cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



May 2014



discovering what matters

Written by , Posted in SOUL



Last week, Blythe and I were discussing making something together, a little bracelet–the smallest of things, really–but not to a seven-year-old. She turned to me and said, “but you won’t be able to help. You’re always too busy.” I turned to her stunned and saddened. You’re too busy for me. I hated hearing the disappointment in my daughter’s voice, her expectation that I would fail her, not be available for her, but what’s worse? Her words didn’t surprise me. Instead, they echoed my own growing frustrations with our life pace and my disdain for the treadmill of activity I’ve found myself on–my running at ever-increasing speed without forward progression. 

I needed to breathe. I needed space to pinpoint my frustration, my impatience. I needed room to hear my heart, to hear God’s heart for me and our family. I needed to hear the answer to these always lurking questions: am I occupied with the right things? Am I doing what matters? This would require me to hit that large red button on the treadmill–EMERGENCY STOP– to get off the treadmill and onto a trail.

I know I’m not alone in this struggle, this demand to always be doing more, achieving more — especially as a mother! We want to raise children well and make career leaps and take care of ourselves and our marriages and our homes and build friendships and of course enjoy ourselves in the process! How could anyone not feel the struggle or worn thin by the pursuit?

A couple of weeks ago, I caught glimpse of this space’s tagline “enjoying simplicity” and laughed. My life is anything but simple these days, but I want to return to that place. The place in which I work through our busy days (because we have four children and work and a hundred-year-old home old house) with simple tasks and goals. The place in which we live intentionally, heeding John Wooden’s words, “Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” Busyness does not mean our life is more valuable. The next few weeks, as we continue to inventory various aspects of our life and home, I’m hoping to share here more specific ways we’re simplifying, ways we’re discovering what really matters.



April 2014



16/52 + 17/52

Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



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

liam // I watched you all playing hide-and-seek by the water. Instead of hiding, you leaned your body against the lighthouse, strong and firm.

burke // you all went swimming Easter morning. With goosebumps and shivers, you laughed at the icy water and jumped again.

blythe // Sometimes I see you and glimpse peeks at seventeen or twenty-seven. As I listened to your giggles and chatter in the pool, it made me grateful you’re only seven.

olive // Over and over you squealed at me, “mom, look! I can swim!” and then you quickly disappeared under the surface again, my happy little fish.




liam // if you could live in the trees, you would. I hope you never lose this whimsy or your love for the natural world.

burke // you hunted the backyard for the largest leaf, then turned to me and said, “Call me Greenbeard.”

blythe // you notice details everywhere. This week you combed the backyard overgrowth for a collection of your favorite leaves, and then we made this together.

olive //   You are always singing, sometimes your own song, this time, the medley of the Frozen soundtrack.        



April 2014



kevin o’gara | thou swell

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Have you met Kevin from Thou Swell yet? Don’t let his baby face or age deceive you–this guys has style. I always enjoy exploring the spaces and projects he collects and shares on his blog, everything from gardening tips to wallpaper. Kevin, tell us more about yourself.

What are three words that best describe you? energetic, enthusiastic, optimistic

Tell us about your business and how and when did you begin? thou swell began in 2013 as a creative outlet for my pursuit of design, especially interior design and photography. it serves as an inspiration board and a practice in curation.

Who/what most inspires your work? I find the blogging community to be an amazing network of supportive and creative people who, for the most part, are curating and creating fantastic work through the web. I am especially inspired by bri emery, emily henderson, joy cho, and kate arends.

How do you balance work and home life? Do you have a tip to share? unfortunately I don’t have many good tips to share, as i still struggle to balance my school work load and my creative ventures related to my blog. for me right now, school is my top priority so i try to focus on studying primarily.

When you’re not working, what might you be doing? when i am not in school i am enjoying family dinners and doing homework. on the weekends i am taking pictures with my little sister (she is my creative and photography assistant)! i also love exploring atlanta and hanging out with friends.

Kevin’s favorites || thing in your closet right now? retro nike sneakers from j. crew | place you’ve ever traveled? loire valley, france | meal you’ve recently made? i’m a sucker for any pasta dish, but i love green bean pesto pasta | book? the golden compass | object you can’t live without? my camera

Thank you for sharing, Kevin!



April 2014



spring wedding bits

Written by , Posted in LATELY


I know it’s been silent here recently, and I’m hoping to talk about it with you soon. The last two weekends we spent celebrating two favorite couples in our life. The kids and I were in one. Mark was in the other. Our days have been fast and full of so many emotions mixed with sweet and hard things. For the best part, Spring is here, and we’re trying to soak up every bit of it. I hope Spring is treating you all just as well.



April 2014



PreK at home | an introduction to color theory

Written by , Posted in HOMESCHOOL

color theory-7

color theory intro

color theory-2

With our move last month, two important wedding weekends, and the arm-length list of TO DOs in our new place, our homeschool routine has been shuffled and eclectic. I’ll tell you more about that soon, but today I’m sharing another one of our simple homeschooling lessons over at The Emerald Homestead, an easy introduction to color theory for young children.



April 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT


week15-4week15week15-2“a weekly portrait of each of my children in 2014″

liam // Our school work has been simple and sparse this last month with all the moving and change. Still, you’ve been working hard to commit 500+ facts in eight different subjects to memory this year (including a historical timeline). You’ll recite this information four different times, with four different adults within the month.  This week, we have been reciting and reciting and reciting. I see your face light up as you near this goal.

burke // This week we worked to clear more of the yard encroaching the house. You tapped me on the shoulder, “Look, mom! He likes me.” This was only one of four snakes you all found this day. Each one you studied and played with and released back into the grass.

blythe // Since you were young you expressed yourself with neatly organized, vibrant color. At seven, this is still true. I see vibrancy in your clothing, your art, your heart.

olive // We took you out for frozen yogurt this week to celebrate a week of nights without sucking your thumb. You picked all of your toppings, which included a hot pink Peep.



April 2014



kate amunrud | clear the way

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION

Clear the Way Kate

Today, I’m introducing the lovely Kate Amunrud, the brand developer and talented woman behind Clear the Way. I always love the variety of content at Clear the Way, everything from how to pack your travel bag to highlights of amazing women around the globe to insightful one word collaborations with other bloggers. Now, Kate, please tell us more about yourself.

What are three words that best describe you? Passionate, Spiritual, Analytical

Tell us about your business. How and when did you begin? I am the brand developer and marketing director for Women Ignite which seeks to empower women by supplying organic apparel that celebrates who they are and what they love. I joined with my colleague and friend, Shari, in order to make her dream for Women Ignite come true. Women Ignite supports awesome women who bike, climb, surf, etc. and we want to help women visually express these qualities about themselves in order to share how awesome they are with the rest of the world. Even though we’re in the beginning stages (we’re preparing for our Kickstarter campaign now), I am really excited to be a part of a brand that is a real game-changer.

Who/what most inspires your work? I am constantly inspired by women of all kinds and walks of life who stand up for what they believe in and boldly run after what they care most about. When I read about a young girl blasting a surfing magazine for how they depict women or when I hear about women accomplishing amazing feats of endurance and strength, I can’t help but spread the word.


How do you balance work and home life? Do you have a tip to share? While I do not have a family of my own right now, various events with my five-sibling family keep me busy. Add my volunteer work, blogging, a part-time job, various attempts at having a social life, and my boyfriend… I feel swamped! I make sure to set aside a good amount of time for myself every week. A couple hours of relaxation with just myself rejuvenates me enough to get back up and continue pouring myself into all the other areas of my life.

When you’re not working, what might you be doing? I’m reading (most always feminist literature/scholarship) or outside, enjoying nature on a walk or hike. I’m lying still on my bed quietly thinking or playing my guitar, writing some new music. I’m on the phone with a friend while I stir my latest Vegan, Gluten-Free concoction. Or maybe I’m in some awkward yoga pose behind closed doors.

Kate’s favorites// Thing in your closet right now? My go-to black ankle booties. Place you’ve ever traveled? Most recently, Fallingwater in PA. Meal you’ve recently made? Tofu Frittata with Swiss Chard. Book? Recently finished and loved The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks. Object you can’t live without? My guitar.

Thank you for sharing with us, Kate!