Thursday, July 31, 2014

Generating Problems

Let's go back to this past Sunday... 

I bought our 4000 watt generator at Harbor Freight for $299 plus a 1-year Extended Service Plan (plus a $25 wheel kit). It came to a horrific total of $409 but large payments I'm sadly getting used to. But, it's necessary to get the truck up and running so if it gets me closer to making money, it's what I have to do!

Sunday was the day of truth- the first day when we would test our power and plumbing and see what happened.

This baby weighed (what I thought was a whopping) 196 lbs empty. Lifting it into the truck was extremely hard but doable, even alone because I'm a beast but whatever. 

I have no pictures from Sunday because it was a terribly annoying letdown of a day. We got the generator powered up (I had to figure out how to put the engine oil in and fill it with gas along with the starting procedure) and turned on the breakers in the truck only to discover not all of our outlets work, most importantly the one that powers the water heater. 

... ugh... 

It was hot at the storage place where we've got the truck parked which made our experience even more extremely miserable. Just the thought of having to drive our truck back to Auburn and to the guy who supposedly "fixed" our electrical and plumbing was exhausting and infuriating. Early morning traffic heading down to Auburn could take over double the time.

Oh, and it did. It took us 1.5 hours to drive what should have taken 35 minutes.

We drove the truck down there on Tuesday while banging our heads against our steering wheels for him to troubleshoot and figure out why the hell everything wasn't working for the 5K we paid him to make everything.... work

It took him about two hours to redistribute the electrical load in the truck and then we were left with a measly 10 amps of power to spare (and not even our coffeemaker or microwave hooked up).... even though we told him everything we wanted to power on the truck and he assured us that a 3000 watt generator would do the job. So now he told us that 4000 watts isn't powerful enough. Grr.  

He checked to make sure the water came out of the faucets, they worked and then we said goodbye to him and even though he's a nice guy, I really don't want to see him again. Like, ever again.

After resigning ourselves to the fact we needed to get another generator, we then had to deal with the fact we couldn't return it full of fuel and engine oil. We had to buy a siphon and siphon everything out... which took me a good while.

And then stupid crap happens to me like this. The gas spout somehow broke apart and is now living at the bottom of the can. Because, that's our luck. 

Then we took the generator back to Harbor Freight opened, barely used, but free of oil or fuel. With my extended service plan I bought they allowed me to return it with no restock fee and upgrade it to a 8000 watt generator. We also bought an ATV ramp on sale for $45 that should help get the generator up into the truck.

Our new generator has been dubbed The Monster because that's what she is. She clocks in at 236 lbs while empty. She's a beast. Maybe I should call her The Generager?

Anyway, we got her to the truck and I put the wheel kit on, fueled and oiled her up just like the last generator. I'm becoming a pro at this. 

I worked in the only shade provided to me- between the truck and the storage place fence. It worked.

She came on and worked very well, everything came on. But, one thing came on too much. Our water heater was dribbling water all over the floor. We realized that the two connectors on the top weren't closed very well allowing water to freely flow out onto the floor. Also, our hand washing sink's drainage pipe is cut too long and doesn't match up to the rest of the plumbing well. 

So... there's always something else to fix. 

But, at least those things aren't deal breakers and we will be able to open on time.

BUT STILL! I feel like I should get some of that 5K back that I paid my truck builder. :(

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mixed Signals

Craigslist has been amazing to us. We've found our rental house, our dining room table, our truck and now... a smoking deal on a mixer!

I've been trolling around daily trying to find a good deal on a Kitchenaid mixer. Our commercial kitchen has some huge mixers that are available for us to use but they are monstrous. Maybe one day (maybe soon) I'll be making batches that big but I wanted another smaller size mixers for the sized batches I'd be making regularly.  

I have a 5 quart red Kitchenaid stand mixer (which goes for $299-349 and sometimes more) so I was mostly looking for a good deal on one exactly like mine. I was feeling disappointed because the past two or three sellers I'd contacted with good deals ($120-150 range) had already sold it by the time I contacted them. 

But then, I saw someone had listed a 6 quart mixer for $100 and I immediately pounced. This mixer is normally $449 on the Kitchenaid website and listed for about $285 from other sellers on Craigslist. 

I asked him about the attachments and if it worked alright. He said it had barely been used and has been sitting in his storage. It took me about 35 minutes to drive to Ballard to his apartment building but the traffic was worth it. Strangely... he lives across the street from the lot that our bakery truck was parked where we first saw her. What a weird coincidence!

Anyways... here's Big Red and Little Red. I love that they're matching! It was unintentional... 

She came with all her attachments: paddle, whisk, and dough hook plus a plastic batter shield to keep things from flying out. 

Love it, what a steal! Poor guy, he didn't know what this baby is worth.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Tour Ride

Hop aboard, everyone! It's time to take a little truck tour!

We've painted and installed our curtains, our lovely family photos, and cushy floor mats (found at for $20 each) to make the hours standing and serving at the windows a little more bearable on our feet.

These frames I found at the thrift store and tried to find the lightest-weight frames I could find. They were about .99-$1.99 each. I sanded them down, repainted, and put some crackle medium on them to match the menu boards. Then I put in the pictures of our truck's namesake, Bertha Mae (my Mom's grandma). 

Here's the view from the rear of the truck showing our bakery racks and vinyl covers. I haven't hung up the hooks or clock yet as I haven't decided where I want everything to go yet. 

The hooks are just barely hanging on in some old holes that were already on the wall. 

We got some bins for more storage- cleaners, packaging, anything else. I secured it with a bungie cable that'll keep things from sliding while the truck is in motion. 

We've got a trash can and some more drawer storage secured with a cord as well. 

Here's how we hung up the curtains: I found some hooks that could screw into the hollow form of the window without compromising anything and a curtain rod that would span the window. I ended up putting in four hooks just to make sure it was all supported. The rod fit pretty well in the hooks but I used a rubber band to just make sure it wouldn't pop out of there. It's not very noticeable so it does the job. 

The curtains are kid's blackout curtains we found at Target that we just hemmed to the length we needed. I put some Velcro on the bottom to keep the curtain from opening freely when in motion. 

Nothing too exciting here, I just picked up a nicely sized bin for some more storage. There was a crumbling basket already there that was just cracked and broken and full of odd parts like spare wheels to the fridge. 

It gives me a nice place to toss some keys or perhaps a water bottle or two.

Then we got some cheap adorable dash accessories- some lucky cats to bring in the customers!

I still love my new seat cover and new seatbelt that we installed. The old one I had to wine and dine to get it to come out correctly so I could buckle in. 

And here's the view of my little lucky cats from the outside of the truck! They're so quirky and fun, I hope they bring me lots of customers! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tick-Tock Pink Clock

I took forever coming up with that title and in my head it sounds really stupid. Oh well. 

We've been spending the time after getting the decals done on the truck sprucing up the inside. We've added curtains for the window, bins for storage (secured with bungie cords so things don't go flying), some family photos, a paper towel holder, and some cute little dashboard accessories. I'll be sharing more about that later but I recently fixed up a cute retro clock and some hooks to add to the inside. 

I really have been wanting this clock for the inside but at $30, I wasn't ready to pull the trigger. I thought I could probably find something cheaper perhaps. I also wasn't sure if I wanted the clock in black. I couldn't find it in pink and the green that they carry is more on the olive side than mint.

So one day, we found ourselves at Bed, Bath & Beyond with a 20% coupon and I casually perused the clocks, not really expecting to find anything truck-worthy. 

Then I stumbled upon this retro wall clock that is so close to the original one that I had wanted. At $19.99, the price was a tad more than I wanted to spend on a goofy clock for the inside but I figured this was as good as it was going to get. 

I knew that I definitely did not want the cream color (as it would look dirty next to the stark-white of the interior walls) so I got a can of pink spray paint and went to town. I really wanted to incorporate more green into the interior because... I'm not a pink fan, really... but the right shade of mint green is SO HARD to find. So, pink it is. 

We went to Storables, which is a Washington/Oregon chain not unlike The Container Store I believe, and found these cute hooks for $4.99. They met the spray paint too!

I really tried for thin, even coats. The wind was against me a little bit. Painting the clock was challenging so I rested on that folded lip of the cardboard in the next picture to elevate it a little. 

Ta da! I can't wait to hang these up, they are so adorable and charming! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Same Name?

It has taken four years to finally do it and as of Thursday I officially changed my name. Now, why has it taken me so long to change my name after marriage? Well, there's a lot of factors that has caused me to pause on taking that step. 

In the days after first getting married I kept my name on Facebook the same. I figured that I hadn't officially changed my name so why change it on Facebook? The next day after our wedding I logged on to see the congratulations rolling in from both sides of our families. I had made a comment and someone from his side said, "Hey Ashley, time to change that last name!" 

Without a thought I changed it- but not for long. My new name didn't feel like... me. And then I started thinking about why women are supposed to change their names anymore, why it's just expected to do so without a thought. Here, I had lived with this name for 23 years and suddenly my identity is null and void and I'm this new person just because we got married? I had gone through school with this name, accumulated credit with this name, and earned my degree with this name. I felt tied to it. It flows well. 

I have often asked Russ throughout our marriage if I should change my name and if it bothers him if I don't. His usual answer is, "It's your name, do what you want." But, I've often wondered if he says that because he knows I'm too stubborn to change my mind anyway and he just wants to go with the flow or if he really doesn't care. I have thought deep down that he's probably wanted me to take his name but he will not ever clearly say it so. 

And I do understand the other side of the coin about name changing- maybe you have hated your last name because it's always mispronounced or misspelled constantly. Maybe you really like his last name and you want to come together as a united couple and start your marriage that way. That's fine. I'm not trying to preach to women to go the exact route I did- I just want us all to have a choice in the matter. I want all women to think about it before just mindlessly changing it because that's what you're supposed to do

I almost did just that until I stopped and questioned, "Wait---- why?" 

For the last few years I've toyed with three ideas: hyphenating, making 'Wright' my new middle name and 'Cook' my new last name (but I love my middle name already!), or just taking 'Cook' as a last name and going along with tradition. 

I have been using Wright-Cook on Facebook since I got married, more or less toying with living with it forever. I even have a gmail account with that name. I've been testing it out for a few years but something happened this week that ultimately made me decide.

I was in a published interview with my truck graphics company and they referred to me as Ashley Wright-Cook from my gmail address. That's it, my mind was made! I loved the way my new name sounded and how well our last names flow together. I'm paying respect to my old name as well as acknowledging my new life with Russ- it's a perfect blend of my old and new lives. 

So I sat in the Social Security office for over an hour to get the ball rolling on finally changing my name. 

Some people might think that hyphenating is just some PC BS and completely stupid for bucking tradition. To them I say, I don't care. It's my name and my choice. I'm the one that has to live with this name, how about you mind your own business? 

Disclaimer: I'm not telling anyone what to do- do what you want. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

A View or Two

On Tuesday Mom and I submitted our paperwork to get our truck through the King Co. Health Department. After paying a huge chunk of change to get our inspection, we decided that such a lovely day would be best viewed from the Columbia Tower which was two blocks from the health department. We needed our spirits to be lifted after we are both flirting with being completely broke. 


Now, I know that part of the experience of going to Seattle is most definitely the Space Needle- it's an icon, it looks like a flying saucer, and was part of the 1962 World's Fair. But, let me tell you, it doesn't even rival the view you'll get of the city from Columbia Tower. It was just remodeled last year to go from 270 degree viewing to a full 360 degrees. 

Standing at 76 stories tall, Columbia Center stands as the tallest building in Seattle and in the state of Washington (and the second tallest on the West Coast, second to L.A.'s US Bank tower). Because of this, according to the 9/11 Commission, Columbia Center was also going to be a target of the 9/11 attacks. 

The Sky Deck will cost you a mere $12.50 (or $9 for Senior, Student or Military) which is less than what the Space Needle will cost you ($17-22) and it's usually never as busy as the Space Needle, the view is infinitely better, and you can view the city any day comfortably regardless of the weather outside (the Space Needle has an outside and inside observation deck but the view inside isn't that great). 

Now, I'm not knocking the Space Needle- I DO love it there but if you have to pick between the two in terms of paying for a view of Seattle- Columbia wins hands down. 

Port of Seattle!

Mt. Rainier stands at 14,400ft and I've seen it as far away as 80 miles!

And you can see the Space Needle prominently from Columbia Center!

I also went there in January during sunset and the view was even more breathtaking. In the bottom lefthand corner of the next image you can see the ferry leaving the dock. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Pyromania Day

Happy 4th, everyone! 

I'm just stopping by to do a little photo dump of our Def Leppard & KISS concert last Friday the 27th in Ridgefield, WA. It's near Portland so we left when we thought it was early enough at around 2:30pm. What was supposed to be a 2 hour and 45 minute drive took FIVE hours with traffic. It was horrendous. Seriously horrendous. We barely made it there when Def Leppard started playing their set. 

I was really impressed with Def Leppard's show. I know a lot of their songs and I'm not a huge fan or anything but it was really entertaining and they sounded great. 

Then KISS played their set and this was the second time I've seen them. They always put on an explosive show. 

We got home close to 4 am! It was a long, tiring night but we had a lot of fun (with the exception of some annoying people near us- a linebacker of a woman shoving me out of my seating area and some kids standing on seats in front of us- how rude). 

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!