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,…

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…



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


Rearranging furniture. Making plans. The boys have requested navy walls in their room, in other words: they're over white. 😂 🙄 I'm planning a compromise of some sort. Also walking sticks and dirty feet hanging off the bed. #lifewithboys #sundayprojects
The sun rose again yesterday, like it always does. Not stolidly cloaked in clouds, but vibrant. Alive. Awake. I'm convinced this is the sun Paulo Coelho imagined when he wrote, "People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
After yesterday's tornados and 24 hours of torrential downpours, the kids had so many questions about weather. So today we pulled out the books and paints.
We're watching the rain fall from the roof and gather outside our home. Rain storms always feel so richly spiritual to me, a reminder of presence, of what Hosea wrote about God: "he will come to you like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth." Today, I'm receiving.
It is another grey and rainy May morning here, and we are all beginning to grow stir-crazy from the accumulated weeks of sickness and changing weather. I took Blythe for a breathing treatment yesterday and am hopeful our family will be clearing the clouds and well again soon. On a different note, I'm sharing another post on self-care and nurturing the whole self today, this time on evening rituals and the importance of sleep to our wholeness. The image is of course unrelated—mostly a sweet nod to peonies, my favorite flower. Link in the profile.
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