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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…
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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…
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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.…
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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,…
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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.…
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a cozy friendsgiving

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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…
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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…

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

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We're planning to re-design the  kids' rooms this summer in effort to give each a little more privacy within their shared spaces. I've been scouring the online classifieds looking for old bed frames and am completely inspired by the layered linens in the latest #schoolhouseelectric catalogue. Each of them have unanimously requested shelves and light near their beds for books and bedtime reading, and as Olive is showing me, she would like a tiny lamp just like this. 👆🏻 The projects never end, but I love that they're old enough to now contribute to the conversation, to help make their spaces their own. #thecloisteredtable
A storm's been stirring in my heart the last few days, kicking up the same old anxious thoughts and doubt. Sigh. We mothers can be the hardest on ourselves, demanding much of our minds, souls, and bodies in the process. 2016 is teaching me to be gentler with myself, to offer grace and generous words to myself, just as I would to a friend. Today in lieu of our typical afternoon routine here, I turned on a film for the kids and set about putting away winter sweaters and laundering summer dresses and delicates. It's strange but there's something so soothing for the soul about working with my hands, about the gentle and rote rhythm of folding. I opened the windows and turned on some music and let my soul breathe. Sometimes taking care of the home overlaps with taking care of the self.
I always find Olive walking in the garden, sampling leaves and making salads. Perhaps one day, years from now, I'll be visiting her own home, watching her snip leaves from her garden for dinner. I will remember this.
He spent most of today sanding the front porch (which we plan to stain afterward). This old house is definitely a work of patience, and I'm so grateful for his persistence. We'll get to landscaping at some point. 😉 #theslowrenovation
Toward the end of our date night last night, enjoying drinks together in the backyard. I love the smile lines we're growing in life together.
Trying hard to tidy up our eating a bit again and made raw brownies with berries for dessert instead of our usual cake. If you haven't made them before, they're easy, quick, and  delightful when warmed a bit. 
Raw Brownies
Mix 1.5 c of walnuts and a pinch of salt in a food processor until the nuts are fine. Add 1 cup of pitted medjool dates, 1/3 c of cocoa powder, and a splash of real vanilla extract. Process until well blended. Roll into balls or scoop straight into a bowl. Top with shredded, unsweetened coconut and fresh berries. Happy weekend! #thecloisteredtable
The windows are open, and the day is clear and full of song. It feels a bit miraculous after days of rainy mornings. #tgif
These are the days. I'm just so grateful.
I remember quite young learning how not to ask questions in the classroom for fear of being teased or looking stupid. It doesn't really matter how much teachers encourage teens to ask questions, peer responses are powerfully influential. Part of that is my temperament and my longing to be a top-performer, something I'm maturing in as an adult. I honestly didn't ever think I would homeschool but here we are, ending year seven or eight. I can't remember now. Aside from spending more time with my children in these little years, I love that homeschooling has created a safe place for questions. They are learning intuitively to see questions as a tool for growth and for invention. 
Today Burke and Blythe are beginning studies on Galileo. He was regarded as a troublemaker because he questioned the ideas of the ancient Greeks, and eventually wrote this, "I do not believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect had intended us not to use them." ❤️ #cloisteredaway_homeschooling
A muddled, rainy morning. 📚🐛
A very tiny Olive and a very large tree, a Tuesday morning adventure with her cousins and aunt Kristen. 📷: @kristendouglass #wildexplorersclub
It rained most of the morning and the girls played outside in it while I finished work with the each of the boys. They even discovered a bird's nest in one of their rain boots outside on the stoop. Now the rain has stopped and the boys are taking a break to play while Blythe reads The Secret Garden independently and Olive and I sit down to read about birds. I like how home life reflects the seasons, the rhythms cycling in energy just like the weather. #cloisteredaway_homeschooling