adventures in modern, urban domesticity


Doma·phile n. 1. A lover of home.  2. Marked by or possessing the desire to pursue the domestic arts.


 Domaphile is a blog about reconsidering the role of sustainability, creativity and the domestic arts in the context of family life in New York City.

The first decade of the 21st century could aptly be described as one punctuated by the resurgence of activities that have been loosely defined as urban homesteading: raising backyard chickens, urban beekeeping, rooftop farming, and home canning, to name a few.  These practices reflect a desire to question our culture’s obsession with consumption and to reconsider some of the foundations of modern life: where our food comes from, how things are made, how much we consume, and what is really necessary.  It’s the third chapter in a story that can be traced through the back-to-the-landers of the 1970’s to the Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th century.

However, most urban homesteaders are at least in possession of a house with an outdoor lot in which to grow things, even if it is less than a quarter acre.  Many have a chest freezer and some even have a root cellar.  Living in New York City (and I’m not talking brownstone Brooklyn, here), my family possesses none of these staples of self-sufficiency.  We live on the 9th floor of a high rise in midtown Manhattan, with no outdoor space aside from a small common outdoor “area” that only the most generous would describe as a garden.  With full-time jobs and two small children, we are on a budget and pressed for time.  In other words, we are just like everyone else we sit with on the subway every day.  Not waking up to the rooster’s crow, gathering eggs and building a cold-frame, but often rushing out the door to jobs and school.

So what is a city-dweller to do, when picking up and moving off the grid is neither possible nor desirable? Can the the goals of modern homesteading apply to a family like ours? That is what this blog is about.  Domaphile is a journal of experiments in urban domesticity that attempt to define the small ways we can go about our daily lives that reflect values not usually associated with city life: privileging the homemade, consuming less and aiming for zero waste.   Rather than striving for self-sufficiency, we are looking to forge community by exploring ways urban life is, in fact, well-suited to these ideals.  My hope is that this blog will facilitate a conversation about urban sustainability on both a large and small scale, by making practices normally associated with alternative, off-grid lifestyles more accessible to mainstream family life.

What you will find on Domaphile:

  • Strategies for food gathering, storage and cooking for extremely small and incredibly frustrating kitchens.
  • Descriptions of various indoor gardening pursuits.
  • Recipes and instructions for cosmetics and household products
  • Links to related art and design projects.
  • Projects for families with small children.
  • Commentary on contemporary family life
  • Sustainable substitutes for everyday things.



13 Comments on “About

  1. Donna Younts
    May 16, 2011


    Do you have a recipe for how you make yogurt for the girls? I would like to make my own yogurt and Sara told me you made yogurt weekly.

    Thanks, Donna Younts

  2. The Whole Hearted Mind
    January 12, 2012

    This is such a well thought out blog. Great information and great writing. I see so many common interests. Glad to have bumped into you. I am so new to blogland.

  3. Patricia DeWit
    January 12, 2012

    I think I am going to enjoy frequent visits here and I love some good ol’ DIT things to do. So glad you were fp’d and that I found your blog. Modern urban domesticity… I love it!

  4. delmochavista
    January 15, 2012

    Hi there!
    Just stumbled upon your online journal and I love the variety of your articles! In regards to composting, I have lived in rural Ohio and resorted to composting on my own when the apartment complex would not even recycle on the premises! Kudos to you for sticking to your values!
    – Del Mocha Vista (Kate) 🙂

  5. Pingback: A little about me, apparently | wuppenif OR starting from scratch

  6. df
    February 15, 2012

    Have you come across Mrs. Sparkly’s 10 Commandments yet? I just got tagged to complete them, so now I’m tagging you! More on it here:

    Have fun!

  7. Pingback: A little about me, apparently | wuppenif OR starting from scratch

  8. Pingback: Is versatile another way of saying that I’m all over the place? | wuppenif OR starting from scratch

  9. df
    February 28, 2012

    Okay, so now I’m back to nominate you for the Versatile Blogger Award!

  10. Gustavo
    April 17, 2013

    Great blog! I’m moving to New York for career reasons and really excited. My only ambivalence is that for a very long time I’ve been someone who has dreamed of my own chicken coop rather than 30 three star restaurants in walking distance. So I’ll be conducting the same experiment and looking here for advice!

    • domaphile
      April 18, 2013

      Hi Gustavo-
      New York can be a very good place to set up an urban homestead, depending on where you end up living (I think by now everyone in Brooklyn has a chicken coop!). The nice thing about a city so big is that you can easily find your niche and there are a lot of resources for all kinds of domestic experiments here! Are you moving from Argentina as your email suggests? It’s funny because we have been wanting to move our family there, but can’t quite figure out how to do it! Good luck to you and stay in touch!

  11. Cynthia
    November 16, 2014

    My family and I are planning on moving back East from our current home of Colorado Springs. We desperately want to be at the very least 75% sustainable in the next 5 years. Your blog seems to be full of wonderful ideas that I look forward to exploring. Kudos!

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