cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



February 2014



our new home: the desecrated becoming sacred

Written by , Posted in SOUL



Wendell Berry once wrote, “There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.” I couldn’t help mulling these words as we walked through our new property this weekend, laden with disrepair and neglect. Every corner of this space needs attention, from the dead, entangled tree limbs to the dark, ugly kitchen. And we plan to attend to them. Most of the large work will happen slowly, but we have vision for this broken place–vision of mended cracks and clean surfaces and un-boarded windows, of gatherings with friends and family, of the everyday nothings mixed with the more intentional somethings.

This weekend, the kids ran circles through the empty space, full of light and shadow, laughing. They cleared bags of cigarette butts from the yard and nails from the wood. As we pulled up dingy carpet and scraped discolored wallpaper, I realized how allegorical this work, this restoration, is to the ongoing work occurring in our hearts. All of our physical digging and cutting away and building and mending and painting in this home is a picture of another unseen work, the restoration of another kind of brokenness–my own. Across the room, the boys tell jokes to one another, sweeping piles of dirt from the floors. I smile at these tiny nothings happening in our new home, recognizing the desecrated becoming sacred.



February 2014



hannah singer // wifey singer

Written by , Posted in COLLABORATION


Today I’m introducing another sponsor, Hannah Singer, the creator behind Wifey Singer and writer at Happy Days. You may remember Hannah’s necklace and earrings from last week’s style post (also pictured below). I really love her vintage-inspired pieces and the way she infuses color into all of her work (and life, I imagine). Hannah, please tell us more about yourself.



Tell us more about Wifey Singer. How did you begin your shop? My little adventure in jewelry happened almost accidentally! My shop opened in an effort to help pay for airfare. In the spring of 2012, some girlfriends and I plotted a trip to Lake Placid. I was determined to find a way to make it there! It wasn’t in our family budget at all. With encouragement from friends and a desire to just figure it out, i made a few pairs of earrings. Before then, I’d never made jewelry in my life, and certainly have much yet to learn. I prayed that I could sell every pair that I had made that month of May, just over twenty pair, I think. Well, God really rocked my socks and I sold everything, and ordered more supplies! Over 1,500 Etsy sales and dozens of special orders later, here i am. In awe of how my little goal of covering part of a plane ticket has turned into extra provision for my family, increased missions support, and more girlfriend trips! truly a testament to ephesians 3, exceedingly, abundantly above my imagination!

Who/what most inspires your work? I’m most inspired by simplicity and color. As far as accessories go, minimal is my favorite. I love creating with interesting color palettes that offer a punch of happy when paired with my everyday jeans and plain tops :)


How do you balance work and home life? My business sort of crept up on me, and sometimes I felt anxiety about my shop. Early on I decided to let it go and give it to the Lord. My family and home come first. Sometimes that means extending my shipping schedule; sometimes it means having less in-stock items. We have a tiny downtown apartment, and I have no workspace or even a desk. When I work, I unpack all my supplies and settle in on a side table or countertop. This can be frustrating since I have to pack everything up again until another free hour presents itself. To avoid frustration or stress, I pray a lot about my little shop and family, and make sure to get out of the house even one hour a week–no agenda, nothing but really being free from “all the things” for a bit. This helps me stay grounded :)

Do you have a tip to share? A few tips from what works for me:

  • I only list for sale what I have already made.

  • I try to remember that I am not a huge company or discount store. I am one person–a wife and mama first–and I plan/make/stock/list/package/care for my customers/market/everything on my own.

  • I try to value my timed while still making my items affordable for my amazing customers!

When you’re not working, what might you be doing? When I’m not working on my shop, I’m probably squishing Playdoh or reading with my five year old, laughing at a text from my sister or girlfriend, snuggled up with my man and Netflix, or pretending to clean.


Hannah’s favorite things:

coffee (+ reading the Psalms) // Gap Curvy jeans  // Asheville, NC (also Chicago, Disneyland, Williamsburg, +Florida beaches) // gluten-free chicken + dumplings // The Giver, Lois Lowry (and All Things Good, Thomas Watson)

Right now, you can receive 10% off of Hannah’s entire shop by entering BLOG10 at checkout. Thank you so much for sharing, Hannah!

Images by Cloistered Away.  Earrings and necklace c/o Wifey Singer. 




February 2014




Written by , Posted in THE 52 PROJECT



Home is the nicest word there is.
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

liam // opening the windows in his new bedroom

burke // sweeping up the mess after we tore out the old, dingy carpet

blythe // taking in the view from the front porch

olive // exploring the yard



February 2014



linger / buy / read / try

Written by , Posted in COLLECTIONS


We watched the sun rise this morning for the first time in weeks due to clouds, the perfect and most simplest of gifts on Valentine’s Day. Although I’m not sure why, this week seemed particularly exhausting, so I’m fairly thrilled that Friday’s finally here and our weekend is beginning. Mark and I are closing on our new house this morning (!) and planning to enjoy tons of time outdoors with the kids throughout our projected-to-be sunny weekend. Do you have anything special planned? I hope it’s a good one for you. If you have some time to bum around the web, here’s a few of my favorites from the week.

linger // Earlier this week, Elise of Pennyweight shared images of her new bedroom. I love the warmer shade of blue she chose for the wall coupled with that killer industrial lamp and minimal, eclectic decor.

buy // All of this grey weather lately has me craving green life. We won’t be in our new home soon enough to build a spring/summer garden, but at the very least, I look forward to planting some fresh herbs. I love these vintage-inspired herb scissors from Father Rabbit–perfect for trimming a few sprigs of mint or rosemary for dinner.

read // A few days ago, Kacie shared really powerful words about forming relationships rather than judgements in these online spaces. Although she speaks mostly about motherhood, her points transcend demographics and online life: building and connecting instead of comparing and judging–a worthy read for you today.

try // Kale is a part of our daily routine here. We eat it with eggs and fresh salsa  almost every morning. Sometimes we’ll make kale chips or add it to soups or sauté it with dinner. I love this vegetable, so I’m really anxious to try Megan’s recipe, Kale salad and tahini garlic dressing, sometime soon.




February 2014



style essentials no. 02 // the maxi skirt

Written by , Posted in STYLE + SOUNDS



Another essential piece in my closet is a flowing maxi skirt I picked up at Forever21 a couple of years ago. This flexible piece will work with almost anything. When it gets cooler, I can pair it with a thin sweater, my motorcycle jacket, or boots, while in the warmer months, I might wear it with merely a T-shirt or tank top and my favorite pair of strappy sandals. My favorite part though is how it functions well enough for me to play and work at home with the kids but looks more intentional than my usual pair of jeans. As a stay-at-home mother, somedays you need that bit of extra-intention. (Wink.)

*images by Fidelis Studio


 Zara flowy maxi skirt / grey t-shirt / Converse motorcycle jacket / Wifey Singer earrings / Joie strappy leather sandals / French market basket






February 2014



my interview with kellie + vanessa

Written by , Posted in MOTHERHOOD + MARRIAGE, SOUL

My Everyday IG LOGO

As most of you know, I regularly share pictures of our everyday  happenings via Instagram: little moments and words and things that mean something to me each day. In the year and a half I’ve been a part of that community, I’ve met some tremendous people. Some inspire me with their photography and design skills while others inspire me in motherhood and in matters of the heart. A few months ago, when Kelli + Vanessa asked to interview me for their My Everyday feature, I was at once flattered and (honestly) a little nervous. What would I say in a few words about motherhood, home and creative life, and this little phone app? Well, today you can find my “real, raw, and authentic” words over here. Thank you, Kellie + Vanessa.



February 2014



an indoor picnic date



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As parents, Mark and I have learned to be creative about our “dates.” Every other week we have a legitimate night-out to ourselves, but between those evenings, we squeeze whatever random moments we can. Fortunately, we’re both pretty simple people, both of us more often enjoying casual intimacy over fancy, crowded restaurants. So when my sister offered to take my kids to the movies on Saturday morning in exchange for watching her daughter (who would mostly be napping), I took the opportunity to create a little impromptu lunch date for me and Mark. I roasted cherry tomatoes and asparagus (not our typical lunch–but some of my favorites), pulled out a little brie, a baguette, and a bottle of wine (midday? gasp.).
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Typically, I’d take a blanket outside, but since our weather has been cold and damp still, I opted for an indoor picnic instead. Using one of our throw blankets, I spread our small feast across our bedroom floor–the perfect casual, romantic lunch. It was brief compared to a typical evening date but such an ideal way to spend together and connect.

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This Valentine’s Day will be particularly special for me and Mark since we’ll be closing on OUR NEW HOME. Crazy, right? It’s a cozy 1930′s craftsman that needs a lot of attention and love, but we’re so grateful for this gift. The best Valentine’s Day gift really. We’ll be celebrating by having another indoor picnic (by candlelight) in our empty place, just the two of us. I’m pretty excited. What are your plans for this weekend? Remember, simple can be just as romantic (even if you pick up dinner).



coyote handled board / striped baby alpaca throw / wine bottle glasses / bluetooth sound sysem /  verseur metal + levier / oakmoss candle

If you’re looking to recreate this scene at home, here’s a few things I gathered from my friends at Given Goods. Have you heard of them yet? Every object they sell somehow gives back to artisans or organizations working in less-developed countries making sure they receive fair wages. They also support groups making a difference right here in the US. Each item tells a story right on the purchase page. You can even track the countries you’re impacting through their website. Bonus? Right now, Given Goods is generously offering 15% OFF for all Cloistered Away readers. Simply type in the code CLOISTERED at checkout–the offer is good on the entire site (last minute gifts anyone?). Happy Monday to you all.

All images by Cloistered Away. Coyote Handle Board c/o Given Goods.