Amber Housley

War-time Transitions and Random Notes.

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Politics aside, I believe most Americans want one thing for sure – for our troops to come home. I came across this photo while placing a Snapfish order today. It was taken last September 2004. I thought to myself, "God, it’s been a year and nothing has changed. But did I think it really would? Would it be all wrapped up in a neat little package?"


This sign was on our lawn for only 1 day. We woke up the next morning to find it had been tore down and some nice people had thrown eggs at our house. Brandon loves to remind me that he was against the idea of sharing our political views with the rest of the neighborhood from the very beginning. At least we get to keep our flag up, god willing nobody wants to come tear that down too.

Back to our troops. I was hoping they’d be home now. It’s been almost 4 years since this whole mess began. As the years have gone by, my views have changed. On some topics I’ve become more educated. On others, I’ve been likely influenced by the people in my life and their own views.

When September 11th happened, I was horribly conflicted. It was a very tragic event, but I just couldn’t jump on the band-wagon to get back at whoever had done this. I was college student, self-described Democrat and lived in a pretty liberal Northern Nevada area. I hated that Toby Keith song with the lyrics of "sticking a boot in your ass"…though many I knew liked singing along and felt it was a perfectly patriotic anthem. The whole 9/11 event and the emerging war seemed far away from my life. I luckily had no one I knew lost to the event and the only change that really affected me was really long lines at the airport. I knew my life would never be the same, yet it was still very much the same.

But, slowly, people in my life changed. Circumstances and experiences transitioned…

I then had many people I knew and loved involved in some branch of the military or service. A boyfriend stationed in Florida that I worried would get deployed. My roommate’s fiance was finishing up officer training in the Marine Corps…the list went on. Suddenly, all of the issues that didn’t seem relevant to me, became very important.

Then, 2 years ago, I met Brandon after he had been out of the Air Force for about a year. He had been in for 7 years and had traveled the world. His specialty was working with explosives and worked as what they call "EOD". (Here’s a brief job description if you’re interested). He also spent time in Bosnia during their civil war (that’s still on-going between the Serbians and Albanians). Listening to some of his stories has deeply affected me. Many are sad. Many are inspiring. All of them make me believe that our servicemen are true heroes.

He has many friends that are still serving in EOD. We get emails from friends in Baghdad, Afganistan and other places I can’t even pronounce but usually have some sort of "istan" on the end. We worry while they are away, we are happy when the get home. They show us pictures and tell us stories. Life returns to normal for some time…And now we wait to hear the date of their next deployment. It’s not an "if," it’s a "when." We hope for a different deployment that is in a support area of the Middle East rather than Afghanistan or Iraq. After that, we hope that it’s Afghanistan rather than Iraq. After that, it’s just hope.

One good friend he was stationed in Germany with, just had his leg and hand blown off while disposing of some improvised ordnance in a mine field in Afghanistan. Brandon just got the call last week as we were boarding a plane to Nashville. And you know what his friend did when he called his wife to tell her? "Well, honey, at least I still have my balls."

It’s easy to support a President, and $$ to support this war, and the ideals set-forth for the reason for this war when they are so closely related to you. At this point, it would be stupid for me to question what this is all for.

Why I am posting these random stories and thoughts? Because I don’t want to forget. I don’t want you to forget. Our troops our over there protecting us from future harm. They are sacrificing their limbs, their lives and their loved ones in order to do a greater good and bring a life of freedom to nations.

4 years have gone by and the yellow ribbons are few. Good stories about the good our soldiers are doing are few and far in between the negative news our media pushes. People want answers, they want plans, they want to criticize.

At the end of the day, I pray for our President. For God to steer him where he sees fit. I pray for our troops, that they have strength to face another day, that they are able to continue the good works they do, and that they are able to come home safely when the task is complete. I leave it all in his hands, in his plan.

Want to read Ben Stein’s good article on our true heroes? Check it out on Elizabeth’s blog. As she said, it’s long, but worth it.

Finally to my friends…please, no eggs in the comments section. :)

EDITED TO ADD: Another part of Brandon’s job was as security detail. He had the privlidge of escorting many imporant people and dignitaries, but also people and celebrities on behalf of the USO. You can support the USO’s efforts and learn more about the organization here. Their motto: "Until Every One Comes Home."

Steppin’ Back

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So, the theme of the next few days is "steppin’ back."

Brandon has been on a very L-O-N-G business trip. He comes home in exactly 2 hours 8 minutes. I get to step back from my duties of being in charge of our household. Not that it’s a very big household…I mean, we don’t even have kids. Nonetheless, it means steppin’ back from our 3 furbabies. I’m handing over the barks, meows, litterboxes, dog parks and midnight pee breaks to him. With that, I’m already dreaming of sleep filled nights and time in my scrap room.

I’m also steppin’ back from the normal routine and getting things in order in our house. Lots of closets to go through. Many things to purge or place in the future garage sale pile. Brandon will especially like this motivation. He thinks I have way too much stuff. Way deep down, I slightly agree.

My scrapbookin’ room is also in need of some serious organizing. I think I may even take a picture of it so you can see how ridiculous it is. Insane. I went to Home Goods this week and spent almost $185 on WONDERFUL things for my new "studio". That’s what I’m callin’ it in the new place. Trouble is, I already want to start using some of the furniture and organizers, etc. but it wouldn’t be very practical since we’ll be selling this place in a few weeks. All the WONDERFUL things will have to stay in their bags. However, said bags are sitting in the middle of the room, on top of the tables and poking out of the closet. Not sure Brandon will agree when he sees them that "I picked up a few things this weekend for my studio." Preparing explanation, now.

I’ll also be steppin’ back from spending so much darn time on the internet/computer. Actually get to…you know, creatin’ using my hands the old fashioned way. I immensely enjoy taking in everybody’s artwork, viewing gallery after gallery, and creating new designs for Citrus Blossoms, but I also need to take some time away from it all, doing my own thing and inspiring myself.

As this permission card told me…


Speaking of creatin’…I’m looking forward to a new project. Maybe you’ll join in too? Done & Dusted…21 days, 21 tasks, 3 finished books.

Globe Trotter.

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I’m feeling anxious. I haven’t been able to cure my travel bug lately. I have a habit of looking up information on a hundred different places I’d like to travel to. No major traveling in my future any time soon other than our jaunt to San Diego for 4th of July to visit Brandon’s family and have some R&R at the beach (which I am VERY looking forward to…get me out of this Vegas heat!!)

I love traveling. I love the adventure of it. I enjoy getting together a bunch of travel books and reading up on the history of where I’m going. All of my travel guides are dog-eared, highlighted, and just plain old used. I love them too. I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of them. I’ve got quite a nice little collection going on.

I haven’t gotten around to scrapping all of my photos from all my travels (I mean, who has anyway?!?). I was browsing through my files last night and came across this picture of me in London 2 January’s ago:


Note the following: my peacoat – a lifesaver! It was so cold there. Wet & Cold. It even snowed, which like never happens in London…the city just shuts down. I’m holding my trusty Let’s Go London guidebook too. Let’s Go is one of my favorite travel book series. That and Lonely Planet.

I was on a business trip and was coordinating the tradeshow for the company I was working for at the time. Looking back, I was incredibly fortunate to have the experiences I did on some of these business trips. I stayed in ridiculously expensive hotels that I normally wouldn’t stay in and I ate and drank at amazing places with ridiculously rich people.

However, it was rather lonely on these trips. I’d so much rather experience and enjoy discovering all these places alongside Brandon or a friend. But, I made the most of it, always carrying my trusty guidebook…thinking also that someone with me maybe wouldn’t have enjoyed the hundreds of museums and tourist spots that I enjoy seeing (yeah, I’m a nerd) and eating at adventurous places (pretty sure Brandon would not have gone for the yummy Thai or Indian food in SoHo London! He’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy.)

Since I’m on the subject of traveling, here is my list of 5 favorite places (in no particular order) I’ve been to (that I of course would love to return to again and again!)

  • Northern California – I spent 2 days on a business trip in San Francisco. Such a neat, neat town. I’d love to go back and see more! When we were taking off for San Diego that day, the sun was just coming up as we flew over the bay. The Golden Gate bridge at sunrise on a clear morning was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. Then there’s the Wine Country. As you already know, I LOVE IT!
  • New York, New York – I only got to spend 1 day on a business trip in the city I have longed forever and ever to visit. I vow to return during the Fall for a long week of sightseeing! It’s just SO different from the West coast. For me, it feels like Europe.
  • Yosemite National Park – In high school, I camped here with a friend’s family for 2 weeks. We had SUCH a blast. It is literally heaven on earth there – so beautiful! We hiked dozens of trails, swam in so many lakes and rivers, SO much fun!
  • Mexico – I’ve been to Cabo San Lucas, Rosarito and San Felipe – all during Spring Breaks in college, so you could say it was one WILD time. It’s not so much that these places were nice (because they most definitely were not), but I just love the laidback feel, the beach, and of course, the margaritas and tasty mexican food. I’m one of those crazy people who actually WANTS to eat the local food because I know it tastes so much better than the tourist stuff at the hotels. And you know what? I haven’t ever been wrong! Give me a taco stand and horchata any day!

And where is my heart wanting to travel to these days? The Yuctan peninsula in Mexico, Italy, Boston/New England in the fall, Caribbean islands…the list goes on and on.

Well, there’s always the internet to take me to my far away destinations…


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Introducing my newest toy: my Wacom tablet!

After longing for one, I finally picked it up on sale at BestBuy last night. Took it out of the box, did the really easy installation, and I was in business. But, this little magic pen is tricky. More tricky than I thought it would be. Hopefully after some practice (as Rhonna told me), I will get better.

Here is my first official "doodle." And the cool corner brushes are not by me (not that talented yet, though they are what I’d like to get to…). They are by TrulySarah and are called romanticborder (PS brushes). But, the artsy little flowers were all done by yours truly. Hope everybody will have a super-creative day! Hoping to get working on some projects today!


Bittersweet Success.

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So, if you happened to cruise on over to Citrus Blossoms today, you may of thought to yourself, "I don’t see any updates…and where is this Sale Amber was talking about?"

I don’t even know what the heck happened. Last night it was good. I’ve checked my hosting files and the new ones are all there, yet — all the old ones are live on the site. (And before you ask, yes I’ve hit CTRL + Refresh a hundred times…) It worked last night, but today….sigh….I’ll see what I can do.

On another note, I’m happy it’s Friday and I’ve decided to make a small purchase tonight that will benefit the site too! I will share more this weekend. Have a great day!