Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Joys of Apartment Living!

When Life Throws You Lemons, You Make Lemonade.
This is the most appropriate name I can think of to title this blog. Now, normally I would do two loads of wash at my apartment complex laundry facility (one dark, one light). Then I will take the clothes that would typically need to be hung (i.e. my jeans, nice shirts) and bring them back to my apartment while leaving my panties, sweats, pjs, it's-okay-if-they-shrink-a-little clothes in the facility drier. To preface this it on any given day will gross me out that I'm sharing washing machines and driers with strangers. Today, however, was the icing on the cake. I went to take my clothes out of the drier and the entire facility smelled like someone peed all over the place and my drier smelled too. I had a panic attack, cried at my money and labor being in vain and re-washed my clothes. Only to now have EVERY item I washed hanging on some chair, shower rod, and doorway in my small apartment!
...and this is my living room chair...a pair of jeans, sweat pants, a nightie, and a dish towel

... and this is my other living room chair... a dish towel, two pj pants, and a nightie

...and this is the inside of my bathroom... three pairs of jeans and a pair of capris

...and this is the doorway to my bathroom... 1 sweatshirt, 3 tank tops and 5 shirts... you can see in the background my jeans hanging from the shower rod.

The scripture letter from my dad this weekend was fairly approriate for this circumstance. One of the scriptures he quoted was Jeremiah 31:16 "Thus says the Lord, 'Restrain your voice from weeping, And your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded.'"

When I had to redo my work (laundry) I was crying and in a panic. I didn't think I'd have enough crevasses to dry my wet clothes, now that I'll never again use the drier. Low and behold my labors were rewarded. Not only will my clothes not smell like pee, but the Arm and Hammer clean burst scent... I also had enough places to hang them all.

I can't wait for a washer and drier of my own. Soon.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Discipline then Affection!

Caesar Milan has taught me a tremendous amount of useful and important skills for raising a dog. Having two beautiful small dogs, Mr. Darcy and Chino Sanchez, myself it was crucial for me to learn some techniques, so that my two love bugs will have the best life possible. My mom, a fantastic dog whisperer, gave me eight VHS tapes full of DVR'd "Dog Whisperer" episodes. I watch them regularly. I have since exuded calm energy and have made both my boys balanced. Now I want to whisper ALL dogs... =)

Billy's parents have this beautiful German Shepherd. They got him (Zeus) from his uncle who at one time bred his shepherds. I learned from Caesar that a dog needs exercise, discipline and then affection. Billy and I have been working with Zeus on this, and he LOVES his walks now. When we jiggle his leash he comes running for the door like a tornado rushing across the plains. We are working hard on getting him to behave during the walk and flank us like he should walk with a pack leader. He comes in from his walk and is ready for more discipline and relaxation. Thank you Caesar!

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Night With Jane.

...Watching Emma

My favorite of all of Jane Austin's stories is "Pride and Prejudice" followed closely with "Emma." I especially love Gwenyth Paltrow's version of "Emma." The love story between Mr. Knightley and Emma is so beautiful, sweet, and innocent... the embodiment of love. The first time I saw "Emma" was at my thirteenth birthday sleepover. All of my friends fell asleep, and I was the only one left in awe at this beautiful and romantic story. Jane Austin's stories have always had a special place in my heart, enriched my vocabulary, and have taught me valuable lessons about life. I love her works so much that I named my first dog, (a papillon) Mr. Darcy after her lead romantic hero in "Pride and Prejudice."

Below are some of my favorite quotes from "Emma" for you to enjoy!

Emma: "This is tragic."
Mrs. Weston: "Why is it tragic that Harriet should attach herself to a man whom you admire so much?"
Emma: "I have asked myself many times why this should've unsettled me and I came to see that I do not admire Mr. Knightley as I have so long thought... I love him... so greatly. Outside of you and father his is the opinion which matters most. I did not know it until poor Harriet said she had the hope of him returning her feelings and then I felt ill that I could lose him. And I knew that no one must marry Mr. Knightley... but me."
Mr. Knightley: I rushed back, anxious for your feelings, keen to be near you. I rode through the rain! And I'd ride through worse than that if I could just hear your voice telling me that I might at least have some chance to win you.
Emma: Mr. Knightley, if I have not spoken it is because I am afraid I will awaken myself from this dream.
Mr. Knightley: Marry me? Marry me my wonderful, darling friend.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Visit From Home

One of the most special things is getting a visit at my apartment. I love to entertain my family. Sometimes it feels a little like I'm a kid playing house, but I'm proud of the things I've accomplished.

My mom and my sister, Rachael came to visit for a girl's night last night!!! My two best friends! I can't believe as I sit here to write this that the visit is already over. We had a blast! I made my famous guacamole and we polished it all off with a bag of lime tortilla chips. Then, we ventured off to the grocery store where we bought a gallon of mudslide ice cream and nearly polished that off too!!! We were up until 12:00 a.m. visiting, and when it was time for bed the three of us crammed into my queen bed along with my two dogs for a semi-sweet night sleep.
This morning we woke up really early, and my boyfriend brought over our towns BEST bagels and made his delicious best-you've-ever-eaten eggs! We headed off to the local farm market to get some goodies.

I feel so blessed to be so close to my family. Their visits leave me with my heart full of home.
With much love always, ~Amanda

Friday, May 22, 2009

Choosing Life

(me as a baby!)
Our first home is in the Lord's house, and in turn after birth God asks for a home in each of us. My dad sends me daily scriptures in the mail. I receive them almost every day, and it's my favorite part of opening the mailbox. Usually it is my only piece of personal mail. Sometimes he writes a quote from the bible on the back of the envelope and I imagine a postal worker reading it, and wondering over it. Stamped on the 19th of May, dad wrote "The Lord knows you and seeks to have a relationship with you. He examines your attitude toward him. Faith is the key to our answer back to God. Allowing Christ to dwell in us and be our guide back to him." This passage sparked my blog today. We lived in God's house and he lives in us during our time on earth, so that he can help us to find our way back home.

Our second home is in our mother's womb. This is the most sacred of all homes we will live in on earth. A mother's womb should be safe, comforting, and the beginning of an understanding that we are loved and cared for. In today's world for many little spirits this is not the case. Activists have waged war on the womb, causing 1/3 of my generation to perish for being unwanted, like a gift someone didn't want to receive and instead of re-gifting it she throws it away. has recently been creating these videos entitled Life...Imagine the Potential. They are inspiring, and hopefully will sing with a loud voice. It is our duty to protect the house of the unborn.

Our first home on earth is in our mother's womb.

My grandmother's mother found herself pregnant with my grandmother at 17 years old in the 30s. At that time it was very unacceptable to be an unwed mother,much more so than even today. I'm sure she was very much afraid of the child inside her. Still, she chose life and gave birth to my grandmother in mid January. My grandmother was then adopted from an orphanage into a loving home. I think about all of the people who wouldn't be here today if that woman so many years ago had aborted her baby. My mother, her siblings, my siblings, myself, my cousins, our future children are all here because ONE woman CHOSE LIFE.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That Doggie in the Window.

A Story of Love.

When I was almost a year old, the story goes that I asked my mom for this plush dog with a music box inside that sang "How much is that doggie in the window." My first birthday was approaching and mom decided to get this toy for me, and it ended up being my favorite of all the toys I ever received as a child. You see, God must have written a love for dogs in my heart long before I was even born.
At twenty-three I moved to my current location for a teaching job in a city district--away from family and friends for the first time ever. I bought a Papillon pup from a local breeder and named him Mr. Darcy after my favorite romantic male hero. After almost two years with Darcy it was time to give him a companion, aaannndd truth be told I was getting into the dog movement. I was emotionally torn apart by dogs that I'd seen at the SPCA functions my colleagues participated in, and the commercials on TV. Even more startling was the discovery of the website, which brought me to hyperventilating tears. What could I do? I wanted to rescue all 4 million that get put to sleep each year, but of course, one person can't save them all. I opted to rescue one. A (what they think) Pekingese, Chihuahua, Jack Russell Terrier mix. It was love at first sight. He was 3 teeny-tiny pounds, and licked me the five hour car ride home from where we rescued him.

When we rescued him he wreaked of God only knows what. He smelled so bad we had to stop at a convenient mart so that I could purchase baby wipes and attempt to clean him a little. It was obvious that he was not living in the best of conditions. It felt so good to be the one to give him his forever home, a place of his own. We named him Chino Sanchez, but mostly we call him Chino or Chez.
When we brought him home Darcy was a little nervous at first and unsure about him. However, soon they were brothers and friends--snuggling in the same bed. The one that Chino would later shred, and mommy would have to replace!
There's nothing like rescuing a dog, no feeling like it in the world. You are saving a life--a precious gift to the world from God. You are making one creature's life easier because you exist, because you care, because you love. Rescuing a dog is the best decision I've ever made, and a gift that I can appreciate each minute of the day...even when he's being naughty.
You see... God knew when he made me that I would love dogs. That I would find this overwhelming passion for helping the helpless creatures. That my dream in life would be to start up my own rescue, a safe haven for the unwanted...the ones with no home... the ones who wag their tail waiting for someone to please pick them. God wrote LOVE DOGS on my heart...forever.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cooking With Red & Connie

Salmon ala Juan:

Billy and I first had this delicious dish at my sister and her fiancé's engagement dinner. Juan, her fiancé, made this salmon dinner for us to enjoy. It has since been my favorite seafood dinner to make. Billy and I made it tonight, and it was extra delicious by accident (gotta love cooking accidents that make great additions). We needed to cook it longer on the grill, and it was twice as good as before! I decided to share the recipe!

We used 1lb of Salmon for two people and still had leftovers. So, plan accordingly!

*1lb Salmon
*2 slices red onion
*3 slices butter cut into cubes
*Garlic salt
*1 tbs Brown sugar
*1 Can/Bottle Pale ale beer

*Heat Grill!!!
*Make a pouch with aluminum foil with your salmon inside the foil
*Sprinkle Garlic salt on salmon
*Spread brown sugar on top of salmon over the garlic salt
*Place the cubes of butter on salmon evenly spaced
*Place the rings of onion over butter cubes on top of salmon
*Poor beer in pouch--make sure it doesn't leak
*Cook on grill for 10-15 mins. The longer it cooks the more of the beer you can taste!!

Enjoy! ~Red & Connie's Kitchen

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm Home.

In those flashes of moments between sleep and awake when my heart still remembers dreaming, but my mind is trying to rationalize the days events... this is where my memory of the physical place of home exists. My eyelids are not yet open and I can see with perfect clarity the view from my old window in my parents house. The driveway stretching out to the neighborhood road. The blue house across the street, and a mountain beyond that. I hear the birds, some of my favorites, singing me awake. And I am home. Home again in my childhood bed. My spirit feels like its nine year old self, and argues with my mind as I become conscious, reasoning with my spirit--reminding it that I'm twenty-six and in my apartment, and that I cannot actually hear the birds.

The physical place of home for me is of course my parents house. Their house has collected more memories of childhood than stars in the sky. Each room has a story. Adventures with my sister and brother, roller skating in the basement, made up games of dolls, Jason's ken doll phase (he wanted to be included), berry potions created with elements from the back yard, snow days, that winter in October where we cooked meals on the fire place, running around the driveway waiting for the school bus, ice skating on the carpet in the family room (the only place I would ever be able to do an axle), spending four hours on the cake for my sweet sixteen, prom pictures under the crabapple tree, and the list goes on. Whenever I drive home, my spirit sighs at each bend in the road as it realizes that I'm going home. It's funny how a place can do that to you.

Home is not just a physical place. Home is where the heart is. Many times it can be just a feeling. When I'm with the ones I love I feel home. Mostly I think the feeling of home comes from four different emotions: Love, Comfort, Safety, and Nostalgia. No matter where I am with my family, with Billy, with my closest friends, and with my dogs I get a sense of home. As I get older, this sense of home has moved further from the physical location of my house, and more toward the feeling and sensation in my soul.

Nothing has brought more clarity to me of this than animals. There is a stray cat that wanders my apartment complex. I'm not naturally a cat person, my dad is deathly allergic, so I've only ever grown up with dogs. This cat, however, is one of the most beautiful cats I've ever seen. She comes and cries at the bottom of my building for attention, she wants to be pet and scratched. She purrs as though she is getting divine spa treatment, and meows loudly when she sees me coming, a greeting I imagine. Homeless dogs and cats break my heart in a way that few things do. I created a little bed for it with a blanket in an old cardboard box, left a bowl of water and some cat food under the staircase of my building. It comes by to eat and drink although usually sleeps on the top of cars. I have attempted to get this cat to come into my home so that I can adopt it out and find it a forever home. It has caught on to my luring tricks to get it into one of my dog's carriers. It will even follow me all the way up the stairs to the front of my door, but never inside my apartment. I couldn't understand why it wouldn't want to come inside, so I could find it a home. It trusts me, lets me pet it, eats food from my hands, but never follows me inside. Then I realized that I was looking at it the wrong way. This cat has a home, maybe not a physical home, but home is where the heart is--and her heart is with me underneath the staircase of my building.