Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Found, Free and Flea

PB and I spend a lot of time at the library during the summer.  I have found several neat books that I thought I would share through a series of different posts.  Found, Free, and Flea by Tereasa Surratt (view the trailer, it's really cute! shows some before and after shots.) is one of my favorite books I have checked out.  Backstory is:

When Tereasa Surratt’s husband convinced her that they should buy a derelict summer camp in Wisconsin, they had no idea the treasure trove they’d inherit with the property. While renovating the decrepit cabins at Camp Wandawega, they kept stumbling upon curious objects, some dating back ninety years or more: a Boy Scout patch, an old sled, a pristine set of Fiesta Ware, dozens of midcentury aprons, an untouched box of board games in their original packaging. 

Tereasa knew the power that one mundane object has when grouped with its siblings. So rather than discard everything, she set out on a five-year expedition to turn the more than 150 found items into full-fledged collections. Relying on her own thriftiness, she only acquired pieces for free or at a bargain price: items that she found, negotiated for free, or unearthed at a flea market. 

The whole story about Camp Wandawega is so intriguing.  It was originally built in 1926 as an answer to Prohibition as a speakeasy but fronted as a hotel.  Through the end of the 1920's it was home to organized crime with multiple exits and trap doors while it continued to distribute liquor, guns and gambling. Into the 30's it became a brothel.  The 1950's finally brought it more into it's function it holds now as being a legit family campground. The Catholic church bought it in the 1960's and ran it as a church camp into the 1970's.

I can not describe how excited I would be to have this kind of a vintage and historical building discovery adventure such as these folks had.  The book it's self is a wonderful mixture of collections, stories, history and craft repurpose ideas.

The owners stumbled on bundles of old postcards and letters.  They tuck them inside dresser drawers and night stands for campers to have their own discoveries.

Here are a few images of finished cabins/hotel with vintage items recovered from the camp's past:
 I love this kitchen!

 Super cool story behind this fiesta ware. They discovered it covered and walled in, still on shelves.

 Another view of the cute kitchen.

I think this is a general use sitting area at the camp. Lovely!

Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever make it up to Camp Wandawega (16 hours away).  But if you live anywhere near Elkhorn, Wisconsin this place is a must to visit. Check out the website in the meantime, it has a "Tour" area with more gorgeous photos of the entire site.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thrift Stuff

A few items we picked up at the thrift yesterday.
 Mirro Cooky and Pastry Press
I already have a cookie press so why pick up another? Because it has attachments to make lady fingers, eclairs, and cream puffs! It also came with a handy wooden organizing rack!

Family Affair Fun Box
My scope of interest does not include much 1970's, so when I first saw this Family Affair Fun Box I was just excited by the cute graphics and intrigued by the cardboard stitching card sporting a creepy granny doll wearing glasses. I didn't really put it together that it was a television show until looking through the included coloring book.  I have never seen the show so I am going to pretend that the doll, "Mrs. Beasley", comes to life every episode and kills people, leaving the "Family Affair" being to cover the tracks of her murderous exploits. 

Scotch Kooler Ice Chest and Thermos
I was really excited when I came across this ice chest!  I have seen it many times in vintage cookbooks with happy families gathered around admiring it's chilling capabilities!  This one came with the clear plastic tray insert as seen below in the ad. The thermos is from 1971.  I like the spoon and fork modern graphic, more of a 1960's inspiration.  The brown and yellow color is an introduction of more to come from the 1970's. 

The underside of the kooler lid:

Here are a few vintage ads featuring the Kooler in action:

Even Bob Hope approves!

Here is a bit of history about the kooler. I love when a thrift store trip turns into a learning experience:

 In 1951, Hamilton Metal Products hired New York designer Petra Cabot to create a cylindrical cooler and launch a line of products that rolled out of Hamilton until 1970.
From 1938 until 1950, Cabot had worked for the designer Russel Wright, who helped bring modernist design to mass-produced home products. She also gained some fame as a painter and part of a vibrant arts scene in Woodstock, N.Y.
With a distinctive red, black and yellow plaid -- based on the traditional tartan of the Bodie clan -- the Skotch Kooler and related products were indispensable items for several generations of picnickers.
"I decided to make the best-looking bucket anybody ever saw," Cabot once said, according to her New York Times obituary.
The container held four gallons and had three layers of insulation: one of fiberglass, one of inert air and a heat-reflecting outer surface. Knockoff versions without the signature were made as far away as Thailand, and Hamilton Metal Products created variations on the structure but without the distinctive plaid.
Long before the era of celebrity designers, part of Cabot's deal with Hamilton Metal Products was that her name would appear on every item, which eventually included charcoal grills, insulated drink jugs, reusable ice cans and other leisure items.
Cabot died on Oct. 13, 2006 at her home in Woodstock, N.Y., at age 99.
But her design lives on, a cool icon of mid-century America.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day Trophy

 Another thing PB and I are doing this summer is having a thrift store day together each week.  He isn't a big fan generally so I am trying to instill an appreciation in him through repeated exposure....and indulging him in buying things I would never choose (VHS tape of Star Wars Episode I). Yesterday we stumbled upon a treasure trove of old trophies.  The plaques had been removed so unfortunately we don't know the reason why they were awarded.  We bought several of them to transform into specific awards and embellished to represent the accomplishment and the receiver's interests.

First up is one for his dad for Father's Day!  
 PB wrote the plaques, colored the super guy a costume with permanent markers and made the chest piece. He also picked out one of his own toy cars to add to the trophy.  I just contributed a few small details like dice buttons/bead and cut a red felt cape.

 I could have printed out the plaques but thought PB's handwriting would be more special.

PB's dad is really big into the kustom car culture and sci-fi stuff so we know he is going to love this!

Thursday, June 13, 2013


One of the activities that PB and I planned for the summer was making a few recipes from the Junior Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book (circa 1955).  We chose to make the tartlets, partly inspired from discovering these Towne House Fried Pies (shown below). Last summer, while camping in Asheville, NC we stumbled upon these and I loved the vintage styled wrapper. I then saw they were made locally.  We looked up the address in hopes of just doing a drive-by but could never find the place. The wrapper was too cute to toss so I framed and hung it in the kitchen.

But back to our current adventure... Tartlet making! We went with cherry jam instead of raspberry.  Recipe on scanned images below:

Here are our results!  They are super yummy and were all gone seconds after taking the photo.

We are only two weeks into summer and have already done/accomplished several things on our list and have many more we are looking forward to. More on it later!