Chili, Caffeine, Clif Shots

Ithaca Chili Cook-off is today! That means busy at CTB, and taking pictures of the event for Agava. I’m debating doing a bit of biking before I go out there. Sometimes the spinning makes my legs feel good, but I also know I will be on my feet most of the day.

I had two confidence boosting runs this week, which I’ve been waiting for. My hamstring is behaving as long as I take short strides.

I’m sold on the salted watermelon Clif Shots. They are delicious and I can put down a bunch of them. I’m also sold on scones. I’ve been eating one as an afternoon snack for the past week and they make me smile.

I started drinking caffeinated coffee in the mornings. I’ve been off caffeine since JFK in November. However, I want to use caffeine in my races for a boost, so my coach thinks I should introduce some of it back in before race day. Still on decaf for everything else.

My sister did her first 10 mile run of her marathon (!!!) training plan this morning and she didn’t walk at all! I’m so proud of her. I can’t wait to do this race together. If I didn’t mention it, we’re going to Texas in May to run the Silo District Marathon. Run-cation is the plan, road-tripping and stopping along the way is also scheduled.

I’ve been reading Liza Howard’s blog, and I love the format. It’s quick, funny and something that makes me smile. I think if I want to blog more often, the way she does it is sustainable for me. I’ll even include my running time like she does.

If anyone doesn’t know who Liza is, you should. Powerhouse running coach, mom and amazing athlete.

Breakfast today: oatmeal with maple syrup, bananas and peanut butter

Running: 118:28 minutes

Ellie Eats Ithaca #2

Gorgers Taco Shack

I’d heard that if I go to Gorgers, I have to get the Blueberry BBQ sauce. On anything. Why go against solid BBQ sauce advice? I was the only person in the shop, as it had dumped a bunch of snow on us that morning. The guys working were very friendly and my burrito was made quickly. I have to rave about the wrapping of the burrito. It was perfect. Seriously perfect burrito roll. I am a stickler for that, because a successful burrito keeps its ingredients inside. The burrito was also covered in tin foil, another necessity, so you can unwrap as you go.

The burrito itself was very good. Nice flavor, equal ingredient distribution. I’d have like a bit more sauce on the side to dip. Not inside, because then you risk a wet burrito. I got the blueberry BBQ vegetarian burrito with rice and beans and no sour cream. It also had lettuce, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. Everything worked together well. I left full.

Nikki Green

I’ve been here three times since it opened less than a month ago. I really like it, it just has foods I feel good eating and are also delicious. Nikki Green is the second vegan restaurant in Ithaca. While Ten Forward is more comfort vegan food, Nikki Green is a bit more healthy, but just as delicious. The first time I went I got the Tangi bowl, rice topped with tofu, broccoli, ginger, green peas, sesame seeds and a turmeric dressing. I got a small size, and it was actually enough! I was so surprised, but they did it correctly. The only off putting thing was the big hunks of ginger. I ate one and immediately regretted it. But since they were on there, I just didn’t eat them. They didn’t add to the dish, so many it was a garnish?

The second time I went I got the Nuttin’ But Nuts bowl. It is a peanut butter and banana creamy base topped with cashew cream, macadamia nuts and cacao nibs. I was in heaven, that’s all I can say. Just read the ingredients and you know this was my jam. Everything was perfect. The base was thick, the toppings were perfect. I could eat this everyday.

The third time I went I got the chocoholic bowl. A chocolate and banana base topped with chocolate sauce, cacao nibs and granola. Another great choice. It just tasted so good! I have a hard time not going more, but I’ve got all of Ithaca to eat so…

Sammy’s Pizzaria

Sammy’s was what you expect a pizza place to be or, what you hope it will be. A few customers, great pizza, and a nice staff. I got the white garlic pizza topped with ricotta and mozzarella and tons of garlic. It wasn’t too salty or greasy. The pizza is just the way I like it, thin and foldable and huge slices. The bottom was crispy and not burned and it came out wonderfully melted. I also got another free slice for reviewing them on yelp, so I cannot hate on that!

Ithaca Coffee Company

I must confess all I got here was a scone and I had to take it to go so I didn’t truly immerse myself in the environment. The scone was good. It was cinnamon chip, and had some crunch on the outside. I cannot rave about it because I’ve had better scones in Ithaca. The shop was really cute and I will go back for lunch someday, but I wasn’t blown away this time. The guy also said their most popular scone, the chocolate raspberry, was sold out. Next time!

Press Bay Cafe

I had never been over to Press Bay Alley outside of once when the Star Truck was there. Press Bay Cafe is a hipster coffee shop. It has a small menu, and does one thing well. I got the vanilla maca latte, in decaf. It was actually very good! For great coffee drinks (not just drip) I would recommend it. Would I go there everyday? No, because I really only like drip coffee, but I wanted to try it. Great vibe, quiet, just not my style.

Almost done with my third post! I’m making my way through Ithaca and it’s delicious 🙂

The First Few Days of Living In A Van

I moved into my van on January 7th. Today is January 9th so I have survived the first two days.

Saying “I survived” sounds much more dramatic than it really turned out to be. I think I’m cut out for this life.

Here’s how the first night went:

I moved in officially at about 4PM after getting the rest of my stuff out of my apartment. I turned on The Office and started trying to put things away and organize, though it proved a bit futile because, being so new, I still am figuring out what things I need near me and what I don’t.

I made a good effort at it though 🙂 My space heater worked, although two of them do not work together at the same time. It proved not necessary to have two, so I will most likely return the second…or not and use it as a back up…decisions.

I have not used the table under the bed yet as it has proved unnecessary to do so. I have a different table that is easily storable and makes it so I don’t have to move the bed. I’ll figure it out better later, I’m only two days in.

My toilet system works rather well. It sucks that I know this, but I eat so much and it has to come out sometime. At least it works and it doesn’t make my van smell. Thank you kitty litter 😉

After I organized what I could, I started making dinner: steamed broccoli and oatmeal. It seemed simple.

It was, just a bit cumbersome to steam the broccoli. My electric hotplate takes longer that a flame to steam the veggies, but that was ok, I just kept watching The Office. The oatmeal was easy. I used quick oats and my electric kettle. Plopped some PB and banana in there and we’re done.

I ate dinner, clean up, did a crossword and went to sleep. That’s kind of what I did at my apartment, so not much has changed, just the movements.

One thing I noticed was that I slouch more because I am so tall. The next day I went to Ithaca ReUse and got a stadium chair (some guy definitely made it because man it says DIY all over it) to help with this. I think it’s working…

Sleeping has been ok. I don’t fall asleep immediately yet, but I have gotten good sleep. To be honest, last night I was too hot, so I might exchange my mummy sleeping bag with some blankets and see how that goes tonight. I also sleep in spandex and a tank top for reference.

Breakfast the next morning was more of the same: oatmeal and an apple. Perfect. I had errands to do that morning, and my only 2018 goal is to try all the Ithaca restaurants, so I took myself to On The Street Pitas for lunch. Definitely great and good service to boot.

I worked at Agava that afternoon, then came back home (TO MY VAN!) and ate dinner. I made a pesto pizza melt at work and had more veggies. Did a crossword and went to bed.

This morning was kind of different because I park outside my work at night, then I park at a different place during the day. So after my run I moved my van, then came into work. It all went well and smoothly so I am grateful.

That’s all I’ve done since moving into the van.

Any questions?

Well, here goes everything…

Tonight is my first night in the van full time. I’m moved out of my apartment, put stuff in storage, sold a lot and hopefully my things are going to people who can use them more than I.

I do have some fears, mostly being cold or spilling crap everywhere. However, as I think about tonight, it’s a new beginning, one that will be very hard for me, but necessary for my growth as a spiritual and physical being. I have gone over in my head the different situations that might come up. These are not van-break-down scenarios (although I’ve thought about that!), but more what I will do when I feel emotionally anxious or lonely.

I do not deal with loneliness very much anymore. I have three very social jobs and actually love my alone time. I also have a family and support system of friends who I can call in one second to make me feel loved. I do not fear loneliness in that sense. I fear downtime in the van. I wonder if I will get anxious or claustrophobic. I worry that my heater will break in the middle of the night. I worry I won’t be able to get the door open when my hands are frozen.

I do have worries, but to be honest, I’m elated!

I want to live alone again. I want to be free and not tied down by rent payments in large buildings that provide more space than I need for unnecessary items that clutter my mind. I want to own my own thing, that no one can take or use. I want to put my energy and soul into this thing and make it a part of me.

I want to find out what it means to survive. I want to see what I need to live on. I want to be able to go somewhere at any time and know how to live or what to do. I want to teach myself to fix my shit when it breaks. I want to get tougher, to embrace cold or exposure.

I want to find a way to live comfortably in a van. I want to have less of an impact on the world. I want to be responsible for my energy usage, and try to mitigate that usage if I can. I want to love it. I want it to be challenging. I want to live in my van.

Here goes everything.

Focus and Willpower

My word for 2017 was Tough.

In 2017, I made myself tougher in many respects.

I ran some gnarly trails.

I lived alone on Syracuse for 6 months.

I moved back to Ithaca.

I showed up for people.

I made pain my friend.

I tried to get better at being cold.

I controlled my mouth and sarcasm.

I stopped being vegan when it didn’t work for me.

I would say that on the whole, I am tougher than last year at this time.

My words for this year are: Focus and Willpower, or the willpower to remain focused on whatever I am doing.

I want to continue to be present, for people, for work, for assignments.

Focusing on one thing at a time is something I have to practice because there are always a million things vying for my attention.

The million tabs open.

The mindless Instagram scrolling.

The people talking while I am doing something else.

When I don’t give what’s important my full attention, the job I do, the recipe I am making or even the food I am eating is simply sub par. Focusing and concentrating on the task at hand, even if my gaze or thoughts are pulled away, but coming back to focus on that task, is something I believe has been serving me this past month.

I refuse to skim articles. If I begin to read it, I will finish it regardless of interest level.

I finish editing one photo before moving onto the other things I remember I also need to do.

I eat a bite, and actually taste it before moving onto the next one.


The second word, willpower, is simply a descriptive word of how I will remain focused. When I don’t want to finish reading an article or start to skim, the word willpower goes through my mind and I keep reading.

When I think of the fears I have moving into a van, I think about the willpower I need to make it through the beginning rough stages.

Grit could be another word, but willpower speaks to me.

Willpower and Focus.

Focus first, use willpower to remain focused.

My words of 2018.