july 2021 favorites

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Favorite Things | 22 comments

I don’t know about you, but this summer is flying by for me!  I always think it will go slowly as I’m trying to balance working while having the boys home, but it seems to speed things up and we’re going back-to-school shopping before you know it.  Before we get into that, though, let me share some of my favorites from July…


Well, my favorite thing is something I’m thankful for.  One of our cats, Esmé was having neurological issues a couple of weeks ago that had us very concerned.  It started when we noticed the left side of her face was paralyzed.  She wasn’t moving her left ear, closing her left eye fully, or opening the left side of her mouth when she meowed or yawned.  We took her to the vet and they started her on some antibiotics to treat any possible underlying infections that might be causing her symptoms. There wasn’t anything obviously wrong with her (they checked her ears, reflexes, etc.) and no known trauma or exposure to toxins, viruses, etc.  She is an indoor-only cat and there weren’t any new plants, essential oils, food, products, etc. in her environment.

 A few days later, she started looking very off-balance and her eyes were moving back and forth rapidly like she was spinning.  I took her to the vet again and they did bloodwork.  Everything came back normal and they weren’t able to identify any underlying cause.  They put her on a few more meds to help with the dizziness.  She had one really bad day when she held her head almost completely sideways and she kept stumbling, but the next day, she was 90% better!  She’s been improving ever since and is almost completely back to normal.  (Her left eye has always been a little crossed and doesn’t look quite right.)  We’re guessing it was vestibular disease that either went away on its own or was being caused by an ear infection that was cleared up by the antibiotics.

I was pretty weepy on her worst day, fearing that we would have to put her down if she kept getting worse.  She is so young (just two) and brings us so much joy and I’m just so thankful that she’s doing well.  I hope that continues!

Esme the tabby cat | July 2021 favorite things | miss mustard seed

I mean, look at that sweet face!  She is just the sweetest cat.  One of the best.


Jeff and I have been watching Season 8 of Alone together and it’s such a good show!  (We’ve actually watched every season.)  There is so much good, deep discussion to be had about solitude, loneliness, mental fortitude, our relationship with our food and shelter, technology, suffering, gratitude…  There is just a lot packed into this show and we look forward to it coming out each week.

Alone Season 8 Cast | Favorite Things July 2021 | miss mustard seed

weighted blanket

 I picked up THIS weighted blanket from Target (I got the 12lb blanket) and it’s been so helpful when it comes to helping me feel calm at night when I’m falling asleep. I am also a tosser/turner when I sleep and I’m definitely more still when I sleep under this blanket.  The kittles love the soft, fuzzy texture of it, too, so it’s basically turned me into a big cat bed!  I had my doubts about weighted blankets (they seemed a little gimmicky), but I am so glad I bought one!  I might get a heavier one.

weighted blanket from Target | favorite things July 2021 | miss mustard seed

spending time in my sketchbook

I started using my sketchbook almost daily in April and I’m now almost done filling my third one!  It has become something I really look forward to – picking something to draw from life, from a photo I’ve taken, or my favorite, studying a painting or sketch from one of my art books.  I started my most recent sketchbook with this Caillebotte study from THIS BOOK.

I was just going to keep her as a pencil sketch, but I love how she turned out so much that I used acrylics to add color.  I’ve just really enjoyed this time of study and practice.  Sometimes I feel like I need to be working on other things, but I remind myself that this time is for me.  It’s about enrichment, not about profit.  (And I usually do it in the evening when it’s completely acceptable to take time off work!!)



I have also enjoyed this new little hobby!  I thought it would be a slow project that I’d have to pick away at, but I have found bookbinding to be a quick project and I love all of the custom options I now have.  There is still a lot to learn, but I’ve already bound three of my own sketchbooks, using either vintage paper, oil paper, or clear-primed linen.  These are materials I can’t find in ready-made sketchbooks.  (You can see a video & post of my first bookbinding project HERE.)

single page bookbinding | july 2021 favorite things | miss mustard seed

sketchbook for the artist

I purchased THIS BOOK last month and it is an excellent book on sketching in different mediums.  I enjoyed Sarah Simblet’s work and approach so much that I bought her book on Botany for the Artist as well.

sarah simblet | sketchbook for the artist | july 2021 favorites | miss mustard seed

This is a good book for beginners and those who have been sketching for a while and just want to explore other mediums and styles and review basics.

sarah simblet | sketchbook for the artist | july 2021 favorites | miss mustard seed

exercise room

I have been wanting to clean out the playroom and turn it into an exercise room for a couple of years and now it’s finally happened!  The boys still do play in there, but we are utilizing the space so much better and I love that the treadmill and all of the workout gear are in one place and out of the family room.  We still have some more work to do in there like hanging the mirror and I might to paint the room in Oval Room Blue if I have enough paint leftover.  But, for now, it’s super functional and I’m enjoying it.

exercise room makeover progress | july 2021 favorite things | miss mustard seed

using Opa’s chandelier

On the topic of the basement, I am really enjoying this slow-paced makeover and how it’s coming together.  My three favorite things so far are the wall color (Oval Room Blue), tweaking the furniture arrangement (it’s amazing how different the room feels with just the turn of the rug and a little scooting), and hanging my Opa’s chandelier.  It makes me happy every time I see it.

1800s crystal chandelier | july 2021 favorites | miss mustard seed

What were some of your favorites from June?  Are there any shows I should be watching, books I should be reading, podcasts I should listen to?



  1. Margaret

    Glad your kitty is doing so much better. It’s so scary when the vets can’t figure out what’s wrong; my cat quit eating a year or so ago, and all the bloodwork was normal. All they could do was treat the symptoms. I switched her to wet food, and she’s fine–hope your story will also have a happy ending.

    • Rebecca - NC

      Our cat was the about the same age when she too, was diagnosed with vestibular disease. After doing a blood panel, they found she had low potassium and hyperthyroidism. A couple of tasteless supplements crushed into her food daily and she never had another bout in all her 21 years!! 💕

  2. Sharon

    Kitty- If she were a human, I would say she had a neurological event called a TIA.

  3. Betsy

    Thanks for the roundup. I finally had a quiet morning to go back on your blog and view your Pennsylvania home. I just love how cozy it feels and the decor you had. I told myself I was going to do that one day since you fondly mentioned living in Pennsylvania often.

  4. Chris Moore

    I love the show Alone. Because I am. No family, no socializing thanks to CV. Thank goodness for the library!!!

  5. Mona

    Have you ever thought about sketching your children as they grow up? Portraits of them and your husband, mother and father would be great also. Just a thought…

  6. Laura

    Like Karen said, it sounds like she had a TIA or mini-stroke. I had one and my right arm was unable to be used. Just hung there. Within maybe 24 hours it “came back to life”. You and your family are great pet parents! And she is a beautiful puss!

    • Laura

      Oooops! I meant Sharon!

  7. Lynda

    Awww! So glad your kitty is doing better. She is so pretty! It is awful when they can’t tell you what is wrong.
    Your Opa’s chandelier is stunning!! I can’t wait to see the family room finished. It is nice having a designated work out room. I wish I did. LOL!

  8. Jan Zigler

    When we ran out of seasons of Alone, hubs and I started binge watching the several seasons of Life Below Zero on National Geographic. It follows four or five different people or families who live in Alaska up near the Arctic Circle: Alaskan natives, dog mushers, single folks. We have our favorite people. Between seasons, one party may go off the show and someone different come on. A big portion of it involves people preparing for dark winter. Check it out.

  9. Patty

    Marian, loving all the basement changes. It looks lovely! I’m so glad to hear your beautiful kitty is getting better. Such a sweet little face. Praying she continues to heal. ❤️

  10. Jodie Felten

    Hi Marian,
    One day we found our 4 year old kitty laying on the floor unable to move. She was totally paralyzed. We rushed her to the Vet, and they could not see a reason. They put her on steroids and fluids. Two days later she was kinda/sorta using her front legs. After 6 months, she was walking again, though she has never jumped up on anything since. We have never figured out why, but she mostly came back around.
    We understand how you feel. I am glad she is recovering quickly! Hugs from Oregon!

  11. Jenn Anderson

    Glad your kitty is doing better. Enjoyed your favorites! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Denise P

    Everyone is giving you their cat opinions. Here’s mine. 🙂 We had an older cat (about 10) with almost identical symptoms. It was determined she had a stroke. She always held her head slightly wonky after that but lived another 8 years.

    The idea of bookbinding appeals to me. I can never quite find exactly what I want in a journal.

  13. Jeanine

    Aww, praying that your sweet kitty is completely recovered and will have no more problems! She’s so blessed to have you and your family! Also, love your sketches and basement makeover:). Just curious, are your nights so cool there that you’re not roasting under a weighted blanket?

  14. Addie F.

    Our pup, Charlie, had a bout of vestibular disease. After a pain shot and antibiotic, he was greatly improved. The vet said to keep him from climbing stairs, so my husband built him a little ramp for our front porch. His symptoms were like night and day. One morning he just woke up and was stumbling, staying close to walls and had to be physically carried into the vet.
    So glad your sweet, little girl is doing well!

  15. Mildred

    Do you get hot sleeping under a weighted blanket?

  16. Esther Wijnbeek

    I am very happy your cat got better 🙂 My cat wasn’t so lucky she had a tia and we took her to the vet who said she probably had a brain tumor that had slowly gotten bigger. her second eyelids wouldn’t close anymore and she could not drink or eat on her own since her swallow reflex didn’t work anymore; she also had a horrible headache. The vet gave her an injection with cortisone which helped against the pain. Hubby and fed her 3 times a day dry food mixed with water (in the blender) and then put into the big syringe without a needle, one of us holding her and one putting it in her mouth. I slept beside her on the livingroomfloor for 3 nights. After one week I went back with her to the vet and was told she couldn’t be operated and I had to put her to sleep. The vet said after the first(she was 18 years old) that she could have become 25-she was very healthy- if she would not have gotten the brain tumor. I had just gotten her back after 9 months where she had to live at my parents home because we had immigrated to germany that year and weren’t allowed to take her with us on the first appartment we rented in Germany. I had only seen her 3 times in that year and hadn’t realised she had a tumor; she had gotten thinner and wouldn’t sit in the window anymore but I thought that was because she was getting old. I was very sad after she died since I had had her for a long time.

  17. lee

    I love your study on Caillebotte, the colors are so rich. Can I ask which acrylics you were using on it. Also thank you for the linen tape bookbinding tip. I have done a bit of Coptic bookbinding but not the individual pages. It’s quite addictive. So glad your sweet cat is better. Thank you so much for this blog it’s always a treat to open each one. Lee

  18. Babs

    Glad to hear Esme is doing better. I just love her little sweet face.
    July has flown by with not much to show for it for me. Lyme disease reared it’s ugly head so I was not in the mood to do much. Between the disease and the cure (doxy) I was very off my game. Did watch a lot of old movies…the late 30’s and 40’s are my favorites…which took me out of my current condition. Love the clothes and the interior shots the most…sometimes I think I was born too late. Looking forward to August and then the fall…my favorite season. Know you will have lots of surprises for us in the fall!

  19. Catherine

    Kitty may have had a stroke?

  20. Bonnie Kilgore

    So glad Esme is doing better. I had to put my darling 16 year old calico to sleep two weeks ago. So heartbreaking when our pets are ill.


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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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