Looking

I'm feeling pretty down today. 

I don't know if it's the rainy weather we had this week (though that usually cheers me up), the fact that my room is less than clean, getting too little sleep, getting too much sleep, or simply that I'm just having one of those days. 

I want to create. I want to be inspired. I want to rest. 

Instead, I'm working early and working late and sleeping too much in between. 

I'm tired of blog posts always being so positive. 

So I'm just going to leave this post as is. 

Looking for a silver lining. 

 

{x} Fill An Entire Room With Balloons

I've kept a running bucket list for as long as I can remember. One of my friends' favorite things to do is to read my bucket list and then help me check off as many as they can. "Fill an entire room with balloons" has been on my list for a while, but my sisters waited until the absolute PERFECT occasion to make my wish come true. On the night before my wedding, while I was running around eliminating the smell of wood stain from our living room (a story for another time), my siblings and cousins (with help from our friends, Adam and Hailee), filled our entire bathroom with 500 balloons. We called it the anti-stress room on the day of the wedding, and the people who came to deliver the cake, set up the place settings, and arrange the flowers found it to be stress relieving as well :). 

Thanks guys! One more item checked off, 438 to go... 

These photos were taken on my iPhone 4s or Canon 7D - unfiltered and unedited. 

I also made a STELLER for this adventure under our @mountainsapart account. Check it out!

// movie and tea for the bride to be //

These pictures speak for themselves.

I had the most beautiful bachelorette party, with the most beautiful friends. I'm so blessed.

All photos were taken on my Canon 7D, my iPhone 4s, or Claire's Canon Rebel. The original gallery can be found in my picture portfolio, here. 

My sister, Claire, blogged the invite she made for the party, here

My friend, Hailee, also made a STELLAR about this adventure which can be found on our @mountainsapart page. 

@mountainsapart

The conversation happens every single time I go home to Durango: 

Claire: "Wanna start a blog together?"
Hailee: "That would be soooo fun!"
Maggie: "What should we call it?"
Amber: "What if we started an instagram instead?"

It's always been a roundabout conversation that is repeated every month or so, and in which nothing ever gets done. However, the last conversation resulted in this super fun group project! 

Yes... My three best friends and I launched a STELLER together.

What a funny group of friends we are.

There's Hailee, who is a Junior in high school, kicks butt at every school sport she does, and never stops smiling; Claire, who picked up and moved to Laguna Beach where she lays on the beach, creates art constantly, and continues to eat copious amounts of ice cream; Maggie, the free spirit, who tromps around the country, exploring and adventuring as she goes; And Amber (me), the recently newlywed who escapes the inner city as often as she can to climb mountains with coffee in her hand. 

It's so fun being able to share projects even when we're miles apart! 

So... Go! Check out our STELLER stories!

And even better, get out there and create your own great stories! 

Wandering And Wondering

Today, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I can feel it. I have homework to do, a work schedule I'm still figuring out, a budget to re-work, dinner to cook, and a messy room awaiting me at home. But for some reason, that overwhelmed feeling is overridden by a complete feeling of joy and gratitude. More than overwhelmed, I feel teary and sentimental and like I want to text everyone I know just to tell them that I love them. 

I'm sitting here next to an open anthropology (and not the cute store, anthro) book and my dirty lunch dishes, and all I can do is wonder why I don't ever make time to just sit and listen to music.

//

I wonder what would happen if we always made time for candlelit dinners, kissing in the rain, talking for hours, late night drives, watching sunrises and staring into each others eyes.

I also wonder what would happen if we not only made time for those things, but also for cheering our husbands up after a bad day at work, late night grocery store runs, tickle fights, getting up early to make his lunch, swimming in the ocean together, laying still and listening to music, long bubble baths, staying up late to watch one more episode, taking selfies, building and sleeping in a tent in the living room, filling up the car with gas so he doesn't have to, playing with his hair, praying for each other, praying with each other, cuddling even when you're running late, and doing the dishes for the third time in a row. 

//

On Friday, Nate and I drove towards the mountains until we found a forgotten cemetery nestled in the woods where we could tromp around in the damp underbrush to heart's delight. If helped make the long week worth it. You should try it sometime. 

All photos were taken on my iPhone 4s and were edited with VSCOCAM. This cemetery can be found in the mountains surrounding Central City, CO. 

I also made a STELLAR about this adventure that you can view here. 

The original archive of these photos can be found in my photography portfolio, here

Sister With A Blog

Last time I was home, my youngest sister was watching a show about a talking dog. I soon found out that "Dog With A Blog" currently leads as one of Disney Channel's top shows. I personally think that a show about a talking dog who blogs is absolutely ridiculous, however, I have a ridiculously talented sister with a blog, and THAT is most certainly worth checking out. 

"I want to be an artist for a living: designing pretty logos, illustrating whatever might need to be illustrated, painting magnificent scenes with oil on canvas and one day I hope to create beautiful layouts for a magazine company. 

As I continue the journey of becoming a professional at the practice of various creative arts and search for my very own unique style, I hope to share my many personal projects, commissions, school assignments, disasters and adventures with you in my little corner of the internet along the way."

Check out her art, writing, photography and more at clairekairalla.com

The Toast

Hello all!

I can't believe life has finally slowed down enough that I can sit and write a blog post. Well, when I say slowed down, I mean that we've unpacked enough that I can find my computer and somewhere to sit before I have to start school in a little under 48 hours. I guess you take what you can get.

If you haven't heard already, I am now married to the most amazing husband in the entire world (in my opinion) and we had a dream of a wedding.  A perfect bachlorette party, perfect cake, perfect location and perfect people (don't worry, the pictures are coming) made for a week full of blogging material.

The toasts that concluded our wedding blew us away and were the topic of conversation for many days following. Having all of the people we love encourage and celebrate us brought tears to our eyes and butterflies to our hearts. Every single toast was so special, but my youngest sister Sophie put so much thought into her toast, that she wrote out the entire thing. The copy she gave me as we left the party is now one of my most treasured possessions. I want to share it with you, partly because of how charming and cute the words are, but also because this toast has some pretty epic pictures to accompany it. 

The Toast

When I first met Nate he gave me donuts and let me sit in the front seat.
That's when I knew we would get along. 

The second time I saw nate, he interrupted our quality Sophie-Amber-Sister time. I was a little bitter about him joining us, but when we decided we were bored we made it an adventure. It was fall and there were lots of leaves. We parked in front of some person's house and we started shoveling leaves into the car. We made it our goal to fill the car completely with leaves - so full that when you sat in the car you were buried in leaved and you couldn't see us. After we were done swimming through our car full of leaves we emptied as much as we could and vacuumed the rest out. We then decided to make it quality Sophie-Amber-AND-Nate time. We also decided after that we needed to keep it a secret from everyone so we wouldn't get in trouble... but now that it's their wedding day and we can't get in trouble, I made it my business to make it not a secret anymore. 

The third time I saw Nate, he pushed my brother in a shower.
That's when I knew I wanted him to marry Amber. 

Overall, Nate and Amber have been great role models and I love them both dearly. I'm so glad to welcome Nate into our family. 

So now that the secret is out, below you will find proof that, yes, we did fill my car to the very tippy top with leaves. I have to say, even though the occasional leaf still blows through the AC vent, I have never once regretted that quality Sophie-Amber-Nate time!

Questions

You get asked a lot of questions when you decide to get married young.  

Are you excited to be married? // ummm... yes.
Do you feel like you're ready? // ummm... no.
Are you nervous about having sex? // are you?
What do your parents think? // they like nate.
Do you have a job? // yes. three actually. 
Are you pregnant? // ask me in about 9 months.
Where are you going to live? // in... an... apartment...
Do you think you will enjoy being married? // *blank stare*

Can I just say... I would not be getting married if...
>> my parents didn't support it
>> i hadn't spent coutless hours thinking and praying about our decision
>> if i wasn't prepared to work hard
>> if i wasn't madly in love with a man who loves me well and who i feel like i can love in return
>> if i hadn't spent considerable time thinking about what it means to be married and not just planning my wedding 

So my answer is YES, I can't wait to be married! 

We'll be happy. We'll fight. We'll travel and have kids. We'll make our own money and finish school and meet cool people and throw the best parties. We'll laugh and cry. We'll have the cutest little house/apartment/room. We'll disagree and struggle. We'll have the best ever sex and the worst ever sex. We'll make mistakes and overcome problems. We'll have dreams come true and dreams crushed. We'll grow up together and grow old together, cook together and clean together, pray together and study together. We'll listen to good music and stay up late. We'll watch sunrises and sunsets and eat breakfast in bed. We'll walk on beaches and climb mountains. We'll celebrate holidays and create new traditions. We'll take lots of pictures. We'll buy new things and get rid of more things. We'll argue about silly things and argue about important things. We'll fall in love more and more each day and one day we'll wake up and wonder at all of our good stories and dream about even more adventures to come. 

Call me crazy. 

Camp Kivu 2014 // Staff

I was roped into working at Kivu this summer. 

Well, I guess not really. Even though I had made up my mind to spend my summer traveling with my family and fiancé, when Jamie Jo called to ask if I would become Kivu leadership, I couldn't turn it down - it''s my dream job after all! 

Two weeks later, when she called again to ask if I would consider being women's director for the summer, one thousand reservations flew through my head. Doubts about age, experience, judgement and loneliness persisted but after urgings from my friends and family, I accepted. 

This summer has been phenomenal already. Going into week seven, I can't help but look back on a summer filled with amazing campers, silly stories, times of conflict and resolution, and many conquered challenges. But as always, the staff is what truly makes this place special. 

We had a near perfect staff team last year and so I was rather hesitant at the prospects of sixty new college students entering the Kivu gates. However, the staff this year, as always, has blown me away. I'm so incredibly blessed to work over and alongside such joyful, servant-hearted, fun men and women of God. 

These pictures were captured during our fifth of July celebration with my new 50mm lens. It was nice to finally have a real camera back in my hands. 

I love this place. I love these people. 

The full gallery of these pictures can be found (as always) on my photography page

To Hyphenate Or Not To Hyphenate

  

"Mom, I'm soooo sad about having to take on a new last name," I whined over the phone. Although I think double names are a ridiculous and I would never consider keeping my own last name after Nate and I get married, I am a little bit sad about giving up my maiden name. 

"Amber, stop being dramatic," my mom said in reply, but I could hear her smile over the phone. I knew it was a phone conversation she would share with my dad later that evening. 

I know it's a little dramatic, but what can I say? Kairalla is a cool last name! Plus, there's only one Amber Kairalla in the world, while there are about 136 Amber Andrews. I know I shouldn't care, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. 

Grant, Nate's dad, frequently talks about how the nature of marriage calls the man to leave his family and become one with his new wife's family. Often times, this has been a point of reassurance when I feel guilty for pulling Nate away from his own home. However, whenever I put aside my affinity for foreign last names, and really think on what it means to take Nate's last name, I get incredibly excited. 

The Trio of Doom_A.jpg

Taking the name Andrew means gaining a new brother who is honestly a cooler, sassier, and smaller version of Nate. Although he denies any sort of hipster leanings, Gavin spends most of his time climbing, playing with pocket knives and dressing remarkably well for a fifteen year old. His confidence, since of adventure, bravery, humor and wisdom have him on his way to being the next Alex Honnold (if he doesn't kill himself first) . I'm also pretty sure that he'll never let me live down the fact that I couldn't remember where the water glasses were kept for the first year that Nate and I dated. He'll be lucky if a girl is ever cool enough to date him.

Taking the name Andrew means gaining a new sister to dream, adventure, talk and party with. It's rare to find someone who is so full of talent, beauty, strength and passion as Olivia. She makes me laugh with her ability to tell twelve different stories without taking a breath and makes me cry with her heartfelt and genuine musical talent. Plus, she manages all that while being entirely authentic and true to her Colorado mountain girl self. Also, I'm not sure I've ever met anyone who thinks Nate is as cool as I do. She'll have to tell all of her girlfriends that her hot brother is most definitely taken.

Taking the name Andrew means gaining a dad whose wisdom, humor, passion and intentionality result in dreaming big, beautiful music, hard work, meaningful late night conversations and a high priority on people and their stories. It means gaining a mom whose whose love, care, strength, beauty and practicality result in care packages of herbal remedies, slow mornings, reassuring smiles, remarkable thrift store finds and warm hugs. When I look at them I see two people who taught and grew the man I love, I see two people who set an admirable and sometimes intimidating picture of marriage and parenthood, and I see two people who will make the best of grandparents. And yes, I really just wrote this post to see if I could make Grant cry. 

Taking the name Andrew means gaining several more loving grandparents and adventures on the eastern side of the United States. It means learning to like yeast on my popcorn, be more of a night person, avoid meat and drink more coffee than I ever thought possible. It means gaining an entire group of family friends who are inspiring, encouraging and so very fun. It means gaining two fluffy, friendly and fun puppies. It means eating the best tomato soup I've ever tasted and dreaming bigger with every consecutive day. It means appreciating good music and it means a lot more input on wedding plans. It's a blessing and honor to become part of their family and join their journey toward a more authentic and beautiful life.

I guess you could also say it's pretty cool that it means gaining a husband too ;). 

Now, there's only one thing left: It's Andrew NOT Andrews. 

These pictures were taken with my Canon 7d and a 50mm f/1.4 lens - ironically at the same place where Nate proposed. They are unedited and unfiltered and a perfect representation of the uniqueness of the Andrew family. 

The original archive of these photos can be found here (you'd better enjoy them while you can because I have no intention of ever becoming a portrait photographer). 

Roxborough State Park

Nate decided to go shooting with some friends for the day.

At first I planned on calling some girl friends and either having a craft day or going on a short road trip, but instead, I decided to spend the day in silence. 

I packed four granola bars, a full water bottle, a rain jacket and a bag of candied pecans and I set off for the mountains. After I paid my six dollars to get through the gate, I drove down the winding dirt road that led into Roxbourough State Park. The rocks loomed on both sides and I was overwhelmed with the repeating line in my head: Colorado is so weird.

Just hours before I was surrounded by the hustle of the inner city, but now I found myself in the midst of trees, deer and blue Colorado skies. The sun felt like summer. I left my phone on airplane mode and made myself forget to bring my headphones. I intentionally stopped frequently. I pushed myself through 8 miles of hiking. I rested at the top and forgot about my watch. I even paused and took a short nap on a bench. 

I would have to say I had a pretty good weekend. 

All of these pictures were taken in the park (on my iPhone 4s) , which I highly recommend you check out (the park, not the iPhone). The original archive of these photos can be found here. 

He Lost The Ring*

* Spoiler alert!

It all began on Thursday, December 21st, 2011 as I sat by the fire in that leather chair. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend at the time. To be completely honest, I was incredibly content being single. All around me were signs of a Kairalla Christmas preparation, including the large tree in the corner, the stack of stockings waiting to be filled, and the steaming cup of peppermint tea sitting beside me. It was an extreme luxury to be awake after everyone was in bed - to enjoy the total silence. The beautiful patterns on the above ceiling caused by the flickering flames caught my attention for a moment, but my thoughts soon drifted back to the text conversation at hand. 

My phone buzzed again. 

"We should talk at the Lion's Den tomorrow," I read. 

"Wanna ask Maggs or Claire? Or just us?" I quickly responded. I didn't want to assume. 

The response came only seconds later, "I was thinking just us." 

My heart skipped. Nate and I were just friends! Just days before I had even told him that I wasn't looking for a boyfriend before I left for college. He seemed understanding then, however, I couldn't help but hope that he had forgotten that little conversation. I was starting to second guess my own former plans.

"This whole not dating thing, could turn into us dating really quick." I slowly typed. 

His response popped up on my phone screen, "I know. That's kind of what I wanted to talk about."

///

As the majority of my readers know, Nate and I became boyfriend and girlfriend the following day. Our closest friends were accepting, but continually reprimanded us for our excessive flirting. Our family was also supportive, but vaguely confused as to the quick nature of our relationship. 

The two years that followed were filled with the stereotypical highs and lows of an intentional and committed relationship. There was the time I told him to "go ahead and kiss me" (for the first time) on the top of a mountain. There was the time when we attempted to summit a peak covered in snow, the time when we re-textured and painted my entire garage, and the time when we helped each other move to a new city. There were the tearful phone conversations while we were 1000 miles away, the two night backpacking trips through creepy river valleys, the heated conversations about money and budgeting on grocery store aisles, the yearly anniversary trips to East By Southwest for sushi, and a long and difficult summer at Kivu. There were even the unfortunate late night homework dates. 

///

Exactly two years, three months and seven days after that initial Lion's Den date, Nate asked once again if I would like to talk. He convincingly insisted that we rarely get time to hang out alone in Durango, let alone at the Lion's Den. I willingly conceded. As soon as we pulled up, I raced up the gravely hill and plopped down in our familiar look out spot.

Nate followed suit. Soon he was standing behind me, embracing me in his arms and resting his chin on my shoulder. We sat in silence for several moments. There were so many memories in this place and in this town. One of our favorite past times has always been to sit in silence, tracing the familiar driving routes with our eyes - the way to our high school, the direction of home, the many paths to get to the river, or the bright roof tops of our favorite restaurants. 

"Do you see anyone you know down there?" I asked without turning around. I was referencing another one of our games where I quiz Nate about his unhealthy car addiction. I still find it hard to believe that he can remember the car of every person he's ever met, but I have yet to stump him on one. 

"Not yet." He replied casually. 

The breeze picked up and I wished for the third time already that I had brought a blanket. I pulled Nate closer. 

"I'll be right back. I' m going to go get my phone out of the car," he said abruptly.

"For what?" I said, turning around, but he was already half way down the hill. We almost always intentionally leave our phones in the car, but I wasn't too curious. 

The next thing I knew, I turned around to find him down on one knee, red in the face and grinning bashfully. "Well, I have a predicament," he said. 

"And what's that?" I replied. By then I had a pretty good idea of what was coming, but what came out of his mouth next was the very last thing I expected. 

"I wanted to ask you to marry me, but I lost the ring!"

The next twenty minutes were a flurry of disbelief, hugs, giggles and a gravelly search for a tiny gold ring without a box. Even though I didn't know what I was looking for, we eventually found it. 

Nate got down on one knee once again, and I said yes!

How did he loose the ring? Well, not wanting me to feel or see it and guess what was coming, Nate put the ring into what he thought was an inside pocket. Unfortunately, that "pocket" wasn't really a pocket at all. So when he went to put his keys in and take the ring out, the keys hit the ground, and panic set in. As he walked back to the car "to get his phone" he searched frantically, dreading the thought of having to go ring shopping again. When he couldn't find it, he decided making a good story was a better option than waiting to propose another time. 

I personally think it's a great story! 

///

So, yes. We're engaged. 

Nate and I have been entirely overwhelmed by the love and support we've received these past couple of weeks! Thank you so much for being the best group of family and friends we could ask for. Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we finish up the school year, begin planning a wedding and look forward to a summer at Camp Kivu. No worries... as soon as we have a date and location for the wedding, you guys will know. 

#meettheandrews

** The top photo is where Nate proposed, but is not mine. It was found on Durango.com. The second photo was taken on my iPhone 4S on a different mountain top, two days later. 

Spring Break 2014

Nate and I went back and forth for weeks trying to decide what to do for spring break. 

One of the stipulations that I gave for moving to Denver was that we go back to Santa Barbara for spring break. However, come mid-winter, plans began to fall through - flights were expensive, a rental car was a non option because of our age, the drive was long and it overall looked to be more expensive that we originally thought. 

We decided instead to go to Mabank, TX with my family to visit my grandparents. Because we were unable to get together around the holidays, and because I will be busy all summer at Camp Kivu, it ended up being a great option. Plus, Nate got to experience his very first Kairalla family road trip. 

Our week was filled with sleeping in, jetskiing, golf, too much popcorn, swimming, boating, playing pool, monopoly, family dinners, movie nights on the big screen, bike rides and a lot of time riding on the golf carts. My grandparents' house is practically a resort!

PS: I'm still getting to go to California this spring to visit my sister Claire in Laguna Beach. I'm beyond stoked and I already have my bag packed! Lots of pictures coming soon! 

A couple of these pictures were taken on my iPhone but the majority of them were taken by my brother Harrison on his iPhone #photocred. They can also be found in my photo archive under Mabank, TX // Spring Break 2014. 

On our drive from Denver to Durango, we stopped briefly in the middle of the Colorado high country. Great Sand Dunes National Park will always be one of my favorite places. Here are the few shots I snapped. 

And finally, no Kairalla road trip would be complete without eighteen Sophie-selfies for your viewing pleasure.

Spring Has Come

/ the time for mud pies and puddle hopping.
/ the time for lake swimming ducklings and surprisingly green fields. 
/ the time for soft pastels and days growing in length. 
/ the time for spring cleaning and the transition to iced tea and coffee. 
/ the time for summer anticipation and the smell of new mulch.
/ the time for wardrobe changing and homework procrastination. 
/ the time for road trip plans and daffodils. 
/ the time for freezing when you walk to your car because you can't bear to wear your coat for one more day.
/ the time for the temptation of piles of berries down grocery store aisles. 
/ the time for garden planning and packing boots into the back of your closet. 
/ the time for rising snow-melt creeks. 

Spring has come. It's time. 

This original post/archive can be found here.

Breckenridge, CO

I'm addicted to weekend road trips. Sorry, not sorry! 

This past weekend, Nate and I travelled two hours to Silverthorne and Breckenridge. We drove through the eisenhower tunnel, rode a gondola in melty snow, took a romantic downtown walk, ate burgers at the original Breckenridge brewery and pretend like we were in Frozen as we walked through an ice castle.

At least I pretended I was in Frozen. I'm not sure about Nate. 

On our way back, we accidentally detoured through Arapahoe Basin. It was my favorite part of the trip. We listened to a newly downloaded hits playlist while taking way too many pictures and growing extremely jealous of all of the back-country skiers. We then made it a priority to stop and play in the freshly fallen powder. I'm dreadfully out of shape and our snowshoe trip was cut short, but it was absolutely breathtaking. 

New priority: get in better shape so I can be faster than Nate when we're backpacking, snowshoeing, climbing or running. Or at least keep up. 

I posted a lot of pictures of Nate. What can I say? I think he's cute. Again, sorry, not sorry!

All of these pictures were taken on mine or Nate's iPhones and edited with VSCOCAM. I really need to start using my real camera more. Stinking Apple just HAD to come out with such a phenomenal cell phone camera!

To see the original gallery post/archive click here. 

Denver, CO // New Years 2014

I had plans to drive back to Denver (from home in Durango) for the 2014 New Year. It was important to me to be with my friends from camp, all in the same place. We had some amazing catch up conversations, and it was a great time to see all of the people that shared an amazing summer with me! 

What I didn't foresee in the trip was the opportunity to hang out with some of my best friends from high school. Showing Maggie, Jordan, Claire, Adam and Brandon around Denver was an absolute blast. And even though we only had a couple of days, we hit up chipoltle, chick-fil-a twice, two different thrift stores, Steam espresso bar and 16th street mall. 

A lot of eating. A lot of laughing. 

All of these pictures were taken on my iPhone 4S. 

PS: Aren't Claire and Adam so cute?!

The original archive/post of these pictures can be found here

Durango, CO // Winter 2014

Durango in the winter is familiar views bundled with front porch furniture sitting. It's cold air against your face as you speed down the ski hill, drive with the windows down or ride your bike across town. It's mountain climbing under stark blue Colorado skies. It's river walks and downtown lights, antique mountain train whistles and chimney smoke covered valleys. It's snow driving, homemade bread, tree climbing, familiar locations, late night campfires and bundled snowshoe hikes.

It's prime Instagram footage. 

Durango is home. It always will be. 

All pictures were taken on my iPhone and edited with VSCOCAM. 

To view the original gallery/archive, click here. 

Denver, CO // Fall 2013

Moving to Denver was hard.

I'm not going to lie.

However, I've slowly fallen in love with the rainy falls, the city skyline and the many hipster coffee shops that fill this city. Although Nate and I dream almost daily of moving back to Durango, this city is absolutely perfect to serve as home for a time. 

These pictures show a wide diversity of what our fall in Denver looked like - floods, an evening in boulder, colorful trees, a baseball game, homework in coffee shops, afternoon nannying, pizza outings and our daily view as we drive to school. 

All of these pictures were taken on my iPhone 4S. 

The original archive of these photos can be found here. 

Website Restructure

Dear Readers, 

I recently restructured my website so that posts will be featured both in my portfolio AND here on my blog. That way, it will be much easier to search or follow my posts through an RSS reader or through BlogLovin!

If you would like to see past posts and archives, please look through my portfolio pages. 

I look forward to sharing my writing and camera work with you in the future!

<3

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