Sunday, September 28, 2014

TheInspiredTrader Etsy Shop News - Watkins Hearthside Cook Book Illustrations

1950's Retro Illustrations - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Retro Kitchen Decor

Appetizers and Soups Section Illustration from Watkins Hearthside Cook Book

Watkins 1952 Retro Illustration Cheesehead and Egghead
I have to share my latest shop project and offerings.  Loving old cookbooks as I do, I recently found a vintage 1952 edition of the Watkins Hearthside Cookbook and fell in love with the two tone illustrations.  What's not to love!?!  While the overall condition of the cookbook wasn't up to par (paint drips on the cover, spotted and food stained pages) to sell in my shop.  There were enough great illustrations on clean pages to cinch the sale.  I knew the illustrations would be delightful matted and framed for retro kitchen art.  So my journey began and I've had the most fun over the past couple of weeks putting together these ready to frame matted illustrations.  But first...

Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Recipe Page with Fisherman

A little history of Watkins and the Hearthside Cookbook

I'm happy to report Watkins Incorporated is still in business, since 1868, and on the web; so many old US companies I write about are not.  Headquartered in Winona, Minnesota, they still sell spices, extracts, and baking products; and sell all natural bath and body, health related items and cleaning products.  What I didn't know was they originally were a door-to-door company.  Today, you can purchase Watkins products via direct sales on the web or in big box stores such as Whole Foods and Target.  Independent representatives "brokers" remain a core part of their business plan; offering unique sizing and a slightly different product line.  If you'd like to learn more about the company Wikipedia has a concise post about them which you can read here or check out the company history on their web site (linked above).

The first Watkins cookbook (I was able to find) was published in 1938 and was not illustrated.  It has been digitized by Google and is available here Watkins 1938 Cookbook on Google Books.  However, their most beloved cookbook is the 1952 edition prized for it's illustrations as well as great recipes.  When food blogger are blogging about it, you know it's good!  Authored by Ruth Robbins a Watkins home economist, it sold for $2.50.  It is copyrighted and included in the Library of Congress LC 53016180.  The cookbook I have appears to be a first edition.

Take a look at these funky, fun, retro illustrations!

Crying Chef - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Illustration & Recipe Page

Watkins 1952 Hearthside Cookbook Baked Beans Recipe Page with Illustration

Little Devils Cooking - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Illustration and Recipe Page

While Ruth Robbins was credited for her work, all the fabulous classic 1950's graphic illustrations go uncredited.  WHAT!?! The detective in me wanted to find the illustrator, and so my search began.  While searching 1950's illustrations and illustrators I found the 1948 James Beard's Fireside Cook Book illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen.  Hmm.  Take a look at the Provensen's Fireside Cook Book illustrations.

Dancing Retro Housewife - 1950's Watkins Hearthside Cookbook Illustration and Recipe Page

Mixer Illustration - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook

Lighthearted take on Rajasthan Art - Vintage Illustration from Watkins Hearthside Cookbook

To say the James Beard cookbook was an influence on the Watkins cookbook would be an understatement.  After my research, I truly believe Alice and Martin Provensen created all the graphic illustrations for the Hearthside cookbook also.  Uncredited possibly due to contractual agreements associated with illustrating Beard's cookbook.  There were other prominent illustrators during the 1940's and 1950's which I researched who had similar illustrations, BUT with notable differences in style.  Alice and Martin Provensen's work has a distinct style.  So, that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Retro Oriental Chicken Illustration - Watkins Hearthside Cookbook

Who would want to tear a perfectly good copy of a cookbook apart for the illustrations?  According to the Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, published in 2014, the Watkins Hearthside Cook Book value ranges between $34.00 and $61.00.  You can find copies for sale on eBay for over $180.00 (at the time of writing) with the dust jacket; but the average price on Etsy is between $20.00 and $30.00 without the dust jacket (which folds out into a poster).  To answer the question "Who would want to tear apart a perfectly good vintage cookbook?" the answer would be, no one <er ah> me.  I've done the dirty work for you!  Ha!


Retro Kitchen Decor

With so many different illustrations to choose from, you are sure to find your perfect page or a special page for someone you know.  Know a Chef?  Got you covered!  Know a Wisconsin Cheesehead?  There's one!  Have a beach themed kitchen?  I've got that too!  Or if your like me and just love the retro 1950's illustrations, you know each one will lend that personal touch to your kitchen decor and give you that vintage vibe you seek.  With brand new matting they'll go with a modern or vintage style kitchen and make a great gift.  The color pallets are back in style and easily coordinate with modern paint colors.

There are quite a few sellers of up cycled book pages with graphics printed over the typeset.  But I've never seen these illustrations matted and ready to frame offered up for sale.  Each one an original page, not a scan or color copy and each one guaranteed to be entertaining and a conversation piece.  The spark that will make your kitchen decor special.

Democratic Kitchen Art

I knew I wanted to keep the pricing "democratic"and offer a custom piece.  So I've done all the leg work and the production.


If you have ever had custom framing done you know how expensive it can be.  I wanted to offer you original pages matted for under $20.00 dollars delivered.  And I have, the ready to frame matted illustration cost $17.00 delivered.  I worked with  Ron at the Matstofit shop on Etsy to create the custom mattes for the first 12 Watkins Hearthside Cook Book page illustrations listings offered.  Ron was great to work with, ships quickly and has an outstanding product.  If you are looking for custom mattes and frames he's your go to guy on Etsy.  These matted original illustrations are fab and ready to ship.

Here's the details of the dimensions and your framing options.

  • The original recipe page and/or illustration page is matted to fit a regular 8 x 10 frame or an 8 x 10 Format Frame.
  • Because I read the reviews on Format Frames, particular attention was paid to ensure you get a good (albeit snug) fit in a Format Frame as the interior dimensions run a little small.
  • Eight x Ten Format Frames run about $4.00 at the big box stores making this affordable kitchen art or gift.  Each one is an original page, not a reprint or scan.
  • The actual size is just under 8 x 10 and will fit in a standard 8 x 10 frame.
All the Watkins Hearthside Cook Book illustrations featured here are available in my shop on Etsy.  You'll find a link to the listings in the caption area as well as in the shop widget located in the upper right hand side blog panel.

Each one has been lovingly selected, cut and mounted in high quality black matting.  You will receive your illustration in a plastic sleeve and shipped in a rigid flat chip board mailer.  Should you choose to purchase more than one, shipping on additional selections is combined and will ship at a reduced rate.  There are several in the same color way.  Share this with your friends who love vintage too and be sure to visit my shop for more fun, funky and fabulous vintage.

Thanks for stopping in!



Friday, September 12, 2014

TheInspiredTrader Etsy Shop News

New Shipping Tools and Expanded Shipping Routes

Because you deserve nothing less than wonderful, we've added new shipping tools at TheInspiredTrader to ensure you have the best shopping experience with faster, more accurate shipping at a lower cost.

Meet my new best friend in the office, our brand new shipping scale!  The ULRASHIP U-2 will weigh up to 60 pounds and is a little bit of shipping heaven!

ULTRASHIP U-2 60 lb shipping scale

TheInspiredTrader Expands Shipping Routes

 to "Deliver" the Best Service

Introducing International First Class Shipping via the USPS

The really big news is TheInspiredTrader on Etsy now offers International First Class shipping through the USPS for select countries!  With our trusty scale, shipping labels are now purchased online through Etsy (an approved PC Postage vendor).  Our goal is the deliver the best service at the lowest cost!  Of course there are still limitations as to what can be shipped First Class Internationally, such as the package weight limitation of four pounds or less.  And shipments can only be made to countries with a reciprocal agreement with the USPS to provide Delivery Confirmation.  Note:  Orders weighing more than four pounds must ship International Priority.

Here's a list of the countries where we now ship in addition to the US:

  1. Australia
  2. Belgium
  3. Canada
  4. Croatia
  5. Estonia
  6. Finland
  7. Germany
  8. Great Britain
  9. Northern Ireland
  10. Hungary
  11. Israel
  12. Netherlands
  13. New Zealand
  14. Spain
  15. Sweden
  16. Switzerland
*If your country is not on the list, contact me and I'll see what we can work out.

That's not all, we're getting ready to take the next step!  Etsy is engineering and phasing in a robust site wide shipping calculator.  When the finished calculator is brought online we'll be ready to provide a seamless transition and offer you the lowest prices and the best shipping options available on the site.  We are proud to...

Actualize our Commitment to Customer Service

Shipping improvements currently online - a big improvement for your shopping experience:

  • More accurate estimated shipping quotes.
  • Exact shipping quotes available when you provide your shipping information to me pre-sale.
  • Shipping can be easily customized for combined shipping of multiple purchases.
  • Lower shipping costs.
  • Lower insurance costs.
  • Faster service.
While domestic US shipping quotes are still estimated and only apply to the lower 48 states, International shipping quotes are accurate.  When Etsy begins to bring the shipping calculator online, I believe domestic US shipping quotes will be the first to go live.  When that happens we're ready and we'll let you know with an update right here on the blog and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fall Fare or Halloween Party Plan

Ah Fall, my favorite season and perfect weather for outdoors entertaining.  Who doesn't love a good bonfire?  If you are looking for outdoor party ideas for a Autumn/Fall or Halloween bash that hasn't been hashed and rehashed <pun intended> this post is written just for you.

It's the best time of year to view fall foliage, take a road trip to the cabin, lake house or cottage for a get-a-way weekend with an old fashioned corn and oyster roast.  The no fuss menu is perfect for your vacation home, even if you are renting.

Of course you can keep it close to home in your backyard if traveling isn't in your schedule.  It can be scaled up or down depending on your budget and the simple menu keeps the party enjoyable for you as well as your guests.  Perfect for a large group or keep it intimate with just a few couples and you can stick to the menu or add your own touches.  Either way remember to keep the menu simple to keep it fun!

Halloween falls in a Friday this year.


Use a lunch size paper bag printed with a great Halloween or Autumn graphic.  Print them out on your home printer.  Easily done in any word processing program by creating a document sized to the bag.  There are a lot of free holiday graphics available online just Google "Free Halloween Clip Art" and get your creative juices flowing.  On the side of the paper bag that doesn't have the flap print the invitation poem below (or something similar) arranged with your graphic, then hand write the address on the other side.  Print out maps and insert them into the bags.  Too cute and done.

Vintage Dennison Die Cut Black Cats click to see the listing.
We're having a party and want you here.
It isn't very far by car.
(Place) is really quite near.

We hope you'll say yes and want to stay,
The map will show you the way.

Aw Shucks we hope you come.
With corn, beer, oysters and a bonfire too,
There'll be fun for everyone!

Time     Date     Hosts

Menu and Roasting Directions

Oysters - Roasted and Raw Bar Style on the Half Shell
French Bread
Roasted Corn on the Cob
Roasted Hot Dogs or Chicken Tenders (if children are invited)
Soft Drinks
Bottled Water
Dessert:  Pumpkin Cup Cakes

If your friends have children offer a more a traditional protein substitute for the kids like hot dogs or chicken tenders.

Prepare the Fire:  If you don't have a fire pit, make one with cement blocks or bricks.  Size your square to so a metal screen will fit and be supported by the block walls.  Make sure to make it large enough to roast your corn too!  Be sure to use cooking appropriate wood.  Don't use any wood which has been treated with chemicals or is pressure treated.  Build a large fire about an hour before you plan to cook.  You'll need plenty of coals!

Roasted Oysters:  Wait until the fire gets hot about an hour and smooth the coals around the floor of the pit.  Place the screen(s) over the pit and put oysters on the screen(s) with a shovel.  Cover oysters with wet burlap until they pop open, which is about 30 minutes to an hour depending on how close they are to the coals and how hot your coals are.  You can open them and place them on a grill making sure to keep the liquid along with the oyster, they will cook much faster and are done when the edges of the oyster begin to curl.

Roasted Corn:  Place the corn in a large tub and cover with water add salt and let them soak for 4 to 5 hours.  Drain the water and wrap each ear with, husks on, with aluminium foil.  Place the foil wrapped ears on the coals and cover with more coals using a shovel.  Cook about 8 minutes, turn the ears and repeat.  Depending on the heat of your coals they'll be done in 16 to 25 minutes.

Cocktail Sauce:  For every 8 adults use one bottle of chili sauce, the ketchup kind, with horseradish and lemon juice to taste.  Place crocks filled with sauce along with baskets of saltines and french bread on the table(s).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Another Bit of Old Florida - Chalet Suzanne Closes

Photograph by Leonard J. DeFrancisci

As of August 4, 2014 Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales closed their doors.  After 83 years and three generations of family ownership the Chalet is for sale.  The Hinshaw family is looking for someone new to carry on the fine traditions which first impressed Duncan Hines.  I hope they will find new owners because those who truly want to experience Florida, especially those who are looking for an authentic Old Florida experience, would love Chalet Suzanne.

I moved to Florida in November of 1969 right before Walt Disney World opened.  Paradise was quickly changing, I was just in time to have the privilege of experiencing quite a bit of what we now call "Old Florida" whose heyday was from the 1920's to the 1970's.  Chalet Suzanne certainly qualifies as "Old Florida".  Much of what we now think of as Old Florida was influenced by big business movers and shakers of the times.

Image courtesy Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce web site.
Names like Henry M. Flagler founder of Standard Oil, Henry B. Plant builder of the Plant System of railroads which became the Atlantic Coastline Railroad and Edward William Bok editor of the Ladies Home Journal.  Both Flagler and Plant built incredible hotels in Florida in the 1880's (but that's another post altogether!).  In the case of Chalet Suzanne, James L. Kraft of Kraft cheese fame along with Carl and Bertha Hinshaw.

Florida was growing as a destination, Bok Tower, completed in 1929, would have attracted investors to the area.  In fact Duncan Hines was an early customer and booster through his reviews in his travel guides.  The original design was as an ambitious winter resort for those who liked tennis and golf.  According to the Chalet Suzanne web site Kraft pulled out of the project due to the stock market crash, construction stopped, then Carl Hinshaw died.

With no husband and two young children to care for, Bertha Hinshaw turned her home into an inn and restaurant, thus the beginnings of  the delightful property which stands today.  In 1943 the house was almost totally destroyed by fire and was rebuilt from other buildings on the property with the help of her son Carl.  You can read more about their history here at their web site Chalet Suzanne Restaurant and County Inn History.  Cypress Gardens was built in 1936 and between Bok Tower, Chalet Suzanne and Cypress Gardens you had the trifecta of Old Florida which was a popular honeymoon destination for many, many years.  Each suite was decorated with yummy antiques, each had a name and was special.  Very special.  More recently it was a popular location for weddings.  Known for its eclectic decor delicious antiques and award winning food.  For seclusion and for romance.

Photograph by

My experience there was special too.  In 2004 I was treated with a romantic get-a-way-stay at the Inn and I have tender memories of a sweet time in my life.  The experience made my Top 10 list of dinning adventures.  How could it not, the restaurant earned 3 stars from Mobil (which has now been taken over by Forbes Magazine) and only one Florida restaurant has earned more Golden Spoon Awards.  The dinning room overlooks the lake and it's eclectic decor and china makes the experience a warm, wonderful and romantic one.   The owners are gracious, in true southern tradition the service is genuine, welcoming and professional.  We enjoyed the 5 course meal; it was the first time I had Broiled Grapefruit which was served as an appetizer.  Widely known over all of Florida as a true southern treat I was anticipating it as much as the meal; it didn't disappoint.  My visit was special.  The Chalet is a very special place.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Mountain Roadsides in September

The mountains are calling and I must go.  John Muir

To celebrate Labor Day and the first day of September I've taken a couple of snap shots of the roadside flowers our Blue Ridge Mountain visitors are enjoying this weekend.  The wild flower colors have deepened from the pale white (with the exception of Queen Anne's Lace), pink and lavenders to deep autumn golden yellows.  Jewelweed (Impatiens biflora), Tall Tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris) and Elm Leaf Goldenrod (Solidago ulmifolia) are dominating the roadsides here in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Tall tickseed lines much of Aska area of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

On the low side wet side of my drive where my little creek flows the tall tickseed flowers dominate the roadside providing much needed food for pollinators in the area.

Just across the drive, north of the creek feed, is a different drier habitat hosting jewelweed also known as wild impatiens.  The little slipper shaped flowers attract humming birds, butterflies as well as bees.  It's so fun to see a "bumbly" (might be a new word) wood bee butt sticking out as they crawl inside to drink the nectar.

Pretty little slipper shaped flowers remind me of orchids.

The mountain side is previewing the colors of fall.

The pine trees are laden with fresh pine cones this year and the leaves on the dogwood are beginning to turn a muted crimson.  I think it's going to be a stunning fall!  What's blooming in your area?  Take a moment to reflect on the beautiful changes in nature and feed your soul.  Peace.