A Very Modest Cottage Giveaway

Welcome to day 2 of Wandawega Week! If you missed day 1, click here.

Today, we’re giving away a signed copy of Tereasa’s book, A Very Modest Cottage. If you’d like a chance to win it, just leave us a comment on this post between today (Tuesday, August 9th) and Thursday, August 11th at noon (Central Time).

But before you scroll down to comment, I’d like to share with you a few more gorgeous Wandawega photos, and a very special blog post Tereasa wrote about her Dad, Tom Surratt. It’s filled with love and heaps of hope, and I’m sure you’ll be as touched by it as I was…


An old car, a decrepit piece of furniture, a rusty old tractor, an abandoned cottage is never beyond hope. They just need to find someone who’ll believe in them.

Tom Surratt believed.

He didn’t see a worthless, geriatric farm machine that was too far gone. He had a gift to see the youth, the former self, the beauty in everything. He saw his grandson one day driving that tractor down Main street in the annual Beardstown Fall Fun Festival Parade. He didn’t see a rust bucket of a pick-up that was beyond repair. He envisioned the ‘country limoisine’ his son Sam would drive his bride Tara home in on their wedding night.

Tom’s ability to see potential where most saw junk was a gift he passed on to every member of his family. His son Sam can bring pretty much anything with an engine back to life again. And again. And again. His daughters Amy, Lisa and Holly married men cut from the same cloth. Men who know that the right combination of ambition, duct tape, and elbow grease make all things possible. His wife, Kay, held Tom’s hope in her heart as she hammered, nailed, painted, and restored half a dozen condemned properties into loving homes for low income families with her two hands. And my father Tom inspired me to see the beauty locked within an abandoned cabin bound for the wrecking ball. I saw a quiet, happy place where Dad could go to read his books and listen to his grandkids and watch the clouds roll by.

Dad didn’t make it to see the rebirth of the modest cottage.

Or to witness his grandson – with a grin a mile wide – old enough to pilot that old international Harvester tractor down Main street and win best of show for antique restorations. But his ability to dream and hope and believe lives on.

I hope this little story of a resurrection inspires you (like my Dad inspired me) to think twice before you lose faith in that old car, that weathered piece of furniture, that old tractor, or even an old, abandoned cottage.

(Tereasa’s Grandpa, holding up her Dad)

Even the most modest of projects can be become something beautiful. There is no such thing as too far gone. With hope and a hammer, I believe there is always a way.

Tereasa Surratt, author of A Very Modest Cottage


(Photos 1, 2, 3, & 5 courtesy of Mary at at Home Is Where The Boat Is. Photos 4 & 6: AVeryModestCottage.blogspot.com)

Camp Treehouse
Camp Cottage

Have posts from The Lettered Cottage sent right to your INBOX!


  1. Allison says

    I’d love to have this book in my collection. Such a beautiful transformation of the property.

  2. Sunny says

    I have always imagined being able to resurrect things from the past. I have also always wanted to have a comfy lake home this book looks amazing!!!

  3. Tracy hall-ingram says

    I love this series on the lake property renovations. I would be there all the time!

  4. Mary Ellen says

    LOVE!! What an amazing story about an even more amazing camp! Thanks for the opportunity to win the book.

  5. Tucker says

    Beautiful, inspiring and oh so passionate! Tereasa gives us all permission to reuse & re-purpose with fervor & to follow through with our dreams. Thank you for sharing her story with all of us!

  6. LeighAnne says

    Oh, this book has been on my “wish list” before it was released! Thanks for a chance to win it!

  7. Jan S says

    Loved this post and all of its delicious contents so much that I made myself read it in “installments” because I didn’t want it to end. With a book, I can read, enjoy, and reference it all the time. Thanks!

  8. leslie aquilino says

    “Dreams are illustrations… from the book your soul is writing about you.”
    What a beautiful book~ I would dearly love to own.


  9. Erin says

    What they have done with the property is amazing! It is delightful to see it saved rather than developed away. I fell in love with Wisconsin when visiting my college roommate’s home in Eagle River…my husband and I even honeymooned there :-). This book would be a such a pleasure to own.

  10. Terri Driggers says

    amazing project!!!! How beautiful this property is along with the cottage.. bungalows…etc.!!! would love to have the book!!!! Thanks “Lettered Cottage”!!! Terri

  11. jenny says

    i am doing the same thing right now to a super small cottage that was built in the ’80’s and then neglected! it’s not on the water or anything fancy, but it’s my little sanctuary away from the bustle of work and the city.

  12. Stephany says

    Reading these posts on my lunch break has been the highlight of my week. Thanks for sharing! Stephany