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The blog of Elias & Theresa Carlson

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31 Things: LB to ID


The last time I wrote one of these birthday posts (30 Things: Theresa) I opened it with the phrase, “So much has happened since 29 Things. Another year and a new city…” At the time I figured Theresa and I would settle into a 3-5 year stretch in sunny Southern California before resettling one last time in Priest River, Idaho, Theresa’s hometown and the place we figured we’d eventually settle down for good. I had no idea how much unexpected change the next year was to bring. Another year and a new (old for her) small logging town…

After a mere 11 months in the land of tacos, beaches, and eternal sunshine, tragedy pushed our Idaho timeline up far sooner than we could’ve possibly imagined. In the blink of an eye we relocated Priest River to spend as much time as possible with Theresa’s dad as he battled melanoma. We lost him in June, one day before my birthday. This year Theresa’s birthday will be bittersweet as well since September 25th is also Dan’s birthday, and this will be our first without him.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life so far, it’s that if you allow them to, difficult times make the good times just a little bit sweeter. It doesn’t make sorrow any easier, but when it comes time to smile, the smile comes from a deeper, truer place. I’m sure we will shed a few tears this birthday, but I know the smiles will quickly follow.

With that in mind, here are 31 of my very favorite things about Theresa, who more often than not is the reason I’m smiling.

1. She’s the kind of girl who’d leave the beach and the sunshine (her favorite things) at the drop of a hat and move across the country to support her family
2. Late night conversations about life, death, loss and God.
3. Sharing her small childhood bedroom in our future house
4. Armchair psychology
5. She’s just as excited about buying an old ’78 Ford F150 pickup as I am
6. When she makes me scoot closer to her on the couch so she can drape her legs over mine.
7. Her tenacity in cleaning a gross old buffalo skull so it will be beautiful enough to hang on our wall
8. Our future miniature donkey, Maraschino
9. Her worker bee attitude
10. How when she finds a new instagram of someone’s cute animal or child, and then proceeds to shove her phone in my face for the next 15 minutes so I don’t miss a single photo. Typically accompanied by, “Look at how wild (name of animal/child) is being in this one!”
11. One of her top priorities is making sure we have a 4WD vehicle capable of taking friends and family with us on our favorite hikes
12. Her unabashed love for the pickling cukes we grew in our garden
13. I just can’t wait to see what she does with a whole house, after all these years of making our apartments look amazing
14. She reads the social/political commentary I can’t seem to stop posting on Facebook and doesn’t think I’m crazy or weird, and always has insightful things to say about the topic
15. When we spend 2 days holed up in our tent for our anniversary she never complains and we still have a blast
16. Pony Draw Poker
17. She works as hard as any of the guys when we bring in the firewood for the winter
18. How much she loves Amos (the family black lab) and personally puts him to bed every night so she can get one last snuggle in
19. After 8 years of marriage she’s still letting me pull off the road in random places and patiently posing for pictures
20. She tried to get me to smuggle some driftwood out of Canada (I talked her out of it. This time…)
21. There’s no one I’d rather share a cup of coffee and a pastry with on a drizzly Saturday morning
22. Road trips to Seattle, just the two of us
23. How badass she looks in her dad’s old Frostline aluminum frame backpack
24. She always wants to watch TV while we work out, but she’ll put on music instead because she knows I can’t concentrate if there are bright lights and motion in my field of vision
25. Chinups
26. Her fine collection of animal skulls
27. The way she smiles at me when I do stupid dances to extremely un-danceable TV show theme songs
28. Trips to the Winter Ridge natural food store in Sand Point
29. Yard/Estate sale shopping on old country roads. Lots of duds, and a few gems
30. When I have to get out of bed to throw a tshirt over the tiny, faint LED light on her laptop because it’s keeping her awake
31. How adorable she looks in an oversized beanie (seriously, look at that picture)



We apologize for the silence these days. Some of you may know that we recently made a quick move from Long Beach to Priest River, Idaho, the town where I grew up. This was not in the plans, not yet at least. We knew that some day we would settle down near my parents in the forests of North Idaho, but this was more of a five year plan, we thought.

We found out at Christmas that my Dad’s cancer had returned and the prognosis is not good. We decided instantly that it was time to move back. We took a week to head back to Long Beach with Andrea (my sister) and pack up our things. We loaded our cars, lined up a truck to bring the rest of our belongings and said goodbye to our dear friends in Southern California.

Andrea now lives in her childhood bedroom and Elias has joined me in mine. It is a tight fit as we squeeze ourselves and our belongings into a space that was made for two young girls, not two women and a man. But we need to be here. We need to spend this time with our Dad, as short or as long as this time is.

We are excited for this new season and look forward to all it has to hold. We have looked forward to the day that we will live here and have dreamed of having a yard, a small garden, maybe even some chickens (if Elias gets his way). We are excited to experience all of the seasons to their fullest; snow, sun, and rain. We are excited to hike and to camp and to be near some new places. This will be hard but we know it will also be incredible in ways we can’t even imagine.

Things might be slow around here for a while as we adjust to our new surroundings and extremely slow internet. We appreciate those of you who keep checking in on us as we settle in, and we hope to bring you beautiful pieces of our new life. We appreciate as many prayers as you are willing to send our way.

Brown Paper Packages

Gift wrap 4

We are leaving on Sunday for our Christmas adventures so I have now moved on from the shopping stage to the wrapping stage of gift giving. For the most part I stick with “brown paper packages tied up with string” – birthday, wedding, Christmas… with the right ribbon, brown paper works for everything and keeping wrapping paper stocked is pretty simple.

I’m pretty sure I started using brown paper because my mom used it for Christmas gift wrapping at some point. I once described my mom’s file cabinet to a friend and she said (I paraphrase) “Your mom was ‘pinning’ in her file cabinet before the internet”. Its true. She had a file for vacation spots, a file for Christmas decorations, a file for clothes she wanted to make. You name it, she had a file full of pages torn out of magazines and quick sketches she made on the back of a check balance sheet. I would bet that one of them was a picture of a gift wrapped in brown paper.

As it turns out brown paper is not only easy, its classic. Here are some fun variations on brown paper I found on the new Pinterest if you are in need of some wrapping inspiration. Best of luck as you finish your shopping and get your packages ready for Christmas!

Sources listed left to right, top to bottom:

30 Things: Theresa


Theresa is 30! You know what that means… It’s time for one of my favorite annual traditions: writing up a new list of favorite things about Theresa.

So much has happened since “Sad Songs and Birthdays” (AKA: 29 Things). Another year and a new city have provided numerous opportunities to rediscover all the ways Theresa surprises and delights me. Here are 30 of them:

1. Last year’s 29 Things #2 was this: “She wants to move to LA, or New York, or anywhere with me. Just because it’d be fun.” Well guess what. She moved to LA with me, just for fun. And it’s been wonderful.
2. Tously beach hair and salty skin.
3. She’s the best office mate ever (sorry Jeremy & Shaun)
4. Hole Mole (pronounced ho-lay mo-lay) Rosarito Tacos at least once a week, preferably twice.
5. How cute she looks in her banana rash guard.
6. Floating on our backs together as the waves wash over our bodies.
7. Carefully selecting songs for our seasonal playlists so that they don’t overlap
8. Outdoor showers under the Big Sur Redwoods
9. She makes me catch baby lizards because she wants to touch their warm dry skin
10. Learning to love a new city together
11. Mid-morning workouts
12. Leaving the air conditioner off all day out of stubbornness and then cooling ourselves at night by rubbing ice cubes all over our skin.
13. Long walks on the beach.
14. Traveling back to Seattle together to see friends and family, and visit all our favorite old spots.
15. That one time in Joshua Tree when she made us all stay up late saying nice things about each other.
16. California Road Trips!
17. She’s not afraid to learn new things like rock climbing and how to dive under the waves.
18. The upcoming Wes Anderson Halloween Party she’s been planning for the last year.
19. The way she smooths off my rough edges, and lets me smooth off hers.
20. Her undying affection for popsicles.
21. She’s on Joseph’s short list of “Women Whose Advice You Should Always Heed.” (And mine too, duh.)
22. New Chairs!
23. She’s turned our Long Beach apartment into a home just as wonderful as the one we shared in Seattle.
24. Cold Brews & Coconut Scone mornings at Lord Windsor
25. She’s the very best kind of friend, sister, aunt, and wife.
26. Her happy face when I get back from my latest trip.
27. Her instagram is always better than mine.
28. She patiently helps me shop for hiking gear when I’m completely unprepared and being a little silly.
29. She has the best ponytail.
30. After 7 years of marriage, and 30 years on this planet I find her as beautiful, witty, intelligent, wise, creative, and strong as the day I met her.

Farewell, Summer


When I was in High school, I saved my money and bought an external CD burner. This was a big deal. Computers didn’t come with built in CD burners back then and there were only a couple of Senior guys (the ones that drank two liter bottles of Mountain Dew while they did computer repairs) that even had them. Plus, this thing was about $200, that is a lot of money for someone with an after-school job at Floors and More and a clothes buying habit. But I needed it, to make mixed CDs. Thank goodness for Napster.

When we met our dear friend Jeremy he introduced us to a whole new kind of playlist. For years he has been making beautiful playlists for each season of the year. As time passes, he can bring up those playlists and be transported back to that season, re-living the feelings and memories of that time in his life. The bonus is that he has a catalog of awesome playlists that are season/weather/day appropriate. Of course, we had to do the same.

I started doing this a little over a year ago, combining Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. I have found it is not only a great way to remember a season of life, but also a great way to remember some of the artists I discover. With so much music at our fingertips it is so easy to hear something once and forget about it.

Since it is Labor Day weekend and we are about to say “farewell” to summer, I though I would share my Spring/Summer playlist. I hope you enjoy it as you soak up the last rays of summer, preferably with friends, at the beach.

Find us on Rdio:

32 Things

Picture 1

Today is Elias’ 32nd birthday. This last weekend we went to Joshua Tree and spent a few days with some of the best people around to celebrate (Jeremy, you were certainly missed). Through the years Elias’ birthday has become the perfect excuse to get some of our nearest and dearest together and take them somewhere close to our hearts. We spend our time together listening to music, eating good food, exploring nature, and growing beautiful relationships. These weekends celebrating Elias are some of my favorite memories and I hope they hold a special place in the hearts of those who have shared the experience.

This weekend while sitting around the campfire under a blanket of stars, we went around the circle and shared our favorite things about Elias. We didn’t stop with Elias but continued onto the next person, kind words of love flowed late into the night and we each took our turn on the receiving end as our dear friends pinpointed one or two things about us that they saw as a shining quality. As nice, and somewhat awkward, as it is to sit in a chair and hear a circle of people fill you with words of affirmation, it was just as good to see an individual through the eyes of another person. As I sat there and listened to our friends talk about Elias’ character and talents, I was filled with gratitude to be the one he chose to share his life with.

Though this list does not carry the weight of the words spoken around the campfire on Saturday night, here are a few of the little reasons I love Elias.

1. He doesn’t worry about things he cannot control.
2. He lies still like a mummy while I straighten the covers before bed.
3. His skin is pink, mine is yellow.
4. He is naturally athletic.
5. He loves that I hit the bullseye the first time I shot a blow gun.
6. He asks for my input on work projects.
7. He’s a bit of a nostalgic.
8. He can enjoy a meal made entirely of vegetables.
9. Baby Mouth.
10. He cares for our plants, even if sometimes too much.
11. His photo is on the cover of Another Escape magazine, and more on the inside.
12. Sometimes he can’t tell if I have already taken off my makeup at night.
13. He loves a monochromatic outfit in shades of black.
14. He doesn’t like to stir up unnecessary drama.
15. Don’t ask him to rate his pain level.
16. He loves a good period drama, usually BBC.
17. He picks because I don’t want to, but he wants me to pick so it’s what I want.
18. He orders special green tea for himself from Seattle.
19. He wakes up early to go fishing.
20. He recognizes peoples strengths.
21. He teaches me how to dive under ocean waves.
22. He is working so that I don’t have to just yet.
23. He does not fear the future.
24.  He can build a campfire in any condition with wood, a lighter, and a bit of tinder.
25.  He thinks he only needs three pairs of non-athletic shorts to live in Southern CA.
26. He is always up for helping a friend out with a project.
27. He reads to learn.
28. He is happy to eat a Rosarito taco at least once a week.
29. He works out with me. And improves his physique in one week.
30. His bony knees.
31. Car dancing – sparkle fingers, firework hands.
32. He is always striving to be a better person.

More things to love about Elias: 282930, 31

Flower Petal Volcano: Costa Rica


Have you seen these amazing photos? As a promotional ad campaign  for their new line of 4K Ultra HD TV sets, Sony blew eight million flower petals over a small town in Costa Rica. With three and a half tons of flower petals, various wind machines, and a British special effects team, Sony gives us the semblance of a volcano erupting and spilling through the town.

Can you imagine if this happened in your town? It would be a magical sight to see! You can read more information here, and watch the behind-the-scenes video here.

This isn’t the first time Sony has dome something like this. Did you see the ad in 2010 when they released thousands of rubber bouncy balls down a street in San Francisco? What about the 2008  foam city ad in Miami? Did you see the paint fireworks in Glasgow, 2006? Well done Sony.

Happy Friday to you!








Music! Video! Music Video! Tyson Motsenbocker’s Kickstarter



Last month Tyson Motsenbocker commissioned me to shoot 3 Kickstarter videos for his upcoming full-length album + book project, Letters to Lost Loves. We had a blast in the studio and I’m completely thrilled with the final product. I can’t wait to hear the full album.

There will be two more videos coming out in the next few weeks, each of which is a live-take of a brand new song from the album. Stay tuned!

If you’d like to make the world a better, more beautiful place, get yourself on over to his Kickstarter page and contribute.

Living Room Mood Board


A couple of weeks ago I applied and was selected to interview for a creative position with an interior designer/blogger. In the end, the position was given to someone else but I am thrilled to have been in the running.

As part of the application process I was asked to create a mood board of my living room, either as the room is, or what I would like it to be. It was fun activity that forced me to take a critical look at our space and recognize the patterns and themes that have developed through years of collecting, rearranging, and replacing.

The bottom left-hand photo of the yellow Chesterfield sofa as well as the photo of the cactus alcove above are both photos of our current living room. The rest of the images were curated to represent the aesthetic of the room. There is no question that the sofa is the focal point of the room, closely followed by Bruce, the buffalo hide.

As a general rule, I gravitate towards mid century modern with splashes of color and a healthy dose of plant life.  Through this practice I found that yellows and greens are dominant in our space and texture plays a big role in the feel of the room. I have always been an extremely tactile person, this plays out in the leather sofa, buffalo hide rug, wool pillow cases, natural wood, plant life, etc. It is one thing for a space to be pleasing to the eye, but if you can also touch what you see, the overall experience is elevated.

At the end of the day, we want our living room to be cozy and comfortable. Some of the most meaningful moments in our life together have been spent in this room with the people we love. Our door is open!

Adventures in Skateboarding


During our years in Seattle Elias and I accumulated a longboard and a skateboard. Elias rode the longboard regularly for about one summer. Unfortunately the wet Seattle climate put a damper on our best laid plans and the skateboards spent most of their time in our storage unit. When we cleaned it out before the move to Long Beach we got rid of about half of its contents, but the skateboards made the cut.

Elias gave me my first lesson a couple of weeks after the move and we have been making good use of them ever since. They were functional but not much to look at so we decided to give them an update. We bought some paint, sanded them down and practiced up on our painting skills. My board (I should say Elias’ longboard that he kindly lets me use) became a prickly pear and his became a kaleidoscope of patterns and colors.

Before and After:



Elias: It’s funny how certain possessions really stick with you over the years. My very first skateboard was a white Toys ‘R’ Us special, with a big picture of Bart Simpson grinning up at me, the words “Official Bart Simpson Vehicle of Destruction” circling his head. It was quite possibly the coolest gift a 9 year old could’ve received. Sadly it didn’t last long. A friend chickened out on a hill, bailed, and sent it shooting into oncoming traffic. My dreams of becoming a pro skater were reduced to a handful of splinters.

A few years later I got my second board, a hand-me-down from a neighborhood boy a few years older than I. I don’t remember what was on it, only that it had neon green plastic rails on the underside, and that it was FAST. The Bart Simpson board was cool, but it was hardly a quality board. This board was the real deal. I spent hours whizzing around our cul-de-sac, often using the neighbor’s elevated driveway as my personal rocket launcher. Cool as that board was, it wasn’t quite what I wanted. It was an old-school style with a wide tail, and fat wheels. I could really fly on it, but I couldn’t get it off the ground.

Sometime in 9th grade I got my third board. A bonafide trick board, with a rounded nose and tail, and smaller wheels. Perfect for learning to ollie over small obstacles in the center of the cul-de-sac. My friend Geoff and I skated all over the suburbs we called home looking for good parking lots to practice our shove-its, kickflips, and grinds. It was a glorious time, and one of my first real tastes of freedom. With a good friend, time to kill, and a skateboard the world is yours for the taking.

Eventually though, basketball became an all-consuming obsession and my skateboard spent more and more time in the garage. When I turned 16 and started driving it really sealed the deal. I dabbled again briefly in college, but it didn’t last long and I never really touched a skateboard again until Theresa bought me the longboard for cruising around Greenlake, and as you know, that really only lasted one summer.

And now I’m almost 32 and I’ve rediscovered the joy of skateboarding all over again. Turns out Long Beach is really flat, and always sunny. And I have a cute friend, and just enough time to kill in the evenings. I’m not nearly as good at tricks, but that’s OK. There’s nothing quite like cruising along the beach boardwalk at sunset. I guess sometimes you have to grow up to rediscover the good stuff you thought you’d left behind.



Theresa: Most afternoons when Elias is finished with work, we pack up our boards and head down to the beach to skate along the path next to the ocean. I would like to think that I caught on fairly quickly but really I have no one to compare myself to. Long Beach is the perfect place to learn because the boardwalk is smooth and flat and there are fewer people than at the more popular beaches. Now that I’ve gotten used to cruising along on flat ground I have been working on hills and braking with my foot.

So far there have been no falls, and only one ride in which I thought I, or some other unfortunate soul, might die. We took a trip to the Rose Bowl and I was promised the ride was flat. To the more advanced skateboarder that may feel like the case, but to a beginner like me it felt like life and death. Granted the hill was not steep, however it was a long slope in which I continued to gain speed before the path leveled out at the bottom. As I gained speed, my board started to wobble a bit which did not boost the confidence of someone who is sometimes challenged on flat ground.

As I was flying down the hill on a wobbly board at somewhere between 15-25mph it felt manageable, but I started to notice that though I had gotten a nice stretch with minimal pedestrians, there were gathering groups of people at the bottom of the hill that I would have to navigate and I would only pick up more speed before I get to them. I started to imagine the scenarios that may ensue: 1) I will run into someone at a high speed, knocking them and myself to the ground causing damage to us both. 2) I will try to dodge someone and loose my balance and my body will skid along the ground while my board whizzes into either a person or a car, neither good. 3) I could always veer out into the street to avoid a person, but since I am not balanced enough to look behind me while flying down the hill, I will be veering out into the street blindly and risk getting hit by a car.

Reflecting on the ride, I am not sure how I managed without hurting myself or another person. I was pleased to have made it around in one piece but it will be a while before someone cons me into the Rose Bowl again (ahem, Joseph)! Despite my harrowing ride down the hill of doom, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to skateboard. It makes me feel less like I am almost thirty and gave me a fine reason to buy checkered Vans like a teenager. Win Win.