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happy_vagabonds

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Chris and Shelby met in Bible School in the fall of 2010, where they became best friends and fell in love. They married in October of 2013, and began renting a 490 sq. ft. 1940’s house in Shelby’s hometown of Grandville, Michigan. Their home was cozy and their rent was cheap (only $430 a month), but their favorite thing to do together was to get away from it all, by traveling and exploring new places any time they got the chance. When they discovered, “vanlife,” on Youtube in December of 2015, their immediate response was, “Let’s do this!” They bought a 1989 Dodge B250 camper van the next month, and began to completely gut and remodel it from the inside out. The whole process took 2 years and 9 months in their free time, and on a very small budget. Finally, in October of 2018, they moved into the van, which they named Luna, and began to travel full time with their bearded dragon, Hagrid. Some of their favorite memories have been visiting Carlsbad Caverns, walking through the Redwoods, hiking Yosemite Falls, and swimming with manatees in Crystal River. They mostly boondock, and rely on their solar set up to power their electricity. Chris and Shelby currently both work remotely 4 days a week for Women At Risk, International, a non-profit primarily known for their work with human trafficking victims. They use email and phone calls to book parties where people volunteer to sell survivor-made products in their own homes, to support Women At Risk’s partnering safe-houses. There are so many more places they want to explore, and they hope to have a family someday. So, their newest project is renovating a school bus, turning it into their future home on wheels. But, that project will take a long time! So, they will continue to live in Luna until then. Chris and Shelby are both big fantasy nerds and love Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. They enjoy hiking, paddle boarding, watching movies, and eating delicious food together. You can follow their journey on their Instagram account, @happy_vagabonds, as well as their Youtube channel happy_vagabonds. Chris & Shelby

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Southwest Salad with Sweet and Spicy Chicken

This has been a go-to meal for years for us, and it has translated really well into Vanlife. I was playing with seasonings one night as I cooked chicken to put in a salad for dinner, and I loved the sweet and savoury heat it added to our salad! The tortilla chips and Ranch really compliment the flavors of this dish. You can modify this salad to your own tastes! Perhaps you’re not a broccoli fan, or you hate black beans. That’s fine! The beauty of a salad is you can toss it together your own way! Play with it, and have fun! If you don’t have all of the ingredients, use what you do have! I often make a simplified version with no black beans, corn, tomato, or avocado-just a simple salad with chicken and tortilla chips on top.

Guacamole Topped Sweet Potatoes

I never would have thought of combining sweet potatoes and guacamole until I saw the idea on Pinterest! The flavors pair together really well, and we love this meal! It’s quick and easy to make on a week night after work. And it’s quite filling, especially with a salad. But, I will sometimes serve it with a side of quinoa, as well.

Creamy Chicken and Corn Chowder

This soup is pure comfort food, and perfect for a cold night in the van! I love making a big pot of soup, and having the leftovers the next night. I always serve this soup with homemade garlic toast, which I make by toasting bread slices in a pan, buttering them, and sprinkling them with Garlic Salt. Bon Appétit!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is our absolute favorite cookie recipe! I made it all the time in the early years of our marriage, before we left for Vanlife. And I was delighted to learn that I could make cookies on a propane stove top with a covered pan! If you are like us, and don’t have an oven in your van, you will need a lidded pan to make these cookies. It creates an oven effect on your stove top. If you don’t have a pan lid, perhaps you could try a dinner plate! If you have an electric mixer, you would be fine just using softened butter. I melt my butter to make mixing easier. I didn’t bring my hand mixer, since we boondock most of the time, and rely completely on our solar panels and battery bank. Fellow boondockers, I know you understand!

Easy Pizza Dough

I have been using this pizza dough recipe for years! I’ve tried new dough recipes since, but I always come back to this one. It is so simple and always turns out great! Imagine my delight when I realized I could make homemade pizza on our propane stove top in the van! When I photographed this recipe, it was during the COVID-19 quarantine, so the grocery store was out of organic all-purpose flour. I tried making it with organic quinoa flour, instead. I didn’t realize quinoa flour is like a whole wheat flour. That’s why the crust has a darker color. I do NOT recommend using a non-white flour with this recipe! The quinoa flour made the dough difficult to work with, and the crust too crumbly. Plus, the flavor was blah at best. This recipe works best with white flour, and turns out ah-mazing every time with it!

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