Meet the Maker: Kate Payne

meet the makerSometime last year, I was virtually introduced to Kate Payne, the author of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. I don’t remember how the introduction occurred, but from the moment I visited her website, I’ve been hooked. I was so hooked that I purchased her book last November, and I love reading it in the little snippets of free time that I get.

I’m hoping to put a lot of her homemaking tips to use when we get our house, so I will do a full review of the book then. But for now – I just want to share her amazing story.

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

Before this book, Kate was what she calls “a flashy cook” – cooking food that would excite, but was not necessary by any means. She has also donned titles such as grant writer, half-assed homemaker, nanny, after-hours poet, doodler and gardener. She studied anthropology and sociology in the Sonoran Desert and once worked on an organic tomato farm.

Kate started the blog in 2009, when she was living in a ground floor apartment in Brooklyn, NY. She wasn’t making the money she was used to, but she still wanted the comforts of home. She dug inside for a little creativity and improvisation, and there the blog – and subsequently the book – were born.

“I started the blog specifically with the intent to write a book. The blog was a sort of sounding board for me to see if what I was thinking about writing was of interest to anyone besides me. I was not a blog reader at the time and my background in grant writing didn’t factor much into my blogging endeavors. I think the rigors of writing well–proofreading, syntax, punctuation, grammar, etc.–should go into any style of writing one does, whether it’s books, blog posts, magazine articles, or grants. “

She decided to write a book because she felt like there wasn’t enough resources out there for women who weren’t so hip on homemaking and keeping a clean house. Aside from that, she found herself questioning if it was normal for a modern, empowered woman like herself to actually enjoy the domestic life.

Image from Kate Payne

Image from Kate Payne

“The stigma and history surrounding women and domesticity fueled my intrigue in exploring my own relationship with the kitchen and household chores. With my book and approach I hope to shed a new light on DIY and eco-oriented homemaking. We all need somewhere to call home and shifting our attitude toward our homes is a good first step.

I’m of the opinion that you should pick and choose what you do yourself based on what you actually like doing, and then dedicate money you save there on quality items or services you don’t particularly enjoy. What makes the most sense for certain people to do themselves, doesn’t make sense for others. “

On top of maintaining her blog and writing her books, Kate also writes grants part-time for a nonprofit and maintains a quarterly column for Edible Austin. She works with her Marketing Coordinator Christina Valentine on the blog, tour event planning and managing workshop preparations. And because that is clearly not enough, she also works with a local farmers market group and helps maintain their website and social media.

“Freelancing means I’m working nearly all the time, but working on things I feel passionately about makes it worth it. I always carve out time to eat dinner with my wife, who does most of the sustenance cooking around our house. (I manage the fermenting, canning, desserts, ice cream and bread making, the projects we love, but can ultimately live without.)”

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Meyer Lemon bath salts. Photo from Kate Payne

Kate started canning in 2009 and peach jam was among her first projects, which she was afraid to eat because she was terrified the jars were full of botulism. She also made a triple citrus marmalade, from Eugenia Bone’s book Well Preserved.

“As I endeavored to learn more about canning, I soon discovered that all the hype surrounding your imminent death by canning was not really likely if you followed USDA-approved canning methods and practices. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great resource for beginners.”

A self-taught cook, she gets a lot of her recipe inspiration from Joy of Cooking and many of her gluten-free recipes will start from there and from pastry chef David Lebovitz. She will then make the recipes gluten free-friendly by substituting the flour for a flour blend based on what she is making. As for her preserving projects and recipes, she’s inspired by Linda Ziedrich, Eugenia Bone and Sandor Katz.

She and her friend started the Food Swap Network, which provides hosts and attendees with a bevy of resources and information. Existing swaps that are registered on their site are searchable for anyone nearby who wants to join the fun.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Gluten-free Cinnamon Cake. Photo from Kate Payne

Kate’s new book The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen comes out next month and is available for pre-order now. She says it will be in the same style and format as her freshman book – it will just focus completely on the kitchen, which really is a world of its own.

“I took over the cooking for the year I wrote the book as evidence that even someone like me who doesn’t enjoy daily sustenance cooking can reasonably and affordably incorporate cooking into their busy lifestyle.”

She hopes people will just simply focus on doing their best, and will relax when they hit the learning curve that comes with working on new projects. And as for the best compliment she’s received:

“A single mom told me how she’s never had time for any household things, but my book and small-batch preserving recipes on the blog inspired her to try doing some kitchen projects with her daughter. They now spend more time together cooking and canning, which means the world to her.”

Photo from Kate Payne

Photo from Kate Payne

Kate will be kicking off her HGGK Book Tour (hooray!) on May 24 in Ann Arbor, MI and the tour will close in Albuquerque, NM on July 1. I have listed the dates and locations of her book tour, and you can also see her full classes, demos and signings schedule by visiting her at

      • May 24 – Ann Arbor, MI: Literati Bookstore, time TBD
      • May 27 – Austin, TX: BookPeople 7:00pm
      • May 28 – Houston, TX: Blue Willow Bookshop, 7:00pm
      • May 29 – Brooklyn, NY: Greenlight Bookstore, 7:30pm
      • June 13 – Tucson, AZ: Antigone Books, 7:00pm
      • June 17 – La Jolla, CA: Warwick’s, 7:30pm
      • June 23 – Seattle, WA: Book Larder, 6:30pm
      • June 28 – San Francisco, CA: Omnivore Books, 3:00pm
      • June 30 – Phoenix, AZ: Changing Hands Bookstore, 7:00pm
      • July 1 – Albuquerque, NM: Bookworks, 7:00pm

You can find Kate Payne by visiting her on The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking website, you can find neat stuff in her store and you can connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. If you know an awesome maker who would be perfect for this series, please leave a link in the comments, share on my social media or e-mail it to me!

Fridays are for Favorites

fridays are for favorites

Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July! This week has been sort of insane and it’s just now slowing down and getting back to normal. I started school a couple weeks ago and just now got my book, so lots of catching up to do! I woke up feeling refreshed today and was able to get a lot done this morning, so now it’s time to relax a little and do one of my most favorite things…blog!

My boyfriend’s sister is expecting her first child any time now. He was due yesterday, but he ultimately decided that he didn’t want to share his birthday with America, so he’s going to wait it out a little. At least I think that’s what’s going on. I don’t know, though. Babies don’t have the Facebook app.

She decorated his room SO incredibly cute! It’s an eclectic mix of vintage, schoolhouse and boy stuff. It’s really cute and it fits her style, too. She included deer antlers in the decoration (not big ol honkin ones, just this one small antler that they found at a street fair) and it fits in there perfectly.

This got me thinking about what other cute deer antler stuff there is out there. Now, I’m not a huge fan of antlers because it always makes me think of what the people had to do to get the antlers. But, I’m really intrigued with how they look. So I found some really cool stuff to do with the antlers, and with the antler design if you don’t want the real deal. Here are my favorites.


Image belongs to SelaVeeCo

Medium Deer Antler – Argentine Design by SelaVeeCo – This antler is available at SelaVeeCo’s store on Etsy.  The store is owned by Hannah Loumeau Leonard, a studio artist, and there are several other designs available. It’s $50 and is painted with acrylic and sealed with a varnish twice. Her store is really cute and she also has cards and prints available!

Image belongs to JC McCairn

Image belongs to JC McCairn

Modern Tribal Deer Antler Statement Necklace by JC McCairn – Charity, who owns this store, noted that all of the deer antlers that she sells at her store were all found in the woods. No animals were harmed in order to get these antlers. That makes me feel really good. Her store has all sorts of accessories that use hand painted antlers and it’s definitely cool to check out. This necklace is $40 and every item is one-of-a kind.


Image belongs to KCJO

Custom painted vintage suitcase by KCJO – Ok, so at $150, it’s a little out of my price range. I think it’s beautiful, I just can’t afford stuff like that, especially since I’m not going anywhere anytime soon! But, if you do travel, or you like to use vintage suitcases as decor in your house, this would be super cool to have in your house! Casey, who owns the store, said they also work great as gifts, for graduation or something like that. She has a lot of cool pop art in her store that is worth checking out.

Image belongs to ballpoint + pen

Image belongs to ballpoint + pen

Stenciled deer home decor from ballpoint+pen: Ali, who runs this blog, shared a tutorial on how to make this awesome deer stencil. She used an old painting and got the stencil from ManMade, and then painted it on the old painting. I love it and I have about one million old paintings that I don’t use and this would look totally awesome on there. Now I’m thinking of all the possibilities I can do! The inspiration is out of control right now!

What are your thoughts on deer antlers? Love them or leave them? Do you have a fun deer antler project or decor that you want to share? Post in the comments or share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #ohdeer. And as always, see what inspires me the most on my Pinterest!