Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to Create a Vintage Picnic Basket

While it's long been established that I love eating, I have yet to blog about my passion for eating outdoors.

Not on the open range or in front of a roaring campfire, but at a picnic table with a red and white checkered table cloth, a nice bottle of wine, thinly sliced ham, coleslaw, cornbread, potato salad, watermelon, and a pie.

Blame it on Yogi,

When on a picnic there has to be pie.

And a really cool retro picnic basket like the kind he was partial to stealing...

While you can certainly purchase a picnic basket like that...

It will set you back between $75.00 and $125.00 and isn't really all that unique or original.

Which, in the grand scheme of things, I continue to work toward being unique, original, and creative.

Constantly feeding my passion for the Good Life while refusing to believe that living beautifully is connected to having large amounts of money.

Not that I think having large amounts of money is a bad thing. To the contrary. But not everyone is going to have pots of money at their disposal during their lives and its my belief that we can still have a slice of the pie for much less.

Living beautifully is about living well with what you have.

And gratitude is the key that opens most doors.

So it is with gratitude today that I talk about one of my treasures:

My picnic basket.

I got the idea to make one of my own years ago when I saw one of those fancy deals at a high end kitchen store. I love going shopping to places like that, gathering ideas, and then recreating things on my own.

Armed with the knowledge that I wanted to put something together, I got a picture in mind of the kind of basket I wanted: large, sturdy, and retro - preferably something made in the 1950's.

And started looking.

I searched garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets, even braving the flourescent lighting and accompanying odour of Value Village in search of my plunder. And then one morning at a local flea market, there it was.

My basket.

For two dollars and fifty cents, I took it home.

Originally it had been a sewing basket, but I knew in it's next incarnation I was going to make it very happy. After all, hadn't I just freed it from a life spent in somebody's attic?

I decided it would be kind of fun and kitschy to fill it with melmac dishes from the 50's and 60's and finally found the set I wanted at one of the best garage sales I've ever been to.

It was a beautiful day in late July and two brothers had come up from Toronto to settle their mother's estate. I arrived early enough to pay my respects to a set of wonderful pyrex refrigerator dishes and mixing bowls...

And then found my Melmac dishes.

I lined the bottom of the basket with a vintage table cloth and then went to the dollar store where I purchased t-towels in complimentary colours to use as napkins, beads that I made into napkin rings, clear plastic cutlery, a red and white checkered table cloth, and funky retro, wine glasses.

In total, my picnic basket cost $12.00.

But more than that has been the fun of putting it together which has really been priceless.

Here's a picture from a picnic in our back yard to give you an idea of what the table setting looks like. I've used beautiful little hydrangeas from my garden tucked into vintage juice glasses for the center piece and mason jars as glassware which is always fun for outdoor eating.

Enjoy my video for a great Provencal style picnic olive bread! Click here for the printable recipe.


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  1. Seriously woman, how much do you charge for a picnic in your backyard? Absolutely gorgeous!! LOVE the basket you put together, beyond cute. Wow. Again. Wow!

  2. It was super fun to put together. No charge Jeanine :-) Come on over!

  3. I think I have been in love with the idea of eating outdoors since Yogi as well. I LOVE your "pic-i-nic basket" (as Yogi would say). Wow! You did a great job! I love the idea of using vintage goodies to put in a basket. In fact, I love the whole idea of making one of these and all sorts of themes have been popping into my head ever since reading this post. You are an inspiration! Bravo!

  4. Good idea. I don't think I can make this quite so inexpensive, but maybe I can make one for less than buying it at an expensive shop.