In Defense of “Cottagecore” (aka Simple Living & Homemaking)

Oh dear. Simple, beautiful living is being pathologized by the media, natch. Granted, Instagram influencers can take an authentic way of life and turn it into an unattainable aesthetic which is part of their charm, I suppose, for those who find that aspirational. #cottagecore, which I had never heard of before until this morning when I read this CNN article, “Cottagecore has us yearning for a bygone era that never was” that prompted this blog post, is once such ideal. Apparently much of the way I’ve been living since I left NYC in 1985 (as well as millions of people without hashtags) share a lot of the cottagecore values. I do live in a cottage with two acres of woods, for starters!

Here’s the problem with the critics: They embrace a toxic “ideal” that’s out of touch with a healthy reality while denouncing simple living as being irresponsible and a form of cowardly retreat:

As much as a life filled with gallivanting across the countryside picking berries and baking scones might sound ideal, most people have responsibilities at home.

OK, rant on:

I need to begin my screed by pointing out that the greatest thing I did for my mental well-being was to embrace simple living and homemaking anchored by nature and increased self-sufficiency. (Some of you know I also have a Masters degree in Counseling and was a Nationally Certified Counselor until I retired that credential when I changed careers.)

I bake scones (check out my recipe!) and bread from scratch. THOSE ARE SOME OF MY “RESPONSIBILITIES AT HOME”! My God, what is wrong with the world today that doing simple things grounded in nature is now some kind of unhealthy escapism?!

I pick berries in my backyard and I go apple picking in fields.

I bake apple pies, including this “Swedish” apple pie recipe which is my favorite.

Picking fruit and eating it fresh or incorporating it into baking is a very responsible thing to do! I’m supporting local agriculture and using wholesome food to keep my family healthy. It’s work! It’s real! It’s ideal!

Wayne and I love to visit gardens and smell the flowers. Shown above is at the Kennebunk Franciscan Monastery. Appreciating the gifts God created is also a very real and responsible gift!

We have a small raised vegetable garden that Wayne built “from scratch”. Homemaking is for men, too, and I don’t like that the outside manual labor is often not considered a part of that. Well it should be!

Wayne also recently fixed our rotting shed.

Befriending chipmunks in my yard and woods has turned me into a Chipmunk Whisperer, according to friends and neighbors who come to me with their questions. Nurturing healthy relationships both human and wild is key to mental health! Snow White aspirations are legit, people.

More nonsense from the CNN article with a quote from a professor of psychology:

This romantic dreamland is fed with a hefty dose of nostalgia but not necessarily from people’s own lives, Batcho said. Instead, it is likely created from historical nostalgia, she noted, which is a longing for a time in which people didn’t actually live. Someone living in the city who wants to move to the country could be thinking, “I’m pretty sure that people who have lived that way have enjoyed life in a better way than I’m enjoying city life right now,” Batcho said.

People have been and are still living this way, and some are living in crowded cities while incorporating ways that people did, do and will continue to live. I’m so proud of my Bennington College friend, Stephanie who has created and nurtures a sanctuary and nature preserve on her balcony in Florence, Italy. Click the link to see the post, it’s so lovely!

My high school friend from Birch Wathen Lenox, Kyle, lives in Brooklyn and has created his own “Quarantine Green” where he gardens and enjoys the wildlife attracted to his oasis. Check out this “before” and “after”!

Kyle, who works full time outside him home also enjoys homemaking. He recently salvaged and repurposed tiles destined for a landfill and used them to create a new backsplash in his kitchen.

My favorite thing about Kyle’s home is that he has many adorable bird friends and critters who love to visit.

I could easily turn this into a book, but I think you all get the picture!

Long flowy BoHo dresses and tresses need not be present. “Cottagecore” can be for all!

13 thoughts on “In Defense of “Cottagecore” (aka Simple Living & Homemaking)

  1. Wow, all those photos are amazing! But watch out for those chipmunks whispering in the last photo. I think they’re up to something… πŸ˜†

    I’m not sure what makes CNN think that picking berries, baking, and enjoying nature is not part of our responsibilities? Is it any different than getting groceries?

    And I’ll try not to rant in your comments, but I worked from age 15 and it wasn’t until I got married and became a homemaker that I had good health insurance, WITH vision and dental. And that’s just one example of how much better family life has treated me. So… maybe picking wild berries and homemaking is the best choice for some πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A bygone era that never was? I guess people were never happy until they moved to cities and had their food all imported from overseas. I certainly was raised, as were most of my friends and acquaintances, to know how to chop wood, bake bread, grow food, live by the seasons, and appreciate all the natural beauty around us. In fact, my sourdough is rising right now as I stare out the window at a beautiful snowfall clinging to my lilac bush. My husband is building a fire to light a little later, and for dessert, we’ll have ice cream with berries I picked and froze last year. But I guess it is all an illusion…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good reflection, and I think generally cottage core can be harmless/positive as long as it doesn’t get to the point where people are detaching themselves from reality. Although it is true that there are some inner problems relating to it, but people can still choose to embrace the lifestyle without that.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is πŸ”₯I’m born and raised in a small Swedish countryside village (I still live close to that village, as an adult I bought a house in the neighbor village, so I moved like 30 mins away) people are still living that “Cottagecore” lifestyle, flowy Praire dresses included. However that doesn’t mean that life isn’t or wasn’t hard. Self sustaining is hard, being a farmer or owning your own business is hard. On the Countryside where there’s a limited amount of costumers (My village have like 1500 citizens) makes it even harder. We all got responsibilities that CNN is talking about, ours might just look different. We might not have an office job or a daily commute (simply because there’s no public transportation out here) baking your own bread because the store is far away and might even be out of bread for the day, isn’t “living in a dream and time era that never existed” it’s a tried and true reality for a lot of people all over the world. I also read that article and I definitely got a weak spot for the Cottagecore fashion/cottagecore ideal, but the reason for that isn’t because I want to escape, it’s because I can relate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and excellent points. Making things from scratch and eking a living in rural areas can be hard work and isn’t always a choice! It doesn’t mean one can’t look pretty doing it in prairie dresses. πŸ˜€ I own only a couple but am on the lookout for more!

      Liked by 1 person

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