New Update Video: House Design Plans, Clearing Brush, & Mushroom Foraging


This past weekend we went out to our property to work on clearing some brush around our house building site and film a quick update video. I’ve been posting new recipe videos on our youtube channel, but I realized that I hadn’t given any update on our living situation in the form of a video.

While we were there we checked our wildlife camera and foraged for mushrooms to take photos of and practice our mushroom identification. We found quite a variety of mushrooms and even an edible golden chanterelle! (light orange mushroom in upper right corner)

We’re still trying to identify all of them, but I believe the reddish ones are  Russula Atropurpurea , the little black one is a type of ink cap, and I’m almost positive the light orange one in the upper right corner is a golden chanterelle.

We’re still trying to identify all of them, but I believe the reddish ones are Russula Atropurpurea, the little black one is a type of ink cap, and I’m almost positive the light orange one in the upper right corner is a golden chanterelle.

Our wetland is covered with moss and mushrooms right now.

Our wetland is covered with moss and mushrooms right now.

These are either  Gymnopus  or  Armillaria  aka   honey mushrooms. We didn’t take a spore print of these so we can’t be sure.

These are either Gymnopus or Armillaria aka honey mushrooms. We didn’t take a spore print of these so we can’t be sure.

Here’s a close-up of What I Believe is a chanterelle.

Here’s a close-up of What I Believe is a chanterelle.

Teeny Tiny Pacific Tree Frog

Teeny Tiny Pacific Tree Frog

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Zeller’s Boletes

Zeller’s Boletes

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We just submitted our design plan for building permits, so hopefully in a few months we can begin the building process. Until then we’re enjoying the last few sunny days here before the rainy season sets in for a while.

I hope everyone else had a great weekend and got to spend some peaceful time outdoors. I’ll be back with a brand new recipe very soon!


Pros and Cons of Living in an Airstream Trailer After One Year

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Our Airstream Journey:

In January of 2017, we moved out of our studio apartment in Manhattan and into an Airstream travel trailer to live in full time while we relocated to Washington state. We spent our first month in the Airstream traveling, parking at a different campsite nearly every night while we slowly made our way across the country, covering roughly 5000 miles in total.

We started at the Airstream dealership, Colonial Airstream in New Jersey, and headed south through Virginia and Tennessee and then started moving westward through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, all before going north again up through California and Oregon and eventually arriving at our final destination near Seattle, Washington.

Camping in Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas

Camping in Monahans Sandhills State Park in Texas

It was this long trip that made us fall in love with this lifestyle. Living in a travel trailer gave us the freedom to all travel together, our rabbit included, and have adventures in amazing new places every day, but still be able to come back to a place that felt like home. 

One we arrived in Seattle, we found a long term parking spot where we have lived in the trailer for the past year. While we loved traveling, Anthony's job is in Seattle, so after our month long adventure moving here we knew we were going to have to enjoy a more stationary life in the Airstream. 

In all of our "What Could Go Wrong?" lists and planning we had made before we began our Airstream adventure, we fully expected most of the problems to arise during the month of travel and figured that once we arrived at our final location it would be smooth sailing from there. Surprisingly, it was just the opposite.

While we travelled, everything worked out almost perfectly, there were no major issues to report all throughout our trip, and when we arrived in Seattle we were so relieved to start living in the trailer in a fixed location. It started feeling like an actual home and we were able to start a garden and see a different, maybe slightly less adventurous part Airstream living. Little did we know, this is when the real adventures and lessons would begin. 


What We Didn't Love about Living in the Airstream:

I'm going to start with the cons or the negative experiences we had while living in our Airstream so that we can end on a positive note. It doesn't feel right to even say anything bad at all about our experience because overall, we loved it and would do it over again in a heartbeat, but I think some of what we experienced, the good and the bad, could be helpful if this is a lifestyle you're interested in and want to hear about the full spectrum of experiences we had.

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The Small Stuff:

These are just the little minor inconveniences we don't hear mentioned too often about what it's really like to live in an Airstream full-time.

  • When you first move in, expect lots of small injuries. The process of adapting to a smaller space involves a lot more cuts, bangs and bruises than we had anticipated. Whether it's bumping your head on the light fixtures or smashing your elbow coming too quickly around a sharp corner, expect to get a little beat up while you form that muscle memory that eventually guides you more smoothly through your new space.

  • Metal riveted walls look beautiful, but they can and they will eventually cut you. Every single time I wiped down the walls especially around the kitchen, I'd get cuts from the sharp edges of the metal. It's not jagged metal or anything, but it's blade-sharp metal that leaves thin, fast-healing cuts. Obviously still not ideal, but just something to be aware of when polishing those shiny walls.

  • I managed to overdraw on power almost daily and we had 50 amp hookups. This wasn't such an issue when we were travelling, but once we were parked for good and we got out the rice cooker, blender, and several more kitchen appliances, the limits of 50 amp power became much more pronounced.

  • The layout of an Airstream is designed for travel and adventures, not for being parked in the same spot for a year like a stationary home. While we enjoyed our time in that one spot, we found ourselves not going out as much as when we were travelling and through staying inside a lot the furniture seemed to get less and less comfortable everyday. This is no fault of the Airstream, but just a sign that if we weren't going to be using the trailer for travel anymore like it was intended, we would have to make some modifications for it suit our needs.


The time someone tried to break in at 2 a.m.

Our long term parking spot was located in the town of Bothell, a rapidly growing suburb of Seattle, which had always felt like a pretty safe place to be. We lived near an RV park, but a little out of the way in one of their long-term spots on a hill top surrounded by a beautiful meadow and lots of tall trees. We had two other RV neighbors, but they both had homes and only stayed in their RVs during the work week, so we were usually all alone on the weekends. 

One rainy Saturday night in November of 2017, we awoke to some strange sounds coming from the outside of our trailer. It sounded like someone or something climbing on the Airstream and then we thought we heard someone try to open the door as well, which was locked. We turned on the lights and tried to figure out what was going on and that's when we heard yelling. Anthony looked out the window to try to see who it was and that's when he saw a man standing on top of the trailer next to ours smashing his foot through their roof vent. Immediately he called 911. 

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Five minutes later a police officer arrived and then shortly after several more police officers showed up. They told us they believed someone was inside our neighbor's trailer. We told them no one was supposed to be in there because the family that lives there goes home on the weekends. They surrounded the trailer, guns drawn, and yelled through the megaphone urging the occupant to come out of the trailer several times. Eventually they pried off the door and sent in a police dog followed by several officers. What happened next was the craziest thing I've ever seen. 

Out of the trailer came the dog and multiple officers escorting out a completely naked man in handcuffs with pupils the size of dinner plates. All of the officers cheered-- they seemed very happy to have caught the perpetrator and that no one was hurt. They tried to get him to sit down but it was apparent that he had consumed a lot of meth and was covered in injection wounds. They kept trying to give him a blanket to cover up with but he threw it on the ground repeatedly, determined to stay completely naked. 

The cops later told us that he admitted to leading them on a high speed car chase earlier that night, ditched his jeep at a local auto shop and took off running before ending up on our hilltop where he was trying to find a place to hide out. He was trying to get into our trailer, but since it's rounded and it was raining, he wasn't able to get onto the roof. He must've heard us wake up and that's when he started yelling before climbing up the ladder on our neighbors trailer, which has a flat roof, and found it much easier to get inside. While he was inside our neighbors trailer he took off all his clothes, did some more meth, drank their milk, and relaxed in their bed. It didn't seem like he was there to steal anything, but more like he was just really high on meth and didn't know what was going on anymore. He kept telling the police they'd need to buy him a new door for his trailer. 

The owners of the trailer showed up a few hours later and were very fortunate that they, and their two small children, weren't home when this guy came crashing through their bathroom ceiling vent. He was arrested for vehicle prowling and spent a night in jail before being released with a pending court date. 

After this terrifying experience, it really began to sink in for us that while our trailer felt like a home, we were actually living in a vehicle, which means we don’t have the same legal protections as if we were living in a house. We still felt fairly safe knowing that our Airstream was more difficult to break into than other trailers, and if anything this put the Airstream through an interesting safety test, but the reality of what could've happened that night gave us a lot to consider about staying safe while living in an RV. Since this incident we have taken several more self-defense and safety measures. 


The time a tree almost fell on our trailer:

Earlier in March of 2018, A powerful windstorm brought down a giant Douglas fir tree which landed right next to our trailer while we were home. This was caused by the seven acres of forest being cleared next to us, so this tree was exposed to high winds it was never meant to endure. This was the second major close call to happen to us in that spot, and we didn't want to wait around for the third strike. 

While we wanted to keep the trailer, we didn't have anywhere else we could park it. The land we purchased last summer doesn't have a septic or running water yet, so we couldn't take it out there, and all of the RV parks in our area aside from the one we were staying at would be a very far drive from Anthony's work. This is why we made the sudden decision to move out and sell our trailer.

For the full story check out my post here

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What We Loved about Living in the Airstream:

Overall, we loved our experience of living in an Airstream travel trailer. While our time spent traveling and staying at a new campsite every night was by far the best part of the lifestyle, it was still an amazing experience to live in the Airstream in a fixed location. It really began to feel like home.

Here's some of our favorite things about living in the Airstream-

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  • We expected with our daily living and use of the trailer that eventually something would break and we'd need to take the trailer in for repairs. We figured maybe it'd be the water heater failing, or the AC breaking, but to our surprise and delight nothing major ever broke. Some minor things broke- the small round mirror in our bathroom fell off the wall during our travels and our awning arm got bent in a wind storm, but nothing major failed on us the whole year that we lived there. Airstreams are built to last and we experienced that first-hand.

  • Living in a smaller space also helped us to stay more organized. There are so many little storage nooks in creative places all over the trailer, so there was always a place for everything, and while we couldn't have tons of items fit in there, everything that we did own had a place. The small size of the place also made cleaning much easier. Vacuuming takes only a few minutes in a trailer and having less space really inspires you to keep the free space that you do have clean and tidy.

  • Since we chose the International Serenity model of Airstream, which has more windows instead of overhead storage, our space was always bright which made us feel much more connected to the outdoors.

  • The kitchen in the Airstream is in many ways better than any apartment kitchen I've ever had. The convection oven/microwave can cook anything, and some things it cooks much better than any regular oven could. The sink is super deep, which is important since there's no dishwasher, but you could tell a lot of consideration was put into these small things and it made using the Airstream kitchen daily a very pleasant experience. If you love to cook, you won't be sacrificing anything that you love about cooking while living in an Airstream.

  • We were worried that living in such a small space would start to feel cramped or restricted, but that was never our experience. There was just enough space to feel comfortable and we rarely found ourselves wishing we had more room. Even after a full year of living there and acquiring more things, we always found creative ways of storing them. We were definitely glad to have decided on the 30 ft. trailer for our full-time living situation.

  • The trailer passed an important, albeit terrifying, experience when someone tried to break in and failed. This was likely because of the round shape of the trailer which he had difficulty climbing on top of and also the secure lock on our door. I think if someone really wanted to break into anything, our trailer included, they probably could, but Airstream has done a good job of not making it the easiest thing in the world. If you are considering a trailer with a flat roof and a ladder on the back, I'd advise you to consider how that might invite in the wrong kind of company, even if you live in a safe place, that's still a big risk to take.

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Ultimately, we are so grateful for our time spent in the Airstream and we would go back and do it all over again if we could. It was an incredible experience which taught us a lot about ourselves and enabled us to have adventures that we'll always remember. 

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One day, we might get another smaller Airstream for actual traveling as opposed to living in it like a full-time home, but for now since we don't have any travel plans and are starting to settle in to living in Washington, that won't be happening anytime soon. While we wish we could have kept living in the Airstream for another year while we build our house, we know we made the right decision to part with our Airstream at this point since we were no longer traveling and taking it out for adventures.

"A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.”

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For more information, click the button below to check out our videos documenting our travels in the Airstream on Youtube!

Why We're Moving Out & Selling Our Airstream Travel Trailer

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If you had told us one week ago that we'd be selling our Airstream travel trailer and moving back into an apartment, we wouldn't have believed it. Up until last week we couldn't see any reason to ever want to sell our trailer and move. We expected that we would live in it at least for the next year while building our house and then possibly keep it around for years to come. Then, a windstorm came and changed everything for us. 

At around 7 pm last Thursday, Anthony had just gotten home from work and was feeling very anxious about the weather. The winds were gusting upwards of 50 mph, and as we live on a hilltop in the convergent zone, the gusts can get especially intense. As the gusts grew stronger and stronger, Anthony became more concerned and couldn't do anything other than look out the windows and watch as the tall evergreen trees next to us were bending sideways.

I was trying to stay calm. We had been through worse windstorms in the trailer before and had only seen a few small branches go flying by so I figured this would be the case with this storm as well. I even started to get upset with Anthony for his fixation on the wind and inability to relax. My intuition that night was completely wrong. 

Anthony was looking out the window during a particularly huge sustained gust and watched as the giant evergreen trees next to us bent completely sideways. He yelled over to me that one was about to go down and suddenly we heard a loud crack. I screamed and covered my head, attempting to brace for the potential impact of a 200 ft. fir tree smashing through our aluminum trailer. Time slowed down and the sound of the crack felt long and slow and then we heard the booming sound of the tree hitting the ground next to our trailer.

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We looked outside to find that this giant tree had been completely uprooted and landed 20 ft away from us. It had taken out a couple of smaller trees on it's way down as well. We didn't want to stick around and wait for another one to fall, so we grabbed our bunny, Violet, and all got in the car to go wait out the storm in the parking lot across the street where we could watch the trees bend over our trailer from a distance.

This is the point when we began to discuss the idea of selling the trailer and moving into an apartment. 

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Aside from our current spot, RV parks which are a reasonable distance to Anthony's work basically don't exist, so we didn't really have the option to move the trailer somewhere else. We considered staying where we are, but we were still surrounded by several more tall evergreen trees and knew we didn't want to be near them in the next wind storm.

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The tall trees next to our trailer were all old evergreen trees that used to be in the middle of a dense natural forest, but recently after 7 acres of forest were cleared on the lot next to us (as shown in our last video) these old trees were now being exposed to high winds that they were never meant to endure. It became clear to us after talking with the RV park staff as well as the contractor on the 7 acre lot next to us, that no one was going to be watching out for us and checking on these trees. We had to make the difficult decision to take our safety into our own hands, so we decided to sell the trailer and move.

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This past weekend was incredibly sad for us because we loved our life in the Airstream and it didn't feel right to end our adventure of living in it so soon, but we knew it was the right decision for us and that we needed to take our safety concerns seriously after such a close brush with what could've been a disaster. 

Our bunny Violet, adapting to our new place

Our bunny Violet, adapting to our new place

We found an apartment walking distance to Anthony's work and spent this past week moving in and adjusting to apartment life again. While this doesn't change our long-term plans, and we still plan on being in our house that we're building a year from now, no longer living in an Airstream and moving back into a city is a big adjustment for us.

There are certainly many things we have now in our apartment that we didn't have in the trailer and it definitely feels luxurious to have all of the standard amenities again, but there's still a lot we're going to miss about our life in the trailer. 

I'll be writing a post soon about all of the pros and cons of living in an Airstream travel trailer full time for more of a detailed look at what we loved and what we didn't so much love about RV life, but until then I just wanted to post this update for anyone who was curious to know why we made such a sudden change.

We'll be continuing to make videos and share our experiences with our next adventure of building our house which hopfully will be starting in the fall.

Life in the Airstream Update & Lots of Cute Wild Animals Are Visiting!

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For the past year, I've been living fulltime in a 30 ft. Airstream travel trailer in Washington with my partner, Anthony, and our dwarf rabbit, Violet. When we made the decision to leave our apartment in New York City and move across the country to Washington, we decided that the best way for all of us to get there would be in an RV and that we would continue to live in the RV while we look for land and eventually build a house. 

Over the summer, we found and purchased 7 acres of beautiful forested land and are now currently in the final stages of designing the house and getting ready to start the long process of applying for building permits. Since it's been quite cold here these past few months, we haven't been spending as much time out at the property, so we've mostly been inside the trailer working on making some of the big decisions that come along with building a house. 

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After a full year of living in our trailer, we are so happy with the decision we made. While the space is pretty small, the amount of windows and skylights makes it feel much more open. There's definitely not enough room in here to have everything we want, but it's been a good lesson in living more minimally and being careful to not accumulate stuff that we don't absolutely need. 

That being said, there have been certain non-essential items that we have been accumulating recently which have brought us a lot of joy and entertainment- mainly our bird feeders, of which we now have four or maybe even five... I've lost count. 

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Most of them are the kind that suction right to the window so we can creep on the birds as they feast on their seeds. We have one on the kitchen window so I can watch the birds as I do the dishes and cook, but we also have a lot of them around our bedroom as well and it's the best thing to wake up to see beautiful birds at the window every morning.

It's been so much fun to see the variety of birds that come by and to try to identify them. After a few months of feeding them, they've started growing their families and because of this we've also been getting more visits from big predatory birds like owls and eagles, but we don't have any pictures of those big guys unfortunately. 

Over the past few weeks we've been taking lots of pictures and videos, and we've especially been enjoying the short animated gifs that are made automatically on our phones, so i thought I'd share a few here!

This pretty bird is called a Northern Flicker:

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He's a type of woodpecker and one of the loudest visitors to our feeder because he likes to use his long beak to peck at the seeds and send them flying everywhere. 

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Another bird who's been visiting lately is the vibrant blue Stellar's Jay. They usually come in pairs or small groups and have such a pretty bird song.

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All too often though, our most common visitors have been the squirrels. No matter where we set up the feeder, they find their way in and eat nearly all of the seeds before the birds can get any. I only have slightly more patience with them than Anthony does because they're still so cute. 

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Then we have the deer, who we believe may be the reason our broccoli plants have some big bites taken out of them. The other day they came right up behind our trailer and we watched them graze and play in the meadow.

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Okay, that's probably enough wildlife photos for this update!

One more thing, for now I've deactivated my instagram page @wholesomelyelle. I haven't been enjoying using it since they changed it from chronological order to an algorithm-based feed, and also since I haven't been on Facebook for the past 4 years, it felt strange to still participate in a Facebook-owned platform when that's not what I had signed up for originally. I may still reactivate it in the future, but I just wanted to take a break for a while to focus on other things. 

For now that means you'll be hearing a lot more from me right here on my blog and hopefully more on Youtube as well! I'll continue to post updates on life in the Airstream and more healthy recipes will be coming your way this week so check back in for more soon!

How to Stop a Panic Attack Immediately

A couple of years ago, I used to suffer from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. While living in New York City, simply stepping outside and walking along the crowded streets, was enough to send me into a full blown state of panic. I remember feeling like an elephant sat down on my chest, I wanted to run but my body felt frozen and unable to move, and then suddenly it would become very hard to breathe- this was always the scariest part.

What doesn't work:

So naturally, I went to see a psychiatrist, and he wanted to put me on heavy duty benzodiazepine medications. I took these medications, and he kept having to raise the dose as my tolerance increased and the panic attacks got worse and worse. The higher the dose of medication, the more I lost my sense of self. I would forget what I was saying mid-sentence and couldn't retain any information, I basically had the memory of a goldfish. This was not a sustainable way to manage my anxiety.

When I would go for my therapy appointments, the doctor would tell me I needed to sit very still and focus on taking deep breaths. Whenever I did this I felt the panic actually increase. How could I sit still with this fear coursing through my veins and while my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest? Sitting still and focusing on breathing always made it 10x worse. I began to feel like I must not be doing something right. I was following all of his instructions but was getting worse rather than better. I was losing all hope.

Why our bodies have this panic mechanism:

First, we have to understand what anxiety is and why we have this mechanism to panic in the first place. Doctor Doug Lisle of Esteem Dynamics explains all of this perfectly in this video, but I will try to sum up the basics here. If we look at what anxiety is, essentially it is a warning device to tell you to avoid something. To figure out why we have this mechanism, we must look back in time at our ancestral history.

About 100,000 years ago all human beings were in Africa, so a lot of what our bodies became adapted to are the problems that would have faced our african ancestors during this time. So you're walking through the tall grasses and all of a sudden you see a lion. Immediately, you're going to freeze, as not to catch the attention of the predator. This same behavior happens with panic attacks. The next thing that happens in this situation, is you start to sweat. This is meant to cool you down ahead of time so that you can be prepared to run without becoming overheated which would slow you down. Your breathing also becomes restricted, which is a mechanism designed to raise your blood pressure and allows the cardiovascular system to push blood away from your viscera and into your the muscles of your legs, preparing you to run for your life.

What does work:

Your body is trying to protect you and this fight or flight mode is it's best defense in times when you actually need to get to safety. Every single one of these uncomfortable symptoms are there to save your life. A panic attack isn't really an attack, it's an adaptation. So how can we work with this adaptation, rather than against it?

Sitting down and breathing deeply usually won't help, and cognitive therapy where you're told that it's not a big deal, that there's nothing to worry about, usually doesn't help either. What actually does work, is to let the system do what it wants to do. As a prey species, the only thing that will break the freeze to move through the process as it would have naturally occurred. When you have a panic attack, you can stop it in its tracks by getting up out of your chair and running in place. What you'll find is after roughly 15 minutes of jogging in place you'll be tired and out of breath and you'll feel like sitting down. Your breathing will now be deeper, and your brain will see that and decide you must've outrun the predator. It will then start dialing down the adrenaline, and your state will return to normal.

Alternatively, if you're in a public place or seated and you can't just start jogging in place, you can exhaust your leg muscles by crossing your legs and pushing them together for 30 seconds or so repeatedly or until your muscles feel tired. Once your muscles have been exhausted your brain will stop sending out the panic signal and your body will calm down automatically.

I've found this practice to be more helpful than anything I've ever tried because it allows me to move through the anxiety and work with it, rather than suppress it and fight against it. While I rarely experience panic attacks now that my body has fully adjusted to being off medication for a few years, when I do feel anxious it's a lot less scary now knowing that I have this method to help me through it if I need it.

Now you have the tools to short-circuit the attack. Try it out yourself the next time you experience anxiety or a panic attack and see if it could help you too!