Friday, March 27, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday! This week has been a rough one. I'm glad it's over. What are your plans? We are getting ready for a garage sale next weekend. We have a lot of stuff that we are ready to let go of and I am so ready to simplify. Then, we're going to be completely lazy the rest of the weekend.

Here's a little of what's been going on with us:
  1. M has been sick lately. One doctor visit and a lot of medicine later, I'm happy to report he seems to be doing much better. All hail the power of some snuggles and a good nap! 
  2. I am finally getting back into a good exercise routine. It feels so good to be pushing myself again.
  3. Getting together with my lovely running pals after such a long time has been so nice. I really missed my friends!
  4. M is now sleeping 100% swaddle and sleep suit free. Just straight pajamas and nothing else. We've worked hard to get here but he looks so strange and small just laying there in his crib. I kind of miss the swaddle but I really love seeing his crazy, arms-flung-out sleeping situation.
  5. We've been collecting things for M's very first Easter basket. More for us, I know, since he won't remember it but it's fun! Can't wait to share our picks and our Easter traditions in the making.
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New reads:

My newest read is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It's my pick for #17 on the "26 books to read in 2015" list: a book that will make you smarter. Have you read it? I had put it on my "to read" list years ago but then never got around to reading it until one of the ladies in my book club picked it for our next discussion. I've been reading it for the past few days and I love it. It is so interesting.

Here's what it's about:

"Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells -- taken without her knowledge -- became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first 'immortal' human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons -- as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of canceer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the millions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins  Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, from Henrietta's small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia -- a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo -- to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. 

Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than 20 years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multi-million dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family -- past and present -- is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. 

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family -- especially Henrietta's daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother's cells. Deborah was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Had they killed her to harvest her cells? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn't her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences."

I don't typically read nonfiction but I have enjoyed every moment of this book. The author has done a good job bringing the very real people in this story to life on the page. I feel like I have met them. I feel their emotions (grief, anger, confusion). I never knew things like this actually happen and now that I do, I feel like I should be asking questions. 

It's very enlightening. Pick it up. Educate yourself. It'll be good for you.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday, friends! What are you up to this fine weekend? We have big plans to get some work done around the house. We are getting paint swatches for the kitchen and a few other areas that could use a little pick-me-up. And hopefully tackling the mess that is our backyard. I'm thinking of just taking a match to the whole thing and starting over. Hopefully the weather will be nice and we can sneak in a few walks, too.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

New reads:

This week, I'm reading Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon. It's the eighth and latest installment in the Outlander series. I've slowly been making my way thru the series (see here, here, and here for a peek into the series) and have finally caught up. Even though I got this book when it came out last summer, I was way too busy and way too sleep-deprived to pick it up. So, it sat patiently waiting on my bookshelf until I felt ready to pick it up. I chose it for the #7 pick on the "26 books to read in 2015" list: a book by an author you love and finally got around to picking it up.

I'm not done with it but so far, I'm loving it. These books are big, each one close to 1,000 pages. They're a commitment and while I love the story, sometimes they can drag on. This one doesn't seem to be that way though. I'm a lot more involved in the story this time and eager to see where it leads. I've been breezing thru it and really enjoying the adventure I'm on. It takes a good storyteller to keep an reader's attention for so long. Gabaldon does an excellent job.

Here's the plot summary, if you're interested:

"In her now classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon told the story of Claire Randall, an English ex-combat nurse who walks through a stone circle in the Scottish Highlands in 1946, and disappears... into 1743. The story unfolded from there in seven bestselling novels, and has been called 'a grand adventure written on a canvas that probes the heart, weighs the soul and measures the human spirit across [centuries].' Now the story continues in Written in My Own Heart's Blood.

1778: France declares war on Great Britain, the British Army leaves Philadelphia, and George Washington's troops leave Valley Forge in pursuit. At this moment, Jamie Fraser returns from a presumed watery grave to discover that his best friend has married his wife, his illegitimate son has discovered (to his horror) who his father really is, and his beloved nephew, Ian, wants to marry a Quaker. Meanwhile, Jamie's wife, Claire, and his sister, Jenny, are busy picking up the pieces. 

The Frasers can only be thankful that their daughter Brianna and her family are safe in twentieth-century Scotland. Or not. In fact, Brianna is searching for her own son, who was kidnapped by a man determined to learn her family's secrets. Her husband, Roger, has ventured into the past in search of the missing boy... never suspecting that the object of his quest has not left the present. Now, with Roger out of the way, the kidnapper can focus on his true target: Brianna herself.

Written in My Own Heart's Blood is the brilliant next chapter in a masterpiece of the imagination unlike any other."

I'm hoping to finish it this weekend. And good thing, too -- I have been neglecting all of my other projects and responsibilities (not of the parental variety, don't worry). I have a lot of other things I should be working on but can't seem to put this book down to get anything done.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We love:

I was a Sesame Street kid. Or, am still, I guess. As the youngest kid of a stay-at-home mom, my preschool years were filled with solitary afternoons spent watching Sesame Street (and Mister Roger's Neighborhood). Being the only kid at home while everyone else was at school could get a little lonely but I had my Muppet friends to keep me company and spent many sunny days with those loving characters. Ernie was my first love but Big Bird might have been a close second. It was such a large part of my life, sometimes it feels like my whole childhood was just one long Sesame Street episode. That's how much I was into it.

So, imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon this documentary on Carroll Spinney, the man behind the bird. Prepare to be punched right in the feels.

Beautiful, right? I can't wait to watch it. And don't worry, I've already exposed M to Sesame Street, starting with the very first episode. None of that new crap, mind you. Elmo completely ruined everything.

Monday, March 16, 2015

While you were sleeping:

One of the traditions I started this past Christmas, my first as a parent, was homemade gifts. I loved the idea of having something under the tree that was lovingly crafted by me -- something that represented all the time and energy I put in to create a unique thing for my child. It's something that they will have forever as a symbol of my love. My plan is to do this every year so that each child has a few special and unique things from their childhood to look back on with warm memories. This was my first year to do it for Baby M. After brainstorming, I decided to make a stuffed turtle for him. Since we lovingly referred to him as the turtle before he was born, this seemed appropriate.

I found a free pattern on the Purl Bee blog (I love pretty much everything they put out) and some fabric that I already had on hand. I only needed to pick up some fiberfill. That's how much this project cost: a bag of fiberfill (that I got 30% off because I used a coupon).

I started by cutting out my pieces using the pattern and laying them out. That's one main body, two shell pieces, two tail pieces, two heads, two front legs, and two back ones.

Then I pinned all the pieces together and sewed the seams using a 1/2" seam (or maybe it was 1/4", I don't really remember).

Once I had both pieces completed, I pressed the seams to make sure they were nice and flat so it would lay right. Then I pinned the two sides together.

I had a little trouble making sure it was all pinned correctly (that little tail is tricky!). Once I had it right and was happy with it, I just sewed it up (leaving a small hole to turn and stuff), pressed the seams again, clipped the curved seams, and turned it right side out.

I was left with a sad, deflated, little empty shell of a turtle. It started to come to life once I started stuffing it, though. Then all that was left was to sew up the hole and add some eyes. I decided to embroider the eyes since it was for a baby and I didn't want to have to worry about buttons or anything like that.

I also embroidered M's name and the year on the bottom of one of the feet (flippers? paws?) so he will always know that his mom made this just for him on his very first Christmas.

And come Christmas morning, there he was -- waiting so patiently to meet his special new friend. 

M was pretty excited to meet him too. I get kind of teary-eyed just thinking about this kind of thing. I have such great memories of sharing special Christmas mornings with my childhood stuffed animals. I love that this may be that kind of relationship in the making for M and his little turtle. 

I have already started making a few special things for M's first birthday. I can't wait to share them with you.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy weekend:

Happy Friday, friends! How has your week been? Mine has been particularly rough and I'm glad we've reached the end. Not that the weekend will be that relaxing -- we have a lot of work to do around the house and in the yard. What are your plans? Anything fun? Whatever it is, it's probably better than what we've got lined up.

Here's a little of what's been going on in our world:
  1. This week, we discovered that M is allergic to milk. We gave him some yogurt and he puffed right up. Scary but not life threatening. There's a good chance he will outgrow this allergy. So, fingers crossed.
  2. He also started sleeping on his belly for the first time. I almost had a heart attack the first time I walked in there and saw him face down.
  3. This time change has been especially hard on us. We have been walking around like zombies all week. Who would have thought just a one hour difference could have such a huge impact.
  4. We (begrudgingly) got cable. Not happy about it at all. Damn you, Comcast, and your bundling. The only good side: we can watch Outlander when it airs in April.
  5. We've been deciding on what to get M for Easter this week and have had such fun creating our first Easter basket. Can't wait to start some new traditions!
Have a great weekend, everyone! XO.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

We love:

Just like every other kid growing up in America in the 90's, I was super into that show, Dinosaurs. Don't pretend like you weren't. It was hilarious. I find that it often comes up in my conversations as an adult.

And then, while running around on the internet, I stumbled upon this:

How amazing is this video? It brings me great joy. Watch it. You're welcome.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2015: the year of books:

I've mentioned here a few times the "26 Books to Read in 2015" book challenge that I'm doing. Were you wondering about it? Well, wonder no more.

It's a list of prompts designed to get you to read 26 books this year. I love it because you can choose whatever books you want and really make it your own. No one telling you what you should be reading. You decide.

I've been sharing my picks on Instagram (see here) and it has been really fun to see what everyone else is reading. I find myself getting lost down the rabbit hole of looking at complete strangers' reading material. But it's a total win because while looking other people's pictures, I've discovered so many new books. My "to read" list has grown exponentially in the last few weeks alone. It's getting dangerously out of proportion. 

I've only checked a few off this list so far. Here they are, if you'd like to see:

It's not too late to get started on this challenge. Feel free to jump on in. You don't have to finish all 26, just get reading! And share what you're reading using the tag #26BOOKSwithbringingupburns.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kid's clothes week:

I'm excited to announce that I am participating in Kid's Clothes Week this year! Have you heard about Kid's Clothes Week? It's a seasonal sewing challenge where four times a year, people from all across the globe pledge to devote one hour a day to creating something beautiful for their child(ren). And then they share their creations online at

It's a really fantastic idea and until now, I didn't really have the time or energy to get involved. I know, that's the whole point of the challenge -- to make the time -- but with the whole having a baby and being sleep-deprived thing, I just couldn't even let myself think about it. Now that I have a better handle on things and we're rocking a pretty consistent schedule, I'm ready and excited to get involved.

The dates are April 20-26 -- that's a solid week of knocking out projects, indulging my creative side, and having fun. 

The theme is wild things and already, my brain is on fire with possibilities. Can't wait to share what I come up with. Interested in participating? You can sign up here

Monday, March 9, 2015


If you know me even a little, then you know that I am a reader. Reading is my thing and books are my first love. They are my oldest friends (see here). I am a book nerd and proud of it. So, now that my darling friends are resting in their permanent home, I finally got to organize them. 

Over the past few weeks, I have spent time in front of our new built-ins, shelving and re-shelving them in an attempt to create the perfect arrangement. I think I may have found it. 

The far left section is reserved for nonfiction. Essays, short stories, memoirs on the top two shelves, reference/parenting in the middle, science and nature on the shelf below that, and design books on the bottom.

The middle two sections are for fiction. Classics are grouped together and everything is arranged by author. 

The right section is young adult/children's books. Picture books on the bottom shelf, small chapter books and poetry above that, and books for young adults and older readers are on the top three shelves. 

So far, this system is really working out for us. It lets me find things quickly and easily. It's not an alphabetical system or anything too strict -- things can kind of float around -- and I don't have to worry about messing it up. It's nice and stress-free. 

As I fill this space up over the next few years, I plan on editing my collection and weeding things out until I'm left with a carefully-curated collection of my very favorite books. It's something that has me very excited. Weird, I know, but that's a book nerd for you.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

God help the girl:

God Help The Girl - Trailer from Amplify on Vimeo.

Winter weather has made its way back into central Arkansas and even though I think it's a little ridiculous to be experiencing snow and ice in March, I am grateful for the extra time to snuggle close to my little family.

I'm excited to watch this movie while we're holed up in the house. I've heard great things about it and from what I can tell, the music is pretty fantastic.

What are you doing during your snow day? Anything fun?

Stay warm and dry out there! I hope there are lots of blankets and cups of hot cocoa in your future.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Our built-in bookshelves are finally done and I'm so excited to get to finally share them with you.

This past fall, we reached out to a local cabinet maker about some built-in bookshelves for our living room. After a few discussions, we reached a deal where we got our built-ins in exchange for Andrew building them a new website. 

So, around Christmas, our built-ins were installed and things went from looking like this:

to this:

Instead of hiring someone to paint them for us, we decided to do it ourselves. So we pocketed the $500 we would have shelled out to a painter and got to it. It took us a while to get things painted because we pretty much only got to work on them during the weekend evenings. So, on a typical Saturday night, you could find us looking like this (the headlamps really help painting in the dark, fyi):

We had a really great system going: put on the 90s jams, get into some gross painting clothes, and split up. Andrew tackled the doors and shelves on the ground while I got started on the actual cabinet. 

Pretty soon, things started looking like this:

And then, once the doors were finally finished, we put them on, loaded it up and officially declared the bookshelves done!

So good, right? I am beyond excited to finally have them finished. I can't stop looking at them. I creep into the living room at night and just stare at them in the dark. They have increased the amount of storage in our house by about 100%. There's plenty of room for all my books (and then some) and the cabinets are perfect for housing all the stuff that we want to keep out of the way. 

So, that's the story of of how we got our built-ins on the super cheap -- just a website and the cost of a few gallons of paint (which were on sale, coincidentally). I have a very special shelving system for my books that I'll explain later. It requires a whole separate post. Look for that later this week. And in the meantime, feel free to continue lusting over those beautiful built-ins.