There’s a gentler, sweeter, simpler world just a click away, where nature reigns, domestic pleasures are elevated and flowers are always in bloom. This is the realm of cottagecore, a social-media crafted aesthetic offering a hyperidealized vision of self-reliant country life in tune with nature.
The term cottagecore first showed up on the internet in 2018, but social media posts with the “#cottagecore” tag have exploded since the pandemic began. Followers may find solace in the dreamy images and homespun DIY ethic, nudging cottagecore from a quirky subculture into a mainstream antidote for troubled minds. Instead of counterculture, it’s cottageculture.
An internet search for “cottagecore” brings up pictures of butterfly-filled gardens and picket fences, teatime and picnics, homemade bread, tutorials on how to make a daisy chain or dandelion jelly, videos of girls running through fields, anything with mushrooms or frogs, wildflower bouquets, cats lolling in the sunshine and a profusion of indoor plants.
Most practitioners of cottagecore are teens and early 20-somethings on the video-sharing app TikTok, but Instagram and Pinterest are also awash in soft-focus, sun-dappled cottagecore pictures.
You don’t need to live in a cottage to be cottagecore. Apartments, camper vans, mobile homes and even tents can be cottagecore. Cottagecore is influenced by woodland motifs (snails, moss, ferns, mushrooms, frogs), but cottagecore folks live in every climate and urban landscape, taking decorating cues from pastoral themes and giving vintage pieces pride of place. The cozy, cluttered look of cottagecore is the comforting opposite of minimalism.
Although cottagecore promotes interests and skills traditionally considered to be feminine, the cottagecore community is prominently LGBTQ friendly. The world of cottagecore definitely skews white, but there are also Black and Muslim cottagecore trendsetters. If you dream of churning your own butter and having a tea party in a meadow, cottagecore is your scene, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or skin color.
If you want to immerse yourself in the coziness of cottagecore IRL (in real life), here are suggestions for pursuing these soothing activities right here in Clark County.
Take up cross-stitch. For maximum cottagecore-ness, choose patterns featuring mushrooms, strawberries, frogs, snails, fawns, ferns, peaches or lemons. Check out Washougal-based Julie’s Cross Stitch at www.juliexstitch.com for patterns and supplies.
Make dried citrus rings. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Thinly slice lemons, limes or oranges and arrange in a single layer on the wire rack. Bake until dry to the touch. Lemons and limes take two to three hours to dry and oranges take four to five hours. Find citrus fruits at the locally owned Chuck’s Produce and Street Market, www.chucksproduce.com, with locations in east Vancouver and Salmon Creek.
Make strawberry jam. Thoroughly mix 2 cups of fresh, finely chopped strawberries with 2 cups sugar. Next, boil 3/4 cup of water with 1 box of fruit pectin, stirring until dissolved. Boil for 1 minute then add to strawberry mixture. Mix well. Pour into clean Mason jars, leaving a little room at the top. Store in the freezer for up to one year or in the fridge for up to four weeks. Get farm-fresh berries at Joe’s Place Farms, www.joesplacefarms.com; Bi-Zi Farms, www.bi-zifarms.com; or the Vancouver Farmers Market, www.vancouverfarmersmarket.com.
Bake scones. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix 2 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons sugar. Cut in 4 tablespoons of very cold butter until the dough is the texture of small peas. Make a well in the middle and add 1 egg, followed by 3/4 cup containing half cold buttermilk and half cold cream. Incorporate lightly then turn onto flour-sprinkled counter and knead a few times. Pat or roll to a circle of 1-inch thickness and cut into wedges, or use a biscuit cutter. Bake for 20 minutes. Get free-range eggs for your scones at Botany Bay Farm, botanybayfarm.com; Kelsey Family Farm, www.kelseyfamilyfarm.com; Fir Grove Farm, www.facebook.com/firgrovefarmwa/; or GrassKickin’ Farms, www.grasskickin.com.
Make lavender syrup. Boil 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon fresh lavender blossoms. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes, then strain the mixture into jar or bottle. Store in the fridge and use it to flavor lemonade, iced tea or cocktails. Grow your own lavender or buy lavender from Scented Acres Lavender Farm, scentedacreslavender.com, or Lacamas Lavender Farm, www.facebook.com/lacamaslavenderfarm/.
Buy a vintage dress. Look for long, flowing dresses in white, calico or soft florals. Pair your dress with Mary Jane-style shoes and ankle socks. Look for vintage finds at Most Everything Vintage, mosteverything.wordpress.com, or follow the shop on Instagram at @mosteverything.
Press wildflowers. Search for flowers with naturally flat faces, like daisies, buttercups and wild carrots (also called Queen Anne’s lace). Place flowers between two sheets of paper, taking care that blossoms don’t overlap. Place inside a heavy book, then weigh the book down with more heavy books. Leave in place for three or four weeks. Get free wildflowers by walking along Clark County’s country roads, or check out this scenic route: www.clark.wa.gov/home/scenic-drive-highlights-north-clark-county. Find big books for flower-pressing at Vintage Books, www.vintage-books.net.
Go on a vintage treasure-hunt. Look for flowery teapots and teacups. Check out House of Vintage, www.houseofvintagenw.com/vancouver/; Camas Antiques, www.facebook.com/camasantiqueshome/; Urban Barnhouse, www.facebook.com/UrbanBarnhouse/; Rusty Glamour, www.facebook.com/rgmerchants.co/; or Reliques Marketplace, www.facebook.com/reliquesmarketplace/.
Bring nature inside. For cottagecore-drenched ideas about how to cultivate a forest of indoor foliage, follow The French Door on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thefrenchdoor109/or Instagram at @thefrenchdoor109. Buy indoor succulents and succulent-growing supplies from Urban Succulents, www.suburbansucculents.com. For even more green inspiration, check out Flowers Washougal www.flowerswashougal.com or browse the extensive selection of indoor plants and accessories at Yard ‘n Garden Land, yardngardenland.com.