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How to Make Time for a Handmade Life

A handmade life sounds so very idyllic, doesn’t it? It brings up images of Tasha Tudor and Ma Ignalls in all their romantic glory. It skips the full-time jobs, commutes, sport practice, and all the other many modern pressures. Those pressures are very real but so is a handmade life of our choosing.

Crabapple blossoms

The great thing about a handmade life is that all of our hands are different and so our lives. There are no right or wrong ways to embrace a simpler, handmade life but sometimes we all need a little nudge or two to actually get to doing not just dreaming. 

Choose Wisely

No one can do it all. No one.

No one.

We all have to choose our priorities and do it wisely. Which parts of a handmade life are most important to you? For example, if a garden is a high priority, then time has to be made for it meaning saying no to some summer activities. 

Accept Limitations

A garden might be a priority but time limitations might mean that it’s small or anything but weed-free. A garden is a big part of my life – it would never (ever, ever) make the pages of some glossy magazine. Jobs, school, family and more mean we have to realistic about our limitations – we’re all human and we all have them. Embrace those limitations and make them work for your life.

Jobs, raising children, taking care of elderly families and more mean that we have limitations that are likely to stop us from a completely handmade or self-sufficient lifestyle. Choose what’s most important and accept the limitations (and choose to see those limitations as blessings, perhaps). There is so much room to grow, thrive, and bloom within our priorities and limitations. 

Find Compromise

Give up the ideal circumstance and find livable compromise in your handmade life. Homemade bread might be a priority in a handmade life. Making it every day or even a couple times a week can be tough to work into a schedule. Baking several loaves one day a week or every other week, however is doable. Make those big batches and freeze the loaves for eating over time. 

Handmade bread on cooling rack.

A small apartment or full-time or any other number of things can make having a huge garden impossible. Grow a few herbs in pots and keep just a few pots of tomatoes if possible. Subscribe to a local CSA farm for the rest of your vegetable needs. This is an example of an amazing compromise that supports your handmade life and your local community at the same time. 

Disconnect from Social Media

It happens to all of us, we open Instagram while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil and before we know it we’ve scrolled for 20 minutes. We go to Facebook to look in a group we’re fond of and before we know it we’re checking out trending news, saving links that catch our eye, and more. We cannot live a handmade life and simultaneously spend hours on social media. 

This sounds like common sense. It is common sense and yet social media sucks us all in. It’s designed to suck us in and keep us scrolling. We have to actively fight the temptation. Set time limits, use apps to block the social media sites if necessary. It takes a little work to build the habit but staying away from social media will free up time.

Stay Home

Obviously, there are jobs and school and reasons to leave home. While becoming a complete hermit might be a dream for some, it’s an absolute nightmare for others. However, choose some time now and then and plan for long hours at home. Block an entire 24-hour period, a whole weekend or longer if possible once a month to just stay home and live a handmade life. 

Long spans of time at home serve us in so many different ways. This time allows us to relax and unwind, things most of us need. Home also empowers and refills our ever depleted personal wells. Finally, time at home simply opens up the possibilities of handmade living and activities that can’t necessarily be found elsewhere.

Learn to Say No

No to the extra activities that don’t fit into the primary priorities. This is hard for any number of reasons. No one likes to be the killjoy and no one wants to miss out on time with family and friends. No one likes to turn down the community effort worth supporting. There is a time and a place for everything. Simply make sure before saying yes that it’s important to your handmade life in the long run. 

Gift basket being hand delivered

Supporting the local charity can be a priority but that might mean saying no something else in favor of gardening or canning food or chopping wood for example. There’s no right or wrong here it’s simply a matter of personal choice. 

Also, learn to say no without apologizing or making long-winded excuses. “Thanks for asking me to participate but I need to decline right now.” That’s all that needs to be said. 

Practice Handmade Living

Simply live your handmade life. It’s great to plan and dream and to say no but we need to put some action behind all those things. This where turning off the TV and disconnecting from social media will help the most. Simply bake the bread, knit the hats, preserve the food, and get busy with the hands. 

Creating a handmade life with pickles and cookies.

The interesting thing about just practicing your handmade priorities is that they become addictive in a sense. The more we live out our chosen priorities, the more protective we become of that time. Taking part in our lives means, doing those handmade things with passion and excitement – that passion and excitement almost always leads to more of the same.

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Wednesday 14th of August 2019

This is my first year without my hubby of 42 years. Have had to accept limitations as I allow grief to have its space. So the large garden is not happening, but some tomato plants are. A few herbs. Less is challenging, and I fought it and cried multiple times. But grace is necessary. This first year at least. Thank you for your post, Kathie.

Kathie Lapcevic

Friday 16th of August 2019

I am so very sorry for your loss. Do please give yourself grace and time and lots and lots of love.

Earlene Waite

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Kathie ..I do enjoy your posts so much, you have great ideas and thank you for sharing your love of the simple life. Personally I feel there is a day coming these practices are going to be a must in the world ….bartering will be a big one for sure...I am 66 years old and have often been thankful from the simple things I learned from my parents ...when others thought I was crazy to learn to do these things, I'm thankful I did...healthwise I have a time doing stuff now but I could if I have too and I wish the younger generation would get a grasp on how to do it too instead of having a ipad or phone in their hand all the time....our world is going to get harder to live in the way its going sadly, so I encourage you to keep up the good work and hopefully you will reach more people to get them thinking....have a blessed day....

Kathie Lapcevic

Tuesday 13th of August 2019

Thank you so much for your kind words and reading!


Thursday 26th of April 2018

Oh, my gosh---You are SO right on with this! We just moved into a beautiful place (like days ago), and there is a hoop house and garden area(s) set up already.....

BUT: As the planting season rapidly approaches, I am realizing I just cannot do the Farmer's Market this year as I had hoped. I just can't. So---prioritizing: That's my key word at this time of a huge lifetime move---while continuing to do as much as I can myself. It's humbling.

Thanks for these thoughts!

Kathie Lapcevic

Thursday 26th of April 2018

Oh moving and getting set-up is a huge undertaking. Give yourself grace to build for the long term. Congrats!

Lady Locust

Wednesday 25th of April 2018

What was that first one Kathie? No-one can do it all? What if I want to? Am I not super-human enough? (Bahaha!) What a great reminder. Finding balance is certainly an art I struggle with at times.

Kathie Lapcevic

Wednesday 25th of April 2018

I'm not perfect either. I know I can't do it all but sometimes I wanna! It's a journey and hopefully we get many chances to figure it out.


Wednesday 25th of April 2018

Would you be offended if I added one thing to your list? I hope not as it is meant with the best intentions.

Barter or trade with those that either know how to do something better, have better access to different supplies or have more time. Barter seems like too much of a formal word, but I have been known to trade jars of jam, herbal preparations, and more for fabric, delivery of large items that I can't handle on my own, or even straight up cash or credit at a local store.

There was a few years that I overplanted a few varities of squash and especially ornamental pumpkins. I was able to trade them for credit at my local natural food store.

I'm one of those people with lots of free time and a teeny tiny budget to work with and I find work arounds to make things work as well as help those that are uber busy.

For example, I volunteer for the local Friends of the Library and that means I have the inside access to books, both the donated ones and the latest titles at the library proper. I can bring your books back that are due soon since I'm there often, preread kids books for you before you hand them to your wee kids with your values in mind when you don't have time, grab and buy a special donated book that I know you will love before it even hits the sale floor or keep an eye out for your favorite author or that one book in a series you're missing. In return, I'd love for you to donate your old books back to us at the library, I'll even bring them in!

Or canning, you buy the ingredients, and I'll do the work in a healthy low-sugar or salt way and maybe for every five I pass on to you, I'll keep one for myself. (I'm single, so don't need quantities that a family does.)

All of the activities I do like this have the bonus of pushing me outside of my comfort zone with my mental illness too. I need to network a bit to make it happen and there are other things that we can trade that will really help me out, like you take the trips to the post office that give me the willies or since I don't drive, it will keep me in mind when others take trips to stores that I can't get to or won't go to on my own. Costco or the local outlets anyone? That sort of thing is a big help for me and I don't need to tag along every time.

We can all help each other achieve the life we want by sharing the different gifts we have, even if it's time.


Friday 4th of January 2019

So true! I love bartering homegrown produce for all sorts of things. I swapped large boxes of produce for pure wool doonas last year for example! Love your idea of helping canning people's extra produce. I would take you up on that offer if you were nearby! I'm swamped with tomatoes at the moment (we're in Australia)

Kathie Lapcevic

Wednesday 25th of April 2018

thank you so much for sharing this! I couldn't agree more and have written about bartering in other posts. It's a great way to make a community.