cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



December 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT




” a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

liam // I often wonder if hand-washing dishes will become one of your own parenting stories and lessons of hard work.

burke // you designed a detailed hotel this week, complete with an over-sized chicken to carry travelers or their bags to their rooms.

blythe // your name means “cheerful or joyous.” The perfect choice, I think.

olive // you lost one of your front teeth this week, diligently wiggling it until it popped out.



December 2014



O Christmas Tree

Written by , Posted in LATELY



This time of year always feels concentrated and rich, like a dark chocolate truffle–something special meant to be taken in slowly. Like so many of you, we are busy, busy this month, and I’m trying my best to move through it intentionally. Some days that means creating a TO DO list, and other days that means chucking it just being present in the moment, glorious or not.

This weekend, we traveled to a nearby tree farm, where the kids picked out their favorite tree–a somewhat challenging undertaking with four differing opinions. At home, Mark started a fire and turned on Christmas music. We set up our manger scene, complete with a broken baby Jesus, headless Joseph, missing angel, and an armless shepherd. It might be time time for a new one. (Wink.) The kids drank hot cocoa and cider as we unraveled strands of lights and wrapped our tree. We only put a few ornaments on this year, including their past handmade ones. It’s feels simple, and more importantly, uniquely our own.



December 2014



48/52 + 49/52

Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



 ”a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

liam // As you get older, your creations mature with you, becoming more about possibility and application than simply for pretend play. This week you asked me what I thought you might do when you grow up, and although I’m not sure, that something is sure to be good.

burke // Striking a pose, ”Hey mom! Fire-pow-uh! Boom.” You told me this week you want to learn the piano, a gift to me this particular week.

blythe // You literally collapse your body onto whatever furniture (or person) is near you when you’re tired. You (and your siblings) also colored your face for pretend play. The traces of “paint” remained long after the game ended.

olive // You like to surprise the camera, subtly jumping or changing expressions before you hear a snap. You treat life as a game, always interacting in playful, energetic ways.


liam // saplings

burke // watching the men shake the loose needles from the tree, focused and soft

blythe // savoring your first caramel apple cider

olive // dressed in braids, a prairie dress, and afternoon winter light




December 2014



a simple holiday wreath

Written by , Posted in HANDMADE



Since moving to our home last spring, I’ve wanted to make a wreath for our front door–something organic and simple that reflects the rest of our home. So when my sister called earlier this week and asked if I wanted to make holiday wreaths together, I answered wholeheartedly, “yes!” A wreath seemed the perfect way to begin gathering this cozy holiday season into our home. We loaded the kids into the car and snipped a few branches from nearby trees, made hot chocolate, and got to work. It really was a very simple project, something easy enough for kids to help with or create on their own. I used 8-10 branches for my own wreath made with standard-sized hangers, and the entire project took under an hour (minus the branch-gathering)–a reasonable afternoon holiday project. Enjoy!



December 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT


week47-2week47-3week47-4“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

liam + burke // You created a fortress this week by digging between an old brick wall and tree in our backyard. I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t hurt the tree. You both assured me it wouldn’t. You also carved a few sticks you found into daggers and other small tools you’ll need in your fort, or perhaps for living in the wild someday.

blythe // The colder, drier weather always chaps your lips, and I have to remind you to drink more water and rub oil or lip balm over them. Although your smile feels partial here as a result, the light and windblown hair reflects your brightness of heart.

olive // Your expressions are endless, both physically and verbally. This week you told me your life was “falling apart,” and when I asked you why, you listed several reasons one of them being that every other five year old is bigger than you. But not in spirit, my love. Not in spirit.




November 2014



homemade cornbread | a recipe from kaylan buteyn

Written by , Posted in EAT + DRINK + GATHER


cornbread4 cornbread5 cornbread1

Cold weather arrived so much sooner for us this year. We seemed to almost skip the fall season altogether, but I enjoy the contrast. Instead of spreading out, we tend to huddle together and naturally seek activities that keep us closer, like board games and movie nights and baking. I have been making so many soups for dinner lately and am always looking for a perfect compliment. Today, my inspiring friend Kaylan Buteyn of The Emerald Homestead is sharing a yummy cornbread recipe–a really sweet, soft, and crumbly cornbread–amazing with honey and butter, or good with a spicy soup. Doesn’t it look incredible? Thank you so much for sharing, Kaylan!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal (any grain but I like semi-corse)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk/almond milk
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a small amount of butter or coconut oil in a cast iron skillet and place it in the oven to heat up as you mix your cornbread. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. In a smaller bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and honey. Slowly mix together the wet and dry ingredients just until combined. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour your cornbread batter in, smoothing the top. Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the top starts to turn golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

All images by Kaylan Buteyn. You can find more of her work at the Emerald Homestead and at Kaylan Buteyn photography.



November 2014



last-minute thanksgiving

Written by , Posted in COLLECTIONS, EAT + DRINK + GATHER


Some of you already know fall is my favorite season for the crisp air, crunchy leaves, and warm scents, but I also love the Thanksgiving holiday. We are not farmers, and in spite of my dreamy idealism and previous gardens, we don’t live off of our land. I realize the holiday loses some of the weightiness and significance without the harvest time, without having worked so hard to cultivate all that sits at the table. Maybe this is the point of working so hard over a meal that we eat within 20 minutes, not necessarily that we prepare the most gourmet meal, but that we understand work and rest, together.

This fall season has been busier than I prefer, but I am looking forward to this week of rest, of creating and tasting and enjoying together with my family. For me, the pretty details always matter, even if we don’t have time to do all of them. In case any of you are needing a few last minute ideas or inspiration for your Thanksgiving meal, here are a few I’m tucking away this season:

// a cozy sweater to wear with comfy jeans, ankle boots, and a scarf

// tall taper candles to add a little drama to a simple buffet table

// gathered florals to use in small vases or even as a place setting, like this

// several delicious side-dish ideas to add something fresh and delectable