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Amazon Reviews van build

Amazon Product Review:

Suburban 3206A Gas Range with Conventional Burners – Black w/Piezo Ignition, 17”

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Today, we are starting a series of Amazon product reviews. If you’ve landed here because you are building out a van or just curious about the process, then you might be interested in our experience with the appliances and tools we used on our own build! I’ll describe the product we bought plus the pro’s and con’s of it. Let’s get started with the oven. 

Things to Consider Before Buying any Oven:

Space

Space is always the limiting factor in a van build. Space is constant. You can have more/less water, more/less electricity, more/less propane – not space. Ovens can be harder to fit into shorter vans and stove tops take up your counter space. So, visualize where an oven would go and the opportunity cost of giving up that space for something else.

 Propane

If you don’t want to use propane, this particular oven may not be the one for you. You might put more effort into a good battery/electrical system and then get an induction stove top (as many van builders do) and use a smaller propane tank for a camp burner.ExpensiveOur oven cost $473.23 from Amazon (currently $455 at the time of this writing). Ours is 21x18x16 inches, 54 pounds, gas range with piezo ignition. So, it’s a fairly simplified design, you have to turn the ignition on a separate knob and you have to manually light the oven with a hand held lighter. The ovens with electric ignition are quite a bit more expensive than even this one.We like our oven, but it’s not great at heat disbursement. So, keep in mind your RV oven won’t behave like a full kitchen oven and will take some practice to get used to how it cooks.

Do you even want an oven? 

We almost considered using just an Air Fryer for our cooking, because we were already in the habit of using it for much of our food. But, we figured we would need the oven too often to do without. We plan to live full-time in the ProMaster, so the convenience of an oven/stove combination seemed like a luxury we needed to make the van feel more like a home. Maybe you don’t use the oven often at all. Maybe you want to do a microwave/portable propane stove combo. Just think about how you usually heat/cook your food and what your goals are for the van.


Alright, so here are the pro’s and con’s of our specific oven.

Suburban 3206A Gas Range with Conventional Burners – Black w/Piezo Ignition, 17”

Pro’s:

  • Sleek Black Color
  • Easy to use stove top ignition
  • 3 gas burners
  • Easy to clean
  • I feel like it gives us extra counter space when it’s not being use
  • Compact but efficient
  • Fits an average Costco pizza
  • Easy to hook up to the propane lines – Common size fitting
  • Spots for mounting

Con’s:

  • Small, so pans & dishes need to be smaller
  • Poor heat disbursement (runs down the middle in a line), so we needed to get a pizza stone to help
  • Expensive, but I wouldn’t say it was too expensive for how often we use it
  • Arrive with a dent in the front (common complaint on Amazon too)
  • From other Amazon customers (not us): rusting after 6 months, weak burner grill, paint scratching off

Hopefully this gives you some helpful information while you’re shopping for your oven. Questions? Let me know in the comments!


If you click this link to the oven and end up purchasing something from Amazon, we may get a commission at no extra cost to you. It’s a great way to support us on the road!


Sincerely, Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found Just for Fun

The Nomad’s Book Club

Last week I was struck by this thought….

There’s got to be other ‘nomadic’ women (girl-mad, anyone?) out there with extra time on their hands who get a little bored and a little lonely like me. What if we could gather digitally and commune over a shared love of reading?

So, I asked around and about 10 women actually agreed to join my group!

My plan is to hold weekly meetings and while the membership is small, I will be inviting them to participate live in the discussion. My hope is that it will provide each of us with a meaningful social connection.

In the long run, I’d love for this to turn into a membership site providing connection to all sorts of location independent female workers. Right now, we have a few digital nomads with us and a few travel nurse spouses like me.

Our first book we will read is called, The Huntress by Kate Quinn. If you’re someone who gets a little bored and would like to join click here! Have you been in an online book club? What did you like or dislike? I’d love some ideas. In the mean time, I’ll bring some updates about our thoughts on the book!

Until next time,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

Consciously Incompetent

When starting a new project, there are several levels of competencies:

Unconscious Incompetence – you don’t know if you’re capable or not, you don’t know where the gaps are in your knowledge. The problem here is that you might not recognize your mistakes. If you’re a person filled with false pride…then this can be a dangerous place to be!

Conscious Incompetence – a humbled place where you recognize, “I have no idea what I’m doing.” This is the place where Ivan started as he jumped into the van build. He pursued the knowledge of others and tried to absorb and apply the things he learned.

Conscious Competence – you’re now able to do the things that seemed impossible, but you still need help and you still need to consciously think through each step you take. Ivan is getting closer to this conscious competence regarding the van build. He has built up experience with plumbing, carpentry, and wiring – but he still needs to tread carefully.

Unconscious Competence – now you’ve arrived! If you can hop on a bicycle and peddle away without second thought, you have unconscious competence. The training has been internalized and you can proceed unconsciously, without making mistakes.

As we began the van build in a state of Conscious Incompetence – Ivan purchase blueprints from Trent & Allie. He proceeded with caution, made some mistakes and fixed them, and planned to follow the blueprints exactly.

However, now that he’s been in the van almost everyday for about 3 months, he’s starting to recognize where he can step away from the blueprints and make his own decision.

Not to be too sappy here – but, it’s a little like that transition from teenager to adult. Day by day, you start recognizing “Oh, I can make this decision myself instead of copying my parents.” Comedian Christina Patsziski referst to this as the “Patsziski Effect”.

Example: Why do I keep moving my dang charging cable around the house, when I could just buy another one?

Or: Hm, nothing is stopping me from buying and eating Pop Tarts for dinner.

In our case: Well, maybe we don’t need a closet here – maybe we want more counter space.

The van really started to feel like our van build when we decided to change the original layout from Trent & Allie’s design. We will now have 1) no closet, but more countertop; 2) a L-shaped couch instead of 2 facing seats; 3) a semi-convertible bed; 4) a sliding pantry inspired by Tio Aventura.

I’m excited about the bed we are doing! It took Ivan quite a bit of puzzling to tease it out into a plan. Half of the bed will be mobile – it will pull out and in. We will attach a harness to the mattress so that when it scoots it, the mattress slides up the wall and becomes a back cushion for sitting.

slide the arrows to see this pushed in/pulled out frame

This bed change allows for extra seating under the bed – hence, the L-shaped couch. The L-shaped couch was inspired, because it helps us maneuver around the inverter and wiring that was set up prior to these changes.

Being able to have the freedom and confidence to say, “I’m doing something different.” makes me feel like we really are part of Van-iverse. There’s nothing wrong with the original design, but it now feels like our van will have more of our personality.

Have you experienced that transition from (Un)Conscious Incompetence to (Un)Conscious Competence? If so, please comment and share!

Until next time,

Hanna

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found Just for Fun

They’re not called ‘fur babies’ for nothin’

How do you know when you’re ready for a puppy or dog or any kind of pet? As an adult, I have not had the responsibility of pet ownership and the thought of having a little companion is quite rosy and sweet. Right now, she’s being a good little girl lying next to me on the couch.

Of course, she’s nothing like a human baby – I’m not falling for that. But, wow, is a puppy a lot of work. Between getting up in the middle of the night, keeping a corner eye on her at all times, and the constant wondering is she’s sad, bored, or content, I wonder how a person could do this with a full time job!

Yet, she’s so darn cute! Is it okay if we take a moment to ooh and ahh?

This is Frankie – she’s a girl and particularly adorable when she’s asleep in awkward poses.

I’ve spent a lot of time alone while traveling on nursing assignments. In Florida, Ivan worked 5 nights a week. He usually works 3-4 days a week. A nurse’s shift is often 12 hours long, 13 by the time you include shift change and commuting. Without kids or nearby friends, it’s gets lonely! I didn’t understand loneliness until we started travel nursing.

There are ways around it – go meet people, sit in coffee shops, go to church, sell things at craft fairs – these are things that definitely kept me busy and entertained. But, I’d still come back to the idea that it might be nice to have a furry friend too.

Let’s be honest – we didn’t overthink getting a dog, but we did take our time. I can already see she’s helping me stay active and she gives me just the right amount of stress to be mentally engaged during the day.

All that to say, she’s a lot of work – but good work and we love her so much!

How did you know when you were ready for a dog? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time!

Hanna

Categories
van build

3 Things We Wish We Would’ve Checked Before Buying our ProMaster Van

We knew there would be unforeseen maintenance, but as amateurs at care buying, here are the three things I wish we would’ve checked first, because it might have given us a bit more negotiation leverage. Maybe, maybe not. 

A little background – these tips are personal to our buying experience as we shopped for a Ram ProMaster to convert into a tiny home. So, it was a bigger and more “industrial” purchase than a regular car.

It was pretty obvious the side door handle needed replacing, since the handle itself had been broken off. I did a quick Amazon search, thinking it might only be $50. In fact, the replacement part was $115. If we opted to have someone replace it for us, we were looking at a $200 ordeal. When settling on the price, we were able to get $500 knocked off. The salesman was pretty ready for that move and pulled out the, “This is the best price in the country on this type of van.” Which, was true. But, it’s still $18,000 coming out of our pocket.

Here are three more unforeseen problems, that we probably could have checked while at the lot.

  1. The Spare Tire – This is one I wouldn’t have thought about, unless someone mentioned it. How often is the spare tire flat? Actually, I don’t know. I don’t buy cars that often. But, repairing the spare tire cost us $183, rounding up to $200.
  1. The Headlights – These might be hard to check during the daytime, but try to get a close look at them. Are they scuffed and scratched? Does it look like some elbow grease will shine them up? We didn’t know it until our overnighter road trip how dim they were and not just because of the bulbs. Ours were pretty worn and needed replacing, which added up to $330. Whew! Who knew they’d be so pricey? If it’s obvious your desired car will need new headlights, do a quick Amazon search to get an estimate. 
  1. Brakes & Oil – ask the dealership when they last changed the brakes and oil. It may be standard practice, it may depend on the dealership. You might need new pads, or new calipers too. But, changing the brakes to make sure they were fresh and ready to go cost us $390.
Our brakes really weren’t terrible, and it gave Ivan something to do/learn while waiting for the weather to warm up.

All in all, the repairs we were responsible for added up to $1,000. We got a bit knocked off the price, could have negotiated another couple of hundred dollars if we knew to look for these three things? Maybe, maybe not. 

But, at least I will know for next time. (Hopefully, there’s not going to be a next time to soon!!)

Any other quick checks people should do when buying a car? Maybe ones that are less obvious than checking tire tread? Comment below. And, good luck on your next car purchase!

Love,

Hanna 

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Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found van build

3 ways before/after photos are like magic

I fell prey to the magic of before and after photos. For months now, Ivan has been watching YouTube videos, reading articles, researching parts and plans. He’s been building an arsenal of knowledge about processes and products required for a van build. On the flip side, I’ve been browsing van builds as they come up in my Instagram feed. I started following a few van lifers (see below) and periodically read their happy, dreamy content. I didn’t realize I was succumbing to the magic of before and after photos until Ivan put his hands on the van and started cutting, drawing, sawing, and buying all sorts of equipment. For example, this week Ivan installed the solar panels and the air vents.  It took a couple of days, but the sense of accomplishment was palpable when Ivan finished. Hours and days go into the build, and then it can be summed up in a sentence or a 10 minute video – if only big projects could be actually be done that quickly. 

Ah, bare bones.
Look how fast it was to insulate! (not)

We know social media provides a distortion of reality, we know this deep down. If you’re like me, though, we let ourselves forget it in day-to-day scrolling and liking. So, I had this little idea that before/after photos act like magic tricks and here are three ways it reminds me of magic. Afterward, I’d love to hear (read) your own examples of social media magic!

  • It’s actually feels like waving a wand

The magical part of swiping, is that you literally wave your thumb and the magic happens! Look, it’s done! In the first picture, the project seemed daunting and huge. However, in less than a second the finished product is there before my eyes. Wow, it must have been a lot of work, but here it is. I love swiping back and forth between the images, it’s like undoing the magic and reapplying it instantaneously. The unfinished product won’t be there for long, because I can wave my magic wand (thumb) and voilà! It’s inspirational, it shows us these projects are doable, but it teases the mind like a delightful magic trick.

  • It skips the mental work

There are several days here and there where the productivity is invisible – meaning Ivan is thinking and planning. Each stage of the build requires fore knowledge of the next two or three stages. Before Ivan makes a move, he visualizes Ivan the carpentry, wiring, and plumbing. Some days he didn’t build or paint or saw anything. I’d find him walking around inside and outside the van with a furrow in his brow and arms crossed. The “thinking air” is almost palpable. At the end of the day, we’d talk a little. I would asked, “How did it go? What did you do?” to fire up a small conversation.

There’s a sense that “thinking a lot” isn’t productive, that it’s wasting precious time to get the build done. Swiping between a before/after image or watching fast-paced clips in a project video, skips the thinking time. And, thinking is absolutely critical! Without thinking, double-checking, replanning, trying different angles, there would certainly be mistakes – and this project is too permanent for mistakes. If you’re getting ready for a van build or project, it’s okay to take a day or two and just think. This is why Ivan is better suited to the building task than myself. I tend to jump in and figure things out along the way, I like the sense of discovery and learn through trial and error, although this process is often inefficient. 

  • It glosses over the beauty of physical labor

Even though the magic swipe piques interest, curiosity, and amusement – it glosses over the beauty of physical labor. You could purchase an RV that’s livable. You could purchase a van that’s already been converted. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I could easily be talked into it as long as we had enough money saved to use cash for it. Ivan and I even had a conversation along those lines. But, from watching the YouTuber’s he enjoys so much, he wanted the experience of building up the tiny home from scratch. It would be boring to see videos of someone sawing out a square in the side of a vehicle, but that’s what the van build is. YouTube videos show the hard labor involved, but even then it’s cut and shortened to accommodate our attention span. Admittedly, no one should be expected to watch someone else measure, remeasure, and cut. I’m just saying the magic of swiping cannot impart the beauty of physical labor being poured into a construction project. 

Prior to our own build, I’d see a video here or there and look through before/after images. While a person can appreciate the enormity of building projects, I certainly did not have any sense of the time involved. Swiping between photos gives the illusion of magical transformations. It’s not magic, it’s long, it occurs inch by inch and minute by minute.

I’m still going to swipe and like as much as I please, but now I have a greater appreciation for everything in between the photos – the sweat, stress, mistakes, and boring days of painting. I would not have understood the magic trick prior to owning a van – and that’s okay, it’s not a bad thing at all. But, now my curiosity is piqued. Are there any other delightful magic tricks you’ve noticed on social media?

Comment and share!

Talk soon,

Hanna 

Popular YouTubers – Eamon & Bec, Trent & Allie, Tio Aventura

Products to Shop – click here!

Categories
A Little Lost, A Little Found

8 Weeks, No Husband

Are there any blogs out there not talking about the impact of the corona virus? Is there anyone out there not impacted by it? Here’s what’s been going on with us… About 8 or 9 weeks ago, my husband accepted an offer to do a travel nursing contract in New Jersey. We live in Utah. Covid-19 was just stretching out its grubby little fingers across the country, schools were announcing two week closures, and everything was a ‘maybe’. At the time, we knew traveling was increasingly risky and flights were getting cancelled left and right, but figured I would still be able to visit. I thought for sure, “I’ll see him in two weeks. Ok, maybe 4.” One week ticked by, then another, schools closed until summer break, restaurants and non essential businesses were closing down, should I even go visit a close friend? About 3-4 weeks into his contract, we accepted the fact that I would not be coming out to see him. (You can probably tell by now, I didn’t intend to provide a checklist of productivity habits. It wasn’t until I started posting that I realized that would’ve been a good idea. Next time?)

How do people do it? I’ve been thinking of military families this whole time. 8 weeks has been painful and lonely. 8 weeks of no kisses, no hugs, no hand holding. But, all the while, it’s nothing compared to what other families suffer for months or years. Thankfully, he’s safe at an American hospital – not at risk of being attacked like our military men and women. But, it’s still the most time I have spent away from him and I still don’t like it.

Why did he go? I’ll be honest, but brace yourself – you might find it to be shallow. The money was too good to pass. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m rather lost these days, clomping around in swamp of ideas until something magically clicks. I’m leaving my teaching post and we are getting ready to set off on another year of DRAFTJS_BLOCK_KEY:gg57travel nursing. So if Ivan could earn in 8 weeks what I make in 10 months on a teacher’s salary, well, why not? Oh, keep in mind, we didn’t think it would be 8 weeks apart at the time. What I noticed during the 2 months apart, is the way that time becomes suspended. Days blur together and suddenly I look up and it’s finally Friday. How is it that the mind can compartmentalize like that? Perhaps it’s the routine I created during the work week, but it’s like the clocks function separately from me. The weeks are a blur. I experienced this when I was hospitalized a few years ago. I was in the hospital for 1 week and one moment it was morning, then suddenly it was evening. On the one hand, days are slow and time drags. On the other, it’s like a trance where maybe time moves and maybe it doesn’t. The blur of time makes it less painful. Watch TV and, “Oh, look at that. Time for bed.”

Here’s an actual shot of me falling through time:

Have you experienced this time suspension? If so, I’d love to know what it was like. Comment your experience below! A lot has happened in the last 8 weeks, and wherever Corona decides to go next, at least my husband and I will be together for it.

Much Love,

Hanna

#hescominghome