In Little House Life Hacks, authors Angie Bailey, a humor writer, and Susie Shubert, a life coach, have gathered sage wisdom from the cherished book series and TV show Little House on the Prairie. Whether you want to harken back to the enduring tales of pioneers from the 1880s or live out the modern cottagecore fantasy of your dreams, there’s something in these pages for you.
To set the stage before you read the book, we’ve gathered a few fun tidbits about the land the Ingalls lived and loved in, interesting prairie customs, and quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. So sit down, strap in, and let’s get this buggy on the (dirt) road!
PIONEER POINTER: Quilting bees began in the nineteenth century and were a way for women to gather and share news, gossip, and friendship while they worked. A bee is another word for a party or social function, so a quilting bee is another way of saying “quilting party,” although the vibe was, of course, totally different from a barn dance social.
In the modern world, a quilting bee doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a physical space. You can connect with others through social media or video sharing platforms. Parallel play is pioneer approved! That being said, you can also plant the seeds for a solid social life by attending local groups or creating community with the people around you. Everyone benefits from good gossip, so if you have a compliment for someone close to you, don’t be afraid to share it!
PIONEER POINTER: Ruts made over two hundred years ago from the wagons of the Oregon Trail can still be seen today in Guernsey, Wyoming!
On the prairie, family celebrations were only as elaborate as their meager finances would allow, but that didn’t mean they were any less special. If you’re stuck in a rut, celebrate your special events in ways that you haven’t before. You can even try your hand at reinventing the wheel by creating new celebrations. Who knows? They might be the next thing to stick around for two hundred years!
PIONEER POINTER: The mercantile, or general store, was often a hub of social interaction. In the 1800s, you would not only find staples like eggs, soaps, and clothing in one of these stores, but also be offered strange elixirs that were mostly alcohol and claimed to cure such ailments as stomach, lung, or blood diseases.
Not such a strange elixir, Pa’s Slow Cooker Wild Turkey Apple Butter can be made with ingredients that you’d be able to find in the mercantiles of old. Try your hand at the recipe and enjoy a deliciously resourceful taste of pioneer life. While it won’t cure stomach, lung, or blood diseases, an apple a day has been known to keep the doctor away, and this recipe calls for 6 whole pounds of them!
PIONEER POINTER: Black coffee was known as “barefooted” to pioneers. They derided weak coffee as dehorned belly-wash or brown gargle. In a pinch, pioneer women roasted, ground, and brewed seed wheat to make a coffee substitute known as Sin and Misery; it was considered a sin to burn the wheat, and misery to drink it.
Thankfully, good coffee’s the default in this day and age—no sin and misery here! Take some time to center yourself with a cup of joe in the morning, noon, or night…that is, if you have extra crops to till. Whether you take it hot, iced, or barefooted, enjoy a drink that’s fueled the prairie for years! If you’re feeling especially adventurous, try out flavors that the pioneers themselves might have enjoyed, like sweet corn, apple crisp, or the perennial fall favorite, pumpkin spice.
Wanna find out more about the Ingalls and prairie life? Become a modern pioneer with the help of Little House Life Hacks, available wherever books are sold!
Text taken from and inspired by Little House Life Hacks: Lessons for the Modern Pioneer from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Prairie by Angie Bailey and Susie Shubert, illustrated by Lauren Mortimer.