10/20/2009 at 09:00 AM EDT
You can take the girl out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the girl.
Ask New Orleans-born, Tennessee-raised Reese Witherspoon
, who tells InStyle magazine
all about how she tries to bring a little bit of Dixie to her life in Hollywood.
"We spend the weekends outside L.A, in Ojai, where I have a farmhouse," she says of her life with her kids and her boyfriend
, who happens to be Jake Gyllenhaal
. "We have chickens and we grow cucumbers and tomatoes. I love it. It reminds me of where I grew up in Tennessee."
Of course, it's no substitute for a real life in the South, but Witherspoon, 33, makes do.
"Sometimes it's really difficult for me, being far away from home," she says. "I never imagined that my children wouldn't grow up next door to my brother's children. Or my mom and dad wouldn't constantly be around. At least I have a lot of Southern friends in L.A. – I gravitate toward them."
That kind of grounded lifestyle probably helped Witherspoon get through a painful divorce
from Ryan Phillippe
"You just have to keep going. You have to keep it together for your kids and for yourself too," she says. "I'm trying to learn from the things that have happened in my life, live more in the moment and have more fun."
Witherspoon is on the cover of InStyle
's November issue, on sale Friday.