May’s Books of the Week

by | Jun 23, 2020 | a slice of life, Favorite Things, Uncategorized | 7 comments

I suppose I should share May’s Books of the Week before we get into July!  It’s just been that kind of month.  We can’t keep all of the spinning plates in the air all the time, right?

It’s been great to dig into projects, though, and it’s okay that it’s distracted me a little.

So, here are my picks for May…

The Art of Still Life

I purchased this book when it first came out and it is absolutely fantastic for those interested in oil or acrylic painting.  I bet it covers more material than you would get in a college class.  It is so thorough, yet approachable.

It’s not just filled with information, but step-by-step demonstrations that show a variety of classical techniques.

Yes, art has a strong artistic component (hence the name), but it is also highly technical.  If you learn and study the techniques your skill as an artist will improve.

It is a thick, meaty book, which is a good thing in my opinion.  I just take it in bits and pieces.  I am planning to do a study of these figs from the book and can’t wait to approach that.  It’s just a pretty painting.

Cozy Minimalist Home

I’ve been a fan of Myquillyn (aka The Nester) since I first tripped across her blog, The Nesting Place, over 11 years ago and I have loved watching her grow and evolve as a designer, writer, and entrepreneur.  She is the real deal.  She is that great combination of business-savvy and heart.

In Cozy Minimalist Home, she outlines how to get more style with less stuff in your home.  It’s good advice and inspiring no matter what your style is.

And she features her very real home.  It’s pretty, imperfect, and liveable, making it all the more relatable for everyone else.

Creating a New Old House

I’ve had this book for ages and I’ve always loved it.  Since I dream of living in an old house and Jeff isn’t as into the idea of restoring and maintaining an old house as I am, building or customizing a new home to look old might be the perfect compromise.  Who knows if we’ll ever go in that direction, but I’ve looked at this book over the years as we’ve kicked that idea around.

I like that it shows interiors, but it also digs deeper into traditional floorplans and finishing touches that give a new house old soul.

If it didn’t say so in the title or text, you would have no idea these homes were new.

If you’re into old homes and interiors, I’m betting you’ll enjoy this book, too!

As with many out-of-print books I’ve shared int he past, my Instagram followers have snapped up the inexpensive used copies and the price is very high!  Try searching for it on other used book sites, add it to a wishlist and wait for a reasonably-priced copy to surface, or check your local library.

Keep Going

I’ve shared this book before, but I had to include it as a Book of the Week at some point.  It’s so, so good.

I read this book at a time when I was feeling stuck and it did the work the author intended…  I was inspired to keep going.  It gives so many easy, actionable things to do to keep creating through the plateaus, downturns, and droughts.  And, more than that, it makes you feel normal for having them.  It’s inevitable and even vital to have slow periods.

He also addresses the tactics we use to get in our own way, like waiting for everything to be just perfect before starting or continuing or saying yes to a good opportunity.

So, if you’re feeling stuck creatively, this book should be at the top of your list.  It’s an easy, quick read that I go back to regularly.

Have you read any good books lately?

Here are the previous books of the weeks…

January 2020

Making a Life | Martha Stewart’s Organizing | Essentialism | Slipcover Style | Daily Painting

February 2020

City Farmhouse Style | A Place for Everything | Color: A Visual History | Conscious Creativity

March 2020

The Life of a Bowerbird | New Americana | Making Winter | Painting Clouds & Skies in Oil

April 2020

The Art of Beatrix Potter | BHG New Cookbook | Nora Murphy’s Country House Style | BHG Trade Secrets | Simply Living Well


  1. Karen

    Thanks for the book suggestions to spark inspiration!

    I just purchased a copy of one of your paintings through Society6 as a gift for my sister. I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it! We both adore your paintings so I’m glad there is an easily accessible and affordable option out there to purchase a copy.

  2. Donna

    Hi Marian, great book recommendations, thanks! I bought one of your beautiful paintings which arrived yesterday- and I’m blown away by the wonderful, personal presentation.

    Question about it, do you varnish these paintings before selling them?

  3. Maria

    I always look forward to your Books of the Week. I have read Cozy Minimalist Home and loved it!!! Next I think I should read Keep Going.
    Thanks so much for sharing;)

  4. Julie | Home On The Hill

    I have the ‘Creating a New Old House’ book because I happened to notice it on one of your shelves in a photo you posted a few years back Marian. It was when I was building my ‘new old’ farmhouse here in Australia! I looked it up & decided to buy it – thanks for the unintended inspiration at the time. 🙂

    I learnt a lot designing our own house & having Australian builders who were used to contemporary building approaches build it – I had to supervise every part of the build or they unknowingly assumed I wanted what they were used to doing. NOT! 🙂

    So I made sure the ‘bones’ of the house had the old vibe I wanted – high ceilings, more decorative plaster cornices, higher skirting boards, larger verandah posts & farmhouse style window architraves – that one was fun. They had never done anything that style before, so I drew a picture & they thought I had the sizing of the timbers wrong – they did a test run then asked me to come have a look. I loved it – turns out it was the one I specified & the builders begrudgingly agreed it looked really good. 🙂 They learnt something as well that day!! LOL

  5. Babs

    I purchased The Art of Still Life after you had mentioned it. It is a beautiful book and I hope to start working from it soon. I am taking watercolor lessons now but I also want to go back to oil painting. I love your oil lessons which give me so much inspiration. When I watch your instructional videos my husband says that I am “watching paint dry!”

    Thank you for all the encouragement.

  6. Crystal Brown

    I’m surprised at how many of your decorating books I have also purchased. I love MyQuillen as well and also have her book, along with Nora Murphy’s Country House, City Farmhouse and New Americana, which is my absolute favorite of my new books. I have a thing for decorating books. Books in general. I’m for sure going to purchase How To Keep Going, I really need that right now. But you know what? I still read through your book, “Inspiring You” frequently. It’s inspired me countless times and I recommend it to my friends and have given it as a gift more than once. I thank you for the continued inspiration as you share your life with us.

    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you! I was just reading through Inspired You last week to refresh myself of what I wrote and I was inspired!! Isn’t that funny? I’ll have to share that book with people who might not know about 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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