cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



March 2014




Written by , Posted in the 52 project




“a portrait of my children once a week in 2014″

 // week 11 //

Last week, you all visited Nina and Papa for Spring Break while Dad and I moved our family from one home to another. They took you bike riding and roller-skating (although Liam you preferred roller-blading) and invited your cousins over for sleepovers, too. You stayed up late and slept in and watched movies, and while the girls took a trip with Nina and Aunt Bethany to the American Girl store to celebrate your cousin’s birthday, Papa taught the boys how  to shoot a rifle (double gulp). Although I don’t have any portraits of you all from that week, I know you each hold more images than I could capture in your own heart.

// week 12 //

liam // “Mom, this guy replaced his missing thumb and finger with his big toe!”  Your mind is ripe with all varieties of information.

burke // Several times this week I’ve looked for you, finding you sitting on this old, rickety bench in our backyard. Thinking.

blythe // Your Aunt Diana and Uncle Scott generously sent you an American Girl doll last month, something you’ve always wanted. “Her name is Isabelle and she dances just like me!” You squealed. Last week, Nina let you pierce Isabelle’s ears. I laughed at the ridiculousness, but it meant the world to you. I’m so grateful for all of the generous people in our life.

olive // Although you love shoes, you detest wearing them. Dirty feet mark your free-spirited childhood.



March 2014



linger / buy / read / try

Written by , Posted in inspiration



I can’t believe we’re already entering our last full week of March next week, but I’m grateful Spring has arrived again. The sun has been warmer and already I’m dreaming of day trips to the beach like last summer. This week, I stumbled across this dreamy image of Ocean Beach in San Fransisco, a place I’d love to linger at some point. Then again, that Californian coastline always has a place close to my heart.


I unpacked the kitchen this last week but find myself daily revising and tweaking everything to make it more a more comfortable and pleasant space for us. It’s still the corner of our home that needs the most attention and we’ll attend to them as we can, financially or otherwise. Although our pantry is relatively large, the storage is disproportionate. I’ve been eyeing little things for this space that are both practical and beautiful. I absolutely adore these wood and glass limpid jars from merchant no. 04–a modern twist on a classic design.


Earlier this week, Joanna Goddard of a Cup of Jo featured Courtney Adamo on her blog. For a while, I’ve followed Courtney and her beautiful family through their London home and travels via Instagram, but I really loved hearing her perspective on beauty in this interview, especially in relating with her daughters (something that’s been on my mind much lately).


Isn’t it beautiful to see the resurgence of handmade goods again? I’m regularly astonished at the variety of beauty made by people’s hands–such a gift to the world. I have never learned to sew or knit or crochet or anything in that vein but am hoping to learn alongside my children soon. I loved this weaving tutorial and am hoping to try this project with the kids at some point this summer–after we finish unpacking of course. I hope you all have a wonderful first weekend of Spring–enjoy some sunshine for us while we continue moving in to our new home. (Wink.)



March 2014




Written by , Posted in inspiration


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Our new home was built in 1921 and moved to its current location in the late 1940s. The wood floors are covered with splattered paint and uneven wear, a tribute to those who have been here before us and a beautiful contrast to our clean white walls. Right now, Mark and I are missing a bedroom door, and I’m looking to fill it with something that also has age and story. I absolutely love the look of glass industrial doors used in interior spaces and am hoping to find one to use in our oversized doorframe. As for now, it remains on my wishlist.



March 2014



moving forward

Written by , Posted in writing in the margins


frio river camping-16

The deep parts of my life pour onward, as if the river shores were opening out. - Rainer Maria Rilke

Everyday we move, shifting our things from box to home. Like new lovers, we fumble around this space, pretending to know what we’re doing, that we’ve always belonged. But life these last few days has been anything but natural. While our bodies and most of our objects are here, we are currently living without an operating oven or stove, without a microwave or dishwasher, without one of our two bathrooms, without the internet (until today). This translates to living with a refrigerator, one bathroom, running water, walls, beds, and all of our accoutrements. Don’t worry: it won’t be this way for long (insert: crossed-fingers and a nervous laugh).

Today, as I unpacked boxes of books, I paused to flip through a few favorites and read these words in Rilke’s Selected Poems–a timely reminder of the deeper movement occurring in us right now. Even in the mess and chaos and series of withouts, the deep parts of us pour onward.




March 2014



bits of home

Written by , Posted in writing in the margins


Between the time change last weekend, our absent children, and this move, the last week has been disorienting and awkward, especially online. We’ve been restoring and repairing our home as we’ve been moving in, and at times, I’ve felt overwhelmed by how much we have left to do. In better moments, I’ve had great perspective, enjoying our progress and the excitement of our new space. While I’ll be showing more details as more things come together, I wanted to show a few bits of this week and our new home.

As you see, we painted every bit of our new home in Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace. Mark literally sprayed the place, even the dirty, tiled kitchen counters–a temporary solution, we know. But worth it. I hand-painted the trim and woodwork and doors (as mentioned previously), using an oil-based paint in the same color. We transformed a closet into a built-in bookshelf (with my father’s help), removed floor vents and replaced flooring (with Tim’s help), moved in our large furniture (with the help of friends), built a closet in our bedroom (with our friend Buck’s help), scrubbed and sealed our wood floors, ripped off unwanted cabinet doors and shelves in the kitchen, loaded and unloaded several boxes, and still ate delicious meals (thanks to my sister Kristen). While there is still much to be finished, we accomplished so much this week mostly because parents graciously kept the kids for us to work freely until our bodies ached and our clear-minded-ness transformed into delirium. Hillary Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. I think the same could be said about moving. I’m so grateful for friends and family who give so generously to us. And thank you all for your patience here during this transition.



March 2014



mixtape no. 04

Written by , Posted in mix tapes


We’re right in the middle of our move now, straddled between two places, sleeping on floors, loading and unloading until exhaustion. The sun has been shining the last two days, reminding me that Winter is not forever and Spring is coming soon. We’ve been welcoming the new season with lighter sounds balanced with energy to keep us moving. Here’s a few to share with you, as I hope the days are warming for you all, too.

1.  Ethio Invention No. 1 Andrew Bird // 2. Little Numbers BOY // 3. Afterlife Arcade Fire // 4. Alive Barnaby Bright // 5. Ships Tyler Ramsey // 6. Halls of Columbia Pickwick // 7. Bill Murray Phanotgram // 8. Amsterdam Gregory Alan Isakov // 9. Entertainment Phoenix // 10. Will Do TV on the Radio // 11. Morning Beck

rdio | spotify



March 2014



white paint.

Written by , Posted in writing in the margins

white paint

Our current home–the one my sister and brother-in-law willingly shared with us these last 10 months, the one we’ll be leaving next week–is currently littered with unfolded clothing and boxes, like a war zone. We’ve all given ourselves over to this transition, holding our orderliness and typical routines loosely once again. I packed up most of our books and our part of the kitchen last week. Kristen and I laughed trying to remember what belonged to whom, “is this yours or mine?” Our habit of sharing things has lessened these possessive words, and they now feel awkward.

Our new home, the one now void of furniture and life, smells of fresh white paint. A bare canvas. An unwritten story. As we have peeled back old layers and discovered forgotten parts of this space the last few weeks, I could imagine the house stretching, thanking us. I collected hours and days brushing coats of white oil-based paint along the trim and doors last week. While my hands steadily moved back and forth, growing tired and blistered, I couldn’t help but feel its symbolism, the sense of promise, like Ancient Israel brushing lamb’s blood over their thresholds.  As the white paint spread over the old, dingy brown cabinets and trim, I thought about the significance of this color white: new, pure, righteous. I noticed this same paint embedded under my nails, in my hair, on my shirt. I too am marked. It may seem dramatic to think of paint in this way. Maybe these thoughts spurred from the beginning of the Lent season last week, or maybe I had simply been breathing paint fumes too long. Regardless, it did feel significant. I didn’t choose white paint for its symbolism or because I wanted to make a spiritual declaration, I chose it because I like the aesthetic in my home. But I realized this week, God is always telling a story of redemption, and if I’ll pay attention, I’ll hear this story in all areas of my life, even in my paint.

This house marks a new beginning for us in so many significant ways, a new foundation both literally and figuratively, and I’m so grateful. My parents came this weekend to help with the kids and help Mark and my brother-in-law Tim repair broken floors and build bookshelves. One of my brothers, Josh, also drove in and joined a couple of our friends, who helped paint and scrape floors. The kids went home with my parents yesterday for the week, leaving Mark and I (who are on Spring break) an uninterrupted work week to finish a few more projects and (ideally) begin moving in. Eep!  Thank you again, Mom and Dad. I’m hoping to share some more images of specific spaces this week. Until then, thank you all for your encouragement.