In January of 2020, I embarked on a project bigger than anything I could’ve imagined; a van build-out. And, as I started to design the layout of my new 2019 Ford Transit van and glanced at the ever-growing to-do list, I realized what a mammoth of a project this was. I might’ve bitten off more than I could chew.
You see, in my life up until that point, I’d largely avoided building projects. Table saws and drill bits just weren’t a part of my vocabulary. Even when I owned a house for 5 years in a SE Portland neighborhood, I delegated responsibilities and shied away from trying complicated things myself. My initial instinct was to hire experts who could get the job done correctly and efficiently, having little faith in myself to do so. However, once I realized how much experts charge for a van build-out, I had to change my tune. I discovered that my only logical option was to buckle down and attempt the job myself.
So, I downloaded ebooks, perused blogs, watched youtube tutorials, and talked to friends with experience. I jotted down notes, made lists, and started gathering supplies. After weeks of heavy research, I started in on the most logical first step, the flooring, aka the easiest part of a van build. But easy doesn’t mean free from mistakes. I learned very early on in this process that I would make one blunder after another, but that I couldn’t let them deter me from pressing forward. So when I realized I had unknowingly installed the cedar ceiling incorrectly, causing it to split and break, I tried my best to take it in stride, knowing full well that I would need to rip it out and replace the cedar planks with something more durable.
I’m not trying to insinuate that I breezed through the van build process with confidence and determination. I had many tearful moments curled up alone inside the echoey chamber of the unfinished van. I desperately sought out information online to solve, what seemed like, the countless issues I was running into. I made phone calls, sent emails, and met up with folks to solve problems that were blocking my progress. I got extremely frustrated and overwhelmed by wiring diagrams and electrical instructions laid out before me in a language my brain wasn’t built to understand. I lumbered through this process feeling like a toddler just learning to walk, gazing around for affirmations to build confidence and keep me motivated. But, at every turn there was a new skill to learn, whether it was hooking up a plumbing system, wiring light dimmers, cutting giant holes in the van for a fan and a window, or connecting my auxiliary batteries to the alternator so they would charge while I drive. It was a heap of new information and I was overloaded with decision fatigue.
Author and public speaker, Brené Brown, describes these kinds of experiences as FFTs (effing first times). She continues by saying “When we have no relevant experience or expertise, the vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear of these firsts can be overwhelming. Yet, showing up and pushing ourselves past the awkward, learner stage is how we get braver.” Not only does it make us braver, but each mountain successfully climbed undeniably builds up confidence and strength that we may not have previously possessed. Going into this van build was a real experiment in self-actualization. What I believed I wasn’t skilled enough to do at the beginning of the build was something that I miraculously achieved with grit, determination, and the help and guidance of others.
I truly couldn’t have completed this project without my father’s assistance building the bed and cabinetry. His years of woodworking experience were imperative in the completion of my van build and he was the perfect person to bounce all my build ideas off of. Without him, the countless van builders who had showered the internet with helpful tips, and the support and cheerleading of my community, I’m not sure I could have made it through this behemoth. I owe so much to every single person who believed in me. And even though they can’t all take a ride with me in my new home on wheels, they will always be there with me in spirit.
Words and Photography by Brooke Weeber.
Here at Union, we obviously love to drink our wine, but we are also always looking for new and interesting ways to enjoy them. Today we bring you a delicious and incredibly simple recipe for fruity, blueberry polka dotted Frozé Ice Pops. With just a little patience and a few simple ingredients, you will be the hit of the party this summer.
Here’s what you will need to get started.
Pink and Polka Dot Popsicles
12 oz Underwood Rosé
6 oz pink grapefruit juice
4 oz fresh lime juice
4 oz cranberry juice cocktail
2 oz simple syrup
1 container fresh blueberries
Combine all of the ingredients except the blueberries in a large mason jar. Stir well and put this in the refrigerator until very cold.
To ensure even placement of blueberries, you will need to build the ice pops in three stages. The reason for this is that blueberries float and if you were to put the blueberries and liquid into the molds all at once, by the time the pops froze, all the blueberries would be bunched up at the bottom of the popsicle.
Place 2 or 3 blueberries in the bottom of each mold and pour just enough of the cold liquid to cover them. Place the mold in the freezer until liquid is completely frozen—not just slushy. Also, do not add the sticks at this stage.
Add 3 or 4 blueberries to each mold and again add enough liquid to cover. At this point place the top on the mold and insert sticks into each one. Return to the freezer and leave until completely frozen
Very very very carefully remove the top of the mold, making sure to hold each stick in place as you do. (Since the molds are not completely full, the sticks will want to move around.) Now, add 2 or 3 more blueberries to each mold and cover with liquid—leaving about a 1/4 inch of space at the top of each one. Put back in the freezer and leave until fully set. No need to replace the top at this point, as the sticks should be frozen in place already. When ready too remove the pops, run a little warm water over the bottom of the molds to loosen each pop.
If done with love and care, you should have ten pops that look roughly like this:
Once out of the freezer, make sure to pass around the pops quickly. Since there is wine in them, they will freeze solid, but will start to melt more quickly than if they were made of only juice. If there are going to be kids around, you can always follow this same recipe, omitting the Rosé, so that they can enjoy the popsicles as well as the grown-ups.
Feel free to try different variations of the fruits. You can use raspberries, slices of strawberry, a combination of all of them, or even leave the fruit out completely. If you choose the latter route, you will not have to do the popsicles in three stages, but can fill each one and place the stick in all at once.
These popsicles don’t only look fun, they are a delicious sweet surprise to the end of any summer inspired get-together.
Bon Appétit and keep those #pinkies down!
One of my favorite simple spring cocktails is the Pimm’s Cup. I think I had my first one in New Orleans, but since then I have ordered them at cocktail bars all around the country. Unlike many classic cocktails, there isn’t a tried and true unwavering recipe for the drink. I have had them made as simply as combining Pimm’s with ginger ale or lemonade, but probably the best Pimm’s Cup I can remember was at Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston, Texas. It was so good, I actually asked if they would share the recipe. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, but they were so gracious that they immediately printed out a full copy of their recipe which included gin, club soda and muddled cucumber.
So, when I was recently tasked with creating a new cocktail using the Underwood Rosé Bubbles, I wanted to create my own interesting take on the classic cocktail. I decided to steal a little bit from the Anvil recipe but expand it in other ways. Pimm’s is a great addition to any at-home liquor cabinet, and you can have a lot of fun with this version or with inventing your own variations. The Rosé Bubbles adds the much-needed bubbles in place of the club soda or ginger ale.
This recipe makes 2 drinks…’cause who wants to drink alone?
Sparkling Pink Pimm’s Cup
6 oz Underwood Rosé Bubbles
2 oz gin (we’ve been loving the locally made Rose City Gin)
1.5 oz Pimms’s No.1
2 oz Grenadine syrup
1.5 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 inch chunk of cucumber roughly chopped
10-12 fresh mint leaves
2 straws, (preferably not made of plastic!)
Put the cucumber and mint in a medium to a large shaker and muddle well.
Add the gin, Pimm’s, Grenadine syrup, and lemon juice to the shaker and gently muddle. Add 1-2 cups of ice and shake well.
Fill two tall glasses with ice and paper straws. Put 2 oz. Rosé Bubbles in each glass.
Using a cocktail strainer (or small fine mesh colander) divide the liquid in the shaker between the two glasses.
Top off each drink with another ounce or so of the Rosé Bubbles. (This is where the straw comes in very handy. It, more or less, allows the drink to mix as it’s consumed.) You can garnish with extra mint or cucumber if that’s your jam, but I’ve never been one for unnecessary garnishes. I do strongly recommend serving the drinks with a side of cucumber slices with lemon and kosher salt for an extra little treat.
We hope this will brighten up your spring afternoons and impress your friends.
Cheers and keep those #pinkiesdown.