Wisconsin

12.20.2012 | by: Meghan

Happy Holidays!

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

A couple weeks ago, my talented baker friend Jess and I drove to Wandawega to spend two days making Christmas gifts and crunching around in the woods. We left on a Sunday afternoon and arrived after dark. I really wanted to sleep in the treehouse, which was in mid-construction phase during my last visit, but there’s no heat up there, and well, we’re wimps. Instead, we stayed in the charming (and heated) two-bedroom cabin with sweeping views of the lake. The place was closed (officially), so unofficially, we were the only lucky ones at the resort, and the silence was magic, exhilarating even. Nothing but bird songs, the dull clamor of wooden spoons to ceramic bowl and the sound of own voices.

Since Jess makes a living in her kitchen and I usually have two little boys circling my legs in mine, it felt like such a luxury to set up shop in someone else’s kitchen– especially one with an oversized oven, uncluttered counter space and more antique dinnerware and beautiful vintage utensils than you can ever imagine. Soon enough, it smelled like roasted pecans and ginger, and the days went by in a slow, comfortable rhythm of measuring oats, refilling coffee cups, collecting evergreen branches and cutting fabric squares. In between, we knitted, took long walks and even managed to get a canoe in the water at dusk. Walking the property and ducking in and out of the buildings (Jess had never been and I think an appropriate description of her reaction would be blown away), I can’t believe how much has changed in the last two years. There’s a tiny new cabin, two really enchanting teepees, a vintage tin can trailer waiting in the wings for Tereasa’s magic wand, and my favorite, a Harry Weese-designed shower house. That’s right: Harry Weese designed a shower house for a girl scout camp down the street (!!), and David and Tereasa rescued it this summer (like so many boy and girl scout camps, it closed, sadly). They wheeled it down the road, spruced it up and there it stands–a Harry Weese shower house at Wandawega.

We left feeling immensely productive and equally relaxed–two polar-opposing conditions that don’t coexist easily during the holidays–and in addition to a chunky cream seed-stitch scarf I knitted for a friend, we took home a couple dozen mason jars of the very best granola I’ve ever tasted. It was a good trip. See below for the recipe. Go, bake and be merry.

Holiday Granola by Jessica Hicks of Astro

Mix together in a large bowl:

14 cups rolled oats (about 3lbs)
4 ½ cups pumpkin seeds
4 ½ cups coconut
1 ¼ cups brown sugar, packed
1 ½ Tbls cinnamon
4 tsp fine salt
2 ½ cups pecans, broken
zest of 3 oranges

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine:

2 cups maple syrup (grade b or c has more flavor)
1 cup olive oil
2 1/2 cups apple sauce
1 tablespoons vanilla extract

Add the wet mixture to the dry, fold to thoroughly coat the dry mix. Spread on 2 or 3 baking sheets and bake for 50-70 minutes at 330 degrees (times vary greatly depending on your oven), stirring a couple of times to ensure even baking, until the mixture is golden brown. Ten minutes before the end of baking time, stir though:

2/3 cup maple syrup, extra (optional). This will give the granola a lovely glisten.

Remove from oven and immediately stir through:

3 cups dried cranberries
2 cups finely chopped crystalized ginger

Cool on trays, turning occasionally so as to keep the granola from sticking to tray, and store in airtight jars.

 

06.21.2012 | by: Meghan

Shop: Wandawega Camp Store

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

I saw Wes Anderson’s impeccably set-designed Moonrise Kingdom over the weekend, so the new camp shop that just opened at Wandawega seems particularly on-time. Retro canteens, Boyscout-issue axes and antique rackets! Slingshots! Wooden arrows! Guests at Camp Wandawega ask so regularly where they can find similar camp-style goods (if you’ve seen the place, then you understand) that David and Tereasa decided to open a little shop tucked inside the lodge. The look is pure Wisconsin camp, and you can pick up many of the throwback items that make this place so special. They feature goods that have been made by old-school vendors for more than a century, as well as a limited selection of curated vintage–from stacks of old Pendletons to reed stools.

The shop even has some historic merit. “We’d been told by local old-timers that the camp (formerly knows as Wandawega Lake Resort) once had a souvenir shop onsite that sold notions and simple summer resort necessities. I love the idea of embracing the novelties of a by-gone era and giving campers that chance to try their hand at old summercamp merit badge tasks like whittling their own marshmallow sticks and making their own moccasins.”

12.28.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Stay: Wandawega Teepee

Elkhorn, Wisconsin


Tereasa from Wandawega emailed me a few months back after reading the post about the Red Welly in Wales, saying that she was “so getting a teepee.” And true to her wildly ambitious, girl-who-never-sleeps form (see her treehouse for proof), she had the thing ordered, erected and decorated in a month’s time. It’s officially the coolest designtripper-inspired spawn of the year.

Tucked away in the woods, just past the Boy Scout tents, the Craigslist-snagged teepee is kitted out with seagrass flooring, a futon, and vintage cooler, antique hurricane lantern and Navajo rug from her regular hit-list circuit of flea, yard and barn sales. The whole production is pretty much a knockout, and I can’t wait to stay next summer. I’d like to think I’m tough enough to brave a winter weekend, because, technically, it’s an all-weather teepee with a fire pit, but I think I’ll be really honest with myself and save the experience for the snow-free months. Happy New Year! See you next week.

05.16.2011 | by: Meghan
Inns & Hotels

Stay: Wandawega Treehouse

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

My friends Tereasa Surratt and David Hernandez are the super-creative, handy and beyond-generous folks behind Camp Wandawega (Tereasa’s getting ready to release her second book, Found Flea & Free–follow all her projects on her blog). We had a giveaway last fall to stay at their amazing spread in Wisconsin. This year, the flood gates are officially open. They started taking reservations this spring, just in time for the unveiling of the latest Wandawega addition: a modern, vaulted-ceiling treehouse built by a handful of Chicago’s most talented woodworkers, including Tyler Peterson and Shaun Owens-Agase of Stone Blitzer, Bladon Connor and Steven Teichelman. And her creative partner-in-crime Angela Finney-Hoffman (owner of Post 27) helped with every design/interiors decision along the way. “They built this for us for free,” says Tereasa. “Who does that? It’s unheard of. They’re so dedicated to their craft and the challenge of making something out of nothing, they did this for nothing.”

Named after Tereasa’s father (who passed away just a year after hanging a rope swing on this big, old elm), Tom’s Treehouse gives the beloved tree, which later came down with Dutch Elm disease, an inspiring second life as once-in-a-lifetime dream project. Every little detail–from the building materials used (salvaged from dairy barns and a condemned bungalow) to the showstopping antler chandelier (made by Tereasa with antlers gathered from the Wandawega woods and her hometown in rural Illinois) and handmade pillows created from old feed sacks–has been carefully, tediously, lovingly considered. And the design is all about reuse. Even stumps coming through the bottom get new functionality: side tables! Some of the furniture was handmade, the rest has been repurposed from thrift store and flea market finds. As a result, the interior, like the tree itself, reads like the ultimate ode to creative reinvention.

[Photos by Jacob Hand; Read more about the design process in Chicago Home & Garden.]
09.07.2010 | by: Meghan
Homes to Stay

Stay: Camp Wandawega

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

When Chicagoan David Hernandez, who spent boyhood summers at a Latvian summer camp in Wisconsin, took his fiancé (now wife) Tereasa Surratt to see Camp Wandawega, they left with a parting request to the elderly priest: “If you ever decide to sell this place, call us first.” The call came five years later and the couple snatched up all 25 acres: the main lodge, a three-story hotel; two cabins; an archery range; basketball and shuffleboard courts; a garage; two piers; horseshoe pits; and all the furniture inside. Fast forward three years from purchase: The sprawling grounds look like something out of a movie—Sleepaway Camp with set design by John Derian perhaps? The camp is admittedly no-frills (Tereasa likes to call it camping indoors), but no effort was spared on creativity. Rooms are outfitted with well-worn furniture that came with the place, but the couple has worked in a beguiling mix of flea market and garage sale finds: a stack of leather suitcases in one corner, weather-worn water skis in another; Hudson Bay blankets neatly folded across beds; and vintage radios, alarm clocks, lanterns, thermoses, wellies and fishing lures as décor.

Tereasa, author of A Very Modest Cottage (which chronicles the cottage they rescued from her hometown in southern Illinois, drove to Wisconsin and rehabbed themselves), is working on her second book. This one about found collections, published by Random House. The creative ad exec couple is also in the midst of constructing a modern tree house, just outside the main lodge. A handful of local furniture designers/woodworkers designed the structure and spend work-play weekends trading manpower for enviable stays at Wandawega. Gregarious and overwhelmingly generous, David and Tereasa host a constant, rotating stream of friends and family, often organizing gigantic theme camps, like Art Camp, where Chicago creative-types descend on the verdant grounds for three days of field paintings, bird-house making, mini collages, button-making and big farmhouse dinners on the hill. But you don’t need a personal invitation anymore. Designtripper is proud to make the announcement: Rooms are now available for rent for the first time.

The Details
Elkhorn is about 90 miles from Chicago. Prices start at $200 per night for a boy scout canvas tented cabin or the one-bedroom cabin, with a two-night minimum. Rent it at wandawega.com.