Every woman at some point stands in front of her closet and wonders what to wear or walks through a shop and wonders if they really need this shirt or dress or whatever. I do this. You too? As we’ve down-sized our home (and closets) and budget this last year, it’s forced me to take a closer look at the pieces in my closet and to consider what I really love and why. Since I have a very tiny personal budget each month, this closet assessing helps me to find new pieces that work well with what I already own and to recognize what’s worth saving for. During this series, I’ll be sharing those pieces from my own closet. Sometimes they will be older, things I’ve owned for a while or thrifted, while other times, I’ll share a more recent essential. In both cases, they are things I love and wear often enough to share. Today, it’s my black oversized cardigan, a piece I’ve dressed up for a wedding and nights out with friends, and something I can just as easily throw over jeans and a t-shirt on a chilly day. Do you wear oversized cardigans? How do you like to wear it? I’d love to hear.
I first began blogging several years ago as a way to share our family with close friends and family not living near us. After having Olive, I took a break, sporadically posting while I adjusted to life with four children and homeschooling. During that interim period, I also reflected on the value and purpose of this space, my own personal goals, and of course, my use of time.
In 2012, I began blogging regularly again. Having clearer vision, I aimed to use words and photographs to record the growth of our family (and myself) in a way that is honest and authentic, hoping to encourage and inspire readers with my own experience. During the last two years, my readership has grown to include new friends and readers internationally. Sometimes, we connect over similar interests and projects and others over matters of the heart. I love this and plan to continue these sort of connections.
This year, I’m excited to announce Cloistered Away will be offering various sponsorships. While there is some controversy about the commercialization of blogs, I have grown to see sponsorship and advertising as a way for me to share brands, artists, and businesses I love with my readers while also helping to support my family. Notice: I will only share products and brands I would wear or use myself, so as a reader these sponsorships will naturally weave together with the already-existing voice and aesthetic at Cloistered Away.
On that note, I am now opening sponsorships for the month of February! If you are interested in working with me, please head over to my sponsor page for more information.
“a weekly portrait of each of my children in 2014″
liam: a few months ago, he gently reminded someone making a racial comment, “I don’t think that’s what Dr. King stood for.” I thought I might cry when I heard this. We were all glad to celebrate such an amazing man this week.
burke: new hair (cut on the driveway this week); old hair resting on his shoulders
blythe: new bangs (also cut on the driveway this week); they make her “feel like a different person inside”
olive: practicing yoga in a hand-me-down dance costume
As a parent, some days seem impossible. My children whine and bicker with one another and with me, refusing generosity and kind words for that ubiquitous I-my-me. They grumble about their work and wish their day away, convinced they are missing the elusive Better–who always seems to be somewhere else, doing something else. And sometimes secretly in my own heart I do the same. When I am careless, these sort of days will swallow me whole, like a serpent and an egg, removing me from the moment into daydreams of Better. I know we all dream of better, a natural progression in life and maturity, but this is Better, the one who finds me (and maybe you) in my ordinary day and taunts me with the idea that I somehow have less, am receiving less.
I felt this impossible swallowing at some point last week and naturally spent a few days trying to adjust and fix [my routine, words, pictures, plans], working harder, when what I really needed was to stop working. Instead, I really needed to reflect and give thanks. Sometimes we really require inspiration and encouragement to move us forward and other times we need to look around and be grateful for what we have. It’s the simplest of lessons, really–one I can easily disregard with a simple “oh yeah, I know.” But true thanksgiving has a way of healing fissures in our soul caused by want. I do this intuitively as a parent when my kids are grumbling with one another or about something they want. “And what are you grateful for? How has someone been generous to you?” I’ll ask, almost rhetorically. Yet, it’s more difficult to self-govern my own heart in these moments.
Honestly, it’s difficult and awkward for me to say these things out loud, to write them here for the world to see. But I hope in sharing this somehow you’ll see that no one is perfect, not even me. I hope that these words comfort you to remember that behind all the beautiful images and stories clouding our various screens, we’re all living by grace and struggling with the various limits of our humanity. We are all wrestling with the idea of Better. I hope that in reading these words you’ll remember to be patient with yourself and those around you and, for a moment, to take inventory of your life and to give thanks.
I have always loved white. My family regularly teases me about it, but I adore how white draws attention away from itself to the details surrounding it, whether it’s an object’s form, the texture and variation within an art piece, or the things and people filling a space, like in this Nordic home. Of course, it can be impractical (especially as a parent) but then again, so are stilettos. (Wink.)
Although it is a simple concept, enjoying the little things can be harder said than practiced. I love the hand-lettering of this print but value the message even more.
Confession: I have the hardest time keeping plants alive, but I love indoor green space. I love succulents for their easy maintenance, and this year, I’m hoping to incorporate more of them into our home. Wouldn’t these plant stands from Ferm Living be perfect to give the succulents more presence?
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know, I’m still braiding (and getting better!). Mostly, I’m inspired by these tutorials but I’m also learning to improvise. I’m hoping to try this side-braid tutorial soon. If I can figure out a way to be consistent, I might even post my own tutorial here. (Fingers crossed.)
I hope this brightens you Monday. What’s inspiring you lately?
Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.
― Mary Oliver, Something
I’ve been thinking about this poem lately, a timely reminder for me to slow down and pay attention to the ordinary miracles I encounter daily. I wish you all a wonderful weekend–go and be astonished in some unexpected way by the ordinary.