Since moving to our home last spring, I’ve wanted to make a wreath for our front door–something organic and simple that reflects the rest of our home. So when my sister called earlier this week and asked if I wanted to make holiday wreaths together, I answered wholeheartedly, “yes!” A wreath seemed the perfect way to begin gathering this cozy holiday season into our home. We loaded the kids into the car and snipped a few branches from nearby trees, made hot chocolate, and got to work. It really was a very simple project, something easy enough for kids to help with or create on their own. I used 8-10 branches for my own wreath made with standard-sized hangers, and the entire project took under an hour (minus the branch-gathering)–a reasonable afternoon holiday project. Enjoy!
“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″
liam + burke // You created a fortress this week by digging between an old brick wall and tree in our backyard. I don’t mind as long as it doesn’t hurt the tree. You both assured me it wouldn’t. You also carved a few sticks you found into daggers and other small tools you’ll need in your fort, or perhaps for living in the wild someday.
blythe // The colder, drier weather always chaps your lips, and I have to remind you to drink more water and rub oil or lip balm over them. Although your smile feels partial here as a result, the light and windblown hair reflects your brightness of heart.
olive // Your expressions are endless, both physically and verbally. This week you told me your life was “falling apart,” and when I asked you why, you listed several reasons one of them being that every other five year old is bigger than you. But not in spirit, my love. Not in spirit.
Cold weather arrived so much sooner for us this year. We seemed to almost skip the fall season altogether, but I enjoy the contrast. Instead of spreading out, we tend to huddle together and naturally seek activities that keep us closer, like board games and movie nights and baking. I have been making so many soups for dinner lately and am always looking for a perfect compliment. Today, my inspiring friend Kaylan Buteyn of The Emerald Homestead is sharing a yummy cornbread recipe–a really sweet, soft, and crumbly cornbread–amazing with honey and butter, or good with a spicy soup. Doesn’t it look incredible? Thank you so much for sharing, Kaylan!
KAYLAN’S HOMEMADE CORNBREAD
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (any grain but I like semi-corse)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1 cup milk/almond milk
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a small amount of butter or coconut oil in a cast iron skillet and place it in the oven to heat up as you mix your cornbread. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together. In a smaller bowl, whisk egg, milk, oil and honey. Slowly mix together the wet and dry ingredients just until combined. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and pour your cornbread batter in, smoothing the top. Bake in the oven for 18-22 minutes, or until the top starts to turn golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Some of you already know fall is my favorite season for the crisp air, crunchy leaves, and warm scents, but I also love the Thanksgiving holiday. We are not farmers, and in spite of my dreamy idealism and previous gardens, we don’t live off of our land. I realize the holiday loses some of the weightiness and significance without the harvest time, without having worked so hard to cultivate all that sits at the table. Maybe this is the point of working so hard over a meal that we eat within 20 minutes, not necessarily that we prepare the most gourmet meal, but that we understand work and rest, together.
This fall season has been busier than I prefer, but I am looking forward to this week of rest, of creating and tasting and enjoying together with my family. For me, the pretty details always matter, even if we don’t have time to do all of them. In case any of you are needing a few last minute ideas or inspiration for your Thanksgiving meal, here are a few I’m tucking away this season:
// a cozy sweater to wear with comfy jeans, ankle boots, and a scarf
My family and I are leaving today for an extended Thanksgiving holiday and 35 hours of driving. I know this thought stresses most parents out, but we love long roadtrips with our family–journeying somewhere together a little slower, listening to audiobooks or music, following changing landscapes out the window, stopping in random fields or spots to play and eat. This trip, we’ll be driving to Cincinnati to visit with long-time friends and also meet-up with some long-time online friends, including the founder of Haven Magazine, a new publicationabout journeying and finding home.
I received an early copy of Haven’s first issue last week, and it is beautiful. The photography. The storytelling. The vision. But I especially love that all of the profits for the first issue are going directly to Freeset, a fair-trade business offering employment to women trapped in Kolkata’s sex trade. Today, I’ll be taking over Haven Magazine’s Instagram feed, sharing images and talking about home. Feel free to follow along or enjoy the video below to learn more about the publication itself. Enjoy!
If you’ve followed along here for any length of time, you know I have always used this space as a sort of visual and written journal, sharing a bit of everything from soulful lessons and family milestones to favorite foods and finds. I’ve used Instagram in a similar way, a micro visual journal cataloguing smaller, quicker pieces and thoughts. Over the years, I’ve written millions of words and taken thousands of images, but almost all of them still live online or on my hard drive. Some are edited and neatly filed, waiting to be printed, others simply exist there. Depressing, I know.
As my children are growing, they love coming here and reading funny quotes or things they did when they were little. They love scrolling through my Instagram feed and seeing how much they’ve grown and changed and remembering fun adventures or simple daily moments. Since I first discovered Artifact Uprising a couple of years ago, I have brainstormed large family journals that would collaborate the two places and provide them something tangible to flip through and enjoy. It sounds noble, yes? I’ve done a few small things, photo books and prints, but nothing that incorporated my writing, their silly words, and the images in one place. Then I found Ronnie, an Australian graphic designer, mother, writer, and the beautiful memory keeper behind The Shoemakers Daughter (formerly Pink Ronnie), also the co-founder of life:captured inc. Ronnie’s aesthetic is simple and alluring, and somehow she manages to seamlessly transform her beautiful online content into even lovelier family books. She isn’t just wanting to do it like me–she is actually doing it–creating beautiful keepsakes in the midst of marriage and work and mothering four young boys. I wanted to–needed to–learn from her.
Fortunately, Ronnie and her co-founder, Trish, began offering online courses via life:captured, sharing some of their skill sets in modern memory keeping (for those of us who may have a difficult time making it to Australia for one of their local workshops). Each of these classes offers something a little different that compliments the next, but most importantly, they help equip anyone interested in translating digital memory keeping into something we can touch and hold and pass on to someone else.
Since I am the most excited about creating family books, this month, I began taking life:captured’s Intro to Adobe InDesign, a course teaching the basics of a new-to-me graphic design software. I know our family life is busier than ever. I know I have a million other things to do (including sleeping more). But I also know some element of that busyness won’t give way for several years. I also know technology can be temperamental. Hard drives crash, programs glitch, accounts get deleted, and back-up hard drives sit in the closet loaded with unused/un-enjoyed files. Life is happening, but I want to create in the midst of it. I want for my children to enjoy our memories now, not only in ten years. While I know my limitations and that I won’t be able to accomplish everything I want, I am loving this class and feeling empowered to move in the right direction.
The InDesign course includes several brief, easy to follow videos, complimenting printable notes, and a class forum for questions and sharing among other “classmates.” Plus, I can work on each lesson as I can and in the time-frame that works for me–something I love. I’ll be sure to share my progress and of course our first family book when I complete it.
One of the lovelier parts of the internet for me is all of the incredible people I’ve connected with here, each creating in such unique ways and from such diverse places in life. Isn’t it inspiring? Well, today, I’m quite pleased to introduce to you, Danielle Colby, a devoted mother to four children and also the designer and creator behind Blue Jane Clothing Co. When I first visited Blue Jane’s shop, I was immediately drawn to the simplicity of her designs and the playful mixture of style and pattern in each piece. This week, Danielle is giving away one free piece from her shop to a Cloistered Away reader, as well as 20% off any order made before November 30. The discount code and ways to enter the giveaway are below, along with an interview with Danielle–a woman just as playful and surprising as her designs. Happy Monday!
YOU TAUGHT YOURSELF TO SEW AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER. DID ANYTHING SPECIFICALLY INSPIRE THIS? HOW DID YOU BEGIN?
I’m a little embarrassed by this, but I was inspired to start sewing from Project Runway! I was breastfeeding my daughter constantly which often led me to watching TV while I nursed her. I became addicted to Project Runway and kept thinking, “I could do that!” but the only sewing I had ever done was in my 6th grade Home Ec class. Not long after, I saw a sewing machine for sale and hinted to my hubby that it would be a great gift. Once I received it, I just dived right in! I’ve always been like that in my creative pursuits. I’m very hands on and learn best by just doing. It leads to a lot of trial and error, so I have learned to be patient with myself!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR WOMEN WANTING TO LEARN TO SEW?
My #1 tip to anyone trying to learn would be to use a quality sewing machine. I’m not saying you need to spend a lot of money on a machine, but if you try to learn on a machine that constantly jams or loses tension, it will just lead to frustration. Another tip is to start with an easy pattern that has good instructions. Many patterns will teach you techniques as you sew. Indiepatterns are my favorite. Unlike when I started, the internet is such a great resource to help teach yourself to sew. There are so many great sewing bloggers with tutorials on their sites that can help get you started.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE SEWING WAS MORE THAN A HOBBY? IS THIS WHEN YOU CREATED BLUE JANE CLOTHING CO.?
It was only recently that I felt confident enough to take my sewing to the next level. For years, people have told me I should sell my clothes, but I am terribly self-critical and didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. With a little push from my husband and friends, I decided that I needed to make the leap and just go for it. I’m so glad I did! I’ve met some wonderful people so far and I’m loving the process. I opened BlueJane Clothing Co. in August of this year. It’s a lot of work, but I feel good!
I WAS IMMEDIATELY DRAWN TO BLUE JANE CO.’S UNIQUE COMBINATION OF PATTERNS AND DESIGN. WHO OR WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU?
I’ve always loved the style found in vintage children’s books. I like to linger over the illustrations, and the clothes represented in the pictures completely inspire me. A.A. Milne has always been a favorite of mine. I love classic style, clean lines, good tailoring, and quality details. I use modern fabrics and patterns to keep the clothes feeling fresh.
YOU HAVE FOUR CHILDREN; HOW DO YOU MANAGE RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS AND BEING THE MOTHER YOU WANT TO BE?
I’m still working on that! I think we, as mothers, always hold ourselves to such high standards. Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are just unrealistic. I try to remind myself to take a step back and look at the big picture: Did I accomplish something on my to-do list today? Did I spend some quality time with my littlest one? Did I practice reading with my son? Did I laugh with my family and share how our days went? If I go to bed feeling like I accomplished something that day, then I’m ahead of the game. If I don’t? Well, there is always tomorrow!
DO YOUR CHILDREN INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGNS?
Yes, absolutely! As much as I may love something, if my children cannot play freely in it or if the material isn’t comfortable, then it’s not going to pass. Children are so fun to style, but reality is they get messy, they roughhouse, they climb jungle gyms. I try to make clothes that my children can live in everyday.
Enjoy 20% off any BlueJane Clothing Co. order now through November 30. Enter CLOISTER20 at checkout. Giveaway open to US residents only.
This post is in partnership with Blue Jane Clothing Co. Olive is wearing Blue Jane’s Aztec skirt from the Wanderfull line. She adores its soft texture and twirling abilities, and I love the warm colors and unique pattern (and maybe the fact that it’s not pink or sequined–wink). All opinions are my own.