How To Channel Your Inner Homesteading Hippie Mama (No Matter Where You Live)

What a "friendly, bread-sharing weirdo."

What a "friendly, bread-sharing weirdo."

Will your neighbors think you’re a weirdo? Maybe.

Do you ever yearn for a simpler time? A time without smartphones and global warming and Donald Trump? Me too, and then I remind myself that those simpler times came before the advent of birth control and deodorant and toothbrushes and I’m like, “Maybe 2015’s not so bad.”

Still, there’s a part of me that loves to reconnect with my inner unwashed homesteading hippie mama — to unplug, slow down, and make things by hand. It’s therapeutic to learn a new skill and become more self-sufficient, no matter where you live or how frantic your life is. Here are six easy ways to honor your inner hippie homesteader. Preferably while wearing a vintage pair of overalls, but hey, that part is up to you.

Make Bread. Have you ever made a loaf of bread? From scratch? With yeast and kneading and carefully planned proofing times and the whole shebang? I hadn’t until a couple weeks ago, and let me tell you, in all seriousness, it is a spiritual experience. Getting your hands in the dough, watching it rise, seeing the raw ingredients transformed into something totally different and delicious: it’s magical. And when you first take that gorgeous golden loaf out of the oven, it’s impossible not to feel like a homesteading hippie goddess. Here’s a great, simple recipe for beginning bread bakers.

Plant Something. The therapeutic powers of gardening are well documented, but many people assume these benefits are only available to those with a yard large enough for an actual garden. The truth is: Tending to a small plot in a community garden, a counter herb garden in your kitchen, or a few succulents in the living room is just as fulfilling as tilling an acre of land. The act of planting something, nurturing it, and watching it grow is healing and empowering no matter the scale. Drop a couple seeds in a little pot of dirt, water it, and see what happens.

Learn To Knit, Crochet, Or Sew. You don’t have to take a hundred-hour advanced sewing course to reap the benefits of making your own clothes and accessories. Keep it simple: a scarf, a hat, an apron, or a tiny blanket for your newborn nephew. There is truly nothing more relaxing than making a cup of tea and crocheting while binge-watching a juicy drama on a rainy night. Get in on this lifestyle, girl. Not sure where to start? Check out YouTube tutorials (there are so many good ones out there!) or ask a crafty friend to teach you the basics in exchange for free wine.

Get Canning. Think you can’t can? Yes, you can! Please accept my apologies for those two sentences and hear me out: Canning stuff is the best. It makes you feel like a badass pioneer woman preparing for the Oregon Trail, except in this scenario you’re making orange basil marmalade for brunches rather than basic sustenance and you have unlimited access to a shower. Making jam and preserving fruits, veggies, and sauces is shockingly easy, but time-consuming. The payoff is so worth it, though. Put on a cute apron and a fun podcast and dedicate an afternoon to giving it a try. You’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labors (literally) for months to come.

DIY Your Own Cleaning Products. Cleaning the bathroom is never fun, but you know what makes the task significantly more tolerable? Doing it with fresh-smelling, all-natural cleaning products you made yourself. You’ll save a bunch of money, avoid that lightheaded feeling that comes from sniffing too many chemicals (ugh), and feel good knowing you made a choice that’s kinder to the planet. Check out all the cleaning products you can make at home — and you can often customize scents using essential oils. I’m obsessed with the tea tree oil shower cleaner I made a couple weeks ago; its works great and smells SO GOOD.

Do Something Nice For Your Neighbors. Everyone’s constantly talking about what a disconnected, individualized world we live in. An easy remedy that can momentarily make your life feel like a Rockwell painting is to simply do something nice for a neighbor. Bring them over some of that jam or bread you just made. Mow their lawn after you finish mowing theirs. Host a casual open house where your neighbors can meet each other. Be sure they know you’re happy to collect their mail or keep an eye on their place while they’re out of town. Whether you live in a high-rise apartment or a suburban subdivision, we can all find ways to be more generous with the people in our communities. Will your neighbors think you’re a weirdo? Maybe. But if anything, you’re a friendly, bread-sharing weirdo who’s creating a stronger sense of community, and no one’s going to argue with that.

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