homemade broth | a beginning lesson in economy

Last year, I read Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal for the first time. Subtitled Cooking with Grace and Economy, it was those final words that allured me most. Grace. Economy. Those two words have at times felt at odds with one another…

hello, 2016.

Thank you, thank you for all of your patience while this space has been down the last couple of weeks. The re-organization here certainly took longer than I intended and often mirrored the tidying process in our physical home–clearing one…

chai waffles with sautéed pears and berries

The gifts are wrapped. Our school work is finished. Mark is home, and yesterday marked the final Sunday of Advent, meaning Christmas is merely four sleeps away. Our family welcomed this week with a leisure breakfast of Chai waffles with…

handmade salt dough ornaments

These weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to pass too quickly each year. Between the fluster of finishing our school work, giving or making gifts, visiting family, and joining local celebrations with friends, time feels so…


Although, like most children, you all have always loved the Christmas season, we're bridging new years as a family, years where you enjoy the giving of gifts and crafting just as much as receiving. You are also beginning to understand the…

essentially styled | a warm cashmere sweater

Once upon a moon, I shared simple basics from my closet here. It was a way I celebrated what I already owned and some of the ways I reinvented these essentials with a new piece or two each season. (And yes, these are inadvertently the…

keeping a snug winter home with dignify

I've said it before, but I love how this season full of early darkness and cold winds brings a slower rhythm to our home. Like the leaves on our tree, our school routine is beginning to fall apart, leaf by leaf. A season of rest is looming.…

a gift guide for the homeschool

We tend to keep the holiday season in our home fairly simple in terms of gift giving, both the quantity and expense. This isn't from a desire to be Scrooge-like or withholding, but instead another way we've learned over the years to simplify,…



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


This weekend Olive told me, "Mom, my hands are feeling crafty. They are just meant to make things—and I love making people happy by making things for them!" I beamed in the cheesy way moms do when children understand some bit of who they are, and then we baked a new brownie recipe together and shared them with friends.
We are taking care of ordinary tasks today and sampling a simpler summer routine for school work. I've been thinking on these words I read earlier from Laura Ingalls Wilder, "We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd." I like the idea that the quiet, ordinary work at home invites me into deeper thought and purpose—an encouragement while I fold yet another load of laundry.
Sometimes when the air is sticky and warm, throwing together random chopped veggies in one bowl balances me. The chopped thick-cut bacon is bonus. #thecloisteredtable
We nestled on our friends' back porch last night, sipping drinks, celebrating friendship, and watching the fog slowly roll in. The kids were littered about the grass, playing. These are the days.
Fifteen years ago today we sat at a small table near the sea drinking our first morning coffees together, the words "better or worse" still hanging on our tongues. In fifteen years, we've had to digest them more than once—the best and hardest—and yet together they have worn our souls like leather, wrinkled and soft in just the right spots. I wouldn't swap it for anything. With him, I'm home. #thecloisteredtable
It's a rare rainy and cool May morning here. We're listening to Bon Iver and tidying up random blankets and dishes littered about from sickness. Purification is diffusing the air and later today I plan to fill our vases with flowers—because flowers make all the difference when you're stuck indoors. 🌾
We're in our third week of sickness here, and since being away this weekend, I've noticed each of us feeling a bit lost, fumbling around for familiar rhythm. Last night, I sautéed onions and garlic and cilantro together with bone broth and black beans for soup. The aroma and cadence of the kitchen gently nudged me back into our family rituals, and suddenly today eating leftovers, I find that I'm home. #thecloisteredtable
Sometimes as a mother and homeschooler I can lose perspective and context for the work I do. The rote patterns can feel a bit like walking through clouds, one step in front of the other without clarity of where exactly the steps lead. This weekend, I gathered with 400 other women in southern Cali for the #wildandfreeconf. I shared a bit about our family rhythms and life around the table there and listened to so many encouraging stories from other homes, too—some shared publicly from the stage, others shared in private conversations. I unplugged to be present, to focus clearly and listen. For me, it was a weekend to live just above the clouds for a bit, to remember the power of my place as mother, as educator, as woman. Children are a gift.
Over the last six months the word 'bored' has crept more steadily into my children's vernacular, one of the more frustrating terms for me as a parent. I'm sharing some ways I've learned to listen and re-direct them, to help them recognize boredom not as something to pacify, but rather an invitation to re-creation and ingenuity. #ontheblog
On days when you're trying to pack to leave town and the children are rotating fevers and the air conditioning goes out, it's a gift to find a daughter's message left on the wall, even still, life is beautiful.
We welcomed the weekend with a family dinner in the backyard again. (Are you bored of these images yet? 😉) Tonight I made Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken from Gwyneth Paltrow's latest recipe book with a side of strawberries and Sauvignon Blanc. It's funny how much I love Friday night at home together. Who knew. Right now, the fireflies are beginning to shine. #thecloisteredtable