Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flea Market find

I swear.... I didn't intend to buy anything for myself when we made a quick trip out to the First Monday Trade Days, in Canton, Texas. My Daughter's Stepson's birthday is this weekend, and we were going to pick up a toybox for him.

There's a man from Arkansas that makes chests, book shelves, and the like out of raised panel cabinet door "seconds". They look really nice, and cost less than I would have to pay for the wood to build something from scratch myself. All we have to do is stain them. The plan was to swoop down on the flea market first thing, grab a toybox, and be out of there before the full August heat settled in. I love browsing around Canton, but it ain't no place for a civilized man for at least 3 or 4 months of the summer.

Just too damned hot.

Anyway, all went according to plan until we discovered that they had just sold the last chest in the size we wanted. We put down a deposit on the size we wanted, with plans to return next month to pick it up. That left us with nothing to do but wander around and explore.

That's a dangerous position for me to be in at Canton :)

I found tons of cool stuff, but managed to limit myself to one item only. Its an old cast iron water heater from the 1920's. Stands about 2 feet tall:


I really like the looks of it, and the brass badge on the door adds something too.

This one even still has the old coil of copper tubing inside, through which the water to be heated would pass. You can see the burner assembly on the bottom under the copper pipe:


I've seen these on Ebay before, and I've always 'wanted' one, but the shipping was usually more than the winning bid. Cast iron is HEAVY. So, I could hardly pass this one up - no shipping fees, and it was cheap to boot!!

I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with it. Maybe a lamp, if I can come up with an attractive copper/iron industrial looking shade for it. Maybe something using a safety cage?.... I dunno, yet. I know it calls for something way better than a simple cloth/paper shade - or even most glass shades.

I'll clean up the rust, polish up the shiny bits, and paint her up nice. Hopefully that'll give me time to ponder the shade question.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Girl Friday August 29, 2008 - Isla Fisher

We watched a rental last night (Netflix rocks!). It was "Definitely, Maybe". Well it was definitely a chick-flick, but it was also maybe one of the most overlooked and under-rated movies that I've seen lately. Really well written and the cast was great.

Which brings me to the Girl Friday post: Isla Fisher.

Seriously.... could she be any more cute? If I had an exemption list, and I don't, she would be at the top.

Sourdough Bread

Now THIS is good stuff....


A Beautiful loaf of freshly baked sourdough bread, right out of the oven. I really enjoy baking. Bread, cake, rolls... you name it, I like to bake it. Its a shame that I had to lay off the carbs.... although, I think I actually enjoy it more when I do partake of stuff like this, now that its once a week instead of daily.

I baked my first loaf of bread way back in 1984, during my first year away from home at college. I discovered cooking that year, once I got tired of eating mac & cheese and vienna sausages every day. I lived in an efficiency apartment, with a tiny kitchen. I bought a cookbook - The Frugal Gourmet by Jeff Smith - and stumbled my way through learning as I went along.

My first loaf of bread turned out more like a firebrick than bread (the %#%%*$^ instructions didn't tell me I had to let it rise again once it was in the loaf pan :). It was awful, but I've improved over time. Enough so that I'm the designated baker in my family whenever we have family or holiday get togethers.

I'm new to Sourdough, though. Its taken me a while to get the hang of it. Its a different experience that making regular yeast bread. If you look on the internet, you'll see lots of recipes for "sourdough" bread. Most of which use lots of commercial yeast combined with a very young starter that is mostly commercial yeast as well. The result is normally a bland, not very sourdough-like bread.

My starter is wonderful, is very vigorous and active, and has a great sourdough taste. I never use any commercial yeast or other leavening agents when I make sourdough bread. Just flour, water, a bit of salt, and a touch of powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin c). The "acid" helps the yeast pump up and produce the maximum amount of gas possible to raise the dough.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cowboy up!!!

Here's a short clip of "mutton busting" at the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo in Denton, Texas. This little guy did very well, and I especially like the "high-five" he gives the rodeo clown at the end:

An outdoor rodeo in Texas during August may not sound like fun... but it was really a good time. The shower moved through the area just before we got there, and the sun went down enough to put us in the shade pretty soon after we got in the arena.

Rodeos in Texas are really interesting, for lots of different reasons. Especially if you go to the smaller ones. Watching people can be as entertaining as watching the events. Its not often you can see three generations of "hoochie momma" in one place. Granny hoochie, Momma hoochie, and the hoochie in training.... the group walked by us several times, I'm assuming to display their "wares" for potential men-folk. All three had enormous hair, and black off the sholder tube dresses that were so short I don't think they could have managed to walk up the steps into the grandstand without bareing all.

I should have taken their picture but I was too stunned with a mixture of horror and fascination at the time :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Girl Friday August 22, 2008 - Elizabeth Montgomery

A return of the "Girl Friday" posts with a blast from the past: Ms. Elizabeth Montgomery. I can remember watching Bewitched back in the late sixties. She was one of my first "crushes", back when I was just a little Paladin :)

This is the definition of 1960's Classy Sexy:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Corsicana, Texas Trip

The Wife and I got cabin fever last weekend. Its been so damned hot the past month, and gasoline prices have gotten so ridiculous, its curbed our weekend outings. It finally cooled up bit last weekend (upper 90's... brrrrr!!!!), and gas has dipped a couple of cents, so we took off south of Dallas to the small town of Corsicana. Just to have a look around, ya know? I've been through Corsicana on the interstate thousands of times. I've never been into the actual town itself though.

Neat little downtown area, with a nice little lunchonette/soda fountain that's supposed to be the oldest still in continuous operation in Texas. We ate lunch there. They still have a very active downtown area, whereas many little towns closer to Dallas have all but dried up as far as stores downtown.

Just South of Downtown you'll find the
Collin Street Bakery, which is DEFINITELY worth a visit. They are famous for Fruitcakes (yuck!), but have many other wonderful cookies, cakes, pies, and breads for sale. We both had a mini chocolate meringue pie... delicious!!

We visited the main old cemetery for the town. Pics are in my flickr stream (see link on the right side of this page). We also stumbled upon a strange old school. It was originally "Drane Junior High School", though it goes by another name now. Looks to date from the 20's, and has several really odd gargoyle-like carvings across the front:

drane gargoyle 2

Here's another:

drane gargoyle 3

Is it me?... or do these things look mentally ill? They all have the same goofy, confused look on their faces.

Not what I would usually expect on the front of a school :) I haven't been able to find any info on this place to explain it. If anyone reading this knows anything, drop me a line or comment.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back in the Saddle

After a longer than anticipated vacation from blogging (ie, I got busy and forgot about it) - Periodic and random posting will now resume. The only thing that I have time for now is this:

My Wife and I were at Office Max today, picking up some index cards. The lady in front of us was buying two - three ring binders. The cashier gave her a sales pitch for purchasing "protection" on the two binders at $2.50 each.

Yes... they are selling extended warranties for $10 binders now. I shit you not.

Almost as incredible was the fact that the lady BOUGHT THE EXTENDED WARRANTY!!!!!!

My wife gave me a horrified look when I said "You've got to be shitting me"... I swear I thought those words were just in my head, and not actually out loud :) I don't think anyone else heard us, at any rate...

While she was checking us out, the cashier's manager came by. She held up two fingers, and he gave her a "high-five" (for the two "warranties" she had sold).