Around The World // Amber Carlson - Arizona, USA

April 29, 2014

Hi friends! Sorry I've been MIA once again. I'm still trying to figure out a good balance between work (eugh), motherhood and just the usual everyday things that life keep surprising me with! I promise I'll get back into the swing of things soon but for today, I have a lovely friend showing off her part of the world.

Remember this? This is where I first got to know Amber and ever since then, we have been emailing and Instagramming each other like there's no tomorrow! Amber is one of the warmest, most kindest people I've ever met. You know that feeling where you just KNOW you're going to really love someone? I had that feeling almost instantly with this lady. We live on opposite sides of the world and even though we haven't known each other for that long, it feels like we are the closest of friends - picking up where we left off with every email we send. Truly a special friendship!

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello there, Life & Co friends. I'm so happy to be here today - thank you so much for having me, Nia!

Greetings from the American Southwest! My name is Amber, and I live in Arizona, USA.  My husband and I have lived in four different states (and 7 different houses) in 11 years of marriage, but I am hoping this is our last stop for a while! We moved to Chandler (a suburb of Phoenix), AZ, in September of last year when my husband took a job as executive pastor of a growing church plant here in the East Valley. I had no idea how much I would love the desert, but I do love it very much. It's been such a great move for our family.

What do you like best about where you live and why?

I am enchanted by the raw beauty of the desert. Before moving here, I could only picture expanses of sand and the occasional cactus. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of vibrant color in the desert. I love all the sculptural succulents and colorful plants that grow here.

I know bougainvillea grows in many places all over the world, but this is the first place I have lived where it's everywhere. I LOVE it!

This prickly pear cactus is pretty all year, but I especially love the yellow flowers that bloom in the spring.

The sunsets here are unbelievable. One of these days I'm going to be in just the right place at just the right time and take a really good picture of one. But for now, here is a picture from our back yard... Imagine these clouds and colors in a panoramic view with mountains and palm trees in the distance. It's like paradise!

Because Phoenix is surrounded by mountains, there are plenty of good hiking trails. We have been a couple of times, and it's something I want to do more regularly. It's also pretty amazing how much there is to see and do within a 5 or 6 hour driving distance from where we live. There is plenty of natural beauty right in our state and I'm hoping for a trip to the Grand Canyon soon! I'm also looking forward to some road trips to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas at some point.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I can be quite the homebody if allowed. I love to read and write and create. I love anything that involves paper, scissors, and glue. I loveeeeee paper!

If you're an Instagram friend, then you know I also LOVE letters and happy mail. Over the past couple of years, I have made letter writing my main hobby. I realized a few years ago that I just didn't have enough time or money for everything on my things-to-make and projets-to-try lists (which grew ridiculously long with blog reading and Pinterest) and that I needed to limit myself to one or two things that I was really passionate about. I gave up the notion of ever learning to sew (at least not for a while), decided to only throw simple parties (at least until my kids were old enough to enjoy the party planning process with me), and let go of any guilt over not scrapbooking or doing more formal memory keeping (even though all of my paper crafting supplies would lend themselves so well to that hobby). Basically, I decided that from that point on I would make envelopes and write letters. I started by catching up with family and friends and trying to be regular about sending birthday cards.  Then I found a whole community of letter writers on Instagram, and all of a sudden I had over a dozen pen pals and new friends from all over the world.

I'm currently on a little break from pen palling, as I try to get caught up on thank-yous that need to be written and belated birthday cards that need to be sent, and 3 kids and a husband that need a mom and wife! But I am so thankful for the great community on Instagram.  That's where I've met lovely friends and kindred spirits like Nia!

Tell us a bit about your creative space.

For the first few months after we moved to this house that we are currently renting, all of my craft supplies were stored in our master closet. Then around Christmas time, everything came out and lived on the kitchen counters, as I was in project mode that whole month. Since then I have decided to make our front room (what we call our library) my creative space, even though this is a room that has to be kept tidy. I am a very messy crafter, but I have found that if I have my things viewable and accessible within arm's reach of my workspace, I will actually put them away when I am done and be able to find them the next time I need them. If I keep everything tucked away in bins and boxes, I will empty it all out while creating and never put anything back where it belongs.

This room is my favorite room of the house. It has beautiful light, a wall of shuttered windows overlooking the back patio and pool.

It also has room for 3 Ikea bookcases side-by-side (hence, the room's designation as library). Here I have a work desk in close proximity to wherever the kids might be at the moment (they happen to end up in here quite a lot as well as it seems we all love this room!).

One shelf just for sequins and confetti - because they are pretty to look at and because they are fun to toss into packages and letters.

A little ledge for my card catalogue, typewriter, and favorite Rifle art print.

The desk has a very large drawer that pulls out with tons of compartments which has enough room for all the basics, like scissors, glue, postage stamps, pencils and pens, stickers... and of course more stamps, wax seals, glitter, notecards and tags, and all sorts of little papery odds and ends.

Where is your one happy place?

In addition to my aforementioned love for our "library," my love for our back patio is a close second.  

I wake up to the sound of the waterfall in the pool and it's such a nice calming start to the day. The kids swim almost everyday and I like to come out here just to sit and feel the sun on my face. 

My husband and I have also started an almost weekly tradition of at-home date night, where we have a drink and relax in the spa after the kids are in bed. It feels rather luxurious and yet we're right in our own backyard.  I'm so thankful for this house that we get to enjoy for a year or two. It is the perfect place for us right now.

Outside of home, my happy place is any library, bookstore, or coffee shop! I love to be alone in a crowd, get lost in my thoughts or a good book, make lists and plans, and people watch. 

Name 3 people that constantly inspire you.

Can I say 3 kinds of people that inspire me? This might be cheating, but here you go:  grandmothers, makers, and hospitable people.

Grandmothers (my and my husband's specifically, though I feel grandmothers in general share many of these same qualities) - because they are so thoughtful and remember birthdays and honor special occasions with a timely handwritten card. As much as I love letter writing and value this kind of thoughtfulness, I am not often so punctual or regular about it. I aspire to be more like my grandmothers in a dependably thoughtful way.

Makers - because I just get so inspired seeing what other people make, no matter what it is. If I see someone working in a garage or driveway, I want to walk right up and snoop around and see what they are up to. When I see other customers in a paper store, I want to ask them what they are making with their basket full of supplies. This is one huge appeal of Instagram - getting a peek into what so many different creatives are making!

Hospitable people - because I really admire people that open their life and home up to friends, family, and strangers, welcoming others and living in community. They inspire me to grow in this area and to view my home as a place to serve and love others, not just as a place of comfort and refuge for myself.  

Thank you for your hospitality today, Nia!  I've really enjoyed being here with you.

And you are all welcome in my little corner of the internet anytime.  Any friend of Nia's is a friend of mine.


[Follow Amber - Blog / Instagram / Pinterest]


  1. A stamp drawer???? GENIUS!!!!!!

    1. I know right! My stamps are just lying around everywhere in the corners of drawers... sigh

    2. Hahaha. I have stamps EVERYwhere! They're one of my favorite crafting tools. :)

  2. I enjoyed this so much, Nia! Your kind introduction warmed my heart. I hope you know the feeling is mutual! I'm so thankful for inspiring, kind, welcoming friends like you. xoxo

    1. Thank YOU for working on this post for me! I'm so thankful to have met such wonderful kind hearted people like you through the internet - who would've thought?! xxx

  3. Oh Amber your desk drawers are just lovely! I wish mine were that organised and sweet looking!!! :p

    1. Thank you so much, Dee! I'm afraid it's an illusion, tho, because of all the compartments! And because they are not where I keep ALL of my stuff. :) I try to just keep the things I need handy and the things that have no other home in there. Thanks so much for saying hello!

    2. Hahaha Dee - as I read that, I imagined what your drawers would look like...

  4. It's nice to see someone else who just loves spending time at home!!! :)

    1. Thank you, Sasha! Hooray for fellow homebodies. :)

  5. Lovely home you have Amber! You can't tell you've got kids, everything is so neatly packed hahaha. You should see mine - it's a bomb at most of the time.

    1. Thank you so much, Laura. But don't be fooled--these pics were of one wall in the home (and not the Lego-covered floor behind the camera!). You should see it--laundry on the couch waiting to be folded and toys all over the floor in front of the desk. And I am very good at setting off crafting bombs. :) Thank you for saying hello!