cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



March 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware. – Martin Buber

I’ve learned so much about my children through our travel time in the car. Sometimes it  happens through our car conversations or games of 20 Questions, but every trip, whether 5000 miles across the country or a ten minute errand, reveals something new about the way they experience the world, adventure, and transition. This week I caught a few of those secrets.

liam // always has his feet up and his nose in a book.

burke // prefers to snuggle up with a blanket and stare out the window.

blythe // often busies herself with an activity books or by drawing in her journal.

olive // usually sleeps. As Blythe said this weekend, “everytime we get in the car Olive falls asleep.” So true.



February 2014




Written by , Posted in WANDERINGS


The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word . . . .
Where is the Life we have lost in living?

- T.S. Eliot, The Rock

We will be unplugging this weekend to camp in a small part of the Texas wilderness to celebrate our Burke’s ninth year of life. Although we’ve had this planned for months, it now seems hardly the right time–mid-semester, mid-move, mid-everything–or perhaps, it’s exactly the right time. The time for us to pause our endless cycle of ideas and action and invention and talk to remember the beauty of simple and stillness and one another and, of course, the One who is the source of it all. Happy weekend to you all.

Image by Cloistered Away, taken in Mesa Verde, Colorado, June 2013. 



February 2014



alycia mealy // wildflower dream catchers

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Today, I’m introducing Alycia Mealy, the free-spirited blogger at Wildflower and creator at Wildflower Dream Catchers. I really love Alycia’s work , especially how she uniquely incorporates her love of nature into each piece: branches, pine cones, feathers, dried flowers. Both of my girls literally gasped when I pulled this one from the box–”it’s so beautiful!” I completely agree. Alycia, please tell us more about you.

wildflower_dreamcatcher5How did Wildflower begin? My small business is called Wildflower Dream Catchers. It began as a craft I was making for my home about a year ago. I was going to feature it on my blog as a DIY but I liked how it turned out so much that I decided I would make it into a giveaway instead. Long story short, Lindsey Marlor from Pillow Thought ended up winning the giveaway and asked if I had a shop she could link to when showing the dream catcher on her blog . So then I decided to open up my own etsy shop and my business just hasn’t stopped growing since then. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to work and stay at home with my son!

wildflowerWho/ What most inspires your work? Recently I have been very inspired by nature and using natural items in the home, such as sticks, pinecones, dried flowers etc. Some of the amazing ladies who have inspired my new line of nature dream catchers are Jodi Mockabee, Beth Kirby from Local Milk, Hannah Ferrara from Another Feather and Kinfolk Magazine to name a few.

wildflower_dreamcatcherHow do you balance work and home life? Do you have a tip to share? When I first started out I began taking a lot of custom orders to specifically match whatever room they wanted they’re dream catcher for, well the custom orders became really hard to keep up with.. being that I work alone and I am a stay at home mom to a toddler. So I recently have had to come up with just a few designs that my customers really seem to like and just stick with making those. This helps save a lot of time! I think its very important to evaluate your priorities from time to time and make sure you’re not letting work overtake your life which can be very easy to do when working from home. My son is at an age where he needs constant attention all day long so that means I mostly have to work late hours at night while he sleeps or during nap time, the most important thing to me is that he has my attention during the day !

When your not working what might you be doing? Blogging , taking photos, visiting friends or spending time with my son.



Alycia’s favorite things: My floppy black hat from target //I would have to say my favorite place I ever traveled to was the Bahamas mostly because I had really good company! My entire family + aunts, cousins, grandparents etc all took a family vacation together there so the trip was filled with lots of good company and laughs ! Oh and relaxing on the beach all day and drinking strawberry daiquiris wasn’t too bad either. // Chicken and Avocado Soup // This is a bit embarrassing but any book from Sarah Dessen. I started reading her books when I was a teenager and even though her books are geared toward young adults I still love her writing to this day! // my Bible

Thank you for sharing your work with us, Alycia.

All images by Cloistered Away. Nature Dream Catcher c/o Wildflower Dream Catchers.




February 2014



working hands: another side of homeschooling

Written by , Posted in HOMESCHOOL, LATELY


When people ask me about homeschooling, I tend to focus more on the academics, the more formal study of subjects through books, experiments, and writing. However, I was reminded this last week, as we were covered with various paint and wood dust particles, this too is the homeschool, a place of learning. Maria Montessori, the Italian physician and educator who founded the Montessori method of education, once said, “the hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” While we all learn through reading and study, using our hands educates us in a varied but equally powerful way. They allow us to merge tools and theory, thought with application, and naturally problem-solve and persevere through our failures. In our typical day, my children mostly use their hands for more practical work such as playing and washing and eating and drawing/writing, but this week, as we put aside most of their formal studies, their hands (and minds) learned new and equally valuable tasks of using smaller power tools and removing carpet tacks and how to prepare a space to paint–a different spin altogether on the word homeschooling. (All images taken with my phone.)





February 2014



kristen douglass // fidelis studio

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Today I’m excited to (more formally) introduce my creative sister, Kristen of Fidelis Studio. You’ve seen Kristen’s work featured in my recent style posts and can find a broader scope of her work over on her blog, where she shares weekly gluten-free recipes and images for the 52 project. Kristen, tell us more about yourself.

Tell us more about Fidelis Studio. How and when did you begin? My father gave me my first real camera, a Pentax ME Super film camera, when I graduated early from high school. It was his own camera, and a great start for my own creative journey. I was just shooting on the Pentax and sending my film away, feeling pretty great about the images that were coming out of that little camera. I began taking film classes at the community college near my home, and to be honest, I was terribly frustrated developing my own film. I thought that I might give up all together after my first semester of Black+White. I could take a good photo, but processing it was another thing altogether. After much encouragement from family and friends, a few years of maturing, and getting hitched, I opened up my own business, kmdfoto. A year into my business, in 2008, my husband joined me full-time, and we changed the business name to Fidelis Studio. We are a husband and wife studio, specializing in weddings and lifestyle portraiture. I do tend to update our blog with many other photo projects as well, like food inspiration/photography, and other personal photo projects.

Who or what most inspires your work?  Nature: trees, wide open fields, color, big Texas skies, interesting plants, sun, light, without a doubt nature.

How do you balance home and work life? Do you have a tip to share? I dont’t! Seriously, this is an area that I have always struggled finding balance. One thing that I have noticed that helps me is to leave my phone away from hang out time with my kids. If I’m outside playing, leave it inside where I don’t see or hear every little notification which sends me into working mode.

When you’re not working, what might you be doing? I would most likely be creating something tasty in the kitchen.

Kristen’s favorites: grey v-neck tee / gluten + grain-free chicken nuggets / The Hunger GamesFrance / D700



February 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT


week 08/52
week 08/52
week 08/52


Quality is not an act, it is a habit. – Aristotle

liam // still struggles to enjoy math but completes it first thing each weekday regardless–a definite mark of maturity.

burke // is always a serious student of his environment, even during games of tag on the playground. I love this about him.

blythe // has decided she wants to be a maker when she grows up because she’s really good at making things.

olive // always has blankie–which happened to lose another piece this week–with her. It’s dwindling before our eyes.



February 2014



linger : buy : read : try

Written by , Posted in COLLECTIONS


Hallelujah, it’s Friday! This week, in addition to all our typical work, we’ve been busy plugging away on our new space and are planning to spend the weekend painting the indoors and cleaning out more overgrowth in the yard. The weather here has been warm and humid, inviting new grasses and bugs. For us, it means we’ve been outdoors more. Do you have anything specific planned this weekend or will you just decide when you get there?

linger // This week Design Sponge featured DRIFT, a new place in San Jose del Cabo in Mexico. Considering itself a hybrid between a boutique hotel and a hostel, DRIFT was minimally designed to keep the expense down for travelers to this Mexican city.  The most incredible part? The rooms rent for $75/night. Doesn’t that sound dreamy right at the end of February?

buy // In spite of my often black thumb, I’m smitten with potted plants. Right now, I’m really wanting to buy citrus trees to plant at our new place. In this article, Gardenista gave a few tips for growing citrus indoors–a helpful read before I purchase one.

read // Preparing to move, I’ve already been thinking of all of the [clothing, linens, toys, books, shoes, school and art supplies] I want to clean out. So I really appreciated when Jodi gave several wonderful thoughts and useful tips for simplifying your home earlier this week.

try // Although this project was originally created for Christmastime, I love these DIY himelli ornaments enough to hang them year round. I’m hoping to make them soon–after the move of course.