Why 1890s Living is Looking so Good Right Now

By Lauren Le Vine, REDBOOK.

You know who would totally have a kick-ass blog? Laura Ingalls Wilder. She was the original Pioneer Woman - not only did life take her from the big woods of Wisconsin to the prairies of South Dakota to Missouri, she carefully chronicled the hardships, achievements, and other adventures her family encountered along the way. Heck, Little House on the Prairie has an entire chapter on building a door for your sod house. If that's not DIY, I don't know what is.

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The do-it-yourself pioneer woman spirit is alive and well in modern-day females, too, but while Wilder was churning her own butter because it was the only way for the family to have it, women today are doing so because it fulfills an artistic and creative longing. In a piece called "The Rise of the Crafty Hipster, Michelle Goldberg talks about legions of hip young women who choose to engage in domestic pursuits for a living. Whether they feel stifled by the corporate world and trying to "lean in," want to stay at home with their children, or worry about getting jobs (so instead they choose to create their own), these women don't view the decision to stay home and engage in crafty, creative pursuits as opting out.

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Instead, they're raising the bar for their chosen craft - just like Sheryl Sandberg encourages females to do in the corporate world. As more and more "homemaker blogs," artisinal jam-makers, and Etsy shop creationists emerge, so does the trend of upscale domesticity. Think of The Pioneer Women's amazing recipes and the gorgeous way she photographs them for her site. It's not just food porn, it's home-and-hearth, warm-and-fuzzy, I want to make that for my family goodness. Ree is a city chick who molded country life into something that works for her personality - and she's managed to turn it into a business, too. While it takes talent and business savvy to do so, turning artistic pursuits into the way you make your living represents the ultimate DIY dream.

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It really comes down to this: Society as a whole continues to get more enlightened and self-aware, while economic and corporate conditions become more harsh and stringent. "Our current collective nostalgia and domesticity-mania speak to deep cultural longings and a profound shift in the way Americans view life" Goldberg writes on The Daily Beast. When we reach a boiling point, the idea of following your bliss and creating your own opportunities - as hippie-dippy and cliché as it can sound - is what these "radical homemakers" are doing. So yes, we may have too many Etsy shops toting hand-carved hammered dulcimers, but the people making them are happy, just like it's easy to imagine Laura Ingalls Wilder was on the prairie.

Ed. note: This post was written by someone who may or may not want to relocate to a cabin in the mountains and whittle for a living. She has already named her future Etsy shop "Woodn't You Like to Know."

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