year, and they are a guaranteed good time. plus the event was right after evan and my break up, so i was so busy making sure everything ran smoothly it didn’t give me much time to feel sad/bad for myself.
  • i brought a small group back to my hometown of dayton, iowa for the rodeo. every labor day weekend by town of 850 people grows to approximately 10,000. we brought a tent, cowboy attire, and lots and lots of booze.
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july takes the cake

okay, so far i’ve had a pretty exceptional 2012. besides a few minor snafoos (snafus? spell check isn’t getting that, but that can’t possibly be right…), i really can’t complain. it has been a remarkable and busy year.

but july definitely takes the cake. not only for how busy, but for how wonderful it was. so many high emotion things happened. so many things that make me thankful for being alive, for being well, for living in the moment. congratulations, july. august, you have a tough act to follow.

  • 80/35. one of the best music festivals, right in downtown des moines. my favorite band, the avett brothers, were playing the main stage on friday. it was absolutely wonderful- seriously one of the best concerts i have attended.

    i had two day tickets, but gave away my second one because…
  • i won a contest. that doesn’t sound like much in itself, but i wrote a short summary for a pennzoil contest about why i love my car. it had to be 250 characters or less, and the winning submission won 2 VIP tickets to a pre-show, acoustic set with country legend tim mcgraw. even though my submission didn’t have the most votes, the judges liked it the best and my best friend mallory and i got two free tickets to the kenny chesney/tim mcgraw ‘brothers of the sun’ concert in minneapolis. even better? two backstage tickets to see tim mcgraw, in which we scored front and center seating (standing).

  • fourth of july. had a low key night, hung out with evan and the family. ate sweet corn. delicious, iowa sweet corn. you haven’t lived until you’ve had iowa sweet corn. and you won’t die happy until you do.
  • i went to denver (with Ms. Jessica) to see a good friend of ours. we had all known each other from way back when we used to work together at a church camp. i will expand on my trip to colorado, but, heck, what an awesome and well needed vacation.
  • evan and i had our first “real” fight- well, not really a fight, i guess, but a realization that we might not make it as a couple. through that time we addressed issues, concerns, joys, and i believe we will come out stronger because of it. and even if we don’t, i can’t say i would want to take it back even if i could. i know i gained invaluable life lessons from him and i’d like to say that our time together has made me a better person and helped shape who i am today.
  • RAGBRAI – or “The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa,” went through my hometown. For those of you not from this fine state, RAGBRAI is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. It’s mostly a big party on a bike, but it is the oldest, largest, and longest bicycle touring event in the world. Even American biking legend Lance Armstrong has ridden in RAGBRAI.
  • friends moving galore. 😦 it seems like everyone is in a transitional phase right now. alex has moved to portland. meredith is moving out to colorado springs. marsha is on her way back to holland… everything is up in the air. i’m not complaining, it’s just an observation.
  • ugh work. when is work NOT busy? so much has been accomplished so far this year. i’m looking forward to the rest of this year and seeing what the future with kemin holds.

waffles and chocolate and beer, oh my!

oh man. besides saying that i wouldn’t mind living there for the rest of my life, what is there to say about belgium? it’s beautiful. it’s clean. it’s biker friendly. its… its… it’s 1/5 the size of iowa and yet so rich with culture and history.

evan and i took off for belgium on friday, april 27. i was being sent there to help direct and edit our company’s first town hall meeting of the year, and evan was going because he’s always dreamed of going to belgium. since the first part of may was a holiday for europe, we decided it would be a convenient time to go and have a mini-vacation before my actual work week started.

we had to take separate flights because we booked at different times, but we arrived in the brussels airport roughly about an hour apart. while i was waiting i caught up with our hostess with the mostess, adrianna, a colleague who used to work in the united states but was transferred to our europe office a year and some ago.

once we got our bearings (and our luggage), adriana took us back to her apartment in antwerp where we promptly took a nap. i know they say you’re never supposed to nap when you get somewhere because you won’t adjust to the time zone, but eff that. i’m always tired and when i’m tired, i will take a nap. don’t even try to stop me.

that night, after waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed from our slumber, evan and i went exploring around antwerp- he had a meeting he wanted to attend and i had a friend i wanted to see. while evan was at his meeting i went to the something-plaats (it’s been awhile, the name escapes me) — DAGERAADPLAATS! (i remembered 15 minutes later and came back to update, but had to leave what i had before to show how proud i was that it came back to me) …

…ahem. i went to the dageraadplaats and had dinner with jeroen, a sarcastic former-coworker who loves antwerp with his whole heart and loves to bad mouth/trash talk my love for des moines, iowa even more. we shot the shit and drank beer for a good hour before evan showed back up, and then we went to a different restaurant (the one we were at was closing) so ev could have a meal. he ordered a steak tartare, which is basically raw meat mixed with some onions, capers, and some seasonings. what a daring man. i mean, i wouldn’t order it, but i did try it and it really wasn’t too bad. it kind of tasted like meat loaf.

after we left jeroen, which was around 11:30 pm, we realized the buses had already stopped for the night. the city bike rental places also had shut down– all of which probably would’ve been a problem for most people. i mean, sure it was quite the distance back to adriana’s apartment. and sure, we could’ve gotten some internet or phone access to get ahold of her to come pick us up. but like any good ol’ iowa farm couple… we walked. and we got lost. and we read some maps. and we got caught in the rain. and evan got to babysit a slightly tipsy amanda. and we walked some more.

we finally arrived back at adriana’s apartment at around 2:00 in the morning. we were tired and wet from the rain, but still extremely happy. antwerp was such a great city to walk around and get familiar with. we loved the idea of the “red lane” in the middle of the sidewalk which was reserved strictly for bikers and motorbikes. we loved how the city felt safe and everyone was friendly. we got home and immediately crashed into bed. the plan was to meet my co-worker drew and his wife chelsea in bruges the next day and figured it’d be good to at least get a little bit of sleep.

let me just stop to say, i do not have an international plan on my phone. i think it costs a ridiculous amount of money for the purpose it serves, and as long as i am somewhere with wireless t i can contact other iphones and use the internet. it may not have served me so well in italy (uggggh that day), but i think it served me fine in belgium. i will admit, however, it would’ve been easier if drew and i had phones to contact each other, because getting the hook up for bruges was a mess. we finally got connected and agreed to meet at the train station a little before noon. evan and i had adriana’s car and drew and chelsea were taking a short train from brussels (where they were staying).

by the time we had met up with d&c, we were all starving. i was on the verge of getting hangry (a mixture of hungry and angry) so we walked around the small city of bruges and scoped out what restaurants struck our fancy. it was starting to rain, so chelsea picked a nice little place and we ducked in for some heat and for some food.

the place was a bit expensive- not only pricewise, but because of the exchange rate from the euro to the dollar. but we weren’t going to let that hinder our good time- we got ourselves a feast. drew and i sampled a few different types of belgian beers and he and evan also tried mussels (i’ve had those before, highly enjoyable). our menu was set- we got to pick from an appetizer menu, then a main course, and a small dessert. it was all really good, and from the restaurant we had a nice view of the lake and watched people do boat tours.

side note: have you ever seen the movie “in bruges?” if you haven’t, first off, you need to. it’s absolutely hilarious; subtle humor mixed with over the top, ridiculous situations, beautiful scenery….

and it has the best quotes. “If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me… but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”

so many things to see and do in bruges. we explored some abandoned streets, had our first belgian waffles, took a boat tour, saw a carnival area, and just soaked in the belgian life. okay, sure, bruges is probably the most touristy part of belgium, but i can’t really blame people for that. i mean… it’s like a fairytale town.


“It’s a fairytale town, isn’t it? How’s a fairytale town not somebody’s f*cking thing?” 

the next day we all agreed to meet in brussels for the day. again, this is where having a phone would’ve come in handy. it took longer than evan and i anticipated to get from the bus to the train station, and by the time we got to the train station, we found our train was delayed. so while we were already a half an hour late to brussels, we ended up being closer to 50 minutes later than the time we told drew and chelsea we would meet them.


evan sleeping on the train

determined to not let it ruin our day (as we assumed drew and chelsea had given up on us), we did some touristy things and explored brussels by ourselves. as fate would have it, i found a small coffee shop with internet access and drew happened to be on skype at the hotel at the same time. they met back up with us and we continued on our merry way, onto one of the merriest places of all: a place with beer. lots and lots of beer.

we also got a little reckless, in our own harmless way. we went to a casino and blew a bit of money and smoked a few cigarellos we picked up in a shop (evan had bought some cigars for my dad and the cigarellos were nice and cheap.) you know… when in rome. we also had our fill of belgian waffles, chocolates, and well, beer, of course.

the next day was probably the most low key day of our vacation. adriana brought us out to this little town called balen (which jeroen says translates to “it sucks” and advised us not to go) because koen had convinced evan that he should go orienteering while in belgium. since evan had never done that type of race before, the boys did a little bit of practice orienteering for the afternoon.  i sat on a terrace, drank, and watched gliders go up.

afterwards we had dinner with koen and his wife hendrika, and then they took us to the b&b where we were staying at, an adorable little place located on a sheep farm.

the rest of the trip was rather boring overall, so i will spare you all the details. basically i got to go to work and evan got to rent a bike and ride around belgium. sounds like he got the better end of the deal.

these were the highlights of the rest of the trip:

  • being able to network and meet new coworkers– i love the people/company i work for. it’s always good to get to know them better.
  • helping (successfully) organize the first town hall meeting of the year.
  • koen gave me a ride to work every day. (i love koen.)
  • i ate horse. don’t judge me.
  • recapping with evan at night about what we each did during the day.
  • going out to dinner with a fun group at the Kathedral restaurant.
  • airport hang out time with penny (i love penny… but in a different more work appropriate way)
  • actually getting to sit next to ev on the plane ride home

^Ja, ik zal.

a half-hearted apology, my letter to june.

Look, I don’t really have a good reason for why I’m not keeping up with this blog as well as I should. Realistically, I have three trips and a ton of events in my life that I’d like to tell you about. It’s just finding the time to do so.

I mean, it’s not like work has been ridiculously hectic (it has). I mean, not that I’m stroking my own ego (I am), but since the beginning of 2012 I have completed–as in from conceptualization to finalization– imagery/layout for over twelve advertising campaigns across the animal divisions of my company. Plus over five more products that are waiting to go through testing. (And about 25 products that probably never will.) Put that on top of daily graphic design work, add being the sole video person for a 1500+ employee company, and try to fit in a personal life… let’s just say my dance card is full. But hey, I mean, I think anyone could do it (they can’t).

I’m not complaining (I am), it’s just that I’ve been a little stressed out. But, things have seemed to calm down a bit (or I have just stopped caring),  so while I have your attention, I would love to tell you about my month of June.

  • the weather broke 100 degrees F. i know i probably sound like an old farmer, talking about the weather, but seriously? that is ridiculous. it usually doesn’t get that hot until late july/august
  • i had forgotten my old running shoes in mason city and i needed them for a race in des moines. evan, being a wonderful boyfriend, shipped them to me. i thought maybe he would include a note in the box, but he did me one better. he included a pre-eaten peanut butter sandwich. if that isn’t love, i just don’t know what is.
  • i celebrated my birthday on june 8 and evan celebrated his on june 21. for our birthdays, we went out for a nice steak dinner and we got addicted to a board game called settler’s of catan. it’s funny (sad), i got it for my birthday and we still play it daily (i’m writing this in late july)
  • speaking of celebrating my birthday– i didn’t really do it up this year. but i did get a lot of quality time with some good friends, which i appreciate even more than extravagant/ridiculous parties.
  • i ran my first 5k. i (kind of really) hated it. but it was a mud run with obstacles and a lot of stopping and starting. i think i would enjoy an actual 5k , sans mud (or so i’m telling myself).

    mud run

  • the dj girl talk came to des moines. it was the sweatiest, most outrageous dance party i have ever been to. i had two bottles of water poured on my head and i’m still convinced most of the moisture was sweat.

call me, may(be)?

ooh work. you take away all my free time and yet i love you so.

i haven’t been able to “blog” very much lately, but my month of may was a good one. the weather in iowa is absolutely beautiful and a lot of the month was spent hanging out with good family and friends. here are some good things.

  • i spent the first few days of the month of may in belgium with the most handsome man i know. oh, and evan was there with me as well. 😉
  • the avengers came out. let’s see… iron man, thor, and hulk… yum.
  • ^ and then i saw it again the next day.
  • went to the farmer’s market and got my first papusa of the year. also yum.
  • a group of us went out to north carolina for our good friend erin and sam’s wedding. it was southern, beautiful, and besides being alcohol-free, absolutely perfect. 😉

  • sand volleyball began. and we have continued our streak from last year….our losing streak, that is.
  • it was my daddio’s birthday.

april showers

and a sneak attack by the month of april!

this year is FLYING by. just when i thought i had my head and hands wrapped around this so-called life, i look up and realize that april has already passed me by. no joke, i’ve felt so busy in the past month that i’ve barely had time to breathe, let alone blog.

but april, though busier than fuck (a friend of mine says iowans say “as fuck” or “than fuck” more than any people he’s met so i am trying to live up to the hype), has treated me rather kindly. here are a few highlights for the month.

  • it was around 90 degrees the first day of april. it was so warm that we had a pool party. that is unheard of in iowa.
  • krista and i took a mini-road trip to madison wisconsin to see Fun. and it was. (fun. it was fun.)
  • celebrated easter with evan’s family. it is great because the kids are all getting to an age where they recognize me every time they see me. last time we were back brookelynne called me “aunt amanda.” and i think i’m okay with it.
  • game night. it had been so long since i had a game night. we were over having a grill out at katie and tony’s. it started raining, we went inside to play fireball island and it from the pit. best games i had never played.

    (we have to go back, kate! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!)
  • april marks the beginning of the horse racing season at prairie meadows. i only went once, but i came home $20 dollars richer.
  • i’ve kind of gotten into running. i know, it surprised me too.
  • vacation. i went to belgium for work and evan got time off to come with. it was an awesome time, not only being in belgium, but just being with each other. evan thinks we could live in belgium. i think i agree.
  • on vacation i also got to see a person i used to work with who i hadn’t seen in around two years. it was good to catch up and even better to make new memories. also got to see some other employees/friends and make some new ones as well.
  • secretary of agriculture, tom vilsack, toured kemin and also did a press conference at our facility, encouraging young farmers to stay in the industry. i hung out with his six body guards.
  • my parents celebrated their 37 year anniversary. that is nuts to me. sure, they’ve had their ups and downs, just like any couple. but in the end they decided to that they were to be together for the rest of their lives. and there’s something incredibly normal yet romantic about that.

march madness

i’ve been talking march up for months now. how good the month is going to be, how much i was looking forward to it…

well, march. you didn’t disappoint.

here are some highlights from my month of march.

  • i got to spend the first day of march hanging out with two of the coolest cats that kemin has to offer. jim, frank, and i went and toured around st. petersburg. we went to two cathedrals and had lunch at this really great indian restaurant. (it was also frank/my niece’s birthday!)


  • i got to return to italy. though it wasn’t as great as i had anticipated (i think the rose-colored glasses are coming off for the country for me), it was still an amazing time. and i got to see my favorite sad-eyed scientist, who looks just as good as ever.
  • made it home just in time (literally, just in time, i arrived in dsm at 4:30 on this day) for carl’s karaoke. i stayed up until around 1am in hopes it would cure my jetlag. yeah… that’s why i stayed up that late (anyone else buying this?)
  • my niece/goddaughter turned 5. i was out of the country for her actual birthday, but we had a party for her that weekend. she’s ridiculous, a handful, a whole lotta trouble… and i love her for it all.
  • bonus checks, what what? well, a small part of our bonus checks leftover from 2011, but i’m not going to complain about extra money. i just won’t.
  • double karaoke? how did a girl get so lucky? one of sarah’s coworkers was moving back to england, so they threw him a going away party at our local favorite, carl’s place.
  • speaking of moving away- my good friend meredith, member of the #PartyRockCrew, moved away to san diego. she got another job with the non-profit group invisible children and couldn’t turn it down. we had a great going away party for her too. …at carl’s.
  • evan. evan was great this month. i got back home to find the house clean (which is a feat in itself), new stairs to the basement, an automatic garage door opener installed for my mini, and lots of hugs and kisses. he then taught me how to drive a stick (hehe, if you know what i mean) and volunteered to play my favorite board game… which he got addicted to.
  • st patrick’s day. ’nuff said.

  • two words: MARCH MADNESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. i’m a tar heel born. i’m a tar heel bred. and when i die i’ll be a tar heel dead. rah rah carolina-lina–rah rah rah! and they definitely would’ve been in the finals if white hadn’t broken his wrist. i won’t fight you about it. it’s just a fact.
  • “draw something” app for the iphone. oh gawd. newest great find. i’ll have to make a  post in itself of funny photos sent through draw something.
  • The Hunger Games midnight premiere.