April’s Books of the Week

by | May 22, 2020 | a slice of life, Favorite Things | 19 comments

I must pat myself on the back for picking some great books in the month of April!  I feel like I can say that because I just picked them off of a shelf, read them, enjoyed them, and I’m sharing them with you.

The Art of Beatrix Potter

I enjoyed this book on a few different levels.  First off, I liked learning more about Beatrix Potter as a writer, artist, and creative.  This book is part biography with family photos and details about her childhood and how her stories and art began and evolved.

April's Books of the Month Miss Mustard Seed

I also enjoyed this book as a subject to study as an artist.  There are so many delightful sketches and watercolor paintings, as you would imagine.  I always learn so much from studying other artists.  I feel overwhelmed at the idea of sketching a street scene, but I can learn how to do it by making studies of her work…

Now I’m in the mood to watch Miss Potter.  I just love the little house she buys towards the end of that movie…

The Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book

I got this book as a wedding present over 20 years ago and it has been my go-to for staple recipes like meatloaf, waffles, and banana bread.

April's Books of the Month Miss Mustard Seed

I used the banana bread recipe as the jumping-off point for the make-do recipe I shared last week.

Nora Murphy’s Country House Style

I love a good decorating book…one that speaks to my style, but also offers fresh ideas and different perspectives.  This book is exactly that.  It’s beautiful and has so many great examples of rooms decorated with antiques.

April's Books of the Month Miss Mustard Seed

It got this book when it first came out, a little over a year ago, and I’ve looked through it many times since.  If you love Country Home magazine, this will be right up your alley.

And it is a big, substantial book.  It’s only $17.50 on Amazon, which is a great price for such a hefty book filled with so much inspiration.

Better Homes & Gardens Trade Secrets

This book has been a favorite of mine for a long time!  It features the homes of designers, stylists, shop owners, and more and includes tips and ideas from each of them.  I love that a variety of styles are represented, so it’s a good book to revisit when I feel like I’m seeing the same things done everywhere.

And, some of my favorite designers are featured in here.  I’ve always loved Carrie Raphael’s work and started to make slipcovers because of her…

April's Books of the Month Miss Mustard Seed

I’ve also always loved Jimmie Cramer’s style and I actually got to meet him and shop from him regularly when I tripped across his booth at the Beaver Creek Antique Mall in Hagerstown, MD.  Every time I shopped there, I would end up with a pile from Jimmie’s booth.


This one is out of print and can be purchased for $4.00 and up on Amazon now, but the good deals usually get snapped up quickly.  If you’re interested, I would hop on buying it.  If you miss out on some of the well-priced books, then I would suggest adding it to your wishlist and wait for some to resurface again or check out some other used book resources.

Simply Living Well

I bought this book mostly out of curiosity and I was pleasantly surprised by it.  Julia won me over by introducing the book as one filled with tips, recipes, and household hacks that were common knowledge to our grandmothers and great-grandmothers.  This wasn’t an admonishment for anyone who didn’t make their own laundry soap, but an encouragement to do what works for your lifestyle and family.

There are so many helpful tips and recipes in this book from how to best store fruits and veggies to how to make your own cleaners.  I especially like the tips on reducing the waste you bring home from the grocery store.  I always get frustrated with bulky packaging that just goes right in the trash and I like the idea of limiting some of that.

Julie also shares uses for things that might typically be discarded like eggshells.  I’ve been keeping mine and using them in the garden and as little pots to start some herb seeds.

And there are tutorials for things like making your own beeswax food wraps and bento bags.  I think there will always be a place for Ziplock bags and Press’n’Seal in our house, but isn’t it a good thing if we use less of those things?  Linen bags and cotton wraps made out of windowpane cotton look prettier, anyway!

Even if you want to just know how to extend the life of fresh foods, use fewer chemicals in your home, or make your own ketchup in a pinch, it’s a good book to have on the shelf.

So, those are my favorites for April!  What books have you been enjoying lately?


  1. Betsy

    Beatrix Potter’s life is truly enchanting. Her little book series is a work of art. I just made banana bread this morning and my husband tested it for quality control : ). Everyone should have the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It’s a great staple. Wonderful list of books marion, thank you.

  2. Irene Kelly

    I also purchased Nora Murphy’s book as soon as it was published because I love her blog ! She just sold her home and is moving as we speak so cannot wait to see the newer home she is moving to. Maybe she will write another beautiful book based on her new place. And I love her candles I have them in every fragrance.

  3. Crystal Brown

    I bought Nora’s book as soon as it came out as well, and have spent many hours browsing through it. It’s a keeper for sure. I also still love City Farmhouse Style by Kim Leggett. It’s been around for a couple of years, and it’s another one I go to for inspiration. But hands down my favorite book of 2020 so far, is New Americana by Holly Kuhn. I’ve loved Old Glory style since it first opened in Denver and was so excited when I heard she was doing a book. I haven’t seen the BH&G book, but am headed to Amazon to see if I can find it! Thank you for the suggestion! Have a good weekend!

  4. MaryLisa

    I noticed to had “the cooks atelier” on your shelf. I follow them and I’m waiting for my copy on Amazon to arrive today. They make everything seem possible in the kitchen.

  5. beverlee lyons

    I have used that red and white check book longer than you are old, and it is falling apart….well loved. I added some lined paper in the back for favorites. Glad you are enjoying it.

  6. Erika

    Hi Marian,
    Thank you for the beautiful book recommendations! I feel like I’m due for some new inspiration.
    Also, I grew up on the Better Homes and Gardens recipes -my mom won it at a dance in 1959 so learned to cook as a newlywed. My mother-in-law had the same book too, so my husband basically grew up on the same recipes as a kid on a farm. She tried all the cookies and desserts in the book!

  7. Debbie

    I got the Beatrix Potter book and my granddaughters and I just love it. We are trying to copy some of her artwork. The girls are really into her writing these days so it is a nice companion. I also snatched up a copy of Trade Secrets which came this week but I haven’t had a chance to look at it. I am always trying to identify the plants in my gardens. Many were gifts from my neighbor. I read about The Observer’s Book of Garden Flowers and discovered it is out of print but was able to get a used one from the UK. It arrived yesterday. Can’t wait to dig in. No pun intended!

  8. Lori bryan

    You would also like Tasha Tudor and her art. Maybe you already know her art. Love her illustrations with children and animals. She is also very fascinating just like Beatrice Potter.

  9. Margo

    I’ve always loved books and really enjoyed the story of Beatrix Potter. One thin I would like to say is that this past year I’ve purchased several used books listed through amazon. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality and condition not to mention the price. Justin case some of these might be a bit pricey, it’s agreat alternative.

  10. Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm

    Most enjoyable list and links, thank you. In 2017 it was a blessing to visit Beatrix Potter’s home in the Lake District. The small group tour was led by a woman who is/was President of the BP Society and we went to all sorts of places usually closed to the public. Fond, fond memories.
    Somehow i’d forgotten about Nora Murphy and appreciate the reminder. Living well and simply means different things to each of us but always enjoy seeing how someone else is living their simple.

  11. Esther

    Beatrix potters art is always inspiring; I bought a second-hand book about her life and art a long time ago and later bought the movie; was realy enchanted by that story 🙂 Got realy lucky finding a book for only 10,00 euro’s that was on my Amazonwishlist in my local bookstore last year about Artists who make or work with flowers:In Bloom. Creating and living with flowers Ngoc Minh Ngo 2016 Rizzoli International Publications Inc, New York. One of the artist in this book is a French woman who makes very detailed copper flowers which she paints with oilpaints.
    Last week I bought a second-hand book for 3 euro a cataloque from a Exposition : The Fashion monkey A Staged Promenade Through The Neues Palace.2012 Stiftung Preußische Schlosser und Garten Berlin-Brandeburg, Autor, Ubersetzer und Hirmer Verlag GMBH, Munchen with life-size paper costumes-dolls from the Belgian artist Isabella de Borghgrave This is a fascinating re-enacting of a play written by Frederick the Great in 1742 by scenes with historical costumed figures in The Neues Palias in Potsdam-Sanssouci. It has lots of beautiful photo’s of the figures in the historical palace and also photo’s of the construction. I love theatrical things so this was a great find.

  12. judy

    Enjoyed the list of books. I will be going on amazon later. Had to laugh about the Better Homes and Garden cookbook. I have had mine 40 years now and still use it regularly. It is very tattered and at some point I accidentily burned the cover off of it. Oh well live and learn.

    • Helene

      That is hilarious! I love that cookbook too!

  13. Louise

    I received the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook when I was married 63 years ago and learned a lot about cooking and baking as a young bride! I have shared recipes from it and given one as gifts many times over the years as it is timeless!

  14. Pattyk

    I love a book on Tasha Tudor’s garden. Her home is what I consider to be perfect and I loved her sense of style. You might enjoy it too.

  15. Hannah

    Better homes and gardens Trade Secrets looks beautiful, as does Nora Murphy’s book. Beatrix Potter’s beautiful watercolour illustrations and her cheeky sense of humour have always made her books wonderful to me! I too love the cottage she bought with her book earnings—Hill Top! I also find it interesting that she recognized the outstanding beauty of the Lake District and strove to conserve it, a woman ahead of her time.

  16. April

    I made the banana bread recipe last week and actually had every ingredient in my kitchen! It was really delicious. Thank you.

  17. Sherry

    Thank you for the suggestions!

    We have a collection of BP books I got when my kids were little. So sweet and lovely illustrations.
    I too have had the BH&G cookbook for many years–just made the banana bread recipe as well and sent a mini loaf home with my son this past Sat. Unfortunately, I still am not a good cook–just not my thing. I aspire to improve, so maybe I should look beyond the chocolate chip cookie recipe! 🙂

  18. Molly

    I love your monthly book lists. So fun to read about each one and add to my collection. Thanks!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

decorating, projects, and recipes for winter

  • hydrangea & homemade christmas tree | decorating ideas
    I got my Christmas tree decorated over the weekend!  It has been hanging out with just lights, a star, and a skirt while I thought about how I wanted to decorate it […]
  • antique trapper basket | christmas decorating
    For one of my freelance articles this year, I needed to share an alternative to decorating a front door with a wreath.  I immediately pictured some kind of a basket. Maybe bike […]
  • finger knitting tutorial | christmas crafts
    Last December, I hopped onto Instagram Stories and made a quick finger knitting tutorial for those who were asking how I made the little wreath present toppers.  The quick tutorial went over […]
  • classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas
    I don’t typically have plans for exactly how I’ll decorate when the holiday season rolls around.  I just start working with my things and see what inspires me and what Ideas spring […]
  • Walmart Gift Ideas & More
    Disclosure: This post of holiday gift ideas is sponsored by Walmart.  As always, all opinions and words are honest and my own. I’ve partnered with Walmart several times in the past around […]


Articles by Date


our sponsors

Bliss and Tell Branding Company