good reads

by | Dec 15, 2014 | Favorite Finds | 25 comments

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I really enjoy reading.  I don’t read novels very often, because I get so engrossed in them that I neglect everything else and stay up until 3:00 in the morning to get to a “good stopping point.”  So, I usually refrain unless I can’t resist or I’m stuck in bed for some reason.  But I enjoy flipping through a good decorating book or reading something that’s inspirational and maybe helps me learning something new about myself.

I’m sure some of you would enjoy the books I’ve been reading, so I thought I would share some of them…

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Creatively Christmas

This book is special, because it was written by my friend, Jen Rizzo.   That is how it ended up in my hands, but what I love about it is that it is such a real, approachable book.  It shares lots of simple ideas and very doable (and budget-friendly, kid-friendly) projects.  The grain sack inspired paper chain and yarn tassels are my favorites.

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Who knew cotton balls could look so cute?


(via Jeanne Oliver)


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Country Living Decorating with White

I have been pouring over this book for a couple of weeks, now.  It has so many beautiful and inspiring pictures.  Decorating with whites can be challenging and this book shows all of the ways it can be successful.

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Swedish Interiors

I am a little obsessed with Swedish/Gustavian decor right now, so I was all over this book.  I particularly enjoy reading about different styles within Sweden and oogling over the painted furniture.  I’ve already tagged a few finishes I would like to try to replicate.

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Made to Crave

I’m about 1/3 the way through this book and it has been a rear-kicker so far.   My sister-in-law recommended it to me as we were having a conversation about struggles with food.  Maybe I’ll share more about my struggles down the road, but that’s going to be a pretty raw post, so I need to work up the gumption to write it (and hit the publish button.)  For now I’m soaking in the wisdom this book offers.  As I’ve been reading through chapters, I’ve come across so many sentences in the book that I could’ve written; that are me to a “T”.  It’s comforting and has given me hope that I can have victory over my struggles.  A very good read.


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Contentment : A Godly Woman’s Adornment

I just started this book and the first chapter spoke straight to my heart.  I know contentment is a very common struggle and it’s definitely one of mine.  As I’m heading into a new year, I want my contentment to rest in the right place and I expect this book to be a good guide.


Before I go for the day, I wanted to share a “moment” from my house.  I tossed an antique quilt on the chair in the family room to get it out of the way while the boys were rough-housing.  It landed in such a cozy, comfy, homey way that I took notice of it the next morning and took a picture.  I love moments like this…when things just fall into place.

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 What are some of your favorite reads right now?


Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


  1. jeremy

    test me

  2. B Folk

    Marian, every one of those books looks like a good read. I love to read, but I wouldn’t get anything else done, so I haven’t sat down with anything of substance (other than my Bible) for a long time. For that reason, I read what I call “fluff”; decorating/baking/”nesting’-type books. Also, blogs;-) However, my favorite blogs – such as yours- have more than just fluff. Thanks for the fluff and the serious stuff, too!
    I made some cinnamon ornaments yesterday. After they dry, I’ll paint them, attach ribbon, and give them as gifts. I’m also experimenting with other scents, as well. You always have great projects!

  3. Laura @ The Turquoise Home

    LOVED Made to Crave. I need to re-read it, because I too continue to struggle with food. And I need to get my hands on Jennifer Rizzo’s book. I know I’d love it!

  4. Jenny@EvolutionofStyle

    I love to read as well, but it always feels like such a guilty pleasure, since I have a zillion other things I “should” be doing. I have started listening to audiobooks with a vengeance! I can listen and work at the same time, and I’m “reading” all sorts of things. Granted, can’t do that with decorating books, but those are a different animal altogether. 😉

  5. Sari

    I have Jennifer Rizzo’s book…love it! it inspires me to get out of my decorating the same ‘ole way. I’ve been ready to try new things, as my taste has changed over the last year or so! My favorite reads lately have been by Ann Voskamp. We did her book 1000 Gifts as a study at church, and that lead me to her The Greatest Gift as an advent devotional. Love her writings!! Her website is also a treat…so much on there! freebies, and videos…

  6. Maria Heikoop

    Beautiful moment. I’m currently going through Stuck by Jenny Allen… I’m loving it. God’s using it in a big way.

  7. Kristi

    Awww. This was such a great post. I am determined to seek out the books mentioned for sure! I have always been drawn to that swedish/gustavian look, I just didn’t know the era until I started following you and I now i’m much more informed about what it is I’m wild for! Anyway, as far good reads go, I listen to an amazing Scottish pastor or I should say theologan, Sinclair Ferguson, who has recommended from time to time in his sermons that one should attempt to read “Pilgrams Progress” before they go to heaven. So I thought, why not. It’s not an easy read so far but its intreging.

    • marian

      Yes, I have read that before and it is good! I actually have a really old copy of it that I found at an antique store. 🙂

  8. Alicia, Ontario, California

    Hi Marian,

    Loved your cinnamon decorations but could you tell me where to purchase cinnamon in the bulk without it costing a small fortune?

    “Contentment” is a beautiful place to be and I think I’m finally there (after 67 years). I’d say God and His Word (Bible) has been my best read, then there’s Jane Austen! “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young has been one of my best daily reads, when I make the time…discipline will win out in 2015!

    Thank you for sharing so much of your inner life as well as your creative life. I wish I could come to one of your classes in January but you’re a little too far from So. California. But you are welcome at ‘ma maison petite” anytime you want to visit Ontario, California!!!

    Merry Christmas,


    • marian

      I love Jane Austen’s stories and, would you believe it, have never read one of the books! I watch all of the movies and miniseries I can find, though. I really need to sit down with one of the books.

      Anyway, I purchased regular bottles of the generic cinnamon, so it wasn’t very expensive. I used 4 bottles. If I have a BJ’s or Costco membership, I probably would’ve bought it there.

      • Ginger Marshall

        Marian, I rarely have time to read either, or rather rarely take the time to read, but last summer I began subscribing to Audible and listening to books, while I get ready to work in the morning, while I cook dinner in the evening, while I drive anywhere in town and especially while I sew and paint. I just finished “Mansfield Park”, the last book on my list of Jane Austen’s books. I have listened to all the “Hunger Games” books and the “Divergent” book series as well. I find I can really accomplish a lot with a book attached to my head!

    • diedre roberts

      I hope I am allowed to “reply”.

      Winco foods (which I believe is located in Southern California) has bulk spices that are very reasonably priced. Costco sells an exotic cinnamon which is divine (more expensive than Winco).

  9. Rhonda

    I love to read too, but like most of you have stated, it is something that I rarely get to do because I’d never get anything done. I keep saying I’m going to just sit for a day with a good book, but I’m still waiting for that to happen, but when it does I now have several to choose from! Thank you for the recommendations:)

  10. marian

    I have been reading “A Grace Disguised”, by Jerry Sitzer. It is what I call a read for the ‘brave hearted.”‘ It is a book on loss. And gave me a large space in which to honestly assess my emotions while grieving the loss of my bestest sister, Laura. And her unborn baby…

  11. Dannette

    Marian, I recommend the book, Trim Healthy Mama. It is an amazing book that will change the way you look at food. It was written by 2 Christian sisters. Check out their FB page for the many people who have also achieved food freedom. Love your blog and your milk paint.

  12. mary m young

    Mary Emmerling is my favorite country decorator and has written over 35 books. She was the person in 1975 who started the country simple decorating with primitive furniture and natural
    decorations in this country. Since we share the same name (nee) I always felt a connection. Actually got to meet her at a antique show where she gave a brief seminar. Very nice. What she said that day was to look at something (item) and try to visualize how you can repurpose it etc. Definitely took
    that to heart. Marion that seems to be your mantra as well. Mary

  13. mary m young

    I am so sorry about the loss of your sister and baby. How do you ever recover
    from such a loss. In history it happened all the time to women and infants. You
    are very brave and your sister is up in heaven probably decorating if she shared you
    talent. M.

  14. Lora

    If you’ve liked Lysa’s Made to Crave, you’ll probably love her new, The Best Yes. It’s all about prioritizing our days so we can get done what our soul longs for, & live out God’s purpose for our lives. Totally recommended from someone who doesn’t usually sit long enough to read! Want to check out some of your ideas too.

  15. Kelly Or

    Hi Marian! I love the CL book, Decorating With White, and the Swedish interiors book looks beautiful. Jane Austen has been one of my favorite authors since I was 13! As well as C.S.Lewis, as was mentioned, Elizabeth Gaskell, Dorothy Sayers, and Charles Dickens. I find it hard to make time for reading, too, but whenever I do, even if it takes me a while, I am so blessed by great books and authors. For contentment, my favorite is by a 17th Century Puritan, Jeremiah Burroughs, titled The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. The beautiful title is a good representative of the beauty found in this little book. It encourages and convicts in a way that makes me want to read it year after year.

  16. tricia

    I teach a middle school book club group for our homeschool kids. We are reading the book A Dog’s Purpose and parents, as well as the kids, are enjoying it. I love Decorating with white and also The Life of a Bowerbird, as well as A Place for Everything. Currently I am reading Killiing Kennedy- very good book!

  17. Elaine

    I recently attended a funeral and the preacher quoted from Traveling Light by Max Lucàdo. I purchased it right away and love it. It basically says we carry extra baggage (fear, worry, discontent) that is unnecessary. The 23rd Psalm is our guide through this life.

  18. Lynne

    a few years ago, we did a study in our summer women’s group reading “Made to Crave.”
    It really stuck with me…truth makes the most sense, especially when searching for the reasons why we have food/image issues. “God made us capable of craving so we’d have an unquenchable desire for more of Him, and Him alone.”
    Lately, I’m into “Vintage by Nina” and listening to “Tara Road” by Maeve Binchy.
    And, of course, after seeing the other books you reviewed, I ordered “Country Living Decorating With White” as a little Christmas gift for myself !

  19. MaryLisa Noyes

    I find myself on Pinterest this days more than reading. Thank you for the reminder that nothing is a substitute for a good book in hand….


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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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