February’s Books of the Week

by | Mar 4, 2020 | a slice of life, Favorite Things | 17 comments

I have really enjoyed sharing a book of the week this year, but I’ve realized it’s just given me another excuse to buy more books when I really didn’t need another excuse!  I already have way more than 52 books to share and recommend!  But, it has been fun to look for new books and revisit old books that have stuck with me through all of the moves and purges.

A couple of weeks ago, Jeff and I went out to dinner and then hit Barnes & Noble.  We usually split up, since we like to browse different sections.  He likes books about nature, fishing, history, theology, and I like books on decorating, art, cooking, gardening, crafts, creativity, and business.  So, yeah, we’re not hanging out in the same aisles!  I have my little route that I take from the magazines to the discount books to the cookbooks then to decorating/crafts/art which are grouped together in the back corner.  I do regularly buy books on the spot, but I’ll also look them up on Amazon to see if I can buy them used.  That helps me stay within my monthly book budget.  When I walk to the checkout holding a big stack of books, Jeff just rolls his eyes.  In my defense, I’ll smile and say, “It’s my continuing education!”  And he can’t say much to that since we worked hard together towards his Master’s degree, which also involved buying a boat-load of books.

And I do interact regularly with these books.  I pull them off the shelf when I feel stuck, need some inspiration, instruction or encouragement.  They are a resource to me that feels richer and more personal than the results yielded in a Google search.

So, anyway, here are my picks for February…

City Farmhouse by Kim Leggett

I got this book when it first came out and I immediately liked it.  The thing I enjoy most about it is that it’s a mix of inspirational spaces (the kind that most of us don’t live in like 150-year-old-farmhouses) and suburban homes with microwaves over the stove and all.  A decorating book that is all ideal spaces can feel unattainable and even discouraging.  This book shows beauty in a variety of settings, giving you ideas that can be carried out in your own home.

A Place for Everything by Peri Wolfman & Charles Gold

This is an old one!  I think I got it from one of those mail-order book clubs about 20 years ago!  I hadn’t picked up this book for a few years, but when I flipped through it recently, I could see how much it influenced my style.  It’s not an organizing book in the sense of what we expect by today’s standards. It’s not filled with plastic bins and the contents organized in a rainbow.  It’s not about minimalism and decluttering.  It’s about designating a place for everything you have and encourages merging display and storage.  Practical and pretty things can be tidy, visible, accessible, and enjoyed.

This book made me fall in love with bakelite flatware and storing beautiful things on open shelves.

I can see reflections of that book in my decorating style even today!

The book is in the pre-digital photography era, so there are a lot of lighting and white-balance issues with the photography.  Many of the images have a yellow glow from overhead lighting or they are messy snapshots of real-life organizing efforts.  I think all of this is forgivable, though, because the content is great – especially for antique lovers who want to manage their stuff, not get rid of all of it!

Color: A Visual History from Newton to Modern Color Matching Guides by Alexandra Lokse

I am absolutely smitten with this book.  As someone who loves color, this was fascinating!  Not only is it filled with all sorts of interesting information about the history of color, but it is filled with colored plates from books that are hundreds of years old.

The watercolor “blobs” from the 1800s inspired my oil painting abstracts from last week…

And I love these color charts from Werner’s Nomenclature…

And a color wheel from the 1700s…


I take for granted that people had to figure out color!  How can the colors be made and how will they be sorted on a palette or in a wheel.  Who figured out the complimentary colors?  Just fascinating!  (And a little nerdy, I know.)

Conscious Creativity by Philippa Stanton

I read this book on my creative retreat and it’s so good for anyone who wants a little creative encouragement.  I didn’t follow Philippa on Instagram (@5ftinf), but I do now!  This book is very approachable, practical, and inspiring.  She shares her thoughts on common creative struggles like comparison, burnout, and originality and gives exercises and tips for each subject.

I journaled through some of her suggestions and found them to be so helpful!  Sometimes, as a creative, you just get stuck in your own head and need to hear from someone who “gets it.”  Not only does Philippa “get it”, but she has a theatre background as well, so I felt an immediate kinship with her.

This is a quick read with lots of beautiful photos, so it was perfect to read on the plane…


I hope one of my book picks this month tickles your fancy!

If you’d like to see a video tour of these books, you can see those on my Instagram Highlights HERE.  You can find January’s Books of the Week HERE.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


  1. Betsy

    There’s no doubt that City Farmhouse Style opened my eyes to the beauty of older things. I’m a minimalist but I love warmth in my spaces and this book spoke to me. It’s a keeper for sure.

    • Betsy

      whoops, one question…….where can I find a color chart of all your milk paint colors? Thank you.

  2. Tori

    I bought A Place for Everything, on your recommendation, and love it! Found it reasonably priced on my “secret source”. 😉 Don’t know if you know this, but whenever you list a book and give the price (usually very reasonable!), along with the Amazon link, by the time I get to it the book (usually the same day) it is priced significantly higher. I’m thinking Amazon is glad you’re an influencer! 😀

    Thanks for this book though. I’m glad to have it.

    • Miss Mustard Seed

      Yes, I know! What happens is the cheaper books get snapped up. 🙂

  3. Teri

    I enjoy all your blog posts but especially look forward to your book recommendations! Thank you!

  4. Sharon

    Many moons ago I was a stay at home mom. My hubby always thought I should “get out” and do something I would enjoy. So I took art lessons from a wonderful church friend. She was a stickler for starters and the first thing we did was a color wheel. It made me understand so much about how colors went together. Alas when our home burned, that color wheel was lost along with paintings I had started. Haven’t really painted again although I think about it. I do have a few paintings that made it through the fire. When friends come over they would ask who painted them. I would said I did and they would say “didn’t know you had any talent”. So if I can do it, anyone can paint, so try it! lol Two of my favorite books are “House of Seven Gables” and anything by Mary Emmerling. Your artwork is so good, keep at it! Blessings.

  5. Nancy

    I can see the Wilton Diptych book peeking out in some of your photos. What I call “Wilton Diptych Blue” is one of my favorite colors. I never go to London without at least a quick dash into the National Gallery to pay it a visit.

  6. Kathy

    A Place for Everything has been one of favorites for years, too. I usually don’t look at it too often so that it seems a bit newer when I do. Ive gotten so many things over the years to reply cate some of the beautiful images but in my own style. I’ll have to investigate the others, thanks!

  7. Nancy Cox

    Have you written a book with pictures of your furniture, rooms, vignettes, and paintings.? I love all of your pictures.

  8. Susie

    Did you make those crochet glass sleeves? I love those. The book A Place for Everything could be one of my next purchases. I enjoy your blog and I love to hear you sing. Your talents are over the top. You are so blessed.

  9. Peggy

    Being enamored with color, here’s a great book, the secret lives of color. Very well researched and lots of bits of knowledge concerning colors. Learn how puce got its name. And even the cover is eye catching.

  10. Naomi S

    I want to look up Conscious Creativity; it looks and sounds like I would like it. I always need a boost to get creative juices flowing.

    This whole list of books this month is enticing. Thanks for sharing it.

  11. Cynthia Johnson

    Great book, all!
    Do you ever sleep Marian?

  12. BeverlyO

    Thanks for sharing these inspirational books! I am a book lover from when I was a very little girl. So, your shares are always exciting and I almost always add them to my Amazon list! We have lots of inherited pieces of odd bowls, pitchers, etc. and the style like your photo would really work well for that variety of treasures.

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m so glad to hear! 🙂

  13. Jen Roy

    I picked up Conscious Creativity because I’ve been feeling in a creative rut for a while and I’m excited to go through the journaling prompts.

  14. Julie | Home On The Hill

    I have been inspired over the last few years to look up some books I have seen on your shelves Marian & I have bought a few if they are available in Australia as postage from the US is more than a new book costs! 🙂 I also use them for inspiration when I feel stuck creatively – just the tiniest thing in an image can set the creative brain in motion. 🙂


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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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