DIY Spacer #VanLife

DIY Spacer in action

When building a sliding frame for a bed/couch combo, the dimensions, spacing, and math of building is extra critical. To align each slat along the 75″ long frame, Mark built this DIY spacer.

Aligning to the spacer means equal spacing between slats, and a 90 degree angle. We still spot-checked the angle with a square.

Mark built it out of scrap lumber. The spacer width was based on the math of 75″ long (standard cot length) divided by the number of slats.

Other building tips from for the frame:

  • The sliding ends of each 2×3 are chamfered to allow for an easier up on the solid boards.
  • Vinyl slips about 1×2″ are under the boards stationary ends of the sliding boards.
    • Recapping…chamfered end on sliding boards on the end that moves out, vinyl slips on the stationary end of the board.
  • Every other board slides.
  • For us, the frame leg on the passenger side of the van lands in the slider steps. Therefore, that leg is a removable, screw-in table leg. It will be out when in couch mode. It will be in during bed mode.

Power & Bed Gen 2 #VanLife

With very few days left in our van conversion project plan, the kanban board is moving right. The biggest recent accomplishments is POWER! Yes! We have POWER!

The solar is charging the Battle Born batteries. The shore power is working. The battery monitor is working. Lights are controlled by switches. The fan work. The control panel is all fancy.

The sliding bedframe/couch had to be rebuilt b/c Gen 1 somehow lost 4 inches. Size matters when you’re talking the difference between 56″ wide bed for two to a 60″ wide bed for two.

Also completed and not pictured…

  • The bed is mounted to the van.
  • The bed has under bed LED strips for “garage” and nightlight lighting.
  • Bins for the “garage” are packed.
Thats what she said! |

#VanLife starting to look like a tiny home

It’s been a bunch of busy nights and weekends to get here. We missed our practice camp weekend–which was designed to test things before leaving on the road trip.

List of accomplishments:

  • Shore power works!
  • We have overhead lighting that runs off solar, house batteries, or shore power!
  • Wool insultation for temperature control and Reflectix for condensation control are 99% complete. There are a few spots to close up the Reflectix once the electric are complete.
  • Battery box/power bank is complete in the “garage.”
  • Control panel by slider door is WIP.
  • Bed/couch combo in 95% complete. It’s tested and works. Mark just wants to tweek it a bit.
  • I started painting the nails and overhead lighting trim for the bamboo walls.
  • Flooring and subfloor still complete.
  • Solar panels working well. Mark has an app with the Renology (I think) that monitors.

A reminder of what to do to build your brand as a woman or BIPOC

I attend an insightful, educated, and calm conversation around gender and race in my industry today. Hint: it’s a white man’s game. To view the recording, visit the Global Gaming Women website, view Conversations of Substance: Gender + Race in Gaming.

These are my takeaways.

Stats that demonstrate the lack of women and BIPOC in leadership roles are examples of Occupational Segregation.

I was blown away by the construct of occupational segregation. It makes sense. I get it. I had never thought of it like that. My areas of privilege are being white, educated, a executive, living in an area of middle class adjacent to upper class, and being of financial ease. Brought to light during the pandemic, I’d add: having a partner, being childless, and having means to make my home office comfortable. Therefore, I haven’t had to think about occupational segregation. I know the stats of 74/26 blend of male/female where I work. But I made it up the ladder. Eye opening.

This corresponds with the stats of for every 100 men that get the crucial first promotion to manager, only 85 women do, 71 Latinas, and 58 Black women. I have stats on my side.

The speakers discussed how everyone, no matter which majority or minority group you belong to, we all have our own unconscious biases that lead to our own set of microaggressions that we need to learn and control. I’ll add: especially if you are thinking, no I don’t. What’s the line? If you don’t think your neighborhood has a loud house, then you are the loud house. That.

They shared their tips for having a conversation with someone about a microaggression that you received or witnessed. Before speaking about it, ask yourself:

  • Are you surrounded by support?
  • Are you calm enough to speak in a manner that supports your personal brand?
  • Can you make it safe for both of you?

Likely, you’ll need to wait and circle back. When that moment comes, they recommended starting the conversation by identifying your own microaggressions or privilege, then lead into I saw/heard __X__ from you at ___X___ time. Make it safe and remember to have built a relationship with the person first. Meaning, cultivate a sense of trust and understanding in your work network. (This is assuming it is a person that you will continue to interact with.)

The conversation also included (started with) building a personal board of directors or hype team, and dealing with imposter syndrome. I found this to be an excellent demonstration of the way, listed above, to handle a chat about microaggressions. They opened with stats to get our attention and lead from a place of unbiased, third-party data. Then discussed items that pertain to all–even white men–which were the board of directors and imposter syndrome. Then they moved into the substance of biases and personal stories of lived experiences and wisdom (phenomenology).


To end, they shared lessons to live by:

  1. Perception is co-pilot to your brand. (I may have this wrong. It is attributed to Carla Harris.)
  2. Make sure you know what people think or say when you are not in the room. (More Carla Harris–she’s amazing, look her up!)
  3. Be your authentic self.
  4. Take risks. Be comfortable with change. This enables you to better see opportunities.
  5. Principles over politics.
  6. Fail forward and fast.
  7. Cultivate your network.
  8. Pay it forward.

#vanlife: oodles of projects

It's beginning to look a lot like roadtrip!

The past two weeks of projects has started looking like major accomplishments. The foundation is built. Framing starts this week.

What have we accomplished?

  • Solar panels installed, wiring run to appropriate part of the van interior.
  • Both Battle Born batteries tested and ready to connect.
  • Solar panels tested to confirm they are producing electricity.
  • MaxxFan installed and water-tested. Cross ventilation fan installed and test.
  • Shore power aka mooch-docking outlet installed.
  • Kilmat installed on all sheet metal surfaces.
  • Slider door lock fixed.
  • Slider door lined with Kilmat, wool, and Reflectix.
  • Dometic fridge setup in garage for testing. It cools very fast!
  • Sleeping in the lounge on the floor on van mattress from IKEA. Night 1, I am not a fan. Final verdict TBD.
  • Passenger door window bug screen done.
  • Made a kanban board in our kitchen cabinets.

We have to replace the cab headliner, the panel back on the slider door, and line the passenger barn door tomorrow.

Aiming for a glamping-style camp weekend somewhere regionally in October!

Kanban in the kitchen.

Reuse: Gelato to Orchid Pot

Why buy $20+ orchid pots when you can reuse a pint container?

As we approach life in a smaller space where size and weight of items matter immensely and glass is an accident waiting to happen, I’ve been looking for alternative orchid pots. In a recent sailing webcast, a sailor held up a repurposed Talenti gelato pint container. She said they make wonderful storage containers.

That made me think…couldn’t they be orchid pots?


  • The lid becomes the base.
  • For terrestrial orchids, drill drain holes in bottom.
  • For epiphyte orchids, my Phals, drill holes in sides. The Talenti bar that wraps around the pint makes for an excellent hole drilling template.
  • I painted with white Plasti-Dip. You can use other plastic-approved paint. I laid it on thick with a brush to give a textured look.
  • Make sure to drill holes, then paint, then use an awl or similar pick to clear the holes. I drilled one after painting with Plasti-Dip…well, the drill grabbed the dip and ripped it off.
  • Enjoy gelato in the Vegas heat!
left, terrestrial orchid. middle, epiphyte orchid. right, aloe that hasn’t been repotted yet.

I kept meaning to leave the bottom third unpainted so I could fill with shells or colorful rocks. Each painting time, I just painted the whole thing. So that’s a future decorative option.

#VanLife update: the floor is complete!

Project time: Aug 9-30. Three weeks of almost daily progress during record-breaking heat.
Spend: ~$1052

Floor – vinyl and adhesive $     122.00
Subfloor – plywood $     428.00
Insulation – wool for all sides + reflectix $     506.19
Items purchased for floor, plywood is not only for floors.

This was three sweaty weeks of building the sub-floor. It’s an interesting process b/c Mark had to build out the sub, complete with cutting weird angles only to pull it up in order to really build it.

Weird angles


Yes, he framed it out with loose screws to ensure it all fit and was level. Then he pulled it all up, in order to reattached “permanently” with glue and screws. Before the plywood went down for the final time, we also laid the wool between the slats for insulation.

Key learnings:

  1. Finding 1x2s and 2x4s without knots is difficult. An early morning trip to Home Depot helps.
  2. When working with so many screws, a magnetic wristband to hold them is priceless.
  3. Good templates are also priceless yet even stellar ones require trimming and shaping. Somehow the cardboard template and wood aren’t quite the same.
  4. August is very hot. Touching the inside metal of a black van will burn you.
  5. Cutting vinyl tiles straight is super easy. Cutting vinyl tiles around weird shapes require whittling and potato peeling skills.
  6. Everything takes 3x longer than you think it will.
  7. Center line devices are fun!

Once the formaldehyde-free plywood, wool, and pine boards were down for the sub-floor, I got to work helping with the cutting and laying of the vinyl tiles. We started over once. We thought there was logic to the vinyl’s wood pattern. After pulling some up and trying again, we learned that the pattern is eclectic, bohemian. We just embraced the non-matching wood slats. Used 2.5 boxes of tiles due to weird sizes and poor cutting.

During the floor build, we made the decision to ditch the crew bench seat. We had originally really wanted a second row of legal seating. We planned to incorporate into the floor. One morning, we realized that the sub-floor was inadvertently covering key access points for securing the bench seating. The choice was pull up the floor and cut access points, or decision to cut the seating altogether. We cut it. Thus, freeing up space for the pantry/closet area.

Mark spend days cutting and staining the trim pieces. Between sub-floor complete and laying the vinyl, he was out sanding and leveling the sub-floor.

Building the floor was a lot of work. I love how it turned out.

Next up: installing MaxxAir fan, laying the solar panels.

Zoom learning

The other day I tweeted…


The question came up: what specifically made it successful. Here’s my answer.

Notes: this is technical corporate training involving new hire technicians.
Class is normally a 5-day ILT at the main office with hands-on hardware 
& software activities. All are employees of the org & this is their job.


  • We prepped the learners and their managers that they were required to be on camera, engaged, and no multi-tasking.
  • We shipped books with swag to their homes ahead of the time.
  • We ensured that everyone had received their tech: laptop, apps.
  • The trainers rehearsed and divided up the load.
  • We decided to have a producer (one of the Curriculum Developers).
  • We are lucky that we already using interactivity in the classroom that translated to Zoom…C3 Softworks games.
  • Limited use of PowerPoint and when we did us, the book page number was on the slide for easy reference.

During Zoom:

  • The producer started and stopped each day, along with monitoring chat and adding supplemental files and links in the chat.
  • Splitting up the topics–whether lecture or hands-on–between the trainers resulted in less trainer fatigue and a change in pace for learners.
  • When software: trainers gave control to learners to drive and demo.
  • When hardware in the training room: the producer used a video camera connected to Zoom. We did not rely on built-in webcams to focus on the hardware. We used the same camera that we’d use in video dev.
  • Trainers asked questions, questions, and more questions of the learners. Learners were asked to share their experiences. These are adult professionals, not blank slates.
  • Learners connected to Zoom via laptops and mobile devices when we went over mobile apps. Learners shared their mobile device screens too.
  • Trainers played games using C3 Software to create a sense of fun and assess each student’s engagement and knowledge.
  • The class was scheduled in 4-hour sessions with breaks every 60-90 minutes.


Still a bit TBD. I have a Zoom scheduled in 4-weeks with the learners, trainers, and supervisors to see how things went upon reflecting and based on what has popped up during their time in the field. We also use Axonify with the Techs so they will continue to receive daily reinforcement training.


#vanlife update

The search for allergy-friendly, low VOC, renewable, and sustainable materials for building out the van has had a few purchases! Here’s what I’ve learned…

None of these are sponsored or affiliated. Just sharing what we bought based on my research and understanding.


We opted to spend a bit extra to get wool insulation. We settled on Havelock Wool. They actually recommend it for vans along with providing how many bags are needed for the Chevy Express! Their blog references a study on how wool cleans formaldehyde out of the air. I can’t speak to the validity of the study but I like the idea! It has started arriving from northern Nevada (buy local-ish!). The installation will start in the next week or so after all the electrical is complete.


I found formaldehyde-free plywood from Columbia Forest Products. It is sold in Reno, all over So Cal including Barstow, and not at all in Las Vegas. Home Depot carries it. We plan to inquire if Home Depot will do a store-to-store transfer before we spend a day driving away from Las Vegas where apparently they don’t mind formaldehyde.


Green Building Supplies carries Marmoleum, a natural linoleum. I wanted this badly. It was going to be hundreds of dollars for 67sqft. My partner was incredibly supportive. It was going to break the budget. I was willing to eat PBJ for it. I talked to Green Building who has EXCELLENT customer service. The finding is that the click-lock tiles (floating floor) are unsuccessful in a van. They thought the sheets would work but were doubtful.

We ended buying peel and stick vinyl from Armstrong Flooring. While not formaldehyde-free, it is California Air Board compliant (CARB). It’s the only mass-produced flooring that I could find with CARB compliance. Vinyl is the lesser of the evils when talking vinyl vs. laminate.

Walls and Ceiling

We landed on an island theme. Planned are bamboo thatch or paneling. We’re eyeing Forever Bamboo in San Diego. I’ve ordered a sample box. Waiting for that.

Additionally, I bought 4 burlap coffee bags from Bad Ass Coffee in Hawaii to use as an accent in nooks and edges. They have arrived and they STINK of coffee oil. I have them outside airing out but they need washing.

One day, I’ll have a photo share that is more like this. Minus the leopard and the actual tiki statue.

From Pinterest 

sliding knot & how YouTube vids don’t work for me

I was determined to learn sliding knots to make a necklace with this organic cotton thread. I am not a knot maker. If that was covered in Girl Scouts, I missed it. It’s far too practical to be part of K-12. My mom didn’t know knots. If my dad did, he died before teaching me (I was 10yo).

Two YouTube videos later, I had two sliding knots but they were backward…doubled over on itself. I’m not really sure. I don’t blame the YouTubers but I often can’t follow learning knots on video. I find that most don’t think to go slow enough and keep their hands out of the way. In my brain, it ends up being more like loop, turn, through, and poof! Magic!

I found this site with step-by-step drawings. With no hands blocking views, I finally understood how to do the 2nd knot! My sliding knot necklace is not error-free or something that I would sell on Etsy.

I’m not knocking YouTube, the creators, video-learning, or the mythical “visual learning styles.” My point is the importance of design in your instruction no matter how short or free a video. Move your hands! Go slower! Use more descriptive language and don’t skip important steps like how not to do it backward.

Tomorrow, I will reinforce my sliding knot by making an anklet.

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