February 2021 Favorites

by | Mar 22, 2021 | Favorite Things | 34 comments

So far, this year has been fast and full.  February seems like it was ages ago, even though it was just three weeks!  Does anyone else feel that way?  Anyway, February was a busy month, focused on organizing closets, cupboards, and drawers, which led to doing random projects that have been hanging out on my mental to-do list for ages.  It was also a no-spend month, which I’ll share more about later in the post, but I still have lots of fun new things to share with you…

Reading | The Great American House

You know I love a good decorating book and I found a new favorite in the month of February – The Great American House.  Oh man, this one is so good if you love classic architecture.  It explains how old homes were designed “thin” to allow the light and air to pass through and how many new suburban homes are designed “thick”, creating rooms that get very little sunlight and floorplans that don’t allow for cross ventilation.  Those are some of the more practical points of the book, but there is also an abundance of visual inspiration…

decorating books | miss mustard seed

The book allows you to tour old homes as well as new homes that were built to look and feel old.

the great american house book review | miss mustard seed

This room was on one of the first pages and I had to stop and admire it corner-to-corner, taking in every detail.  I’ve always wanted to have a fireplace in the kitchen and have envisioned something very similar to this…

the great american house book review | miss mustard seed

This book makes me even more excited about the possibility of one day buying and living in an old home.  Until then, it provides plenty of inspiration and ideas for the suburban home I live in now.

the great american house book review | miss mustard seed

Following | London.Mudlark Instagram Account Lara Maiklem

One of my Instagram followers shared this account with me, thinking I would like it, and she was right.  I fell down the mudlarking rabbit hole!  Did you know this was a thing?  Licensed mudlarkers can search along the Thames river, scouring the banks at low tide for treasures that have been washed from ancient trash deposits or just tossed in or lost to the river at some point in time.  These mudlarkers find roman bone hairpins, the soles of shoes from Tudor-era children, coins from the reign of Edward the I (good-ole-grandfather Longshanks, as I like to call him now), and mustard pots from the 1800s.  It’s just crazy the things that are deposited and discovered along the banks.

london.mudlark instagram account | miss mustard seed

As someone who loves hunting for shells and shark’s teeth along any beach I visit, I would absolutely love this past-time.  I don’t know if a tourist can tag along with a licensed mudlarker, but if that was possible, I would be first in line!  Until then, I’ll just follow along with what Lara finds during her trips to the river.

Watching | All Creatures Great & Small

This was just the sweetest show that aired recently on PBS Masterpiece.  Not only did I love the setting and the characters, but I adored all of the knitted sweaters, berets, and socks!  It’s funny the places that you find unexpected inspiration, but I just loved their “look” and am anxious for the day that I am a more accomplished knitter and can design and make some of my own clothes.  I really won’t mind if I look like I walked off the set of this quaint show.

All Creatures Great and Small | miss mustard seed

Watching | Miss Scarlet & the Duke

As much as I loved All Creatures Great and Small, I loved Miss Scarlet & the Duke even more.  The two leads are wonderful and the series is a nice balance of stand-alone mysteries to solve in each episode with an overarching story that threads it together.  I cannot wait for season two to come out.  (I won’t be taking fashion inspiration from this show, though!)

Miss Scarlet and the Duke TV Series | miss mustard seed

Making | Knitting Socks

Well, as I shared in Thursday’s post, knitting is a new favorite past-time.  I pull it out almost every time I’m watching TV and then I find it hard to stop!  I understand the expression “just one more row” much better now.  It’s oddly addicting.

knitting vanilla socks for beginners | miss mustard seed

Doing | Organizing

And I thoroughly relished organizing.  Some of it was tedious, but the results have been so enjoyable that it was all worth the work.  I still have a few places to work on – the entire basement, the laundry room closet (although I’ve picked at that one through February), the boys’ closets, and the garage.  It’s really coming along, though, and I feel motivated to continue the work into the spring and summer.

art studio | miss mustard seed

Doing | No Spend

It’s sort of funny to me that not spending money made it to my list of favorite things in February, but it really was a great exercise.  I think it was especially powerful to pair it with organizing and purging.  As I was handling an excess of stuff, I could clearly see that I wasn’t being as thoughtful and intentional as I could’ve been with my spending.  Having the budget to buy something doesn’t mean I should buy something.  I have become more of a saver than a spender in recent years, but there is still room for improvement and my no-spend February showed me that.

I have bought some things since then, but it’s always been after leaving it in my cart for a few days to decide if it’s a smart purchase.  I think about how I’ll use it and where it will be displayed or stored.

basket of wool yarn | blue and white | miss mustard seed

Doing | Connecting with Family

One of my organization spin-offs was putting together Rosa’s Recipes, a Blurb book of my great-grandmother’s hand-written recipes.  That project was so rewarding and I loved reconnecting with great-aunts and uncles that I don’t speak with regularly.  Not only did we connect about the recipes and photos, but we talked about genealogy.  I m going to see them in person in May and I’m looking forward to hearing their stories and learning more about our family.

rosa's recipes blurb book | miss mustard seed

I know it’s a few weeks away, but what were some of your favorites in February?


  1. Babs

    “All Creatures Great and Small” tops my list, too. I didn’t want it to end…
    Going through my gigantic bookcase book by book to try to downsize for when we finally move. I discovered books from the 50’s and earlier…some delightful and some awful. I can’t bear to throw them away so I have been foisting them on my friends and also our local Habitat shop. Still have a ways to go but I am making visible progress. Encouraging…

    • Marian Parsons

      Good for you! Progress is always worth celebrating!

  2. Leighanne

    In support of small businesses, I would be appreciative if you would link to an independent bookstore instead of Amazon for the books that you feature. Perhaps your favorite shop or maybe a different one each time? For example, Broadway Books and Powells Books in Portland, Oregon carry this book. As does Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle. Thanks.

    • Marian Parsons

      I understand where you’re coming from and I love going to local bookshops when I can. I shop at my local bookstore regularly (although it is still a chain.) The fact is that Amazon accounts for the vast majority of book sales and it’s the most reliable place for me to link to. It’s also accessible to everyone with fast shipping and it helps the authors if their books are ranked well on Amazon. While Amazon is a huge company, it does provide a marketplace for individual creatives and business owners.

    • Diane Smith

      I love this idea! The Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio is a great independent shop!

  3. Chris Moore

    Have you read the Clara Parkes essays/memoirs about knitting? The Yarn Whisperer and Knitlandia? They are very interesting, sweet and witty. She has a way…

    • Marian Parsons

      I have not, but I’ll have to check them out!


    Loved All Creatures! The books are amazing, too, if you haven’t read them!

    • Marian Parsons

      I haven’t read them, but we’re listening to our audio book when we travel to visit family. I’ve heard they are wonderful.

  5. Julia Butler

    Mudlarking is on my bucket list. In London you can get a permit from The London Port Authority. There are many areas that you can’t explore, around The Tower of London etc. The Museum of London is a great place to visit, there are lots of finds on display. If I find any mudlarking tours I’ll be sure to let you know.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, please do! Maybe we’ll do that together when I visit England. Wouldn’t that be an adventure! 🙂

  6. mary m

    I don’t have the knitting book with me in Florida but it is a book on the history of knitting. One thing i do remember is that they found round knitting needle in Pompeii.

  7. Kay

    I love books and find it hard to know what to do with them when I am through. My local library will take donations and they had (have) a sale about twice a year that benefits that library. You might check with them about donating your books. I feel that someone else can enjoy them without spending a lot of money.

  8. Amy

    Thank you for recommending All Creatures. I just downloaded the PBS app on my Roku and can’t wait to watch it with my daughter–I think we’ll love it! If you like mudlarker IG accounts, you might like @flo_finds on Instagram as well.

  9. Lynne

    We loved All Creatures Great and Small too! I also really enjoyed Sandition season 1.

  10. Shannon

    I’ve loved the James Herriot books for years, have all the books, read them to my kids when they were little and listened to the audio versions almost every year as well as watching the late 1970’s original TV series with Christopher Timothy . I even made it a had to stop on my trip to England to visit the World of James Herriot site where James Herriot had his practice and wrote the stories. It was well worth the trip to Yorkshire. I’ll add the new series to my list.

  11. Annabelle

    Crocheting, painting, watching HALLMARK mYSTERIES and tHE gOOD wITCH. Love James Herriot.Thanks for the heads up on “All Creatures Great and Small.” I’ll get my daughter to download it.
    Of course, Mudlarking is on my bucket list as well.

  12. Brenda Kizzee

    I have several old photo albums like your Opa’s WWII albums. I am wondering how you are going to put them/process them for your new photo book? The ones I have are from my Mother (she died when I was 19) the albums are from when she was in high school and just after my parents were married (late 50’s early 1960’s) They are in pretty poor shape and have been picked over (others have removed photos) but the ones that are in tact look so similar to yours, very large black paper and names written on the photos. Anyway I just wondered how you are preserving them.
    Thanks, Brenda

    • Marian Parsons

      I am going to photograph them, so I can keep them “framed” in the black paper and original handwritten notes. The book is also too big and awkward to put on my home scanner.

  13. Sandra

    Mudlarking…didn’t know that was a thing but it sounds fabulous! I’ve been watching Acorn and Britbox…Baltazar is a current favorite and looking forward to Inspector Lynley Mystery series. I just finished reading Becoming Mrs. Lewis (fiction but riveting), Captive Queen (Eleanor) and a biography of Mrs. Winston Churchill.
    All books of Herriot, Jeanine McMullen, Gladys Tabor, Rosamond Pilcher, Maeve Binchy and a couple three others are read, re-read and again and again. The world is too much with me and all these books provide enchanting escapes.

    • Holly

      Sandra, check out The Sounds on Acorn, as well as The South Westerlies and A Place to Call Home. And I hope you enjoy the Inspector Lynley series. It’s based on the series of books written by a magnificent author, Elizabeth George, and is one of my all-time favorite book series. It’s so much better than the show, which I like. The first book is A Great Deliverance, although I recommend A Suitable Vengeance is the best one to start with as it is a prequel to the rest of the series. Happy watching & reading!

    • Debbie McKenzie

      Have you tried Jan Karon, and her books? The Mitford Series. The first one is called “At Home In Mitford”. They are wonderful, endearing, and so uplifting.

  14. Kelly


    Would you consider selling copies of your family cookbook? Might be too personal or crazy, but the oldies are the great ones.


    • Marian Parsons

      The cookbook actually is available for public purchase, but it’s $160! Since the books are published one at a time and this is a hefty book, they are expensive. I was able to get it for about $100 with a 40% off coupon, but that was worth it for me. Anyway, I will be sharing recipes on the blog, though, and there is an e-version available for $10 if you want to purchase that. I wish the physical book was just $15-20, so I could share it with more people.

  15. Betty Bashaw

    Thank you, Marian, for some great ideas. Just finished Wabi-Sabi Welcome. I really enjoyed the sentiment of this book. Hope to bring more Wabi-Sabi into my home.


  16. Lynda

    Great post! Love the idea of no spend. That decorating book looks so nice. I too have always wanted a kitchen fireplace. Always looks so cozy. I loved All Creatures mini series. I adored the books and I can’t wait for season 2. I will have to stream Miss Scarlett and the Duke. It looks good. I love mysteries like Miss Fisher’s, Frankie Drake and Midsomer Murders. Very interesting about the mudlarkers. It sounds right up your alley. 🙂

  17. Deb Wyatt

    Through many of your anticipated posts and photos, I always remain in love with the beautiful floor in your art room. Can you give more information on what it is?….was it original to your house?….did you put this in?….is it stained?….painted? More please.

    • Marian Parsons

      Those floors are original and they are just deck boards that I painted! It used to be a sunroom and we insulated it and put in a mini-split to heat and cool the room so I could use it year-round.

  18. Pamela’s

    I read and re-read Gil Schaffer’sThe Great American House! It was like a crash course in architecture and design. ❤️ We also love All Creatures Great and Small. It follows along the greats like The Durrells at Corfu! And we started watching Miss Scarlet and The Duke and then forgot so thanks for that. Also thanks for mudlarking. I never heard of it and don’t do Instagram but going to look for an alternative way to investigate. We are south Floridians with over 50 years of boating and beaches and I have amassed an impressive collection of beach glass that I’ve picked over the decades. This sounds fascinating.

  19. Marsha

    Love your lamps beside your bookcase. Can you share where you got them?
    Thank you! Enjoy your blog very much. Just wish I could make it to the art sale
    before it is all sold out!

  20. Pat Smith

    A Place to Call Home…set in Australia early 50’s plays on WETAUK.

  21. Sheena

    Thank you for sharing, Marion. I have been curious about All Creatures Great and Small. Do you think kids could watch it? I’m looking for a family show. My kids are 6 and 8 years old. Thank you.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, it is a very clean show. There are times when it might be a little slow for a 6-year-old, but it depends on the attention span. I would compare it to Little House on the Prairie… some adult topics, but presented in a way that is family-friendly.

  22. Crystal Brown

    Haven’t watched All Creatures yet, but I adored the books by James Herriot many moons ago. LOVED Miss Scarlet and the Duke, and I’d love to be a mud larker, I have a friend via Insta who gets to go to the trash heaps, aka dumps in England and wants to become a licensed mud larker. I would absolutely love to become one as well. I love the dustiest, dirtiest, small hidden away shops here most of all. the bits and bobs one can find are truly inspiring. Thanks for posting your favorite things, I really enjoy it


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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…


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