Friday, December 5, 2014

Corn Pudding from the "Guarded Secrets" cookbook

Being from the midwest, I've always had an affinity for any recipe involving corn. My hometown was flanked by cornfields on every side. It was always a staple food and one that I've always liked. My grandma makes the best cornbread casserole in the entire world, no joke. I'm hoping one day she'll let me share it with the world, but for now I'm sworn to secrecy on the recipe. When I saw the recipe for "Corn - Spoon" in the "Guarded Secrets" cookbook, I knew I had to try it. It's the first recipe I've made from the book, but it definitely won't be the last.

* I knew this cookbook was special the second I dug it out of a box at a yard sale. To find out how special, read part 1 of the story. *

Now, on to the recipe....

I've edited the recipe instructions from the book slightly, to make it a bit easier to understand, but I did not change the actual recipe. Actually, I did change one small thing. I used less salt than was called for. 

This recipe is a corn pudding or a corn souffle. It turns out silky soft and melts in your mouth.


by Estelle Pond Rowen

1 1/4 cups scalded milk
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
2 tbsp butter
1 can cream style corn
3/4 tsp baking powder

Heat milk over medium high heat stirring frequently. When it starts to look slightly frothy, remove from heat. Stir in cornmeal and salt until the consistency of thick mush. Over low heat, blend in butter, corn and baking powder. Remove from heat.

Beat egg whites (at room temperature) until stiff but not dry. Beat yolks until thick and lemon color. Fold egg whites and yolks into corn mixture. 

Pour batter into a greased 2 qt. baking dish. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes. Should be golden brown and puffy.

Serves 6

I tested this recipe out on family and a few friends. The votes were split directly in half. Everyone liked the flavor, but some didn't like the texture. It comes out light and silky and soft. Those of us who did like it, loved it's creamy consistency. We ate half the pan before I could even get a picture. 

If you like souffles or savory puddings you should definitely give this recipe a try. 

*The only addition I would recommend for this recipe would be a little bit of cheddar cheese. I'm going to try it next time and I think it will take this recipe to new heights. I would not recommend adding green chiles or jalepenos, which are usually great accompaniments to corn casseroles. I don't think the texture of the peppers would work well with the overall texture of the dish. However, if you try it with peppers, I would love to hear how it turns out! 

The original page from the cookbook.
If you are or know the creator of this recipe, Estelle Pond Rowen, please send me an email at thethriftmonster@gmail

Stay tuned for more recipes from the "Guarded Secrets" cookbook. 

Guarded Secrets - The Story - Chapter 1

It had been a rather unfruitful yard sale excursion that day and I was riding home. The sun was high in the sky now and even though it was the middle of October, it was a hot day.  I was tired and had been at it now for hours the whole time riding my bike from sale to sale. Nearly my entire neighborhood was participating in the community sale and I had been excited to be able to ride my bike to them, but the heat quickly vanquished my enthusiasm. Just as soon as I had decided to call it quits, a bright green sign caught my eye. I was close to home, so I figured one more sale wouldn't hurt.

Hot and crouched over a box full of dusty books in someones drive way, I was ready to give up. The old woman running the sale looked as though she was ready to pack it all up as well. The smell of cooking food was wafting out of her screen door and I knew that as soon as I left, she would go inside to finally eat her late lunch. I felt guilty from keeping her from eating. I started to stand up to leave and was suddenly pushed back down.

Startled, I whipped around to see who had pushed me. I expected to see an inconsiderate shopper not paying attention to where they were going. Instead, I saw that I was the only one there aside from the lady who was running the sale and she was sitting behind a table in the garage. I thought that maybe I was just overheated and my body was trying to tell me so. Or perhaps, my legs had fallen asleep from crouching down so long. As I started to stand up again, I heard whispering in my ear. Startled again, I turned around and noticed the lady staring at me curiously.

"What was that you said?" I asked her.

"Nothing dear." she said with a confused look on her face.

"Oh. I thought you said something. This heat must be getting to me." Embarrassed, I turned away from her so she couldn't see the redness in my cheeks.

That's the moment I saw the book. It was tucked in tight with some other books, but the bit of bright yellow cover that was sticking out caught my eye. I was seeing it like it was in an old movie where they fade out with a big circle that slowly gets smaller around the object they are focusing on. It sounded like a dozen people were standing behind me whispering to each other, but I couldn't understand their words. A cloud moved in front of the sun casting a blue shadow over the driveway and time seemed to stand still for a moment. I reached for the book and as I picked it up, the cloud moved away and the sun shone brightly on it's yellow cover making it gleam as if it were encrusted with a thousand diamonds. The cover simply read, "Guarded Secrets."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Plaid Pendleton Skirt - 2 Ways

I've always been frugal when it comes to clothes shopping. I grew up that way. We had to be able to stretch a dollar to make it week to week. I rarely buy anything full price and buy a lot of off season stuff that is marked way down. Of course, my main clothing supply comes from thrift stores and yard sales. That is where I always get the best deals and find the best stuff. My wardrobe is built on thrift store finds and it's pretty damn stylish, if I do say so myself. One of the best ways that I've learned to get the most from my wardrobe is to make each piece work in several different ways.

There are the basic wardrobe staples that are perfect for this. For example you can make a pair of jeans look casual or super fancy. The black pencil skirt (that should be in every woman's closet) goes with anything. Beyond the basic wardrobe essentials, I try to make each piece work in several different ways. Basically, I will style a plaid western shirt in as many different ways as I can. So, I've been working on incorporating more of that in my etsy listings and I thought, "why not do a blog post series about it too?" 

The weather has been just right for finally getting out the plaid flannels and sweaters. It's my favorite time of year in Arizona.

 The Plaid Pendleton Skirt
Two Ways

Monday, November 24, 2014

Vintage Owl Lamp Upcycle

A couple of years ago, I found this awesome ceramic owl lamp at a yard sale. I was so stoked about it, that I put it in my living room and took pics before I even fixed the lampshade. The owls were in decent shape, except there were a few minor chips on it. There was also one pretty bad chip on the owl's brow, but I loved it anyway. I thought about painting it to cover up these chips, but since I'm mostly a vintage purist, I thought it would be a bad idea.

Normally, I don't condone painting anything that is genuine vintage. Vintage wood furniture should almost never be painted. Anything collectible shouldn't be painted, if painting an item will diminish the value, don't paint it, etc, etc,.. You get the point. So, I never wanted to paint this baby, until now.

I've got to say that I DO NOT recommend buying one of these lamps and immediately painting it. If you find one and it's in great shape, you probably shouldn't paint it. I only painted this one after long and careful consideration and because there were some significant chips on it. Please don't go around painting up all of these beauties. If you love the look and really want to have one like it, I'm working on a cheap and easy DIY, knock off version. So, check back before you go paint one of these beauties.

See the AFTER version after the jump

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vintage T-Shirt Of The Month Club

I've always liked the idea of the various "of the month clubs." There are jelly of the month clubs, book of the month clubs, wine of the month clubs, etc... It's always such a nice surprise to get something in the mail other than bills.

"Of the month clubs" have gotten sort of a bad rap since that famous scene from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation when Clark gets a jelly of the month club in lieau of his annual Christmas bonus.
You know the scene. It should have got Chevy Chase an Oscar. Here it is, in case you forgot:

Truth be told, I would actually love to get a jelly of the month club subscription as a gift. 

I sell vintage clothes and love to dig through every single shirt at the thrift shop. Seriously, Every. Single. Shirt. I thought I would offer up my own version, with a vintage t-shirt of the month club.

Once a month for 6 or 12 months, you will receive a short sleeve, unique, vintage, unisex t-shirt in the size of your choosing. The styles may vary from funny to animal to weird to concert tees. Only the dopest of t-shirts will be selected for the club. Each of these shirts will be carefully chosen to guarantee radness and laundered to guarantee freshness.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Worm Food

Once upon a time, I bought these three colored pencil portraits at a yard sale. I felt like they had a story.
 This is it....

He was a heart throb. His parents and all of their friends knew he would grow up to be one. Whenever his mother had the ladies over for bridge, they would all say, "He's going to be a heart breaker when he grows up." They were right.

The girls all chased him on the playground in elementary school. He was the first boy in his class to get a kiss from a girl in junior high. He didn't have to do much to convince her. The girls were practically lined up around the block for their first kiss with him.

He enjoyed the attention he got from all of the girls, but it never went to his head. He was never arrogant or boastful about it and that just added to his charm and made him even more desirable. He also never got too serious with any girl, even when he got older and went to high school. This was something that made his mother very happy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rescue Me - Vintage Western Shirts

Welcome to the first installment of Rescue Me, a page for vintage items that need to be repaired and or upcycled.  

My repair/ project to do list has grown so big that I don't even know which thing to start on. So, I thought I would put them up here and for sale in my etsy shop at very inexpensive prices. 

Vintage Western #1

This vintage western shirt is incredible. The embroidery is beautiful, the colors are vibrant and you can't tell in this pic, but there are skinny lines of metallic gold going through the plaid. There are some problems with it, though.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grandpa's Jacket

I'll never forget the biggest thrift haul of my life. A whole retirement community, that is located just a few blocks from my house, was having their annual neighborhood yard sale. Of the 50 or so houses in the neighborhood, more than half of them were participating and had all of their goods displayed nicely in their driveways and garages. These are the types of sales that people like me drool over and I was there bright and early with a larger than average budget and an empty car waiting to be filled.

The very first house I went to on that day nearly wiped out my budget and filled up half of my car. I couldn't help it. Everything in the house was being sold and the prices were set to sell fast. I went over table after table of knick knacks and kitchen goods and sorted through box after box of clothes. As I searched, more and more stuff kept flowing out of the home. I could've stayed there all day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Pee Wee's Big Adventure Bike For Sale

This is almost as good as if hover boards were real. Actually, this is better, because it actually seems to be the real deal. Fuck You, Funny or Die! Fuck You, Moby! I fucking trusted you! You played with my emotions. But now, there is a glimmer of hope in mankind with this.

"The best bike in the world" is for sale.

"It's not for sale, Fran-sis!" -Pee Wee Herman

Oh, but it is for sale! 
"PeeWee's Big Adventure" Bike is for sale on ebay and it seems legit. 
I heard someone say they found it in the basement of the alamo, but I can't be sure. hardy har.

Can't you just picture yourself on it?

The official bike is up for bid on ebay and you have 19 hrs to bid, as of, 12:39 am, March 6, 2014. The current bid is at $25, 200. You can trump that bid by clicking here.

Personally, if I had that kind of money, this might be that one, totally crazy and extravagant gift I would get myself. I mean, I've dreamed of riding this bike for years. Sure, there are replicas around for a much more reasonable price and those would be great to have. But, to have the original bike would be incredible!

Now, I read somewhere that the actual bike is in the Hollywood Museum. I'm not sure if my source is bona fide, so I'm going to check on that. However, a musem could just have a replica, so maybe this is real. 

I'm very curious to see what this baby sells for. I'm going to keep an eye on it. In the meantime, I'm going to watch PeeWee's Big Adventure, because this has got me feeling nostalgic and that was one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid. It still is. 

And if you do happen to bid on this, 


The bike sold for $36,600!

Monday, February 17, 2014

President's Day Sale

In honor of President's Day, I'm offering a discount with my favorite President's name.

"Ask not what your..." [CUSTOMERS] "...can do for you. Ask what you can do for your..."
hardy har har

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cleaning Snapback Hats

I buy and sell a ton of vintage snapback/ trucker hats. I find most of my hats at yard sales. And while the ones I find are usually in great shape, they aren't always very clean. Often times they are hats that have been sitting in a closet or garage somewhere and have collected lots of dust. So, I have to wash them.
You can not just throw these hats in the washing machine. That is a sure fire way to ruin them. You can add them to the washing machine if you first put it in one of those plastic doo dads meant for hats. I personally don't care for those, especially when washing vintage hats. Some of the older hats may be made with cardboard bills and letting it soak in water for any amount of time will ruin it. I did a little research on the best way to clean snapbacks and this is the way that seems to work best for me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Old House - Sterling, IL

Even though I live in the desert and am happy that I don't have to drive on ice in the winter, I still long to move somewhere that has all four seasons. Illinois is my first pick since that is where I grew up and where most of my family still lives.
There are some gorgeous homes in Illinois. There you don't often find cookie cutter neighborhoods where every house looks exactly the same like you do here. And there are some very old homes there as well. I've looked around the Phoenix area for old homes and have trouble finding anything made earlier than 1950 and even the 50's houses are few and far between.
Recently I came across a house in Illinois, that I would move to in a heart beat. Even if it has ghosts, I would move there today. It is almost 100 years old, having been built in 1920. It is a little bit more rural than I would like, but I feel like if I lived here, I would never want to leave anyway. If I did need to get my big city fix, Chicago is about 2 hours away, so...

I mean, look at this beauty! It's stunning!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


click the pic below to be directed to the shop

The Goldberg's Fashion Inspiration

My last fashion inspiration post from a tv show was all about Freaks and Geeks and now this one is all about The Goldbergs. I guess I'm stuck in that 80s/ 90s aesthetic. That was the style I grew up in, so I think I'm naturally drawn to it. Both the 80s and the 90s could be described as simultaneously being the best and worst times in fashion history. I don't foresee the gawdy embellished jumpsuits worn by middle aged moms in the 80s ever making a comeback. However, the bright, bold colors of that time still echo in modern fashion. The grunge look of the 90s has been cleaned up a bit, but there is still something beautiful about flowered baby doll dresses with plaid flannel and doc marten boots. My love for these decades may be driven mostly by nostalgia, but that's ok.