cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



February 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.
― Mary Oliver, Wild Geese


“a weekly portrait of each of my children in 2014″

blythe: clear-eyed and full of life

burke: regularly experimenting with silly faces, this time dressed in a poncho

olive: so much zeal, even in her teeth-brushing

liam: forces every bit of his attention and vision into his art. every. time.



February 2014



kristyn pankiw // milk + crown

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Today I’d like to introduce one of my new sponsors, the lovely Kristyn from Milk+Crown. I just love the simple aesthetic found both in Kristyn’s writing and jewelry collection, and I think you will, too. Kristyn, tell us more about yourself.


What are three words that best describe you? Creative, passionate, organized.

Tell us more about about your jewelry shop, Milk+Crown. How and when did you get started? I started making jewelry last June when I realized I barely wore any because I didn’t really like anything out there. I’ve always been interested in design, and found myself sketching out a necklace idea when I stumbled across a photo of milk splashing–it looked like a crown to me. My shop and collection came as a result of my discovery. Jewelry was a new design platform I’d never dabbled in before, and I instantly fell in love.

Who or what most inspires your work? I’m most inspired by the world around me. I love simple lines and concepts, both geometric and organic, so minimalism really appeals to me. I really look up to Elizabeth Suzann; she graduated from my college a few years before me and is now a successful fashion designer. I love her brand. I feel like we have similar design interests and goals, just manifested through different mediums.

How do you balance work and home life? Do you have a tip to share? Balance is something I’m constantly in search of. It’s hard, especially since jewelry isn’t even my full-time job yet (I’m a bridal consultant during the day), but I think that’s part of it–just being conscious of your habits and priorities. Balance isn’t permanent; each day will throw you something new, so you just have to find a steady rhythm and improvise the rest. I find my iCal to be super helpful. And knowing when to let go of things for the day.

What might you be doing when you’re not working? In my downtime, I’m usually writing short stories, spending time with Eric, baking, doing yoga or taking long walks. I also read too many feminist articles.

Kristen’s favorites:
her black blazer // Heidelberg, Germany // Harissa Ravioli  from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday // Kafka on the Shore // a writing utensil

Thank you so much for sharing, Kristyn!




February 2014



handmade with love

Written by , Posted in HOMESCHOOL



I’m not sure why, but Valentine’s Day often sneaks up on me. Mark and I usually plan something small for ourselves, but I often forget about the exchange of sentimental goods kids share, too. I used to love it as a child. We’d decorate boxes and share cards and candy with one another. When my own kids were young, they didn’t really know (or care) or understand about Valentine’s Day, and I never pushed them into it–a heart-shaped cake or cookie usually did the trick. I still remember the year that changed. Since then, I make an effort to remember: they want to share on that day, too.

As I scoured the internet, laden with adorable Valentine DIYs, for ideas this year, I realized I would be doing a large amount of the work (which for me, defeats the purpose). I decided instead to just let the kids make their own. They love creating their own masterpieces to share with others and I’m always amazed at what their minds and hands can do together. I brought out the felt heart-shaped stickers and different washi tapes I found last weekend in the Target dollar section, along with several other art supplies we had on hand at home. After spreading them out across the table and introducing the materials (especially the ones in limited quanitity), I let them loose to create. They cheered, literally. Meanwhile, I sat down with them, helping them spell names and creating on my own paper. The projects belonged to each of them: specific gifts handmade with love.

{materials we used–this can vary}

  • heart-shaped cookie cutters (for tracing)
  • washi tape
  • oil pastels
  • construction paper
  • red + white twine
  • felt heart stickers
  • glue sticks
  • scissors






February 2014



words with you

Written by , Posted in MOTHERHOOD + MARRIAGE, SOUL


I am a fairly risk-adverse person. I tend more often to stick with what I know and with whom and where I am comfortable. When it comes to decision-making, I’m fairly analytical and calculated, although I often admire adults who can just do something without over-thinking–I tend to discourage it in my children. (Wink.) I won’t begin to speculate about whether my decision-making style is good or bad–it just is, and I’ve learned to accept this about myself.

Earlier last week, I read these words and immediately thought,  yes! Be brave, Bethany. Naturally, I  pinned  it to my Pinterest board, and moved on with my day. Still hours later, these delicate letters lingered with me, begging the question: am I brave? I often equate bravery with daring, high-risk adventures like bungee-jumping or cliff diving or with political activists willing for justice against the tyrannical majority. While I esteem their courage for varied reasons (and support several in the latter), that’s not where I am in my life right now. My life is quite ordinary and small, which, if i’m not careful, can easily translate in my heart to unimportant and lacking courage.

Motherhood can be a terribly romantic notion from afar, but in the day-to-day, it can feel anything but brave. I have at times been covered in poop and vomit (although fortunately not in a while) and for years didn’t sleep through the night (happily now). My days are filled with teaching simple rituals with dishwater and clothing and food next to phonics and algorithms and natural order. In all moments, whether I like it or not, I am teaching my children something about the world, about God. And when I fail–because I often do–I teach them about mercy, forgiveness, and grace. We all need to hear that lesson more often. I think of all the mothers I know, ones who have given up the rights to their bodies to give life to someone else and others who have given up the rights to their hearts to become a mother to the motherless.  I think of mothers who have moved their children to foreign lands or returned to college or worked hard hours in and out of the home all to offer their children something better. We always want something better for the ones who come after us. I decide mothers are some of the bravest people I know.

But is the point of bravery to become a mother? Of course not. We all have a place, a gift, a role that belongs uniquely to us. Today, I want to simply remind you to have courage with your gift, in your work. Regardless of how small you perceive it to be, be brave with your life, friends.

*image source



January 2014



giveaway // $400 gift card

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Alright everyone, I’m thrilled to announce I’m participating in another BIG giveaway. Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard is turning three and my friend, Janee, asked me and several other bloggers to help her celebrate by giving away a $400 gift card. The best part? The winner chooses where. (!)  To enter the giveaway, follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter at the end of the page. The giveaway will run until February 21 and the winner will be notified by Janee via email. If you’d like to meet the sponsors of the giveaway, you can find their images and links below. (What a great way to end the week, right?) Best of luck and a happy Friday to you!


Behind the Design | Blythe Ponytail Parades | Buckets & Spades | Chestnut Mocha | Clear the Way
Cloistered Away | Yeobo | Enjoying the Journey | Ex Vitae | Fashiony Fab
Horses of Ares | Jazz Lips & Tulips | Coco Mingo | Kneadle & Bread | Live Colorful
Lucky Number Seven | My Lifebox | Anna Delores | My Paradissi | Of Trees and Hues
Oh So Pretty | Pharr Away | Postcards from Rachel | Rolala Loves | Scavengenius
Sea, Field & Tribe | Sincerely Sara | Squirrelly Minds | Tara Victoria | Undecided Mamas
Yellow Bird + Yellow Beard | Cocorrina


a Rafflecopter giveaway



January 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



It snowed this week–merely a light dusting of ice, but the kids didn’t care. They put on their warmest garb–which wasn’t quite warm or waterproofed enough for the duration–and with sock-covered hands, they packed snowballs and miniature snowmen until their fingers were numb.

For most of the country frozen now for months, snow has lost its magic. For us, this rare occurrence is a gift.


“a weekly portrait of each of my children in 2014″

liam: packing snowballs, his hands covered with socks

burke: happy and layered in everything he could find; he always chooses comfort over style

blythe: the first to wake up, running into our room to announce “it snowed! Can we go outside now?”  She was the first to do that, too.

olive: prepared for the snow with three layers of leggings and a long sleeve tee. I convinced her to put on a coat and hat.



January 2014