cloistered away | enjoying simplicity



May 2014




Written by , Posted in the 52 project



“a weekly portrait of my children in 2014″ — (a little behind)

liam // you are learning so many things right now about the importance of details, of taking care of the little things. Sometimes this lesson is hidden in a math equation or a relational squabble, and other times you are learning this in your help around the house and yard. I love watching you grow in this way.

burke // as you all played in the rain this week, you stood in the yard, soaked with spring rain,  growing like our bamboo stalks.

blythe // the days are growing warmer, and soon I will miss your gifts of wild blooms picked from nearby fields and yards.

olive // you told me this week, “See! I’m brushing my bangs to the side so everyone can see my eyes when I talk.”



May 2014



giveaway // Mimok Jewelry

Written by , Posted in sponsors + giveaways


I know things have been quieter around here lately, but I promise they are anything but quiet offline. We’ve been wrapping up our school year, enjoying the most incredible spring weather, planning summer renovations on our new old home, and I recently lopped 6 inches off my hair. (Insert: sigh of relief.) I’ll catch you all up soon, but for now I want to announce this exciting giveaway with Mimok Jewelry. Cecilia, the Spanish creator behind Mimok, is giving away one of three necklace+earrings sets to a lucky reader. Cecilia is also giving 10% off all orders for cloistered away readers now through the end of August. Just enter the code: CLAWAY10BMK. You can read more about Mimok and enter the giveaway below. Good luck!


Tell us more about your work. At the moment, I’m focused on my Etsy shop, Mimok. I really enjoy working on it because I’m learning something new from the handmade business everyday, It’s so exciting! Local markets are the better place for me in the spring and summer seasons as I participate. They are full of fantastic people and stories, and if you try it, you’ll always learn chic tips from all those people you meet.

How did you start your business? I have played with beads since I was a little girl. On Christmas and birthdays my parents gave me wooden and plastic beads as I really enjoyed educational games and crafts. I remember some special moments of my childhood visiting and buying any kind of bead in the historian crafts stores of my city. Discovering Swarovski elements was a new world to me, as I fell in love with them! The next step was to learn beading . . . and here I am. My friends recommended me to sell my creations and that’s how I found Etsy.


Who/what inspires your work? As a history lover, I find my inspiration in historical moments and especially in the relationship between historical processes and cultural movements. I’m an admirer of the great empires, Egyptian, Mongol, Ottoman…their intellectual and artistic legacies are incalculable, and them inspired me. Music is in my life everyday, and especially when I am crafting, so every piece has a special story behind with great ambient music for each creation. Also I used to combine them with my personal style, and don’t forget to watch for trends!

Do you have any long-term goals for your business you want to share? I dream of recognizing and seeing some of my designs on the streets, here in my country or whenever. It’s a pleasure to see someone is wearing your handmade pieces. And step by step I hope everyone who received my creations will enjoy them.

mimok_jewelry_cloistered_away-2mimok_jewelrya Rafflecopter giveaway

Images by Fidelis Studio. Necklace and earrings c/o Mimok Jewelry.



May 2014




Written by , Posted in the 52 project



“a weekly portrait of my children in 2014″

liam //Although you’re intuitive, articulate, and well-read, you love to play. I love this mixture in you and am convinced you’re going to be one fun adult someday. You made a t-shirt for me this weekend for Mother’s Day with “I {heart} mom” on the front in large letters. You plan to wear it every year. I hope you do.

burke // this week you informed me, when you become an adult, you plan to buy an old school bus and paint it white. You’ll build a bed in the back and drive everywhere, stopping in empty fields to sleep so you don’t have to pay rent. My sweet, wilderness-loving introvert.

blythe // you see order in everything, from plant life to color to time. Although I sometimes have to remind you you’re not the mother, I’m grateful for all the ways you help keep me in order.

olive // although this image was a little blurry, I had to keep it because words often fail me when I try to describe your passionate nature. One time, you were angry at my telling you no. As you stomped away from me, you stopped at the piano, lifted the lid, looked me in the eyes while you hit three low staccato notes — bom, bom, bom — then you closed the lid again and walked off. I think often words fail you, too.





May 2014



family time // breakfast al fresco

Written by , Posted in life lately, on the table, writing in the margins



When the kids were littler, Mark and I would load them into the double jogger or onto our back or into the bike trailer every evening after dinner. During those years of wakeful nights and tired bodies, we used that time to share our day-happenings and day-dreams. Often, we welcomed silence, soothed by the rhythm of foot and gravel. The kids shared in their own peaceful rides, the fading light dancing across their eyelids, the changing world whispering lullabies. (Nothing ever seemed to calm my babies as well as being with us in the outdoors.) At the time, these family walks seemed as small nothings. Years later, those walks have become sacred to me, moments bottled and reserved in my heart. I know now, they were a gift. They were establishing our family.

Although we are sleeping well at night now and I’m no longer nursing or pregnant, it seems harder to maintain simple family rituals, even easy family walks. At every turn there seems to be another opportunity to wedge a new or better something into our routine– extra work, another home project, a new activity, a new friend. These are all good things, by the way. But if I’m not careful, they can sometimes distract me from the sweetness of the present, of being right where I am. And honestly, sometimes when the kids are grumpy or bickering or somehow I’m not accomplishing my TO DOs, I can and do wish to be elsewhere. I am human after all. Still, this season with our children full of rich questions and wild imagination and new attitudes and adventure is also a gift. Our daily rituals don’t always divide up as neatly as before, but these days are dense with goodness if I’ll look for them.

Last week the kids helped me make gluten-free pancakes with bananas and bacon and orange-carrot juice–a slower, more intentional weekend meal. Mark pulled an old table we inherited with the house into the backyard for an impromptu breakfast al fresco. Two of the kids argued right before eating, delaying the meal. They recovered and so did the meal and our enjoyment of one another. Olive left the table just after finishing to ride her bike in the lawn. Soon the other kids followed, playing beneath the green canopy in our yard. Mark and I enjoyed the rest of our meal and coffee together, our words drifting on the wind between us. Somewhere deep inside of me, another bottle is sealed and labeled.



May 2014



discovering what matters

Written by , Posted in writing in the margins



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

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” 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

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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!