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:

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Sunny Day Gardening and Yard Work

We had a great day today outside enjoying life at home. Wayne got the raised garden beds ready for the tomatoes and mowed while I pruned and trimmed the hedges and shrubs. We had the kind of glorious weather every Mainer dreams about all winter.

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Thrifty Gardening: Repurposing Old Things

For the first time since mid-March I went to a store. I knew it would be different, but it was exceptionally unpleasant even though it was a plant nursery. The locally owned nursery from which we usually buy our vegetable plants and offers home delivery or curbside pickup didn’t have the two tomato varieties that are our favorites–Lemon Boys and Beefsteaks, so I went to Lowe’s. Although the nursery is mostly outdoors they forced people to first walk through the store instead of directly entering. The woman at the register was not distancing from me and they aren’t set up so that you still have to use the gross stylus pen to approve the purchase, something that has grossed me out long before the pandemic. A chipmunk popped out from nowhere as I was paying so that helped me feel more at peace. Also it was very windy so my nose began to run underneath my mask!

OK, enough whining. Here are a few ways I’m reusing some old things laying around for gardening tasks!

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Guest Post: A New Englander’s Tiny Balcony Garden in Italy

Many of us who are stuck inside small urban homes during quarantine (or any time!) may find ourselves wishing we had some nature within reach. My dear friend and Bostonite Stephanie moved to Italy many years ago and created a green oasis on her chic Florence balcony. I’m very grateful that she was so generous to share her story and beautiful photos with us here on Simple Living New England. Come see her flowers, fruit trees, bird friends and more for inspiration!

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Forbidden Fruit on Friday the 13th

At the express check-out line at Whole Foods this morning I was greeted by the cashier who often checks me out weekly, so to speak. He’s always very jovial, not just to me but everyone, but he said something that startled me!

“You are a great lover.”

What did he just say?! I immediately blushed and said nervously laughing, “What do you mean I’m a great lover!”

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Garden Update: Chipmunks, Fairy Tale Eggplant & The Seven Dwarfs

Early in July I finally found a charming weathered hand-painted concrete set of the Seven Dwarfs at an antique & collectible shop in Cornish for $45 that costs around $900 new when painted. Those who have been following my blog for a while know I adore vintage kitschy garden statues of animals and gnomes. Since it’s not unusual for people to call me “Snow White” when I tell them about my yard pets I wanted to complete the cast of characters. I also figured they would make terrific props for chipmunk photo sessions. Tailor, however, did not agree! Check out the little linked video for her reaction. A couple of days later, she disappeared!

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The Good Life: Yankee Thrift in Action

With Wayne being a Baby Boomer and me, GenX, retirement is something for which our budget revolves around. When Wayne starts collecting social security it likely will be funded at 100%. For my generation? Not likely! Saving for us isn’t just a way of life but as old age approaches, a necessity.

In the examples below you’ll see how Yankee Thrift  is the way to a richer life for us. It’s about making smart purchases without the purpose of showboating. In other words it’s not about buying something because it’s on trend, or you need the latest model, or to feed an insecure desire to impress. It’s about quality and self-reliance with the smarts to know when you need to secure the services of a professional or invest in a big expenditure. We save where we can and spend more on where it counts. You’ll see how in each example we’re cutting back but it’s not a sacrifice:

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Holiday Weekend Gardening

Wayne has been working six days a week for the past couple of weeks, so a three day weekend gave him more time….to work on our organic vegetable garden! I selected our annuals and living accents. Here’s how it all came together:

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A Prayer for Radiant Beauty

The Supreme prayer of my heart is not to be learned, rich, famous, powerful or even good, but simply to be radiant. I desire to radiate health, cheerfulness, calm courage and good-will. I wish to live without hate, whim, jealousy, envy, fear. I wish to be simple, honest, frank, natural, clean in mind and clean in body, unaffected – to say ‘I do not know,’ if it be so, and to meet all men on an absolute equality, to face any obstacle and meet every difficulty unabashed and unafraid. –Elbert Hubbard