week 48 | finding our Christmas tree

Every year on the weekend following Thanksgiving, we pack into our car and pick out a tree together. It's a simple tradition really, one that's not particularly unique to our family, but something we look forward to every year just the same.…

a cozy friendsgiving

Few things make my heart swell more with gratitude than when people I love gather around our table, especially when it is glowing with beeswax candles rolled by our children and smothered with fresh greenery and a collective of friends'…

the origins of Thanksgiving

I have always appreciated the simplicity of Thanksgiving, how much and how little it requires of me all at once. On one hand it is an elaborate meal, one many families take great care to celebrate with foods, people, and activities that…

2015 | week 46 + 47

Olive | You are always moving. Bouncing. Running. Talking. Slowly your words are catching up to your deep sense of emotion. You told me this week, "Blythe is really distressing me! Look [pointing to a stool in the play tent]! Is this where…

a typical Sunday morning

I took these images a few weeks ago on a typical Sunday morning at home: the kids piled in my bed playing; my planner and hot coffee in hand; the smell of fresh fruit pancakes wafting through the air. Although this room belongs primarily…

45 | 52

Most of this week you spent time in your friends' homes while Dad and I traveled to Boston for a few days. You each were ecstatic and gladly kissed us and waved goodbye. Although I think any of you would have been happy to travel to Boston…

on pocket money and allowance

Everyone likes having a little cash in their pocket, even if it's not much. There's a freedom of choice attached to pocket money, a subconscious autonomy in how we spend, save, or share it. My husband and I both have an allotted bits of…

week 44 | the Halloween edition

Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker. – Linus,  It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown This year, we wandered the one usual neighborhood street with the cousins, mingling with neighbors, enjoying the mild weather. It reminded…



Cloistered Away is a lifestyle blog, focused on simple, purposeful family living, written by Bethany Douglass.


Last night, as I snapped this blurry conversation between cousins, my sister hurt her back, the baby was fussing, my husband was called for an emergency, and hurting friends in our community needed our time for a different emergency. The table was set, the candles were glowing, and although we ate together, the meal didn't happen as typically planned. This too is the reality of our Sabbath meal, knowing it is something deeper than food or a pretty table. It is, for us, also knowing when to pause in a different way, to pray and to bless others, to share our work with those in need, or on occasion to leave the table altogether. #reallife #WHPthisislove
My children often tease me that I'm trying to allure koalas with all of the fresh eucalyptus we keep around our home. This week I dried some of the leaves to make lavender + eucalyptus sachets for our winter closets and drawers. It was easy and a great way to further use a plant I love. More on the blog if you're wanting to add some natural, gentle scents to your own closets this season.
This winter weather has been an absolute dream, reminding us springtime is lingering just around the corner. Today the kids and I are heading to a small class with a local master gardener to learn about growing potatoes. We're definitely amateur gardeners over here, so every little lesson helps. Do you have any favorite gardening resources to share with us? 🌿
Shadow play, on our way to a birthday lunch with Nina.
Good morning, friends! I shared some more thoughts on introversion, motherhood, and the homeschool on the blog this morning, including a few bits in how I've made room for solitude in our busy home over the years. I hope it's an encouragement. xx
When we first began #homeschooling, I regularly tried to project how it would look if we continued. How could a variety of ages and needs be met at the same time? Years later, I still don't have a specific answer. Some days it works like clockwork, and other days seem to crash on us. What I do know is the crashing days happen less as they grow older, so mamas with littles: be encouraged. 
For the moment, one is sketching and labeling the human digestive system. One is illustrating and writing the life cycle of a frog. One is diagramming a sentence from her Oz book. And the youngest is copying and illustrating a sentence from her read-a-loud. I'm going to tiptoe to the other room and try not to jinx it. #cloisteredaway_homeschooling
Keeping a home is hard work, especially when we are busy living in it all the time. My children sigh at these jobs just as much as the next, but I hope in all of their little household tasks they are building a lifelong habit—not of keeping a perfect home, but one in how to take care. We're all a work in progress over here. 😉
Every Sunday morning, I find a quiet spot to think about and plan the upcoming week: what activities we have scheduled, what books we'll read, what writing or art projects might match up, what I want to write about, and so on. I know this sort of time makes some people yawn with boredom, but it helps give me a clearer mind and focus in the busyness of our days. Add warm morning light, hot coffee, and fresh blueberry scones with lemon curd, and this time become a personal retreat. #itsthelittlethings
I've recently realized how much I want the best of every season of life at once: the wisdom of my eighty year old self; the body of my twenty year old self; the whimsy of youth; the grounded-ness of maturity; the simple routines of early motherhood; the quiet independence of later motherhood. The reality is I was never intended to have it all at once. Each season expectantly folds into another. Each one offers a different joy and surprise. The best thing I can do is pause for a moment and give thanks right where I am. Even when that place is a mess. 
Take a deep breath. Do you feel your chest patiently rise and fall? Today you are alive. Gratitude is that simple.
I woke up the kids this morning, and Burke greeted me, "it's hump day!" Haha! We're downhill to the weekend, friends. 🙌  I shared some ideas on le blog for a special Valentine's date night at home because they're truly my favorite kind of date and also a good excuse to eat Spiced Pinot Noir + Goat Cheese turnovers. That's right. Yum. More via the link. And happy humpday! #hatcherymade #thecloisteredtable
Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell others. —Mary Oliver 
I'm reviving an old project on the blog, after finding it buried in my archives. Although the old pictures were somewhat crummy in quality back then, I realized how much I treasured them anyway. They were a gentle reminder of how much growth and change has occurred in all of us on this meandering path of home and education. All to say you can find the January edition of our homeschool in pictures (and books) via the link. Also I hope you all are enjoying some of this delicious winter weather.
The other day, while we were walking, she came beside me and held my hand. After a short while she said, "Mom, I really love you and I hope one day I'm just like you." And then she started talking about something else and ran off, just as if we were talking about the weather. All the while my heart was bursting, and I whispered back, "dearest one, you will be even better." Because it's true. As parents, somewhere deep within us, we know our job is to build foundations for our children to stand on, and eventually, when they are ready, they will grow far beyond our own capacity, far beyond what we can imagine for them. So it is with you, my little songbird.