Make a change with the cottage spirit

Trends, styles, and aesthetics come and go over the years, and most of us grab bits and pieces of them to build something of our own. One trend that gained traction in 2020 and continues into 2021 is #cottagecore, an aesthetic that celebrates an idealized version of cozy cottage life, featuring home baking, knitwear, and handcrafts. On one hand, it can be a rose-tinged, nostalgic view of rural life, full of floral patterns, woodland paths, and homemade candles. (Musician Taylor Swift released two surprise albums, folklore and evermore, in 2020 that fit the aesthetic and reveled in the idea of escapism.) On the other hand, it can be a celebration of human creativity and resilience, an ongoing push toward sustainability, and a reflection of a growing awareness of problems like food waste

It makes sense that these sensibilities gained popularity as a response to the realities of the pandemic, with the first step taken as people began baking their own bread and figuring out home cleaning hacks when faced with supply shortages. The next steps were easy: if you’re forced to self-isolate, isn’t it nicer to imagine sitting in a field with a book and a straw hat when the weather is fine? Whether or not the entire aesthetic speaks to you, there are plenty of bits and pieces that can work with your own personal lifestyle and hopefully inspire you toward sustainable practices, one step at a time.

Focus on nature. We know Princeton has beautiful gardens, but I live in an apartment with no green space to call my own. One can always bring the outdoors in through décor and houseplants, but I also like the idea of growing some edible items for myself. If this sounds like you, join us on March 8 for a presentation by County Horticulturalist Margaret Pickoff on small space kitchen gardening. If you’re interested in other ways to bring your love of nature into the foreground, don’t miss the Princeton Environmental Film Festival in April. While you wait, you can catch many previously featured films on Kanopy with your library card. 

Baking and cooking. Did you go through the sourdough phase of pandemic? Home cooks and bakers can find plenty of other projects to fill the proverbial larder. Maybe you’re ready to dive further into fermentation or are primed to begin preserving to make your food last. Grab a cookbook or a guidebook to help highlight those vegetables you grew. Supporting local farms and small businesses is another great way to enjoy locally sourced foods and artisanal products when you don’t have time to brew up a batch of dandelion wine.

Sewing and handcrafts. Not everyone’s ready to sit down and make all their own clothes, but perhaps you might pick up knitting or crochet to keep your hands busy and create while watching your favorite show or enjoying an audiobook. Our weekly social knitting group, Drop In and Knit, meets virtually on Wednesday mornings and welcomes members of all levels of experience. If you’re looking for ways to combat fast fashion, try mending techniques to keep your clothes in use longer or learn to alter secondhand finds. No interest in needles or hooks? Consider carving wooden spoons or find inspiration from artisans keeping crafts alive around the world. Don’t forget to access Creativebug with your library card to find more inspiration for personalizing your space, from embroidery to soap making to refinishing furniture.

#aesthetic. Listen, I love floral patterns, woodland paths, and homemade candles. Sometimes it’s pleasant just to take a breath and look at pictures of beautiful things, whether you prefer cabinscottageshouseplants, or something else entirely. We know you’ll find the inspiration you need in our collections.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

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