A Very Modest Cottage ****.* by Tereasa Surratt
I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera~
I loved this little book and the journey embarked on with ‘Hope and a Hammer’~
I have a love of found objects or fragments with a history that are repurposed, preserved, and elevated to a new and important status. It gives me the warm fuzzies when something is given a second life and I enjoy wondering about its former life, imagining the stories it could tell.
A Very Modest Cottage is an inspiring little book about the author’s rehab journey restoring a small 1920’s tourist cabin. Where others saw a dilapidated, broken shell of building, with rotting log siding and missing roof shingles, she saw potential. Fueled with optimism, fond memories from her childhood, and a lot of coffee, with the help of her brother & husband~ they relocated it 245 miles from its home of fifty years, where it sat next to grandmother’s house, in a small farming community in Illinois.
Believing “when you have an emotional attachment to something, it can never be too far gone”, the relocating to refurbishing process took three short months. Restored to its modest former glory, the little roadside motorlodge cabin now resides on the edge of the woods overlooking a lake in Wisconsin, where it functions as a guest cottage.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
“The risk factor: How many miles could one travel before a 50-mile-per-hour wind force would blow apart an eighty-five-year-old building? Needless to say, it was a long, tedious and worrisome trip.”
“Uneasiness started to set in. Would it slide off the back? Bounce off the trailer? I couldn’t shake from my mind images of chunks of roofing and siding flying onto other travelers’ windshields, wildlife running for cover.”
“Tearing out the old walls is fast, easy, and surprisingly therapeutic. Tools needed: a hammer, a crowbar, safety goggles, and bottle of red wine for when it’s all over.”
Tourist cabins were erected by enterprising farmers and landowners and sprung up in the early 1920’s~ rented by the night for a minimal fees, a step up from pitching a tent, with slightly more privacy. After Tereasa’s renovation, she researched the cabin’s history and found out she had not given her cabin a second life, but rather its fifth.
“Wake up to birdsong. Make some coffee.
Days filled with swimming, boating, fishing, grilling out and being completely and unapologetically lazy.”
“When you only have 121 square feet, it’s nice to have a room with a view.”
To celebrate their rehab journey, they throw a party with all the trimmings~ carving pumpkins, enjoying bonfires, eating s’mores & caramel apples, drinking hot cider. . .
I thought I would do the same at our cottage by the lake for Food for Thought. . .
Mums and Pansies in pots fill the fire pit for seasonal color, they can be relocated for roasting the marshmallows later :-)
My cider is un-spiked, but there is a recipe here if you’re looking for a cider to warm you from the inside out :-)
Instead of carving pumpkins, I carved cheese~
Pumpkin Cheese Ball, recipe courtesy Southern Living, here.
Easy Caramel Apples, recipe courtesy Southern Living, here.
S’mores~ no recipe required :-)
While our 1 & ½ story, 26 year-old-lake house is a far cry from a 12 x 12 1920’s cabin, it is modest, especially in comparison to the multi-million dollar McMansions on the lake. We spent 20 summers boating, seeking out for sale signs, dreaming & deciding the lake property the house sat on, was more important to us than the house. We did a small cosmetic renovation after being in it for five years~ the most expensive part of which was replacing our old dock, that was threatening to break apart and float away any minute. Regretfully, I did not take before & after pictures, but we managed to obliterate the former owner’s love for ALL things PINK, not the least of which was ceiling fans.
Re-siding, replacing appliances & cabinets and generally removing traces of the 80’s that we could, we were told by several contractors, that it would be simpler to raze it and start over. It is perfect for the two of us to escape to on the weekends~ we are very fortunate and thankful to have a place to ‘wake up to birdsong’ & spend a day being unapologetically lazy :-)
“I would rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
A Very Modest Cottage is part how-to guide, part scrapbook, and part lesson on how with ambition, duck tape and elbow grease all things are possible.
Be sure to visit Food for Thought, and see what everyone is reading & eating :-)