Van Life Currently December 2017

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about what’s up with my van.

I had a good trip to JFK in late November I’ve been working on it slow and steady. The inside was already converted and had the electric done, so the hardest parts were taken care of.

What I realized after JFK was that the bed in it, while very comfortable and big, was not going to be very functional for van living. The van was converted as a vacation, road trip vehicle, and it’s perfect for that. I had other plans. After looking online and at other resources for a week or two, I narrowed down what I wanted: a bed parallel to the van, with a fold up table and two storage compartments underneath. You can find the design I went with here.

Before I worked on the bed, I wanted to get solar panels installed. Luckily, this time coincided with my birthday, so my gifts from family for both my birthday and Christmas helped me pay for the panels. These will come in handy when I do not have access to electricity.

My schedule is tight, something I’ll talk about in a future post, so making time to work on it was a priority on my days off. Thankfully, it’s my dad’s slow season on the farm, and he offered to help. Selfishly, part of working on the van is a way to spend more time with my dad. Of course, I am not transitioning to van life because of this, but it is a huge benefit. There aren’t many crossovers in our lives, so this is special.

A few weeks ago I drew up a rough build plan and my dad got wood and screws from his farm supplier. I am very lucky that my dad is a farmer and therefore has the tools I needed to build. I realize not as many people have this option, so it is harder to get work done.

I must preface this by saying, we did not remove the old bed. I had it removed and taken to the reuse center when I got the solar panels installed from HiWay HiFi. I also got Reflectix (window insulation) done as well. I measured the area I wanted the bed to be and fit it into the layout of the van. After that, it was cutting, remeasuring and reworking my plans as we went using my dads knowledge and also just what worked better for my van. We had to get different hinges and add a few reinforcements here and there, but largely, I’m happy with what we got.

The mattress I will be using also folds up into a chair. I have yet decided whether I will add another piece of plywood to increase the surface area of the table. It also needs some sanding, but it’s in my van and cozy.

I have not slept on it yet, as we finished it yesterday. I am also now able to put in shelves and storage now that the major piece of hardware is in.

A few questions I’ve gotten:

How will I keep warm?

Electric hook up and solar panel electricity at night, Mr. Buddy propane heater. Friends houses if we get a bad storm.

How will I cook?

Coleman stove. But mostly I will eat from work. I benefit from food service, a work perk is free food that would get tossed. I consider that benefit better than a pay increase at times.

How will I use the bathroom/shower/laundry?

I work at a 24 hour gym, giving me ample showering and laundry facilities. I have jobs that provide me with help making van life more manageable. I am also not doing this without support. My community is great and a lot of friends have offered amenities if I need them. I am lucky.

Ok, that’s all I’ve got, any questions, send them my way!

My Podcast Interview is LIVE!

A few months ago, I spent a weekend running at Bristol ski mountain with a few Rochester friends. That hill workout was my first workout back from a mostly unstructured off season.

I wrote about that here.

After the workout, my coach and I ate breakfast with Chris O’Brian, local running and podcast legend in Rochester. We then spent an hour or so podcasting for his show Running Inside Out. I had a lot of fun recounting a few races, talking about rest days and remembering why I love to run.

Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Recent Eats August 2017

I really love to cook. Honestly I don’t even care if what comes out is particularly spectacular, it just makes me feel so relaxed to get in the kitchen. Since moving back to Ithaca and having a larger space to work with, it has been a great joy to actually bust out the Pinterest recipe boards and get my hands messy.

I’ve attempted a few new things over the past month, and thought I’d share them, along with some other sandwich porn from my lunches at CTB.

First and foremost, I made seitan!!! This was a the biggest accomplishment for the summer. It seemed like such a daunting task, but once I got the ingredients and started, it was quite like baking bread. I used this recipe, but cooked it for 90 minutes, wrapped in in foil and added some liquid smoke.

I made Mac and Cheese from The Skeptical Vegan cookbook after finally getting my hands on my friend Eric’s book. I was also fortunate to go to his first book signing at Buffalo Street Books here in Ithaca, where I tried some more Miyoko’s vegan cheese and met the Susie of Susie’s Seitan, a local Ithaca company. The cheese sauce is based from milk, Daiya cheddar and Toffuti cream cheese. It was tasty, but I can see why, after purchasing these ingredients, people think going vegan is expensive. Certainly a treat for my parent’s and me.

I finally started making waffles again after a few month lay-off. My mom bought me a mix a while back (the name of the mix escapes me) but all you do it add water and cook it. It’s actually a pancake mix, so I adjusted the amount of liquid to mix a bit, and used milk instead of water.

The other night I got a craving for baked beans. I really love them (my mom has the best recipe!) and actually will eat Bush’s baked beans out of the can. I was of course on Pinterest that morning, so I made some of my own. Pretty simple and although not exactly like my mom’s, but good enough for me.

For a long while now, on my baking bucket list was Pop-tarts. I don’t know why, but I just wanted to make them. I didn’t even like them overly when I was a kid, they were good, but nothing I looked forward to. Well, I had this great idea to use my mom’s pie crust recipe (only 4 ingredients, but the best thing ever!) for the pastry part of the tarts. So I borrowed that, and made the dough alright…but struggled with the rolling out part. We don’t have a rolling pin, so I tried to use a wine bottle and it just didn’t work.

I ended up with three ugly Pop-tarts filled with strawberry jam. Not one to waste the rest of the dough, I made mini-tarts using cupcake tins. I filled half of those with s’mores peanut butter and the other half with almond butter and jelly. Lesley loved the s’mores ones. I enjoyed the almond butter and jelly, they just needed more jelly, which I added after the fact.

I’ve been having fun making my own sauces after I remembered to buy dressing bottles. It’s so much easier to use them! I made cheese sauce using carrots and nutritional yeast, which paired lovely with my spiral pasta. I think I like my homemade cheese sauce more than making it out of Daiya and Toffuti.

Alright and now for some CTB sandwich porn. I tried Foccacia bread for the first time last week and OH MY STARS, what a treat! It’s basically a lighter bread made with rosemary and saturated with olive oil. It was very tasty even if my hands were a mess afterwards. On this sandwich I had avocado, veggies and one of the sauces I had made (I call it Moo-Shoo sauce…but that doesn’t really tell you much about it haha)

When the Ciabatta bread is perfectly baked in the morning, I usually have my lunch on that. This sandwich is Ciabatta, chive Toffuti, hummus, lettuce, tomato and sprouts.

Pumpernickel bread smells so good to me, yet I forget about it a lot because when I am looking at the bread, it is kind of hidden underneath one of the bagel bins. This sandwich definitely has a great hummus to bread ratio wouldn’t you say?

Then I must end this food filled post with a simple lemon-blueberry scone. Extra butter, and a coffee. A perfect breakfast watching the sun rise.

In September, I have a few things I plan to make:

Salted Caramel Brownies

A different kind of Seitan

Sausage Biscuits and Gravy

Pretzel Granola Bars

Looks like a great start to fall!

I do not Escape the Voices in my Head

I’ve read on many other runner’s, especially ultrarunner’s blogs, that running is an escape for them. It quiets their anxious mind, it silences the thoughts, problems fade away.

I used to think this was my story as well. After I started running a few years ago till now, my life has gotten so much better. I respect myself and my family, I am strong physically and emotionally and I do not tear myself down as much. I believed running was eliminating the bad feelings, the mistrust, the self-hatred.

I believed running stopped the running thoughts. Running quieted the voice inside my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. Running allowed me to get away from those things.

My real story is different. Running has not stopped the voices. Running has not helped me hide from them.

Running allows me to face the voices, acknowledge them, and then allow them to pass. Running helps me “sit” with or hold space for those voices. It challenges me to be uncomfortable in my body and my mind. It holds me accountable to what I know to be true.

Running keeps the voices there until I’ve faced them enough times and convinced myself of their lies. Then it allows them to fade away, occasionally reappearing in moments of vulnerability or exhaustion, only to be fought again. Largely however, they are dealt with, proven false and invisible to me.

What I’ve realized is that the voices never go away, but my response to them has changed. I do not run away from the voices because some of them are true.

I was dishonest last week.

I didn’t run this correctly and I knew it.

I didn’t complete some job to the fullest potential, it was simply “good enough”.

These thoughts are true. The voices are right. Yet, they do not define my person. They prove that I am human, that sometimes my choices are not the best, but I am still doing my best in the grand scheme of life.

When you think about it, I could never “run away” from these voices, because they are me. Running has helped me accept these voices, realize I might have made a bad decision, but that I can move on from it.

The voices do not tell me who I am. Running allows me to see hear those voices, see my flaws and move on.

It is never an escape, it is a path toward freedom, voices included.

Stories from my youth: Volleyball

I haven’t always been a runner. Heck, I joined the track team in high school,because I had a crush on my older brother’s friend and he did it. Shout out to Mike, who I believe is married now so you know I picked well. He actually ended up dating my friend but I’m not bitter at all…

Anyway, my main sport was volleyball. I grew up playing it, taught by my mom, and cannot remember a time I wasn’t either waiting to play on the school team or actually playing on it. There were not all the young teams for 6 year olds where I grew up, yet I think I started going to the older kids practice at that age.

It was simply fun though, I was not training to be a child prodigy.

When I entered 7th grade, I was allowed to play on the junior varsity team. I was tall for my age and had been coming to practice for a while, so the coach took a chance on me. I took to the sport and soon learned how to actually play.

I loved it! Playing with other girls (older girls!) who treated me like an equal, like a friend, was so fun! Middle school is an awkward time, I was gangly, chubby and just felt weird in my body. Those girls made everyday fun. They knew so much more than me. They had boyfriends! They were in high school! It was all very exciting.

I think what I remember most were the bus rides. After I got over feeling shy, sitting with someone new was something I looked forward to. They liked to talk to me, to tell me things. I was really naive and innocent (relatively speaking) and they both liked to share their stories and also see what someone who had limited knowledge of relationships, boys or life things thought. 

I guess I should have known that this would continue all my life. Not only do I love to talk, I love to listen. 

When I got older, our team got better. My peers in school became my teammates and our senior year we won the league. Again, what I remember most was singing on the bus. My friend and I sang is this really vulgar song each ride both to shock the younger kids, but also because it was hilarious. The bond we all had was the one thing I miss about team sports.

The one thing.

After high school I was recruited to play D2 at Daemen College in Buffalo, NY. However, by that time, my heart was waning. I would love it one moment and then just not want to be there the next. I ended up transferring schools at the end of that year, so that ended my volleyball career.

I now work with a woman at the gym who plays on an adult volleyball team. I enjoy listening to her stories but am glad that part of my life has passed. I will always enjoy watching the sport, it’s so beautiful. However I know that I would not want to play again. I do not regret my decision to stop. 

Give me beach volleyball and Olympics though, and it’s the most patriotic I will ever be.

See you out there!